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Tips For Cooking With Limited Amounts Of Sugar PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 02 September 2008 10:16

Do you love sugar but have to cut back? Does your low sugar diet preclude your favorite desserts and make your food taste bland? If so, not to worry, there are ways to bake even your favorite desserts using less sugar, with or without sugar substitutes. It just requires some experimentation and a working knowledge of what sugar actually does in a recipe. Once you understand what the role of sugar is in your baking and cooking, you can make appropriate adjustments and substitutes.

In most types of cooking, sugar is only there for the flavor - the sweetening power. You can easily reduce the amount of sugar that you use in fruit compote, for instance, and you'll probably find that the fruit flavors are far more intense. Natural sugars like fructose in fruit and lactose in milk a lot of nutritional value along with the carbs and calories. Using natural sweeteners like apple juice is one way to add sweetness while cutting back on granulated sugar. Sugar substitutes are another way to add sweetness to drinks and food without adding calories or carbohydrates.

However, baking with sugar is a different story. Granulated sugar does more than sweeten baked goods. It can affect volume, moisture texture and color of the finished cakes, cookies, pies and candy. Substituting other ingredients for sugar in baked goods can cause your baked goods to fail - or at least come out far differently than you expect. If you are using sugar substitutes in baking, or trying to cut back on sugar in your baked goods, here are some tips to help you out.

  • Sugar substitutes work best in cold recipes, or added at the end of cooking time. Heat can destroy the sweetness of most sugar substitutes and leave an unpleasant aftertaste.
  • Try using sugar substitutes half and half with sugar in your baked substitutes.
  • Use spices and other flavor enhancers to bring out the flavor of dishes when you reduce sugar. Lemon and orange zest brings out fruit flavors. Vanilla and nut flavorings make baked goods smell buttery and sweet, which enhances the sweetness of your recipes. Cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and allspice all enhance sweetness in recipes.
  • When you cut sugar in chocolate recipes, substitute strong, cold coffee for some of the liquid to enhance the chocolate flavor without adding additional sweetness.
  • Top reduced sugar baked goods with fruit or fruit spread to put the flavors right up front so that they are tasted immediately.
  • Sprinkle reduced sugar cakes with cinnamon and sugar substitute for the same effect.


Texture and Volume

  • Sugar helps cookie dough to spread during baking. Without sugar, the cookies may not spread properly. When baking cookies using sugar substitutes, flatten each cookie slightly before baking just as you would peanut butter cookies.
  • Intensify sweetness in a dish with fruit juice. Reduce the juice to 1/3 of its original volume by boiling it over high heat for extra sweetness.
  • Muffins and cupcakes cooked with lower sugar may not rise as high or achieve the round-domed top that we expect. Bake them in mini-muffin tins rather than regular size to allow them to rise higher.
  • Add ½ teaspoon of baking soda to a recipe to make baked goods with reduced sugar rise in a shorter baking period.
  • To increase volume, use whipped egg whites in recipes that call for eggs. Start with eggs warmed to room temperature.


Appearance of Baked Goods

  • Spray the top crust of a fruit pie with cooking spray and sprinkle with a tiny amount of sugar before baking. You can reduce the amount of sugar in the filling because each bite of crust puts the sweetness up front - and your pie will brown nicely as a bonus.
  • Cakes and breads made with reduced sugar or sugar substitutes don't brown because there is less sugar to caramelize during baking. Try adding a tablespoon or two of molasses to the recipe to deepen the color and add moisture.
  • Sprinkle cinnamon or nutmeg on top of breads, cakes or muffins to give the impression of browning.
  • In fruit dishes, add a small amount of dark brown sugar to give the finished product a deep, rich, buttery brown color.


Texture and Moisture

  • For moister baked goods, use mashed or pureed fruits in place of some of the sugar and butter. You can use applesauce, but ripe bananas, sweet potatoes and carrots are more flavorful and add more tenderness and moisture. (Tip: Why puree? Buy baby food jars of pureed fruits and veggies to use in baked goods. They have no added sugar or salt.)
  • When using a sugar substitute, cooking times are considerably shorter. Pull cookies and brownies out of the oven before they look done. They'll continue to cook while they cool.