Comparing Sugar and Sugar Substitutes in Baking

SUGAR, PURE AND NATURAL.

I am a great believer in using pure, natural ingredients where possible. I am a fan of home cooking, and don’t like using pre-prepared packs or ingredients.

Sugar comes from sugar cane or sugar beet, and in many different forms – granulated, syrup, unrefined muscovado etc. Some are more processed than others, and you can choose which type you like according to your taste.

Most sugar substitutes are just chemicals, and who knows what harm they are doing to our bodies? I think that chemicals should only be used as medicines, and to help with food preservation etc. I don’t think that people should routinely eat chemicals just because they can’t say ‘no’ to real sugar. If you don’t like the calories that sugar brings, then cut down, or cut out, the amount you eat.

Sugar substitutes like saccharine don’t behave the same way as sugar does in baking. More than any other type of cooking, baking is a science. The mix of ingredients is crucial and the balance of components is what makes the formula work. This is why you can’t mess about with baking recipes too much – especially bread ones.

Some sugar substitutes are made from processed ingredients, like fruit, to extract the fructose. This is a natural ingredient because it is not man-made, but it is highly processed. If you want natures own sweetener (and don’t want to chew on a sugar cane!) try honey. This comes in a variety of subtle flavours depending on what nectar the bees have been collecting and can be used set or runny. Be careful when using it in baking – as explained before, it will react differently in the mixture to grains of sugar,as it is a semi-liquid. It won’t set hard like sugar does, and your cakes may come out stickier – but perhaps you’ll like it that way?

My advice is to experiment with other NATURAL sugar substitutes, but to stay away from saccharine and other chemical concoctions.

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