The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Any problems with reducing sweetener in PR Whole Grain Breads?

dblaaah's picture

Any problems with reducing sweetener in PR Whole Grain Breads?

I have just picked up bread-baking again after a 30+ year sabbatical. I really like the breads I'm making from Peter Reinhart's WGB (100% whole wheat sandwich, multigrain struan, whole wheat mash); however, they are all a little sweet for my taste. Will there be any problem if I reduce the amount of sweetener (I've been using agave syrup) from that called for in the recipes? I am usually cooking these with the starter, not the biga, as I prefer as little yeast to be added as possible.

Thanks for any advice or help!

RobynNZ's picture

Hi dblaaah

Welcome back to bread baking and welcome to TFL. 

You are not alone in finding the WGB formula rather too sweet.

Take a look at this thread:

You'll find the archives here contain a wealth of information, make friends with the search box!

Cheers Robyn


dblaaah's picture

Thanks Robyn! I had searched through several pages of forum posts & various pages without finding anything, but had not made effective use of the search box. I appreciate your gentle steering of this newbie to the site. After searching, it appears I can easily cut the sweetener in half, with little issue. i'll try that next. 

There is a wealth of information here!


arlo's picture

I actually recently made the mash bread and blogged about here. I used no sweetners at all with a sourdough instead of a biga. The loaf turned out nicely.

Welcome back to baking : )

Chuck's picture

Many "gloopy" ingredients (oil, eggs, milk, honey, syrup, etc.) contribute some water (more generally some liquid) to the overall mix. So if you're using a liquid sweetener and you cut the amount by half, you may need to add a bit of water to the recipe to get the same dough feel as before.

My  experience is although calculating exactly how much "water equivalent" is possible (using some fancy spreadsheets, values from the FDA, etc.), it  doesn't produce as good a result as just going for the right feel. Weigh what you did, and write it down, so you can immediately measure out just the right amount of additional water next time.

Leisesturm's picture

Part of the reason I started making bread is that my wife finds all commercial bread products too sweet, even the better stuff in Whole Foods. When I started reading about bread-making and the need for sugars to feed the yeast I worried that my first loaf calling as it did for two TBS of honey and one TBS of mollasses would be two sweet. Not so, the yeast fought the sugar to a draw and the result is bread with no added sweetness whatsoever. Had I second guessed the author of the recipe the result would likely have taken more remedial action to produce an acceptable loaf than I would be able to apply at this stage of my career as a breadmaker.


This is my verbose way of saying you are right to wonder if there will be any problem in unilaterally reducing the levels of anything suggested in a recipe. Usually there is another recipe somewhere else that does exactly what you want it to by design. That is another way to proceed. Good Luck.


ssor's picture

in commercial food products. Many years ago my younger son was diagnosed as diabetic and I decided that I could control the sugar and fat that he got at home by doing all of the cooking from basic ingredients. We can make very acceptable bread and pies with much less sugar and fat than many recipes call for.

Chuck's picture

...the need for sugars to feed the yeast...


Could they have meant a chemical term for a flour breakdown intermediate? Adding "sugar" to dough can speed up fermentation (and a sweet taste is sometimes desired)  ...but I've never thought of sugar -even in very small amounts- as "required".

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

in anything.  Just leave it out. The higher the fructose level in any type of sweetener the worse it is for the liver.  Gets processed like alcohol, a toxic, so moderation should be used.  Not easy when fructose is in just about every processed food.  So the more you can leave out, the better because we are exposed to it constantly.