Easy Banana Muffins (or Banana Cake) that can be made vegan and allergy free!

Banana cupcakes & gingerbread spice cookies

Banana cupcakes & gingerbread spice cookies. Made vegan and allergy free.

Banana cake has long been one of my nemesis; I just haven’t had the knack. I’m so glad to have finally found a recipe that works! It also has the wonderful bonus of being dairy, egg, soy, and nut free! I have also made it gluten free ūüôā

Ingredients

  • 2 mashed / pureed ripe bananas*
  • 5 Tbsp neutral oil (I use rice bran)
  • 1/2 cup water + 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2c plain flour (or Healtheries Gluten Free Bread Mix).
  • 3/4c sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar (I use apple cider)

Tip: The riper the bananas, the better this will work! As the bananas ripen they convert starch to sugar. Really ripe bananas will mash more easily, be sweeter, and have a more intense banana flavour.

Gluten Free: You can, of course, use a different gluten free flour! The reason that I’ve listed that one is because it contains guar gum but no raising agents (as the recipe includes those). You could, for instance, substitute superfine rice flour and add guar gum. Personally, I don’t use xanthan gum as it can be grown using soy as a base. You may need to experiment a little with gluten free flours to get the cake just right (you may want to start with muffins as it’s easier to tell when they’re cooked). Keep in mind that gluten free baking is often moister, denser, and may require a longer baking time.

Allergies: soy free, dairy free, egg free, nut free, gluten free*

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180’C and prepare muffin trays / cake tin.
  2. Mash your bananas until you have a smooth texture. Tip: A food processor can do this quickly for you but you’ll want to do the actual mixing by hand.
  3. Mix in the oil and 1/2 cup water.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Add the wet ingredients (banana, oil, water) to the dry ingredients. Add the vinegar.
  6. Stir till just combined. (Slowly add additional water if required).
  7. Quickly get into cupcake cases, muffin trays, or cake tin, and pop in oven.
  8. Bake until skewer comes out clean. Approximately 12 – 15 mins for muffins and 30-40 mins for cake.

Icings:¬†Check out these ideas for completely natural icings that don’t use any artificial additives and are easy to make.

Tips: I’ve made this recipe several times. Lessons learned: using the plastic batter-stirrer-attachment-thingy for the food processor makes for a denser end product (so does over stirring by hand); the rising effect that you get from the vinegar + baking soda means that you want to get this into the oven quickly (instead of having a lengthy sidebar with your toddler about how baking is really just chemistry in the kitchen).

Gingerbread / Spice Cookies (Allergy Free)

Gingerbread cookies

Gingerbread cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups plain flour (I have also used Healtheries GF Bread Mix)
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 150g butter or allergy free spread (I use Nuttelex)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp Maple Syrup or Golden Syrup
  • Drop vanilla
  • Pinch salt

Note: These make a light more-ish spices gingerbread cookie (as opposed to one denser and chewier). Maple syrup will provide a more delicate flavour, golden syrup a more traditional one. The flavour notes are easy to experiment with, you can add more ginger and a pinch of nutmeg. I’ve made these a lot as my daughter loves them and this is her favourite combination.

Allergies: dairy free*, gluten free*, soy free, egg free, nut free.

Directions

  1. Cream ‘butter’, sugar, maple (or golden) syrup, and vanilla.
  2. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.
  3. Knead everything together. It will gradually turn from breadcrumbs to a soft cookie dough. Add a little water if you need to but just a tablespoon at a time.
  4. Refrigerate for 30 – 60 mins. You can leave it in a ball or roll it out. It’s tempting to try cutting it but (and I speak from experience) it doesn’t work very well at room temperature.
  5. Preheat oven to 180’C while rolling out the cookies.
  6. Place cookies on a baking sheet / lightly oiled baking tray.
  7. Bake for 12-15 mins.
  8. Take out from oven and allow to cool briefly before placing on cooling rack to continue cooling.

Tip: If you want a fancy (and easy) dessert reserve some of the cookie dough. Serve balls of French vanilla ice cream with little balls of cookie dough and a warm gingerbread cookie.

Note: These cookies are soft coming straight out of the oven and will harden overnight. They are delicious either way. They also freeze well.

Gingerbread cookies with chocolate icing

Gingerbread cookies with chocolate icing

Wild berry chocolate cake (Gluten Free)

Wild berry chocolate cake (Gluten Free)

Wild berry chocolate cake (Gluten Free)

I love chocolate. I’ve posted a few¬†chocolate recipes like the Crazy One Dish Chocolate Cake and the Chocolate Irish¬†Potato Cake, and I’ve posted some make-from-scratch gluten free recipes like the Vanilla Cupcakes and the all natural pink berry flavoured icing. I wanted to play around in the kitchen with some different gluten free ingredients and make a wonderfully chocolatey and moist cake that also wouldn’t be packed with sugar – I prefer to balance my cakes so there’s more chocolate flavour in the cake and then extra sweetness in the (optional) icing. I liked my recipe for the gluten free Chocolate Cupcakes and used it as the basis for this cake!

Ingredients

Group 1

Group 2

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup¬†Dutch cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup superfine white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup garbanzo flour (also called chickpea flour)
  • 1T sweet (glutinous) rice flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch (cornflour)
  • 1/2 tsp guar gum
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Tbsp¬†Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen mixed berries (i.e, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries).
    • I like this paired with raspberries best!

Allergies: dairy free, soy free, gluten free, nut free.

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180’C.
  2. Whisk together the ingredients in Group 1. This helps to aerate the mix. You can use a stick blender or I used the food processor (with a plastic mixing attachment, not a metal cutting blade!).
  3. Sift together the ingredients in Group 2.
  4. Mix the combined dry ingredients into the whisked liquid.
  5. Divide the mix between two cake tins (or similar). Bake at 180’c for approx. 25-30 mins or until cooked.
  6. Allow to cool before icing. Place one cake layer on serving dish. Cover with jam (i.e. you could have raspberries in the cake mix and then use raspberry jam), place the second cake layer on top, dust with icing sugar. Serve with cream or coconut ice-cream.

Tips

As an alternative you might want to bake this as a bundt cake and use a chocolate buttercream frosting.

Blood Orange Icing (a.k.a. how to make pretty pink icing without using artificial colours)

Gluten Free Cupcakes with all natural pink icing

Gluten Free Cupcakes with all natural pink icing

My daughter is sensitive to red food colouring – as are many kids! For some reason New Zealand still allows artificial food colouring agents to be sold here that are banned in many parts of Europe. I’ve been doing more research (as you might have noticed from the post on why to be cautious about annatto as a colouring agent) and am experimenting with natural food colours.

One way to make pink icing is to use beetroot juice but I’m not a big fan of beetroot so instead decided to make a Blood Orange icing that has a beautifully delicate berry flavour and uses fruit tea!

The secret ingredient to this icing mix is Blood Orange fruit tea which uses a mix of

  • Hibiscus
  • Apple
  • Rosehips
  • Natural Flavouring
  • Stevia
  • Orange Peel

Not only do you get to make icing but you can also make yourself a cuppa in the process. Incidentally, this tea is also lovely cold, with sparkling water, or in fruit punch. You could also experiment with other fruit teas (like Blueberry & Blackcurrant) to make other colours.

Ingredients

  • 50g Butter or allergy free spread (i.e. Nuttelex)
  • 1c icing sugar
  • Blood Orange tea bag
  • Hot water

Allergies: gluten free, dairy free*, egg free, soy free, nut free.

Directions

  1. In a mug steep the Blood Orange tea bag in a small amount of boiling water (i.e. about 50 ml). Allow it to cool and it should have a concentrated deep red colour.
  2. Cream the butter and icing sugar.
  3. Slowly add the (cooled) blood-orange-water to the mix until you have the colour and consistency that you desire. (Add more icing sugar if needed).
  4. Ice your cupcakes (like these Gluten Free cupcakes!)

Note: You can also make this with just icing sugar and the Blood Orange mix to make a darker colour.

 

Gluten Free Cupcakes

Gluten Free Cupcakes with all natural pink icing

Gluten Free Cupcakes with all natural pink icing

I love experimenting with gluten free baking! As well as this vanilla cupcake recipe, I also have different recipes for chocolate cupcakes and berry muffins.

Ingredients

Cupcakes

  • 1c superfine white rice flour
  • 1T glutinous rice flour (also marketed as ‘sweet rice flour’)
  • 1/2 fine cornmeal (polenta) – use finely milled.
  • 1/2c sugar
  • 1 tsp guar gum
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/3c neutral oil (i.e. Rice Bran Oil)
  • 1 egg (or egg replacer)
  • Vanilla
  • 2/3c water

Allergies: gluten free, dairy free, egg free*, soy free, nut free.

Makes 8-10 cupcakes.

Directions

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients together.
  2. Whisk the egg (or egg replacer) until fluffy and pour in.
  3. Add the oil and vanilla. Mix.
  4. Slowly pour the water in while mixing.
  5. Spoon into cupcake cases and bake at 180’C for approx. 25 mins until golden.
  6. Allow to cool and ice. I used a Blood Orange icing with no artificial colours!

 

Tip: My current preferred method for cooking cupcakes is to fill a large cake tin with silicon cupcake cases (so that they are touching). This helps them to keep their shape and is super easy to get in and out of the oven.

 

Icing 

The icings that I use don’t have any artificial colours, glycerin, additives etc.