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banana date pecan bread

My landscaper and his wife went to Palm Springs last weekend and came back with a 5 pound box of Medjool dates all for me. Of course I've been sharing the wealth with friends and family but now I'm getting down to the business of baking with Medjool dates, which is a pretty cool thing to do. I have quite a few recipes I enjoy that use dates but I always like to try new recipes, especially for baking. It's no secret with my family that I like to use ripe bananas for homemade banana bread, especially for my grandkids. I found a recipe that I doubled to make three loaves of banana bread adding Medjool dates in an interesting and delicious way, I'm sharing this recipe today. Like most people, we love desserts around the Christmas holidays and a few years ago I started making a Scrumptious date cake with a toffee sauce from a Sur La Table cooking class I took in San Francisco.  That cake recipe will eventually make its way on to the pages of my new blog, Tarragon and Chives, named after a cobalt blue ceramic pot in my garden filled with chives and tarragon. 

Banana Date Pecan Bread Recipe
makes 3 8x4" bread pans

1 & 1/2 cups toasted pecans, chopped, 1 cup for the bread and 1/2 cup for sprinkling on top
14 ounces Medjool dates, pitted and chopped into bite size pieces
2 cups plus 4 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 & 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
3 & 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup cinnamon sugar for sprinkling on top

Preheat the oven to 375 F
Spray the loaf pans with baking spray

Mix together the 1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans and the cinnamon sugar in a small bowl, set aside

Place the dates, brown sugar, butter and the water in a medium heavy pot.  Heat the date mixture over a medium high heat until it comes to a boil, remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl and place over an ice bath.  Stir until mixture cools to room temperature.
Add the the baking soda, eggs, banana and vanilla extract to the date mixture and stir to combine.
Stir in the cup of pecans, then stir in the flour and salt into the mixture, until just combined.
Spoon the batter into the loaf pans until about 2/3 full.
Sprinkle the pecan, cinnamon sugar mixture evenly on top of the loaves.  Bake in the center of the oven for about 45 minutes or until a tester comes back clean.  The loaves will be lightly browned and pull away from the sides of pans.  Place on a metal rack and cool for about 10 minutes, then remove the breads from the pans.  Serve warm or cold, but bread will be easier to slice when cool.


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