For as long as I can remember I’ve always had a penchant for eating and discovering new biscuits, who hasn’t! But over the last three years I’ve curbed this desire due to a renewed health kick, fitness drive and weight loss and when I had the chance to take a look at Davina’s 5 weeks to sugar free cook book this week I jumped at the chance.
We all know sugar is bad for you, we also know how wonderful it makes the simplest things taste great but in a time when obesity is rife, especially in children, there’s no time like the present to change your diet and eat a little healthier. Davina, best known for her television work and fitness dvd’s, gives us an insight into five weeks of her cutting out non processed and unrefined ingredients as much as possible. It’s a nice idea but not always a simple one, especially when lives move so quickly these days.
For this article I’m taking a look at two recipes, Maple Syrup Digestives (page 177) and Lime & Ginger Cheesecake (page 189) the former making the base for the cheesecake. I can’t tell you how wonderful the aroma was in the kitchen when the digestives were baking, the maple syrup lingered for what seemed hours and had I been selling the house, it would have gone immediately!
Both recipes are easy to follow and the results matched the images in the book – closer than I had imagined – and that’s always a good sign, especially for a new cook! Timings for the digestives were spot on, I used the fan option and the biscuits took between 15 and 17 minutes to bake satisfactorily, well within the guideline of 15-20 minutes.
The great thing about the cheesecake is that there’s no baking required, a couple of minutes to melt the butter, combine the ginger, maple syrup and broken down digestives and the base is done. When thickening the double cream the book suggests to “thicken the double cream slightly” but I decided to thicken a little more due to the cream cheese and lime juice, it worked very well and the consistency and flavour is to die for!
One thing I did notice when I took time out to read the book in work, it garnered a lot of interest. It seems a lot of people are on the look out for new ideas and new sugar free recipes, I think Davina’s hit the nail on the head with this one. A great looking book, easy to follow recipes and an insight into Davina’s new sugar free challenge – are you game? I know I am. Highly recommended. Many of you have been asking on facebook and twitter for the recipes after I published a few images so here we are – recipes and instructions – enjoy!
Maple Syrup Digestive Biscuits (page 177)
MAKES ABOUT 24
200g wholemeal flour, plus extra for dusting the work surface
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
200g unsalted butter, well chilled and cut into cubes
150g maple syrup
1 Put the flour, oats, baking powder and a pinch of salt in a food processor and blitz them – you want a mixture that’s just slightly coarser than flour. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, then tip it all into a bowl.
2 Add the maple syrup and gently work it into the mixture until you have a dough. Don’t worry if it’s very soft, as it will firm up in the fridge. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill it in the fridge for at least an hour.
3 Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment. Generously flour your work surface.
4 Halve the dough, then rewrap one piece and put it back in the fridge. Roll out the remaining half and, using a cutter about the size of a digestive biscuit, cut out circles. Re-roll the offcuts, making sure you use plenty of flour to prevent sticking. You should end up with 12 biscuits.
5 Remove the rest of the dough from the fridge and repeat to make another 12 biscuits. Place the biscuits on the baking trays.
6 Bake the biscuits for 15-20 minutes until they’re golden brown and crisp. Keep a very close eye on them, as a minute too long could mean they overcook. Remove the biscuits from the oven and immediately transfer them to a wire rack to cool.
Lime & Ginger Maple Syrup Cheesecake (page 189)
200g home-made digestive biscuits (see digestive biscuit recipe above)
1 tsp ground ginger
300g cream cheese
250ml double cream
grated zest and juice of 2 limes
100g maple syrup
1 Blitz the digestive biscuits in a food processor or put them in a plastic bag and bash them with a rolling pin until they are the consistency of fine breadcrumbs.
2 Melt the butter in a saucepan. Remove the pan from the heat and add the ground ginger and crushed biscuits, then stir until the mixture is well combined. Press the mixture into a 23cm flan dish and put it in the fridge to chill while you make the filling.
3 Break up the cream cheese with a fork to loosen it a little. Put the double cream in a large bowl and whisk until slightly thickened but not really stiff. Add the cream cheese, zest and juice of the limes and the maple syrup and mix well. Pour this over the biscuit base and spread it out as evenly as possible.
4 Chill the cheesecake for a few hours or overnight until firm. This is also good frozen – just put it in the freezer and remove it about half an hour before serving.
There’s so much to make in this book, I could spend weeks working my way through the recipes and I probably will, it caters for everyone, I can’t wait to try the home made baked beans, burgers and desserts. Davina’s 5 weeks to sugar free is published by Orion Books – January 15th