Saturday, January 29, 2011

Buttering up with Banana Bread.

I abhor wastage. I don't know if it's because I've seen malnutrition/impoverishment on a day to day basis, or because my mum would make me eat the leftovers from the lunch box when I got back home. (Ma, if it didn't taste good at noon, it won't at 4. Really.)

Oh, I also have a really annoying, holier-than-thou friend who keeps saying things like "Rabia, don't say ugh for food/eat up my lunch or I'll tell my mum that you hate her cooking". Manipulative Jiminy Cricket.

 It's one of the things that get ingrained, like it or not.

Rewind to a few years back. There were a bunch of bananas (organic), going all overripe and spotty. A literal bunch. Eureka. I discovered banana bread! (Not discovered-discovered. Just discovered of its prior existence).
Wrap up bananas in newspaper and stow them away for a bit.
This helps ripen them faster, especially if there's one already overripe
banana in the bunch!

Now, I pick up bananas that are more black than yellow. I've developed techniques for ripening them fast, because I can't wait for bananas to almost-spoil each time I want this bread. It's that good. Throw in some dates (which we have kilos of, in the refrigerator, given to us by relatives who undertook the Hajj pilgrimage this year), and you have beyond-good banana bread.

The name is a misnomer; this isn't bread. This is dessert. If you want a low-cal, whole-wheat and applesauce version of this recipe, nag me for it. This is the bread you bake when you want someone to like you. Or at least to show off, generally.

I made this twice in the same week. Doubled the recipe each time. The first was for a very special couple's birthdays (their birthdays are two days apart). And the second was for my parents' anniversary. Just so you know the demographic you can bake this for, and that you did need dedication, because it gets a bit tedious.

Midnight baking is fun, there aren't too many people stressing you out. But it's also tiresome and you end up doing everything yourself. Luckily, late-night television is semi-decent on weekdays.
This is-this is-this is-THIS IS. E News!
 I need a life. Agreed.

The awesome base recipe. I've doubled it and made modifications because I like to go all out and bake a proper batch!
The prep work is tough! Yell for help.

Banana-Date Loaf:


(You could halve this and still have one loaf or 12 muffins)

2 cups mashed, ripe bananas
2 tsps lemon juice
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (maida)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsps baking powder
2 tsp ground cardamom or cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup pitted dates, diced
1 cup toasted almonds, chopped

1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature.
1 cup demerera sugar (or light brown sugar)
1 cup yogurt (Nestle Dahi would be fantastic)
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla essence


1)Prep the bananas. Start with 4 medium-ish bananas. Chop them and mash them with a fork or a hand-mixer. See if you have two cups. If not, add on!

2)Grind the white and brown sugar SEPARATELY in the mixie, until they resemble coarse sand.

3)In a large bowl, mix thoroughly the flour, baking powder, baking soda, white sugar, cardamom and salt.
Toss the dates and nuts into the flour mix, separating with your fingers if they are clumped together so that each individual pieces gets coated with the flour.

Toast the almonds either on a pan or in the oven for a couple of minutes.
Chop them coarsely.

Chop the dates into 2 cm dice. If they're very dry, soak in a few tbsps
of boiling water for 5 minutes, and drain.

4)In a medium bowl, beat together the semi-cooled butter and the brown sugar until well-combined. Beat in the eggs, mashed bananas, yoghurt and vanilla.

5)Make a well in the flour mix. Fold in the wet batter gently into the flour (do NOT beat it in vigorously), until it is just combined.

6)Preheat the oven  to 220 degrees celsius or 375 degrees Farenheit. Grease a loaf tin or muffin cups.

7) Fill up to half of a greased loaf tin. Decorate with bits of almonds and dates.

Give the slices-of-banana "decoration" I've attempted a miss. Not a great idea. A sprinkling of brown sugar over them should brulee them a wee bit, though.

Or try this crumble topping: 2 tbsp of brown sugar+1 tbsp flour+1 tbsp oats+1 tbsp butter+cinnomon/cardamom. Sprinkle it on 15 minutes after the baking starts.

Con no. 5 of midnight baking: You have to do the dishes all by yourself.

8)Bake for 35-40 minutes. Dent the top, it should spring back a little. Toothpick test isn't of much use here, because it has to be a little moist. Remove from the oven and let it cool for ten minutes.

Turn it upside down, and there you have it!


Slice and serve when hot. Or wait until it's completely cool. Wrap it in foil, tie a ribbon and attach a note saying it should be sliced and heated in the oven/toaster/griddle until it's warm. 

Incidentally, this is healthy! Relatively, at least. It's got bananas (tryptophan, fibre, potassium), dates (iron!), almonds (omega 3 fatty acids)!

Psst. Forget the butter. It'll be our little secret. I won't tell if you won't. 


  1. Can you just move to Pittsburgh?

  2. No. She just won't. Because Pittsburgh is rural.

  3. Chits: This has got to be the best compliment you've given me. Ever. Print-screen-save!

    Waseem: Mr. Hyde is on the loose, I see. :)

  4. Pittsburgh IS rural, but it does have one of the best med schools in the country. Come off Rabia. You can becomes really really rich and open up a restaurant - you'll gimme free food of course! Especially banana bread - I have a new found craving for banana bread. I go to Caribou everyday and buy a measly slice for $2.05. Plus tax.