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Sugar-free baking: the cake and muffin mixes for home kitchens

A new range has been released looking to target consumers who want to make and eat healthy desserts.

20 November 2018

Spotting a gap in the home baking market, Healthy By Nature has released sugar-free cake and muffin mixes.

“Whilst the home baking category is worth over £700 million its growth has more or less ground to a halt in recent years,” says Daniel Reeds, MD of Healthy by Nature.

“Two of the main reasons cited for this are ‘shoppers looking to eat healthier’ and ‘not having time to bake anymore’. With sugar being enemy number one when it comes to consumer health, it makes perfect sense to launch a range of sugar-free mixes, which address both these concerns and transfer some of the strong growth that the free-from sector is enjoying into the home baking category.”

Healthy By Nature are the brand owners of Total Sweet Xylitol, a sugar alternative, which was part of the process in making the mixes. Then it was a case of tweaking a few of the other ingredients to ensure there wasn’t natural sugars from other ingredients, like flour or cocoa powder, to tip the scales past the magic number of less than 0.5g of sugar per 100g or product, says Reeds.

The range has launched into a number of health food stores and through several wholesalers, including Tree of Life, CLF and The Health Store. Supermarkets who currently stock Total Sweet Xylitol, which include Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Ocado, are interested in the mixes for the early part of next year, Reeds tells Food Spark.

Baking business

The mixes come in standard flavours – chocolate and vanilla – but there was deliberate reasoning behind it, says Reeds.

“The first obvious one being that chocolate and plain sponge and muffin bases are popular and adaptable. For example, you can create everything from a Victoria sponge to a banana cake with a plain sponge mix,” he explains.

“There’s also a much bigger hurdle to get over in creating some other cake and muffin varieties that are sugar-free, for example a fudge cake would be pretty tricky at present. That said we have a few more mixes in the making.”

But the health benefits of the mixes are not only down to being sugar-free, according to Reeds, as they are also have 80% less saturated fat, over 20% less fat and nearly a quarter less calories compared to competitors. The range can also be used with vegan egg replacements.

“Other brands have tried to produce healthy baking mixes, but the issue has been that they’ve either not really been that healthy, for example they’ve reduced sugar a little or just added in some chia seeds which we feel consumers are sceptical of, or they’ve not tasted that good,” he says.

Not taste free

Reeds appreciates that his brand is not the first to try and conquer healthy cake mixes, but he says there is a huge difference with their products compared to what has come beforehand.

“Firstly we’re genuinely sugar free, not ‘no added sugar’ or ‘reduced sugar’, secondly, and perhaps more importantly, there is no taste difference between cakes made with our mixes and those made with sugar laden mixes, in fact in taste tests our mixes have out-performed some of the leading brands currently on supermarket shelves,” he claims.

Mistakes have also been made in the past in this category, because brands have assumed consumers will sacrifice on the taste and quality of cakes in return for health benefits, comments Reeds.

“People eat cake knowing it’s naughty because it tastes so good. The only way, in our opinion, you’re going to get people to eat healthier cakes and treats is if they taste as good as the ‘real’ thing, if not consumers will not repeat purchase. So we decided that if the range didn’t taste as good, if not better, than current products we wouldn’t launch it,” he says.

“Now we think we’ve arrived at the perfect formulation and we challenge any buyer to look us in the eyes and tell us they think the cakes and muffins made with our mixes don’t taste fantastic.”

Reeds says there are also some other top secret sugar-free products on the horizon.

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