Banana bread with dates and touch of tahini
Banana bread with dates and touch of tahini
Image: Supplied

My mother (we call her by her first name) is great in the kitchen. Well, she used to be. Now in her 70s she’s boycotted the kitchen and no longer puts on her apron.

My sisters and I love to cook and we vary in our interest in food. But the interesting thing is, as amazing as my mother was in the kitchen, she never taught us how to cook. Many who know us lament that she hasn’t passed on her special, buttery scone recipe and her famous light touch; and they may never sample those delights again.

In the kitchen my mother loved to bake most of all. That was her real talent. But I wonder if the kitchen was imposed on her, even if she was good at it. I should ask her.

As a kid at our local bakery, face pressed up against the enticing delights behind the glass, when my mother suggested that she could make something at home, it was less about her austerity, but a promise of watching greatness unfold. How many of us can talk of seeing chocolate eclairs being made from scratch in their own home?

I feel like our oven was constantly on. Childhood memories are interlaced with smells of vanilla essence (or extract as it is now called). Waste wasn’t tolerated in most of our households. We would have banana loaf at the end of the week if the bananas were over-ripe, even for my older sister, who loved them super-ripe. I remember the smell wafting through the house. The anticipation for that first slice once the banana loaf came off the cooling rack. And that speckling in the cake as I spread a little butter across the slice. Also, discovering a little bit of banana loaf in your lunch box, wrapped in waxed paper, set the tone for a great Monday break.

I’m taken back to 2020 when we were in our homes collectively baking versions of banana bread. Artist Banele Khoza released a wonderful artwork at the time of ripened bananas looking ready for the mixing bowl.

Banele Khoza "We are like bananas" (2020)
Banele Khoza "We are like bananas" (2020)
Image: Banele Khoza

It took me some time to venture back to baking banana bread and now I often adjust recipes for less sugar. This one has no refined sugar. It’s sweetened with dates and maple syrup. It does add to the cost, especially with the addition of tahini, but if your pantry has these items in stock, why not give it a try?

I went for a run while this was baking and ran one of my fastest times in a bid to beat the oven timer.


  1. 3 or 4 Large over-ripe bananas (the riper the better), mashed
  2. 2 large eggs
  3. 6 pitted medjool dates, chopped
  4. 2 cups cake flour
  5. 90ml extra virgin olive oil
  6. 90ml pure maple syrup
  7. 90ml tahini
  8. 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  9. 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  10. A pinch of nutmeg
  11. ½ teaspoon of ground cardamom
  12. ½ teaspoon of salt
  13. 1½ teaspoons of baking powder
  14. 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar


  • 2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon of tahini
  • 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds (I used both black and white)


  • Preheat the oven to 180°C
  • Line a long (30cm) baking tin with baking paper
  • Whisk the olive oil, tahini, vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, salt and eggs in a large mixing bowl, until it's a smooth mixture
  • Add the mashed bananas
  • Fold in the flour, dates, baking powder and apple cider vinegar until just combined.
  • Pour the batter into the pre-lined baking tin
  • Pour the 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and the tahini over the length of the tin and sprinkle over the seams.
  • Take a toothpick and make little or big swirls to your loaf topping
  • Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes

When it’s done, out of the oven and cooled, top with some butter and honey and a sprinkle of maldon salt or enjoy plain, still warm and delicious.

© Wanted 2024 - If you would like to reproduce this article please email us.