Sunday, 25 May 2014

The Low-down On Sweeteners - Baking With Less Sugar

Newest food mash-up:

I saw these recently online and had to put my spin on them! They are a great healthier alternative to the muffin/scone from the cafe you by for the on-the-go breakfast or snack. Bake these on a Sunday and have healthy snack/light breakfast option for the whole week.

The scuffin is a frankenpastry — part scone, part muffin and, like a doughnut, filled with jam —but despite its complex genetics, it is very easy to make. It is even fairly healthy, using whole grain/gluten free flours and flaxseeds, and keeping the ‘fat’ minimal. The spices can be varied (swap in nutmeg, ginger or allspice for the cinnamon or cardamom), and so can the jams.

1 hour

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (solid)
  • 1 cup spelt/white flour
  • ¼ cup quick oats
  • ¼ cup buckwheat flour
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • 1/4 flaxseed meal or wheat germ
  • 3 tablespoons light brown or raw sugar, plus extra for sprinkling (I used 1 Tblsp of brown sugar, 1 Tblsp of granulated stevia and 1 Tblsp of Erythritol*)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup Greek yoghurt
  • 2-4 Tablespoons of fruit jam, conserves, preserves or fruit butter (I alternated between; lemon curd, rhubarb jam and apricot preserve)
1. Heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Using an oil spray, coat the cups of a standard-size 6-cup muffin tin (12 small/mini).

2. In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients. Meanwhile, melt 4 tablespoons coconut oil, add to dry ingredients and mix with a fork until just combined.

3. In another bowl, whisk together egg, milk and cream. Add to dry ingredients and mix to combine (the dough will be quite sticky).

4. Reserving about a quarter of the dough for topping, scoop 2 tablespoons dough into each cup. Using the back of a spoon, press dough gently down into the cups. The dough will move up the sides, and there should be a shallow well in each dough cup. Don’t worry if the dough doesn’t come all the way up to the top; there should be about 1/2 inch of space between the top of the dough and the rim of the cup.

5. Spoon about 1 teaspoon jam into each well. Using your fingers, pinch remaining dough into small clumps and scatter evenly over the jam in each cup, making a bumpy topping or just scoop a tablespoon or so or the mix on top for a smoother topped scruffin. Sprinkle raw sugar over the tops.

6. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until browned. Let cool in the pan on a rack.

Makes: 6 (12 small) scuffins

HFG guide to sweeteners:

By Tracy Morris

With so many different sweeteners available, it can be difficult to know which one is best for your needs.

Non-nutritive sweeteners are intensely sweet, meaning only a very small amount is needed – so they are virtually kilojoule-free and have no impact on blood sugar levels. With the exception of stevia, most non-nutritive sweeteners are chemically produced.

Aspartame (eg. Equal, NutraSweet)

What is it? An artificial sweetener made by joining two amino acids – aspartic acid and phenylalanine.
Nutritional properties: Provides about the same amount of energy as table sugar, but because it is 160-220 times sweeter than sugar, only a tiny amount is needed, making the energy negligible.
Best use: Aspartame loses its sweetness at high temperatures so it’s not suitable for cooking. It is commonly used in cold food products such as diet soft drinks, cordial and yoghurt.
Take note: People with Phenylketonuria (PKU) – an inherited disorder that increases the levels of amino acid phenylalanine (a building block of proteins in the blood ) – are advised not to consume aspartame as it contains phenylalanine.

Acesulphame potassium or Ace-K (eg. Equal Spoon for Spoon, Sweet One®, Sunnett)

What is it? A synthetically produced potassium salt.
Nutritional properties: Ace-K is 200 times sweeter than sugar and does not provide any kilojoules as it is not broken down by the body.
Best use: Baking, because it is stable at high temperatures.
Take note: In high concentrations it has a slightly bitter aftertaste so it is often blended with other sweeteners to produce a more sugar-like taste.

Sugar alcohols or polyols (eg. sorbitol, xylitol, erythritol)*

What is it? These occur naturally in certain fruits or can be produced artificially from glucose.
Nutritional properties: Provides half the kilojoules of table sugar  but only a small amount is absorbed into the bloodstream.
Best use: Often used to replace sugar in chewing gum, polyols are not broken down by mouth bacteria so they don’t promote tooth decay.
Take note: If eaten in large quantities, they can have a laxative effect and cause diarrhoea, bloating and gas.

Stevia or steviol glycosides (eg. Equal Stevia, NuNaturals Nu Stevia™, Natvia)

What is it? A natural, non-nutritive sweetener extracted from the leaves of the stevia herb.
Nutritional properties: Stevia is 250-300 times sweeter than table sugar, with no impact on blood sugar levels. It has 11kJ per gram.
Best use: People who prefer a natural sweetener over a synthetic one but don’t want the kilojoules.
Take note: Some stevia extracts have a distinct aftertaste similar to liquorice.

Saccharin (eg. Sweet’N Low®, Necta Sweets, Sweet Twin)

What is it? A synthetically produced sweetener made by combining a number of chemicals.
Nutritional properties: Saccharin is 200-700 times sweeter than table sugar and provides no energy.
Best use: Enhances the strength of other sweeteners.
Take note: Not recommended for pregnant women or children under two years.

Sucralose (eg. Splenda®, Sugar Free Natura)

What is it? Sugar that is chemically processed to replace hydrogen and oxygen molecules with chlorine molecules.
Nutritional properties: Six hundred times sweeter than table sugar, with most of it passing through the body unchanged, providing no energy.
Best use: Since it is the most heat-stable non-nutritive sweetener, sucralose can easily be used to replace sugar (cup for cup) in cooking and baking.
Take note: Sucralose tastes very similar to sugar and has no bitter aftertaste, which is common with other non-nutritive sweeteners.

Top non-nutritive sweetener picks
  • Best for baking: Sucralose or stevia
  • Most natural: Stevia
  • Best for your teeth: Sugar alcohols

Interesting article I found this week: Do you know what's really 'in' your drink?
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