Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Aug 10, 2006 08:54 PM

Sugar alternative for Baking?

Instead of using the ultra-processed white cane sugar (such as that from C&H) I'd like to use something in my baking that is a little better for you. What do you recommend for replacing the white cane sugar in recipes (cookies, quick breads, etc)? I've heard a little about turbinando and stevia but I haven't used it yet. Will it change the texutre of my baked goods? And, no, I am not interested in fake sugars like Splenda.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. You could try palm sugar or jaggery/gur. Depending on where you are you will be able to find palm sugar in asian grocery stores in two basic varieties. One is blond or honey colored and hard, the other is dark brown with a winey fragrance and is softer. These are basically minimally refined sugars that have more vitamins & minerals (but not by much, I would imagine) and many more flavor notes because more of the plant is present. Jaggery is the Indian version of this. I don't know how you would adjust recipes, nor how these sugars would change the outcome. I've used them in sauces and drinks, but not in baking.

    Then, there's always molasses.

    1. You are going to have to be prepared to play with some recipes because the texture is going to change alot depending on what you decide to substiture. Baking is formulaic, not a recipe. If you start changing things you are going to have to be prepared for some flops.

      When everyone was hot for "raw sugar" a number of years ago, I believe it was Consumer Reports who took a good look at the stuff and found it was full of molds,yeasts, and insect bits and was pretty generally dirty. I just use 100% cane white sugar and brown and dark brown sugars. some recipes are written for a specific sugar and you might be better off looking for some cookbooks using alternative sweetning. I was taught many years ago in college that all sugar is sugar. The carbon liknages may differ slightly but it is all the same thing.

      Splenda is on my shelf and I do use it for somethings, it is real sugar not artifical. It has had one molecule removed and replaced with a chlorine molegule. I find it overly sweet. If you use aspartame which is an invert sugar it cannot be heated without losing its sweetness

      3 Replies
      1. re: Candy

        Ummmm... anytime you start replacing molecules with other compounds, you enter into the realm of artificial sweeteners. Technically, splenda can say it's 'made from sugar,' but this slogan is incredibly misleading because it leads people to believe that it's natural or that it actually resembles sugar. It isn't/it doesn't. Splenda is an artificial sweetener. It's produced in a laboratory, not extracted from a plant or a tree.

        1. re: scott123

          I'm never quite sure what to think about "natural" foods because after all, poison ivy is natural... This doesn't of course make "unnatural" foods any more appetizing. It just seems like being "natural" is not enough to necessarily recommend something. (That said, I find most artificial sweeteners so unpleasant tasting, I'd rather not have the sweetness if I have to have the chemical taste with it. Though I have occasionally used Splenda, and find it somewhat better than the others.)

          1. re: Anne H

            When I read "natural" in regards to food, I hope for unprocessed or minimally processed foods. I do the same for sugars, and I notice flavor differences. Other people have shared that it doesn't make any difference to them.

            There are all sorts of reasons for opting for unprocessed or minimally processed foods. Some of them have different health benefits, especially as a part of a balanced diet.

            However, "natural" on a food label these days is mostly marketing.

      2. Yes, with less refining you will have more "dirt."

        But, you can find extensive recipes using palm sugars or jaggery in the Southeast Asian or Indian sections of your local cookbook shelf. That will save you doing your own conversions.

        I personally enjoy the flavor of palm sugar. The molds, yeasts, and insect bits in it have never harmed me. But then my father told me years ago that I was living on borrowed time!

        1. Agave Nectar is a natural sweetener that has a low glycemic index and a lovely light flavor. It is slightly thinner than honey and possesses a similar color. It can be used in baking, but of course, your ratios will need to change. It is also sweeter than honey, so you need less.

          3 Replies
          1. re: chocolate chick

            Agave nectar is almost pure fructose. Fructose is definitely not a healthy alternative to sugar. It is low GI, but that's about the only thing good about it. Within recent years, it's been tied to health issues such as raised triglycerides and increased insulin resistence

            Here are a few studies that reveal the dangers of fructose:


            1. re: scott123

              Well, I clearly was not aware of that. Thank you for your indepth source of information.

              1. re: scott123

                Thanks, good to know. Some of my diabetic friends have been touting agave nectar as their free pass to all their old desserts... glad to know differently.

            2. Have you tried Brown Rice Malt or Barley Malt Syrup?

              I use this as it is low Glycemic index and way better for you!

              Also, if you are looking for a sweetener replacement altogether you should experiment with using mashed fruits. Bananas are great since they are very sweet but will obviously lend a distinct flavour.

              Alternatively, use macerated dried fruits such as apricots, apples, mangoes, pears, and prunes (dates are particularly high on the GI). Soak the dried fruits in apple juice, alcoholic or noalcohol cider, rum, tea, or any other liquid, puree and add as you would butter or margarine and reduce the sugar.

              The best way to start venturing into this is to learn what eachof the ingrediants does in the recipe so I would google this for more info but basicallly sugar lends sweetness as well as structure to the finished product.