If you think you have seen a semblance of this recipe before, then you are right. This cake is a variation of the earlier date, banana and coconut cake. I love that cake so much I was going to make it for a lunch with some friends but hesitated when Junior 1 expressed: how can you put coconut in the soup and coconut in the cake?
The answer is: quite easily. Remember the Masterchef challenge where the contestant has to create a few dishes based on just one ingredient? I would totally score there.
As a challenge I did look around to make a slightly different cake and thought I would used some tahini in the cake batter, and omit the coconut. The cake turned out really well and I am packing some to bring on a picnic to Kew Botanical Gardens.
You can call me Al:
Tahini is a funny creature, and I don’t use it much as the consistency of the tahini I buy varies quite a lot. A few days ago I had dinner at The Palomar and later read in their cookbook that the quality of the tahini is determined by whether the sesame seeds are unhulled or hulled, toasted or not, and the method used to grind them, for example stoneground. Their recommendation of good brands are Al Nakhil, Al Arz and Al Taj.
I am a huge fan of Ottolenghi and their cookbook advises not to use the health-shop variety of tahini, where the sesame seeds are left unhulled. It is heavy and overpowering. They recommend Lebanese brands such as Al Yaman or Al Wadi.
Honey and Co in their cookbook recommend Al Yaman from Lebanon but suggest that you are in a for a treat if you find the Palestinian brands Price or Dove. The best tahini they have had is Altan Manisalı from Turkey.
We are in London and miles away from the Middle East. A few places to source the tahinis mentioned are at the end of this post. For now, I used the tahini from Waitrose that was in the store cupboard and will look for the recommended brands soon. I am sure it will make a positive difference to the dishes I make.
For the Cake:
100 g dark brown soft sugar
100 g sunflower oil
50 g tahini
175 g wholemeal self-raising flour
150 g pitted Medjool dates, cut into small pieces
200 g ripe bananas, broken into pieces and lightly crushed
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons untoasted white sesame seeds
How to Make:
Preheat the oven to 170°C/ 325°F/ Gas 3. Line a 20 x 20 cm square baking tin with baking paper.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until thick and creamy. Whisk in the oil slowly.
Add the tahini and continue beating until it is incorporated into the batter.
Add in the flour, dates, banana and salt. Using a spatula, gently fold everything together until well mixed.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin.
Level the surface, sprinkle over the sesame seeds and bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until the cake bounces back when touched. A metal skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean.
Leave the cake to cool slightly in the tin before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
* Enjoy this video from Paul Simon: You can call me Al. I thought of this song while writing down the brand names of the tahinis which all had the prefix Al.
A few places to buy tahini in Central London:
Green Valley Lebanese Food Hall, 36 – 37 Upper Berkeley Street, London W1H 5QF
Greenfields, 25 Crawford Street, London NW1H 1PL
Honey and Spice, 52 Warren Street, London W1T 5NJ
Phoenicia Mediterranean Food Hall, 186 -192 Kentish Town Road, London NW5 2AE
Where to buy tahini online: