Baking with less sugar


With the current fashion for home baking thanks to The Great British Bake Off and other media influences I have been trying to extend my repertoire of sweet treats that will not add to the diabesity and heart disease explosion.


I was always taught to follow cake baking recipes to the letter in order to get the texture right however experiments with sugar substitutes when I was teaching just did not taste right hence my efforts to cut the sugar in many of the recipes we used. Fruit or plain scones without the sugar, muffins with 20% less all seemed to work well and taste fine.


At home I went further and started to look at some of our old favourites. Tea bread with 20% less sugar than the recipes and ditto lemon layer pudding or cheesecake. I also served up custard powder custard with no sugar at all in it over a crumble with no comments.


Fruit crumble is one of our all time favourites so this is the one I focussed on , Did I need to add sugar to the fruit –no not if it was canned in juice or had been frozen. How about apples? Well the secret is not if you add some home picked blackberries or fresh plums.


I experimented with the toppings for a while and although this does not have the solid texture of a traditional crumble it works for us!
Mix 400g blackberries – picked from the golf course last Autumn  during my foraging expeditions and frozen . Add  200g sliced apples – Bramley’s or dessert it make no difference. Place in oven proof dish
Make the topping by rubbing in 30g butter to 50g spelt flour and 50g plain white. Stir in 20g brown sugar and 10 g porridge oats.
Sprinkle over the fruit. Finish with 10g mixed seeds.
Bake at 180 for 25 minutes. Serves 6 and gives about 168 calories a portion

Blackberry and apple

Blackberry and apple

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‘Best Before’ and ‘Use by’ Confusion

When I was teaching the students were always confused about ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ dates. As we know best before means things are still edible and safe  just not at their ‘best’ There are probably numerous things in my pantry  like this including Marmite dated best before September 2011 but I can’t say I have noticed any difference in it and with that amount of salt it will probably last forever.

However why on earth do the supermarkets put ‘Best before’  on bags of potatoes and apples? They last for months if stored properly and no potatoes do not need to be  in the fridge gah!  More than once I have had to stop a child throwing them in the bin  even though they all looked perfect.

I would tell them that ‘Use by’ is an instruction applying only to high protein foods and although I would not eat meat and fish past its date (well maybe bacon if it smells OK) –it will have been frozen in my house by the time it gets near- none of this freeze on day of purchase nonsense from the supermarkets which I believe they are going to alter.

Today I noticed the last of my Greek yogurt is out of date- 6 days in fact but I ate some yesterday with no ill effects  -though smells fine but decided to use it up in scones.

Mix the yogurt with a little water to loosen it, make the scones half spelt half white flour , brush with yogurt mix and dip into seeds. Bake 10 minutes on 230C for a lovely soft textured treat.

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