My fellow Daring Baker, Holly of Phe/Mom/enon (she really is one) posted a request looking for a birthday cake recipe appropriate for premature babies who had reached one calendar year of age, but developmentally were not yet able to process eggs and milk. That started me thinking about writing a very "gentle" applesauce cake recipe, and the idea joined the dozens of other recipe ideas churning around in the back of my head.
That's where the idea stayed, until Holly announced that she was going to be walking in the March of Dimes Walk for Babies, a cause near and dear to my heart. To help spread the word, she decided to host a food event, Blogging for Babies, inviting submissions of "little creations." Well. It looks like it's time to bake cupcakes for preemies.These cupcakes are very dense and moist, not to mention yummy. I have diligently used the most inoffensive ingredients possible, but I am not a doctor or nutritionist by any stretch of the imagination. If you are planning a birthday party for one of these brave babies, please check the recipe with your pediatrician before feeding it to your child. The Jello in the frosting may need to be replaced with a vegan gelatin or eliminated. If that is the case, you could simply dust the cupcake with powdered sugar.
Before baking the cupcakes, you will need to make a small batch of applesauce. I like Macintosh, but any cooking apple will do:
1 lb apples (about 3 large), cored, peeled, and sliced
1/2 C water
1 tsp lemon juice
Place all three ingredients in a pot with a tight fitting lid. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature to medium high and continue to cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Allow to cool, then puree with a stick blender. (Be careful, hot applesauce can burn.) This should make a little over 1 Cup of applesauce. Reserve 2 Tbs for the frosting, and use the rest in the cupcake recipe.
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 C applesauce
1 banana, thoroughly mashed
1/2 C sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place 12 cupcake liners in a standard muffin tin. (You may not need them all.) Sift together dry ingredients and set aside. Cream the wet ingredients together, then continue mixing, while gradually stirring in the dry ingredients. When completely incorporated, Fill cupcake liners three quarters full with batter. (Initially I overfilled the liners, since I didn't expect much rise from the cupcakes. I was pleasantly surprised.) You most likely won't have a full dozen. Remove excess liners, and bake for 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
For the frosting, I didn't want to make anything that would have hard to digest fat in it, so I tried whipping up Jello, which resulted in a nice pink foam. This is the only part of this recipe that I still wish to improve some more; hopefully I will update this post with an improved frosting, or possibly a glaze. You also may not wish to try it unless you have a stand mixer. (At least have some powdered sugar on hand in case of disaster!) Because the foam does tend to set up, I would recommend not mixing it up until within an hour of when the cupcakes are going to be presented.
1 3 oz package of Strawberry Jello (or flavor of your choice)
1/2 C boiling water
2 Tbs applesauce
Combine Jello and boiling water. Beat on high speed with a whisk attachment until it begins to cool, about five minutes. Add applesauce, and continue beating for another ten minutes. The Jello mixture will become a light foam. To apply to the cupcakes, gently hold the cupcakes upside down and dip the tops in the foam. (You may have quite a bit of the foam left over.) Serve immediately.
I would love to hear any feedback or suggestions from anyone who runs this recipe by their pediatrician and tries it out for their extra special birthday baby. When my son had his first birthday, we had just begun to learn about his food allergies. I didn't even try to make him a cake. Since his favorite food at the time was sweet potato, I baked these patty shaped sweet potato things for the party and stuck a candle in one. Let's just say my baking skills have improved considerably since then! If I can spare anyone that kind of birthday cake disaster, I'll be thrilled.
Want to know more about Little Wonders March for Babies Team? Fantastic!! Here is the Team Page. Any amount that you can sponsor is extremely appreciated. Please, please help spread the word and sponsor Little Wonders if you can! Thank you!