If, like Sheryl Steens (one half of the founding couple of Steens Honey), baking with wholefood ingredients and avoiding refined sugar is a way of life, or if you’re just starting out on your endeavour to reduce refined sugar by baking your own treats, Sheryl has three wholefood baking hacks that are bound to help you on your way.
Sheryl has been sugar free baking for years, and has hundreds of easy, tasty and all sugar free recipes up her sleeve which you can find on our blog.
Using honey as a sugar substitute can be a little more complex than simply swapping sugar for honey – this makes sense when you think about the fact that honey is a fluid (and therefore contains water) and sugar is a dry granule. What it means is that you may need to reduce the amount of liquid elsewhere in your recipe. We have a simple sugar to honey conversion chart which is great to have printed out or saved onto your tablet for the next time you’re baking without sugar.
We have an entire range of honey dedicated to baking, so check out the Steens Anytime Range for a variety of different flavours, depending on how rich or sweet you’d like your creation to be. The benefits of manuka honey over refined sugar are that it’s 100% natural, unrefined, unpasteurized and includes naturally occurring properties like bio-available bee bread, pollen and wax particles straight from the honeycomb.
PERSIMMONS FOR PECTIN!
Who would have thought (certainly not me) after years of picking persimmons off the tree that they were so full of pectin. It was quite serendipitous actually, there was a very hearty crop on the trees, I’ve never cooked them before, but the thought of them pureed on our morning yoghurt was a tasty one.
I stewed up a potful, skin and all, with the juice of a lemon, put them through the mouli, set aside to cool and on return the mixture was set like a soft jelly. I was gob-smacked and suddenly that opened up a whole lot of new uses for this delicious fruit. There is certainly no need for gelatin to set this fruit so great for vegetarians and vegans and with a subtle flavor, can be used in many different recipes, including my Persimmon Cake with Crispy Chocolate Shell.
BROWN RICE WAFERS FOR SUGAR FREE CRUNCH
One of Paul’s favourite sweet recipes is Carob Fudge Crisp Slice. It’s a light recipe with the addition of puffed rice, but searching the supermarket aisles for sugar free versions came to a dead end, as the cereals are loaded in sugar and I won’t use them.
I knew there must be something I could sub and finally there it was: Organic, brown rice wafers were better than perfect! They crumble to the size you like, they add the texture that’s required and there is no addition of sugar, so that’s a big win in my books.
REDUCE SOGGY BOTTOMS WITH PSYLLIUM
I discovered this when making a galette with rhubarb and raspberries. There was loads of delicious juice from roasting the rhubarb in orange juice as it was so full of flavour it had to go somewhere…right into the pastry, the dreaded soggy bottom! I had psyllium in the cupboard and knowing it’s incredible ability for absorption, sprinkled a thin layer on top of the rolled out pastry.
It was the perfect hack, I make loads of beautiful galettes and psyllium is now always part of the process.
But of course my absolute top tip, is to use beautiful raw honey for baking instead of refined sugar. With bio-available bee bread, pollen and wax particles, honey is my go-to for baking all my sweet and savoury recipes.
Hopefully there are a few things in this blog you can use in your natural baking, and here's to the bounty that nature provides, no refining necessary!