Ramadhan, the glorious and blessed month of fasting, intensive prayer, sacrifice and divine worship to our Creator. At the end of this month, we often have an abundance of dates in our homes. Dates are very healthy and rich in nutrients for our body; they are rich in dietary fibre, iron, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, Vitamin A and K, folic acid and more. Dates are known to replenish energy and revitalise the body almost instantly, which is why they are so helpful when we break our fast. There are countless ways dates can benefit us: they help boost heart health, are a natural laxative, improve brain performance, contribute to a healthy pregnancy and easy labour and delivery, reduce blood pressure, help with iron-deficiency, and prevent colon cancer.
We’re bound to have some leftovers after this short but sacred month. Here are two easy and delicious recipes to finish up those leftover dates:
Date Jam Filling:
• 3¼ cups of pitted dates
• 1 cup of water
• 1 tsp of vanilla extract
Crumb Crust and Topping:
• 2 cups of rolled oats
•1 cup of all-purpose flour
• ¾ cup of brown sugar
• Pinch of salt
• ¼ – ½ tsp of cinnamon
• ½ tsp of baking soda
• 1 cup of very cold, cubed butter
1. In a medium-sized pot, add the dates and water. Cover and cook on medium-low for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the dates are soft and mushy. Then add in the vanilla extract and let it cool. At this point, if your dates have cooked down and are so soft that they look spreadable, they are ready to use. If not, once they have cooled, puree the mixture until smooth in a food processor.
2. Preheat the oven to 175°C, grease and line a 23 by 33 cm baking pan with parchment paper and then grease the parchment paper.
3. For the crumb crust and topping, pulse all the dry ingredients in your food processor until just combined. Then add the cold cubed butter and pulse until the mixture looks crumbly and you can still see small pea-sized amounts of butter. In your greased and lined pan, press down 2/3 of the crumb mixture firmly. Spread the date mixture on top evenly and then sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture on top. Press down with slightly wet hands or a flat spatula. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown and crisp on top.
4. Let the squares cool at room temperature and then let it chill in the fridge for about an hour so it’s easier to cut into squares. Enjoy!
For a nice twist, try adding 3-4 tablespoons of pure organic maple syrup in the filling mixture and drizzle a few more tablespoons on top of the date squares 5-8 minutes before they are done baking!
Caramelised Banana Date Bread
• 3 ripe bananas
• 1 cup of pitted dates
• 3 tbsp butter (to caramelise bananas and dates)
• 1 tbsp of brown sugar
• 2 cups of all-purpose flour
• ¼ tsp salt
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp baking soda
• ½ cup of softened butter
• 1 cup of sugar
• 2 large eggs
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 tbsp milk
1. In a bowl, mash the three bananas and transfer them to a heated skillet with the butter, dates and brown sugar. Cook on medium-low for 5-8 minutes until golden brown, caramelised and the dates have cooked down to a soft consistency. Once they have cooled slightly, give them a rough mash again and add the vanilla extract.
2. In another bowl, add your dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
3. In another bowl, cream together your butter and sugar and then add your banana mixture – don’t worry if it looks like it’s splitting. Whisk in your eggs and milk followed by the dry ingredients.
4. Gently mix in the dry ingredients until just combined and there’s barely any visible flour.
5. Pour into a greased loaf pan and place in the oven at 160°C for about 1 hour and 10 minutes until cooked through.
For a super loaded banana bread, you can also add walnuts, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, coffee chips etc – whatever you desire!
J. Khan is a young married student with a passion for all things food and beauty. Baking, cooking, experimenting and finding the most delicious recipes are just some of her specialties. Whether it’s a sweet gooey brownie or a creamy smooth cheesecake, or saucy rich pasta, she loves to be creative and try out different techniques and flavour combinations.