Baking is a delicious art form, but many of its classic recipes rely heavily on refined sugar, which isn't great for our health. The good news is that there are many healthier alternatives to sugar that you can use in your baking projects, adding not just sweetness, but also interesting flavors and better nutritional profiles to your treats. Here, we're going to explore three of these alternatives: honey, maple syrup, and dates.
Honey in Baking
Honey is a natural sweetener that's far healthier than white sugar. It is full of antioxidants and has antimicrobial properties. When baking with honey, bear in mind that it's sweeter than sugar, so you'll need less of it. Also, remember to reduce the amount of liquid in your recipe by about a quarter cup for each cup of honey to maintain the right texture.
Pro Tip! Honey can cause baked goods to brown quickly, so you may want to lower your oven temperature by about 25 degrees to prevent over-browning.
Maple Syrup in Baking
Maple syrup is another excellent alternative to refined sugar. It offers an interesting flavor and is packed with important minerals like calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, and manganese. Just like honey, maple syrup is sweeter than white sugar, so you'll need less of it in your recipes. And, again, you’ll want to reduce the amount of other liquids in your recipe to keep your batter at the right consistency.
Pro Tip! Use darker, Grade A maple syrup for a stronger flavor.
Baking with Dates
Dates are nature's candy. They're super sweet, but also packed with fiber, which can help regulate blood sugar levels. Dates can be used in baking in many forms - as date sugar, date syrup, or simply chopped up and mixed into the batter. The application will depend on the recipe, but generally, when substituting dates for sugar, you can use an equal amount of date product to the amount of sugar called for in the recipe.
To help you make the shift to healthier baking, here's a quick reference table:
Switching from refined sugar to these alternatives can be an experiment at first, but it's worth it for the health benefits and the exciting new flavors these sweeteners can bring to your baking.