While sugar may make everything sweet and leave a great aftertaste in your mouth, don’t be fooled by its pristine white appearance. It may look innocent and harmless, but that exactly what it’s not for your health!
While adding a small spoon of sugar to your morning cuppa is one thing, consuming large amounts of it daily is an invitation to health problems.
If you love your desserts and just can’t resist satiating your sweet tooth, you need to be extra careful. There are ways, however, to bite into your favorite cakes and pies without feeling guilty.
Baking with sugar substitutes may sound like a complicated affair, but it really isn’t. Sure you may experience the initial hiccups when working with them, but that’s true of most new things we do for the first time.
It doesn’t need to be said that cutting out the sweet element from baked desserts will take all the fun out of them. Sugar is important as it helps make the baked goods moist and puffy and gives it that lovely golden-brown appearance. Using sugar substitutes gives all you all that and more.
Whether you’re out of sugar or looking to bake healthy, here are a few alternatives that can replace it without affecting the quality of the final product.
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There are two types of honey that used most often – raw and pasteurized. The former is thick in consistency with a cloudy, granular appearance, while the latter has a thinner consistency and is golden in color.
Unlike the pasteurized variant, raw honey is not processed or heated which leaves its vitamins, minerals and antioxidants intact. As far as the taste is concerned, it is sweeter than white sugar and extremely versatile which makes it a great ingredient to use when baking.
When replacing white sugar with honey in baked goods, using ¾ cup honey for every 1 cup sugar would work well. Apart from that, take care to decrease the quantity of the liquids you add to the recipe by ½ cup for every 1 cup honey as it brings moisture to the recipe by itself.
Make sure to reduce the temperature I the oven by 25 degrees to ensure that your baked goods don’t brown too much. Avoid giving honey to infants and toddlers younger than two years of age to protect against infant botulism.
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Another great alternative to refined sugar is maple syrup which is a natural sweetener and rich in minerals like zinc and manganese. However, its high glycemic index may be a problem as it may result in a rise in blood sugar.
The sweetness from maple syrup tends to lessen when used in baking. Typically there are 2 common grades of maple syrup – Grade A and Grade B. The former is lighter in color with a mild flavor, and the latter is darker in color with a stronger flavor.
When employing it in place of sugar in baking, use ¾ cup pure maple syrup for 1 cup granulated sugar. Further, reduce the liquid content in the recipe by 3 tablespoon for each cup of maple syrup.
Your baked goods may brown more quickly when you use this syrup due to its high sugar content.
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Muscovado is an unrefined sugar and should not be confused with brown sugar which is nothing but white sugar processed with molasses. It is available in dark as well as light colors and is similar to brown sugar in taste, thanks to its tendency to retain sugarcane juice.
Like brown sugar, muscovado is moist and can be used as a substitute for brown sugar on a 1:1 ratio in recipes.
Brown Rice Syrup
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This syrup is made by cooking brown rice with cultures and enzymes in order to disintegrate the starch content. The leftover liquid is drained and cooked further until it reaches a consistency of the desired level.
It doesn’t really have a very strong flavor; in fact it’s just half as sweet as white sugar. But it works well as a substitute to other liquid sweeteners on a 1:1 ratio in cooked and baked goods.
Make sure to check the labels when picking it off the shelf at the grocery store as certain brands add barley malt and corn syrup to it.
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Molasses is a byproduct of refined sugar production, containing tiny amounts of calcium, iron and B vitamins. It is less sweet than white sugar, but gives a dark color and a strong flavor when used in baked items.
When using molasses in place of sugar, you can use 1 1/3 cups of it for every 1 cup of sugar used and reduce the liquid content in the recipe by 5 tablespoon.
Make sure that you replace no more than half the amount of sugar mentioned in the recipe, though. Because it is more acidic than sugar, you will need to add ½ teaspoon baking soda for each cup of molasses.
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Also known as agave syrup, it was used by the Aztecs thousands of years ago and was considered as a gift from the gods. Its taste is similar to that of honey with a slight fruity taste and is great for use in tea, coffee and baked items.
The best thing about it is that it is easily available. It is also considered health-friendly as it has a minimal effect on blood sugar and insulin levels.
Do exercise caution when using it, though, as it is high in fructose, which can cause one to overeat.
When used in baking, you will need to reduce the liquid content in the recipe by ¼ cup for every cup of agave nectar used. Apart from that, you will also have to tone down the oven temperature by 25 degrees from the baking temperature recommended in the recipe for best results.
The above sugar substitutes may be less commonly used but are capable of delivering the same delicious results that white sugar does. Do give them a try and enjoy your desserts knowing that you’re giving into temptation while deriving guilt-free pleasures.