Thursday, 4 September 2014

Grandma’s healthy baking options

Mens sana in corpore sano with a piece of cake

 I did a talk the other week for a Patients’ Participation group at a Doctors' Medical Practice. There’s no way that I would claim to be a healthy eating specialist but Grandma did leave us some sound advice about eating healthily. Since using less sugar is the advice today, it’s worth remembering that Grandma often enhanced the flavour of her baking with natural spices and would use much less sugar than many modern recipes. Here’s a recipe where you could leave the sugar out altogether as the dried fruit and spices create a tasty cake.

Wholemeal Farmhouse Loaf
4 oz/110g self raising flour
4 oz/110g wholemeal flour
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
2 oz/50g soft brown sugar (optional)
4 oz/110g butter
2 eggs
5 tbsps milk
12 oz/340g mixed dried fruit (sultanas, raisins, currants, mixed peel)

Sift the flours into a bowl with the spices.  Add the sugar (optional). Rub in the fat until the mixture has a crumbly consistency. You can do this in a food mixer. Beat the eggs and milk together, add to the bowl and mix well. Then add the dried fruit, using a little more milk if necessary to give a fairly soft consistency. Put into a well greased 1lb/450g loaf tin. Bake in a preheated moderate oven at 180C (Fan Oven 160C), Mark 4, 350F for approximately 1 to 1¼ hours.

Meryl’s tip : This is a very easy recipe which can be served on its own or as a teabread with butter. It makes a great snack and keeps well.

Back at the  Patients’ group, I talked about how Grandma had baked in times of shortage. I showed the group food charts which were produced in times of rationing in the 1st World War and the poster campaigns to Dig for Victory in the 2nd World War when foods were often hard to come byGrandma had always used gluts of fruit and vegetables in season to make succulent jams and chutneys as well as fruit pies (no added sugar!) and puddings. 

I’ve been trying out more recipes for cakes and biscuits with reduced sugar content. As the group all agreed, we should still enjoy a homemade treat now and again – it’s the portion size which matters. Here are more ideas and recipes to reduce sugar in baking:

And, as the Latin poet Juvenal confirmed ‘mens sana in corpore sano’ – sharing a cup of tea and a piece of homemade cake is a therapy in itself! What’s your take on this?

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