There are two basic reasons why you would need to learn about sugar substitutes and how to substitute sweeteners in a recipe.
One is that you ran out of the sweetener that you needed.
The second is that you are using sugar substitutes for health reasons.
Starting to Use Healthier Sweeteners
One of the ways that our family started moving towards more whole foods was to move away from white sugar and start baking with honey, sucanat, and other sweeteners.
If you've been wondering about baking with honey or baking with maple syrup, or what to do about substituting sugar in your baked goods or other sweet (or not-so-sweet) dishes, then this post should help.
Never Run Out Again
One of my pet peeves (and probably yours too) is running out of something when you are in the middle of the recipe.
And one of my best time and money-saving cooking and baking tips is learning how to substitute one thing for another.
That way you're not running out to the store at the last minute because you ran out of something. You spend extra time (a lot), extra money on gas, more money than usual because you are making a last minute purchase, plus you might end up buying other things that you don't need, which really add up.
You know how it goes – you're making a dessert that calls for honey and all you have is a granulated sweetener, or vice versa. So you get in the car (if you have kids this takes an inordinate amount of time), head to the store, run into traffic, get to the store and grab what you need, in addition to grabbing some other stuff that caught your eye.
About an hour later (at the earliest) you're back home ready to move on with your recipe, but you're wiped out now and really don't feel like finishing anything anyways.
Well, one of the easiest things to substitute in recipes is sweeteners.
Now, I am a reforming sugar-aholic. I used to eat sugar all. the. time.
I once even worked in an ice cream parlor.
Bad idea. Ahem.
I basically would come home and tell my mother that I wouldn't be needing dinner because I was full from sampling anything and everything (yes we were allowed to do that).
Anyway, I don't bake quite as much these days since we are focusing on vegetables and animal proteins more and more in our quest to deal with adrenal fatigue, but I still enjoy making whole grain (or non grain) treats (like Chocolate Chia Pudding or Berry Mousse) that require some sweetening.
And I know that a lot of my readers are using traditional sweeteners (hopefully the healthier options of honey, maple syrup, sucanat, and the like) and that these substitution and baking tips would be useful for you.
So when you need to substitute a liquid for a granulated sweetener, how do you do that quickly and easily?
It's fairly simple, actually.
Mainly, you just need to make up for, or take away from, the liquid part of the liquid sweetener, when adding it to a recipe, and adjust a little for the different sweetness of the sweeteners you are substituting.
Now of course, if the recipe we are talking about is a dish with very little sweetener (like my Focaccia Flax Bread), then it really doesn't matter. Just substitute one sweetener for another and don't worry about it.
Additionally, with some non-baking recipes like
you can use whatever sugar substitute you wish (liquid or granulated). The result won't differ that much regardless of which sugar substitutes you use.
I love forgiving recipes, don't you :-)?
However, when you are dealing with a sweet baked good, then things get more complicated.
Here's how to make a sugar substitute in baking and have the result turn out well.
How to use a Sugar Substitute in Baking
1. Substituting Liquid for Granulated
When substituting a liquid for a granulated sweetener (e.g. using honey when the recipe calls for sucanat or brown sugar, or subbing in a liquid low carb sweetener for xylitol, etc.), for every 1 cup of liquid sweetener, subtract 1/4 cup of liquid from the recipe (that means therefore, for every 1/4 cup of honey, subtract 1 Tbsp of liquid).
2. Substituting Granulated for Liquid
The converse is then, when substituting a granulated for a liquid sweetener (e.g. using sucanat, coconut sugar, or xylitol when the recipe calls for maple syrup or honey), for every 1 cup of granulated sweetener, add 1/4 cup of liquid to the recipe (that means therefore, for every 1/4 cup of granulated sweetener, add 1 Tbsp of liquid).
3. Adjusting for Sweetness
Honey and maple syrup are sweeter than sugar
So use less honey or maple syrup (about 1/2 – 3/4 cup) for each cup of sugar, and if you are substituting another sweetener for honey or maple syrup, keep this in mind and adjust accordingly.
4. Oven Temperature Adjustments
If baking with honey or maple syrup, reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit, since maple syrup and honey will tend to caramelize and burn faster than granulated sweeteners. Conversely, if you are substituting another sweetener for honey or maple syrup, you might wish to raise the oven temperature a bit.
5. The Acidic Component
Since maple syrup and honey are somewhat acidic, when baking you will need to add 1/4 – 1/2 tsp baking soda per cup of honey or maple syrup to the batter so it will rise.
Conversely, you might want to remove that same amount of baking soda from a recipe when substituting another sweetener for maple syrup or honey.
6. Baking with Stevia
If you'd like to use stevia in your baking and cooking, check out Stevia-What It Is and How to Use It for helpful tips.
Stevia is super sweet. In general, 1/32 of a tsp is the equivalent of 2 Tablespooons of sugar. However, it is a little tricky to bake with it. The bulk that you lose by moving to a sweetener that is this concentrated makes it difficult.
Typically I will replace half of the sweetener in a recipe with Stevia Extract and the other half with another low-carb sweetener.
Pretty simple, isn't it?
I use these tips whenever I have run out of the sweetener I need (which isn't often, since I purchase my sweeteners in bulk – like everything else :-)), but more often when I am trying out a new recipe and want to use the least expensive sweetener that I have. Then if the recipe isn't a winner, I've spent less money on it than I would have otherwise.
Soon I'll go into more details of my thoughts about sugar, some more detailed information on sweeteners (including nutritional information and sugar substitutes as well).
What sweetener do you most use in your home?