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Baking This Holiday Season? Here’s How to Keep The Festivities Less Sugary

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Even the most resolute of us can’t help but indulge a little. It’s the holiday season after all! 'Tis the season to be jolly and get baking.

But here’s your definitive guide to be slightly less guilty about indulging. But before we tell you how to reduce sugar in your home bakes, we need to understand why sugar is important.

  • Moisture

Sugar moistens and softens baked goods. It keeps cakes and cookies from getting stale, and therefore you’ll find that those with reduced sugar turn stale quickly.

Also, if you’re baking with reduced sugar, check for the doneness of your baked goods’ earlier than usual. Baked goods with less moisture are prone to overbaking.

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  • Aeration

Without enough sugar, your baked goods won’t rise properly. Creaming butter or eggs with sugar is an important step in many baked goods.

It incorporates air into the batter or dough, helping them to puff up. Cutting back on sugar will reduce the amount of air going in.
  • Browning

Sugar plays an important role in the Maillard reaction. It's a chemical reaction that gives your baked goods their pleasant color and flavor.

  • Spreading

The more sugar in your baked goods, the more they’ll spread. It also depends on the ratio of ingredients—keeping the amount of other ingredients while reducing sugar will make your baked goods spread less.

  • Fermentation

Although bread is typically less sweet than cakes and cookies, sugar is also important in breadmaking.

Yeast feeds on sugar and produces carbon dioxide that makes your bread rise.

Making bread with less sugar might affect fermentation, which prevents your bread from reaching maximum volume.

How To Reduce Sugar While Baking

There are various healthy substitutes for sugar.

(Photo: iStock)

Now that you know what sugar does in a baked dish, let’s see how we can smartly reduce sugar:

Trick 1: Reduce it bit by bit

For most recipes, you can safely cut back to three-quarters the amount the recipe suggests without any adverse consequences.

Having said that, some chefs halve the amount of sugar recommended in a baked goods recipe with nobody the wiser as to the flavor impact.

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With a gradual reduction, you'll find yourself getting used to the new way that the baked items taste which highlight other flavors and textures.

Trick 2: Substitute

Substitute the sugar. Another great way to reduce sugar intake is to substitute it with something as tasty. Some choices include:
  • Stevia

  • Spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, mixed spice, etc.)

  • Fruit puree or Fresh fruit, berries, or sweet vegetables

  • Syrups, such as maple and

  • Honey

Trick 3: Increase the flour

Use this to make up the missed volume of sugar. For most recipes this will work but you do need to experiment a little

Balance your recipe by replacing the reduced sugar with a little more flour.

(Photo: iStock)

Trick 4: Use just enough sugar to keep yeast happy

Yeast requires the sugar to activate. Try and make sure you have enough sugar to keep the yeast satiated.

Trick 5: Garnish better

A lot of recipes call for icing sugar, fine sugar or other sugars in the recipes as garnish. Just use fresh flowers or get creative with fruit slices or spices like cinnamon. Or better yet just leave them be.

(The author is a lawyer turned business intelligence consultant turned chef. He also designs weekly and monthly meal plans for clients and conducts baking and cooking workshops.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Sugar   Recipes   festival season 

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