Homemade gifts for the holidays are special. I appreciate the time and thought that goes into making something unique. Here’s a recipe for a dessert bread from my relatives in California which is moist and flavorful. It uses fresh zucchini from their garden, as well as bananas, dates and nuts. It is a good recipe to make in small loaves for gifts and some extra for the family, too!
My nephew, Nick, purchased his first home in southern California last year. What an achievement! In the family tradition he planted a garden which is thriving; especially the zucchini.These are giant-sized zucchini! Very nice ones.
My sister-in-law has found several ways to use the zucchini and perfected a recipe for banana-zucchini bread. The zucchini, along with bananas, contribute to the moistness; adding fiber and nutrition. It does not overpower the flavor or texture of this quick bread. Vanilla, almond extract and cinnamon are added to the bread giving an aromatic taste.
This bread contains dates in addition to bananas and zucchini. I had to ask a few questions about the dates because I was not familiar with type type of dates used in the recipe. We have preserved dates in grocery stores here–along with raisins, figs, prunes, etc; but fresh dates are not a local produce item.
I discovered from searching the internet that 100% of dates grown in the United States are grown in California. Dates are grown on date palms (not palm trees) in a dry arid environment–not a humid one like here in the South. Medjool dates, shown here, are not dried fruit–the dates naturally lower their moisture content as they ripen on the palms. They continue to dry out during storage. The dates in the package on the right are coated in oat flour. This prevents the dates from sticking together. My sister-in-law purchased these dates from “Sprouts”, a large bulk supply grocery in southern California.
Dates were a staple food of the ancient middle east where western civilization originated. They were a staple food in diets the of ancient people of Sumeria and then spread outward. According to the UDSA in “Crop Profiles for Dates in California,” “The date palm, Phoenix dactylifera, is believed to have originated in the Persian Gulf area. In 1769, missionaries planted the first date palms in California. Dates are produced worldwide with Iraq leading in production. There are some 1,500 cultivars of dates. Of those grown in California, the major variety is ‘Deglet Noor’. It was introduced to California in 1900 and constitutes about 75% of the crop. The most valuable variety is ‘Medjool’, which constitutes about 20% of the acres.”
Nutritional Value of Dates
Dates are naturally sweet; a way to add some sweetness without “artificial sugar”. They contain potassium, other trace minerals and fiber. They have no fat or cholesterol.
Making the Banana Zucchini Bread
This recipe is a quick bread containing baking powder and baking soda for leavening rather than yeast. It is easy to prepare–use a very large mixing bowl and mix by hand. The recipe makes two loaves in standard loaf pans. Here are the main ingredients and the finished loaves. The slices can be served with cream cheese as a spread.
Shred the zucchini first – I used a hand shredder and two small zucchini for my batch. The photo above shows the California zucchini in the center.
I poured my batter in to oiled 5.5″ x 3.5″ mini-loaf pans. I prepared a half recipe here which filled 4 mini-pans. Or use 2 – 5×9″ pans for the full recipe. Reduce the cooking time for the small loaf pans.
This bread is very tasty! Great for breakfast, a snack, a buffet or dessert. Share as a gift. Enjoy!
California Banana Zucchini Bread, original recipe from Inge Heisey
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups sugar (1 to 1 ½ cups of it brown sugar)
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2-3 tsp almond extract
- 2 medium ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1-1/2 cups shredded unpeeled zucchini (can be somewhat more)
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- Chopped dates (about 1/3 cup of either chopped dried dates or use packaged chopped dates in oat flour)
- Cream cheese
Methods and Steps:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil two 9-in x 5-in loaf pans.*
- In a bowl, beat eggs. Blend in sugar and oil, vanilla and almond extract. Add bananas and mix well.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; stir into egg mixture.
- Gently fold in zucchini, dates and pecans just until combined.
- Pour into two greased 9-in x 5-in loaf pans. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Yield: 2 loaves.
- Slice and serve with cream cheese.
*Alternately pour into 8 oiled mini-loaf pans. Bake 25 minutes.
Our family ancestors were farmers – originally Pennsylvania Dutch. It is rewarding to see that the next generation is continuing the tradition, even though they aren’t on a farm. That’s the best gift of all. And look, no weeds!
http://www.medjool-dates.com/ The Hernandez Medjool Date Farm 55-205 Tyler St., Thermal, California CALIFORNIA GROWN MEDJOOL DATES Copyright 2008
Crop Profile for Dates in California USDA January 2000 //www.ipmcenters.org/cropprofiles/docs/CAdates.pdf