‘Easily’ cut the sugar levels in home bakes using ‘one third’ rule

This Morning: Expert shares tip for reducing sugar in cakes

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In a segment on ITV’s This Morning, food stylist and cook Juliet Sear shared how to make classic cakes like lemon drizzle without the sugar and calories. She explained that while sweet baked goods should be consumed in moderation, you don’t have to miss out if you’re concerned about the ingredients. She told presenters Holly Willougby and Philip Schofield that you can “very easily” reduce the amount of sugar used in baking without changing much else.

Instead of indulging in a full-fat, sugar-coated lemon drizzle cake, the presenters were given a low-sugar version that would make them “feel a little less guilty” after eating it.

Baked by Juliet herself, she said: “There are less than half the calories in that cake there. I actually prefer it, it’s lighter. I think a lot of the time with the bakes that we have, they’ve got so much sugar in and you don’t really need that much sugar.

“So you can very easily reduce the sugar in any recipe by about one-third, without it affecting the bake.”

To compensate for the missing sugar, Juliet explained that she increased the amount of air in the mixture when whipping it up in order to create the same texture as the standard recipe.

She said: “With this one, we’ve whipped up the eggs, we’ve added loads and loads of air into the eggs, and then you just need a very small amount of fat that’s just folded in, which is hard fat, and then just reduce the sugar.”

Juliet noted that doing this means you end up with “less than half the calories” than normal without compromising on the taste of the cake.

Both Holly and Phil were in agreement, noting that they thought the low-sugar lemon drizzle bake tasted “absolutely lovely” adding that they didn’t notice the difference.

However, Holly added that the psychology of knowing that it has half the calories makes you want to eat even more of it.

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Phil did point out that the low-calorie version was “a little flatter than a cake”, though Juliet pointed out that this was because it was a single layer rather than a sandwich.

She explained that she also has a “less than half the calorie” recipe for a Victoria sponge, made with two layers and low-fat cream in the middle.

When it comes to trying the tip yourself, it is important to note that the results will depend on the type of cake you are making. An expert at King Arther Baking said: “Unlike many other baked goods, the successful cake relies in equal parts on ingredients and technique. While just about any muffin batter can be stirred together, plopped into a pan, and baked to perfection, cakes are more finicky.”

They noted that cakes can be divided into four categories – blended, creamed, sponge and foam, all of which use sugar differently.

While blended cakes rely on sugar purely for sweetness, sponge, cream and foam recipes need it for volume. Reducing the sugar in these kinds of bakes could affect the texture if you do it too drastically.

Reducing the sugar content by one-third applies to most cakes, though data from the King Artur Baking team showed that you can cut it by as much as 50 percent in blended (sheet cakes).

Melanie Wanders, a baking teacher at the company said: “I found no difference in any of the four sugar levels in blended cakes using the original, 10 percent, 25 percent and 50 percent amounts, other than how sweet you like things

“And for cakes with fruit in them already, I think the baker can decide to use any of the reduction amounts.”

She added that sponge cakes can “suffer” when the sugar content is dropped by 50 percent, noting that around 25 percent is the optimal amount to reduce it by.

When it comes to creamed cakes, Mel explained that it is down to trial and error as to how much you can cut the sugar levels. From her own tests, she found that 35 percent was “acceptable” as it “allowed the butter flavour to shine through though she “certainly found the cake less sweet”.

Angel food cakes seemed to be the exception to Juliet’s rule of reducing sugar by one-third, as Mel found that they rely too heavily on it for the “foamy” texture.

The King Arthur Bakery teacher suggested that the quantity of sugar should not be cut by more than 10 percent to avoid compromising on the fluffiness.

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