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The Use of Sugar in Baking

By Sharon Therien

Sugar is a staple of baked goods, used in varying quantities in almost every variety. Breads and pancakes use a small amount of sugar, with around a few tablespoons, while dessert breads, cakes, pies and other desserts use large quantities of sugar, usually with more than a cup. Sugar has many purposes in baking, although it is possible to substitute it with artificial sweeteners.

Purpose

Sugar has many purposes in addition to adding sweetness to your baking recipes. JoyofBaking.com explains that many recipes specify beating the sugar and a fat like butter, egg or oil to add air and fluffiness to the batter. This process helps increase the size of certain baked goods, such as cakes, when baked. The longer you beat the two together, the fluffier the baked good will become. Sugar also holds water, which results in the baked good lasting longer. When baked, sugar often turns brown, changing the color of the recipe.

Types

Different types of sugar will change the taste and other factors of your recipe. If you use white or brown sugar, the color will be different, and a recipe with brown sugar will have more moisture. Using varying sugar crystal sizes changes the fluffiness of the batter, as a cake with a large granule will be larger than one with a small granule such as confectioner’s sugar.

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Amount

Many recipes tell you to use more sugar than is necessary, notes the American Dietetic Association. You can reduce that amount by one-fourth and still have a tasty baked good. To add sweetness, use spices and flavoring such as cinnamon, vanilla or anise, or try fruit or fruit juice.

Substitutions

If you need to cut down on sugar, it is possible to use sugar substitutes in baking recipes. A July 2009 article in “Diabetes Forecast,” a publication of the American Diabetes Association, notes that you can use 24 packets of saccharin, 2 tablespoons of liquid saccharin or 1 cup of brown sugar saccharin in place of 1 cup of regular or brown sugar. Use the same amount of granular sucralose for the amount of sugar in a recipe. For other varieties of sugar substitutes, refer to the package directions.

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