Sugar-Free Banana Cake

Sugar-Free Banana Cake – with no added sugar, just the sweetness of bananas and sultanas, this is a healthy treat the kids will love.

Advertisements

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.

No Added Sugar Banana Cake - with no added sugar, just the sweetness of bananas and sultanas, this is a healthy treat the kids will love | thehecticcook.com

I try not to get too caught up in most of it (I tryI 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 🙂

Ingredients

50g unsalted butter, melted
3 bananas, mashed (the older the better)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp milk
125g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
75g sultanas

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.

Sugar-Free Banana Cake | thehecticcook.com

Sugar-Free Banana Cake | thehecticcook.com

Sugar-Free Banana Cake | thehecticcook.com

2. Add the egg, vanilla and milk, and give it all a good whisk.

Sugar-Free Banana Cake | thehecticcook.com

Sugar-Free Banana Cake | thehecticcook.com

3. To this mixture add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sultanas. Give the mixture a good stir.

Sugar-Free Banana Cake | thehecticcook.com

Sugar-Free Banana Cake | thehecticcook.com

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.

Sugar-Free Banana Cake | thehecticcook.com

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.

Sugar-Free Banana Cake - with no added sugar, just the sweetness of bananas and sultanas, this is a healthy treat the kids will love. | thehecticcook.com

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.

Happy cooking!

Microwave Banana Pudding

This is a really quick and simple pudding, that you can throw together at a moments notice, and that actually tastes really good (despite what it looks like!).

It would appear that spring has sprung in the UK. And just in time (barely) for Easter. Yesterday, we decided to go with the majority and head out into the great outdoors. We took a trip to the lovely Blenheim Palace which is luckily on our doorstep. It would appear that everyman and his dog had decided on Blenheim too.

As we headed out the door, the Husband and I looked at the two modest rucksacks we’d packed. And we paused for a second. Surely we’d missed something? Surely there was at least half a car-loads worth of ‘stuff’ not yet packed? But no! We have (finally) reached a point where we can leave the house without mounting a full-scale expedition. Result!

thehecticcook.com

Trying to then get four children to pose sweetly (or indeed just look kind of in the vague direction of the camera) was, to be fair, never going to happen. But we survived. We didn’t lose anyone. There was no blood, poo or wee involved (that was a different weekend). A pretty successful outing!

Dinner has to be fairly easy when you’ve been out all day, so the kids had my Cheats Tuna Pie, and the Husband and I had leftover lamb. I do like a pudding on a Sunday though. Admittedly, yesterday wasn’t a Sunday, but it was Easter Monday, so as close as dammit. This banana pudding is so quick and easy, you can knock it out in under 15 minutes. The original recipe is another BBC Goodfood recipe, I’ve just tweeked it a wee bit.

Ingredients

100g butter
2 bananas
100g light brown soft sugar (any brown, or even granulated/caster sugar would do)
100g self-raising flour
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g chocolate chips

1. Place the butter in a 1-litre microwavable dish and microwave until melted (30 second bursts, should take under 1 minute).

Microwave Banana Pudding | thehecticcook.com

Add the 2 bananas and mash into the butter.

Microwave Banana Pudding | thehecticcook.com

Microwave Banana Pudding | thehecticcook.com

2. Add the sugar and the flour, and give a good thorough mix, either with a fork or a whisk.

Microwave Banana Pudding | thehecticcook.com

Add the eggs and whisk again. Microwave Banana Pudding | thehecticcook.com

3. Stir through the vanilla extract (it’s not essential, but it adds extra flavour) and chocolate chips.

Microwave Banana Pudding | thehecticcook.com

4. Microwave on high for 8 minutes (800W microwave), until slightly risen and cooked through.

Microwave Banana Pudding - a really quick and simple pudding that tastes really scrumptious | thehecticcook.com

This is not a pretty pudding. I sprinkled it with a little icing sugar before photographing to try to ‘jazz’ it up a little. The chocolate chips tend to sink to the bottom pretty much so you have a layer of chocolate at the base. You could try sprinkling some chips on the top just before microwaving, see how that goes. But this is actually really tasty. I serve it with custard and it tends to go down a storm (except with Alice who ‘doesn’t do pudding’ – she just gets a bowl of custard. I can’t be held accountable for all of my kids).

Microwave Banana Pudding - a really quick and simple pudding that tastes really scrumptious | thehecticcook.com

It also uses up any old and browning bananas you might have. Quick, simple, winner.

Happy cooking!

 

Banana & Sultana Cake

I have a notebook, which I’ve called my ‘Baking Bible’. It sounds a bit twee (which it probably is) but it’s where I add baking recipes once I’ve discovered the recipe-to-end-all-recipes. There are thousands of recipes out there for the same things: millionaire’s shortbread; brownies; chocolate chip cookies etc. And I’ve tried a fair few. But I’ve been disappointed with many. So when I hit upon a recipe that, to me, seems to be perfect, it goes in the Baking Bible. I’m hoping *fade to black & white with soft music playing* that this notebook will be passed down the generations, and be lovingly used by future HC generations. It may even feature on an episode of Antiques Roadshow one day……

Banana and Sultana Cake - Lots of banana and juicy sultanas keep this cake gorgeously moist and really delicious. | thehecticcook.com

This banana cake was a recipe I got from a friend a few years back. It has the right quantity of banana, the juicy sultanas to add texture, a lovely hint of cinnamon, and is sweet enough to satisfy any sweet tooth. If you need to use up a few ageing bananas, this is a perfect solution.

Ingredients

110g butter / buttery spread
110g dark brown sugar
2 eggs
4 bananas
225g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cinnamon
140g sultanas

Note: I went through a stage of only using butter in my baking. I was doing the whole ‘parental guilt’ thing, worried about how much rubbish my kids eat, and thought I could at least bake with butter, then I’d be ‘filling them with goodness’.

Ha. Whatever. The buttery spreads you can buy, yes they contain some ingredients that most certainly didn’t come from a cow, but when it comes to actually baking, it’s very hard to tell the difference. Plus they’re actually easier to use as they’re already soft. And they’re cheaper. So funny old thing, I’m back to using buttery spreads in my baking. The kids will be fine. I’m sure. I hope. Anyway…

1. First off, cream together the ‘butter’ and sugar until the mixture has paled a bit. This adds air into your mixture, which will help to make the cake light, so creaming is an important step and one that shouldn’t be overlooked. I don’t kick the arse out of it, but I’ll give it a jolly good beating for about 4-5 minutes.

2. Add the eggs and give another good beating.

DSC_0001

3. Mash three of the bananas and chop up one (in the pic I’d only sliced up the fourth banana, but do chop it up a wee bit more).

DSC_0002

Add this to the mixture and give it a good stir.

4. Add the dry ingredients (I read recently that sifting flour for cakes is basically a waste of time, so I’ve given that up) and fold into the mixture.

DSC_0004

Then add in the sultanas and mix.

5. Pour the mixture into a greased, lined 2lb loaf tin.

Note: I’ve got two tins, one is smaller than the second, but both pretend to be 2lb loaf tins. I put this mix into the smaller one and it was too full, so then had to pour into the second. Loaf tins can be tricky like that. I didn’t grease either as I’ve got lovely loaf tin liners for the smaller one, and as the second is silicone, it doesn’t need to be greased (but I do place it on a baking tray to make it easier to take in and out of the oven).

DSC_0005

DSC_0006

6. Bake this in a preheated oven of 160C (fan) for about 1 hour, checking it from around 45 minutes that a skewer stuck in the middle comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

DSC_0007

Now, I have a love/hate relationship with loaf cakes. I love the ease – especially with the loaf tin liners, no greasing/lining, just make the batter, chuck it in the tin and bake. Simple.

However. I find baking a loaf cake a bit of a pain. They take an age to cook. I’ve reduced the temp for this recipe and increased the cooking time. It means you don’t have to worry about the cake browning too much (and thus having to cover with foil), but it does take at least an hour (mine actually took 70 minutes) and it didn’t have a lovely crunchy crisp top. If you really want your cake to have the crunchy crisp top, cook it at 180C (fan) but you’ll probably have to cover it after about 40 minutes. And it’ll still probably take around an hour. But as everyone’s ovens are different, baking is usually a bit of trial and error anyway.

Banana and Sultana Cake - Lots of banana and juicy sultanas keep this cake gorgeously moist and really delicious. | thehecticcook.com

This doesn’t need anything added to it – it’s not bread, so it doesn’t need butter or anything. It’s lovely just as it is.

Banana and Sultana Cake - Lots of banana and juicy sultanas keep this cake gorgeously moist and really delicious. | thehecticcook.com

Happy cooking!