Apple Crumble Bites 

Will was born last summer and this meant I started weaning him in January- the 25th of January to be exact. Someone bought us a baby record book and I have thanked them so many times as I have written so much down that I would otherwise have forgotten in my sleep-deprived new Mum fog! I loved the process of introducing him to food, both as purees and finger foods, but I really struggled with fruit. Winter fruit in Britain is awful, or I should say winter fruit in Britain that babies can eat is awful! I tried, on a number of occasions to buy melons or strawberries but buying these fruits out of season is a futile exercise – they tasted of swede! It seemed that the only fruits on his menu for the first month or two were apples, pears and dried fruits such as figs, prunes and apricots.

The other problem with winter fruit is that its not that suitable to eat as finger food. On numerous occasions I bought pears that actually went off before they became soft enough for my little one to gum, and raw apples were definitely not going to be suitable. Inspiration finally struck when I was making a crumble for a family lunch. It occurred to me that aside from at the sugar that most crumbles are filled with, it was a pretty baby-friendly pudding. I decided to deconstruct it and these apple crumble bites were the outcome.

The apple is baked and therefore soft enough for young babies to gum or chew, whilst the crumble coating is sugar free yet delicious and turns the humble apple chunk into a really tasty pudding or snack. These have now become a staple make in my kitchen. I offer them to Will on their own, or as an edible spoon with a yoghurt or fruit puree dip. My husband and I enjoy them with yoghurt and maple syrup, on top of rice pudding (amazing) or even with a bowl of warm custard! They are lovely warm or cold and keep well in the fridge for 48 hours.

The ingredients you need are limited, they are fast to make and healthy. They also increase the nutrient and calorie content of fruit for your little one- always good as they need plenty to keep them growing!

 

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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsps rolled oats
  • 2 Tbsp ground almonds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (or to taste, you could also use ginger)
  • 2 apples

 

Method

  • Peel and core 2 apples and chop each apple into 6 chunks
  • Place in an oven tray and pop in a preheated oven at 180c
  • In a small bowl combine the oats, ground almonds and cinnamon
  • After 5 minutes pull the apple out of the oven- it should be warmed through and ever so slightly damp, this will ensure the dry ingredients stick to it.
  • Ensuring the apple isn’t too hot to touch, coat each slice in the dry ingredients and place on a lined baking tray or a cupcake tray.
  • Bake at 180c for 15 minutes until the apple feels soft and the crumble coating is golden.img_6236

 Now that summer fruit is available I have been making these less. But I made them again the other day as the weather has turned really damp and grey here and we were all in need of something cozy for brunch. I fell in love with them all over again and had to share them with you.

What are your favourite ways to use apples? I’d love to hear!

 

Banana & Blueberry Cake

Weekends in my house often revolve around family visiting, pots of tea and cake. I find it so nostalgic to have the house smell of baking and I love to make something that I can offer people if they pop over. Baking at the weekend also gives us a tasty treat to enjoy for the rest of the week.

My time to bake has been rather limited recently. Looking after Will obviously takes up rather a lot of time and he isn’t always patient enough for me to spend too long in the kitchen. We are also in the middle of renovating the barn next door to ours. It’s not the first property we have renovated on the farm, we have a few holiday cottages; but this is most definitely the quickest turn around we have ever done. It has to be finished in 8 weeks (!!!!!) and we are actually moving into it temporarily! Packing to move, barn renovations and returning  to work has made baking a low priority.

As such I’ve been working on some quick, easy to throw together cake recipes that are suitable for adults and little ones. This banana and blueberry offering does just that. It’s free of refined sugar and made with wholemeal self-raising flour so it’s as healthy as a cake can ever be.  It’s also delicious, it doesn’t feel like  a ‘healthy cake’, it feels like a real treat which is precisely how I want cake to be. It’s so easy to make, all the ingredients go in one bowl to be mixed together, it really is the work of minutes. I have also learnt a couple of other tricks to make baking faster. I bake mostly loaf cakes these days and I buy disposable loaf trays; not the most environmentally friendly idea I admit, but whilst I’m short on time they are brilliant as they negate the need to grease a tin.

The sweetness in the cake comes from the ripe bananas, the blueberries as well as  some agave syrup. Agave is a little controversial when it comes to sugar ‘alternatives’ and to be honest I had never used it before weaning Will, but it works brilliantly in this recipe. If you aren’t making this for a baby then my preference would be to sweeten it with raw honey (honey shouldn’t be eaten by infants under the age of one).

This cake has a lovely texture for babies to gum on or chew. I gave Will a small slice for his pudding with some fruit and yoghurt. I know he will one day eat sugary treats, but for as long as possible I would like these to be homemade, nutritious and free of unnecessary additives and ingredients.

Ingredients

This makes enough for two 1lb loaf tins. Since I became a Mum I make two of everything to save myself time – one to eat straight away and one in the freezer.

  • Two ripe bananas
  • 100g wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 15ml agave syrup
  • Handful of blueberries
  • Tsp cinnamon
  • Tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180 C
  • Mash the bananas in a large mixing bowl
  • Add all the other ingredients except the blueberries to the bowl and mix thoroughly
  • Spoon the mixture into a greased loaf tin
  • Drop the blueberries into the cake batter, push some in and leave some on top
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cake is springy and golden
  • Leave to cool for a couple of minutes before turning out of cake tin

 

Banana Biscuits 

Hands up who hates teething? It’s horrid to watch your little ones in pain, frantically chewing on anything they can get there hands on (including your hands… or worse!). Will now has 6 teeth, and with each new one that arrives I feel we manage it a little better. It obviously still hurts him, but I am recognising the signs faster and acting accordingly. We have tried lots of things; some have worked whilst some have been catastrophic failures. I was convinced that homemade ice lollies were going to be the answer; they most definitely were not, he hated that they were cold and screamed every time he licked them!

One thing is that did work however was an emergency rusk a friend gave me during one particularly stressful cafe visit when Will just wouldn’t settle. He nibbled on it ferociously and it really seemed to help with those pesky teeth! While I see nothing wrong with Will having the odd rusk or bought baby snack, I would always prefer to make my own. Baby snacks definitely have their place but if I can make an alternative I will. With this in mind I set to work creating a teething biscuit that was effective, tasty and nutritious. After lots of trials I came up with this dairy free, sugar free recipe that only has 4 ingredients and is incredibly quick to whip up in even the most micro baby nap!

The biscuit has a dense, chewy texture rather than a brittle melting rusk. This makes it easy for babies to gum and chew. Now Will has some teeth he bites little chunks off and gums the rest. It’s a very simple recipe that uses ground porridge oats in place of flour. The sweetness comes from banana so make sure you use a ripe one. Obviously, this biscuit isn’t a chocolate hobnob, it’s healthy, and I wouldn’t dunk one in my tea. But to a baby who likes bland, naturally sweet food they are perfect.


Ingredients

This makes 12 small biscuits 

  • 100g porridge oats
  • 100g banana (roughly 1 medium banana)
  • 30ml rapeseed or coconut oil
  • Tsp cinnamon

Method 

  • Preheat oven to 180c and place greaseproof paper on a baking tray
  • Grind the porridge oats until you have a fine flour. I do this using my nutribullet with the milling blade attached
  • Mash the banana until you have a banana pulp
  • Add the oat flour to this along with the cinnamon and oil
  • Stir and then use your hands to make a dough which should easily roll into a ball
  • Roll little balls of the dough, about the size of a walnut
  • To make oval biscuits roll your dough balls into sausage shapes and then flatten on to a baking tray covered in grease proof paper. They should be about half a cm thick.
  • Bake in the oven for 10-14 minutes (depends on the thickness of the biscuit) until they are golden brown and firm but with a little give when pressed
  • Allow to cool on a wire rack before placing in an airtight container


These can be frozen raw, just cook for a few extra minutes.

Will chomps happily on these, they provide some teething relief for him, and I know he’s eating something nourishing and healthy. For me this recipe is a total winner!

I’d love to hear if you try these or if you have any teething remedies of your own?