I am a self proclaimed dessert fiend, but the desserts that I love and all those that I bake are not overly sweet. There is something about desserts that are over dosed with sugar that is just a turn off (and tummy ache inducing!!!). I feel like they take away from all the other amazing flavors that go into desserts. Everyone that I share my desserts with is always complimenting me about how the desserts are not overly sweet! It’s important to achieve that balance. I am also all about lightening up desserts and making them healthier. This allows us to eat more desserts…which is a win for everyone!!
That is where this banana bread recipe comes in. Now, I know that nearly everyone has tried making a banana bread recipe at least once. It could have been a hit or a miss. I wanted to bring to you a recipe that is foolproof but is also healthy, soft and super-moist. You can totally eat this for breakfast or for afternoon tea guilt free. It is jam-packed with healthy, good for you ingredients! The cake itself is moist and fluffy, with a gooey cinnamon date swirl and lots of crumb topping. Best part of this cake is that it is naturally sweetened with just a bit of brown sugar, and totally free of white sugar. Bonus points, it looks amazing and is guaranteed to get you some ooooss and ahhhsss from those you serve it to!
So let’s talk ingredients. Bananas. You want to use bananas that are a few days old that are speckled with some dark spots on the peel. Use extra ripe bananas when making it! The more ripe the banana, sweeter the bread/cake will be. These add the natural sweetness required for this cake. Also, bananas add more moisture to the finished product.
In addition, I used 1/4 cup brown sugar in this recipe. Brown sugar works magic to create a soft, moist cake with a tender crumb. I wanted to add some addition sweetness to the cake which I did by adding three tablespoons of maple syrup. This is the real maple syrup guys, not the sugary stuff. It’s an additional complex flavor in the cake. There is no white sugar in today’s banana bread recipe. The sweetness comes from brown sugar, maple syrup and bananas. I intentionally kept the sugar level low in the cake to compensate for the sweetness that the cinnamon-date swirl layer was going to provide.
I used two eggs in this recipe. Eggs bring cakes, cupcakes, breads, doughs, and cookies their stability and structure, as well as a tender texture.
I have had my share of some very buttery banana breads, and let me tell you, they leave a heavy aftertaste. To avoid that and to make sure that the cake was light, I used yogurt. Yogurt adds even more moisture to this banana bread. I like to use yogurt, milk or buttermilk as much as possible when I’m baking. In addition to adding moisture and creaminess to baked goods, yogurt is a great substitute for butter and oil.
This recipe calls for only 1.5 tablespoons of butter. The only reason why I included it in the recipe today was to include the burnt butter flavor into this cake, which I am totally crazy about! Browned Butter is butter cooked until it has melted into a liquid, the water has cooked out, and the milk solids begin to toast and brown to a delicious and nutty state. I think I will do an additional post to teach you guys pictorially exactly how to brown butter.
The flours that I used in this cake recipe make it even healthier without any loss of flavor or making the cake dense. I used one cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup oat flour. To make the oat flour, I just ground up one cup oats in a food processor. Simple right?! 😉
I wanted to add a cinnamon swirl to this banana bread, since I’m OBSESSED with cinnamon, but I wanted to add natural sweetness and another layer of flavors, so I soaked dates overnight and then mashed them up and spread it on top of the cinnamon layer. The result is phenomenal!
Chia seeds are my new favorite. I agree it might not be easily available everywhere, but its popularity is increasing so it will show up at your grocery stores. It’s packed with goodness such as fiber, Omega 3 and is high in protein. I added two heaped tablespoons of it to the cake batter to make it realllyy very good for you! Give it a try!
You are going to love this cake. It can totally be made in a bread pan or in a square pan to make bars. Since I am still out of many of my baking supplies (read bread pan), I made it in a round cake pan. This cake is great for when you’re on the go and can be frozen so that you can just heat them up for a quick bite! I’ve made this to be my husband and my breakfast for the rest of the week! I’m sure kids would love these in their lunchbox or as an after school snack, too. I wish my niece and nephews live closer, this would definitely have been going into their lunches for tomorrow. The bread is wonderful served warm but as with all banana breads, the next day more sugars from the bananas are released and the flavors marry into each other, intensifying the taste.
Promise me you will make this? When you do tag me #thewhiskingbowlrecipes. This will make you happy…very happy!
Healthy Cinnamon-Date Swirl Banana Crumb Cake
Yield: 1 9-inch round cake
For the cake batter
- 1.5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted to make browned butter
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3 Tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 Large room temperature eggs
- 3 Large bananas, mashed
- 1.5 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup oats, processed to make oat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 cup yogurt
- 2 Tablespoon chia seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the cinnamon-date filling
- 10 large dates soaked in water over night, mashed
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 Tablespoon whole wheat flour
- 4 Tablespoon oats
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Instructions (see below for process shots)
- In a small bowl, stir together the cinnamon and brown sugar for the filling and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, pit the dates and mash them.
For the crumb topping:
- Stir the flour, oats, brown sugar and cinnamon together in a medium-sized bowl. Stir in the melted butter until large crumbs form.
For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and flour a 9×13 pan and set aside.
- For the browned butter, place the butter in a medium skillet. Melt the butter over medium heat, swirling it in the pan occasionally. It’ll foam and froth as it cooks, and start to crackle and pop. Once the crackling stops, keep a close eye on the melted butter, continuing to swirl the pan often. The butter will start to smell nutty, and brown bits will form in the bottom. Once the bits are amber brown (about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes or so after the sizzling stops), remove the butter from the burner and immediately pour it into a small bowl, bits and all. This will stop the butter from cooking and burning. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes.
- Cream together the butter, brown sugar and maple syrup. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat on high until smooth and pale in color.
- Next add the bananas and mix
- In another bowl, whisk the flours, salt, baking soda and powder.
- On low speed, mix half the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until just combined. Add the buttermilk and then add the remaining dry ingredients including the chia seeds. Make sure not to over mix after adding the flour mixture.
- Spread half the batter into the pan. Sprinkle the filling evenly over the batter, followed by the mashed dates, and then spread the rest of the batter on top.
- Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the top.
- Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. This is a dense wet mixture, make sure not to hasten to take out of the oven. Make sure the center of the cake is set.