Need some tips for baking sugar-free? Or are you trying out #SugarFreeFebruary?
You can still enjoy delicious sugar-free treats with this helpful guide, simply choose the right sugar replacements for your cooking – plus try a delicious Lemon cupcake recipe for a tasty introduction to baking sugar-free! Tips for Sugar-Free baking It's a challenge if you've got a sweet tooth however, take a look at the Healthy Food Guide at a glance infographic and discover how much sugar is in your daily snacks and dinners. We should dramatically cut down on the amount of sugar we have in our diets. Why not take up #SugarFreeFebruary and motivate yourself by raising money for Cancer Research, go to their site for more tips and meal plans. This doesn’t mean you need to say goodbye to sweet treats forever but there are various sugar alternatives available – the question is, how good are they for us and how well do they perform in baking? We spent a few days in the kitchen trying to find out…
Fructose (fruit sugar)
Lo down: A natural alternative that has the same number of calories as sugar, but has a lower Glycaemic Index, meaning it is less likely to cause the energy highs and lows you get with sugar. It does still have a negative impact on your teeth however and it is thought it may be more readily converted to fat in the body than regular sugar.
In baking: Fructose comes in a granulated form similar to sugar and performed quite well in baking, but it is sweeter than sugar and so we had to adjust recipes to counter this, using around a third less than we would have sugar.
Artificial sweeteners – brands include Canderel, Splenda, Sweetex and Hermesetas.
Lo down: Different artificial sweeteners use different chemical ingredients to produce their taste, including aspartame, sucralose, sucralose and acesulfame K. These sweeteners all share similar qualities in that they are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar and have very little, if any, calories.
In baking: Because these sweeteners are so sweet, and tend to be more powdery than sugar, they didn’t perform well at all in baking. Some brands do make baking mixes, but the ones we used tended to leave a bitter aftertaste in baked goods.
Stevia – brands include Truvia, Natvia and Canderel Green
Lo down: Stevia is a plant extract that, like artificial sweeteners, is hundreds of times sweeter than sugar and doesn’t have any calories. The stevia products available in the UK generally contain very little actual stevia, but mix it with a bulking agent to make it look more like sugar.
In baking: You need special conversion charts to cook with stevia products, and like with the artificial sweeteners there was a slightly bitter aftertaste in baked goods.
Xylitol – brands include Total Sweet
Lo down: Another plant extract, but xylitol has the same sweetness as sugar. It has 40% less calories than sugar a very low GI value and helps protect teeth. It doesn’t feed yeast, however, so can’t be used for making bread.
In baking: This was our favourite of the sugar alternatives (see below for the Courgette Cake recipe). You don’t need to adjust any recipes to use it and cakes exactly as they would if made from sugar.
No Added Sugar Chocolate Courgette Cake
- 200g (7oz) plain flour
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 100g (4oz) Total Sweet
- 2 medium free-range eggs
- 180ml (6fl oz) mild or medium olive oil
- 170g (6oz) good quality dark chocolate
- 225g (8oz) courgettes, grated
- 55g (2oz) walnuts, finely chopped
For the cream cheese frosting
- 250g (9oz) low-fat cream cheese
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp Total Sweet
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 3. Line a 20cm (8in) loose-bottomed cake tin with baking paper and grease the sides.
- Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Stir in the Total Sweet.
- In a separate bowl, beat the eggs into the oil. Melt the chocolate over a bain marie or in the microwave.
- Stir the eggs and oil into the dry ingredients, then mix in the melted chocolate, grated courgettes and nuts.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cake is well risen, firm to the touch and a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool on a wire rack before icing.
- To make the cream cheese frosting, mix together the cream cheese, vanilla extract and Total Sweet until smooth, then spread on the cake. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Dairy-free lemon cupcakes
Makes 12 Ingredients For the dairy / gluten-free lemon cupcakes
- 1 cup soy milk
- 3 tsp of lemon juice
- 3 cups self raising flour (use gluten-free self raising flour to make these cupcakes gluten-free too)
- 3/4 tsp salt
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 1 cup of soy margarine
- 2 cups caster sugar
- 4 eggs
For the frosting:
- 1 cup soy margarine
- 4 cups of icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp soy milk
For the decoration:
- White sugar paste
- Flower cutter & mold set
Method Step 1: For the dairy / gluten-free lemon cupcakes:
- Mix together the lemon juice and soy milk in a separate bowl and put to one side
- Cream the soy margarine and sugar together on a medium speed until light and fluffy.
- Turn the mixer down to slow and add in your eggs one at a time.
- Add in the flour, lemon zest and salt and mix until combined.
- Then add in the soy milk and lemon juice mixture and mix until combined.
- Line a 12 hole muffin tin with cupcake cases and spoon the mixture into the paper cases about 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes until well risen and springy to touch, then put on a wire rack to cool.
Step 2: For the frosting:
- Mix the soy margarine and icing sugar together until just combined.
- Add in the soy milk and vanilla and mix on a high speed for a minute or two until the buttercream is smooth.
- Spoon into a piping bag and pipe swirls on top of your cupcakes
Step 3: For the decoration:
- On a surface slightly dusted with icing sugar, roll out the white sugar paste and cut out 12 flowers using the metal cutter.
- Place the white flowers into the mold and push the lid down to imprint the veins on the petals
- Place your flowers onto your iced cupcakes to finish.
By Sophie Turhnam from Sophie Victoria Cupcakes