One of the biggest attractions of the new house is the large kitchen. The biggest attraction of the large kitchen is the center island with granite top that is simply ideal for kneading dough to make bread. Buying the house was a done deal weeks before I went into surgery last month. When I was told that I would have to maintain a low-fat and low-sugar diet, I wondered if the kitchen island would ever be put to good use. My first thought was that baking would have to take a backseat.
But the wonderful thing about my family is how supportive they are especially during difficult times. Speedy has made the new diet dilemma a hundred times easier when he said he’d go on a low-fat, low-sugar diet with me.
But the kids… I’ve been learning how to bake during the past year and the kids have gotten used to home-baked cookies, muffins and cakes. How would they feel about everything? Sam surprised me when, soon after I came out of the hospital, she asked when I would bake again. I told her, “Low-sugar diet, remember?” And she said, “I thought you would just use Splenda instead of sugar.” That was when I realized that even the kids are with me on this. They are not going to make it hard for me.
As a pre-housewarming gift, Speedy gave me a copy of Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. It’s a wonderful book that truly instructs. I love the straightforward writing and the detailed but no-frills instructions. None of those whimsical prose that Nigella Lawson’s books are filled with. I’ve baked two recipes from the book — blueberry muffins and chocolate marble cake — using vegetable shortening (butter-flavored Crisco) in lieu of butter and Splenda in place of sugar. Save for the usual debates over texture and density, no one raised any issues about the substitutions. In fact, when I mentioned that Crisco looked like it would be a cheaper alternative to butter, Sam was quick to say, “Let’s just use Crisco then.”
There’s a substitute for almost everything but none for one’s family.
If you’re interested in the proper handling of Crisco and Splenda for baking, click here.
IMPORTANT UPDATE on June 24, 2008: New developments in the sugar saga.