Baked desserts include such goodies as cakes and cupcakes, pie, cookies, quick breads, and brownies. These are sweet desserts, and one of the main ingredients is sugar.
If you and your family love desserts, and you love baking but want to avoid high amounts of sugar, you need to find ways to decrease the sugar in your baked goods.
Recipes for baked desserts traditionally call for granulated white sugar or other forms of refined sugar. The sugar sweetens the dessert, but it’s important to the baking process as well. It adds volume and texture to baked goods, as well as color. Simply reducing the amount of sugar may result in your cake falling flat or your cookies looking pale.
Commercial sugar substitutes like Splenda may be used in place of granulated sugar, but read the directions carefully. You may need to use more of the sugar substitute than the amount of sugar listed in the recipe. For example, you may need one and a half cups of substitute to replace every one cup of granulated sugar.
A sugar substitute must also be able to withstand high temperatures. Select a substitute formulated for baking, so that it performs in the same way as granulated sugar.
If you prefer not to use commercial sugar substitutes, consider modifying the amount of sugar along with other areas of the recipe. If you reduce the amount of sugar for a muffin recipe by 25 percent, for example, the muffins retain the same color and texture, but the yield is lowered because the recipe now makes less batter.
The solution to this is make smaller muffins. Instead of filling each cup three-quarters full in a 12-cup tin, fill each cup half full. Reduce the oven temperature by approximately 25 degrees and decrease cooking time by three to five minutes. Your muffins retain the flavor and texture you enjoy; they’re just smaller due to less sugar.
This approach works well with muffins or cupcakes and smaller cookies. To make it work for cakes or quick breads, you’ll need to increase the leavening agent in order to retain volume.
Agave syrup and honey are two alternatives to refined sugar, adding sweetness and texture, but it may be necessary to make other adjustments to the recipe as well.
Agave syrup is sweeter than refined sugar, so less is require. A rule of thumb is two-thirds agave syrup for every one cup of sugar. Because the syrup is a liquid, you either need to add more starch or flour, or reduce the amount of other liquids in the recipe.
Honey may be an even exchange, but you’ll likely sacrifice some volume. Your cookies may be flatter, but they’ll be just as sweet.
Natural sources of sugar
Fruit, such as apricots and dates, add a considerable amount of sweetness to baked goods. Though it may take a bit of experimentation, try adapting recipes to include finely chopped or pureed fruits. You may not be able to eliminate sugar altogether, but you can reduce the amount you use.
For example, pureed dates can be the source of sugar in brownie recipes. The brownies may be a bit softer or less cake-like, but just as enjoyable. When using fruit as a substitute for or along with refined sugar, you may need to increase the leavening agent to aid in achieving the right volume and texture.