Is it possible to make delicious, extravagant, decadent cakes and dessert without using a huge amount of processed or refined sugar? Absolutely! And here are 3 important tips to use less sugar when baking.
If there is one thing that I love more than anything, it's desserts. And eating cakes. And Ice Creams. Pretty much, eating anything sweet! But if there is one thing that I hate more than anything, it's to eat something TOO sweet.
When sweetness completely overpowers a pastry, it seriously ruins my day! Ok, maybe not my day... but definitely my meal! If you feel the same way, welcome! I will here try to give you 3 tips to use less sugar in recipes
"Wait, aren't cakes and desserts supposed to be sweet?" I hear you say.
Well, to start with, I believe that when you bake something, what you want to taste FIRST is the main ingredient (or ingredients) you are featuring.
Delicious fruits, rich chocolate, crunchy nuts, whatever it is that you are using, these are the flavours that should be the star of your dish. Not sugar!
Of course you want to satisfy your sweet tooth with a good piece of cake.
But it is all about finding the right balance. I strongly believe that any baked good or dessert will taste (and make you feel) way better without the addition of 3 cups of sugar... Let your other ingredients shine!
Not only will your treats taste better with less sugar (in my opinion), they will also be healthier. We all know that highly Processed Sugars are not the best things for us.
Even though they are usually the cheapest and most accessible sweeteners, remember that you have many other options available around you. Especially some that can be more natural and way less processed, if not not processed at all.
I am not a health professional (nor the healthiest person) so I will not write about the benefits of certain sources of sweetness over others. There is tons of information on this topic around and written by actually qualified people.
Whether it's for taste, health or even sustainability reasons, there are many ways to reduce the sugar contents of your desserts and cakes, or use natural sources of sweetness instead.
3 Tips to Bake with Less Sugar
1. Reduce the Amount of Sugar
The first step to reduce the amount of sugar when you bake is to... well... just reduce the amount of sugar that you use when you bake.
When I find a recipe online or in a cookbook, I automatically reduce the recommended amount of sugar by 2. Or 3. I rarely use more than 1/2 cup of Sugar, and that amount already seems like a lot to me!
You really do not need a large quantity of sugar to bring sweetness to your desserts. I am convinced that you will find a better flavour balance when you use less sugar, or "better" sugar. Sometimes, one or two tablespoons is all you need!
Also remember that Fruits bring their own natural sweetness. I know that when I use fruits in a cake, I drop the amount of added sugar even more. For this Peach and Almond Olive Oil Cake for example I only used 1/4 cup of Brown Sugar, and it was enough!
Another example is Milk Chocolate. This type of chocolate already contains a high level of sugar so you probably do not need to add any more. You can also simply use Dark Chocolate instead, like I did for this Dark Chocolate Mousse, which will cook way better than Milk Chocolate anyway.
2. Choose the Right Type of Sugar
If you are going to be using some, choose the right type of sugar. Some granulated sugars are less processed while others contains more minerals or vitamins.
I know that it can be hard to switch ingredients in a recipe, especially when it comes to baking because it is such a specific "science". One thing I almost always do is replace White Sugar with Brown Sugar.
This type of granulated sugar has a stronger "sweet taste", which mean that you can use less of it to obtain the same "sweet" result. It also supposedly contains more minerals than white sugar because of the molasses used to make it.
If you want to completely drop highly processed granulated sugar, a good alternative is Coconut Sugar. It pretty much looks like Brown Sugar and comes in a similar granulated form. It is a great option to replace white or brown sugar because it will behave the same way when baked, as opposed to natural sweeteners in liquid form.
3. Use Natural Substitutes to Sugar
Not artificial Sweeteners. Seriously, run away from artificial sweeteners! There are a lot of different natural alternatives to process sugar that will bring the researched taste. I encourage you to use those whenever possible, not only for they unique flavours but for all the nutrients and vitamins they contain.
Honey is probably the most obvious natural sweetener, and my favourite. Honey brings such an amazing, floral flavour to your desserts AND contains many highly beneficial nutrients. We are very lucky to get amazing Tasmanian Honey here in Australia. Last time we were down in Tasmania, we bought a 3L Honey tub directly from a tiny farm and it is the most delicious honey ever!
Amongst many other, you can also use Agave Syrup,Rice Malt Syrup or Maple Syrup. If you have never used these, I recommend to try them before baking with them. They all have distinct taste and some of them will work better with certain recipes than others.
As a general rule though, try not to replace a solid form of sugar with liquid alternative if you are going to be baking your dish. That could mess up the texture of your dessert. Instead, use these liquid natural sweetener with unbaked dessert: mousses, creams, yogurts, cereals, ganaches, fruit salads, jams, curds, etc...!
In conclusion, whichever yummy treat you are preparing, know that you have options. Eating healthier is obviously extremely important. But what I primarily wanted to say in this article is that using the right source and/or quantity of sweetness in your desserts will only make your creations more amazing. It's actually really easy - and tasty - to learn how to bake with less sugar!
Let's break the myth: your desserts don't have to be super sweet to taste absolutely delicious!
All of this advice is obviously based on my own personal opinion and taste. If you enjoy really sweet desserts, go for it!