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Sweet Swap – How to Use Less Sugar and More Fruit in Baking

Sweet Swap – How to Use Less Sugar and More Fruit in Baking
by Natalie Butler, RD, LD

Sugar adds texture, volume, airiness, moistness, sweetness and helps your baked good caramelize. Fortunately, some recipes, like drop cookies and muffins, can be easily reduced in sugar by 1/4-1/2 without much change to the final product. Yay! Successfully replacing ALL the sugar with fruit will likely require quite a bit of trial and error. When using fruit in recipes, expect a flatter, more dense product.

Here are some guidelines for what to use as a replacement for sugar:

Homemade fruit purees: Puree ripe fresh fruit or frozen fruit that’s been thawed, and use 1/2 cup in place of 3/4-1 cup sugar in cake, quick bread or muffin recipes. For example, if a muffin recipe calls for 1 cup sugar, try using 1/2 cup fruit puree and only 1/4 cup sugar. If you don’t have time to puree it yourself, just buy the plain baby food version! Pureed bananas, figs, dates and applesauce will likely be the closest substitution for sweetness, but nearly any pureed fruit can work. If your modified baked good is too dry, eliminate 1 egg white.

Overripe fresh fruit: Bananas, mangoes, and pears work well. Cut them up or mash them and use 1/2 cup in place of an equal amount of sugar in quick breads, muffins and bread pudding. I often reduce my liquid by 1/4 cup when using overripe fruit.

Dried fruit: Try raisins, cranberries, apricots, and apples. How much sugar to eliminate in this case requires some experimentation, but an easy rule of thumb is reducing sugar by 1/4 and adding an equal amount of finely chopped, dried fruit.

Another tip: Instead of syrup, smash 1 cup fresh fruit and add it and 1 Tbsp water to a small pot and cook down over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until it thickens. Use it to replace syrup on top of pancakes, waffles, toast, oatmeal, or grits. Yum!

Remember, if you eliminate all the sugar in a recipe, without experimentation, you will likely end up with an inferior product.

Happy Holiday Baking!

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Viance Nutrition

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