Review: Making Banana Loaf with Billy the Bear

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(The BritMums reviewer was provided the product free to test and review. All opinions are the reviewer’s own.)

A new charity recipe book has been created to help parents and children enjoy cooking healthy food together. BritMums’ writer Ann tried out this new book with her daughter.

Puffs of white flour, splats of creamy goo and sticky handprints.  Baking and cooking with kids can be messy but it’s also a great way of engaging and teaching kids. Two of my three kids are autistic and have challenges with their motor skills, understanding language and self-help skills.  Our third child Jane is under five years old and she’s also developing all these skills which can be used during cooking and baking.  So we were delighted to try out the Learn To Cook With Billy The Bear recipe cookbook.

Jane and I looked through the recipes together.  There is a wide variety of meals to make from Butternut Squash Boats to Tasty Tacos. As the book is designed for engaging young children, it was also full of lots of kiddie important tips like making sure kids wash their hands, not wasting food and eating healthily.  Jane and I looked at the facts and as we went through the book we spotted healthy ingredients.  In the end she picked out the Banana Loaf recipe to make first. 

To make the Banana Loaf, inspired by Heather Jenkinson, serving 6-8 grown-ups,  we needed:

  • 2-3 ripe (brown) bananas (the squidgier the better)
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 150g butter and a little to butter the tin
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Optional:
    • 75g chopped nuts
    • 50g dark chocolate chips
    • 1 tsp vanilla essence


How we made it:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C or gas mark 3
  2. Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin with greaseproof paper – we used a cake tin as Jane wanted a round one!
  3. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until soft
  4. Place the chopped nuts (if using) in a single layer on a lined baking tray and pop them in the oven to lightly toast them for 5 minutes, being careful not to let them burn.  Remove the from the oven and set aside. 
  5. Peel the bananas, place them in a bowl and mash them with a fork until smooth.
  6. Add the banana to the butter and sugar mixture and stir to combine.
  7. Sift the flour into the mixture.
  8. Beat the eggs in a measuring jug and add to the bowl.
  9. If using, add the nuts, chocolate chips and vanilla.
  10. Give everything a good stir round and then top the mixture into your tin.
  11. Place in a baking tray and pop in into a pre-heated oven. Bake for 1 hour to an hour and 10 minutes. Take the loaf out of the oven and check it is cooked through by inserting a skewer into the middle of the loaf – when it is cooked it will come out clean. 

In addition to recipe, the book was aimed directly at Jane and the kids by using simply language and highlighting when they needed a grown-up to help (like when putting things in the oven) or when they needed to be careful (like not touching the hot tin).  

Jane and the boys were able to practice their counting, measuring and reading whilst figuring out the practical issues like how to stir without the bowl spinning round.  All this and a delicious Banana Loaf too! We’re looking forward to learning more about cooking and trying out a few more of the Billy the Bear’s recipes soon. 

About the book:
The recipe book is available for free from HENRY by request, and copies can be downloaded from iBooks or from https://www.belling.co.uk/teddy-recipe-book.
HENRY is a registered children’s charity which helps children and young families get the best start in life through family support, online information, and community outreach projects.

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About Ann .

“Rainbows are too beautiful,” said Anthony. “I just can’t look at them.” Ann says her son’s statement characterizes so much about how her autistic and neurotypical family interacts and interprets the world in their own wonderful way.

Originally a PR and marketing professional for the third sector, Ann now does some lecturing in this topic but spends most of her time being a full time mum and sharing her experiences through her award nominated blog. Ann’s three kids attend different schools and have multiple diagnoses including Autism, ADHD, anxiety and more. Ann is a Trustee on a local disabled children’s charity and speaks at SEND conferences and consultations.

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