The Republic of Burundi is located in East Africa, bordered by Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Dogged by years of political unrest, colonisation and civil war, Burundi is one of the world’s poorest countries with weak infrastructure and limited access to health and education. Burundi is primarily an agricultural country, and because of this industry, much of the natural vegetation has nearly disappeared. Massive deforestation has occurred throughout the country to make way for farming. Over 80% of the population of Burundi live in rural communities.
The cuisine is fairly typical of other African countries; rich in cereals, maize, plantains, peas, beans and exotic fruits. The Burundian diet contains little meat, and then, mainly chicken, sheep and goat as cows are considered by many to be sacred. Food is homemade and mainly boiled, stewed or roasted over a fire. Burundi sits on Lake Tanganyika and fish is a staple for those that can afford it. Although there is a limited selection of food, dishes are made bold and varied with the addition spices such as piri piri, turmeric, chili powder and cumin. Date and banana mix is a traditional recipe in every sense, simple with few ingredients but packed full of bold flavor.
Date and banana are natural flavor companions with similar profiles. Naturally sweet, they are often paired together in smoothies, bread and muffins as a healthy way to curb sugar cravings. Dates and bananas are also a great source of fibre, so they are great fruits to incorporate into your everyday diet.
As I was making (and eating) the date and banana mix, my creative kitchen mind was quickly coming up with different variations of this recipe I could try in the future. I think it would work wonderfully with sliced apple and sultanas, or how about mixed berries such as blueberries and raspberries with a spritz of lemon juice for some tartness?
I’m not a natural baker, I’m much more at home making savory dishes, but this recipe is very straightforward and no complicated technical skills are required. All of the ingredients are easy to source at your local superstore, and I bet you will have many already in your pantry! In terms of equipment, all you need is a spoon, a mixing bowl, a baking tin and some parchment paper to ensure that it doesn’t stick.
When I was making the batter for the date & banana mix, it was quickly apparent that this was going to be a substantial cake. As you stir in the flour the consistency becomes very thick, much heavier than the Western style of cake I am used to making. Keep on stirring though and give those arms a good workout! Because of the thick consistency of the batter, when layering it in the tin it’s best to ditch the spoon and use your fingers to press it in to the corners and spread it evenly. It’s a fairly dry batter mix so it’s not a messy job.
The finished date and banana mix cake is quite dense with a slight crumble to it. Traditionally, it is meant to be eaten warm, straight out of the oven. This way, the cake is soft and slightly spongy. But, I also had some once it was cold too (just store in an air tight container) and it had a dense buttery texture that reminded me of shortbread – yum!
The date and banana mix cake has been a real hit in our house and pairs perfectly with a cup of coffee. I can’t stress enough how easy a recipe this is, from start to finish, it takes around 45 minutes to make and a few, simple ingredients create a wonderfully rich and flavorsome treat. Eat it by itself, or why not serve up with some ice cream for an extra bit of indulgence.
Date and banana mix will most definitely be making an appearance in our house in the future!
- 18 tablespoons butter , melted
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 4 cups flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 4 bananas
- 1½ cup chopped dates
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Beat 16 tablespoons (220g) of the softened butter with the sugar, then add the eggs one at a time with the first egg well incorporated before adding the second one.
- Then add the flour, salt and baking powder and mix well.
Line a pan with parchment paper. I personally used a pastry frame (7 x 10 in/17x25cm) that I put on a plate lined with parchment paper. Spread half of the batter in the pan. Level the surface with your fingertips.
- Then add the sliced bananas.
- Remove pits from dates, chop coarsely and add to the bananas.
- Cover with the remaining half of dough.
Bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown in an oven preheated to 350F/180C.
Remove from the oven and brush the top of the cake with the remaining melted butter.
- Sprinkle the surface with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon.