STOP! Step away from the fruit bowl! Under no circumstances must you bin those sorry looking bananas that have lingered all week! Yes, I know they are so soft that even the toddler won’t eat them but beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. And this beholder looks at their black spots and squidgy flesh and sees the most delicious banana loaf cake just waiting to be baked.
My eldest daughter’s school has a policy of no sweets, crisps or chocolate of any kind in her lunch box. But on a Friday, the little tiddlywinks are allowed a cookie, biscuit or cake as a treat. So using up the manky old bananas that won’t survive the weekend is a great way to give her a treat, get one up on the smug mum with the bento box AND know that there’s no junk or processed crap in the ingredients.
This was originally a Delia Smith recipe for banana and walnut loaf. I don’t like walnuts so I adapted the recipe with chopped dates and cinnamon to fit in with the school rules.
This is such a versatile recipe. A lovely lunchbox treat. Perfect for Sunday teatime. A good food for established weaning. You can do all sorts with it – desiccated coconut, raisins, chopped nuts, chocolate chips.
BANANA AND DATE LOAF
75g soft butter
110g caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
225g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 ripe bananas
Grated rind of 1 orange
Grated rind of 1 lemon
50g chopped dates (can be substituted for chocolate chips or walnuts)
½ tsp cinnamon (optional)
Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C. Grease and line a loaf tin.
In a bowl, use a fork to mash the bananas to a pulp and set aside (preferably out of reach of any little helpers!)
In a separate, larger bowl (or a food mixer, if it’s easier), put the butter, sugar and egg then sift in the flour, cinnamon and baking powder. Mix these ingredients thoroughly. It will be fairly dry but carry on.
Add the citrus rinds, mashed bananas and dates and mix really well.
It’ll be much wetter now so slop it into the loaf tin and level off the top.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 50-55 minutes. The loaf should be golden, well-risen and springy to the touch.
Leave in the tin for 10 minutes then gently loosen the edges and turn out to cool on a rack. If you can wait that long.