So there’s a special or particular social occasion coming up and people are expecting CAKE! It’s like sugar dilemma 101.
Do you make a full sugar cake and just try not to eat too much of it (potential mental torture), or do you try a sugar substitute one (will they like it – risky business!) or do you try and make excuses (risk social isolation or ridicule).
First world problems at their best right?!
So what do you do?!! How do you navigate?
Maybe you’ve been asked to bake something for a charity cake bake or you’ve got people coming around for afternoon tea. It could be the birthday of one of your children or it’s your turn to bring in the office treat.
First of all, ask yourself how often this happens. If this is a frequent occurrence and you want to live a lower sugar lifestyle where cravings haven’t got the better of you, then it may be the case that you do need to manage some expectations and shift your activities. Doing this could be a whole other article in itself so I’m going to assume this is more a one off and focus on what actually to take.
Firstly you could seek a savoury cake or bake alternative. I have a few you can try:
- Spinach & olive loaf
- Courgette and sage coconut flour muffins (gluten-free)
- Sweet potato and coconut cake (most popular recipe on the blog)
- Parmesan seeded biscuits
However, I get that your friends or family just might not be overwhelmed with joy if they’re expecting something sweet with their cuppa and you present them with olives & spinach!
If this is the case then you could use this as a good opportunity to experiment with some sugar-free baking.
Savoury over sweet
Now, I don’t have many sweet recipes on this blog, simply because if you’re trying to change your taste buds and take reign over cravings, you need to be getting into the habit of savoury foods the majority of the time. When you do, there’s less need for sweet stuff.
I see sooooo many ‘sugar-free’ blogs that are just packed with sweet recipes and really if you’re successfully ‘low sugar’, you just don’t want to eat that stuff all the time. I do eat some sweet things and I enjoy them, but just not that often. I really don’t go out of my way to make them all the time and would rather get my sugar quota when I’m out socially – which can even occasionally involve eating real sugar!
That said, I’ve wanted one GEM of a sweet cake recipe on the website that you can use for social sugar situations that is relatively healthy.
Baking a communally sweet cake
Sometimes I like cakes and biscuits a lot less sweet than others, and so I appreciate not everyone may like the sweet potato and coconut cake.
When I say baking a communally sweet cake, I mean baking a cake that everyone likes and where they don’t have a clue it’s sugar-free.
If you’re keeping your low sugar efforts low profile then you just keep quiet, or you can wait for ‘this is delicious’ and then spring it on them that it’s sugar-free (maximum social points).
I’ve gone for a classic lemon and almond cake which is even gluten-free too (& you wouldn’t know).
Now the important question… which sugar substitute did I use?!!
I have a philosophy that there is just not one best sugar substitute out there. I say that because I don’t think it’s a good idea to go hard on one particular thing and if something is labeled as ‘good’ then people can go to town on it i.e. eat it all the time thinking it’s healthy.
All sugar substitutes ideally should be consumed in moderation and if you do this, then it’s less significant which one you use (if you get what I mean).
For this cake I’ve used xylitol. I’ve written about xylitol here but I’ve used this sugar substitute because:
- The cake recipe needed to substitute sugar in 1:1 and xylitol does that
- I had never tried baking with it and wanted to experiment (I would encourage you to experiment with a variety too)
- I wanted to share that there are different options and make the above point to you
- A nice chap called Daniel at Total Sweet sent me some!
I have to say, that after seeing how well this cake came out and how delicately sweet it is without being sickly, I do like xylitol as a sugar substitute for baking. I also know that Total Sweet is quite widely available as I mentioned in my video review of it last week.
Now finally, we get to the cake..
Lemon & almond cake (sweetened with xylitol)
Recipe adapted from www.simplyrecipes.com
Makes one cake (8 slices)
Note: You do need an electric whisk for this recipe and it’s quite important.
- 4 eggs, separated and at room temperature (see how to separate eggs here )
- 100g (1 cup) xylitol (I used Total Sweet)
- 200g (1 ¾ cup) ground almonds
- ½ tsp ground cardamom (or 3 pods freshly ground)
- Zest of a lemon (about 1-2 tsp worth or until your arm hurts!)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- pinch of salt
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C and line a round 9-inch tine with greased parchment paper (grease both sides with butter or coconut oil)
- In a large bowl beat the egg yolks, lemon zest and 1/3 cup (about 30g) of xylitol until smooth with a wooden spoon
- In a separate bowl, mix together the almond flour, cardamom and baking powder. Add this flour mixture to the egg yolk mixture and beat until smooth with a wooden spoon
- With an electric whisk, beat the egg whites where you start on a low speed and gradually increase. When bubbles start to form, add a pinch of salt and the teaspoon of vinegar (this helps maintain the structure of the cake).
- When the eggs have a lighter fluffy volume, add in the rest of the xylitol (2/3 cup) and beat again with the whisk, using the gradual speed increase again. Beat until soft peaks form.
- Fold these beaten egg whites into the almond mixture a large spoonful at a time. The first few you might not think it’s working but as you add more, a light cake batter will form.
- Scoop all of the mixture into your prepared tin and place in the oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes until firm and slightly golden on the surface.
- Remove from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes. Then carefully remove from the tin and parchment and let cool for a further 10 minutes.
- Serve and impress all of your friends and family!
Have you tried baking with xylitol before? What do you do when you’re asked to bring/bake a cake for a wider group? Has this been a previous dilemma for you?!