Fatless Victoria Sponge #Recipe

Continuing my baking theme of trying to find healthier baking alternatives, here’s a fatless Victoria sponge recipe that I’ve tried and tested recently and served up for my book club.  It was touch and go whether or not the middle of the cake would be edible and I did make a quick trip to the shop for emergency cake just in case!

What you need:

150g self-raising flour
150g caster sugar
6 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract*
No added sugar strawberry jam
Strawberries*
1 tsp icing sugar to decorate
Frylight (or alternative low calorie cooking spray) for greasing

*optional extras

What you do:

  • Preheat your oven to 170°c.  Using Frylight grease and line 2 x 7″ baking tins with greaseproof paper.
  • Using the whisk attachment on a free-standing mixer whisk together the eggs and sugar until the mixture has tripled in size.  This does take a good 7-10 minutes – keep going, it does happen!
  • Carefully fold in the flour with a metal spoon – try to knock out as little air as possible to ensure a good rise.  However, be aware that although you think you’re mixing the flour in, it will also sink to the bottom so be sure to mix to the bottom of the bowl!  This happened to me and I had to mix in the flour in the baking tin – oops!
  • Divide the mixture between the 2 prepared tins.
  • Bake for approximately 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown.
  • Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack.
  • Spread one sponge with the jam, add the strawberries if required.
  • Put the other sponge on top and sprinkle with icing sugar to decorate.

Results

Fortunately there was only one pocket of flour discovered in the cake so that was better than I expected and I didn’t need the emergency cake supplies after all.  As the cake is so light it will take on the shape of whatever you put in so mine wasn’t a perfect circular shape due to the greaseproof paper folding in slightly.

If you’re following the Weight Watchers plan, as am I, then I managed to get 9 pieces from this cake and pointed it at 8 points per slice.  A shop bought slice of Victoria Sponge ranges between 6 and 30 SmartPoints depending on shop and portion size so I’m quite happy with this at 8 points as it was a good sized piece and no sacrifice made in terms of taste.

I’m struggling to find a fat and sugar free sponge recipe so if anyone has one please do let me know.

Until next time…Happy Baking!

The Bluebell Informant – Guest #Recipe Post by Nick Tingley

Today I’m mixing 2 of my favourite things; books and baking and I’m delighted to welcome Nick Tingley to Bookboodle to share with us his recipe for Maple and Almond Cookies  which features in his novel The Bluebell Informant.  Without further ado, onto Nick to give us a little insight into his character Evelyn’s hobby!  Do read on for cookie recipes, info on the book and where to download for free!

NICK SAYS..

The tiniest details are what makes a truly engaging character. This is particularly true of the main character of my debut crime novel, The Bluebell Informant – Detective Sergeant Evelyn Giles.

It took me a while to realise that Giles was a baker, but when I did it, everything else made total sense. This is a detective who is brilliant and intelligent, moral and incorruptible, and willing to go the extra mile to solve whatever case is put in front of her. So it made sense to me that she would have a hobby that she pursued with the same unshakeable determination – that hobby is baking.

Although we only see Giles baking for a few moments in the opening chapter of The Bluebell Informant (after all, she can’t take a break from fleeing across the countryside with an important witness to stop and whip up a couple of flapjacks, can she?), it is one of the few moments that I feel we see Giles at her happiest.

And it was during my research for Giles that I accidentally created a recipe for some great, chewy, maple and almond cookies (that’s right, I used book research as an excuse to make cookies)! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did “researching” them…

What you will need:

These amounts will make somewhere around three-dozen cookies, depending on how much almond you’d like in the mixture, although they are perfectly good without.

190g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 medium egg
100g margarine
220g dark soft sugar
125ml maple syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
35g chopped or flaked almonds
50g desiccated coconut

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/ Gas Mark 5 and prepare your baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  2. Grab a mixing bowl and cream the margarine and sugar together until it looks airy.
  3. Then beat in the egg, syrup and vanilla extract until it’s all mixed nicely together.
  4. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt together and then add it little-by-little to the creamed mixture, giving it a good stir after each addition.
  5. Once all the flour has been added, add the desiccated coconut and almonds. At this point, you can alter the recipe to suit your taste. If you want your cookies to be less chewy, replace the coconut with another 40g of almonds instead – likewise if you don’t want almonds, replace that with an additional 25g of desiccated coconut.
  6. Spoon the mixture on to the baking tray with a tablespoon so that each cookie is roughly 5cm apart.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes and leave on a wire rack to cool.

And that’s it. The whole batch should take about half an hour to make. Have a try yourself and let me know what you think.

Maybe you could bake a batch and enjoy them whilst reading The Bluebell Informant – it’s free to download, so you really have nothing to lose.

You can connect with Nick via his website, Twitter or Facebook

Download The Bluebell Informant for FREE at » Amazon «

About the book

How do you catch a killer who is already dead?

One year ago, the Bluebell Killer killed his last victim. He was shot and killed, leaving behind a legacy of twenty corpses and a name that people will fear for years to come…

A year later, a man is shot in the back of the head and left in a field of bluebells.
Is it a mugging gone wrong? A copycat killer? Or is the Bluebell Killer still out there, waiting to pounce on his next victim?

For DS Evelyn Giles the solution is simple – it’s just another dirty politician caught committing an unforgiveable crime. But with the evidence stacking up against him, Giles’ suspect has one more surprise in store for her…
And his words will throw everything she knows into question…

‘It’s not over yet.’

The past is coming back to haunt DS Giles. She’s already sacrificed much for the lie. The only question is how much more will she suffer for the truth?

Thanks again to Nick for sharing his baking expertise and insight into his character Evelyn Giles.  I’ve downloaded my copy of The Bluebell Informant and look forward to trying the biscuit recipe also!

#Recipe – Baguettes

Apparently “to make a good French stick, with its distinctive open texture, you need a very lively dough that’s just slightly soft, rather than firm.  A bit of steam at the start of baking will help give the baguettes the traditional glossy, razor-sharp crust.” Oh and from start to finish, including proving time, you need about 7 hours! So in my humble opinion pop down to your local bakery, it’s a lot less hassle!

What you need:

300g strong white bread flour
200g plain white flour
1 x 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
1 tsp salt
approx. 300ml lukewarm water
1/2 tsp salt, dissolved in 4 tbsp. cold water, for brushing

What you do:

  • Mix together both flours in a large bowl, then tip about half into another smaller bowl and set one aside.
  • Stir 1/2 teaspoon salt of the yeast into the flour in the large bowl, then work in the lukewarm water, using your hand, to make a smooth thick batter.
  • Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave on the side for 3-4 hours until the surface of the batter is covered with tiny bubbles.
  • Uncover the bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon of lukewarm water into the batter.
  • Mix the rest of the yeast and salt into the flour in the second bowl.  Gradually work this mixture into the batter using your hand to make a slightly soft but not sticky dough.
  • Lightly dust hands and worktop and knead the dough for approx. 10 minutes until it feels smooth and stretchy.  Put the dough back in the bowl, cover again with clingfilm and leave to rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.
  • Dust hands and worktop again and turn out dough – don’t punch down to deflate it.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut in half – in my experience, this was nigh on impossible as the dough just stuck to the knife.
  • Shape each piece into a rough ball, try not to handle too much, then cover loosely with a clean dry tea towel or clingfilm and leave for 15 minutes.
  • Move one piece of dough to the side.  Dust your rolling pin with flour and roll out the dough to a rectangle about 25 x 30cm. 
  • Roll up the rectangle fairly tightly from the long side, like a Swiss roll.  Tuck in the ends and pinch the seam together firmly.  The roll back and forth with your hands to make a sausage-shaped loaf approx. 40cm long with tapering ends.
  • Flour a large tray with flour, and lay the loaves on the tray.  Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise for approx. 45 minutes.
  • While the loaves are rising heat your oven to 230°c.  Put your baking sheet into the oven to heat up, and place an empty roasting tin on the bottom of the oven.
  • When the loaves are ready for baking, quickly remove the baking sheet from the oven and slide the loaves onto it.  Brush them with the salty water then make several slashes along the loaves with a sharp knife – again not easy.  Put the baking sheet back into the oven.
  • Pour a jug of cold water into the roasting tin to create plenty of steam, quickly shut the oven door and bake for approx. 20 minutes until golden brown and crisp.  Cool on a wire rack.

Results

This recipe is best eaten on the same day and I think without the salt water wash.

Since starting Weight Watchers one of the biggest things I miss eating is proper bread.  I’ve taken to buying the Weight Watchers branded bread which is perfectly ok but at the end of the day it is calorie and portion controlled – it’s not freshly baked thick bread! Slicing this baguette into 10 slices gives a Weight Watchers Smart Point value of 3SP per slice!  Bearing in mind I have an allowance of 30 per day – this type of bread is a diet killer!

Until next time…Happy Baking!

Rhubarb and Banana Bread

I was given some fresh rhubarb so went searching online for a healthier recipe to use it in and found this rhubarb and banana bread at Kim’s Cravings (see original recipe here).  I have converted the cup measurements where necessary for ease.

What you need:

340g wholemeal plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 large mashed bananas (I used a hand held blender)
1 large stalk rhubarb
5 tablespoons honey

What you do:

  • Preheat your oven to 180c.  Using low fat cooking spray (e.g Fry Light) grease and line your loaf tin. Mine is approx 8×4″.
  • Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, cinnamon and mixed spice in one bowl and put aside.
  • Beat the eggs for approx 30 seconds using hand held or freestanding mixer.  Add the vanilla, honey and mashed banana and mix.
  • Slowly add the flour mixture and mix on low speed.
  • Gently fold in the rhubarb.
  • Pour mixture into prepared loaf tin.  I then added some of the rhubarb to the top of the loaf.
  • Bake for 50-55 minutes.
  • Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then finish cooling on a wire rack.
  • Serve warm with a smidge of butter…yum! 🙂

Results

Despite having a power outage of an hour during the baking of the bread it turned out ok.  It was a little overbaked in my opinion but I think that’s because I lost track of the time baked.  I served it at my book club meeting and everyone was really surprised that it didn’t contain any sugar or fat as it still tasted sweet, moist and really tasty.

Having calculated the ingredients, based on 10 slices per loaf, each slice has a Weight Watchers point value of 5 which is was good for me as I could fit it into my daily plan allowance without too much juggling.  Next time though, I’d use more rhubarb and it was hard to detect.

Until next time…Happy Baking!

Hot Cross Buns (Weight Watchers #Recipe)


This is the first time I’ve baked in about 2 months and the first recipe I’ve tried in my healthier lower fat sugar challenge/experiment.  I had to use some substitutions as I didn’t quite have all the correct ingredients in the cupboard but this didn’t impact negatively in any way.

What you need:

For the buns
375g strong white flour (bread flour)
25g caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
7g dried baking yeast (1 sachet)
1 medium egg, whisked lightly
220 ml tepid skimmed milk
2 level tsp ground mixed spice
60g low fat spread melted
6 sprays calorie controlled cooking spray
For the crosses
100g currants (I used sultanas)
35g plain white flour
1g baking powder
1 tsp honey warm, to glaze (I used golden syrup)

What you do:

  • In a large bowl, sift the flour with the sugar, yeast, salt and mixed spice. Make a well in the centre then pour in the milk, egg and spread. With a wooden spoon, mix to form a dough.
    Use your hands to bring the dough together, then knead the dough for at least 10 mins until smooth and elastic. I used the dough hook on my freestanding mixer.
  • Put the dough in a clean bowl misted with the cooking spray. Place a clean tea cloth over the dough and leave in a warm place to rise for at least 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  • Preheat your oven to 180°c.
  • Knock back the dough by kneading for another 2 minutes, adding the currants/sultanas. Shape the dough into 12 small round buns, making a cross shape on each one using a knife. This, I found, virtually impossible, as the dough just gets dragged on the knife so I didn’t bother after a couple.
  • Mist a baking tray with cooking spray and place the buns on it in a rectangle close together. Cover with a tea cloth and leave for another 30 mins to prove.
  • Make the crosses by mixing the flour with the baking powder and 3 tbsp water to form a thick paste. Spoon the paste into a piping bag and carefully pipe a cross onto each bun.
  • Place in the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Carefully tap the bottom of the buns – if they are light and sound hollow then they are done.
  • Once cooked, leave to cool slightly on a wire rack and then brush with the honey/syrup to glaze.

Results

I was really pleased with my first ever batch of hot cross buns and especially with the doubling in size of the dough (rarely happens for me).

As this was a Weight Watchers recipe, for those of you who are unfamiliar with how the WW plan works, each food and drink is given a points value and you have a daily and weekly points allowance calculated upon weight and gender etc to spend.  My daily allowance is 30 with a weekly allowance of 42 for extras and treats.

These hot cross buns have a value of 6 points. For comparison, Aldi Hot Cross Buns have a point value of 7, Sainsbury’s 8, Marks & Spencer luxury 9.  However, the Co-Op’s are 6, same as the WW recipe – interesting!

All in all, the homemade buns are very nice and I didn’t feel as I’d been short changed in any way by using some lower calorie alternatives.  However, given the length of time they take to make, I’d probably nip down the Co-Op if I wanted some more! 😉

Until next time…Happy Baking!