I recently wrote a post about substituting sugar and oil in gluten-free baked goods.Today I am going to share an
Today I am going to share an article by King Arthur on how to reduce sugar in baked goods. Please remember that these tests were done on cakes made with wheat flour, and are NOT gluten or dairy free. Reducing sugar in gluten-free cakes may not have the same results. I have taken recipes cited in this article as examples of cake types.
You need to consider which type of cake you are dealing with when reducing sugar in your baking.
There are four cake types:
Blended cake is the most basic: you simply put all of the ingredients into a bowl and stir them together.
Sugar doesn’t build volume in these cakes, but simply provides sweetness and moisture. Blended cakes are typically medium- to coarse-textured, and are often baked in a single layer: think sheet cake.
Example: Apple cake
This type of cake relies on “creaming” (beating together) butter and sugar until they’re lightened in color and fluffy. This builds volume and texture; these cakes may be high-rising, or dense.
Example: Bundt cake
Another path to the same destination is sponge cake which starts with a well-beaten mixture of eggs and sugar, instead of butter and sugar. Sponge cake tends to be moister than creamed cake, but is otherwise quite similar.
Example: Hot milk cake
And then there are foam-style cakes. Egg whites and sugar, beaten to a thick meringue, create cakes whose texture is super-light, but also somewhat dry and “springy:” these cakes won’t fall apart at the mere sight of your fork, and thus are great for filling and rolling.
Example: Angel food cake
The result of the testing by their master baker, Melanie Wanders?
Reduce sugar in any cake by 10% right now
After studying Mel’s test results, comprised of a dozen different recipes representing four types of cake, we believe you can reduce the sugar in any cake recipe by 10% without compromising its flavor or texture.
In fact, Mel reports the foam-type cakes are better with a 10% reduction: “I felt that the structure [with a 10% sugar reduction] was best in all three recipes I tested — there was no sinking.”
Now, is this successful 10% sugar reduction applicable to every cake recipe in the universe? I can’t guarantee that. But I feel confident that you can take your favorite cake recipe, cut the sugar by 10%, and be very happy with the result.
The easiest way to make this 10% reduction? Remove 5 teaspoons from each cup of sugar called for in the recipe.
Reduce sugar in blended cakes by up to 50%
“I found no difference in any of the four sugar levels in blended cakes [original, and 10%, 25%, and 50% reductions] other than how sweet you like things,” said Mel. “And for cakes with fruit in them already, I think the baker can decide to use any of the reduction amounts.”
The only reservation we have with this blanket endorsement of wholesale sugar reduction is for chocolate cake (e.g., Cake Pan Cake). Cocoa’s bitterness demands a certain level of sweetness to keep it palatable. So if you’re reducing sugar in chocolate cake, start with 10%, and take it down from there.
I have reduced the sugar by one tablespoon in their cake pan cake and had good results. But when you are dealing with cocoa powder, it can be bitter, so start with 5 teaspoons.
Reduce sugar in creamed cakes by up to 25%
Mel prefers a 10% sugar reduction to the original in creamed cakes. However, “To move to a 25% reduction or more would be too much for most bakers, in my opinion,” she said, adding that at 25% she had trouble with creaming, and with the batter separating.
Still, if you want to reduce the sugar in your favorite creamed cake recipe by 25%, I urge you to do your own test. I tried a 25% reduction in Brown Sugar Pound Cake and certainly found the cake less sweet. But lowering the original level of sweetness allowed the butter flavor to shine through. And the cake’s texture, though a tad drier, was perfectly acceptable.
Another tip here: do not use oil in cakes that require creaming. You can use a butter substitute, such as Earth balance sticks, but using oil will not allow the sugar to completely incorporated.
Reduce sugar in sponge cakes by up to 25%
We both find that a 25% sugar reduction in sponge cake recipes is perfectly acceptable. As with the creamed cakes, the reduced sweetness allows other flavors to emerge. And their texture is excellent: moist, fine-grained, and high-rising.
Speaking of texture, though, we find sponge cakes tend to suffer when you cut their sugar by 50%. While they’re still fine-grained, they don’t rise as high, and become unpleasantly rubbery.
Reduce sugar in foam cakes by 10%
Baking an angel food cake? Go ahead, reduce the sugar by 10%. Beyond that, though, you risk compromising texture. Says Mel, “Reducing sugar by more than 10% in foam cakes results in texture changes and an egg flavor that’s too pronounced for me.”
I think it is perfectly safe to reduce the sugar in most gluten free cakes by 10%. Again, your results may vary.
What do you think? Share your ideas and results!