There is no way around it...the holiday season is in full swing. Instead of three calling birds, we had three Christmas parties this week, although the cioppino feed on Thursday wasn't officially a Christmas party, although there were Christmas decorations all over the house :)
For the hostess of one of the parties this past weekend I baked a small loaf of banana bread enriched with walnuts and dates. Just to make sure that it wasn't terrible; Sweetie and I had some of a matching loaf for lunch. It is a variation of a recipe of my Mom's in the Family Food book. Instead of 1/2 cup vegetable oil, I used 4 tablespoons softened butter and 4 tablespoons olive oil. Once you creamed it with the sugar you couldn't really taste the olive oil...partly because I used a very mild flavored one. The dates were cut into a medium dice and the walnuts were chopped. The bananas were mashed with a fork which allows you to keep the perfect amount of chunkiness in the fruit. I baked up four small loaves from the recipe, each the perfect size for two.
Banana Bread with Dates and Walnuts
Based on Mom’s banana nut bread in Family Food
4 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
3 ripe bananas (or 2 large), peeled and mashed
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon wheat germ
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup buttermilk
½ - ¾ cup chopped walnuts
½ - ¾ cup chopped dates
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cream the butter, add the olive oil and the sugar and continue to cream for about a minute.
Add eggs, mashed bananas and beat to combine.
Sift together the flours, wheat germ, baking powder and baking soda and salt.
Add sifted dry ingredients to the creamed butter-egg-banana mixture, along with the vanilla and buttermilk. Mix just until combined.
Fold in the walnuts and dates to combine thoroughly.
Divide batter among four small greased and floured bread pans (each about 5 ½” x 2 ¾” x 1 ¾”) or put all the batter into one greased and floured 9” x 5”x 3” loaf pan.
Bake in preheated oven about 35 minutes for small loaves or about 1 hour for the large loaf. When done a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with only a few crumbs on it.
Cool well and store overnight before cutting (Right, THAT happens! Never…banana bread smells too good to wait that long.)