Who does not love a good, fudgy, and moist cake? But a delicious cake with sugar? Is that an option? After all, how would a sugarless cake taste?
Reducing the sugar content in your cakes and other baked goods can be a challenging task. Especially when you do not know where to start. Let us face it. Sugar substitutes are really expensive. And cutting out on the sugar part can actually ruin an otherwise perfect and full-proof recipe. But that being said, there are some ways out. With some research and a lot of trials, you can easily reduce the content of added sugar, even eliminate it perhaps; and still, end up with a moist and delicious cake without sugar.
But before we get to that, it is important to look at the effect that sugar has on your cake.
What does sugar do to your cakes and baked goods?
The role of sugar in a cake is much, much more than just imparting sweetness. That is, of course, the most obvious reason why we add sugar. But there are other roles too that sugar plays in your baking.
Light and airy crumb
Sugar crystals, no matter how small, have rough edges. Thus, they help to trap in the air because of their irregularities. Think about creaming butter and sugar together. The butter becomes really pale and fluffy, does not it? This trapped air then expands when the cake bakes, giving you a really light and airy crumb.
Caramelisation and color:
We all know that when sugar cooks, it caramelizes and changes color. It becomes a really pretty golden brown color which we all love. This makes the cake look and taste so much more better. Using natural sugars, such as honey, will cause the cake to brown really fast, and give you a darker cake. Other artificial sweeteners, on the other hand, do not brown at all. This results in cakes that look really pale.
Cakes stay moist because of the high sugar content in them. Sugar is hygroscopic in nature and thus retains moisture in the cake. Sugar-free cakes, on the other hand, would dry out very quickly.
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How to bake cakes without sugar or with less sugar?
The only way that a cake is meant to be is sweet. If you do not want to use sugar in your cake, your next bet is to use artificial sweeteners. A lot of people, however, are not comfortable with that. There are, however, some sugar alternatives, other than artificial sugars too, which can be used.
Ground almond flour
Ground almond flour is a good option. However, it will definitely make your cakes really expensive. On the other hand, it adds a really complex texture to your cake. It also boosts flavor and keeps the cake moist.
These include options like honey or maple syrup. Though these are still essentially sugar, they do have vitamins and traces of minerals. Additionally, these also have beneficial enzymes in them. These types of sugars will give you dense, heavy and dark cakes. In some recipes where such flavor is desired, these are good options to look at. Also, since these natural sugars are liquids, make sure you reduce the liquid content in your recipe a bit to maintain the balance.
These are formulated in labs and are safe substitutes for regular sugar. These are anywhere between 200 and 600 times more sweeter than regular sugar. Also, these are low in calories, or are completely calorie free. This means that even diabetic patients can have these cakes without any stress.
On the flip side, these alternatives often have a bitter aftertaste. These do not add air into the batter, and do not aid browning either.
There are artificial sweeteners being developed for those who want to use them for baking, so do check those out.
These extracts, though derived naturally, are still heavily processed. These might end up in dense cakes. Stevia is a good example of a sugar free cake that is often used. Stevia is 300 times sweeter than table sugar, and is calorie free too. However, it is often used in combination with other sweeteners. Agave nectar and rice malt syrup are good options too.
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Sugar and sweetener free cake recipe:
This recipe is not only sugar free, but does not include any sweetener either! It is sweetened with fresh whole fruits. And the best part is that with some changes, you can even make it gluten free.
In fact, the recipe is so healthy; you can even have it as muffins for breakfast!
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
¼ cup yogurt (full-fat)
125 ml coconut water
200 grams all purpose flour/almond flour/gluten free flour
120 grams almond flour
2 teaspoons baking power
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
A pinch of ground cinnamon, optional
Preheat oven to 180 C and line 2 8 inch cake tins with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the bananas, yogurt, eggs, coconut water and vanilla and combine well till you get a smooth paste.
In another bowl, combine all the remaining ingredients. These will include the flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon powder.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones, and combine well till everything is incorporated together.
Divide the batter equally in the two tins, and then bake for around 20 minutes. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean once the cake is baked.
Cool the cake completely, before demoulding.
Garnishing the cake:
If you try out this cake without sugar, naturally you would want a sugar less frosting too. You could dust the cake very lightly with some icing sugar, or some cocoa powder. Or you could use whipped cream cheese that has been flavoured with some citrus zest for a fluffy topping for the cake. Using unsweetened peanut butter whipped with some unsalted butter would make for a good frosting too!