All you bakers out there already know baking is chemistry, and sugar is part of the equation.
It’s responsible for that beautiful brown color that tells you your chocolate chip cookies are done. For proper texture, moisture, and it even helps leaven. If you go without it, you’ll wind up with a mutant creation that often looks weak, and tastes even worse.
With that in mind, let’s consider a few tips to lower sugar while maintaining the integrity of that beautiful confectionary treat of yours.
Use Less Sugar Than Your Recipe Calls For
When you can get away with it, this is a no-brainer. However, your ability to reduce sugar will depend on what exactly you’re baking.
Cookies, for instance, rely heavily on the right amount of sugar, so you can’t always skimp there. Pumpkin bread, however, can certainly use less.
Experiment with your recipes by using 1/4 to 1/3 less sugar. In some cases, you can even cut the sugar in half!
Use an Alternative Sweetener
No, we’re not talking about emptying a bunch of artificial sugar packets into your batter. Instead, try swapping out white sugar for alternatives like raw honey, pure maple syrup, or agave nectar. These are much sweeter (so you need a lot less) and have some inherent nutritional benefits (though not much so don’t go crazy).
When you replace white sugar with liquid alternatives, you’re going to end up with a different consistency and taste, though … so be aware of that. Trial and error is the key here, so find as many excuses to bake as you can!
Another suggestion is to use brown sugar (think: extra flavor), but halve the amount called for (replace 1 cup white sugar with 1/2 cup brown sugar).
Use Fruit’s Natural Sugars
This suggestion comes from the owner and head baker at Scafuri Bakery in Chicago. She suggests cooking fruit before adding to recipes.
For instance, cook the apples for your pie in a tiny bit of sugar in the oven to bring out the fruit’s natural sugars. Then plop that tasty goodness in a crust and continue baking. The end result uses less sugar, and enhances the flavor of the apples.
This goes for just about any fruit. You can even cook those apples, whirl in a blender, and use that sugary goodness in other baked things.
The key is to experiment and have fun!
You’ll also discover one of the beautiful things about using less sugar: you’re able to taste the wonderful inherent flavors of those baked goods better than when overdoing it on the sugar.
Oh, and if you’re not into the whole trial and error thing with baking, and just want some straight-forward recipes, check out these yummy recipes without the sugar guilt!