Sugar-Free Baking with Natvia & Cupcake Central
This post was meant to be before the jazz. 

I love being invited to events! Tonight's event is a 'VIP Sugar Free Baking Masterclass with Natvia & Cupcake Central'. Upon arrival we checked in and received name tags and aprons, and offered bubbly (I'll pass after Sunday's happenings). We met the lovely Maria, who does marketing at Natvia.

The product being featured is Natvia, a 100% natural sweetener. So what is it exactly? It's a part of the stevia plant + Erythritol (found in natural foods like fruits). In three words it's a healthy sugar substitute. Unlike Equal (which tastes funny, from first hand experience) and Splenda, Natvia is not artificial. 

Ban-arnie Cupcakes in both mini and regular, I love the mini, perfect size! These were great, if I didn't know Natvia was used instead of sugar I wouldn't have identified the slight flavour of it. So I'd say it tastes no different from regular sugar in this case.

There were snacks and a few drinks offered including a delicious lemon iced tea (a brand I haven't seen before, by Schweppes), Sam was lovely and opened it for me, how did he know I mightn't be able to open it myself? :P 

The event soon started with Mark & Sam, the creators of Natvia telling us their story of how Natvia came about. Sam's in marketing and discovered a gap and opportunity in the sugar industry (well it goes under food & beverages) where there was real sugar and then there was Equal (chemical sugar). And so the quest began in 2008 for Mark & Sam to research and create something natural just like sugar but with less calories. 470 trials happened and at long last their quest was complete and the result was Natvia.

- 95% Less calories than sugar
- Made with Organic Stevia & GM Free*
- Low Glycemic Index (GI)
- Fructose, dairy & gluten free
- No aspartame & saccharin
- Absolutely nothing artificial
- All natural with no bitter aftertaste

*GM means Genetically-Modified, the opposite of organic/natural

Costs - The opposite of benefits, in this case works out better than disadvantages, because there seems to be only one cost in our cost benefit analysis. Literally it's the cost, Natvia costs more than sugar, it costs $41.40 per/kg (I'm looking at the 200g canister at Safeway). But you can totally justify that if you're diabetic, paying more for your health is worth it. Just don't eat sugar like Brenda eats her candy. Or make jam.   

Sheryl showed us how make her 'Not-So-Devilous Food Cupcakes' with Mark assisting, and with lots of tips along the way, which we'd like to share with you, so you could try this at home. :) Cupcake Central makes 1,000 cupcakes each day, except on Fridays when they make 1,500! Forgot to ask if this was just their Melbourne Central store or all, but that's a lot of cupcakes. 

Not-So-Devilous Food Cupcakes

Makes 12

1 ½ cups Plain Flour
½ cup Cocoa (Callebaut Cocoa) 
1 cup Natvia Baking Pack
1 tsp Bicarb Soda
¼ tsp Salt

2 Large Free Range Eggs (59 grams)
½ cup Regular Oil
1 cup Cold Water
2 tsp White Vinegar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract**

1. Pre heat oven to 165c degrees for a fan forced oven, or 170 degrees for a Gas Oven
2. Sift all dry ingredients into the mixing bowl (one bowl method).
3. Using the paddle attachment or a wooden spoon, mix on low. 

4. Add oil, vanilla and water.
5. Mix thoroughly, occasionally scrape bowl to ensure all ingredients are being mixed evenly.
6. Add the eggs, one at a time.*
7. Add vinegar - this helps it rise. 
8. Mix on med-high for 30 seconds. Mixture should be runny.

9. Put the cupcake cases in the tray. A tip from Sheryl - wet your index and thumb, and pull the cases from the bottom.

10. Fill cupcake papers with batter. Use an ice cream scoop (Wilton, #16, holds 60ml [2oz].) to fill the cupcake papers. When scooping, just skim the surface like with soup to not get the mixture on the back of the scooper and everywhere. 

11. Bake for 18-21 minutes (or until a cake skewer comes out clean). 

*Adding one egg at a time creates a smoother mixture as you are allowing for the enzymes to break down in order to aerate the mixture.

**Nielsen Massey Madagascar Vanilla, which you can get from Cupcake Central (59ml for $10) or on Amazon

I learnt lots of things about cupcake making, and was very impressed with her filling the baking tray with patty cases method. We all got a turn at filling the cases using a 16cm ice cream scoop, we skimmed the top like soup. Soon it was popped into the oven.

Icing's next, we're making your typical buttercream with butter + icing sugar, but instead we're using Natvia. Beat the butter till soft and fluffy, I love watching that. The best part of the workshop was the icing. I love icing the cupcake (more than I like eating that icing unless it's cream cheese), I did not grow up baking cupcakes and decorating them.

Natvia Sugar Free Icing Mix
This one's finer than regular Natvia, think caster sugar compared to normal white sugar. 

Vanilla Buttercream

125g Unsalted Butter (room temp.)
225g Natvia Icing Mix
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Pinch of Salt

1. Beat butter, then add icing mixture. Mix for 3–5 mins until light and fluffy.
2. Add vanilla extract (Nielsen Massey) and salt.
3. Put into a piping bag and have fun!

Sheryl showed us how to position our hands and hold the piping bag along with what the product 3 nozzles/tips would produce. The first picture here is filling up the spaces to create a perfect base to work with. The bottom is how to hold the piping bag, right hand on top applying consistent pressure, left hand to guide. Do not squeeze with the hand on the bottom!

Hello pretty pipping nozzels.

I love the pink one! And the white one too! Icing birthday cakes must be so much fun! (Til you make a mistake with colour gel and have to scrape it off.) For the pink and chocolate we started on the outside and then circled in. For the white one it was piping dots. Mark & Xi liked my piping, you got to keep it moving at the same rate and applying consistent pressure, as I learnt from Sheryl during a past workshop.


We got to take our cupcakes we decorated home, Lucy (bunny) was thrilled with the pink one, though I didn't give it to her as I forgot to ask if it was safe for pets to eat, just in case. We got Andy to try a chocolate frosted cupcake without telling him about what's in it and he said there's an aftertaste that's bitter but sweet as the same time. I had one too and agree. Perhaps it's the recipe, as the banana one was perfectly normal. It does taste a bit different, a bit grainy, not like sand though that's too much, Natvia + butter melts in your mouth.  

Hector always said I was very curious and had so many questions. :P

At the end of the evening we got goodie bags (I am making an effort to use the correct term, even though I love showbags :P) which contained products for us to experiment with, along with a booklet of recipes. Looking forwards to creating the green tea cupcakes!

 Might be able to use this as the base for the green tea cupcakes.

Looking forwards to the ultimate testing bake-off where we will use my perfect recipe and make two batches, one with Natvia and the other with caster sugar, to see if we can taste a difference.   

Thanks to Natvia for inviting us, especially to the lovely team at the event Xi, Maria, Sam and Mark and to Sheryl for hosting the event, those cupcake making tips! We had a lovely time.

Curiosities, Cupcake Central's vanilla cupcakes are butter based, while red velvet is oil-based. 

 Will you be giving Natvia go? For your coffee or cakes?

You can check out the range of Natvia product here
Tip - Woolworths is cheaper than Coles.

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