Gluten-Free Banana Bread

I am  not allergic to gluten, and I am certainly not into this whole gluten-free fad that is sweeping the western world right now. But I am someone with a young daughter at school, and some of her friends at school are allergic to gluten. And I’m also someone who is way too proud to buy a cake from a shop, in order to provide a gluten-free alternative to the birthday cake at my daughter’s next party.

And I’m also a person with some coconut flour in my cupboard, that has been hanging around for a long time. My husband originally bought it to make some high protein snack I think, but has long since lost the recipe. So it’s going spare.

I’m also a person who regularly has very ripe bananas left over at the weekend – my kids go through cycles of wanting different fruits, and they’re just not into bananas right now.  So a lightbulb went off, and I’m going to make something with what I have in the cupboard.

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I’ve tried a couple of different recipes for banana cake made with coconut flour, and have adapted my favourite to make it fill a loaf pan more satisfyingly, and also make it a little sweeter. You know, just because a cake is gluten free, doesn’t mean it needs to be bland; It’s wheat you’re allergic to, not flavour! There’s no earthly reason to eat a cake that tastes like recycled cardboard.

Luckily, this cake is super easy to make. There’s something deliciously lazy about making an ‘all in one’ cake. Although it feels distinctly unskillful making it, you can’t argue with results.

First, you need to preheat the oven, and line a 1lb loaf tin with parchment paper. I like to buy purpose made loaf tin liners, because lining loaf pans is hard work. It’s seriously the hardest part of this recipe. If you don’t have any, you could probably get away with lining just the bottom and long sides, and greasing the short sides. I always used to do this before I got the liners, and I never had problems turning my cakes out.

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Mash your banana thoroughly with a fork, until it is nice and liquid. You want to aim for about 350g, but anywhere between 325g-375g should be fine – approximately 4 large bananas, or 5 small ones.

Add in all the other ingredients, and mix until everything is completely incorporated. If you have strong arms, you could continue using the fork, but I like to switch to a whisk. Once the batter is smooth, you can dump it all out into your loaf tin, and chuck it in oven for about 50 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.

Tada! You’re a baking genius!

This is one of the few gluten-free cakes I’ve eaten that was genuinely nice, and I wasn’t secretly wondering how much better it would taste with wheat flour. The coconut flavour is subtle, and the crumb is both light as well as deliciously moist. Most importantly, my kids love this cake, and beg for it constantly until it is all gone.

I particularly enjoy a thick slice, heavily buttered, with my morning coffee. Whilst I haven’t bothered to look at the macros, as it’s got lots of eggs in, I like to think of it as protein cake – perfect for breakfast 😀

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But it’s not very impressive looking for a party, is it?

Just to test how it’s going to hold up as a ‘proper’ cake, I punched some small rounds out of a thick slice, and stacked it up petit four style with some leftover vanilla buttercream I had in the freezer.

Needless to say, it’s delicious. My daughter ate it up and instantly demanded more. We sat on the kitchen floor together, smearing buttercream onto bitesize pieces 🙂

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Given that the cake has only a subtle flavour of coconut, I think it’s also a nice idea to give it a good coating of coconut buttercream. So the next time I made the cake, I decided to give it a generous crown, and decorate it with some desiccated coconut. I think it adds a lovely compliment to the cake.

Weirdly, my kids have taken to eating the cake, and leaving the buttercream on the plate. I guess they just really like the cake!

Anyway, this is now my go-to method of using up old bananas. 5 stars.

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Gluten-Free Banana Bread

~350g ripe banana, peeled
85g coconut flour
85g caster sugar
6 medium eggs
pinch of salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180ºc/160ºc fan and line a 1lb loaf tin with baking parchment.
Mash the bananas thoroughly, then add the rest of the ingredients. Use a whisk to stir until you have a smooth batter.
Pour the batter into the lined loaf pan and bake for about 50 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.
Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Coconut Buttercream

75g butter, softened
150g icing sugar
A dollop of coconut butter/coconut dream/sweetened coconut cream
Coconut flavouring, to taste
Desiccated coconut, to decorate

Beat the butter until pale and fluffy. Add the icing sugar and beat until smooth.
Add flavourings to taste.

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