Somehow, very very unintentionally, I ended up taking over a week off! But I’m back with a bang: Sesame Banana Bread.
I’ve been heading for burnout and after ignoring it for weeks, my body just had enough. I was forced to take a break. It was a very natural but sudden process. There was nothing I could about it and I found myself just embracing it. What I’ve learned through this experience is that you should always listen to your body. Your body knows what’s up.
Well, I digress.
I’m bringing back the unofficial baked good of lockdown, because I don’t know about you, but I’ve never stopped making banana bread. As a matter of fact, this has not been the only perilous time in history banana bread became a baking status symbol : the first time anyone made banana bread was likely during the Great Depression. The reason why it is so popular is very simple: the ingredients are cheap and bananas are easy to find regardless of the season. This very affordable and simple baked good has been there for humanity during extreme economic and social hardships. I find that oddly comforting.
If you’re interested in a more in-depth analysis of banana bread, I put together a guide, where you can find all the steps and rules that go into making it.
Ottolenghi’s Sesame Banana Cake
Banana bread might be cheap, but if you want to make it more sophisticated there’s a plethora of ways you can go about it. I’m not talking about walnuts and chocolate chips – although I’m a big fan. I’m talking about an Ottolenghi banana bread makeover, where you add ingredients like creamy tahini and soft, chewy dates.
More often that not, as soon as I see a new Ottolenghi recipe I feel an instant urge to try it. This was no exception. Although his original recipe calls for dates, I didn’t include them, which is an actual shame, so if you can, please add dates to your sesame banana bread.
This is a beautiful version of banana bread. The tahini is not overpowering, but just a perfectly complimentary flavor. I love the presentation and I think it elevates this humble bake to an impressive dessert status.
The tahini cream cheese frosting is half mascarpone cheese, so the flavors are mild and creamy. The frosting is phenomenal, please don’t skip it. The Caramelized banana is a very easy step. The recipe calls for date syrup, but I suspect any dark thick syrup will do. I only had molasses and it worked great, so feel free to try that.
Sesame Banana Bread
- 1/4 cup (70g) hulled tahini
- 1/3 cup (80ml) orange juice (approx. 1 large orange)
- 140g medjool dates, pitted, quartered (approx. 8 dates)
- 2-3 (240g/ 8 oz) very ripe bananas, peeled, thinly sliced
- 2 tbs sesame seeds, toasted
- 1 1/2 cup (15g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 2cm/ 3/4-inch pieces, plus extra butter for the pan
- 2/3 cups (150g) caster sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 1/3 cup (200g) plain flour, sifted
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (130g), cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (130g), mascarpone at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons(35g) lightly packed light brown sugar
- 3 (55g) tablespoons hulled tahini
- 1 ripe banana, peeled, cut into 1cm/ 1/2 inch-thick slices
- 1 tbs demerara sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp date syrup to drizzle
Tahini cream cheese frosting
- Preheat oven to 200°C/ 392°F. Grease a 20cm/8×4-inch loaf pan with butter, and line the base and side with baking paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together tahini and orange juice. Stir in the date, banana and sesame seeds, separating the date and banana pieces as you add them to the bowl so they don’t clump together. Set aside.
- Place butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, in 2 additions, until combined, scraping the bowl down as needed.
- In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt, then add to the stand mixer bowl and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, just to combine. Add tahini-date mixture with the speed still on low and mix until combined, then spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Without removing from the oven, carefully cover the cake loosely with foil. Continue to bake for an additional 25-30 minutes until cake is cooked through and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool in the pan on a wire rack.
- Meanwhile, for the frosting, place all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk for 1-2 minutes on medium speed until combined and airy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed to mix thoroughly. Set aside until the cake has cooled.
- For the caramelized banana, heat the oven grill on its highest setting, with a rack placed about 10cm beneath the heat source. Arrange banana slices closely together on a small baking pan and sprinkle with sugar. Grill for 2-3 minutes until sugar has melted and caramelised. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
- To assemble, remove cake from the pan and transfer to a plate. Spread the frosting generously over the top of the cake. Arrange the caramelized bananas on top, then drizzle with date syrup to serve.
If you make this Sesame Banana Bread please be sure to leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you and I love responding to every comment. And don’t forget to also tag me on Instagram. I’d love to see your photos!