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Twelve banana cupcakes sat sadly in the bin. Our first low sugar baking test hadn’t gone to plan. A mushy stodge was a good description of our first bake. Mary Berry would be ever so disappointed. Starting a business teaches you many things including perseverance, and we needed plenty as we cracked on with our next recipe.
There’s a lot in the press about the scourges of refined sugar – particularly in the drinks industry – but baking seems to have escaped. When was the last time you saw Paul or Mary condemn sugar as they sample the Bake Off’s finest?
For good reason. Sugar is the baker’s friend. When sugar gets wet it locks in moisture and keeps baking moist. Sugar helps cakes rise. Sugar deepens the colour of baking and adds crunch when needed.
So is it possible to bake without refined sugar without compromising on taste? We invited a few Elderbrook drinkers to find out.
Maxime, Sarah and Emma (along with the Elderbrook team) tried three bakes; Peanut Butter Granola Bites, a Carrot Cake and Super Seed Chocolate Chip Cookies. We served our bakes at the end of our low alcohol wine tasting so there’s a low chance our results were ever so slightly influenced by four bottles of wine.
The Winner: Peanut Butter Granola Bites
They disappeared first and had a wonderfully indulgent and sticky texture with the occasional bite of peanut and rice crispy. Because they were not cooked (simply mixed and chilled), we didn’t miss refined sugar’s ability to help bakes rise in the oven. The mix and chill approach also kept them super moist. Top notch.
We thought it was going to be tricky to create a nice light cake without refined sugar and to our slight surprise, we got a great result. It didn’t have the crumb typical of a refined sugar cake but it was springy, had bags of flavour and still sweet enough to feel like a delicious treat. The recipe we used suggested adding a frosting (icing for us Brits) but we felt it wasn’t needed.
The only thing that was missing compared to typical sugar-sweetened brownies was more of a crunch. They were a bit too soft when we’re used to more...