I had leftover dates after making tamarind-date chutney, and I started thinking about different ways to use them in baking. Date scones came to mind, and I know I have a recipe for walnut date bars somewhere, but neither of those options were quite right. I was indecisive until I saw the banana-date tea cake recipe in Tartine. This was perfect. It’s a simple quick bread with lots of banana flavor, crunchy walnuts, and sweet, chewy dates. The batter is mixed, poured into a loaf pan, topped with long slices of banana, and that’s it. When I’m making use of a leftover, I feel like what it’s going into needs to be a simple preparation, and I had all the other ingredients for this on hand.
Bananas were mashed and eggs and vanilla were added to them. Flour was sifted with cornstarch, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda. Butter was creamed with sugar, the banana mixture was added, and then the flour mixture was folded into the batter. Toasted and chopped walnuts were added with pitted and chopped dates. I use kitchen shears to cut dates in half, pick out the seeds, and then cut them into chunks. It seems easier to me to cut with shears since the dates are so sticky. The finished batter was placed in a greased loaf pan, and then it was to be topped with full-length slices of banana. My banana broke in several places as I sliced it, so my slices were quartered rather than full-length. It was still pretty enough though, or so I thought. The banana slices were sprinkled with sugar, and the tea cake baked for a little over an hour until an inserted cake tester came out clean.
This was a somewhat dense but very moist and flavorful tea cake. It sliced easily, and each piece was full of walnuts and dates. I stored the cake for an entire week in the refrigerator, slicing pieces for breakfast each morning, and it was as delicious on the last day as it was on the first. In fact, Kurt dropped a few hints about how there should always be a breakfast item like this in the refrigerator, and I think he’s right about that.