I am in shock about an article I read in the Sunday Times of Sunday 5 August written by Jonathan Leake, their science editor.

He wrote about the Battenberg cake and the amount of sugar it, and other cakes, contain.  For those of you who do not know the Battenberg cake, it is made by baking separate yellow and pink sponges. The pieces are combined in a chequered pattern by gluing them with apricot jam, and then covered with marzipan. It dates to the 19th century when it was named in honour of the marriage of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter to Prince Louis of Battenberg.

Those who know and follow me on social media know that I am not impartial to a piece of cake, my favourites being a lemon cheese cake or a tompouce (a Dutch mille feuille cake filled with either custard and vanilla cream or custard with coffee cream). You see my philosophy and ultimate aim with my clients is to eat 80% of the time healthily and for the other 20% you can have a treat. In my case it is the occasional cake or piece of dark chocolate with 70% or more cacao. My favourite chocolates are those that are hand made in Holland by chocolatier Van Dam in Heemstede; far better than the most expensive chocolates you can buy in Harrods or Fortnum and Mason.

However in my opinion the Battenberg cake is definitely not worth the calories. It is so bad for you that it has been declared a threat to public health by nutrition scientists who found it has the highest sugar content of any cakes.

They compared the sugar content in 381 cakes of 29 types, including brownies, vanilla sponge and chocolate cake, all bought in the UK’s leading supermarkets such as Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and M & S.

All the cakes were laden with sugar – but none could rival the Battenberg, which comprised up to 62% sugar by weight. This compared with the 36% average found across all such cakes.  “A single 50g slice of Battenberg could contain seven teaspoons of sugar, equivalent to an adult’s maximum sugar intake a day,” said Kawther Hashem, a nutritionist at Queen Mary University of London whose research appears in the journal BMJ Open. The Battenberg’s high sugar level is due to the thick outer layer of marzipan.

We must do everything possible to reduce the nations’ sugar intake especially knowing that:

  • 30-40% of adults in the UK are overweight
  • 27% are obese
  • 7 million people have heart disease
  • 2 people are registered with type 2 diabetes( although the estimate is 4 million)

Does this mean we need to exclude cake if we want to have a healthy lifestyle?  Not at all provided manufactures reformulate them to reduce sugar and consumers moderate their consumption.

A big difference was found in the sugar content of cake – some Battenberg cake had 62% sugar but others 46%. For Victoria sponge the range was even greater – one had 59% sugar while others as little as 22%. This shows that cake makers could cut sugar consumption significantly just by reformulating their products. According to the director of food policy at the British Retail Consortium this is already happening. According to him retailers have recognised the importance of reducing portion sizes and the need to reduce sugar. This is true but in my opinion we need to go even further.

Just want to give you an idea of the amount of the teaspoons (1 teaspoon is 4 gram) of sugar per 100g cake:

  • Battenberg 15 teaspoons
  • Brownie 11 teaspoons
  • Bakewell tart 11 teaspoons
  • Blueberry muffin 6 teaspoons.

By all means do have a piece of cake as part of your 20% but make it a small piece and don’t have it too often.  Alternatively you could choose to have a cake low in sugar or make your own without any sugar at all. I have some great sugar free and gluten free recipes in my CookWright stevia book.Just to mention a few: lemon cheese cake, apple tart, chia nut bread, marble cake etc.Have a look HERE for more details.and more delicious, sugar free recipes

This way you can have your piece of cake and eat it!

To better health,

Leonie x