Royal Wedding – Carrot and Banana

I have learned from lovely and well-informed Carol of Retired? No one told me! that today is a National Banana Bread Day. I think combining bananas with carrots will still serve the purpose, Beautiful People.

February – the stores are decked out in red and pink hearts, furiously marketing in the name of love. Jewelers and bridal salons are having their best time of the year, measuring love in carats and yards of lace. It was in February, cold and gloomy, that King Henry VII, the first Tudor king, proposed to his widowed daughter-in-law, sixteen-year-old Princess Catalina of Aragon, known in England as Catherine.

Little more than a year has passed since a teenage Infanta, the proud and somewhat spoiled daughter of Their Most Catholic Majesties Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain (yes, those Isabella and Ferdinand!) stepped on the slushy English soil as a bride of Prince Arthur, Henry’s son and heir. As befits a princess, she was accompanied by a retinue of attendants, some of whom looked so exotic that commoners, gathered to welcome her entrance into London, ran into two opposite directions: some were pushing closer to get a better look, while others were trying to get away from the black faces of the Moors, never seen in England before. Was the future Queen a golden-haired angel or a vile sorceress who brought unthinkable evil creatures into the land? Both versions were hotly debated, especially when the poor Prince Arthur suddenly became ill and died just a few months after the wedding.

King Henry, the grieving father, was in a quandary. By all rights, the little widow should’ve been sent home to momma, but there was a matter of her dowry, or, to be exact, half of it that had arrived together with her, the other half to be paid..  well… to be paid. At some point in the future. Or so King Ferdinand had assured King Henry, and between the two of them, it’s hard to say who was a more tight-fisted, miserly manipulator. To be politically correct, let’s call them frugal and parsimonious. However, if Catherine were to be sent back, the half already paid would have to be refunded, and Henry just couldn’t bring himself to part with the money. Meanwhile, his wife, Queen Elizabeth, died, and suddenly, he saw a window of opportunity! If he marries his son’s widow, not only would he not have to return the first half of the dowry, but he’ll also be entitled to the balance – wow!

The temptation was great for a sixteen-year old widow: to become a queen, instantaneously. It was King Ferdinand who stopped this train in its tracks. “Wait a minute, – he said, – you have that little ten-year-old show off, that carrot-top kid with no civilized manners, who has now become your heir. What will happen to my daughter after your death? May you live long and prosper, Your Majesty, of course! Oh no, if my daughter is to marry anyone in your G-d forsaken, pardon me, great country, it will be your little pipsqueak, Henry-whatever-his-number-will-be!”  Several years of haggling and bickering between the two monarchs allowed Catherine to swear that the marriage to Arthur was never consummated, and thus receive a dispensation to marry Arthur’s brother. “The little pipsqueak,” who has been proclaiming his love and devotion to the golden-haired Infanta ever since he had escorted her to join his brother in holy matrimony, has come of age.

The wedding was kind of understated, by the standards or those times. It was understood, though, that both the bride and the groom were still in mourning, as Catherine’s mother, the all-powerful Queen-militant Isabella has just passed away as well. Henry, however, had a sweet tooth, and being in love with his bride, he offered her some of his favorite treat, carrot pudding. It was quite a novelty, since puddings were mostly meat-based, rather than vegetable-filled, and making a royal pudding that looked more like manchet bread found on a commoner’s table, was unheard of. Catherine, most probably, smiled in her customary reserved infanta-like manner, and took a small bite. Having grown up in the decadent luxury of the Alhambra palace, captured by her mother from the Moorish king, she was used to a variety of Middle Eastern fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices, and certainly sweets. As a good and dutiful wife, in time she would start an herb and vegetable garden and encourage the exotic fruit and spice trade. It would be a good and reasonable guess that at some point during the sixteen years of her marriage to Henry, her Moor cooks have happily married carrot pudding with bananas to create a delicious offspring – carrot banana bread.

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Since I have not been able to find any information about the origins of banana bread, and since all sources seem to agree that carrot bread had evolved from carrot pudding (Henry VIII’s favorite), I have taken all kind of liberties with the recipe. And why not? Look at the liberties Henry has taken with all his wives, starting with Catherine! I am using spelt flour (if you have an allergy to gluten or a celiac disease, please consult your physician), brown sugar, olive oil, baking powder, a dash of cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Most importantly, I am abiding by My Own Rules of Dessert: Rule # 1. If it’s not chocolate, it’s not a dessert. Therefore, cocoa powder goes into it. I also add finely chopped walnuts or pecans, whatever I have on hand at the moment.

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I have fallen in love with aquafaba. It’s that liquid stuff you get when you cook chickpeas, and it whips into a foam almost like eggs, but it has no cholesterol. Just to think that for years I’ve been pouring it down the drain!

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Contrary to all the established routines, we mix the dry ingredients first: spelt flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

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Then we whip aquafaba into a foam, whisk it with olive oil, and mash ripe bananas into it. I prefer to leave them somewhat chunky, but it’s up to you.

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And here it comes, the marriage of carrot and banana! Introduce the wet ingredients to the dry, add grated carrots and walnuts, and gently mix, just until moistened.

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It will be a thick, dense bread dough, rather than cake batter. Don’t worry, just place it into a greased loaf pan and bake it for about an hour.

Henry VIII might have been a notorious womanizer, a great scoundrel and a wife-murderer, but, if the legend is true, we have to be grateful to him for this delicious idea.

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Just look at what came out of my oven, crusty on the outside and moist on the inside – fit for a royal table! But I have to remember the second of My Own Rules of Dessert: Rule # 2. The more chocolate, the better.

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I served it drizzled with chocolate syrup and garnished with raspberries. That was one of the best Sunday brunches my husband and I have ever had, or so he claims every Sunday!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  •  1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • A dash of salt
  • 1 cup aquafaba (alternatively, 2 large eggs)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 1 cup grated carrots (1 large or 2 medium carrots)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • Optional: chocolate syrup and fresh berries to garnish

PROCEDURE

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease loaf pan.
  • Combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Put aside.
  • Whip aquafaba to foam consistency, whisk with oil, mash bananas into it.
  • Stir into dry ingredients, add carrots and walnuts, mix gently until moistened.
  • Bake for 1 hour, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Serve warm, drizzle with chocolate syrup, garnish with fresh berries.

Enjoy!

52 Comments Add yours

  1. What a fascinating post and such a wonderful creation!! I love carrot cake, so, will try this!!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much for a lovely comment, dear friend! Enjoy!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You are very welcome!!! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. GP says:

    Sounds perfect, Dolly!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, GP!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the stories that come with your recipes! I knew about Henry VIII’s and Catherine’s age difference and the crisis caused by Arthur’s death, but not about the carrot pudding. Not that I’ve been a fan of British cooking—I was an exchange student there briefly, and I never got used to overcooked hamburgers or boiled to mush vegetables. (This was home cooking; the restaurant food was only slightly better.) But carrots and bananas sound heavenly!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much for a wonderful comment, dear friend!
      The accepted theory is that bland overcooked English food was a “kitchen rebellion” against the French culinary influence which had invaded England together together with William the Conqueror.
      No offence meant to my British blogofriends!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. bernlag says:

    Well, that was an interesting story to accompany a delicious recipe. Was their a pun intended when Elizabeth was referred to as a “carrot top”?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It was future Henry VIII who was called “carrot top.” He was a readhead, as is clearly seen on his many portraits, and Elizabeth inherited it from him. However, she might have also inherited from Anne Bolein’s reputed lover who was a redhead and might have been Elizabeth’s father. The paternity issue has never been cleared up.
      Thank you for a lovely comment, dear Bernadette; I am so glad you like it.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. bernlag says:

        Oh, jeez Louise, I got that historical time line messed up. Thanks

        Liked by 2 people

      2. No problem, darling, I also sometimes have to count English Henry’s or French Louis’ on my fingers. LOL

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Excellent post! And excellent recipe!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Dorothy!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. 15andmeowing says:

    That looks good.Thanks for the recipe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My pleasure, darling. Thank you for stopping by.

      Like

  7. It’s great to get both a recipe and a reminder of some of the history lessons i’ve forgotten.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for a lovely comment, dear Mimi.

      Like

    1. Thank you so much, dear Tiffany!

      Like

  8. Such an amusing yet informatively accurate take on this history, Dolly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment, Derrick.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. My mom used to make banana bread with chocolate chips. Adding shredded carrots is genius. 🍌🍞🥕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, it was Henry VIII’s idea, not mine. LOL
      I do make it with chocolate chips sometimes. Thank you so much, dear Gail!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. BTW…..I did enjoy the Netflix series “The Tudors”. ⚜️👑

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Doug Thomas says:

    An interesting story and a curiously interesting take on banana bread, Dolly! Leave it to you to tell a good story to spice up your recipe of the day! I’m not much of a banana bread fan, but this one still sounds good enough to try at least!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Doug. The story is actually true (almost!), at least where the royal personages are concerned.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Doug Thomas says:

        My pleasure! Anyone who enjoys food should enjoy how you put a story together with recipes. Food and good conversation make for a pleasant meal. In a way, you emulate that process with your background stories! I almost think a person should have a nice – appropriate to the recipe, of course! – glass of wine in hand when reading your posts!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. You are so very kind, Doug! I visualize you with a glass of wine in your hand with Andy by your side perusing the screen.

        Like

      3. Doug Thomas says:

        I don’t keep it on hand, but the idea has appeal!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. In that case, cheers!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. purpleslob says:

    Carrots in banana bread? Well, sneaking veggies in is always good! Banana bread is SO yummy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just try it – it’s delicious! And bananas are veggies themselves; they are not fruit!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. purpleslob says:

        Umm, only if you baked it! No way!! Veggies??

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I stand corrected: bananas are not veggies, they are herbs. “Bananas are actually considered to be both herbs and plants” (www.foodanswers.org).

        Liked by 1 person

    1. And smile you did! Thank you for a shout-out!

      Like

  12. Before i never had thought combining banana and carrots, but it makes sense. Thank you also for the fantastic history. The dowry paid in two parts was a great trick. 😉 Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Splitting the dowry in two halves was an old Medieval method; this way they ensured that their daughters were well received and taken care of, and then they paid the second half.
      Thank you for a kind comment, Michael.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Really, this splitting was the normal way? Wow, they really had taken care. Thank you for this information, Dolly!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My pleasure, Michael. If you think about it, it really makes sense, otherwise guys would marry a daughter of a wealthy or prominent family, get a sizable dowry, and make sure the new bride mysteriously dies right after the wedding!

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Thats true, and if i remember the right way, such things had happend too. Have to learn much more in history. You are a great guide, Dolly! Thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I appreciate your interest in history, Michael. It’s always my pleasure to share whatever knowledge I have.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Thank you for doing so, Dolly! I had not loved history neither at school, nor at university. We got only knowledge on the church and related history. Was too boring. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Dear Michael, knowledge in itself is never boring; teachers are! I was very fortunate in middle school to have a fantastic history teacher who brought history alive for us.

        Like

  13. lghiggins says:

    Interesting history lesson. I did not know that Catherine was so much older than Henry or about the dowry. You and I are always on the same page about chocolate!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Henry was 10 years old when Catherine married his brother, and he claimed that he had fallen in love with her then.
      Thank you so much for your kind words, dear Linda!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. A fascinating unique marital union as the unique blend with Bananas! Oh I how I love those dark handsome Moors. Similar looks are in southern Iran!💓

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, they were very handsome; not for nothing Desdemona fell in love with Othello! LOL

      Like

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