Banana Cake - Low FODMAP, Gluten Free & Dairy Free

I like to cook, but I love to bake.

My first forays into baking in my mid teens weren’t that successful and usually involved a packet mix of something or other. I remember, early on, maybe at about 14-15 years old, I decided to make up a self saucing caramel pudding that had been sitting in the pantry for who knows how long. It was all going well, I mixed all the ingredients together, I put the mixture in the cake tin, and left it for the required amount of time to “sauce” a bit before baking.

After a time lapse of, say, 15 minutes, I headed back into the kitchen to find our old family dog, Indy, licking something off the floor. Looking more closely, it looked like a watery-saucy puddle that was dripping from the bench right where I’d placed the cake tin… the spring-form cake tin!!!! Whoops!

After realising my mistake, laughing at myself and being laughed at by Mum, who walked in on me cleaning, I think I sort-of salvaged the pudding and baked it anyway. I can’t remember what it tasted like, probably generic box-mix caramel pudding: not bad, not good.

Anyway, fast forward five or so years and I get diagnosed first (and falsely) with coeliac disease and then finally with fructose malabsorption. Either way, non-sourdough wheat and spelt are out for me, as well as apples, which is tough, as apple puree is being used more and more as an “healthy alternative” to sugar. It was time to start seriously thinking about what was going into my food. At this point I was still studying, so lunches consisted of gluten free sandwiches, some low FODMAP fruit and whatever I had baked recently.

Bananas are one of the few fruits that I can eat without “consequences.” If you want to know what those consequences may be, talk to my husband and family . I had been following a banana cake recipe from a gluten free baking book, which just wasn’t that spectacular. It needs to be gluten free flour, because even though gluten is a protein (so not a FODMAP, which are carbohydrates), wheat also has chains of fructose – fructans – which will make someone with fruct mal ill.

Around this time (in Australia) gluten free versions of plain and self-raising flour began to appear on the supermarket shelves. Awesome! I could now just substitute those flours in normal recipes (most of the time) without having to also deal with tapioca and xanthum gum etc. However, in the USA, xantham gum (a type of gluten substitute, which gives doughs elasticity and strength) isn’t really added into GF flours, so it needs to be added into most recipes for them to bake properly.

I purchased Stephanie Alexander’s “Cook’s Companion,” and I have never regretted it. Apart from baking recipes (that aren’t too hard to convert to being gluten free/FODMAP friendly, once you know how), it is just an all around textbook for cooking from scratch with instructions on everything. Amazing, and worth the splurge at the Boxing Day sales. It was from here that I found the perfect banana cake recipe, entitled her “Simple Banana Cake.” I have altered it to be gluten free and FODMAP friendly but that recipe was my original inspiration.

Friendly Notes

  1. Bananas are low FODMAP in servings of one medium fruit; the one large fruit, split into 12 serves, is safe.
  2. The combination of dextrose (glucose) and brown or turbinado sugar means that, even though brown sugar has a safe serve of 1 tbsp., which is followed here, the potential for the molasses still in the brown/turbinado sugars to cause IBS trouble is offset by the extra glucose. Read more about sugar and FODMAPs here.
  3. Butter is low in lactose, as carbs are water soluble and butter is mostly fat. If butter (or dairy) makes you ill, use coconut oil or your preferred alternative.
  4. If you can’t tolerate xanthan gum (not a FODMAP issue but gums can irritate some people), use chia meal, which is low FODMAP.

Banana Cake

Serves: 12 | Time: 15 minutes active, 45 minutes inactive

Ingredients

  • 115 g softened unsalted butter or coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup dextrose (or castor sugar - see Friendly Notes)
  • 1/4 cup brown/turbinado sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 large mashed ripe banana
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 250 g GF/LFM plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum or 1 tbsp. ground chia seeds in 1 tbsp. water
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup low FODMAP milk of choice

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F.

Grease and line a 9 inch round or a loaf tin with butter and baking paper, or enough patty pans for 12-16 muffins.

Cream the butter until light and fluffy (or softened coconut oil) in the bowl of your stand mixer for 2-3 minutes, then add in the sugar and beat for a further 2 minutes on a high speed.

Meanwhile, sift the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, and spices into a small bowl and roughly mix them together.

Next, add the eggs and vanilla extract into the stand mixer and beat until combined, then add in the mashed banana and mix through once more.

Add the dry ingredient mix to the rest of the batter, bit by bit, alternating with the LFM milk of your choice. Continue to beat on high until well mixed and then transfer it to the prepared cake tin. Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl down at least once during the final mix.

Bake for:

  • 9″ cake – 50 to 60 minutes, or until the cake tests clean. Remove from oven and let cool in the tin for ten or so minutes before up-ending it onto a cooling rack.
  • Muffins – 18 to 20 minutes, or until a muffin tests clean. Remove and let sit before turning out onto a cooling rack.

There are a few ways I serve this delicious cake.

  • Simply dust it with icing sugar – so quick and easy, and the cake isn’t sweet enough for this to be overly powerful.
  • Cream cheese icing – 200 g full fat cream cheese (dairy or lactose free if you have lactose intolerance/are on full FODMAP elimination, low fat wont whip properly), 1/4 cup butter alternative, 1 cup icing sugar or icing dextrose (alternatively 1/2 cup glucose and 1/2 cup icing sugar) and 1 tspn. vanilla essence. Cream the cheese and butter, then continue to beat while adding sugar and vanilla essence. I like that this icing, at least to my taste, isn’t too sweet. If you want to make AMAZING icing, add passion fruit pulp after you’ve blended the cream cheese icing til it’s smooth. YUM!
  • Make a compote with blueberries or strawberries – approximately 1 tbsp water, 2 cups berries, 1/4 cup glucose powder and 1 tspn. vanilla extract. Bring to the boil and then let simmer until it has thickened enough to make a good sauce.
  • Chopped walnuts – combine 3 tbsp chopped walnuts, 3 tbsp GF plain flour, 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 100 g softened butter alternative and 3 tbsp glucose. Scatter over the banana cake before cooking and bake as above.

This cake really is delicious. I can’t get enough of it, even after 5 years. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

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Cheers,

Nat. 

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