Nutritious Banana Bread Loaf with Dates

Are you unsure what to do with those spotty overripe bananas in your fruit bowl? Give them a proper send off with this fruit-sweetened banana bread loaf.

A banana date bread loaf sliced thickly.

This rustic and wholesome banana bread loaf has quickly become a favourite recipe to date (geddit? ba-dum-tss). 

It’s sweetened with fruit alone, just overripe bananas and big juicy flecks of dates scattered throughout the batter. There’s no extra maple syrup, honey, or granulated sugars added. I promise, the fruit, along with cinnamon and vanilla, leaves it sweet enough.

Using Fruit in Baking

As a nutritionist, I’m often asked for nutritious breakfast recipes and wholesome dessert recipes lower in added sugar (while satisfying a raging sweet tooth!). One approach is to celebrate the natural sweetness in fruit, which this recipe does. Here, make sure to:

  • Opt for really ripe bananas. Look for bananas that are yellow and streaked, with brown or black freckles. Absolutely no green! These will provide sweetness and a luscious deep banana flavour. An unripe green banana is up to 80% starch. As they ripen starches convert to sugars, until they end up being less than 1% starch by the time fully ripe (1).
  • Try a homemade date puree. Cooking dates into a puree will infuse a caramel-sweetness into the batter, while encouraging a moist and tender texture. Scattered chopped chucks provide a flavour burst, but not the even layer of sweetness we’re after.

Kitchen Tips

Here are tips and tricks I’ve found help the baking flow and final outcome when making this recipe:

  • Cool your cooked date puree in the fridge or freezer. This speed things up while you prepare other ingredients. Otherwise, brew yourself a tea, or water the plants, or put away the washing and wait for it to reach room temperature!
  • Swift dry ingredients. Sifting promotes consistency in the batter by breaking up larger lumps. So easy to say ‘meh!’ and skip – but please don’t friends!
  • Gently fold. Folding is where you combine ingredients together without stirring, beating or agitating the mix. Instead, the lighter delicate mixture is placed on top of the heavier thicker one, again and again, until combined. Air becomes trapped into bubbles, helping it rise. Use a wide flexi spatula here. 
  • Don’t overmix! This can lead to a denser loaf – boo! Mix ingredients until the batter is just evenly incorporated.
  • Size matters. My loaf tin was 25cm long x 12 cm wide. A different sized or shaped tin may mean you need to adjust baking time. Test done-ness with a fork or toothpick – if it comes out clean you’re good!
  • Cover with foil. If you notice the top of your loaf starting to over-brown in the last ten minutes or so of baking, use foil to your aid by loosely covering.
  • Mix-ins? Make this loaf your own. It’d be ace with a handful of chocolate chips, raisins or walnuts tossed through the batter before baking!
A close up slice of banana date bread spread with butter.

Serving Suggestions

  • This banana date loaf is the perfect breakfast or snack slathered with nut butter, ricotta & honey or classic beloved butter. Kick back with a cup of coffee and enjoy!
  • Serve warm as a wholesome dessert along with a dollop of ice cream. 
  • Not feeling it anymore? Repurpose into a delectable bread and butter pudding! You’ll find oodles of inspiration online for recipes.

Thanks for reading! If you give this recipe a go, I hope you love it. It’s a favourite and took many loving attempts to get right. Are you a mega-fan of bananas, like me? Be sure to try this creamy banana porridge or these banana oat cookies next time you have spotty bananas in the fruit bowl!🍌

Nutritious Banana Bread Loaf with Dates

Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr
Rating:

Ingredients:  

  • 1 cup pitted dates with ½ cup water
  • 3 very ripe bananas, medium
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 cup flour (plain or gluten-free)
  • 1 cup almond meal*
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder (use gluten-free if required)
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • A good pinch of salt
  • cup plain greek yoghurt**

Method:

  • Finely chop dates. Add to a small saucepan with the water measure. Cook over a medium-low heat, stirring regularly, until the water has evaporated – this will take less than five minutes.
  • Remove from heat and leave to cool to room temperature. To speed up the process, scoop date mixture into a bowl and place in the fridge or freezer.
  • Preheat oven to bake 160 degree Celsius. Line a loaf tin with baking paper (I used a 25cm long x 12 cm wide rectangular tin – a different shaped tin might produce different thicknesses and require a slightly different cooking time).
  • Add to a mixing bowl the bananas. Mash with a fork or potato masher. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla essence.
  • Sift in flour, almond meal, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the date puree. Using a spatula, gently fold together until just evenly incorporated.
  • Add yoghurt and gently fold through – be careful not to overmix!
  • Bake in the oven for 1 hour. It’s best baked in the middle the oven, not the top. If it looks like it’s starting to overbrown, cover loaf loosely with foil the last 10 or so minutes of baking. Check to see it’s cooked by inserting something thin and sharp into the middle to the loaf e.g. toothpick or knife (it should come out pretty clean, if not, keep it in for a smidge longer).
  • Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes in tin. Remove from tin, slice and enjoy!

Notes:

*Almond meal is almonds that have been finely ground. In NZ you’ll usually find this in the baking section of supermarkets where the nuts and seeds are.
** Feel free to sub greek yoghurt for a plant yoghurt.

Leave a Comment & Rate this Recipe

If you enjoyed this dish, please consider giving it a star rating when you post a comment. Star ratings help others discover my recipes online (and your reviews make my day! 🙂 ). Happy cooking and baking. Danijela x

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Recipe Rating




22 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I love this recipe and have made a few adjustments to suit my taste. I used bran instead of flour and added walnuts. It is beautiful and moist and keeps well.Thank you for an amazing and healthy recipe

    • Hi Rosita – thank you for this lovely comment! I am so happy to hear you enjoyed it, and love the substitution ideas. I’m definitely going to give your suggestions a try myself – walnuts, yum 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve made this three times in the latest lockdown and it has worked a treat every time. I find chopping the dates finely is key and the addition of Greek yoghurt is genius. Works well as muffins too. With a coeliac in the house we make it gf, but it stays lovely and moist all the way to the end, although that is not usually very long as it is so delicious !

  3. Have made this morning, omg it is sooooo good. I used 3/4 cup wholemeal flour as only had 1/4cup of almond. Added extra yoghurt & chopped walnuts. My yoghurt is sugar free & I left out the salt.
    Absolutely delicious, I’ll be making again & again & again. A keeper of a recipe.

  4. 5 stars
    This ones a keeper recipe! Always go back to it when I have overripe bananas. A hit in this household🙌🏻

    • Hi Jen! Thanks for your message. I haven’t tried it myself, so I cannot say for sure. I’ve done a bit of research and I think white spelt is AOK in a 1:1 ratio swap with regular flour, but whole meal spelt may work better with just a portion swapped (e.g. 1/2 cup spelt, 1/2 cup flour). In saying that, it might be great!

      If you do an total swap maybe just keep an eye on the texture – if it’s dry, it may need more moisture (the fibre in whole meal may soak up more liquid I am thinking?). I am all for adventures in the kitchen, so good luck if you give it a go 🙂 x

      • 5 stars
        Thank you! The wholemeal spelt flour sub was a success. I added 1/4 cup more water to the date paste mixture and a little more yoghurt, and it was lovely and moist. 5 stars from me 😀

    • Hi there, I have done some research and as buckwheat is a denser flour it may not be the best 1:1 swap – I think more so better in recipes that do not need to rise (e.g.cookies). You could probably use it in combination with lighter flours, maybe aiming to replace 50% of the regular flour. I hope this helps xx

  5. I am SO excited to try this! Do you know how many calories are in each slice? Thanks so much 🙂

    • Hi Danielle! So nice to hear your enthusiasm, this is a favourite recipe of mine from the blog so I do hope you try it! I’m not sure the calorie/macro breakdown for it, sorry. A platform I used to use in Nutrition Practise to check the nutrition breakdown was Cronometer – they have a nifty free calculator (which also breaks down micronutrient comp too!). Depending on how you cut it (the thickness) will be a key consideration xx

    • Hey Amit – I haven’t tried replacing it, but I reckon you could replace it with flour and it should turn out okay! Happy baking – hope it turns out okay if you do.

  6. I’m so excited to have all (almost!) the ingredients to bake this tomorrow… is there anything I can use instead of yogurt since I have none? 🙁

    • Hi Krista! Oo exciting! I haven’t tried making it without yoghurt. You could try coconut cream maaaybe – but as I haven’t tried it, I can’t promise on the end product. I hope you enjoy it if you go ahead and make it x