What To Bake: Baked Banana, Date and Pecan Loaf with Spiced Caramel Sauce

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Henrietta Inman’s Baked Banana, Date and Pecan Loaf with Spiced Caramel Sauce

Served at breakfast with yoghurt, with a cup of tea in the afternoon, or for pudding with custard, this is the ideal anytime cake. The mix of the dates, caramel-sweet banana, treacly teff flour and molasses make this sticky toffee pudding-like cake rich, moist and devilishly good, its flavours enlivened by the spices in the divine sauce.

Serves 8-10


For the banana loaf
1 tbsp milled flax seeds
3 tbsp filtered water
80ml cashew milk (see below)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
190g dates
190ml filtered water
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking or bread soda)
2-3 large bananas
120g pecans
70g teff flour
70g brown rice flour
20g arrowroot
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp mixed spice
½ tsp coarse sea salt, ground
50g easy apple purée (see below)
40g unsulphured molasses
80ml EVCP rapeseed oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the spiced caramel sauce
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
100g maple syrup or raw honey
½ tsp coarse sea salt
½ vanilla pod (bean), split lengthways and seeds scraped out, pod (bean) kept
5g whole star anise
5g cardamom pods


Preheat oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Grease and line the bottom of an 18x11x8cm deep loaf tin with baking parchment. Combine the milled flax seeds with the water and leave for about 15 minutes to form a gel. Mix the cashew milk with the apple cider vinegar and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, cook the dates with the measured water until all the water is soaked up and forms a paste. This should take no longer than 5 minutes. When the water has just been soaked up, remove the pan immediately from the heat and stir in 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda. The mixture will fizz. Keep on mixing until most of the fizzing has stopped then leave the paste to cool.

On a baking tray, bake the bananas in the oven for about 3 minutes on each side until the skins blacken. Remove from the oven and turn down the temperature to 170°C/gas mark 3, then toast the pecans on a baking tray for 5-7 minutes, until just beginning to colour. When cooled, roughly chop.

In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients from the teff flour to the salt and add the remaining 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda. Peel the bananas and mash 200g into the dates. Add the apple purée, molasses, oil and vanilla extract to the cashew milk. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the cashew milk mix, dates and bananas, flax seed gel and chopped pecans. Mix thoroughly to combine by lightly folding everything together. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 30 minutes, rotating the tin halfway. Reduce the heat to 160°C/gas mark 2½ and bake for a further 15-20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the loaf comes out clean. Leave the loaf to cool in the tin while you make the sauce, then demould when cooled completely.

In a medium saucepan bring all the sauce ingredients to a boil, stirring to combine. Turn down the heat to a medium rolling boil and reduce the sauce for 10 minutes, stirring now and again so it doesn’t catch. It will be looking thicker and have become a golden caramel colour. Remove the cardamom pods, star anise and vanilla pod (bean) with a slotted spoon. Pour into a bowl and set aside.

When ready to serve, give the sauce a good whisk, pour it into a jug and serve generously over slices of the loaf with extra chopped pecans if you wish. You can serve the loaf and the sauce either warmed up or cold. The loaf will keep in a sealed container for up to five days.

NOTE Molasses is made from sugar cane, containing all the vitamins, minerals and fibre that white sugar is stripped of. A real energy booster that is especially rich in zinc, it is a dark treacle which is full of flavour and adds deep colour and richness to cakes and breads. Only small amounts are needed, as it is quite strong. Buy pure cane molasses.

Cashew Milk
Makes 900ml
200g cashew nuts
600ml filtered water
pinch-½ tsp Himalayan pink salt

Soak the nuts for 3-4 hours in 500ml of filtered water with 1tsp Himalayan pink salt. Drain and thoroughly rinse the nuts in a colander or sieve with running water. Place in a blender with the measured water and your preferred quantity of salt. Blend for 20 seconds. Stop and repeat until nuts are well ground and you have a creamy white milk. No need to strain. Keep in the fridge in an airtight glass bottle for 4-5 days.

Easy Apple Purée
Quick and extremely easy to make – no peeling required – apple purée not only adds a natural, low-GI fibre-full sweetener to your cakes, but also adds moisture and helps create a wonderfully soft texture.
Makes about 1kg
12 apples – I like Cox’s

Preheat oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Wash and dry the apples, then cut into quarters. Place on a baking tray and bake until soft, about 20-30 minutes. Leave to cool and do not discard the liquids. In a blender, blend the cooked apples and juices until a smooth, sweet, thick purée. Use immediately or keep in the fridge for up to five days, or freeze in batches in glass jars.

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Extracted from Clean Cakes: Delicious pâtisserie made with whole, natural and nourishing ingredients and free from gluten, dairy and refined sugar by Henrietta Inman (Jacqui Small, approx €25), out now. Photography by Lisa Linder. Go here to order.

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