Sugar in cakes – NEA 1

For NEA 1 you need to evaluate and annotate your results. Here’s how to do it using the Nutrition Program.

Use Food Science You Can Eat to help

The Task – To discover what happens if you reduce the sugar in a sponge cake recipe.

We made cakes with full amount of 60g sugar and then did a batch with 50g, 40g, 30g.

You can evaluate the Functional properties of sugar in cakes – the purpose for which the ingredient is being used and can be linked to –  its structure, nutritional value, taste, texture, appearance, shelf life.

Star profile to show evaluation of results of reducing sugar in cakes.

How to do this

  1. Create a recipe for your sponge cake in My Recipes.
  2. Bake and compare your cakes and then click Star Profile
  3. Name the recipe ‘Star profile sponge cakes’.
  4. Choose descriptors – how the cake should look and taste. The descriptors we chose were – golden, yellow sponge, open texture, moist, dry.
  5. The Control cake was marked golden (5), yellow sponge (4), open texture (4), moist (4), dry (1) – this was our perfect cake.
  6. Taste the cakes and mark them on the chart – tip in the +Add Taster put the name of the cake – for example, full sugar, 50g sugar.
  7. The Nutrition Program Star Profile fills in – now you need to Evaluate the results under Evaluation – see our chart.
  8. To get extra exam marks you can annotate the Star profile.

This shows an example of annotating a Star Profile to show what the results mean.


Compare the nutrition of sweeteners for cakes and desserts – use for experiments changing the types of sweetener used in cakes and desserts.

We are told to reduce the amount of ‘free sugars’ in our food, especially cakes and desserts.

But how easy is this to do and how much sugar is found in ingredients used for sweetening?

Compare the sugar content of different ingredients

To do

Use the Nutrition Program for this investigation.

Click My Recipes, +New Recipe and call it Sugar Investigation.

You want to find ingredients that you can use to sweeten cakes and the amount of sugar they contain in 100g

Find Ingredient

Type sugar and see the list. Tip – put a comma after sugar, then more appear. Some are lower sugar products.

Also choose fruits and vegetables which can be used to sweeten such as prunes and figs.

My choice


Sugar, half spoon

Hermesetas, granulated sweetener


These are the results from the Nutrition Program

Nutrition of sugar
Nutrition of half spoon
Nutrition of Hermesetas
Nutrition of banana
Sweetening ingredientSugar in 100g
Sugar105 g
Sugar, half spoon99 g
Hermesetas, granulated sweetener14 g
Banana21 g

For Investigations, you need to make the cakes and find out how the results look and taste.

Then you can decide which sweeteners are the best.

Star profile of sugar in cakes with annotation

Function of sugar in cakes

Sugar used in cooking comes from either sugar cane or sugar beet

Use Food Science You Can Eat to help

Intrinsic sugars are contained within the cell structure of foods such as fruit and vegetables.
Extrinsic sugars are sugars added to a product during preparation such as caster sugar added to make cakes.
The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition recommended that free sugar should be no more than 5%
of daily energy.
Definition of free sugars – those sugars added by manufacturers and cooks plus sugars from
honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juices.

Functional properties of sugar (sucrose)
• Provides sweetness to products.
• Dissolves and made into a syrup.
• When heated will caramelise and provide golden brown colour to the product.
Combines with yeast will speed the fermentation process.
• Helps aerate a mixture during the creaming method when combined with fat.
• Acts a preservative in jam.
• Keeps the product moist.

“Sugar gives us that delicious texture and crumb, the lovely golden brown colour and it prolongs how long we can store our bakes”
“Sugar also keeps baked goods moist so sugar-free versions may need to be wrapped in cling film before storage to prevent drying out.” Good Food’s Nutritional Therapist Kerry Torrens

Health risks of too much sugar in your diet
• Tooth decay, Obesity, Type 2 diabetes.
Ways of lowering the sugar content in dishes
• In most baked recipes you can reduce the sugar content by up to 30% but test the recipe!
• You can use artificial sweeteners which often provide no calories. They are sweeter than sugar but some lose their sweetness when heated so the cake will collapse.
• If using fruit that has edible skin such as apples, remove the skin as it is has a sharp flavour and needs extra sugar to make it more edible.
• Use dried fruit in a cake mix. Fruits such as raisins, apricots or figs are high in natural sugar.

Working characteristics – how the ingredient behaves, its performance or how it is used to its best advantage, when in a recipe cooked on its own, or as an accompaniment.
Functional properties  – the purpose for which the ingredient is being used and can be linked to its: structure, nutritional value, taste, texture, appearance, shelf life.

These are exam board definitions – I think they mean the same!!!

Sugar substitutes  – alternative ingredients Xylitol

Sugar explained

Stevia Agave 

Sugar free baking   – blog with information on sugar