In our household it’s all about the golden jars of drippy honey, blocks of creamy butter, big bags of wholemeal spelt flour lining the floor, and tiny bottles of homemade vanilla extract. This is the simple basis for most of our family baking.
It hasn’t always been like this though. While in the last 15 years my baking has generally been on the healthier side of things, I wasn’t a stranger to sugar in the cupfuls, rainbows of food dyes and fluffy white flour.
Over the years, and with a variety of questionable ovens, my baking has evolved. Babies were born, tastebuds matured and knowledge was built on. Slowly I worked out what food was best to fuel both myself and those I loved. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t the recipes that had two cups of sugar listed in the ingredients.
It has rarely been dramatic changes, except for the first time I completely went off sugar (that was a game changer, all right). Mostly it’s just been a natural progression of things that quietly got left behind, while other ingredients have stepped up.
No more multi-coloured iced cupcakes that I used to bake for other people’s children. Instead it’s now mini buckwheat pancakes, with dripping honey and vanilla mascarpone. For special occasions, this is a family favourite. I can guarantee that my children won’t turn down a rainbow cupcake offered to them, but given the choice between that and something more in line with wholefood baking and the way our family generally eats? I’m pretty confident that they’ll choose the healthier alternative.
Changing baking habits from those heavily reliant on processed sugar and gluten doesn’t have to be done all at once. With slow incremental changes, baking habits can be easily adapted, with gradual decreases of quantities and swapping of ingredients. Alternatively, just jump on in, experiment and change things up straight away!
HONEY SPELT BISCUITS
150 g softened butter
200 g honey
2 tsp. vanilla
375 g wholemeal spelt
- Cream softened butter and honey together, adding vanilla.
- Mix in the wholemeal spelt flour until you have a soft dough forming.
- Roll dough into small round balls, placing onto a lined tray and gently pressing down with the back of a fork.
- Bake biscuits at 180ÅãC for approximately 12–15 minutes or until light golden in colour.
BANANA OAT BARS
(Gluten* and refined sugar-free)
2 mashed bananas
100 g melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 tbsp. honey
2 cups whole oats
- Mix ingredients up in order listed.
- Press mixture into greased pan (I use a 23cm x 23cm pan) and bake at 180ÅãC for approximately 45 minutes.
- *If using gluten free oats, otherwise recipe will be low in gluten.
BUCKWHEAT PANCAKES WITH VANILLA MASCARPONE AND HONEYCOMB
(Gluten and refined sugar-free)
25 g melted butter
1 beaten egg
1 cup buckwheat flour
¼ tsp. bicarb soda
1 cup milk
- Whisk all ingredients together.
- Cook pancakes in small batches in a frying pan over medium heat.
- Stack them to the ceiling!
- To whip up the vanilla mascarpone, simply whisk in the scrapings of a vanilla pod (or 2 tsp. extract) with 250 g of mascarpone. Serve with a good spoonful of runny honeycomb.
TOP TIPS TO GET STARTED WITH:
- Switch white flours to wholemeal spelt or wholemeal. Initially you might like to go half/half until your tastebuds adjust.
- Always use natural fats such as butter and nuts, over those which are tinkered with substitutes (margarine, I’m looking at you).
- Decrease sugar amounts and substitute where you can for honey, dried fruit or at a pinch, rapadura (an unrefined sugar).
- Vanilla gets used a lot in this household. Buy the pods, split them down the middle and pop them into a small glass bottle. Top them up with vodka and store in a dark shelf for at least a month. I generally keep adding and topping them up as needed.
Brydie Piaf is a baker, maker and connected living enthusiast. More words, pictures and recipes can be found at www.cityhippyfarmgirl.com Her book, The Sunrise Swimmers, was released Feb 2018.