Last week was a long one as I spent most of it decorating my daughters’ bedroom. I was constantly aching from all the painting which I managed to get through so by Wednesday I decided I didn’t want to continue the painting as the days were getting warmer and I wanted to have some more help, as in husband, rather than my daughters to get the bedroom finished.
Instead, I set up for a sugar trial which I have been planning to do for a long time now but never found the time to just do it. I had sugar with Stevia, xylitol, honey and maple syrup to try in the recipe. My original plan was to bake Carrot Cakes using the sugar substitutes but after having a couple of days of working with chocolate, in this heatwave that we have been in here in the UK, I changed my mind and baked a Vanilla Sponge instead as I couldn’t be bothered to grate the carrots. I think this sponge worked better as you could taste the sweetness of the sponge perfectly so that a true representation of the different sugar substitutions used could be achieved.
I really enjoyed doing this trial and I even managed to enrol a few friends and customers to join in the tasting trial as I don’t think I could rely on my children who just like anything I bake. When I don’t bake they ask me when I am going to bake and when I do bake they want to try something as soon as it is out f the oven but they know to wait until I say of there is anything they can eat. It works very well so that when they are on holiday- like now- they will keep out of the kitchen and allow me to get on with my work until I let them know if I am ready for them to try anything. It means I have to be really organised with timings to ensure the family can eat, drink and have some Mam time even when I am working. This is probably the hardest part of working from home as the children don’t always see it that way and it takes a lot of discipline to not just get up and go out for the day with the children. Roll on our holiday when I can have a much needed break. 🙂
The results of the sugar trials are in and the “guinea pigs” or rather friends and customers who I asked to try the cakes for me all seemed to have picked different to what myself and my husband liked. Interesting fact on its own but what was more interesting was that most tasters preferred the standard recipe but as it had the full amount of sugar for the recipe it was there as an example of what we are trying to move away from. I added the standard recipe in to the options just to see what people would think and I was quite impressed but shocked by the resuts as it shows that people like sugar and the whole idea of these trials is to move away from the sugar.
Not far behind in sweetness levels was the xylitol but I didn’t add the full amount in relation to the recipe I used so there is leeway for some changes there in the future. I think the xylitol was just as sweet as the standard recipe and if I had added more xylitol that my tasters would probably have rated it higher in the table. This bake was stodgier than the other bakes and more caramelised and crustier too.
The sugar with Stevia was liked by most of the tasters but I could pick up an aftertaste which is probably because I know what to expect with Stevia so I think this is an ingredient to use with stronger flavoured ingredients to mask the taste of the Stevia. Again I did not use the full recommended amount of this ingredients so I can change it as I try other recipes but I think this produces a less sweet cake (with aftertaste) which many people liked so it is a definite one to try in the future bakes.
As for the half standard sugar amount which I have used before for baking diabetic cakes in my market days. My husband and I enjoyed this cake the most as it wasn’t as sweet and there was no aftertaste. This cake was the one that didn’t caramelise as much as the others but that was okay as you would normally ice these cakes.
There are lots of pros and cons for using these different sugar substitutes so I still have some work to do but I feel like I have more options now to choose from. I still have he honey and maple syrup to try in some baking ideas too so watch this space for more details.
I looked at the nutritional information for the different bakes when using the sugar substitutes and found some interesting differences and similarities. I have prepared a table to share this information with you.
[table id=2 /]
As you can see the from the table the standard recipe has the most calories which is not great when you are watching your calorie intake and trying to lose weight and keep fit. The calories for the other three bakes is slightly less and would be more in line with those suitable for a calorie controlled diet.
The carbohydrate is greatest for the standard recipe and there is not much difference between the xylitol and half sugar bakes which both appear to be less than the Stevia result but when you take into account the sugar result the Stevia gives the best results. As the sugar for the Stevia is greater than the other two bakes it is this result which is subtracted from the carbohydrate result to give you the actual carbohydrate in the bake and due to this the Stevia is the healthier option. As most people (myself excluded) like this bake then I will be baking a lot more with the Stevia for my customers. 🙂
I really enjoyed working on this idea and I will be doing more work on baking substitutes in the future.