Sunday, 14 April 2013

Banana, cherry & coconut loaf - the low fat, low sugar version - but don't let that put you off

When my mum first mooted the possibility of replacing butter in baking with pureed prunes, I have to say, I looked askance, and scoffed internally. Nothing could take the place of butter. Particularly where cake is concerned. I've always thought that if there's cake to be eaten, you might as well do it wholeheartedly, embrace what you're consuming, enjoy it, and if you eat two or three slices, well, that's life just have one slice. 

So why I had the idea to substitute butter with pureed dates in this loaf cake is something of a mystery. Well, I suppose not entirely. It started off as a Nigella creation - the original appears in Kitchen, but although my bananas were squidgy, there weren't nearly enough of them so I started off my casting round for some banana substitute, wondering what would happen to the consistency of the loaf if I added grated apple. The pureed prune idea popped into my head from nowhere, but then I remembered  that while I might not have any prunes knocking around, I did have dates in the cupboard, and a plan formed. I used enough dates to make up the weight of bananas I was missing, and half the butter. More to see what would happen than anything else.

As dates are pretty sweet too, I took the opportunity to cut down the sugar. I know, what a killjoy.

But although it doesn't look pretty, believe me, this is mighty good cake - definitely sweet and substantial enough to feel like a treat, and very tasty.

125g pureed dates (well - pureed in so far as I whizzed them all up in the food processor)
62g soft unsalted butter
3 small-medium ripe bananas
75g caster sugar
2 large eggs
175g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
100g dried cherries
100g dessicated coconut

Line a 2lb loaf tin and pre-heat the oven to 170C

Melt the butter in a large-ish pan, then take off the heat while you mash up the banana and half the dates, beat the eggs together and sift together the flour, baking powder and bicarb.

Beat the sugar and the other half of the dates into the cooled, melted butter, then beat in the mashed banana/dates and beaten eggs. Fold in the flour mixture followed by the cherries and coconut.

Make sure everything is properly incorporated, then scrape into the lined tin and bake. The original recipe says 50 mins, but check after 45. This version took quite a bit longer, but I realised my oven wasn't hot enough to begin with... I popped a bit of foil over the top to stop it catching.

Allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.


  1. Nice one RJ. It's a brave move but seems to have cut the mustard. You could eat this for breakfast..

  2. Definitely not letting this healthy bread get in my way. Looks delicious!

  3. I love dates - they add such lovely taste and texture to baking. Would I be subverting the purpose of the recipe if I slathered on thick butter to each slice?

    1. I think it would be LOVELY with butter on it.

  4. I think it looks lovely RJ. The combo of banana and dates would always win me over :)

  5. mmm yummy. One of my favorite recipes. Thanks for sharing this.



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