Tahini, walnut & dark chocolate banana bread – a variation utilising honey, olive oil, spelt flour and tahini for a nutty, wholesome morning tea treat that doesn’t lack flavour! Jump to Recipe
Happy New Year!
I hope you all had holidays filled with the those three big Fs – friends, family and food. Over here it’s been a blur of lazy mornings (that ultimate treat of not waking to an alarm) blending into slow summer days. The kind where hours slip gently past until 5pm hits and all you’ve done is turn pages of a book, skin still sticky with residual salt from a beach cool-off, and even contemplating dinner feels a bit much. Lazy meals of bright summer corn, bursting cherry tomatoes and smoky grilled zucchini, tossed through with the garden’s abundance of basil. Olive oil, lemon, flaky sea salt, pepper. Fishing expeditions courtesy of my younger brothers have supplied fresh fillets of terikihi, snapper and speared kingfish – hours-old fish is a whole different ball game to the dull, days (week?) old supermarket stuff.
I tried my hand at wood-fired pizza, inspired by the pizza oven at the rental bach. A few different dough recipes – Jim Lahey, Jamie Oliver, Peter Reinhart. Still can’t pick a favourite. Toppings? Pesto, hot smoked salmon, capers, red onion, cherry tomatoes, basil. Fresh tomato pizza sauce, anchovies, chorizo, mozzarella, basil. And with the last few pizza bases, a finale of melty, gooey nutella calzone, dusted with icing sugar and laden with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.
There were endless uses for stone fruit – apricots combined with nutty pistachio frangipane and buttery shortbread, nectarines folded into flaky scones, peaches collapsing and tender under the weight of an oat crumble topping. Cherries all alone, because I can’t walk past the bowl without grabbing a fistful (seriously, zero self control).
A fair bit of morning running to enable all this, but when you’ve got the beauty of the New Zealand coastline at your doorstep, it’s not difficult. Isolated beaches are dotted only with jellyfish and a few surfers, the roar of the waves continues uninterrupted by cars, and rocky headland tracks gift soaring views over the horizon – a just reward for climbing all those stairs.
More books than I’ve read the entire rest of the year combined – would recommend Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma (a vaguely frightening exposé on our food chain), Lilac Girls (think All the Light We Cannot See, but based on true events), Blood, Bones & Butter (Gabrielle Hamilton’s life journey traced through food), Force of Nature (slightly Girl on A Train-esque) and Orphan X (reminds me of Jack Reacher). I was given Salt Fat Acid Heat and am itching to get stuck into that, and am currently reading SweetBitter (so far enamoured).
So though I haven’t been short on time, I’ve been a bit absent from instagram and from this blog of late. But we’re back now, refreshed and refueled to hit 2018 running!
This tahini, walnut and dark chocolate banana bread wasn’t originally intended to be a blog post, but I got so many recipe requests after showing it off on instagram that I thought you all might like to try it too. Although I hate the word diet, am whole-heartedly against cutting out any foods (or food groups), and looove baking with butter and sugar (friends, not foes!), I have enjoyed experimenting with using more olive oil, honey and alternative grains in some of my baking – as much for the variants of flavour as for any nutritional benefit. The olive oil, tahini, honey and spelt flour here, combined with nutty walnuts, banana and a bit of dark chocolate (who could resist?!), make this a lovely morning tea banana loaf to have with your morning cuppa. Don’t worry, it doesn’t sacrifice even a little flavour or texture. I know I called it a bread, but let’s be real – it’s definitely cake.
It’s a very flexible recipe – feel free to change up the sweeteners and the flour depending on what you have available, or skip the dark chocolate if that’s not your thing. The tahini isn’t dominant at all – it simply adds a slight nutty, sesame backdrop. Enjoy!
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1/4 cup liquid honey
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/3 cup mashed banana , very ripe (3-4 large) plus 1 less ripe whole banana to top
- 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup spelt flour (or plain flour if you don’t have it)
- 3/4 cup almond meal (ground almonds)
- 125 g dark chocolate , roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts , roughly chopped
- a less ripe banana and about a tablespoon of sesame seeds to top
Preheat oven to 180°C and line a loaf tin with baking paper.
Toast the walnuts on a baking tray in the oven for 5 minutes if using.
Whisk together olive oil, tahini, honey, dark brown sugar and eggs.
Stir in mashed banana.
Sift over the dry ingredients and fold to combine. Fold in the dark chocolate and/or walnuts.
Pour into tin and top with halved banana and sprinkled sesame seeds.
Bake 40-50 minutes until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out just clean (except if it’s just getting melted chocolate). Leave to cool in the tin.