Banana Bread 2020
1 stick of butter, plus some to grease pan
¾ cup (75g) pitted and chopped medjool dates*
2 tablespoons tahini
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 -6 super-ripe, spotty bananas (need about 2 cups after you set aside half of one banana)
2 cups (256g) all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
* Make sure you are using fresh, plump, soft Medjool dates. About 5-6 large = 75g. Do not substitute any other kind of dates, as most are too dry, puny, or both. Only Medjools will mush nicely into the butter and impart sweetness throughout the bread.
1. Preheat oven to 350º. Generously grease a standard loaf pan with butter -- get in the corners.
2. Break up all but one-half of one banana in a bowl. Set the half aside. Heat the bananas in the microwave for about a minute** -- just until they smell banana-y, but are not cooking.
3. In another bowl combine dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda) with a fork, and set aside.
4. In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter until creamy/fluffy. Add well-chopped dates and beat until they are combined and you have a light brown date butter with only a few small solid bits of dates remaining. (Should come together in a few minutes.)
5. Add eggs, one at a time until blended in the butter. Then add tahini, vanilla and bananas until batter is mostly smooth; some small lumps are fine, even desirable.
6. Take the bowl off the mixer, scrape down the sides with a spatula and stir in the flour mixture. Combine until no dry spots remain, but get this done with as little action as possible -- don’t over-mix.
If you are the sort of person who likes nuts, chocolate chips, or other distractions in her banana bread: Now is the time to stir them in. No more than ¾ cup (~75g) please.
7. Spread batter into the loaf pan. Slice remaining banana half and distribute slices on top, taking care not to submerge them. Don’t bother making fancy/cute patterns; items will shift during baking.
8. Bake for about an hour, checking after 50 minutes for doneness (if a chopstick comes out clean). Let cool as long as you can stand to wait (10 minutes?) then turn out of the pan, and serve in warm slices.
** Learned the banana-microwave trick from Joanne Chang’s book Baking with Less Sugar, which also has a great (dateless) banana bread recipe.