Baking without Sugar: Which Alternatives are Suitable?

White table sugar contains a lot of calories – and Christmas cookies contain a lot of sugar. While there are numerous alternatives, such as stevia and xylitol, not all are equally suitable for baking.

Whether cookies or gingerbread, sugar plays an important role in Christmas baking. Without the right sweetness, the treats just don’t taste good. Disadvantage: The usual table sugar has plenty of calories and causes the blood sugar level to rise rapidly.

Equivalent sugar substitutes are hard to find

If you can’t tolerate it or want to limit your calorie intake, you can fall back on numerous alternatives. However, most of them are not equivalent substitutes for sugar. On the one hand, the often smaller volume changes the consistency of the dough and the pastry, on the other hand, the sugar substitute has a more or less strong taste of its own.

Xylitol sweetens like sugar

Birch sugar or xylitol have proven to be good alternatives to sugar. The white granules are tasteless and sweetened – based on weight and volume – similar to sugar. Xylitol can therefore replace the sugar mentioned in the recipe 1:1 or partially as desired. For yeast dough, however, you should add a teaspoon of sugar. Advantage: birch sugar contains only about 50 percent of the calories. Real xylitol is obtained from the bark of birch or other trees. In part, however, it also comes from corn cobs. In large amounts, xylitol has a strong laxative effect. A kilogram costs at least ten euros, while sugar costs less than one euro.

Erythritol contains hardly any calories

Erythritol, like xylitol, is a sugar alcohol that is very low in calories—only about five percent compared to sugar. However, it also has a little less sweetening power, so 100 grams of sugar have to be replaced by around 125 grams of erythritol. This can affect the consistency of the dough. As it cools, it can crystallize and give the pastry a crispy texture. Also, erythritol produces a cool aftertaste.

Coconut blossom sugar has a strong taste of its own

The brownish coconut blossom sugar is reminiscent of cane sugar. It has a sweetening power similar to that of white sugar but tastes distinctly of caramel and malt. Calories can hardly be saved with the crystals from the nectar of the coconut blossom. In addition, one kilogram of coconut blossom sugar costs around 20 euros.

Stevia: A lot of sweetening power with little volume

Stevia, probably the best-known sugar substitute, is less suitable for baking. It is around 300 times sweeter than sugar and is therefore only used in small amounts. The dough lacks volume and cohesiveness. Stevia also has a slight licorice aroma. If you want to replace sugar completely with stevia, you need special recipes.

Agave Syrup and Maple Syrup: Liquid and high in calories

The thickened fruit juice of the agave usually comes from Central America, which worsens its ecological balance. It sweetens about 25 percent more than sugar and is more suitable as a substitute for honey. Agave syrup is easily soluble and thus changes the consistency of the dough. The same applies to maple syrup, which also has a strong taste of its own. Calories can hardly be saved with thick juice and syrup.

Date sweetness: Good for baking

Date sweet consists of finely ground dried dates and has a slightly fruity aroma. In many recipes, date sweeteners can replace some or all of the sugar. It has a little less sweetening power than sugar but has significantly more healthy ingredients, including tryptophan – an amino acid that calms the nerves and helps with insomnia. However, you can hardly save calories with date sweeteners.

Make your own date paste

Date paste can also be used to replace sugar in baking. It is very easy to make yourself: Simply pit the dates and soak them for a few hours. Then puree with some soaking water. The paste will keep for about a week in a sealed jar.

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Written by John Myers

Professional Chef with 25 years of industry experience at the highest levels. Restaurant owner. Beverage Director with experience creating world-class nationally recognized cocktail programs. Food writer with a distinctive Chef-driven voice and point of view.

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