It’s kind of funny, but not really surprising, that some of my clearest memories of high school relate to food. I was already addicted to baking, and completely obsessed with collecting recipes. I remember staring out of the window during typing class, wondering how soon the lunchtime bell would ring so I could tame my raging hunger. There were the huge Valentine ’s Day cookies our class made and sold for a fund-raiser one year. And every Friday night, homemade burgers and thick shakes, and special sauce for dipping fries.
Then there was the amazing Scandinavian-style birthday cake that is my only memory of a friend’s fourteenth birthday party. It was large, donut shaped and filled with custard. I’d never seen anything quite like it. Some twenty years later, and this friend and I are probably closer now than we were then. Recently, while watching our kids play, I mentioned to her how I remembered this cake (and little else), and she laughed. I couldn’t tell if she was perhaps just a little bit offended that I recalled the food more than I recalled anything else!
And last but not least, there was this amazing banana bread, baked by a friend’s mother and served warm from the oven with vanilla ice cream. I’m not even sure what the event was or why; but I was in foodie heaven, and have never forgotten it. Perhaps that is why I love this date and banana bread so much. Another melt and mix recipe, the secret is in the method. By slowing warming the banana, butter, sugar and dates together in the pan, it fuses the flavours to create lush caramel undertones, which are best enjoyed while the cake is warm.
Best Ever Date and Banana Bread
Brown sugar, butter, dates and banana fuse together to create warm caramel undertones in this wonderfully comforting version of your new favourite banana bread!
Makes 12 thick slices
3 ripe bananas, mashed (approx 1 cup)
120g unsalted butter
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon bicarb soda (baking soda)
1 cup soft brown sugar
140g (1 cup) chopped dates
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½ cups self-raising flour
Preheat the oven to 180deg C. Grease and line a large loaf tin (based measures 10 x 20cm).
Place butter and mashed bananas into a saucepan and melt on low heat. Stir in the brown sugar, bicarb soda and milk and stir until the sugar appears to have dissolved. Add the chopped dates and let the mixture cool to room temperature before stirring in the beaten eggs and flour. Don’t over-mix.
Pour mixture into prepared loaf tin and bake for 40 – 45 minutes. (*Check at 30 minutes, and if the dome has cracked or split, cover loosely with a foil tent for remainder of baking time). Cake is done when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
Serve warm or cool with butter.
Banana cake slices can be frozen and defrosted (and then toasted for breakfast).
Adapted from the Cake Mistress