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This was not meant to be a banana date muffin. The ideas was conceived as a banana apricot, but alas, when I bought the bag of dried apricots home, I discovered that the bag was torn. Of course, I could have accidentally made the tear, but there was also more sinister possibilities (and I did not want to take the risk of food poisining). So, I went to the supermarket to buy another bag, but when I saw the dates next to the apricots, I didn’t need to think twice. It is long overdue, because I remember thinking I had to try this out two or three years ago (when I was in my sticky date pudding phase) but never got around to it.

All was going well in the kitchen when I discovered that I didn’t have bi-carb soda for the dates. To make up my mind whether to run out and get some, I had to find out why it is necessary to add bi-carb soda to dates. Looking at the recipe doesn’t solve the riddle, because there is no acid in it to neutralise it. According to one user of this forum , it is to “toffify” the dates. Another user added that without using bi-card soda, her dates turned out like regular dried fruit. From a technical point of view, the bi-card soda also breaks down the skin of the dates. With that in mind, I had no choice but to make a 20 minute trek to the supermarket up the road (which was actually quite pleasant on a Saturday afternoon).

Let me just say that the trek was definitely worth it. These muffins are bananary and are infused with a honey-like sweetness from the dates. The kitchen warm and the muffins smell so good. What could be a better way to ward off the oncoming winter with a muffin in hand, a book in the another, and a pot of tea brewing on the side?

Banana Date Muffins
Makes 12

1 cup seeded dates (chopped)
1/3 cup water
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 cups SR flour (I used wholemeal)
1 cup plain flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/4 cup EVOO
2 bananas (mashed)

1. Preheat oven to 180c. Grease a 12 hole muffin pan or line with patty pans.
2. Combine dates and the water in a medium saucepan, bring to boil. Remove from heat and add bicarbonate of soda. Stand for 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, sift dry ingredients into a bowl, stir in date mixture and the remaining ingredients. If mixture is dry, add a little more milk. Spoon mixture into prepared pan.
4. Bake for 20 minutes. Muffins are ready when the skewer comes out clean.

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