Cooking With Trehalose Instead of Sugar – Simple Fruit Muffins
Firstly a bit of background. Trehalose is a naturally occurring sugar found in succulent plants, a few mushrooms and brewers yeast. In 1832, H.A.L. Wiggers discovered Trehalose in an ergot of rye and until 2000 Trehalose stayed very much in the research world being discovered in various places in both the animal and plant world. The amounts were very small, in fact so small that it was not considered possible to harvest it. In the laboratory, however, researchers were increasingly studying what Trehalose actually did and found that it had an important biological/structural function and that started people looking at the commercial potential. In 2000 a Japanese scientist managed to create Trehalose from simple starch by using an enzyme. What followed was a rapid initial exploration of it’s potential uses. Because of its ability to stabilise proteins it was used very early on to improve the shelf life of sushi. Trehalose has also been used to make cake icing more stable and therefore increase shelf life. It is also used by some of the world’s most innovative chefs in sugar work because it doesn’t absorb water and hence remains stable.
My interest in Trehalose started out about 10 years ago because of its very low, almost negligible, effect on blood glucose levels. Subsequently I have begun to make some more interesting links with degenerative illnesses like MS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Motor Neurone Disease (ALS) and others.
However, I’m an amateur chef and started to explore the potential of Trehalose to be a direct substitute for part or all of sugar in baking recipes. I started with things like sponge cakes with variable results and then graduated onto breads, custards, jam, marmalade and more.
My most successful recipe is an adaptation of a simple fruit muffin recipe where 100% substitution works wonderfully.
The recipe is:
450g wholemeal spelt flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
180ml vegetable oil
200g dried mixed fruit (optional – soak for 1-2 hours before in hot water prior to use)
Preheat oven to 160 C.
Line 16-24 deep hole muffin tins
Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl and stir in combined eggs, milk and oil.
Fold in dried mixed fruit.
Divide between trays and bake in moderately hot oven until cooked. Normally about 20 min. These muffins come out light golden brown and taste fantastic and are great when warm or cold. They freeze well and make an excellent healthier lunchtime snack.