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.
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.
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**
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.
Pronounced: too bish-VAHT (oo as in boot), Origin: Hebrew, literally “the 15th of Shevat,” the Jewish month that usually falls in January or February, this is a holiday celebrating the “new year of the trees.”