It is rare for me to walk into a supermarket on one day, pick up their free magazine, then make one of the recipes the next. I usually have so many other recipes in mind that any new ones take their place in the inevitable queue. However, I had been planning to make a Banana Cake for some time so when I saw this I not only had the intention but also all the ingredients, including some very brown bananas. These overripe ones are ideal for baking: their natural sweetness develops as they age and mine were well past their eating best.
The recipe comes from the May 2010 edition of the ASDA free instore magazine: if you hurry you may still be able to pick up a copy, but I find they disappear like hot cakes (ho! ho!) and I often have problems getting hold of one. Never mind, this recipe for Banana & Date Cake is also available online, along with a selection of other delicious sounding ideas for cooking with bananas. For the record, I increased the amount of banana slightly without any problem. I’m not keen on rum so I used the alternative of orange juice for soaking the dates: my husband suggested using Southern Comfort, which is an interesting idea. This is a recipe I shall be making again (and again) so I think an alcoholic version would be good. I have made banana and walnut bread in the past so I would like to try adding nuts or other dried fruit in place of the dates or even chocolate chunks (omitting Stage 2, the heating and soaking, of course). I used my favourite loaf tin in place of the originally suggested square pan, however I felt that the cake was a little undercooked in the centre while being quite dark in colour outside, though not too bad. (Next time I will reduce the oven temperature a little and allow a longer slower cooking. Please be aware of this: I will update the instructions if I find an improvement.) The cake is supposed to be cut into 24 pieces but they would be rather small: 14-16 pieces is more realistic.
Banana & Date Cake
(aprox 14-16 pieces)
150g/5½ozs dried stoned dates
4tbsp/60ml orange juice or dark rum
200g/7ozs very ripe banana (peeled weight)
125g/4½ozs butter, softened
Finely grated zest of 1 small orange
2 large free-range eggs (or 2 smaller ones and a yolk)
175g/6¼ozs self-raising flour
1. Preheat the oven to 180oC/170oC Fan/350oF/Gas 4. Line a 2lb loaf tin or a deep 18cm square cake tin. (See note above about cooking time – may need longer & lower.)
2. Check that each date has been stoned and cut each into four using kitchen scissors. Put the date pieces in a small pan, cover with the orange juice (or dark rum) and gently bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
3. Mash the banana in a bowl with a fork and set aside.
4. Beat the butter, sugar and orange zest together until light and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, along with a tablespoon self-raising flour with each one.
5. Sift in the remaining flour, along with the mashed banana, the dates and their cooking liquid.
6. Pour the mixture in the lined cake tin, making sure it goes into the corners and the top is level. Bake for 45-50 minutes. When it is cooked the top will spring back when it is lightly pressed.
7. Turn out of the tin, removing the paper and cool on a wire tray.