I used to be such a picky eater, there used to be a loooong list of ingredients I refused to eat. Even when my interest in food and cooking grew and the list gradually got shorter, the thought of eating certain ingredients or dishes was simply horrifying. Bananas, mushrooms, everything that sounded really exotic or was just simply new to me, I would not eat.
Then I moved to Beijing and I had to step out of every comfort zone that I had. New friends, different language, different culture, different food and no kitchen. Some things were easier to adjust to than others: food was one of the easier ones, living without a kitchen was definitely not.
When I went back to the Netherlands last summer I couldn’t wait to try out all the new recipes I had been wanting to make for over a year, and inspired by all these new experiences I found my way back into the kitchen. One day I suddenly realized I had made pasta with mushrooms for dinner with this banana-date cake for dessert. I had finally conquered all of my silly food quirks. I now firmly believe that mushrooms are awesome, bananas are my favorite fruit snack and I will never let a chance go by to try out new flavors and ingredients.
Recipe adapted from Tartine, by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson.
155 g all-purpose flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
255 g (about 3) very ripe bananas
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
85 g butter, at room temperature
170 g sugar
115 g walnuts, coarsely chopped
225 g dates, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 extra banana
2 tbsp sugar
Preheat the oven to 175˚C/350˚F. Lightly butter, or place baking paper on, the bottom and sides of a loaf pan.
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda. Stir and set aside.
Peel the bananas and place in a second bowl, mash them with a fork until you have a chunky purée. Add the eggs, vanilla and salt, stir to mix and set aside.
In a third mixing bowl, beat the butter until light and creamy, about two minutes. Slowly add the sugar and beat until light in color and fluffy, again about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and add the banana mixture, beat until incorporated.
Using the rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the other mixture. Then fold in the dates and the walnuts. Make sure all the ingredients are fully incorporated, but don’t over mix the batter.
Transfer the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top with a spatula or the back of a spoon. To make the topping for the cake, peel the extra banana and cut in half lengthways, then place each half cut side down and cut in half lengthways again, ending up with 4 long slices*. Lay the slices on top of the batter and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack, for about 20 minutes. Take the cake out of the tin and leave to cool completely.
*It is pretty obvious I didn’t do it like this. Just cut the banana however you feel like cutting it.