As a family we do not use large quantities of refined sugar. The only time I ever use it is in my baking and that is usually for a treat rather than the norm. Over the years I have tried several artificial sweeteners in my baking but have never been converted and always revert back to the normal household brands of sugar. While I was out shopping last week I came across a new product by Tate & Lyle called Light at Heart. This is a combination of Brown Sugar and a Stevia Blend and has 50% less calories. I shook the container and could tell that the sugar was granulated (I hate the powdery substance of artificial sweeteners) so in the trolley it went.
Since buying the product I have done a bit of research into Stevia and I think it would be fair to say that there is a divided camp when it comes to the safety of consuming Stevia products. The plant has been used for centuries in South America as a natural sweetener, it has almost zero calories and studies have shown that it significantly inhibits the development of dental plaque. On the flip side it has negligible nutritive benefits (but then neither does refined sugar) and there is this small camp who maintains that more research needs to be done before allowing Stevia to be used in food products. For me the positives outweighed the negatives and I know we will not be consuming large quantities so I was keen to try it out.
I decided to try it out on something simple first so went for these easy pancakes with a blueberry sauce. Now what I didn’t notice on the packaging was something it said on the back “as it’s twice as sweet, only use half as much.” My blueberry sauce was very, very sweet so I would definitely have been able to use half the quantity. By the time I made the pancakes I was a bit wiser and only used half my usual quantity of sugar and this time the taste was perfect. More to the point – there was no artificial taste normally associated with low calorie sugars/sweeteners.
The next step now is to try baking one of my tried and tested cakes to see how it compares. I will let you know how I get on.
- Juice and zest from 1 large orange
- 70g sugar or 35g Light at Heart sugar
- 125 ml water
- 2 tsps cornflour mixed with a small quantity of water to form a paste
- 350 g fresh blueberries
- 115 g self raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 30 g butter
- 60 g sugar or 30 g Light at Heart sugar
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 100 - 150ml milk
- Add the orange juice, zest, 70g (35g) sugar and water to a pan and heat until simmering.
- Stir in the cornflour paste and continue to stir until mixture thickens slightly.
- Add the blueberries and stir gently to combine.
- Leave to simmer for approximately 5 minutes. The blueberries should still be whole.
- Remove from heat and leave to one side.
- Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl.
- Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Add the sugar.
- Add the egg and stir lightly to mix.
- Add enough milk at this stage to make a thick pouring batter.
- Lightly grease a heavy bottomed frying pan with butter.
- Using a tablespoon, pour a spoonful of the mixture into your heated pan.
- When the surface of the pancake begins to bubble turn it over to cook on the second side.
- Serve with natural yoghurt (or a dollop of cream) and blueberry sauce.
Excess sauce may be stored in the freezer for future use.