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Friday, May 02, 2014

Banana Date Bread

I've been making banana bread for years and I usually have a good supply of frozen over-ripe bananas in the freezer ready to be baked up in breads and muffins.  The other day I decided to make a couple of loaves and, on a whim, I threw in few dates and a spoonful of cinnamon.  Oh, my, did that ever bring it up a notch.  Of course, I was just throwing stuff into the bowl and not doing much measuring and didn't know how good this would be until I tasted it.  My daughter-in-law, Anne, particularly liked this bread and wanted the recipe so, I retraced my steps and re-created the amounts of ingredients.   I'm glad I did as I also think this Banana Date Bread deserves a place in my recipe files.  

This recipes makes 2 large loaves but it is easily halved or if you want, you may freeze or give away one loaf and eat the other.  I didn't put nuts in the original recipe as some of the family turn up their noses at nuts in banana bread but I'm rather partial to them so I've included them in the ingredients as an optional add-in.  If you like chocolate chips in your banana bread I can tell you they would be just marvelous with the dates, so you have my permission to substitute chocolate chips for the nuts (or use both).  But I, myself, will stick to the nuts.

Banana Date Bread
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup white sugar 
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional (or chocolate chips if you don't like nuts)

6 over-ripe large bananas, mashed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup brown sugar, packed (increase this to 1 cup if you like a sweeter bread)
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ cup oil

2 tablespoons white sugar for top, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease and line with parchment two 8½ x 4½-inch loaf pans.  You can use the larger 9x5-inch pans but the loaves will not be as high. 

In a large bowl mix dry ingredients,white sugar, dates and nuts, if using, together.  Lay aside.

In a medium bowl mash bananas and mix with eggs, brown sugar, vanilla and oil.  

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the banana mixture.  Gently mix together until moistened.  Do not over-mix.    Divide batter between 2 greased and parchment lined loaf pans.  If desired sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of sugar over the top of each loaf.  This will make a nice crunchy topping. 

Bake 25 minutes at 375 degrees.  Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake an additional 15-20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Cool in pans for about 15 minutes.  Remove from pans, peel off paper and place on cooling racks until cold.  Store in tightly sealed plastic bags or airtight container.  As with most banana breads, this is best the next day but you may not be able to wait. 

Makes 12-16 slices per loaf.

If your oven is particularly hot you may wish to bake at 350 degree the entire time.  

 Measure dry ingredients, white sugar and dates into a large bowl.  Mix well and set aside.

Mash bananas and mix with eggs, brown sugar, vanilla and oil.
 Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the banana mixture.

Gently mix the wet and dry ingredients together.  Quick breads don't need to be beat.  
The batter should be mixed until just moistened.

Divide the batter into 2 loaf pans.  
If desired sprinkle the top of the bread with white sugar.  This will give the bread a nice crunchy top.

Bake about 40-45 minutes.  The sugar topping has baked to a crunchy sweet crust.

Let your banana bread cool down before cutting.  
If you can wait, let it rest overnight.  I can never do that.

Delicious with a cold glass of milk.

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