February 20, 2024


With my part used packet of chopped dates and a couple of tired bananas I hankered after making something quick and easy.  I have used this recipe for banana loaf before and followed the tips at the end of the recipe to add some chopped dates.  This time I made mini muffins instead.  They are a nice bite sized treat, easy to hand round to a group of people.

They were well risen, nicely spiced and not too sweet.  I think that a bananaphobe would have not been too challenged - they were very moreish and even Nick liked them!

There had been an unfortunate mishap with my brand new jar of English mixed spice the week before.  Hard tiled floors are not very forgiving, spice and broken glass went everywhere. On the advice of a friend I replaced it with a French equivalent called "quatre épices".  The spices are ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.  I looked up the ingredients of British mixed spice and they have a very similar composition although also include coriander, which I usually associate with savoury dishes. Curious! The French version worked perfectly.

The quantity of mixture in the recipe made 48 mini muffins with some still some left over, so I made a few buns as well, which took a few minutes longer to bake.  Definitely a recipe worth remembering if you're short of time but want no shortage of flavour!

The very pretty little cake stand came from a brocante shop in a nearby village.  This place is actually an old barn stuffed with antique furniture, textiles, crockery and every imaginable kind of old or vintage household goods.  Prices are not as cheap as at the average village flea market but affordable.  This little cake stand was one of several that belonged to a huge set of matching crockery, a whole dinner service with numerous serving dishes, tureens and everything else that a large household might have.  The only item of it that I wanted (although all of it was gorgeous) was one of these with the pretty bird and flowers.  I think that had there only been one in the set the shopkeeper might have refused, but there were several so she was happy to sell me one.


3 very ripe bananas, about 225g peeled weight

3 large eggs

100g light soft brown sugar

150ml vegetable oil (I used groundnut oil)

275g self raising flour

1 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp baking powder

a handful of chopped dates


Put the dates into a small bowl and just cover with boiling water.  Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160°fan / gas mk 4.  Grease the holes of two mini muffin tins.

Put the peeled bananas into a large bowl and mash roughly with a fork.  Add the eggs, sugar and oil and whisk with an electric hand held whisk until well combined.

Add the flour, spice and baking powder and whisk again until just combined.  Stir through the soaked dates including the liquid.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tins.  I used a mini ice cream scoop so that they were roughly even.  Bake for 12-15 minutes until done.  (The larger buns took 20 minutes).  Cool in the tins for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack.

Makes more than 48 mini muffins.


  1. I really like 4-épices. I use it in both sweet and savoury recipes. I often buy a version including pepper, and yes this works fine in spice cakes!

    1. I can't imagine pepper in cakes but I'm prepared to give it a try! I imagine it would certainly spice up a good ginger cake.

    2. Yes, I use it in my favourite spicy pumpkin cake.

  2. Lovely little treats and perfect for using up bananas. Très charmant cake stand too. I must admit that "mixed spice" always makes me a little nervous. I've bought some strange tasting mixtures in the past.

    1. I have noticed myself that there are some weird and wonderful spice mixes available in the supermarkets.