What is a good sugar substitute for baking?

Written by kittie mccoy
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What is a good sugar substitute for baking?
(Photo courtesy of bowlingranny; Morguefile)

There are several sugar substitutes available, although some of the artificial sweeteners are actually destroyed by high temperatures which can lead to baked goods with an unpleasant flavour and appearance. Natural sweeteners often produce better results but they generally contain more calories and may require additional adjustments to the original recipe.

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Significance

Baking with sugar substitutes may be necessary in order to adapt favourite foods to a diabetic diet, reduce calories on a weight loss plan or simply reduce the amount of refined sugar consumed on a regular basis.

Sucralose

Sucralose is created from sugar but it does not break down in the body in the same way that regular sugar does. Sucralose is commercially available as Splenda. According to the Splenda website, sugar can be replaced in recipes with an equal amount of Splenda. Baked goods may bake faster when using Splenda, and the texture and appearance of the finished product may be slightly different. Splenda is safe to use in diabetic cooking and contains fewer calories than sugar. Dieters should keep in mind that one cup of Splenda contains 96 calories compared to the 770 calories in one cup of sugar.

Honey

The Victory Cookbook states that 1/4 cup of liquid should be omitted for every cup of honey that is added to a recipe in place of an equal amount of sugar. This will help to maintain the proper dry-to-wet ingredient ratio in the recipe. Honey may not be a good choice in recipes which have little or no liquid ingredients as it will change the texture of the finished product. According to Dr. Bernstein, author of The Diabetes Diet, honey will raise blood sugar levels and should not be considered a safe alternative for diabetics. Honey contains more calories than white sugar at 1031 calories per cup, but some people feel it is a healthier choice because it is less processed than white sugar.

Agave Syrup

Agave syrup is a natural sugar substitute that comes from the blue agave plant. This nectar-like syrup can be used to replace sugar in equal amounts. The amount of liquid in the recipe will need to be reduced by 1/4 cup for each cup of agave syrup used. Agave syrup is 90 per cent fructose so diabetics should use it in moderation just as they would use sugar. Agave syrup is a poor choice for those trying to lose weight because it provides 960 calories per cup which makes it a higher-calorie food than sugar.

Considerations

Many sugar substitutes can be used to sweeten food after cooking but they are not appropriate for baking. Aspartame, which is more commonly known as Equal or NutraSweet, is damaged in high heat and will lose flavour during baking. Stevia is a natural sweetener and while it is much sweeter than sugar, it will not add texture to baked goods and cannot be creamed with butter, carmelized or used to activate yeast, which makes it difficult to bake with.

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