Ask me for my go-to chocolate chip cookie or brownie or chocolate cake and I’ll have an answer at the ready. Ask me for my go-to banana bread recipe and, well, I’m stumped. As much as I love baking, and as much as I love banana bread, I had never found a can’t-live-without-it recipe for it.
That changes now with this naturally sweet banana bread.
Thanks to feedback from readers and my own interest in cutting back on the amount of added sugars in the food I feed my son (not easy), I was immediately intrigued when “Half the Sugar, All the Love: 100 Easy, Low-Sugar Recipes for Every Meal of the Day” landed on my desk. Authors Jennifer Tyler Lee and Anisha Patel make a compelling argument for why we eat too many added sugars and that there are ways to reduce them without sacrificing flavor.
One of their strategies is to rely on the sweetness inherent in fruits and vegetables, which include fiber. “When sugar is accompanied with fiber ... digestion and absorption of the naturally occurring sugar is slower, so that your body doesn’t get a sugar rush.” Dates are a typical MVP. “They are packed with natural sweetness and caramel-like flavor, and each date contains about 1.6 grams of fiber.”
It didn’t even take the nutritional benefits to convince us of the merits of this recipe. The dates do indeed hint at caramel, which is reminiscent of sticky toffee pudding, another dish in which they star. They’re soaked and then pureed with whole milk Greek yogurt to create an especially moist, tender texture with just the right amount of spring.
Ripe bananas are also key to the sweetness here, and the only thing I wanted after making the recipe was a bit more fruit. So I took a page from the social-media-savvy likes of Alison Roman and our friend Joy “the Baker” Wilson and topped the quick bread — okay, we know it’s basically cake — with a halved banana.
Eye-catching? Check. Tasty? Check. And the pieces had the added advantage of providing me with an S-shaped curve in which to sprinkle chopped pecans. Feel free to use both, one or none of the toppings.
This treat is satisfying and special enough to be eaten on its own as a dessert, but restrained enough to work for breakfast, too. (Leftovers are great toasted and served with butter, peanut butter or a little bit of jam, if you must.) Ready to get baking? All right then. It’s a date.