By Chaya Rappoport
Maybe it’s the home comfort it exudes, maybe it’s how easy it is to make, but for a variety of mostly inexplicable reasons, banana bread has become everyone’s quarantine darling.
There were a couple of weeks where I couldn’t scroll through Instagram without seeing at least three loaves on my feed.
Google confirmed it: Banana bread searches are way up compared to other baked goods.
I’ll be honest: I didn’t get on board until recently. In addition to a serious aversion to all things banana, I just couldn’t see the appeal of a loaf made of overripe, mushy fruit. Where was the razzle-dazzle, the sex appeal?
It wasn’t until I made a batch of spelt banana muffins for my mom that I slowly began to change my mind. The muffins were delicious, the bananas a mere background flavor against the maple syrup, tahini and chocolate I added. Those flavors inspired this banana bread.
Made with spelt flour and olive oil for a tender crumb, and tahini and sesame oil for savory nuttiness, this is a loaf I can truly get behind. The chopped dates bake up chewy and caramelized, the chocolate melts into pockets throughout the bread, and the sesame seeds on top add a subtle crunch. I like toasting slices and serving them with pats of butter and maple syrup, but it’s excellent on its own, warm from the oven.
1 ½ cups spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
⅓ cup olive oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil
⅓ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup tahini
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup pitted dates, chopped
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon black and white sesame seeds
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and line with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt until combined.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the oils, light brown and granulated sugars and eggs. Pour in the vanilla and tahini, and whisk until thoroughly combined. Add the mashed bananas and mix.
Pour the wet mixture into the larger bowl with the dry ingredients. Fold together with a spatula. Add the chopped dates and chocolate. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to get any bits of flour that might be hiding, stirring until the last pockets of flour are incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Smack the pan against the counter to even out the top of the batter. Sprinkle the top with the sesame seeds and turbinado sugar. Transfer to the oven to bake for 60-65 minutes, or until the loaf has risen, golden brown, and a skewer comes out clean.
Cool the banana bread for 5 minutes in the pan, then invert the loaf and cool it on a rack.
Serve slices with pats of butter and maple syrup. The banana bread keeps for 3-5 days on the counter, tightly wrapped.
Published by The Nosher, a 70 Faces Media brand.