Okay, so I realise I am essentially begging the universe to smite me down now, but when I saw last week’s episode, I thought ‘Well, that’s doable!’. I mean, not the dairy free Arctic roll, because I don’t have an ice cream maker. And I wasn’t hugely keen on making the gluten free pitta breads, because they didn’t look massively thrilling and any gluten free pitta I made would be immeasurably worse than one I could buy. But sugar free cakes? No problem. Anyway, I did the technical challenge last week, so I figure that gets me off the hook for a little while.

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They were actually playing it pretty fast and loose with their definition of ‘sugar free’, I reckon. I mean, just because a cake doesn’t have actual granules of caster sugar or muscovado sugar or whatever in it, it doesn’t necessarily make it sugar free. Agave is still a processed, refined sweetener. Fruit has sugar in it (annoyingly). By the show’s definition, I actually make sugar free cake fairly regularly. The very first recipe I posted on this blog is sugar free. I bake sugar free banana bread for James every couple of weeks. I mean, you basically just substitute sugar for an equal weight of maple syrup or honey and go along with a regular cake recipe.

Wasn’t it great to see Nadiya win star baker? She really deserved it, and it obviously meant a huge amount to her. Plus, you know, it was boring seeing Ian win it every week.

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I’ve wanted to make a cake with roasted rhubarb for a while, and I know we’re just about out of the season now but I couldn’t quite resist it. Strawberry and rhubarb is a classic pairing – very American, I believe – as sharp rhubarb is rounded out well by something very sweet. The vanilla goes well with both and provides a complementary background note, while the hazelnuts are a strong and textured base.

I have to say, I am loving this bake along. Not only is it great getting to see what everyone has made each week, but it’s also wonderful being challenged to make new things. I find I am watching the programme in a different – more involved – way, because I am planning what on earth I am going to scrape together every time. Thanks so much to Amanda and Ala for setting it all up.

Source: This recipe is adapted from Amber Rose’s Love Bake Nourish, which is an excellent place to go if you are looking for more sugar free cake ideas.

Notes: I don’t know whether to blame my oven or my inattentiveness, but these cakes browned incredibly fast: I admit, I wasn’t watching them like a hawk. I don’t know if the honey or even maybe the nuts make the cakes prone to catching, but I had to cover them with foil for the last ten minutes of the bake. They came out fine; just a little darker than I would have liked.

Ingredients:

115g blanched hazelnuts
225g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
260g butter, soft
4 eggs
130g honey
130g maple syrup
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste

to decorate

350ml double cream
3-4 tbsp honey
100g strawberries, hulled and halved
100g rhubarb

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C/ 160C fan/ gas mark 4, and grease and line two 20cm cake tins. If your hazelnuts aren’t toasted already, do that now. Whack them in the oven on a baking tray for about 5 minutes, until they are just starting to change colour and are smelling delicious and nutty. Then, using a food processor, grind them into a fine meal. Watch you don’t blend them for too long and make hazelnut butter.
  2. This is an all-in-one cake, so sift your flour and baking powder into a large bowl and then beat in your hazelnuts, butter, eggs, honey, vanilla, and maple syrup until everything is evenly incorporated. Divide the mixture between your tins and bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on your oven.
  3. When your cakes are well risen, golden, and pass the skewer test, take them out and leave them to cool. Leave the oven on. Cut your rhubarb into even pieces an inch or two long, and place them in a baking tray. Toss them around with 1-2 tbsp of honey, and then cover the baking tray with foil and pop it in the oven. Roast your rhubarb for 10-15 minutes, or until soft but still able to maintain its shape.
  4. When the cakes and rhubarb are completely cool, assemble your confection. Whip the cream into peaks, and the whip in the remaining honey. Add more if you prefer a sweeter cream. Spread half of the cream onto your base cake, and top it with half of the strawberries and rhubarb. Pop your other cake on top and finish with the rest of the cream and fruit.