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

Cooking The Books February 2014- Norwegian Cinnamon Buns (How To Be A Domestic Goddess)

Norwegian Cinnamon Buns.  My recipe challenge to bake from the Bread and Yeast Chapter of How To Be A Domestic Goddess.
Norwegian Cinnamon Buns. My recipe challenge to bake from the Bread and Yeast Chapter of How To Be A Domestic Goddess.

For my first recipe from this month’s Cooking The Books Challenge I chose to bake some Norwegian Cinnamon Buns

from the Bread and Yeast Chapter of How To Be A Domestic Goddess.  I’ve never been to Norway, it’s one of those places that’s high on my places to go list but I have eaten similar buns when I went to Copenhagen a few years back.  I can also wholeheartedly recommend the delicious Cinnamon Buns that are sold in one of my favourite local eateries, a fabulous Norwegian cafe, Baltzersens in Harrogate.  Their bakes are just utterly sublime.

In the recipe introduction Nigella says ” The Northern Europeans and especially the Scandinavians are wonderful bakers and eating these for breakfast or tea on a cold winter’s day makes one feel ours is a climate to be grateful for. But then, I’ve always thought that bad weather has its compensations, most of them culinary”  Nigella, you’re a girl after my own heart!

Now, on this damp and cold February afternoon I’m at home from work and have just got in from walking the dog.  My son is laid up on the sofa with the start of a horrible flu virus and my hubby has just phoned to say he feels rough and is coming home early.  I guess if they are feeling rough, they might need something of a pick me up. So, I thought I’d bake them these Cinnamon Buns.

Here’s how I got on:

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First I added flour, sugar, salt and 3 sachets (I know, I thought it was a misprint too!) of yeast into a large bowl.
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In another bowl I added melted butter and whisked it together with milk and eggs.
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The whisked egg mixture was then stirred into the flour mixture.
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The dough was then put into my Kitchen Aid mixer with my dough hook on. It was put on a slow speed for a few minutes. It was meant to be smooth and springy. I didn’t think it looked right somehow.
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The mixture was extremely wet and was difficult to touch. I had to use a scraper to get it out of the bowl and I wasn’t sure if it was meant to feel like this.
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I greased another large mixing bowl to put the dough in to rise.
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This is what the dough looked like after abut 25 minutes rising time. It had been in my utility room on the worktop as it gets very warm in there.

Although I was meant to leave the dough for only about 25 minutes it ended up being left for at least a couple of hours. This was due to me having to go and pick my daughter up from her school rehearsal.  By the time we’d got back the dough had reached the top of the cling film stretched along the top of the bowl!

I had prepared some filling which was butter, sugar and cinnamon melted together.  It smelled absolutely gorgeous!

The dough was very wet and difficult to work with, so I found it difficult to roll out and got in a right pickle with it.  I needed lots of flour to stop it sticking to the rolling pin so I made my buns very much by hand and they do look very rustic!  I managed to get them to roll up into my large traybake container but they were very haphazard and all different sizes.

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Once I’d got the buns ready in the baking tray I brushed the tops with some beaten egg and let them prove once again before baking in the hot oven.

The buns went into the oven at 210oC for about 20 minutes and they did burn a little on the top of them. Though when I looked at Nigella’s picture her’s were similar and she says not to worry “if they catch in places”.  This was comfortably reassuring, thank you Nigella!

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The gorgeous smelling Norwegian Cinnamon Buns just straight out of the oven.
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Oy!!! Who’s been eating my buns?
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Eaten warm and fresh, these buns were heaven on a plate.

Well the buns went down well with my daughter and myself, though my son and husband were feeling very ropey and off their food. By the next couple of days I had gone down with the flu virus and went off my food too.  One day all I managed was one of these buns and by then it had gone stale.  I’m definitely going to try making them again, although they were a bit faffy to make they tasted delicious and I think my husband and son will enjoy them.  After all they love Danish Pastries and Chelsea Buns so they’ll love these!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx