Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Easy, Moist, Light, Delicious and Moist / Facile, Moelleux, Léger, Délicieux et Moelleux

Banana Cake for Breakfast

Ah! Banana cake! The word alone reminds you of slow weekends, family picnics and afternoons sitting by the window listening to the drip, drop of the rain while sipping a warm cup of tea.
To me, banana cake doesn’t ring a bell to my childhood memories, but bananas! Oh, yes.

Growing up, in the beginning of the 90’s in Algeria, it wouldn’t even cross my mind to put mashed bananas in a cake. It wouldn’t even cross my mind to let bananas go untouched and abandoned for days on the counter top. It wasn’t that we were that found of bananas, it was because we hardly ever see it in our kitchen. You see, bananas were to us what watermelons were to Japan: Expensive. They were so expensive and dear that eating them outside was considered an insult to those who can’t afford it.
Bananas were a “luxury” fruit. The one you see meticulously displayed in brown rattan baskets, along with pineapples, litchis and other exotic, unknown fruits at gourmet stores (we call these type of stores in our slang: pharmacist. I don’t know how this word came to be used that way, but we use it for all shops that are outrageously pricey. And we use it for the pharmacist as well. Got it?).

Bananas were to be bought on special events, on special days. My mother would buy it for us when she wanted it to spoil us, when we had good reports at school, when we had a birthday to celebrate, when they were on sale, which rarely happened. And when these days took place, my mother would cut the banana in half, hide it behind her back and ask us to choose. Otherwise, we would be measuring and studying the banana from all corners to see which half is bigger. Eating whole bananas were exceptional. But even with half a banana, we were happy, appreciating and extending seconds to minutes of lavish pleasure. (A funny story to show you the status of bananas at that time: I remember a distant cousin who went to live in France. After a few months there, he sent a picture to his parents of him near his refrigerator wide open, holding a bunch of bananas in his hand. How did I see this picture? His mother would carry the photo with her and show it to anyone asking after her son.)

Years went by, and now bananas went from rattan baskets at gourmet shops to donkeys pulling carts packed with bananas at the market. Even at rural markets. Bananas were cheap, even cheaper than potatoes at some point. We made banana tarts, banana mousse, banana papillotes with vanilla beans; we even tried banana tagine, which was quite good.
After some experiments, some misadventures and abandoned bananas on the counter top I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t found of bananas, but I love banana cake/bread.

I came across this recipe a while ago while browsing my usual blog reads. It appealed to me more than the others banana bread because it didn’t require the use of much ingredients and fatty calories. I know what you’re thinking about “healthy” cakes, and I feel the same way, but trust me, and trust David, this isn’t your typical dry, tasteless cake. This, my friends is the best banana cake I have ever had. I know I can exaggerate sometimes, especially when it involves baked goodies, but not today. Not only it is very easy to make and low in calories, which is always a plus for my hips, but it’s also moist, light, fragrant, delicious and moist. I know I said moist twice, but this is just how moist this cake is. David Lebovitz, who is a very talented pastry chef and a very funny Parisian, uses a combination of banana and cocoa nibs. Instead, I used banana and fresh Algerian dates, which was heavenly good. Why have I never thought about this combination before? Oh, yes! The pharmacists!

Banana Cake

Banana and Dates Cake

You can use a mixture of all purpose flour and white whole-wheat flour, or just use the all-purpose one. Adding dates and orange zest to the batter was a personal choice, as I love the combination of both. You can fellow David’s delicious Directions by using chocolate chips or cocoa nibs instead of dates, and cinnamon instead of orange zest.

Recipe: Adapted from
- 1 cup (120 g) all purpose flour
- ½ cup (90g) white whole-wheat flour
- 1-teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon Orange zest
- ¾ cup (150 g) sugar
- 2 tablespoons (55 g) melted butter (salted or unsalted)
- 1 large egg white
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 cup (250 ml) banana puree, made from about 2 very ripe medium-sized bananas
- ½ cup (125 ml) plain yogurt, regular or low-fat (I used regular yogurt, but you can use sour cream as well)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup (60 g) Dates, pitted and diced

Butter a 9-inch (23 cm) square pan or a loaf pan and line the bottom with a sheet of parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350F (180 C).
- Sift together in a bowl the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix in the sugar.

- In a large bowl, mix together the butter, egg white, egg, banana puree, sour cream, vanilla and orange zest, if using.

- Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and stir in the wet ingredients with a spatula until almost mixed. Add in the dates and stir until just combined, but don't over stir: stop when any traces of flour disappear.

- Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until the center feels lightly springy and just done, and a toothpick inserted inside the cake comes out clean.

- Cool on a baking rack.

Storage: This cake will keep well for 3-4 days, or can be frozen, wrapped in plastic wrap, for a few months.

Cake à la Banane et Dattes

Vous pouvez utiliser un mélange de farine complete et farine blanche, ou utiliser seulement la farine blanche. Le choix de dattes et le zeste d’orange était purement personnel, car j’adore la combination des deux. Les dattes peuvent etre remplacé par de pépites de chocolat et le zeste d’orange par de la canelle.

In Francais Please: adapté d’ici
- 120g de farine
- 90g de farine blanche complete
- 1 c.c de levure chimique
- ½ c.c de bicarbonate de soude
- ½ c.c de sel
- 1 c.c de zeste d’orange
- 150g de sucre
- 55g de beurre, fondu (salé ou doux)
- 1 gors blanc d’oeuf
- 1 gros oeuf
- 250ml de purée de banane
- 125ml de yaourt nature (entier ou allégé)
- ½ c.c d’extrait de vanille
- 60g de dattes, dénoyautées et coupées en dés

Beurrer un moule carré de 23cm de diametre ou un moule à cake et garnir le fond d’un papier-parchemin. Préchuaffe le four a 180 C.
- Tamiser les farines, la levure, bicarbonate de soude, et le sel. Ajouter le sucre.

- Dans un grand bol, mélanger le beurre, le blanc d’oeuf, l’oeuf, la purée de banane, le yaourt, la vanille et le zeste d’orange.

- Faire un puits au milieu de la farine et verser dedans le mélange precedent en utilisant une maryse jusqu’à ce que le tout soit presque uniforme. Ajouter le dattes et mélanger juste ce qu’il faut pour bien les dispercer, mais ne pas trop mélanger: arrêter-vous quand toute trace de farine ait disparu.

- Verser la pâte dans votre moule beurré et faire cuire pendant 40 minutes, ou jusqu’à ce que le centre semble cuit et qu’un cure-dents en ressort propre.

- Laisser refroidir sur une grille à patisserie sans le démouler

Ce cake se garde bien pendant 3-4 jours, ou peut être congelé, enveloppé dans un film plastique pendant quelques mois.


RecipeGirl said...

What a comforting slice! I might use the chocolate in place of the dates. Sounds like something my family would cherish!

marion - il en faut peu pour ... said...

I love bananas. Especially with chocolate :) But I never imagine to cook hem except in the oven with a little sugar or in a pan with rhum or things like this.
Your optimism and "joie de vivre" isn't emphasis, it's just ... love ! no ? ;)
Keep your enthusiasm, it's contagious !

Christine said...

Un morceau de cake et un cafe creme, s'il vous plait :)

Your lovely photo is so enticing. Moist bread with banana, dates and orange zest - it doesn't get better than that! I imagine this bread would also keep well, too.

Your banana story is so funny. My mother used to always cut the banana in half too - but because she said girls should never peel and eat a whole banana --- it looks *unbecoming* ....huh? what? (that's what we wondered)

I need to show you a photo of my mom's banana tree that she grows in her back yard in Southern Calif. It's amazing.

Aimée said...

Thank you for this recipe! I have bananas going brown as I write. Love the addition of dates.Mmmm.

Gretchen Noelle said...

What a fun, fun story. Living here in Peru I have had 60 kilo bags of plantains delivered. I seem to never lack bananas here!

Chuck said...

Warda, what a beautiful photo! It goes perfect with the comfort of a warm slice of the banana cake. Stunning!!!

Gigi said...

I loved this post! I hardly ever eat bananas in their fruit form. I let them get overly ripe on my counter in the hopes of making banana bread or cake. Now I have a great recipe for my bananas! Thanks Warda!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Warda, bananas are so popular and common here it should be a shame NOT to make this delicious recipe!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

And so I am completely the opposite -- I love fresh bananas, but have never liked banana cake or bread. Of course I haven't tried to make it for many years, so perhaps it's time to try again!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

The dates make this one exceptional banana cake.

Christine said...

I forgot to say that I love the first photo also -- and with such a nice paint color in the background. The light on the chair is fantastic.

annie @ Forest Street Kitchen said...

Oh my, that sounds great. I think dates and bananas are a natural combination, although I must say I'm intrigued by the coco nib version, too. Also, I loved reading about your life as a child in Algeria, and feel kind of guilty about the many bananas I threw away with my sandwich crusts in elementary school....

Warda said...

- Recipegirl, thank you! The chocolate version is indeed delicious.

- Marion, You are always so good to me, my dear friend. Thanks a lot! I've heard that you make a killer banana and chocolate spread. Must be delicous with this cake ;)

- Christine, tout de suite madame! it keeps very well (If you can keep it that long. Noy at my house where I have a banana lover who ate it in two days!)BTW, the first photo was taken by the banana lover ;)

- Aimee, I hope you enjoy it! And thanks for stopping by.

- Gretchen, 60kilos! Waouhh! Tell them to make a stop at my house next time.

- Chuck, I would have to give credit to my husband who took this photo. Thank you very much!

- Gigi, you are very welcome! Happy baking!

- Patricia, It is funny that when they became very common in my country I stopped enjoying them.

- Lydia, Banana cakes/bread and cauliflower won't be on the menu if you ever decide to stop by Michigan.

- Susan, thank you! Dates have a special place in my heart. I love them.

- Annie, I used chocolate chips instead of cocoa nibs, which of course are not the same, but still loved it.

CollyWolly said...

What a fabulous post Warda-Rose, and such gorgeous photos, I just want to relax in that lovely chair with the rain drip dropping outside and drink my tea out of that lovely cup of yours. And I love banana cake so will try this recipe of yours as well. I have really enjoyed reading this post and am looking forward to chilly wet weather now. Well done :)

Maryam said...

I am hoping that you will please, please consider a banana tagine recipe. I would so love to try one!

Tartelette said...

What a great combination with the dates and the bananas. Dates are my favorite snacks but I'll gladly eat them in this cake!

Kristen said...

I will eat just about anything banana. This sounds so tasty!

michelle @ TNS said...

this "cake" sounds suspiciously healthy. i guess it would be okay with enough chocolate frosting on it.

kidding! it does seem healthy, but in a yummy i-could-eat-it-for-breakfast-and-not-feel-guilty way.