¾ cup chopped pitted dates (110g)
125g unsalted butter, chopped
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup soft, over-ripe mashed banana
1½ cups self-raising flour
½ cup plain flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 banana, halved lengthways
½ cup honey-roasted macadamias, coarsely chopped
Vanilla ice-cream, to serve
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
300ml tub thickened cream
½ teaspoon salt flakes
Grease a large loaf pan (top measures 14cm x 24cm). Line base and sides with baking paper, extending paper 3cm above the sides of pan.
Place dates, butter, sugar and ½ cup water in a large saucepan. Stir over a medium heat until butter is melted. Bring to boil. Gently boil for 1 minute. Remove. Stir in soda. Stand for 15 minutes to cool slightly. Stir in eggs and mashed banana.
Sift flours and cinnamon into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre. Add date mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Spoon into prepared pan.
Arrange halved banana on top of cake mixture. Sprinkle with macadamias.
Cook in a moderately slow oven (160C) for about 1 hour, or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Remove from oven. Stand in pan for 20 minutes. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.
To make caramel, stir sugar and cream in a large saucepan over a medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to boil. Gently boil, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Remove. Stir in salt. Set aside for 45 minutes, or until thickened.
Serve sliced banana bread with warm salted caramel and ice-cream.