Baking With Kids? This Naturally Sweet Pumpkin, Ginger And Maple Loaf Is Just The Ticket

24th October 2019

Get the kids in the kitchen this weekend with simple bakes they can help you make. Food stylist, cookbook author and mother, Georgina Hayden, shows you how to get baking with kids, without the dreaded sugar rush.

pumpkin maple cake

Photography: Georgina Hayden

Something I haven’t yet talked about here is baking with a little one. And I mean both baking with them and for them. Baking with kids is inevitably a messy pastime but personally I can’t think of a better way to spend a rainy afternoon. My favourite memory as a child was baking fairy cakes with my mum. Cutting glacé cherries, both red and green, mixing the cake batter, slicing the tops off of the palm sized cakes. I loved it all.

There’s no reason why kitchen interaction should end with baking. Kids can get involved in many ways in the kitchen, but baking is always a fun place to start. The only problem is that baking tends to equate to sugar. I’m not the sugar police, but I do try, where possible, to limit Persephone’s interaction with the sweet stuff. She’s only 16 months old, but even as she gets older I don’t want cakes and biscuits to be a go-to snack food for her. Does that mean we can’t bake? Not at all. I’ve been working hard at developing recipes that are delicious, fun to make and without any (or only a little) added sugar.

pumpkin maple cake

“Pumpkins and squash add natural sweetness, which means I can get away with using less sugar”

I’m still obsessing over the mounds of pumpkins and squash which seem to be everywhere you turn in Autumn. I love their versatility, so for this month’s sweet treat I’m using them as the base. The end result is cake that has a texture similar to that of carrot cake, as well as a natural sweetness which means I can get away with adding less sugar. It keeps well for a few days if stored in a sealed container and makes a wonderful after-school or after-nursery pick-me-up.

I love the warmth you get from the ground ginger, however if you or your kids aren’t fans, then feel free to replace with extra mixed spice or even ground cinnamon. Also I love adding chopped dark chocolate as a treat, but feel free to leave it out, it will still work perfectly.

The recipe:

Pumpkin, Ginger & Maple Loaf

Serves: 8 to 10

– 500-600g pumpkin or squash
– butter or oil, for greasing
– 260g wholemeal plain flour
– ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
– 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
– ½ teaspoon baking powder
– 1½ teaspoons mixed spice
– 1 teaspoon ground ginger
– 150ml olive oil
– 100g maple syrup
– 2 large eggs
– optional: 80g dark chocolate
– 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds or mixed seeds

1. To make the pumpkin purée, simply cook your pumpkin by roasting, steaming or boiling chunks of it. You can peel it first, or cook it in its skin and scoop out the flesh afterwards, then leave it to cool. You’ll need 400g of the cooked, cooled flesh for this recipe. Blitz the flesh until smooth. If you’re in a rush you can buy it ready puréed, but the flavour is less vibrant.

2. Preheat your oven to 170ºC. Grease and line a 2-litre loaf tin with greaseproof paper.

3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, mixed spice and ground ginger.

4. In a large measuring jug or another mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, maple syrup and eggs.

5. Whisk in the puréed pumpkin, then fold the wet ingredients into the dry. If using chocolate, finely chop and fold it into the mixture.

6. Spoon into the lined tin, even it out and sprinkle with the seeds. Place in the oven and bake for around 1 hour, or until the seeds are golden and the cake is cooked through. Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

For pumpkin and squash and all other ingredients featured in this recipe, go to

For more meal ideas to feed the whole family, check out Georgina Hayden’s recipes for Cowboy bean stewThai fish currybreakfast cauliflower cheese fritters and roasted sweet potato and charred corn salad.

For all the family food you need, from Organic baby food and formula to kids snacks, nappies and much more, head to the Baby & Kids section on

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