Child-appropriate cake. Is there such a thing? My daughter is about to turn one, and on the hunt for a birthday cake I’d be happy for her to eat, I’ve spent the weekend testing recipes for banana cake.

There are as many types of banana cake recipe as there are people – with butter, without, with white flour or wholemeal, with citrus or chocolate, with one egg or lots.

These four are all totally different. Two are Dan Lepard. Two are from the interwebs. Two are dairy free and use wholemeal flour. One is super healthy, the others less so.

Some things which are common whatever cake you make: first, the riper your bananas the better the flavour. If they’re super-ripe, you might even find you can reduce the sugar content a little. One tip I’ve read is to put your odd over-ripe bananas in the freezer until you want them to stop them going totally over the edge. Second, you won’t need a mixer, this one is a wooden spoon job.

Third: baking powder, and lots of it, will help lighten the densest of recipies. Dan Lepard goes with 3tsps in his versions – you may want a little less but don’t leave it out completely.

And finally, be prepared to be flexible with your cooking times, and don’t worry if your cake needs ten or so minutes more than the recipe suggests.

The verdict in the office was that Dan Lepard’s banana and orange was the nicest. My personal favourite is the banana and ginger – but they all work, so try them for yourself and let me know which you like!

The Baby-Friendly cake

adapted from

For this one, the bananas really do need to be ripe because there’s no sugar. If you like, you could add some chocolate chips instead of the nuts, but obviously that makes it a little less virtuous.

1lb really really ripe bananas

5 oz wholemeal flour/ brown bread flour

4 oz raisins

3 oz porridge oats

2 oz chopped nuts (optional)

4fl oz sunflower oil

3 tsp baking powder

half teaspoon vanilla extract

The method is simple. Mash your bananas. Add everything except the flour and baking powder and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Sift in the flour and baking powder (you’ll need to tip in the bran left in the sieve. Stir. Pour into a loaf tin lined with non-stick paper and bake at 180 C for about an hour., or until a skewer comes out with just a few crumbs sticking to it.

The Everday Cake

Now, this recipe is in cups, which I find so annoying I went out and bought some so I didn’t have to bother with conversions. BUT. if you don’t have any, Delia’s table is pretty good – just note that a cup of brown sugar isn’t the same as a cup of white sugar. You’ll also see this recipe is pretty vague. That’s the joy of banana cakes!

3 or 4 ripe bananas, depending on size

1/3 cup melted butter

1 cup sugar (can easily be reduced to half) – I used caster sugar but brown sugar would be just as nice.

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt (optional)

1 1/2 cups of self raising flour

Mash the bananas with the sugar until roughly smooth. Add the melted butter and vanilla and stir, then add the egg. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt if you want it. Stir until mixed. Pour into a lined loaf tin and bake at 175 C for roughly an hour or until the skewer comes out with no more than crumbs on it.

Dan Lepard’s banana and orange cake

taken from The Guardian

The Echo Towers favourite, this cake does have a LOT of eggs in it. But the orange stops it being too rich, despite the butter, and although it’s moist it isn’t at all heavy. The dough will look a bit like choux pastry before the banana goes in, and when you add the baking powder it will start to bubble. Don’t worry about it, but don’t leave it too long before you put it in the oven.

200g unsalted butter

175g caster sugar

250g plain flour

4 medium eggs

Finely grated zest of an orange and 15ml juice

200g well-mashed banana

3 tsp baking powder

Melt the butter, pour it into a mixing bowl with the sugar, then stir in 100g of the flour until smooth. Add the eggs one by one, beating each one in well before adding the next, then mix in the citrus zest, juice and banana. Sift in the remaining flour and baking powder, and stir until smooth.

Pour into a lined loaf tine and bake at 160C for roughly an hour or until a skewer comes out with just crumbs.

Dan Lepard’s Banana and Ginger Cake

adapted from The Guardian

This one is my favourite, just. The muscovado sugar gives the crust a lovely stickiness and the ginger cuts the sweetness of the banana. Which sort of makes it a banana cake for people who don’t really like banana cake.

200g muscovado sugar – Dan’s original calls for dark, but I only had 50g of that, so I added 50g of molasses sugar and 100g of light muscovado

300g ripe bananas

125ml sunflower oil

3 large eggs – Dan’s original calls for four medium, but I only had large

75g chopped glacé ginger – I used stem ginger in syrup

200g wholemeal bread flour

3 tsp baking powder

Put the sugar and bananas in a bowl and mash until almost smooth. Add the oil and eggs amnd beat with a wooden spoon until mixed. Stir in the ginger, sift in the flour and baking powder, then pour into a 20cm square tin, lined with paper and bake at 170C for 50-60 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

And that’s the lot. Let me know what you think or if you’ve got a favourite recipe in the comments.