More experiments in sugar-free baking

I’ve already fallen off the sugar (and booze) wagon, since I started an anti-candida diet last week, caving in to G&Ts and some of Tom’s delicious sourdough this week. But there’s only one thing for it when you fall off the horse, and that’s to climb back on it. And so to aid me in sticking to the straight and narrow, I’ve made a few more attempts at low sugar baking so I can have the odd treat to avoid ending up in a bitter (s’cuse the pun) sugar-deprived state as I have on previous attempts at cutting out the white stuff.

But also, since both my kids become raving lunatics when they get a sniff of sugar, it’s a good time to get their taste buds acclimatised to less sweet treats while I have time on my hands for baking. And with a stack of sugar substitutes in my cupboards from previous sugar purges, I might as well use them all up while I’m about it.

I  must caveat this and say that all I had in my cupboards – agave powder, syrup, coconut sugar and blackstrap molasses  – are not strictly kosher on an anti-candida diet. Agave is high in fructose while molasses is made from cane sugar, and coconut sugar no doubt spikes your sugar levels – if not quite as intensely as the hard stuff. However, for modern kids who are nigh on sugar addicts, and for me while I settle back into a zero-carb regime, it’s a healthy enough start.

So, searching for a recipe to use up oats, blackstrap and nuts (neither peanuts or cashews are allowed on the anti-Candida diet), I came across this little gem of a recipe for an after school, pre-climbing treat for active kids and their slightly lazier mum.

Taking just eight minutes to bake, these easy peasy, if slightly sticky biccies can be made with peanut butter, but since I had a jar of hazlenut butter to hand, I used that instead, making it pricier. And I substituted salted cashews for penauts, and nixed the added salt. I also added a tiny dab of coconut oil to reduce the stickiness – this is a hands-in recipe. They turned out beautifully, and Jonah (and I) have guzzled them down – although Ava has decided they’re not for her (but she is going through a fussy phase.)

And, since today’s dear old (natch) Tomothy’s birthday, I was inspired by my nutritionist friend Annelise Setchell, who runs wellbeing site Tonic, to make him a polenta and almond lemon drizzle cake as a birthday treat.

Basing mine on this recipe from Cook Eat Live Vegetarian, I substituted the sugar for agave syrup, using half a cup in total, a quarter of which went in the cake mix, a quarter of which I saved for the drizzle, mixed with juice of half a lemon. I also added some almond essence to the finished mix, which gave it a more sophisiticated flavour. But the mix was quite wet, so I would recommend turning the oven down to 140 degrees and leaving it in for slightly longer.

The finished result was pretty good, although it sunk a little where I had opened the door as it browned a little too quick on 150 degrees. But it didn’t matter – the drizzle gave it a rich moist, slightly gritty cake, topped with flaked almonds, that we all enjoyed when Tom got home from work early, and which meant Jonah could head straight to his climbing class without literally bouncing off the walls.

However, next time, I intend to follow Anneliese’s recommendation of using Sukrin carb-free sugar alternative, which I have now ordered, but which hasn’t yet arrived – Anneliese said her similar cake, following a Nigella recipe, turned out perfectly, was genuinely sugar free, and with three months without the sweet stuff on the horizon, I’m going to need all the help I can get!





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