Baked banana, date and pecan loaf with spiced caramel sauce

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Henrietta Inman’s delicious gluten-free and dairy-free banana bread recipe is packed with fruit, pecans and aromatic spices. Served with a creamy caramel sauce, it makes a sumptuous dessert or an indulgent afternoon snack.

First published in 2016

Served at breakfast with yogurt, with a cup of tea in the afternoon, or for pudding with custard, this is the ideal anytime cake. The mix of the dates, caramel-sweet banana, treacly teff flour and molasses make this sticky toffee pudding-like cake rich, moist and devilishly good, its flavours enlivened by the spices in the divine sauce.

Recipe and images extracted from Clean Cakes by Henrietta Inman, photography by Lisa Linder. Published by Jacqui Small (£20).




Banana loaf

  • 80ml of cashew milk
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • 190g of dates
  • 190ml of water, filtered
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 bananas, large
  • 120g of pecan nuts
  • 70g of teff flour
  • 70g of brown rice flour
  • 20g of arrowroot
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder, gluten free
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp mixed spice
  • 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt, ground
  • 40g of molasses, sulphured
  • 80ml of rapeseed oil, preferably extra virgin cold pressed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Flax seed gel

  • 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed, ground
  • 3 tbsp of water, filtered

Apple purée

Spiced caramel sauce


Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
Begin by making the apple purée. Cut the apples into quarters. Place on a baking tray and bake until soft, about 20–30 minutes. Leave to cool and do not discard the liquids
In a blender, blend the cooked apples and juices until a smooth, sweet thick purée. Measure out 50g for the banana loaf recipe, any leftover can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days
Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Grease and line the bottom of a 18x11x8cm deep loaf tin with baking paper
Combine the milled flax seeds with the water and leave for about 15 minutes to form a gel. Mix the cashew milk with the apple cider vinegar and set aside
In a medium saucepan, cook the dates with the measured water until all the water is soaked up and forms a paste. This should take no longer than 5 minutes
When the water has just been soaked up, remove the pan immediately from the heat and stir in 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda. The mixture will fizz. Keep on mixing until most of the fizzing has stopped then leave the paste to cool
On a baking tray, bake the bananas in the oven for about 3 minutes on each side until the skins blacken. Remove from the oven and turn down the temperature to 170°C/gas mark 3, then toast the pecans on a baking tray for 5–7 minutes, until just beginning to colour. When cooled, roughly chop
In a large bowl, combine the dry teff flour, brown rice flour, arrowroot, baking powder, cinnamon, cardamon, mixed spice and salt and add the remaining 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda. Peel the bananas and mash 200g into the dates. Add 50g of apple purée, the molasses, oil and vanilla extract to the cashew milk
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the cashew milk mix, dates and bananas, flax seed gel and chopped pecans. Mix thoroughly to combine by lightly folding everything together. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 30 minutes, rotating the tin halfway through the cooking time
Reduce the heat to 160°C/gas mark 2 and bake for a further 15–20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the loaf comes out clean. Leave the loaf to cool in the tin while you make the sauce, then demould when cooled completely
In a medium saucepan bring all the sauce ingredients to a boil, stirring to combine. Turn down the heat to a medium rolling boil and reduce the sauce for 10 minutes, stirring now and again so it doesn’t catch. It will be looking thicker and have become a golden caramel colour
Remove the cardamom pods, star anise and vanilla pod with a slotted spoon. Pour into a bowl and set aside
When ready to serve, give the sauce a good whisk, pour it into a jug and serve generously over slices of the loaf with extra chopped pecans if you wish. You can serve the loaf and the sauce either warmed up or cold. The loaf will keep in a sealed container for up to five days

Henrietta Inman trained as a pastry chef, working at the Lanesborough Hotel, London, among other prestigious restaurants and hotels. Now living in rural Suffolk she runs Henrietta Inman Pâtisserie alongside supplying festivals, pop ups and farmers' markets and running regular cookery classes.

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