Victoria shares a simple recipe for mini banana bread loaves which are perfect for afternoon tea.
No, this isn’t some cutesy wutesy name for ickle wickle cakes, this is banana bread made for babies. Or, more specifically, for babies whose parents have chosen baby led weaning over spoon feeding them purées.
Some friends recently came round for lunch with their one year old daughter, who is currently being baby-led weaned. For the uninitiated, this means that the babies feed themselves. There is no mashed up mush. In fact, as long as you steer clear of salt and keep down the sugar (and gluten to begin with), you can all eat the same foods together, without a stick blender in sight.
One year old Sylvie ate an impressive array of vegetables, from carrots and potatoes to asparagus and broccoli. She also tucked into cauliflower soup (OK, so I did get the stick blender out for that), roast pork and a bowl of tomato pasta. There was no “Here comes the train, choo choo, open wide!” to encourage her to eat vomit-coloured purée off a spoon. She just ate what she wanted to eat and stopped when she’d had enough.
I made the grown-ups vanilla panna cotta with berries for pudding, but forgot to make an extra baby-friendly one minus the sugar. No self-respecting one year old should have to go without pudding, I thought! Heaven forfend! So I decided to knock up this vegan, sugar- and gluten-free banana bread instead and, you know what, despite the alarming array of “healthy eating” credentials, it didn’t taste half bad. Sylvie certainly didn’t have any objections.
My boyfriend who is gluten-free and lactose intolerant was very pleased with how these turned out, especially as it meant he didn’t have to swill back special pills
in order to digest any milk sugars. In fact, it was touch and go at one point whether he could be trusted to leave any of the baby banana bread for the actual baby. This recipe is the work of moments and you won’t even need to get an electric whisk out. If you don’t want to splurge on coconut oil, which can be expensive, chuck in some sunflower oil instead. I’ll be making this again for babies and non-babies alike.
Baby Banana Bread
Makes 1 loaf, 12 muffins or 6 mini loaves (as in pictures)
4 large overripe bananas
90g coconut oil
50g desiccated coconut
150g rice flour
1 tsp. (gluten-free) baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
125g of dried fruit (I used a mixture of dried cherries, raisins and chopped dates)
Preheat the oven to 170˚C (150˚C fan)/325˚F/Gas Mark 3 and line a 12-hole muffin tray with paper cases or line a loaf tin with baking parchment or place 6 mini loaf cases on a baking tray.
Mash the banana with the coconut oil until smooth(ish). Throw in the desiccated coconut, rice flour, baking powder and vanilla extract and mix together with a spoon until well combined. Fold through the dried fruits and spoon into your tin/paper cases.
Bake for 25 minutes for muffins, 30-35 minutes for mini loaves and 40 – 45 minutes for a loaf, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.