Banana and date pair perfectly together to create this naturally-sweetened, gluten-free banana cake with a delectable cinnamon crumb topping. This recipe is a take on the Burundi dessert, banana date mix.
Overview of Burundi
Just like with Burkina Faso, Burundi is another country I had little prior knowledge on before this challenge. I have since discovered that it is a small country with a population of 11 million, situated in East Africa. The country is made up of a diverse terrain of mountains, savannahs, forests, rivers and agricultural fields. In fact, 80% of Burundi is made up of land used for agriculture.
History of Burundi Cuisine
Burundi are big producers of coffee, tea, corn, cassava and beans. Unsurprisingly, these makeup the staples of the Burundi cuisine, along with other produce such as bananas, plantains, sweet potato and peas. For economic reasons, meat is a rarity in Burundi. Fish is eaten more than other meats, however is still reserved for those who can afford it. Kidney beans are the most common form of protein and are part of most Burundian meals.
Unlike other African nations where the food has been influenced by European colonisation, Burundi’s cuisine is very representative of typical African culinary culture. Having said this, an Asian influence can be seen through the presence of chapati and rice dishes, as well as the spices that are used in cooking. These include chilli powder, turmeric and cumin.
Typical Foods of Burundi Cuisine
- Ibiharage– One of the most commonly consumed dishes in Burundi consisting of red kidney beans stewed with onion and chilli.
- Ndizi- Sliced plantain that is fried in palm oil and eaten as a snack or side dish.
- Marahagwe- A stew consisting of kidney beans and vegetables often served with rice or chapati.
- Ugali- A porridge made of maize flour and water which is eaten as side dish.
- Banana date mix– A traditional cake made with bananas and dates, eaten warm from the oven.
Making gluten-free banana, date & cinnamon cake
From my research, I deduced that dessert isn’t very common in Burundi. It seems the only widely consumed sweet food is fruit. The one sweet recipe I did find popping up for Burundi was for a date and banana mix cake.
Whilst I cannot personally confirm nor deny if this really is a traditional Burundian cake, the sources we found seem to think it is. Either way, date and banana is a great flavour combination so I thought I’d run with it and do my own take on this Burundian dessert.
What makes this banana cake healthy?
Date and banana are two ingredients I use a lot in our kitchen. They both work wonders as natural sweeteners, and pair well together as they have very similar flavour profiles. As these two ingredients already bring a lot of the sweetness to the recipe, I only needed to included a little extra coconut sugar to enhance their flavours.
The cake is made with a base of almond and arrowroot flour, making ideal for anyone with a gluten-free or paleo diet. It’s also dairy-free, replacing butter with coconut oil in the mixture. The crumb topping is optional (it doesn’t feature on the original Burundian date and banana mix), but comes highly recommend as it really elevates the cake to another level.
How to make Gluten-free banana, date & cinnamon cake
This cake recipe is quick and fairly straightforward to make, and can be prepared in just one bowl.
- Whisk together the wet ingredients and then whisk in dry ingredients.
- Layer half the mixture into a baking dish, top with sliced banana and dates, then layer on other half.
- Mix ingredients for crumble in bowl then top cake mixture with the crumble.
- Bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Ingredient notes for gluten-free banana, date & cinnamon cake
- Bananas- Make sure you use really ripe bananas for this recipe. It’s a great way to use up bananas that are about to go off. The riper the banana, the more naturally sweet the cake will be.
- Flour– This recipe calls for a mix of almond flour and arrowroot flour. You can also use regular flour or another gluten-free blend if you don’t have these on hand.
- Dates– I’d recommend using Medjool dates for this recipe- they are softer, sweeter and more tasty than regular dates. However, regular dates will still do the trick.
Serving suggestions for the cake
This date, banana and cinnamon cake tastes great on its own with a steaming cup of coffee or tea. However, it would also work nicely served with vanilla yogurt or Icecream.
- 3 bananas, 2 mashed and 1 sliced
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 2 cups almond flour
- 1/2 cup arrowroot flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup dates, pitted and chopped
CRUMB TOPPING (optional):
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp coconut sugar
- Preheat oven to 180˚C (356˚F). Grease and line a 8×8 baking dish with baking paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk together 2 mashed banana, melted coconut oil, eggs, vanilla essence and coconut sugar until smooth.
- Mix in the almond flour, arrowroot flour, baking powder and cinnamon until well combined.
- Add half the mixture to the baking dish. Make a layer of sliced banana and chopped dates. Add other half the mixture on top.
- Mix crumb topping ingredients in bowl until well combined and sprinkle on top of cake.
- Bake cake in oven for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Take out of oven and leave to cool for 20 minutes before slicing up.
For more recipes from Africa:
- Mahjouba Recipe – Savoury Algerian Crepes
- Beninese Caramelised Banana Porridge
- Cocada Amarela Recipe (Spiced Coconut Porridge)