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Baking with Less Sugar: Recipes for Desserts Using Natural Sweeteners and Little-to-No White Sugar Hardcover – April 21, 2015
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"Let's kick sugar to the side and dig deeper into our kitchens and cupboards to discover other balancing acts and sweeteners that challenge what can really embolden a recipe. What results is a deeper connection, a more compelling depth of flavor, and complex baked goods and desserts that are all the more irresistible as the absence of sugar makes way for more flavors to come forward-exactly what Joanne does best." - Christina Tosi, author of Momofuku Milk Bar
About the Author
Joanne Chang is the pastry chef–owner of Flour Bakery + Café in Boston.
Joseph De Leo is a food photographer based in New York.
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Top Customer Reviews
In many cases, Chang keeps the basic structure of a recipe but simply reduces the amount of sugar. (If you've ever put more than a cup of sugar into a cake recipe, you'll be relieved to know that you can get away with as little as a third of a cup to achieve the same results in structure and lose very little in taste.) In other cases, Chang uses "natural" alternatives, including honey, maple syrup, dates and fruit juice concentrates; she does mention stevia's properties, but (thankfully) doesn't use it in baking because stevia is only a sweetener and doesn't work as a stabilizer. Finally, she relies on the natural sweetness in some common ingredients, including dairy cream, coconut milk and vanilla. (Is vanilla, even in seed/paste form, sweet? I don't think so, but because so many of us associate the flavor with sweetness, psychologically that's enough to convey it without extra sugar, at least in whipped cream.)
As someone who has been baking for a family for decades, I've known for quite some time that much of the sugar could be reduced without a problem- in cakes. I was particularly impressed by what Chang could do with frosting. The "cover model" is a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting; as anyone who has ever made a cream cheese frosting knows, it becomes softer more quickly and sometimes requires more sugar than buttercream frostings to help hold its shape. Chang uses a combination of vigorous beating and heavy cream to achieve an impressively similar result.
Highly recommended for home bakers who want to use less sugar.
I think many of us have grown up with our food chock full of sugar, and it's nice to find out that food can be just as tasty or even better by cutting down the sugar. These will continue to be just once in a while treats in our house, but I do like baking with less sugar or by using natural sweeteners.
2) The desserts don't last as long as you're used to (because sugar acts as a moistening agent and as a preservative). You experienced bakers out there probably knew this, but I didn't. So not only are you getting a lot of sugar per serving, the cake won't last 3 days for you and your family to enjoy over time; all that work is down the drain within 24 hours (unless you eat it all immediately, thereby lessening the point of baking with less sugar in the first place). Chang also mentions this issue several times in the book. (Too bad I couldn't read the book before buying it!)
3) When I tried baking these recipes, a few I just could NOT get right. The cakes in particular - I don't know what went wrong. I ended up with soggy messes. I have never messed up a recipe more than once, and with one of these recipes (the apple-maple cake), I tried 3(!!) times. Failed every time and ended up with butter seeping out of the cake. What?
The short version of the story is: buy this book only if you 1. have a large family who can eat an entire cake in one day, but 2. you don't want to over-stuff them with sugar, and 3. make sure you try out the recipe before you serve it to anyone because... the desserts can turn out really weird. Hmmm.