Tuesday, 30 January 2018
Banana, date and walnut loaf
I do not like banana. My mother claimed this is because she fed me too much of it as a baby. She had a lot of weird theories so I've no idea if this is in any way accurate but for whatever reason I've long steered clear of banana bread, banoffee anything or that "one ingredient" ice-cream people swear is just like the real thing but to me tastes only of its one ingredient - blended up frozen bananas. Blechhh. But I had this tin.
It was my grandmother's. I can't remember what she made in it. Possibly nothing in my lifetime. By the time I came along, she'd retired a lot of her repertoire and mostly stuck to scones. But I always remembered the tin, which Mum inherited - specifically having to fossick around it in the cluttered cupboard full of bakeware to get to the more regular round ones. But there comes a time in your life when you yearn for something different. Something cylindrical. Something showcasing what you've eschewed for an eternity.
To say I've been converted would be a bit much. In truth, you can't taste the banana at all in this and for me, that's all to the good. What shines through strongly are the dates and the walnuts - caramel and crunch in one perfect mouthful. The banana binds it together, keeps it moist. It has its place and I wouldn't think of substituting it. Not when it works so well. Especially sliced thickly and slathered with butter.
Banana, date and walnut loaf
Adapted from Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh
I halved this recipe which was the perfect size for my Willow cylindrical tin. If you don't have one of these, Ottolenghi and Goh suggest baking the batter below in three empty 400g tins (washed carefully and paper label removed), greased and lined (use pastry brush and melted butter to grease and ensure lining comes up above rim of tin so you can lift it out). But - if you're not so inclined to kitchen craft projects, the quantity below makes one 900g loaf tin.
60g walnut halves
200g dates, pitted and roughly chopped (I used dried)
200g light brown sugar
60g unsalted butter, cubed, plus extra, melted for greasing tin
1/2 tsp bicarb (baking) soda
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 medium banana, peeled and mashed (100g)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g self-raising flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 180 deg C.
Scatter walnuts on baking tray and roast for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and once cool, chop roughly and set aside.
Place dates, sugar, butter and water in a saucepan and heat gently til sugar has dissolved and butter has melted. Increase the heat and bring to boil, then remove from heat straight away and let cool to room temperature.
Line your tin/s of choice by brushing with melted butter and lining with baking paper.
Add bicarb soda, egg, vanilla and banana to date mixture and stir to combine. Add walnuts and fold in flour and salt, being careful not to overmix.
Dollop batter into tin/s and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into middle comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let cool in tins for 15 minutes before turning out to cool completely on a wire rack.
Serve in thick slices, spread generously with butter.