Great British Bake Off semi-finalist, Stacey Hart, has taken on a new challenge - creating delicious treats without using refined sugar. Here the baker from Hertfordshire explains what prompted her to make changes and shares her recipes.

Some of you may remember me from being a contestant on the Great British Bake Off 2017.

It was a wonderful challenge for me and I was a semi-finalist, which I was thrilled about.

I started baking and making confectionery years before GBBO and my love of all things sweet and tasty has just escalated from there. I am addicted to baking and cooking and you will usually find me in the kitchen experimenting with one thing or another.

During the Bake Off my husband, James, was having bouts of feeling very unwell for days at a time. He started to eliminate things from his diet and after a while he realised that it was sugar that was making him feel terrible. Partly my fault I am sure because he was one of my chief tasters throughout the experimenting and filming process.

James decided that he would completely cut out refined sugar from his diet. It has now been over a year and a half and I am pleased to report that he has never had that unwell feeling again.

So, where did that leave me? There wasn’t much point in continuing to bake using refined sugars that were making my husband unwell. So my sugar-free baking journey began.

I now dedicate my time to making reduced sugar versions of everyone’s favourite treats. Cheesecake, brownies, pies, loaf cakes to name but a few. It is definitely more complicated than sugary filled bakes but hey, I love a challenge and wouldn’t life be boring if everything was easy?

The biggest hurdle of all was creating sugar-free lollipops that tasted great and looked pretty. It took much time and effort but wow, when I nailed it, it was the best feeling of all!

I am currently creating a website so you can taste how great they are for yourself.

For more recipe inspiration from Stacey follow her on Instagram @staceydeeskitchen

Stacey’s alternative Christmas cake

There’s nothing more traditional than a Christmas cake, but a rich fruit cake is not everyone’s cup of tea and they are jammed full of sugars. Instead I’ve created a festive flavoured alternative.

Watford Observer:


Serves 10

• 200g almond flour (or grind some ground almonds in a blender to make a fine flour)

• 2 large eggs

• 60ml coconut oil (odourless, melted)

• 100g xylitol sugar alternative (available in supermarkets and health stores as Total Sweet)

• 1 tsp cinnamon

• 1 tsp mixed spice

• 2 tablespoons chia seeds

• 1 tablespoon almond milk

• 1 ½ tsps baking powder

• 150g grated carrots

• (Optional sultanas)

For the frosting

• 40g unsalted butter softened

• 70g full fat cream cheese

• 20g xylitol ground to a fine powder

Optional to decorate

• Cinnamon

• Whole or flaked almonds

NB: If making gluten free, please check all your ingredients’ packets carefully


Oven to 180C/160C fan.

• Whisk together the xylitol and the egg for around 8 mins until thick and voluminous.

• Add the flours, baking powder, cinnamon and milk and whisk until just combined.

• Pour in the coconut oil while whisking.

• Fold in the carrots and chia seeds.

• Line a 2lb loaf tin.

• Pour in the batter and level out with the back of a spoon.

• Bake for around 35 mins and then cover with foil and bake for another 20-25 mins (until a skewer comes out clean).

• Turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool.

• For the frosting, process the xylitol to make an icing sugar consistency (any good food blender should work).

• In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment whisk together the butter and cream cheese until smooth.

• Add the xylitol a little at a time.

• Speed up the mixer and keep whisking for a minute or two.

• Refrigerate the frosting to harden for a while.

• Spoon the frosting over the top and level with a spatula or knife.

• Optional Extra: Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and flaked or whole almonds.

• This cake will keep for two days in the fridge, take out for around 15 mins before you want to cut and eat it.