Sweeten the sugar-free deal

Dubbo Photo News - - Food. - BY KEE­LEY BOL­GER

THERE is no sugar-coat­ing the fact that sugar con­sump­tion is hav­ing a mas­sive im­pact on our waist­lines, teeth, moods and over­all health and well­be­ing.

From re­ports that slash­ing the amount of sugar in sweet­ened drinks by 40 per cent could pre­vent more than 100,000 cases of Type 2 di­a­betes, to news that the av­er­age five-year-old con­sumes the equiv­a­lent of their own body weight in sugar in a year, re­duc­ing the white stuff has be­come some­thing of a na­tional pri­or­ity.

Yet while many are painfully aware of the de­struc­tive in­flu­ence of sugar (that’ll be the 3pm grumps, age­ing skin and bingo wings then), it doesn’t help that: A, sugar is added to lots of food and drinks, even un­sus­pect­ing savoury prod­ucts; B, sugar is em­bed­ded in our daily di­ets (hello, mid-morn­ing bis­cuits with a cuppa), and C, it tastes nice.

Here to help is cook­ery writer Su­sanna Booth, who used her poly­mer chem­istry de­gree to cre­ate sug­ar­free good­ies that don’t sac­ri­fice taste, sweetly dis­played in her new recipe book, Sen­sa­tion­ally Sugar Free.

But with sugar play­ing “quite a big role in a lot of bak­ing”, the chal­lenge was to find a way of adding tex­ture and crunch – which sugar pro­vides – as well as sweet­ness.

So far, Booth’s recipes (in which she uses ap­ple puree, sweet­en­ers like ste­via and nat­u­rally sweet fruits) have been well re­ceived by her friends and fam­ily.

The key, she says, is to ac­cept that sugar-free deserts will taste dif­fer­ent to sugar-laden ver­sions of the same dish. “If you put my car­rot cake next to an­other car­rot cake that was made with sugar, you would no­tice how much less sweet it is,” says Booth. “But ac­tu­ally, most of the time, you don’t re­ally want loads of sweet­ness. In a way, I think you just be­come ac­cus­tomed to it.”

Al­though many of us are ha­bit­u­ated to eat­ing sweet­ened food, there are some things to keep in mind if you want to re­duce the amount of sugar you use in bak­ing.

“Think about that sugar hit,” ex­plains Booth, who of­ten uses fruit as a top­ping for cakes.

“If you make a Madeira cake and cut out pretty much all the sug­ars and use ap­ple puree or what­ever in­stead, it would be dis­gust­ing. It would just be like hav­ing a loaf of bread.

“It just will not be what you’re look­ing for men­tally. You have to think about the pro­por­tion of things. If you have a sweet top­ping like whipped cream, you get that nice mouth­ful and feel like you’ve got some­thing lux­u­ri­ous. You can sweeten the cake mix­ture very lit­tle and still feel like you’ve got that thing.”

Al­though not com­pletely sugar-free, Booth “cooks from scratch”, so she can keep track of how much sugar she and her fam­ily eat.

“I think it’s bet­ter to try and re­duce as much as you can,” she says.

“Any step is a step in the right di­rec­tion be­cause I think, as a pop­u­la­tion, we are eat­ing too much sugar. Ev­ery­one is say­ing that now and more neg­a­tive health ef­fects are be­ing found, so I hope that peo­ple find it help­ful to try bak­ing in a new way.”

If you’d like to give Booth’s method a whirl, here are three lovely recipes from Sen­sa­tion­ally Sugar Free to try at home...

PHOTO: PA PHOTO/MATT WRE­FORD.

Su­sanna Booth.

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