Banana Cake for Tu Bishvat

A fruity cake recipe for the birthday of the trees.


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banana cake

This moist banana cake is a tasty way to celebrate Tu Bishvat. Colloquially known as 'the birthday of the trees,' Tu Bishvat was once a tax holiday--and now has become a chance for Jews around the world to think about the ways in which trees, plants, and the fruits of the earth sustain us.

Tu Bishvat is connected to the natural world and to the land of Israel. Many people celebrate the holiday by attending a Tu Bishvat Seder, a practice with origins stemming from the Kabbalists of 15th century Safed. Today, it can be a chance to learn about environmentalism and Judaism. At Tu Bishvat Seders, the consumption of fruits, nuts and wines are symbolically understood to create a spiritual journey linking people to the land of Israel. Many of those fruits have connections to the traditional "seven species" found in Deuteronomy 8:8. Wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates--the actual word used is honey, but scholars believe the biblical honey mentioned is a syrup made from dates rather than the honey from bees--are all traditionally associated with the land of Israel.

Today many people celebrate Tu Bishvat by enjoying all kinds of fruits and plants, even those that are not mentioned in the Bible. This cake combines the classical ingredients of Israel's agricultural tradition (dates, raisins, wheat) with its contemporary bounty (bananas, pecans, ginger). It could be called banana bread's wickedly delicious step-sister, for it is at once decadent and thrifty. Giving delicious new life to tired bananas, this cake is full of nuts, fruit and chocolate--rich enough to feel like dessert, but nutritious enough to eat for breakfast.<<< Less


2 1/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
2 cups total of your mix of dried fruits, nuts, and chocolate*
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup overripe banana, mashed (approx. 3 small bananas)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 large eggs
1 cup melted butter
1 cup buttermilk**


6-8 servings

Categories: Dessert, breakfast, brunch, fruity, Sweet, Shabbat, Tu Bishvat


In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and your mixture of dried fruits, nuts and chocolate. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, mashed banana, vanilla, eggs. Stir in the melted butter and the buttermilk, mix well. Stir in the dry ingredients and mix well.

Butter your cake pan and dust with flour. I have successfully used both a 10 inch bunt pan and a 10 inch springform pan - the difference is mostly stylistic. Pour the batter in and bake at 350F for about an hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.

*I like to use a varied mixture of: pecans, golden raisins, cranberries crystallized ginger, chopped dates, chocolate chips or odd ends of chocolate bars that I chop up into chunks. Each time I make the recipe I vary the exact proportions, but the key is you want a total of 2 cups of treats, all roughly the same size, though the crystallized ginger chunks can be made pretty small.

** No need to buy buttermilk especially for this recipe. You can sour your own milk by adding a tablespoon of lemon juice and setting the milk aside for 10 minutes before finishing the rest of the recipe.

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Avigail Hurvitz-Prinz

Avigail Hurvitz-Prinz is an independent college counselor at Brick By Brick College Counseling, but in her spare time she loves baking cakes and blogging about it.