• Chocolate date and banana loaf is crumbly, dark and delicious. The dates give the mixture a wonderful natural sweetness, and bananas add a lovely softness. Top with thick Italian meringue and you’ve got a perfect teatime treat!

    Recipes and styling by Andria Neophytou

    Assisted by Andrea Pafitis-Hill and Jani Venter

    Photograph by Dawie Verwey 

    Chocolate date and banana loaf

    Serves: 12
    Cooking Time: 1 hr 30 mins


    • 5ml (1 tsp) bicarbonate of soda
    • 125ml (½ cup) boiling water
    • 130g dates, pitted and chopped
    • 90g butter, at room temperature
    • 200g castor sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • ± 200g or 2 mashed bananas
    • 270g cake flour
    • 7,5ml (1½ tsp) baking powder
    • 5ml (1 tsp) ground cinnamon
    • 1ml salt
    • 45ml (3 tbsp) cocoa powder
    • Italian meringue

    • 500g castor sugar
    • 250ml (1 cup) water
    • 4 large egg whites
    • 1,25ml (¼ tsp) cream of tartar
    • Dark caramel sauce

    • 160g castor sugar
    • 95ml water
    • 125ml (½ cup) double cream



    Preheat the oven to 180°C. Coat a 33 x 13cm loaf tin and a baking tray with cooking spray, and set aside.


    Combine the bicarbonate of soda, water and dates in a small bowl, and set aside to cool.


    Cream the butter and castor sugar in the bowl of a food mixer until light and creamy in colour. Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add mashed bananas.


    Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and cocoa into a separate bowl. Add to the butter mixture, alternating with the date mixture.


    Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and bake until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean, 55 – 60 minutes. Remove from oven and leave to cool in the tin.


    For the Italian meringue, place the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, using a wet pastry brush to brush the sides to avoid crystallisation. Stop stirring after the sugar has dissolved. When sugar reaches soft ball stage, use a sugar thermometer to measure 115°C. Remove from heat. Place egg whites in the mixer, add cream of tartar and start beating on high speed. Add the sugar syrup in a slow stream while the beater is mixing. Continue to beat for a further 10 minutes until the mixture is thick and glossy.


    When the loaf has completely cooled, place Italian meringue in a piping bag fitted with a nozzle and pipe meringue peaks on top of the loaf. Use a blowtorch until the meringue is golden brown.


    For the dark caramel sauce, stir the sugar and water in a large saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves, 5 minutes. Increase temperature to high and cook until boiling, without stirring. Brush down the sides with a wet pastry brush so that crystals do not form and cook until a deep golden colour appears, 15 – 20 minutes. Remove from heat, add cream and stir for 2 minutes. Set aside for 30 minutes to cool. Drizzle over the meringue loaf.