Third time lucky…………..banana bread!

So I had a brilliant idea for toasted date and walnut, banana bread ice-cream sandwiches with cinnamon ice-cream and date caramel sauce. You would wonder how this lovely thought could go awry. Well, I will start at the beginning…The sun is shining and sparkling off Sydney Harbour like a myriad of diamonds lost from a passing ferry. It is glorious weather and feels like we are just hanging on with our last grip to summertime. My mind automatically switches into ice-cream mode, obviously and as we have an abundance of overripe bananas I decided to make an ice-cream sandwich out of banana bread.

It would have to be toasted up nice and crisp on the outside and still warm and succulent on the inside. I love cinnamon in all shapes and forms so it was the natural date for my banana bread. They would be sweetest sixteens at their first dance. Oh, my!

Well the first step was to make a good banana bread. How hard can that be as every man and his dog in Australia eats, makes and sells some variety of banana bread. For the non- Australians, a quick aside to explain the Australian obsession with banana bread. I am not a native Australian and arriving in Sydney was shocked and humbled by the respect and awe given to the lowly, everyday banana. I think it is because the general public believe banana bread is healthy and Australians are, by and large, concerned with health and wellbeing. I would put down good money down to find a café/foodstore in Sydney that doesn’t stock banana bread. If they sell newspapers, they sell banana bread, if they sell petrol, they sell banana bread. I have been living here almost 3 years and this will explain why when presented with the question of what to sandwich my cinnamon ice-cream with, the obvious and natural choice was, banana bread.

As I said earlier, having been here only two and half years, I do not have my own banana bread recipe. I went on the hunt. I thought why not start healthy. I found a lovely looking wheat/dairy free recipe, modified it to include dates and walnuts and proceeded to produce the gluggiest, burnt crust piece of awfulness this side of the equator. Clearly the recipe was at fault, not user error!

Right, on to round two. I found anther ‘tried and true’ recipe, more mainstream this time with flour and butter.   I painstakingly mashed my bananas and folded them into the stodgy mix. I held hopes it would rise delightfully but alas, it did not. This time the banana bread was dense, brick-like and worse than the first (which my boys would still try, this one – no chance).

My spirit was fading and like a mountaineer just below the last crest, I could see the summit in sight. I would not give up. So, back to the drawing board. Who of my friends bakes banana bread more than an Australian – Jen Calver, of course! I would raid her recipe book for her many-times tested banana bread. Jen uses good, old-fashioned ingredients – flour, eggs, sugar. This had to work! I was nervous this time, especially as I now had a new supply of bananas and eggs. So this better work.   I was not going to the grocery store again!

And it did. The mix was soft and gooey, it poured into the tin like a happy slug and rose to a delightful, pillowy mass of happiness. Success.

Success was also confirmed by my three-year old Atlas, who stole the slice mid-photograph and scarfed it down in one bite! This is a lesson in persistence, but also a snapshot into the mind of sugar-addict! Maybe a trip to SAA (sugar addicts anonymous) is in order.

As you can see, this whole process took far longer than planned so I will post the epic banana bread now and save the banana bread sandwiches for tomorrow!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone and of course, enjoy, savour and devour!

Date and walnut banana bread, adapted from Jen Calver

Serves 8
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 45-60 minutes

3 ripe bananas
2 eggs, lightly whisked
1/3 cup coconut oil
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/3 cups plain flour
5 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cardamom
½ cup pitted dates, chopped and soaked in boiling water for 5 minutes to soften
½ cup walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped

Preheat oven to 180C/375F. Line a loaf tin with baking paper.

Mash the bananas and mix in the eggs, coconut oil and sugar. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and mix well until just combined. Drain the dates and fold through the mixture with the walnuts. Pour into the lined loaf tin and cook for 45-60minutes. Check at 45 minutes by inserting a skewer until it comes out clean. Turn out and cool on a rack. Cut thick slices and serve warm with butter or toasted.

This banana bread is a great accompaniment for cinnamon ice cream so take a look at my epic date and walnut, banana bread, ice cream sandwiches with homemade cinnamon ice cream and date, caramel sauce.

Enjoy, savour and devour!

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