Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How -To Guide For Substituting Honey and Maple Syrup For Sugar In Baking - Juggling Real Food and Real Life

This week The Real Food Experience is cutting processed sugars out of our diets and making the change to natural sweeteners.  The sweeteners that I have chosen for my family are honey and maple syrup.  When I first set out to make this change for my family, I realized that I needed to figure out how to make my family's favorite recipes without the usual sugar.   It really isn't difficult at all, but since baking is very much like chemistry........it is important to know the correct equations to use.

Honey and Maple Syrup to Sugar Conversion

How to Substitute Honey for Sugar in Baking.

The standard recommendation is to substitute 3/4 honey for 1 cup of sugar.  I am working really hard to reduce my family's overall sugar consumption so I have reduced most of my recipes to 1/2 cup or 1/4 of honey per 1 cup of sugar that the recipe calls for.  You may want to start with the standard conversion and then work your way down from there.

Mix in 1/4 tsp baking soda for every 1 cup of honey if baking soda is not already called for. There is no need to additional baking soda if the recipe already calls for it.  The baking soda is needed because it reduces the overall acidity of the recipe since honey is more acidic than sugar.

Since honey is moister than sugar, reduce the overall liquid by 3 tablespoons per every cup of honey used.  This can be milk, eggs, water, or oil.................3 tablespoons of one or an overall combined reduction of liquid ingredients.   

One more tip on baking with honey.  I'm kind of feeling like Alton Brown as I'm writing this. (He is so cool!)  Honey browns quicker than sugar so make sure you watch your recipe as it is baking.  I don't want you burning your favorite muffins.  That would be truly tragic!

Maple Syrup

How to Substitute Maple Syrup for Sugar in Baking.

Maple syrup is even simpler to convert than honey.  The standard substitution calls for 1 cup of syrup in place of 1 cup sugar.  And again......since it is liquid reduce the overall liquid by 3 tablespoons.  There is no concern about balancing acidity so the baking soda add on is not required.  

Make sure to refrigerate, freeze, or use up baked goods within a day.  Your baked goods will be nice and moist.  We don't want to encourage mold to grow by leaving them at room temperature for too long.

In addition to honey being tasty........there are some health benefits to it as well.  You can read up on some of them here.  If your honey hardens up, simply warm it up.  It will return to its liquid state.  Keep in mind for both honey and maple syrup that the flavors can vary greatly.  In general, the darker the honey or maple syrup the more flavor there will be.  If you are looking for a more subtle flavor for your dish, you will want to look for a lighter colored sweetener. 

Have you made the change to natural sweeteners?  Why or why not?  What is your favorite dish to use natural sweeteners?  What is the one place that you just have to use white sugar?

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