There are a lot of reasons to incorporate alternative sugars into your baking: maybe you’re trying to cut back on refined sugar in your diet; maybe you’re looking for something with a little more depth of flavor than the white stuff; or maybe you’re trying to avoid GMOs (while cane sugar is not made from genetically modified plants, almost all beet sugar in the United States is).
There are more varieties of sugar substitutes than ever to choose from on the market, and they can increasingly be found outside of natural food and health stores. But it can be intimidating to pick one: Baking, in particular, has a reputation as a medium that is not friendly to substitution or improvisation, and there’s some truth to that.
Sugar in baked goods is not just for flavor: it affects lift, texture, moisture, browning, and a host of other things, so swapping an alternative sweetener for traditional refined sugar in a recipe might require some experimenting before you achieve a perfect result. But, as someone who has turned out many batches of fallen cakes, melted-together cookies, and other misshapen treats, I can assure you: even a messed-up dessert will still get eaten.
So be not afraid! Go forth and experiment, keeping these guidelines in mind.
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