This week's challenges are most certainly that. Despite the number of 'healthy' baking books that are around, its not as simple as just picking one recipe and running with it. Not unless you're pretty healthy anyway and your cupboards are stocked up with everything that Whole Foods or Planet Organic stock.
Sugar is my kryptonite. Even when I'm being healthier, I eat tonnes of sugar laden fruit so was keen this week to make something entirely sugar-free.
Of course Gwyneth Paltrow comes up trumps with sugar-free recipes. I spotted this recipe for sweet potato muffins and mixed things up a little to make a loaf cake with what I already had in my cupboards. This mix is enough to make a dozen muffins or a 1lb loaf.
So if you fancy giving it a go, here's a few tips on substituting ingredients:
- Liquid sweeteners are a great substitute for sugar, just be careful of the ratios as volumes and weights always differ. This guide is a great help to give you an idea. In Gwynnie's recipe, rice malt syrup is used as its a complex sugar that slowly absorbs into the bloodstream. I don't have this and I've never seen it in my local supermarket so opted to use maple syrup instead.
- Stevia is also a good alternative. As a natural sweetener its preferable to other sweeteners you'll find in the baking aisle like aspartame. Although, as stevia is twice as sweet as sugar, you only need to use half the quantity.
- As sugar is hygroscopic, it adds moisture to baking. It also gives a different structure and taste when it caramelises which is why different sugars are suited to different recipes. You may want a short crumb in biscuits and pastry, but something moist and golden in brownies and cakes. This is also the case with sweeteners. Coconut sugar, honey or maple syrup are great alternatives for any type of brown sugar where you need a caramel taste.
- As a general rule of thumb, natural sweeteners bake quicker than regular sugars, especially honey. If you're adapting a recipe, check on your bake 5-10 minutes before listed in the recipe.
- Another popular alternative is agave due to its low GI qualities, although as with honey, it is high in fructose so be careful with using too much.
Mostly its a taste preference, we see cake and expect it to be sweet. Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet so in this recipe you can get away with only adding 2 tablespoons of maple syrup!
See how I got on with the previous week's challenges: