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Banana Cake for Tu Bishvat

A fruity cake recipe for the birthday of the trees.

This moist banana cake is a tasty way to celebrate Tu Bishvat. Colloquially known as 'the birthday of the trees,' Tu Bishvat was once a tax holiday–and now has become a chance for Jews around the world to think about the ways in which trees, plants, and the fruits of the earth sustain us. Tu Bishvat is connected to the natural world and to the land of Israel. Many people celebrate the holiday by attending a Tu Bishvat Seder, a practice with origins stemming from the Kabbalists of 15th century Safed. Today, it can be a chance to learn about environmentalism and Judaism. At Tu Bishvat Seders, the consumption of fruits, nuts and wines are symbolically understood to create a spiritual journey linking people to the land of Israel. Many of those fruits have connections to the traditional “seven species” found in Deuteronomy 8:8. Wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates–the actual word used is honey, but scholars believe the biblical honey mentioned is a syrup made from dates rather than the honey from bees–are all traditionally associated with the land of Israel.

Today many people celebrate Tu Bishvat by enjoying all kinds of fruits and plants, even those that are not mentioned in the Bible. This cake combines the classical ingredients of Israel's agricultural tradition (dates, raisins, wheat) with its contemporary bounty (bananas, pecans, ginger). It could be called banana bread's wickedly delicious step-sister, for it is at once decadent and thrifty. Giving delicious new life to tired bananas, this cake is full of nuts, fruit and chocolate–rich enough to feel like dessert, but nutritious enough to eat for breakfast.

Ingredients

2 large eggs

2 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup overripe banana, mashed (approx. 3 small bananas)

pinch of salt

2 cups total of your mix of dried fruits, nuts, and chocolate*

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 1/3 cups flour

1 cup melted butter

1 cup buttermilk**

Directions

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and your mixture of dried fruits, nuts and chocolate. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, mashed banana, vanilla, eggs. Stir in the melted butter and the buttermilk, mix well. Stir in the dry ingredients and mix well.

Butter your cake pan and dust with flour. I have successfully used both a 10 inch bunt pan and a 10 inch springform pan – the difference is mostly stylistic. Pour the batter in and bake at 350F for about an hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Discover More

Planting Trees for Tu Bishvat

This act has always been held in high regard in Judaism.

Tu Bishvat Ideas & Beliefs

Overview of Tu Bishvat Ideas and Beliefs. Tu Bishvat, Jewish Year for Trees. Jewish Holidays.

Eating Fruit on Tu Bishvat

This tie to the land of Israel has been carried out in many ways.