The new year ushered in a healthier period and a savoury Chinese treat. There were a multitude of buckwheat and nut superfood biscuits (cookies) for me and mum to nibble on between all the naughty Christmas edibles still hanging around. The biscuits were surprisingly tasty and addictive – not the sort of treat you rush towards drooling in anticipation yet once you start they’re hard to stop eating! Especially when you’re thinking ‘Oh well, why not? They’re good for me!’ nom nom nom. lol.
So when I left the UK and arrived home in Barcelona I adapted some cakes to make them ‘healthier’ too. The lemon almond cake suddenly turned green with a tablespoon of matcha, plus two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, slightly reduced butter (by 10g, ahem) and xylitol instead of sugar. I took it on a climbing trip and was surprised when all the climbers (except me and the French climber) said it was delicious. My little green cake was a little too sweet and requires further experimentation. Muah ha ha. Hold on, just coming down the rock first.
To xylitol or not
Was it the xylitol that gave my cake a slightly strange taste? Or the matcha? Matcha has a great reputation but I feel a bit sorry for xylitol. I think a lot of people avoid it because of its chemical-sounding name. If it were at a party it would have to introduce itself with a cute nickname (yes, that would be ‘xyli’). But seriously, I’ve found xylitol can be a fine substitute in baking and a great way to avoid sugar. It’s reportedly good for your teeth and closer to sugar than Stevia in sweetness and texture, having less of a bitter aftertaste and the ability to function in sponges. Worth looking into? The BBC good food website have a very positive section on xylitol with a few baking tips and there’s more info and useful links on my xylitol page.
Another healthifying experiment
My attempt to healthify cakes was more successful with the passion fruit or St Clement’s raspberry tarts. I was surprised to discover you can replace plain flour with buckwheat flour to achieve a simple and very tasty gluten-free pastry. Yay! I hadn’t expected buckwheat pastry to be such a delight. And gelatine does set curds or jellies sweetened with honey or maple syrup. Again, yay! Producing gluten-free and refined sugar-free yummy pâtisserie is one of my missions in life. 🙂
Why aren’t my red velvet cupcakes red?
Well, I did some research and you can find out why on my newly published recipe for pomegranate red velvet cupcakes. I love them so much I gave them their own post separate from their big sister, the pomegramate red velvet layer cake. They’re so handy if you have less time and want a quick red velvet fix, or dark brown with a slight red tinge if you don’t add the food colouring. 🙂
Meat isn’t something you often see on this blog but char siu bao are buns so fairly close cousins to cake. Ahem. I’m making them for Lin’s rare recipes challenge and for my stomach of course. The recipe will be up end of January. I love char siu bao (barbecued pork steamed buns) and the dough was just amazing so looking forward to making buns with lots of other stuff, even sweet pâtisserie fillings! Some instagram friends like the idea of matcha white chocolate ones…
Well, hope you’ve enjoyed this latest roundup, fruit of a slight baking addiction. Wishing you an excellent start to the new year sweet reader, baking all those things you’ve always wanted to try … and eating them! 🙂 x