Something I never expected about becoming a parent was just how emotional it would make me. Prior to kids, I was fairly unemotional. Indeed the Husband referred to me as ‘the Ice Queen’ (he’s a charmer). However now, I have actually cried at an advert. And a music video. It’s just wrong.
One of the strongest emotions you feel as a parent though, which I really wasn’t expecting, is the GUILT. It’s worthy of capitals. I think our generation has it fairly tough. We’re bombarded from the media about how we should be parenting. Internet; News; TV; even social media. We’ve all seen the Facebook posts about how little Johnny could write his name at one year old. Or how Betsy Sue was potty trained at six weeks. Or all the articles floating around about how we shouldn’t sleep with our kids. And the ones about how we should sleep with our kids etc etc.
I try not to get too caught up in most of it (I try, I don’t always succeed), but the one area that does seem to get under my skin is food. What we should, and shouldn’t be feeding the kids. Recently I’ve been getting fairly paranoid about sugar. It’s definitely becoming the demon ingredient. I’m not about to get into the ins and outs of why sugar is (potentially) so bad for us – I’m trying not to add another layer of guilt onto you parents out there – but I have been looking at recipes that I can interchange with my usual recipes, sneaking ‘slightly healthier’ snacks into the kids. Don’t get me wrong, they still get those crappy little cheap yogurts from Asda (42p for six don’t you know?!), ice-cream on a Saturday, pudding on a Sunday etc. I’m not about to win Parent of the Year here. But I’m easily assuaged, and this makes me sleep better at night.
So this banana cake recipe comes from a BBC Good Food recipe, and I haven’t actually made any drastic changes to it. Bear in mind, this is not my Banana & Sultana Cake – it’s not as sweet; it’s a good bit denser; it has an almost ‘healthy taste’. But it’s actually really quite tasty, and the kids love it. Oh and I appreciate that it isn’t actually ‘sugar-free’, but it is processed sugar free, which is a winner in my eyes 🙂
50g unsalted butter, melted
3 bananas, mashed (the older the better)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp milk
125g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1. Melt the butter in a large, microwavable bowl (it takes about a minute, but do it in 30 second intervals). Then mash the bananas into the melted butter.
2. Add the egg, vanilla and milk, and give it all a good whisk.
3. To this mixture add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sultanas. Give the mixture a good stir.
The original recipe calls for wholemeal flour, which is what I used, but only because I had it in the cupboard. I’ve also made it with white self-raising flour, and it made very little difference. It just depends exactly how ‘healthy’ you want to be.
I also don’t pre-mix my dry ingredients. Just make sure that when you add them to the bowl, you spread the baking powder and cinnamon out a bit, so there’s no risk of getting a clump of either.
4. Pour the mixture into a lined loaf tin (I use liners, which are an absolute godsend) and pop into a preheated oven at 160ºC (fan)/320ºF/Gas Mark 3 for around 35-45 minutes.
I have a love/hate relationship with loaf cakes, because I always find they take longer to cook than any recipe ever says. Mine took at least 45 minutes, but check after about 35 minutes as all ovens vary. It should turn lightly golden on top, and a skewer/knife should come out clean. Chuck some foil on top to cover if it looks like its starting to brown too much.
5. Take the cake out of the oven, and leave to cool (out of the tin) on a rack.
I’m not about to have an argument about whether this cake is ‘sugar free’ – it clearly isn’t; there’s natural sugar in the bananas, and the sultanas. But its a damn sight healthier than some of the cakes and snacks I feed the kids (not mentioning Nutella Magic Bars at all here). Give this a go, especially if you’re trying to allay some parental guilt.