This loaf uses dates as the main natural sweetener (instead of sugar), and packs in extra goodness with grated carrot and cranberries.
Served warm with a smear of butter and a cup of tea, afternoon tea doesn’t get much better than this! It freezes well, so make a couple of loaves and pop in the freezer for lunch boxes, if you can resist eating it all straight away. You can make this loaf gluten-free by using buckwheat flour or standard gluten-free flour, and if you want to make it dairy-free use coconut oil instead of butter. This is also a great gift for people I’ve found – everyone loves it.
- dried dates 1 cup
- water ½ cup
- baking soda 1 ½ teaspoons
- butter or coconut oil 50g
- pure maple syrup or liquid honey 1/3 cup
- vanilla essence 1 teaspoon
- very ripe banana 1 large, mashed
- carrots 2 loosely packed cups grated (about 2 carrots)
- free-range egg 1, lightly beaten
- dried cranberries ¾ cup, chopped
- flour (standard, gluten-free, buckwheat, spelt or wholemeal wheat) 1 ½ cups
- mixed spice 1 teaspoon
Preheat oven to 170degC.
- Place dates and water in a medium-sized pot and boil for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the dates are all mushed up and the water has evaporated. Add baking soda and mix well – it will froth up a bit.
- Mix in butter/coconut oil, maple syrup/honey and vanilla. Then mix in mashed banana, carrot, egg and cranberries until well combined.
- Sift flour and mixed spice into the pot, and fold the two mixtures together using a large metal spoon until well combined, being careful not to over-mix.
- Spoon batter into a loaf tin lined with baking paper and roughly smooth out the top. Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out. The loaf will stay fresh for a few days, or freeze slices in an airtight container to keep for longer.