My sister-in-law set me a challenge to develop a cake that is suitable for my nephew, Leo. Leo is 8 months old and a truly happy baby who I am pleased to say seems to love his food! My brother and sister-in-law are in the process of weaning Leo at the moment and are following the ‘baby led weaning‘ method. Baby led weaning is a fairly new concept to me, but strikes me as a sensible way of introducing a baby to food. Put simply baby led weaning is the where you give food to a baby and they feed themselves. So far as I can tell one of the major advantages is that they eat what you eat (within reason) and subject to a couple of basic principles to ensure that your baby’s diet has a very limited amount of salt and sugar.
Now then back to the challenge, to develop a cake suitable for baby led weaning. My sister-in-law asked me to create a cake that did not contain refined sugar. My first thought was what about using honey, however after a bit of research it became clear that this would not be a suitable substitute on this occasion as the general consensus is not to introduce honey to a baby’s diet until they are a year old. Not being a fan of sweeteners I set my mind to what I could use as an alternative. My solution – dates and banana pureed in a little boiling water. Using that as a sugar substitute I tired a couple of different recipes. The first attempt resulted in a dense but very moist sponge more like a muffin. The second attempt is the one I am going to share here as it produced a much lighter fluffier sponge that rose beautifully. What I should point out it that I made cupcakes instead of a cake as it was a better portion size for a baby. The other benefit of cooking them this is it means that you can freeze them individually and use them gradually rather than worry about them going stale.
I suspect that you are wondering what it tasted like – unsurprisingly it is nowhere near as sweet as a typical cake but as mentioned it has a lovely light texture. I asked my family for their thoughts on the cupcake and the comments were as follows “Where’s the jam?” and “Any chance of some cream with this?” I think these responses boil down partly to the fact that instinctively they expected something much sweeter and secondly that it is unlike me to serve a cake without icing. So if you are making this for both adults and babies perhaps treat it a little like a scone for the adults and serve with a little jam and cream on the side so those of your family with a sweeter tooth can satisfy their cravings. Enjoy!
Tip: if you have bananas that are going black and you are thinking about throwing them away don’t! Peel and freeze them as they will be perfect for this recipe as it works best with ripe bananas.