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Are you a recipe video fan? I made a slideshow video of today’s recipe, you can view it here if you’d like! I’ve made a few simple steam oven recipe videos now – they’re all available to view on YouTube if you’ve missed them on the Steam & Bake Instagram or Facebook feeds.
Also, I know a few readers today have found their way over here via the LCHF Thermo Foodies Facebook Group (welcome!). Today's post is LCHF-friendly but this is not strictly a LCHF site. I’m very happy to have you here, though, and hope you enjoy looking around! The recipes on this site are written for combination steam ovens, however you can easily convert this or any other recipe to ‘regular’ cooking by using the same oven temperature and just cooking for a little longer. The results won't be identical but in every case except for 'straight' steaming at 100C, they'll be very good.
Of late, however, I have been attempting to reduce my sugar (and carbohydrate) intake quite dramatically, after a year of nursing and waking multiple times a night have left me with a terrible cycle of snacking throughout the day to boost my flagging energy levels. Constantly reaching for high-energy snacks was actually making me feel sluggish and undernourished and it was time for a change.
Enjoying a spot of baking as I do (not to mention continuing to develop recipes for the cookbook), trying to adapt my snacks to include little or no sugar is not the easiest thing in the world. You might have noticed sugar is very tasty and it also serves a worthy purpose in baked goods, giving them nice texture, longer keeping qualities and helping with caramelisation. I am determined to give my body a break, though, and have had a few surprising successes adapting recipes, one of which was this gorgeously bronzed Low Carb/Sugar Free Combi Steam Pumpkin Loaf.
I wanted something I could toast and butter, something filling and bread-like without actually being bread. Bonus points for including a vegetable, and even more bonus points if one or both of my kids would eat it (I’m one for two on that front, in case you were wondering – shockingly but happily, the tiny bread-loving vegetable-averse person in our house loves this loaf). This fits the bill on all counts for me – it’s good cut straight from the loaf but much better toasted and covered in butter or cream cheese. It holds up to the toasting process really well – something so many ‘free from’ breads don’t do. Because I cooked it in the steam oven, there’s no chance ever that it could be called dry (in fact it's almost what I'd term 'damp'. In a good way). And it freezes perfectly, so I can pack it in little 2-slice portions ready to grab on the go.
Will I remain sugar/carb free forever? No, I don’t think so – it doesn’t sit well with me to completely exclude any foods altogether and I don’t fundamentally believe it’s necessary for good health. But I do think Western society and its many advances in food processing over the past 50-100 years has a lot to answer for in terms of what we consider a ‘normal’ diet, and I am thrilled at how well I feel for taking a break from so much processed food. So I certainly think this experiment will have lasting effects on the quality and quantity of carbs I put into my body - no more mindless snacking.
Going back to basics for a while is also proving a great way to get our family’s eating habits closer to the philosophy captured by my favourite Michael Pollan mantra, which I think sums up how we should all be attempting to eat: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” (if you have never read any of his fantastic books, go buy or borrow one right now – I’d start with The Omnivore's Dilemma and move on to In Defense of Food thereafter). And it’s making my steam oven come into its own – I think I’d almost forgotten how easy and delicious it is to just put a big tray of vegetables and perhaps a couple of chicken thighs or a bit of fish into the oven for a speedy dinner. Those are the meals all of us are most often happy to eat here, which is a nice reminder that delicious food need not be complicated at all.
You’ll see in the recipe below I have added no sugar, which means apart from the pumpkin and some natural sweetness in the almonds, it’s not sweet at all. This suits my current needs perfectly and I enjoy the earthiness of the pumpkin without any additional sweetness. If you aren’t being quite so stringent with your sugar intake, however, the recipe I based this on contains a small amount of maple syrup which would definitely be delicious. If you decide to include the maple syrup it’s still a great, nutrient-dense loaf perfect for lunchboxes or a quick breakfast. I hope you enjoy it as much as I am.
Happy steam oven cooking, see you here again soon.
Low Carb, Sugar Free Combi Steam Pumpkin Loaf
Makes a 23cm x 10cm (9” x 4”) loaf.
The hardest part of this recipe is roasting and pureeing a bit of pumpkin before you start mixing (though you could use canned pumpkin puree if it’s easy to get where you live – it’s not common in Australia). I diced about 600g/1.3lb Japanese pumpkin into 2.5cm/1” cubes and put it the steam oven at 200⁰C/392⁰F (combination steam, humidity 60%) for 25 minutes, then allowed to cool and pureed before proceeding with the recipe. I had a little left over puree so put it in the freezer for another time.
250g (1 cup) pureed Japanese or Kent pumpkin (see above)
125ml (1/2 cup) coconut cream (don’t use coconut milk or anything ‘lite’ here – the bread needs the fat content of the proper stuff to bake nicely)
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g (2 cups) almond meal (I ground my own in a food processor but pre-ground is fine)
30g (1/3 cup) dessicated unsweetened coconut
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp salt
Set your oven to 180⁰C/356⁰F on combination steam setting (30-50% humidity). Line a 23cm x 10cm (9” x 4”) loaf tin with baking paper (or my favourite non-stick liners – I bake a lot of loaf cakes and breads, and these are SO easy).
Whisk the pumpkin puree, eggs, coconut cream and vanilla in a large jug until smooth. Set aside.
Put the rest of the ingredients into a large bowl and whisk to combine. Pour in the wet mix and stir until everything comes together and there are no lumps – it will be quite wet.
Pour the batter into the lined loaf tin and bake until the bread is risen, dark golden brown and tests clean with a skewer, about 45 minutes. Allow to cool to lukewarm in the tin, then carefully lift out and allow to cool completely.
The bread will keep on the bench for a day or two but I’d recommend freezing slices of whatever you aren’t going to eat after that. It will keep, well wrapped, in the freezer for up to a couple of months.
But I don’t have a steam/combi-steam oven! Just bake it! Pop the whole thing in a regular oven set to 180⁰C, fan forced, for around 60 minutes. The crust will be a little thicker and drier that the pictured loaf immediately after baking but will soften after a few hours because of the moisture in the bread.
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After some other steam oven baking ideas? If and when I ease up a bit on my no-sugar policy I’m planning to make a batch of these cheesecakes, and my husband (who hasn’t joined me on the sugar free bandwagon yet) has recently requested a re-run of these tarts.