There’s nothing wrong with baking with traditional’ white and brown sugars – they’re incredibly versatile and perfect for bringing sweetness to home baking. However, there’s been such a large boom over recent years in the availability of alternative sugars that it seems only right to give them a whirl and see what they can bring to tried and tested recipes.
We’ve rounded up a selection of the sugars that we’ve been experimenting with in the Test Kitchen here at our gluten free bakery – these are liquid sweeteners, therefore if you’re using them in place of dry sugars then you’ll need to tweak the recipe slightly for it to be successful. But trial and error are what baking is all about!
You can read more about what we are doing about sugar in our cakes here, looking at free sugar vs. intrinsic sugar,added sugars, and refined vs. unrefined sugars.
Adding a fruit paste or puree to your bakes is great for adding both sweetness and flavour, meaning that you can cut down on (or completely remove) the use of flavourings – which can sometimes taste a bit artificial. Most recently we’ve been using an apricot puree in our Oaty Apricot Bar to give a gorgeous fruity flavour.
We’re big fans of date syrup – it features in our Squillionaire as well as our new Oaty Apricot and Oaty Coconut Bars. It’s thick and sticky (in fact it’s very similar to molasses), so works very well in recipes where something is needed to bind’ the ingredients together. It brings a lovely richness to bakes and works well in so many different recipes – it’s incredibly versatile. It’s a bit sweeter than regular white sugar, so you may get away with using a little bit less in your recipes.
Coconut Blossom Nectar
A new one we discovered last year, Coconut Blossom Nectar is made from the sap of the flowers from the coconut palm – but it doesn’t taste of coconut! It actually has a faint caramel taste so gives a lovely subtle flavour. We haven’t yet tried this, but we think that it could be a really tasty replacement for golden syrup in flapjacks.
Agave nectar is very similar in consistency to runny honey and, like honey, is sweeter than white table sugar – meaning that you can use slightly less and still gain the same level of sweetness. It’s a great vegan alternative to honey and we’ve found it to work brilliantly in brownies, muffins and flapjacks.
Carob comes in the form of powder, chips and syrup and it seems to frequently be used as a substitute for chocolate. We’re still undecided on it however – we’ve found it to be quite bitter and a bit of an acquired taste. However, it’s cropping up in so many products these days that it must work – so don’t be undeterred!