At around day two of going completely added sugar free, I realised it was going to be hard. I am extremely determined to do this properly, which means no sneaky secret treats here and there, but I really miss biscuits. More specifically, I miss delicious chocolatey bourbon biscuits. I had this wild idea that it would be easy to replace my sugary snacks with a handful of dried fruit, nuts and seeds, but that was never going to happen. In no way, shape or form does a handful of sunflower seeds fulfil any kind of craving and anyone who says otherwise is a liar! Sorry, that’s the sugar withdrawal talking.
I love baking, so I did a bit of research into sugar free cakes and biscuits, which there are a lot of recipes for, but most contain sugar alternatives like agave syrup. I’ve decided that since I’ve said no to honey and artificial sweeteners, that other sugar alternatives are out as well. I realise I’m making this harder for myself but if I’m giving up sugar, I don’t want to do it half heartedly. After a bit of digging, I found a recipe for a sugar free banana cake that was sweetened purely with the fruit and I took no persuading, it was all systems go!
I’ve tweaked the recipe a bit because my favourite kind of cake is a traditional lemon drizzle. I also added chia seeds to the recipe, kind of like you would include poppy seeds in a lemon muffin. Not only do they add a really nice crunch to the cake and a slightly nutty flavour, chia seeds contain omega 3, protein and fibre and are classed as a superfood so they must be good.
The finished cake has a delicious sweet and buttery flavour which is actually an amazing substitute for a sugary chocolate biscuit! I feel really naughty and like I’m cheating by having a slice because it does just taste like normal cake which I wasn’t expecting at all. It isn’t as golden or well coloured as a normal cake because it is the sugar caramelising that colours, but I’m more than ok with that. It’s quite dense and heavy in texture because of the large fruit content and the chia seeds but not unpleasantly so. Paul Hollywood might have something to complain about but Mary Berry would approve I think!
It’s the perfect afternoon treat with a cup of tea and I think I might get through a lot of loaves before Lent is over.
Sugar-Free Lemon and chia Seed Cake
130g self-raising flour (you could use spelt or wholemeal flour)
½ tsp baking powder
20g chia seeds
70g butter, melted
1 tbsp milk
3 lemons (zest)
3 ripe bananas (mashed)
1-Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan/ gas mark 4 and line a regular loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
2-Sieve the flower and baking powder into a bowl and add the chia seeds.
3-In a separate bowl combine the mashed banana, melted butter, egg, milk and lemon zest and whisk using a balloon whisk.
4-Add the wet mixture into the dry and fold using a wooden spoon until the ingredients are well combined.
5-Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 30-40 minutes. The cake doesn’t colour as well as a regular sponge so check it using a skewer after half an hour. If it comes out clean and hot then it’s cooked but if there’s still mixture on it then back for a further ten minutes.
6-Allow the cake to cool in the tin for ten minutes before transferring it onto a wire rack to fully cool. It should keep for roughly 3-4 days in a sealed airtight container.