One of my favorite things about baking is using lots of ingredients. This probably goes back to my childhood baking experiences, but there's nothing I love more than putting half my spice drawer and a bunch of other stuff in a cake or a batch of cookies. Therefore, this recipe was right up my alley. See how all the ingredients barely fit into the picture?
I suppose it's also an American trait to have a lot of different flavors going on in one dessert. French desserts tend to go in for one or two dominant flavors, but American desserts tend to either have one over-the-top flavor (chocolate-chocolate-chocolate) or many mixed.
Our friend Bob was visiting us when I made this cake. He got to try the lemon cheesecake and this, and he seemed to prefer this cake because of the big flavors and all the fruit and nuts. It's a tough comparison because they're such different dessert items, but this is just to say that this cake is really delicious and worth making.
Here's the recipe. Empty out your cabinets and get to it!
Banana Black Cake
1-1/2 c. (5 oz.) walnuts
1/2 c. (4 oz.) butter, room temperature
2 T. cocoa powder
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. allspice
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. cloves
1/4 t. ground ginger
1 t. baking soda
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. (3.5 oz.) sugar
1/2 c. (3.5 oz.) brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 c. (8 oz.) seedless blackberry jam
2-1/2 bananas (8 oz., peeled), mashed with a fork
2-1/2 T. (1.3 oz.) buttermilk or plain yogurt
1 cup +2 T. (4.5 oz.) sifted flour
1/2 c. (2.75 oz.) whole wheat flour
3/4 c. (5 oz.) pitted dates, cut into quarters
1/2 c. (2.5 oz.) raisins
Heat the oven to 300. Butter a large loaf pan (you may need some extra muffin tins or such). You'll also want a shallow pan to put water in (a broiler or 9x13 pan). Grind 1/3 c. (about 1 oz.) of the walnuts in a food processor; use those to coat the pan. If there are extra, let them stay at the bottom of the pan. Chop the remaining walnuts into medium-sized pieces and set aside for later.
Cream the butter with the cocoa, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, salt, cloves, ginger, baking soda, and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the sugars and beat for another minute or two. Beat in the eggs one at a time until well incorporated. Beat in the jam and then the banana. Isn't this fun? Beat in the buttermilk or yogurt, and then on low speed, beat in the flours. Take the bowl off the mixer stand and stir in the dates, raisins, and walnuts. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and cover with foil. Put about an inch of hot water in the shallow pan and put it on the bottom shelf of the oven. Put the covered cake on a rack above the hot water pan and bake for about 45 minutes. Take off the foil (some cake batter may have stuck to it) and bake another 45 minutes or so, or until a toothpick comes out clean (these were the times that worked for me: Maida recommends 1 hour covered and 1-1/2 uncovered). Let cool about 20 minutes and then unmold onto a rack to cool completely. Maida recommends chilling this and serving it cold with ice cream, but I kind of like it at room temperature, just plain--but not really plain.