Sweetening the Deal: Sugar-Free Baking for Babies
Have you tried to make a sugarless cake but ended up with a dense block? Well, I have!
So, I asked our Group Head Chef, Kwesi, why and what his trick are in making a sugarless cake that’s as amazing as your traditional ones with sugar!
Mulu: Hi Kwesi, we’ve talked about this before – you know we launched the sugarless cake as a product because I just couldn’t get the recipe right for V’s birthday. So… why does sugar make such a difference in baking?
Kwesi: Well it’s actually quite interesting science! Sugar weakens or breaks down structural agents in a cake batter, it slows egg protein solidification. Sobasically it’ll help to break down the flour in the cake which will be the most dense ingredient. Also, water molecules are attracted to sugar, so sugar will help to keep a cakes moist. Sugar also holds air. Sugar crystals help to drive air into the mixture so as the cake bakes air pockets expand – making it soft and spongy.
Mulu: Fascinating!… So what are your tricks in making the V&Me one moist and soft then? Are you sneaking sugar in there?
Kwesi: Haha. No, we blend raisins into the flour in order to extract the natural sugars. Any dried fruit would work for this. If a blender is not available, they can be chopped and mixed through.
Mulu: OK, great. And the texture?
Kwesi: A few things we do to help bring more air into the batter:
- Beating the butter to a whitish colour is crucial. This is one stage where the air is pushed through into the mix.
- Adding room temperature eggs slowly is another important part. Again, this is a stage of adding air into the mix.
- Sieving the flour from a height is another way to add air to the mix (but it can get messy!)
- You can imagine knocking air out to be a very easy thing to do, which it is! So when mixing the flour to the butter and egg mix we fold with a spoon until it’s all mixed in. Whisking the flour in would knock all the air out and make a very dense cake.
- And then when pouring the mix into the cake tins, placing them on a table, placing them in the oven, and how you close the door are all steps where you must be gentle so as not to knock air out. I tell our chefs to work as if the baby is asleep in the other room!
- Finally, when taking the cake out you would usually leave in to cool on a cooling wire to let the steam out. But we do the opposite and leave in a container with a lid so the steam goes back through it to keep it as moist as possible.
Mulu: That’s awesome, thank you so much Chef!
I hope these tips are helpful. Do let us know how you get on!