I never liked bananas growing up. On the rare occasion where I would be subjected to drinking them blended with some milk, my stomach would turn, my face would contort in a grimace and I would feel uneasy for the remainder of the morning. As I progressed little by little with age, I began to enjoy bananas but had found that first there were conditions that must be met. The banana must not have formed golden pockets of ripeness in its cream-colored surface. The banana must not be too sweet. The banana must hold itself if I attempt to poke it with my finger. Poor banana. So many rules.
My relationship with bananas began to improve as an adult while living in Malaysia with a husband who was away on a business trip. Saddened by the thought that I would have to dispose of bananas that did not meet my criteria for eating, I chose to bake them into a cake for the first time. I ate it all. For breakfast, lunch and dinner. 2 full days of banana cake eating left me at peace with the idea that maybe I've grown to accept that which I chose to lock away in my "Ew" closet.
Today, I'm sharing a recipe that will stick around for a long time in this household. Mixing an old favorite in dates and a new favorite in bananas, this cake turned out better than I would have ever thought. Slightly caramelly and packed with the warmth of cinnamon and nutmeg, the banana has finally found a permanent place in our home.
Spiced Banana & Date Loaf
300 grams of self-raising flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
140 grams of pitted and chopped dates
115 grams of caster sugar
155 ml of full fat milk
200 grams of mashed bananas
75 ml of vegetable oil
1 cup of icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
3 tablespoons of milk
Heat your oven to 160 degrees Celsius. In a large mixing bowl and with a hand mixer, beat the sugar, vanilla extract and eggs for 2 minutes until thickened and fluffy. Add the bananas, cinnamon and nutmeg and blend then add half of the flour and all of the baking soda with the full amount of milk. Mix on medium speed then add the second half of the flour with the oil and whisk until all blended. Add your chopped dates and fold them into your batter with a wooden spoon then pour into a loaf tin lined with baking paper. Bake for 50 minutes or until done when tested with a knife. Remove from the oven and cool before serving. To store, keep your loaf covered to avoid drying it out.
For the icing: In a small bowl, mix together to icing sugar, milk and vanilla. If you'd like a thicker icing, eliminate one tablespoon of milk. Drizzle the icing over the entire loaf or set aside and drizzle per serving.