Baking & Dessert

By Aine Carlin | June 23, 2011

Photo: Aine Carlin

Sugar seems to creep its way into my diet. As much as I try, there are hidden sugars in everything – even savory food. What’s up with that? So when it comes to regular baking I go easy on the refined stuff and stick to vegan sweeteners like date syrup, malt rice syrup, xylitol and agave. I realize there is a lot of mixed information and views regarding agave and I myself haven’t quite made up my mind about it so I tend to err on the side of caution and use it sparingly. But that’s just me.

Photo: Aine Carlin

Now, I don’t think sugar is the devil or anything but it shouldn’t be a regular feature – not as regular as it currently is anyway. Sugary treats use to be the reserve of celebrations and special occasions – I remember the days of a weekly treat, but kids (and adults) nowadays think nothing of consuming sugary foods on a daily basis.

Photo: Aine Carlin

Whether we like to admit or not, sugar has a firm hold on us and there’s no sign of it loosening its grip anytime soon. My husband says he’d rather give up tea altogether than go without adding his teaspoon of sugar – case in point. Maybe calling it an addiction is a tad dramatic but there is no denying we all love sugar.

Photo: Aine Carlin

Therefore, I feel it’s my duty (to myself as much as anyone else) to ensure my own food contains the least amount of refined sugar as possible. Not baking is not an option, so here I am banana bread in hand (metaphorically speaking) containing no refined sugar yet not devoid of flavor. No siree! Packed full of dates and pecans how could it taste anything other than awesome?

Photo: Aine Carlin

Let me be clear. This is not a cake masquerading as a bread. This is a bread bread. You get me? Suffice to say, it’s best enjoyed with a skim of vegan spread and a decent cup of tea (preferably made in a pot). Look at us all civilized and sugar free!

  • 2 cups plain white flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 1/8 cup date syrup
  • 1/8 cup malt rice syrup
  • 1/2 cup oat milk
  • 1/8 cup oil
  • 6 chopped dates
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 7 or 8 whole pecan halves
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon


1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/390 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Put the flour in a large bowl, add the baking powder, baking soda and salt and thoroughly mix.

3. Mash the banana in a large bowl and add the syrups, oil and oat milk. Stir to combine.

4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and gently fold until everything is almost incorporated before adding the chopped date and pecans. When everything is fully combined transfer to a prepared loaf tin (I grease mine with vegan sunflower spread).

5. Place the whole pecan halves on top and dust with ground cinnamon. Bake for 45 minutes.

6. Allow to cool for several minutes before removing from tin. Enjoy warm or cold.

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