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Baking With Fruit Instead of Sugar

By Maxine Wallace

Reduce the amount of processed sugar in your diet without having to give up sweetness or go without your favorite baked goods. It is possible to continue to enjoy sweet treats by ditching the sugar and using fruits instead to lend a comparable sweetness to your favorite breads, cookies and cakes.

Naturally Sweetened Basics

You can replace all or part of the sugar in many desserts by using fruits, such as bananas, figs, apples, pumpkin, papaya or dates, to provide a similar sweetness as sugar. Containing the simple sugar fructose, fruits may also provide fiber, vitamins and minerals. While baked goods sweetened with fruit purees may have just as much sugar and calories as those sweetened with processed sugar, they will not have the added sucrose.

Choosing Desserts to Sweeten Naturally

Fruit purees and juices work best for sweetening complementary flavored baked goods that have a denser texture such as muffins, cookies, brownies and quick breads, where the flavor is often overshadowed by other ingredients and flavorings. The most important factor to consider when choosing a fruit-puree sweetener is that you match the flavor with what you are making. Apples, bananas, papayas and pumpkin work best in quick breads, while figs and dates are most useful when making brownies, cookies or cakes.

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Preparing Fruit Purees

To prepare a fruit puree from dried dates or figs, reconstitute the fruits by soaking them in warm water before blending roughly 1 cup of fruit with 1/4 cup of water to achieve a puree. Soft fresh fruits, such as bananas and papaya, can be sliced and then mashed by hand with a potato masher or pureed in a blender. Create applesauce for use in baked goods by peeling and coring apples, placing them in a pan with about 1 inch of water and simmering them covered until they become soft, or about 20 minutes. Mash the cooked apples with a potato masher or run them through a food mill to create a fine puree.

Replacement Tips for Success

Use fruit purees as a one-to-one substitute for sugar in a recipe. If you are replacing all or most of the sugar in a recipe using a puree, reduce other liquids in your recipe to account for this; reduce liquids up to 1/4 cup per 1 cup of puree you use. Some fruit purees, such as those made from apples and pears, can also replace some of the fat in a recipe. In this case, replace the sugar and up to one-half of the fat using a puree.

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