Sugar Free Carrot Cake

 

     

Hi there and long time no see! I haven’t disappeared off the face of the earth, I’ve just got a bit behind with my blog posts again.  Day to day life has been very busy.  I have been baking a few things here and there and have been experimenting with a couple of new ingredients.

I am really struggling with eating too many sugary things at the moment. I don’t add sugar to tea, coffee or cereal but I do have a sweet tooth.  I love my cakes and biscuits and when I’m tired and stressed I grab at things like a bar of chocolate on the way home from work from the garage.  I’m seriously thinking of going sugar free but am worried about how I’ll cope with going to Clandestine Cake Club as it is a big part of my life.

A few weeks ago York Clandestine Cake Club had their first meeting of the year and the theme for the event was Healthier Cakes. I signed up to go and chose to bake a Sugar Free Carrot Cake as featured in the latest Great British Bake Off recipe book The Great British Bake Off Celebrations. This recipe according to the introduction is a “gorgeous spicy, nutty carrot cake, the sponge is sweetened with agave syrup rather than sugar,” 

I had seen agave syrup on the shelf in supermarkets but was intrigued to see how it worked in a recipe. Was it as sweet as sugar? Would it give the cake a funny taste? Would it last as long as a cake with sugar in it? These were all questions I was keen to answer.  I knew that my family love carrot cake and it’s also a popular cake flavour whenever I’ve been to cake club.  Though it was low in refined sugar, it did not do well in the low fat or gluten free stakes.  I found a bottle of agave syrup  in Sainsburys which was at over £4 for 250ml a bit more expensive than sugar. 

Cake club was on a Wednesday and I didn’t have work that day. It was my catch up day at home and once I’d dropped my daughter off at the bus stop three miles away so she could catch her college bus I came home and set to with the cake. 

I was in a happy mood and put on Radio 2 in the kitchen while I was baking. I had music playing and even though it was dark and miserable outside I was ensconced in my warm kitchen relaxing with some baking therapy. 

Firstly I grated some carrots which I find really tedious and usually end up with big chunks falling into the bowl. Once that was over and done with I could get on with the rest of the cake. 

The cake was made in a similar way to a regular carrot cake by using sunflower oil and eggs. I measured these into a jug and added the agave syrup to it. This was beaten with a whisk until it was blended together. In another bowl all the dry ingredients were weighed out and combined- an aromatic blend of cinnamon and mixed spice in with sifted self raising flour and baking powder. Finally, in a third bowl I grated some orange zest and mixed it in with sultanas and some chopped walnuts, along with the grated carrot. All was carefully combined and ready to be put into the prepared tins.

This carrot cake was designed to be baked in two 20cm (8″) diameter sandwich tins. I always grease my tins with Wilton Cake Release and use Lakeland Baking Parchment Circles. They make wrestling getting the cake out of the tin much easier at the end. Once I’d done the greasing I could get the cake in the oven. The cake baked at 160oC in my fan oven and took about 35 minutes approx.

Once it had finished baking and was cooling down I went out for a walk with my dog. It had stopped raining for a bit and I was keen for some fresh air. We were out for about an hour which gave it time to cool down ready to be iced.

The icing was a cream cheese concoction or rather it was meant to be. When I’d been out shopping for cake ingredients there was a massive gap on the shelf where the cream cheese was. I had to use Mascarpone instead which is very naughty but nice in cakes and desserts! It was also much more expensive. Being a “sugar free” cake the cake didn’t use icing sugar but used maple syrup instead to sweeten it instead. I thought maple syrup was a form of sugar! To the mascarpone, along with the maple syrup I used some butter to cream the icing together. This was used in the cake filling and on top of the cake. Tonight off I added some chopped walnuts.

I never got to Cake Club that night in the end. I had to pick my daughter up and get the dinner on. The cake became a pudding for us. My husband, who doesn’t really have a sweet tooth but loves carrot cake enjoyed this version. He doesn’t like to eat puddings at night as he gets indigestion. I sometimes feel like my blood sugar level drops and I get a headache. But after a small piece of cake I felt OK. Definitely worth attempting some more recipes using the agave syrup, then.  

   Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Cheddar, Apple and Walnut Loaf- The Great British Bake Off Everyday

A lot of my bakes have been sweet ones recently but I was keen to try out a recipe that was listed in the Cakes section of the latest Great British Bake Off Book- The Great British Bake Off Everyday.  It doesn’t contain sugar but it is a savoury loaf where the sweetness comes from the natural sugars within the apple in the recipe.  The recipe for Cheddar, Apple and Walnut Loaf caught my eye when I first got the book at the beginning of August and finally two months later I got round to making it!

Last Tuesday was one of my half days at work where I worked the morning and came home at lunchtime to see to our dog and to catch up with the ironing over programmes on Sky+.  I didn’t bake at all during the previous week and was itching to make something.  It had to be something quick to prepare and to put in the oven while I was ironing.  The Cheddar Loaf also sounded so inviting!  Trouble was I didn’t have enough spare cheddar. I had some Wensleydale though and I knew that it would work well baked in a cake and it goes perfectly with apple.  Also, I didn’t have any bran cereal so I substituted some porridge oats instead.

Here’s how this scrumptious loaf was baked:

Some walnut pieces were chopped roughly and toasted in the oven for about 10 minutes.
Some walnut pieces were chopped roughly and toasted in the oven for about 10 minutes.
Flour, salt and butter were put into a mixing bowl and rubbed together. I then added the cheese and porridge oats to the mixture.
Flour, salt and butter were put into a mixing bowl and rubbed together. I then added the cheese and porridge oats to the mixture.
Next, a chopped apple and the walnuts were added to the mixture.
Next, a chopped apple and the walnuts were added to the mixture.
The mixture was combined together so that everything was well coated.
The mixture was combined together so that everything was well coated.
The mixture was then put into the loaf tin which I had lined with a loaf tin liner from Lakeland.
The mixture was then put into the loaf tin which I had lined with a loaf tin liner from Lakeland.
Just out of the oven with my cake tester still sticking out of it! It had been in the oven for about 3/4 hour.
Just out of the oven with my cake tester still sticking out of it! It had been in the oven for about 3/4 hour.
I just had to taste a small slice and it was heavenly despite me realising I had forgotten to add the salt to it. It still tasted nice though.
I just had to taste a small slice and it was heavenly despite me realising I had forgotten to add the salt to it. It still tasted nice though.

Once the loaf was baked I was still nowhere near the bottom of my ironing pile despite catching up with Downton Abbey in the meantime. I think ironing makes me hungry but as the loaf was still very hot I had to make do with a cup of tea until it was cool enough to handle.

I took the loaf into work and was very surprised to see that the tin was empty by Friday lunchtime.  I thought as it hadn’t got any salt in it, it would put people off but when I checked the tin, all there were were crumbs!  I will definitely be making this again and will also try it with Cheddar to see how it compares.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx