Archive for the 'low sugar' Category


Citrus-Lychee Pavlova with Mango Sauce (Wet-Dry Baked)

[ Equipment: Steam oven or convection oven water tray for wet-dry steam baking, baking sheet with silicone baking mat. For more information about the terminology in this recipe, see Low Temperature Baking: A Journey of 3 Paths ].

This is my second Pavlova cake. In addition to a different combination of fruits and sauces, it comes with a slightly different recipe for the meringue. The first one (a ginger-blueberry-banana pavlova) was baked in a dry oven. The batter spread out during baking and did not have quite the classic marshmallow texture. The wet-dry steam technique addresses both problems. A wet-dry steam oven steams for a fraction of the baking time only; then it switches to dry heat. The wet phase transfers heat quickly to the food to raise its temperature and set the batter or dough. The dry heat phase crisps the food.

I had reservations about the texture of meringue in the last pavlova. In testing the wet-dry technique, I mixed up a pavlova batter with a higher cornstarch-to-egg-white ratio (identical to other standard recipes), cornstarch being the ingredient that transforms the meringue into a marshmallow-like consistency. The result was excellent on the very first try. The all-sugar batter only spread a little before setting. It had a lovely crackly top crust that began to sink within seconds of being taken out of the oven.

However, the cake shown in these pictures contains the sugar-sucralose blend. For the crispest crust, I recommend making the meringue with sugar only. The sucralose-sugar blend cake has a softer crust and fewer calories, but also more height and does not sink very much. Do not omit the lemon juice; it really perks up the flavor of the lychees, and canned lychees benefit most from the soaking. An assortment of juices could substitute for the mango nectar. A thinner juice may need more cornstarch to thicken.

Makes 6 servings
– 120 calories per serving
– Oven Temperature: Wet-Dry Steam-Baked effective 250°F/121°C

  • 3 large egg whites (room temperature)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or 1/4 cup sugar + 8 packets sucralose – see text)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 10oz can of mango nectar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 7 or 8 fresh or canned whole lychees, peeled and pitted
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 oz. of prepared whipped topping
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract

Mango Sauce Method:

1. In a small dish, mix the cornstarch and cold water.

2. In a small saucepot, heat the mango nectar until it simmers, stirring constantly. Whisk in the cornstarch slurry until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and let cool.

Meringue Cake Method:

1. Drain lychees. In a small bowl, mix lychees and lemon juice. Cover and let macerate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

2. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites, lemon juice and salt until frothy.

3. Sprinkle in the sugar in 2 portions and beat to the stiff peak stage. Beat in the orange extract. Sift the cornstarch over the batter and fold in.

4. Spoon batter onto a silicone baking mat sitting on a baking sheet. Shape into a 6 x 4 inch block.

5. Prepare oven for wet-dry steam baking. For a convection oven, fill the water tray with about 1/8 inch water (or the equivalent amount to steam bake for about 30 minutes). Set a trivet in the center to hold the baking sheet above the water line. Preheat the oven to 300F/148C to get an effective 250F/121C steaming temperature (check with a thermometer).

6. Place baking sheet on trivet and bake meringue for 30 minutes.

7. Siphon off any remaining water in the water tray (or allow to steam off if nearly evaporated). Turn dial down to 250°F/121°C for dry baking. Continue baking for another 40 to 60 minutes. Surface of crust should be dry and golden brown.

Note: If using the sugar-sucralose blend, the crust may not crisp.

7. Let cool and transfer to a serving plate.

8. In a medium bowl, combine the whipped topping and lemon extract.

9. Spread the lemon whipped topping over the top of the meringue cake. Drain and cut the lychee fruits in half. Place the lychees into the whipped topping.

10. Drizzle mango sauce over the lychees and whipped topping. Sprinkle top of pavlova with craisins.


Soaked and Sprouted, Three-Grain Essene Bread (Dehydrated)

[ Equipment: food dehydrator or low-temperature-capable convection oven, an 8-inch square cake pan. For more information about the terminology in this recipe, see Low Temperature Baking: A Journey of 3 Paths. ]

The Essenes were a religious community that lived in various locations in the Middle East. According to the Wikipedia, Essene bread is a low-temperature-baked bread made with sprouted wheat. I found several recipes for it on the web, baked at temperatures ranging from 115F to 300F. Like flour soaking, sprouting the grain helps release nutrients and neutralizes phytic acid. My version of Essene bread contains sprouted and soaked grains as well as an optional solid leavener – puffed wheat. Without the puffed wheat, the bread is 100% raw.

The 3 grains are wheat, oats and lentils. Typically, Essene bread is made with sprouted wheat. I had whole wheat flour in the food bin. This is my first raw recipe made with raw wheat flour, soaked for several hours in an acid medium. Soaking frees up nutrients, takes away the raw taste and softens the grainy flavor of whole wheat. Lemon juice can substitute for the vinegar. If the flour soaks at room temperature (typically how it’s done), it darkens a little. The color stabilizes if the batter chills in the refrigerator.

Lentils are beans but I’ve seen them in Essene bread recipes. The trick with sprouted lentils: don’t let them sprout too long or they turn too bitter for a raw bread – at least for my palate. They’re best (munchable and sweet) when the root tails measure between 1/8 and 1/4 inch. Oat flour: buy raw or make by grinding oats in a food processor. I like a coarsely ground oat flour for dehydration baking.

The picture above is a close-up of the holes in the bread from skewer pressings and the expansion of the puffed wheat. As the bread dehydrates, small spaces develop around the grains of puffed wheat to aerate the dough. The puffed wheat expands when moistened and then shrinks when dried, leaving gaps. Re-dried puffed wheat tastes crunchier and adds a toasted flavor to the bread.

Makes 6 servings
– 120 calories per serving
– Oven Temperature: 125°F/51.7°C

  • 3/4 cup coarsely ground oat flour
  • 1/2 cup lentil sprouts (1/4 cup dried lentils) or other sprouts
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 teaspoons vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon powdered garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper or chili powder
  • 3/4 cup puffed wheat

1. In a medium bowl, soak 1/4 cup lentils for 8 hours. Drain, rinse, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 16 hours. Lentils should have sprouted with roots about 1/8 to 1/4 inch long. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl, mix the whole wheat flour, water and vinegar. Let sit for at least 8 to 24 hours in the refrigerator. Taste the soaking liquid. Soak is ready when the liquid no longer tastes tart or acid.

3. In a small food processor, pulse chop the puffed wheat until grains are about 1/3 size. Alternatively, put the puffed wheat in a small plastic bag and crush them to about 1/3 size. Set aside.

4. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, salt, garlic and chili powder until well combined.

5. In the small bowl of a food processor, puree soaked flour (with soaking liquid) and 3/4 cup of lentil sprouts for 1 to 2 minutes until smooth.

6. Add the sprout-soaked flour mixture to the oat flour and mix until moistened.

7. Add the crushed puffed wheat and mix until evenly distributed.

8. Grease an 8-inch square pan. Drop dough into pan in chunks. With the back of a spoon, press dough into bottom of the pan.

9. With a 1/8-inch skewer, perforate the dough to the bottom, the holes spaced about 1/2 inch apart. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes. Dehydrate at 150°F/65.6°C for about 30 minutes. Reduce to 125°F/51.7°C and dehydrate for another 30 minutes.

10. Cut bread into 6 slices. Lift each slice with a spatula. Turn over and transfer to a baking sheet covered with a silicone mat. Perforate each slice with a skewer and continue dehydrating for another 30 minutes at 125F/51.7C.

11. The bread is sturdy enough to hold the sandwich by hand, but it’s even neater when wrapped in wax paper.


Apricot Chamomile Scones (Dehydrated, Low Sugar/Fat)

[ Equipment: food dehyrator or low-temperature-capable convection oven, an 8-inch round cake pan. For more information about the terminology in this recipe, see Low Temperature Baking: A Journey of 3 Paths. ]

After my dehydrated lavender brownies, I wanted to try a dehydrated pastry with a denser, more crumbly texture. Once again, I thought about using the dough from one of the dehydrated cookie recipes, but even a spoonful of that dough without the solid leavener contains enough calories to wreck a healthy eating habit. A regular blueberry scone from Starbucks coffee house weighs in at 120 grams and 460 calories. An equivalent weight apricot chamomile scone from this recipe contains 384 calories. Neither scone would qualify exactly as diet food, but the apricot scones have a lovely soft texture, with lots of raw grain (if made with raw oat flour) and fruits, with a surprising sweetness that really satisfies.

Apricots and chamomile complement each other’s flavors, both mild and sweet. The recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of chamomile flowers. These are the whole flowers for a strong cup of tea. I made the coconut flour by coarsely grinding dried, unsweetened coconut flakes in a food processor. The coarse grind gives a crumbly texture to the dough, reminiscent of a baked scone. The sugar is a blend of regular brown sugar and sucralose. An equivalent amount of regular white sugar or powdered sucralose (packets) should work just as well as the specified granulated version. The rice squares function as a solid leavener and help aerate the dough and build volume. They’re totally optional, because the scones are delicious without them.

Makes 8 scones (approx. 80 gr. each)
– 240 calories per scone
– Oven Temperature: 125°F/51.7°C

  • 8 dried apricots
  • 2 heaping teaspoons chamomile flowers or 2 chamomille teabags
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 cups oat flour (coarsely ground – see text)
  • 1 cup coconut flour (coarsely ground – see text)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sucralose or sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup rice squares cereal (optional)
  • 1/2 cup raisins

1. In a small bowl, infuse chamomile in the boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes. Add apricots and soak for about an hour.

2. Remove apricots. Drain liquid, discarding chamomile flowers. Set aside apricots and liquid.

3. In a large bowl, mix the oat flour and coconut flour until well combined.

4. In a small food processor bowl or hand blender cup, puree the apricots, egg white and chamomile tea.

5. Add sucralose and brown sugar and blend.

6. Add vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt and blend until smooth.

7. Pour liquid mixture into flour mixture and mix until thoroughly moistened.

8. Add raisins and mix.

9. Add rice squares cereal and gently mix until well combined. Try not to crush the cereal.

10. Pat the dough into an 8-inch cake pan. Perforate the dough by pressing a 1/8-inch skewer all the way down into the dough at 1/2-inch intervals.

11. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for about 30 minutes.

12.  Bake at 150°F/65.5°C for 30 minutes. Then reduce temperature to 125°F/51.7°C and continue baking for 3 hours.

13. Invert scones onto a cookie sheet with a baking mat. Perforate the dough again at 1/2-inch intervals.

14. Bake at 125°F/51.7°C for another 3 hours.

15. Slice scones into 8 wedges and serve.


Mint Lavender Brownies (Dehydrated, Low Sugar/Fat)

[ Equipment: food dehyrator or low-temperature-capable convection oven, an 8-inch square cake pan. For more information about the terminology in this recipe, see Low Temperature Baking: A Journey of 3 Paths ].

These semi-raw, moist, chewy brownies scented of mint and lavender have been packed with grains, fresh and dried fruits and nuts, but weigh in at less than 1/2 the calories and 1/5 the fat of commercial raw brownies made from date and nut pastes. The solid leavener (puffed rice squares cereal) transforms the oat flour dough into a pseudo-cake with a soft, coarse crumb. It’s also the only non-raw ingredient and could be omitted to make 100% raw brownies.

It was my first dehydrated cake. In raw cuisine, a cake is constructed from layers of date and nut pastes, often chilled or frozen for firm slicing. I wanted a cake with a lighter texture, however. Plus, a cake on VaporBaker should be baked; chilled cakes didn’t truly qualify. The raw cookie doughs from my earlier dehydration recipes would be too firm or crumbly to fashion into cakes. They had binders of a nut or legume butter sweetened with honey or a syrup, binders that broke apart too easily for a chewy-type brownie.

For this recipe, I coarsely ground oatmeal in a food processor to make oat flour in a ratio of 1-1/4 cup oatmeal per 1 cup of oat flour. A maple syrup, raisin and banana puree formed a very flexible binder, because the hydrophilic fruits dehydrated slowly into a sticky adhesive. A large banana alone pureed with the syrup could probably have held the cake together as well, but the raisins helped darken the binder to blend well with the cocoa.

The brownies can be made without a leavener, but puffed rice squares substantiated the texture by adding volume without impacting the taste. Regular puffed rice cereal (individually puffed grains of rice) might not work as well as the squares, which trap more air in the dough. Do not substitute a puffed grain containing gluten (such as puffed wheat or puffed kamut). The gluten stretches too much when moist for a rubbery mouth feel.

I’ve been experimenting with low-fat, low sugar ingredients, but only recently extended that paradigm to dehydrated pastries. Alternative no-calorie sweeteners like sucralose didn’t behave like sugar other than as a sweetener. For example, the sugar-free maple syrup from Maple Grove Farms (the only brand in my local market) lacked the body and tack of regular syrup, so I left it to the banana-raisin puree to supply both flavor and adhesion for the dough. For those who avoid sucralose and all the other alternative sweeteners, I have also given sugar-based options.

The perforations in the dough helped speed the evaporation of moisture. The brownies are heated at a relatively high temperature of 150°F/65.5°C for the first hour to warm up the dough quickly and reduce the overall dehydration time (less than 3 hours total). Those with more time could dehydrate at 125°F/51.7°C throughout.

Although these brownies must refrigerated because they contain fresh fruit and will spoil at room temperature, they will harden when chilled. A few minutes in the dehydrator brings them back to life.

Makes 12 servings
– 100 calories/3g fat per serving
– Oven Temperature: 125-150°F/51.7-65.5°C

  • 2 cups coarsely-ground oat flour (see text)
  • 1/2 tablespoon lavender flowers
  • 1 teaspoon crushed mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup natural cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup sucralose-sweetened maple syrup or dark agave syrup (see text)
  • 4 packets powdered sucralose or 1/8 cup sugar
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely ground coffee bean or instant coffee
  • 1 cup puffed rice squares cereal (Rice Chex)
  • 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds (optional)

232 cal/15 g fat

1. Cover raisins, lavender flowers and mint leaves in hot water and soak about 1 hour or until plump. Drain, reserving raisins, lavender flowers and mint. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, mix oat flour (w/lavender), salt, cocoa powder until well combined.

3. In a blending cup, puree maple syrup, raisin mixture, vanilla extract, salt, coffee powder and sucralose with an immersion blender until smooth (or do this in a blender).

4. Add banana, cut into small chunks, and blend until smooth. Total volume should be around 1-1/2 cups.

5. Pour wet ingredients into flour mixture and stir until moistened.

6. Stir in sunflower seeds.

7. Add puffed rice squares cereal and stir gently until evenly distributed. Try to avoid crushing the cereal.

8. Grease 8-inch square pan. Press dough into the pan. With 1/8 inch skewer, perforate the dough through to the bottom of the pan at 1/2-inch intervals.

9. Dehydrate at 150°F/65.5°C for 1 hour. Reduce heat to 125°F/51.7°C and dehydrate for another 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Brownies should be firm, moist but not soggy. Score into 12 squares.

Store brownies in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Warm them before serving.


Ginger Meringue Cake (Pavlova) w/Bananas, Ginger-Blueberry Sauce (Baked, Low Sugar-Fat)

[ Equipment: convection oven (preferred) or other LTB oven, baking sheet. For more information about the terminology in this recipe, see Low Temperature Baking: A Journey of 3 Paths ].

July 22, 2012: I now recommend that this cake be made with a wet-dry steam baking method to set the cake faster and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in the batter for improved texture. Fill the water tray for 30 minutes of steam. See here for details. For a crispy crust, use 100% sugar. For a taller cake (and lower calories), use the sugar-sucralose blend.

Between the 2 kinds of meringue cakes, Pavlova and angel food, the Pavlova had the advantage of being easier to prepare, or so I thought. Over the months, I baked many, varying the amounts of cornstarch, lemon juice, flavorings, all-sugar vs. sucralose-sugar blends, preparation procedures. The crust on a typical Pavlova sinks and cracks as it cools. The version presented here has a thinner crust that cracks only a little and doesn’t sink much at all.

The picture above shows a maple Pavlova meringue with substantial cracking and sinking. The main differences between it and this recipe are the amount of cornstarch – only half as much in the Ginger cake and the reduced baking time – 30 minutes less for the ginger cake. Less cornstarch didn’t appreciably alter the taste of the meringue (it still had the starchy characteristic of a Pavlova), but it did help the meringue hold its shape longer in the cooler oven. More cornstarch seemed to create a slicker batter.

Another reason for the spreading appeared to be the fact that I mixed in granulated white sugar instead of the caster sugar specified in almost all recipes. Granulated sugar didn’t dissolve quickly, and the left-over grains may have caused the structure of whipped egg whites to collapse under heat. My solution was to add the sugar while the whites were still liquid, before they began drying out from the suspension of air bubbles from the whipping. The maple meringue also contained 100% sugar, which may have contributed to the fragile crispness that dammed batter as it formed.

Having said all that, the batter spread made larger disks of meringue, which could then serve more people. One time, it came out in a 10=inch round that was about 3/8-inch thick (see picture above). It easily could serve 8 by piling more fruit and whipped cream over it. The batter in this recipe resists spreading. The ginger cake started out as a 5-1/2 round and came out measuring 7 inches in diameter. For a larger cake, make a larger round with the meringue before baking.

The Pavlova is fat-free, gluten-free and low sugar. In place of the fat-free Cool Whip topping, I would beat evaporated skimmed milk until thick and then sweeten it with sucralose to taste. Those who don’t like no=calorie sweeteners could increase the amount of granulated white sugar to 1/2 cup.

Makes 4 servings (up to 8 servings – see text)
– 130 calories per serving (4 servings)
– Oven Temperature: 250°F/121°C

Meringue Cake:

  • 3 large egg whites (room temperature)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sugar + 8 packets sucralose or 1/2 cup sugar (see text)
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons powdered ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder

Ginger Blueberry Sauce and Cake Topping:

  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 packet sucralose (see text)
  • 1/8 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • 1 cup no-fat sweetened whipped cream or no-fat Cool Whip topping

Ginger Blueberry Sauce Method:

1. In a heatproof dish, lightly mash 1/2 cup of fresh blueberries.

2. Add powdered ginger, sucralose and mix.

3. In a small dish, mix the cornstarch and water. Add to the blueberries and stir.

4. Microwave on HIGH for about 1-1/2 minutes until thickened.

5. Cool for a few minutes. Mix in 1/2 cup of fresh blueberries. Set aside.

Pavlova Method:

1. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites, lemon juice and salt until foamy.

2. Beat in sugar or sugar-sucralose blend in 3 or 4 portions and beat to the soft peak stage. Then add vanilla extract and beat to the stiff peak stage. Egg whites should still be glossy but not wet.

Note: granulated white sugar will not dissolve completely in stiffly beaten egg whites. Add the sugar at the foamy stage only or substitute a finely ground sugar.

3. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch, ginger, chili powder until well combined. Fold mixture into the egg whites.

4. Set a silicone baking mat on a baking sheet or cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Gently spoon the egg white batter onto the baking sheet and shape into 5-1/2 inch round. The top should be slightly concave.

The pavlova will spread a little as it bakes. In my oven, a 5-1/2 inch disk of meringue evens out to about 7-inches.

5. Bake at 250°F/121°C for 30 minutes. If the base of the meringue cake is a golden brown and will burn, reduce heat to 200°F/93°C and continue baking for another 30 – 45 minutes, until the surface of the cake is dry and the sides are lightly golden. Turn off the oven and allow the cake to cool completely in the oven.

If the cooled cake feels soggy on the surface, dry it out in a 200°F/93°C for 10 to 15 minutes.

6. Transfer the pavlova to a serving plate.

7. Cover the top of the cake with a layer of sliced bananas.

8. Spread on a layer of no-fat whipped cream or whipped topping.

9. Pour the ginger-blueberry sauce and blueberries over the whipped cream. Slice and serve.