Considering my affinity for desserts, keeping my kids off sugar wasn’t going to be easy. But as a life without sweet treats is simply not an option for me, I had to find some way to bake without sugar. Yes, I know we all grew up scarfing down enough sugary confections to build our own bakeries, but with food allergies on the increase and a general feeling we should be looking at alternative sweeteners, I was first in line to buy Erin McKenna’s cookbook.
Erin’s cult New York bakery Babycakes offers all natural, vegan, kosher, organic baked goods free from refined sugar, gluten, eggs, wheat and casein, and the Babycakes cookbook is the key to making healthy yet mouth watering, cookies, cakes, brownies and donuts.
The two star ingredients in BabyCakes treats are agave nectar and coconut oil, which stand in for sugar and butter. I am a huge fan of the cactus plant sweetener which has a low glycaemic index, meaning less sugar induced meltdowns! My kids love it drizzled over natural Greek yoghurt or in porridge. Virgin cold pressed coconut oil also has numerous health benefits. Its antiviral and antimicrobial characteristics promote healthy hearts and thyroid and metabolic function and can be used as a source for quick energy sources. Plus it gives recipes a delicious, rich flavour.
The BabyCakes cookbook shares Erin’s trade secrets – which unless she plans on opening in Hong Kong anytime soon – is the closest we are going to get to her famous cupcakes and cookie sandwiches. Of course, this being Hong Kong, the ingredients needed will require visits to a few stores, but it’s worth it to make her guilt free goodies.
All BabyCakes ingredients are available in Hong Kong. Try 360, Great at Pacific Place and Olivers. For coconut oil try the health food shop on Lyndhurst Terrace, Central.
Sassy Mama loves…
2 cups garbanzo flour
1 cup potato starch
1/2 cup arrowroot
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup coconut oil
1 1/3 cup agave nectar
3/4 cup applesauce
3 tablespoons vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 cup hot water
Frosting for serving (see recipe below)
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line two, standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, potato starch, arrowroot, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt. Add the oil, agave nectar, applesauce, vanilla, and lemon zest to the dry ingredients and combine. Stir in the hot water and mix until the batter is smooth.
3. Pour 1/3 cup of the batter into each prepared cup. This portion will almost fill the cup up entirely. Bake the cupcakes on the center rack for 22 minutes, rotating the tray 180 degrees after 15 minutes. The cupcakes will be golden brown and will bounce back when pressure is applied gently to the centre. Remove from the oven.
4. Let the cupcakes stand for 20 minutes. Transfer them to a wire rack right side up and cool completely. Using a frosting knife, gently spread 1 tablespoon of Frosting over each cupcake. Place the cupcakes in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Makes enough to frost 24 cupcakes
1 1/2 cups rice milk
3/4 cup rice milk powder
1 tablespoon coconut flour
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup coconut oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
In a blender or food processor, combine the rice milk, rice milk powder, coconut flour, agave nectar, and vanilla. Mix the ingredients for 2 minutes. As the machine blends, slowly add the oil and lemon juice, alternating between the two until all parts are incorporated. Pour the mixture into an airtight container. Place the container in the refrigerator for 6 hours, or for up to 1 month, before using.
1 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/3 cup coconut oil
2/3 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup rice milk
2 tablespoons of good quality vanilla essence
1 1/4 cups mashed bananas
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Brush your loaf pan with oil and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, measure in flour, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt, cinnamon and whisk. Add oil, agave nectar, rice milk and vanilla and then mix again. Fold in bananas until nicely distributed.
3. Pour batter into loaf pan (only halfway!) and set in the oven. After 20 minutes, check on the loaf and continue baking until it passes the toothpick test. Remove from oven and cool for 30 minutes.
Want to see more (amazingly delish) recipes? Pick up the BabyCakes cookbook – available on Amazon.