It’s pretty astounding how much sugar most recipes include. I frequently see cake recipes that call for 2–3c worth, and assuming you get about 10–12 servings from an ordinary cake, that can be 1/8c (or 8 tsp) of sugar—or more—for every piece you eat. A better plan is for bakers to rely on the natural sweetness of fruit whenever possible.
Here’s a recipe for banana cake that has only 1/3c sugar in total, and I’m publishing it only because it has been vetted and approved by all four of my kids. Let me know what your family thinks.
WHOLE GRAIN BANANA CAKE
- 3 bananas, medium-large, smashed
- ⅓ c any sugar (or even less, I usually do 1/4 c)
- 1 egg (or egg substitute, if desired)
- ⅓ c canola or any neutral oil
- 1 ½ c whole grain flour (wheat or gluten-free, see below)
- 1 t baking soda
- 1 t baking powder
- ½ t salt
Combine the wet and dry ingredients separately, then mix it all together and pour into a sprayed 8 x 8 baking pan. If the batter seems too dry, add a couple tablespoons of apple cider or almond milk. Bake around 25+ minutes at 350F. My oven is really hot, so I start checking for doneness a few minutes early. My mom’s oven is a dinosaur and always takes longer. Just don’t let the thing dry out!
Re the sugar, be aware that despite the health halo that honey and sometimes brown sugar enjoy, they both break down to the same components as white sugar—glucose + fructose. Pretty much, sugar is sugar, and you want to limit it in all its forms.
Re the flour, this time I used equal parts whole-wheat pastry flour and white whole-wheat flour, but you can play around, and you needn’t use more than one type. I’ve also had success using gluten-free flours in this recipe. The rule of thumb is blending 2/3 of a whole-grain GF flour (such as brown rice, amaranth, buckwheat, or oat flour) with 1/3 of a light GF flour such as Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose GF Baking Flour, which features more refined ingredients such as potato starch and tapioca flour. I don’t recommend using a blend like Bob’s as your only flour because you can do better on the whole grain front by blending, and it’s simple.
True bakers will gripe about tinkering with the sugar in serious recipes since baking is such an exact science. As an amateur, I won’t argue, but will only say that for years I’ve been messing with sugar amounts in everyday baked goods recipes, and almost always the end results comes out delicious. Perhaps reserve those unforgiving, fancy, extravagant cakes for special occasions. For this weekend’s easy treat, however, try cutting back on the sweet stuff.