When you decide to go sugar free one of the biggest learning curves is how to bake with sugar alternatives. I have been fighting this battle most of my life. I have family members that are both type one and type two diabetic.
I began cooking when I was about 8 or 9 years old with my grandmothers help. As any normal child I wanted to share my creations with my mom to get her approval.
Huge problem!! My mom is a type one diabetic and has taken insulin injections since before I was born.
My grandma would bake things for the holidays that my mom could eat, using saccharine, Sweet n Low or Equal . They always had a weird aftertaste. The reason is that most sugar alternatives are not heat stable. What that means, they do not react the same way that sugar does when heated. Some noticeable differences are:
They do not caramelize
The taste changes, most notably an aftertaste
They produce less bulk
Then there came Splenda . There is a lot of controversy about this alternative. Personally, I have used it for many many years before beginning my THM journey. It measures and acts very similar to sugar because it is a chemically altered form of SUGAR. For my parents it was a staple in their home as were all the prepackaged sugar free options available in the grocery store isles. My mom was not a cook from scratch person.
What I use and why
After doing research to begin THM I decided to try using stevia and stevia blends as an alternative. There is a learning curve even in switching sweeteners. Some of them cause gastro upset and we each have a unique flavor palate. While I can use some of the on plan options others cause me issues. It’s no fun to be doubled over with cramps and gassiness after eating what is supposed to be a treat.
I can’t use xylitol for those reasons as well as the fact that we have 2 dogs, 1 of which sneaks food and crumbs etc… Xylitol is toxic to dogs even in small amounts.
My preferred sugar alternatives are:
- THM Super Sweet Blend (erythritol stevia blend)
- Stevia Extract Powder
- Pyure Liquid Stevia Extract
- Pyure, Organic Stevia All Purpose Sweetener (erythritol, stevia blend)
Why would you use all of these sugar alternatives?
Honestly I don’t use them all every day. But when baking, mixing and layering sugar alternatives helps me achieve the taste profile in the end result.
How I Avoid the Aftertaste
There are a few ways to avoid a chemically aftertaste when using these sugar alternatives.
- layering within the recipe
- using less
- mixing more than 1 sugar alternative within the recipe.
Layers of Sweetener
That sounds confusing and like a lot of extra work. For me it isn’t, my family is pretty picky about how things taste. Taking a few extra minutes and steps is worth it for everyone to enjoy the end result. I normally start with adding bulk, which means either one of the blends or straight erythritol.
Then a doonk (1/32 tsp) or two of stevia extract for extra sweetness. It is really easy to over do with stevia extracts as they are extremely concentrated. You can buy a “doonk” spoon through Trim Healthy Mama, they do normally come packaged with stevia extract.
After baking I allow things to cool to room temperature and will refrigerate most items. Erythritol and blends which contain it need to cool completely or you can get a strange cooling effect in your mouth that just doesn’t work with some things.
Sugar alcohols loose sweetness as they bake, the added stevia helps to avoid this.
Depending on what it is I baked I then add a sprinkle of Sweet Blend, frosting or glaze to the finished baked good. This bumps up the sweetness without applying heat to the sweetener.
Less is More
Most blends are concentrated due to the addition of stevia extract which means you need far less of them to get the same sweetness as sugar. I normally err to the less sweet side of things and then add sprinkles, a glaze or topping to bring the sweetness into balance. Another tool is salt, it balances the bitterness of two much stevia and allows the sweetness to bloom especially when using cocoa.
I hope these tips help.
The pictured cake is from Sheri Graham… Trim Healthy Mama -Chocolate Cake -Fuel Pull.
I did add 1 TBS of Extra Virgin Coconut Oil to make this an S cake.