Melanie Leyshon is the editor of Healthy Food Guide magazine. She's a flexitarian and couldn’t get through the week without yogurt and yoga.

The nation’s favourite baking show challenged the contestants to come up with sugar-free cakes. Was anyone else slightly bemused by the recipes? We reckoned GBBO called for an ‘outraged of healthier baking land’ letter to Paul and Mary…


Dear Great British Bake Off

We were as excited as children in a sweet shop at Healthy Food Guide magazine when we heard that sugar-free baking was one segment on last night’s programme. We know how hard it is to make good bakes without the sweet stuff, so we were looking forward to new ideas from the bakers.

So imagine our surprise when the contestants started weighing out molasses, honey, agave nectar, maple syrup et al. These aren’t refined sugars, as such, but they are still ‘added’ or free sugars.

Sugar comes in many forms and names, including brown, which is just white sugar with molasses added back in. Then there’s cane, raw, treacle, golden, fructose, etc. The list is long (and you’ll find it in the September issue of Healthy Food Guide magazine…)

Sugar is an essential baking ingredient as it breaks down gluten to create a soft crumb and helps lock in moisture to keep baked goods fresh, and adds structure.

In the HFG test kitchen, we make our bakes healthier by swapping our refined sugars, such as caster and granulated, for extra fruit (which has natural sugars) and apple purées or sweet vegetables such as beetroot and carrot.

And, of course, we’ve experimented with granulated sweetener baking blends such as Truvia, with some success. Have a look at these raspberry-filled oat bars, and find ideas for more healthier bakes in our recipes section. That is, in which sugars (of ALL kinds) are kept to a minimum.

Yours sincerely


Healthy Food Guide