Natural sugars and sweeteners.
This information is not about healthy eating. This is for people who want to cut or reduce sugar from their diet but still want to enjoy celebrations with everyone else or have a special treat now and again. Some people have been able to embrace a sugar free diet and adapt their life easily. Other people find it a bit of a struggle. Everyone wants something sweet to eat now and again. These recipes are not meant for everyday eating!
Some people prefer to use natural sugars instead of sucrose in their cooking. Natural sugars are still sugar! Your body use them in the same way and they still rot your teeth if eaten too much.
Honey, agave syrup, coconut sugar, date syrup and sweeteners made from fruit such as Sweet Freedom are all natural sugars which work well in baking recipes. Maple syrup is not very sweet when combined with other ingredients so you may use more than intended to sweeten a dish.
Some recipes call for concentrated fruit juice in place of sugar. I think this is expensive, can be difficult to find and I think one of the other natural sugars I have mentioned can be used just as successfully!
I have been using Sweet Freedom sweeteners for baking and find they work really well in many recipes including sponges – the texture may be slightly different in some recipes.
I have also been working with 2 natural sweeteners called xylitol and erythritol. These come in a granular form which looks identical to sugar and can be found in supermarkets and whole food stores. Sugar can be substituted like for like with xylitol or erythritol in many baking recipes. You may find that you can use less!
In the UK erythritol can be found as Sukrin. This is a sugar alcohol with 0 calories. Read more about it here.
More information about xylitol can be found here. Xylitol is sold in most supermarkets in the UK as Total Sweet. Some of the recipes require the xylitol to be finely ground. A high speed blender is the best tool for this, if you can beg, borrow or steal a Thermomix, this would be perfect!
Eating too much xylitol or erythritol can give you a stomach upset! Please read information about it to check it is right for you.
If you are cutting sugar from your diet, you can gradually reduce the amount of sugar or natural sweetener in a recipe as your taste buds become accustomed to less sugar. Baking recipes can work with up to a third less sugar.
I have put together some useful sugar-free recipes for making celebration cakes.
Sugar-free celebration cake ideas
When making sugar-free celebration cakes, you could make the filling sugar-free and decorate this with normal fondant and take this off before eating the sponge.
Use a thinner layer of jam, buttercream, marzipan and fondant icing on your sugar-free cakes.
Chocolate ganache is simply melted chocolate mixed with heated double cream. Sugar-free chocolate can be used for this recipe. Chocolate ganache is amazingly versatile – while still warm it can be used as a sauce or poured over cakes, desserts and chocolates and left to set. When cold it can be used in desserts or used to fill, cover and decorate cakes. It can be used as a filling for chocolates – it can be flavoured, piped or moulded into shapes. Chocolate ganache recipe.
Many people keep the decoration from their cake as a keepsake. Sugar is often used for the decorations and can last for years. If you do not want to use sugar, there are non-toxic modelling clays available – porcelain modelling clay and Artista soft are two. Some modelling clays may not be able to sit directly on your cake. Artista soft will need to sit on a card or piece of rice paper.
Croquembouche – dip the choux buns in sugar-free chocolate before stacking.
I love this one found on www.blumenthalphotography.com.au
Naked cakes have been really popular in the last couple of years. Substitute the sugar for xylitol in the sponge and buttercream.
This cake is from www.cakeandlaceweddings.co.uk
Cakes covered with sugar-free chocolate ganache. Cover the cakes with a thin layer of sugar-free marzipan to give a smooth finish before pouring over the chocolate ganache. This is one of my cakes found in my book – Gluten-, Nut-, Egg- & Dairy-free Celebration Cakes.
Buttercream cakes have also been popular in the last few years. Some amazing designs can be found at www.queenofheartscouturecakes.com They also have a great book called The Contemporary Buttercream Bible.
I really like this as a sugar-free cake idea. www.nouveauraw.com
A homemade sugar-free Easter egg would make a really thoughtful present. Find out how to make this at www.bbcgoodfood.com