Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Baking with Baby 2 - Banana Bread Muffins

A sample of our wares
Well, I've only got myself to blame, really. I should have stopped myself, this morning, when, as baby munched happily on her breakfast, I eyed the ageing bananas in the fruit bowl and stupidly uttered my thoughts aloud. "Those bananas are going off, I really ought to do something with them. Maybe we could make some banana bread." The Hub said, "Oooh! That sounds like a good idea." Baby immediately seized her opportunity, jumped on the bandwagon and that was it! It was all arranged. The Hub made his getaway and I was left to my fate!

I think I've mentioned this before, when we made Flapjacks - Baby LOVES baking!! Me, less so! Washing-up will be waiting for me at the end of a long, dark tunnel, fraught with potential for mishap, due to an over-eager Baby! But still, I have to do it. I've sweetened it for myself, by buying a few new baking accessories, I love my new measuring spoons (bargain from TKMaxx) but sadly, fancy new baking aides do not a baker make!!

First up was locating the recipe. I contemplated searching through Pippa Kendrick's new book, or her recipe blog, The Intolerant Gourmet, I love her stuff, because it's allergy friendly and looks (to a shaky baker, like me) 'do-able'. However, in the interests of saving time (Baby doesn't do patient) decided on a recipe I've tasted before. 

It's a recipe with good memories attached - we holidayed in a cottage in Devon with some friends the other September. These friends came armed with dairy free food and recipes, one of which was some rather delicious banana bread! I had the feeling it was a Nigella (our friend bakes a lot of Nigella's recipes) but not being able to locate it online, I printed off the recipe that our friend had sent me after our holiday.

Recipe out, we got stuck in. Baby was safely installed (incarcerated for minimum destruction?) in her highchair, with a bowl of bananas to mash (3 medium ones, just in case you're interested. The oven was switched on to 200 degrees to heat up (190 degrees, for those whoe ovens actually work) and I got on with measuring. 85g Pure Margarine, 340g of ... sugar. It's at this point, I realised that I didn't have the right sugar, but I had demerara, so demerara it had to be! Does it matter? I don't know!

Baby was bored of mashing bananas by now, so creaming sugar and marg together with a fork became her next job, whilst I finished mashing before rushing off to measure out the next  lot of ingredients. Hmm! The  next realisation was that I couldn't locate the proper vanilla essence. 'Did we use it up?' I wondered, as I surveyed my badly-in-need-of-sorting baking cupboard. I couldn't remember. Old bog standard would have to do.

My Matroyska Measuring Spoons
So, 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence, 3 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda,  1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg (bought for my yet-to-be-cooked rice pudding) later, I realised my cupboard was sadly lacking - not just in the muscavado department, but also in the spice department - all spice and mixed spice this time. I decided to innovate. 

No idea if it was right, but I added 1 teaspoon of ginger and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon instead. Actually the ginger is kicking in as I write, so maybe I should cut down on the ginger to 1/4 teaspoon next time, and see if that works better. Or maybe I should just get the right ingredients!

More innovation was to follow - 1 teaspoon of salt seemed too much to me. Baby shouldn't have too much. I decided to halve it. I stuck to the flour though, well sort of - 340g Doves plain flour it should have been. Ho hum! Remember it next time!

I did remember our friend's advice about the bananas though - adding the mashed banana at the end. That's where I ran into difficulty - his recipe ends with, 'this usually makes enough to fill...' Oh! Looking at the amount in the bowl and my one remaining loaf tin (somehow I thought I had another older one somewhere) I decided more innovation was required - cue muffin cases! I guessed it was meant to be two loaves, so plumped on nine muffin cases, for roughly half the mixture.

Cases filled, there wasn't as much left as I thought, for the loaf tin, but it was too late by then! Inspecting my tin, I realised the instructions on how to prepare the tin had also been left out. No problem, I consulted Nigella, online. She greased and lined. So did I. 

All in the oven, it was timer time. Which was when I encountered my next problem - no baking time included in the instructions!! 'Next time,' I thought to myself, 'I'm going back to Pippa, from whom I know I'd get a full set of instructions!'

Our Banana Loaf
Quickly consulting Nigella, all her Banana Bread seemed to take about an hour! Hmm! Remembering previous encounters with muffins, I set my timer for 20 minutes (I'm sure I've heard somewhere that you should leave an oven for 15/20 minutes, when baking cakes, to make sure they don't sink). 

Twenty minutes seemed to do the trick for the Banana Bread muffins. I turned the loaf tin around and gave it another 5/10 minutes more, before that too seemed done. I pressed the tops and inserted a skewer (which came out clean) just to make sure. Hey presto! Job done!

Correction! Baby thought the job wasn't quite done - until she had tasted. That was her morning snack. Now, she doesn't often eat fruit (hence the aged bananas) so does that count as one of her five-a-day? I dunno!!

I'm getting the hang of this innovation thing, though. Having sampled our loaf, I'm coming back for more! And I'm considering adding walnuts next time. Hang on a minute! Next time??

Just in time for Baby's morning snack
Baking Tip Addendum: The loaf is a bit on the small side, maybe I should just chuck all the mixture in the loaf tin next time, bar maybe three muffins (for quality control purposes of course). 

Oral Allergy Addendum: I sometimes get reactions to raw banana (and other fruits too). The first muffin I ate (fresh out of the oven) affected my lips. The second one, eaten sometime later (they're only little, really) didn't, so take care if oral allergy syndrome is a problem for you too!

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Baking with Baby - Flapjacks


  1. Ohh walnuts in banana bread is delicious but my families favourite is chocolate chips in with it! See here -

    Enjoy, Mich x

    1. dairyfreebabyandme18 May 2012 at 15:17

      Thanks Mich! Great minds think alike! I love chocolate and had been wondering about adding chocolate too. Might just have to take a look at that recipe of yours. xx