Banana-Date Tea Cake

11 Mar

This afternoon in Toronto, the temperature was hovering around minus 2, and there were some face-slapping gusts of wind to contend with. Oh to be in San Francisco, where today’s gorgeous recipe comes from!

I found this banana-date tea cake in a book called Tartine, by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson, who run a well-loved San Fran neighbourhood bakery of the same name.

The chef-owners share their recipes for brioche, apple nougatine tart, a spectacular lemon meringue cake (next on my to-make list) and all manner of sweet treats.

To give you a sense of how fabulous these bakers are, Chef Alice Waters of Chez Panisse buys her birthday cakes from them.

Tartine has been my bedtime reading for the past few nights. (Sometimes, instead of giving my pastry cravings free rein, I just like to look at pretty pictures.)

But this banana-date tea cake seemed the perfect thing to actually make on a day like this, when I feel the need for comfort food and teapot after teapot of Earl Grey.

Photo: Sean McMichael

To get a sense of how it turned out, close your eyes and conjure up luxurious moistness,  and vanilla-tinged sweetness. Think of a crumbling sponge just holding together squidgy dates, gently toasted walnuts and bites of sugar-encrusted banana.

This cake put me in such a good mood.

And you know what else did?

The weather forecast for next week.

Photo: Sarah Owen

Bring on spring!

Banana-Date Tea Cake

1 cup + 2 tbsp (155 g) all-purpose flour
2 tbsp (30 mL) cornstarch
1 tsp (5 mL) ground cinnamon
2 tsp (10 mL) baking powder
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
3 medium bananas, very ripe
2 large eggs
1 & 1/2 tsp (7 mL) vanilla extract
1/2 (2 mL) salt
6 tbsp (85 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp (170 g) sugar
1 cup (115 g) walnuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
1 & 3/4 cups (225 g) dates, pitted and coarsely chopped

1 medium banana
2 tbsp (30 mL) sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.

2. This recipe is easily mixed by stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed or by hand with a wooden spoon. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda, and stir to mix. Set aside. Peel the three bananas and place in a second bowl. Mash with a fork until you have a chunky puree. Add the eggs, vanilla, and salt to the bananas and stir to mix well. Set aside.

3. In a third mixing bowl, beat the butter until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the sugar and beat until light in colour and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Slowly add the banana mixture and beat until incorporated. Again scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again for around another 30 seconds, making sure all the ingredients are fully incorporated.

4. Using the rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the banana mixture. Then fold in the nuts and dates. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again, making sure the ingredients are fully incorporated.

5. Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf and smooth the surface with an offset spatula. To top the cake, peel the banana and cut in half lengthwise. Then place each half cut side down and cut in half lengthwise, to yield four long slices. Lay the slices on top of the batter. Sprinkle with the sugar.

Um, I may not have read that banana slicing instruction properly - should be four long skinny pieces.

6. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool in the pan or a wire rack for about 20 minutes, and then invert onto the rack, turn right side up, and let cool completely. Serve the cake at room temperature. It will keep, well wrapped at room temperature for 2 days,or in the fridge for about 1 week.

–Recipe from Tartine, by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson, page 104, Chronicle Books.

7 Responses to “Banana-Date Tea Cake”

  1. Carla March 11th, 2012 at 8:23 AM #

    perfect day, recipe and the weather just what every one in T.O needs Sunday March the 11/2012 Thanks

    • Valerie Howes March 12th, 2012 at 10:45 AM #

      It was a lovely Sunday, indeed. Lots of people on patios wearing T-shirts and sun glasses.

  2. Juliet March 12th, 2012 at 1:12 PM #

    At home feeling ill today so made the loaf. Still ill but full of deliciousness so really don’t care so much anymore. Thinking of having a slice of it with hot custard as a healthy dinner!

  3. Danielle March 12th, 2012 at 1:39 PM #

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe Valerie. It look so delicious!

  4. Valerie Howes March 12th, 2012 at 1:40 PM #

    Sorry you’re ill, Juliet. Glad the cake helped!

  5. Lori March 21st, 2012 at 9:29 PM #

    I love that green lamp on the table, the cake looks delicious too. thx

    • Valerie Howes March 22nd, 2012 at 2:16 PM #

      The lamp is from Winners. 😉

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