Banana and date pair perfectly together to create this naturally sweetened cake with a delectable cinnamon crumb topping. This is a healthy, gluten-free, dairy-free take on Burundi’s banana date mix.
Country Number 28: Burundi
When it comes to creativity in the kitchen, this cooking challenge has really amped ours up. Believe it or not, it is rather challenging trying to cook a unique vegetarian recipe from every country in the world. The problem is, so many countries share dishes with other countries. We have particularly noticed this with African cuisine. As many countries in the continent have access to the same limited ingredients, the cuisine tend to get repetitive. That is where we’ve had to get pretty creative in trying to come up with unique and tasty recipes for each country.
History of Burundian Cuisine
Just like with Burkina Faso, Burundi is another country we had little prior knowledge on before this challenge. We 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. They are big producers of coffee, tea, corn, cassava and beans. Unsurprisingly, these make up staples of Burundi diet, 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.
Popular Burundian Vegetarian Dishes
- 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.
Vegetarian rating of Burundian Cuisine:
Making Healthy Date, Banana & Cinnamon Cake
From our research, we deducted that dessert isn’t very common in Burundi. It seems the only widely consumed sweet food is fruit. The one sweet recipe we did find popping up for Burundi was for a date and banana mix cake. Whilst we 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 we thought we’d run with it and do our own take on this Burundian treat.
The biggest difference Floss and I (Nicola) have in the kitchen is our approach to making sweet food. Whilst Floss is a master at baking deliciously decadent cookies, brownies and slices, I enjoy making healthy takes on my favourite sweet treats. Normally our biggest debate when planning a recipe is the level of “healthy” we are going to make something. It’s quite an amusing battle. With this recipe, Floss was away, so of course I took the opportunity to make this recipe on the healthier end of the spectrum.
What makes this cake healthy?
Date and banana are two ingredients we 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.
Now for the disclaimer. When I adapt a recipe like this, I do everything within my power to make sure it still retains the right texture and actually tastes good. It was encouraging to see everyone enjoying my date and banana cinnamon cake, and I don’t think anyone even realised that I had sneakily made it into a healthy treat (even Floss).
How to make Healthy Date, Banana & 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 Healthy Date, Banana & 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.
Other healthy treats to make
Healthy Date, Banana & Cinnamon Cake
- 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.
Did you make this recipe? We’d love to know! Tell us how it went in the comments below or tag us (@gourmetvegetarians) in your photos on Instagram.
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