Can you believe we're only halfway through January? It's also the second week of the January Healthy Every Week Challenge, and it's been an interesting one.
This week's challenge was to eat more whole grains. Beefing up your fibre intake, satisfying your stomach for longer, boosting your energy and just generally being a bit more superior than their refined counterparts.
The simple way to go about this, which I decided to go along with, is some simple substitutions. Wholegrain rice instead of white rice, wholewheat pasta instead of white pasta, and bran flakes instead of cereal. A fairly painless way to work in the whole grains.
Then as I was thinking about my next weekly cake to make for aikido, I realised that I've never gone wholegrain with my flour before.
Generally, I try to healthy-up my baking by omitting things like butter and sugar. But I've rarely done anything about toning down all that refined flour.
I wasn't holding out that much hope, to be honest. The more I researched about wholegrain flour, the more nervous I got - dry, dense, bitter, tough - these unfriendly cake words kept popping up in descriptions of wholegrain cakes gone wrong, and I wondered whether I should just part-substitute the flour in one of my older recipes instead of going the whole hog.
Well no, frankly. I didn't see the point of part-substituting - I wanted to make this as much a wholegrain cake as possible! But as I looked back through my recipes for inspiration, I came across these Cranberry and Nutmeg Breakfast Muffins that contain bran flakes. Yes, this is the one to adapt to make a full-blown wholegrain cake.
The changes I made were small - sifting the flour an extra couple of times to get it as fine as possible to make it less dense and adding more oil than I usually would for a white flour cake to compensate for the danger of dryness.
I also changed my method of mixing slightly - usually, I tend to use the muffin-mixing method of mixing dry and wet ingredients separately before combining (for the purely technical reason that this method is er, just easier to remember). This time however, I used the creaming method of beating the sugar with the fat (ie the oil), which is meant to make cakes fluffier and help them rise in a lovely light manner.
So did it turn out dry, dense, bitter and tough?
With the low sugar, and extra wholegrain content from the bran flakes too, you can sneak in an extra slice when you come to eat it and not feel guilty about it. Well that's how I felt anyway...yes folks, you can have your wholegrain cake, and eat it all too ;-)
75g bran flakes
100ml orange juice concentrate
75ml olive oil
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
50g white sugar
100g wholemeal/wholewheat plain flour
1.5 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
75g mixed berries
1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Crush the bran flakes to crumbs in a bowl. Add the orange juice, mix well and set aside.
2) In another bowl, beat the egg with the oil, vanilla and sugar. Gently mix in the bran flake orange mixture.
3) In a large mixing bowl, sift in the flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Fold in the berries, then the wet mixture carefully until just mixed.
4) Transfer to a lined round tin, then bake for about 25 minutes until golden brown and you can pull a fork out clean.
Other healthy baking recipes you might enjoy.