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
- 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
- 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.