Banana, Date & Chunky Chocolate Bread

Makes 1 large loaf

2.5 ml bicarbonate of soda

100 ml boiling water

150 g dried dates, pitted

and chopped

125 g salted butter, softened

95 g white sugar

2 whole eggs

2.5 ml vanilla extract

5 medium bananas (± 500 g)

100 g dark chocolate, broken into chunks

200 g cake flour

5 ml baking powder

pinch fine salt

1 medium banana, whole

100 g fresh dates, torn or cut in half and pits removed

1          Combine the bicarbonate of soda and boiling water. Add the dried dates

and leave to soak.

2          Cream the butter and sugar together in an electric mixer or food processor. Add the eggs and vanilla extract.

3          In a large bowl, mash the 5 bananas using the back of a fork. Add the

chocolate chunks, flour, baking powder and salt.

4          Add the banana mixture to the egg mixture and combine well.

5          Fold in the soaked dates with their liquid. Pour the mixture into a large, greased loaf pan.

6          Place the whole banana into the mixture, pressing down lightly until

the banana is in the centre. Press fresh date halves around the sides of the banana, almost to the edge of the pan.

7          Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 75 minutes, or until cooked.

Leave to cool slightly in the pan, then place on a rack to cool completely.

8          Serve with lashings of butter, or drizzle over some maple syrup and

serve with crispy bacon, banana slices fried in cinnamon-butter and mascarpone cheese.