Once you learn how sugar works in baking, you’ll understand better how removing it affects the shelf life, texture, appearance, and, of course, taste in desserts. Here are the myriad roles that sugar plays in baking.
Attracts and holds moisture
Creates tenderness in pastries
Aids in browning
Deepens colour and flavour
Lowers freezing point of frozen desserts
Stabilizes beaten egg foams
Helps yeast grow by giving it food.
Prevents gluten formation.
Substitutes for sugar
1) Maple Syrup : It is the boiled sap from maple tree, and has warm and buttery flavor. The standard substitution if you want to substitute maple syrup for sugar is 1 cup syrup for 1 cup sugar and then decrease the liquid in the recipe by 3 tablespoons per 1 cup substitution.
2) Honey : Depending on where it is harvested and from what flower, honey comes in all different flavors and kinds. It’s a bit higher in calories than sugar and also sweeter, so you can use less in your baking and still satisfy your sweet tooth.
3) Molasses : This is the by product of refining sugarcane for sugar. It is acidic, which means that it reacts with baking soda; cakes made with molasses will always have baking soda in them to release the bubbles and lighten the batter.
4) Orange juice and Pineapple juice concentrates : These juice concentrates make a good and tangy source of sweetness for sorbets,ice-creams, pound cakes and cookies. They are more acidic than apple juice and grape juice concentrates, which makes them less versatile.
5) Dates : Dates have a skin that gets tough and leathery with age. So before using them, soak them in hot water and a little baking soda, which softens and dissolves the skin. Because of the size variation in different dates, always measure them by weight and not by pieces .
6) Agave nectar : This sweetner comes from agave plant (the same plant that gives us Tequila). In its purest form, when it is derived from the sap of the agave and boiled down to concentrate the sweetness, it is similar to maple syrup.
7) Stevia : This is a FDA approved low calorie sweetner substitute. It has zero calories, its glycemic index is zero, and it is extremely sweet, so you don’t need very much to sweeten your coffee or tea. It does not act like sugar in baking, so it is best used to sweeten fruits, cereals, and frozen treats.
8) Bananas : All fruits are sweet but because of their starch-like, non-juicy texture, bananas are especially valuable as a sugar substitute when baking. Super-ripe bananas that have turned black on the outside and are soft and mushy inside are so full of natural sugars that when you freeze them, they don’t freeze solid because of all their sugar content.
9) Coconut Milk : Unsweetened coconut milk is rich and creamy and faintly sweet. Use it in puddings and ice creams and as a substitute for whole milk in baked goods.