The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sugar substitute

satimis's picture

Sugar substitute

Hi all,

Sugar is an essential ingredient in bread and cake baking on account of its component, carbohydrate.  However its too much intake may cause problem especially for persons of sedentary lifestyle.

Is Sugar Really So Bad?

The Harmful Effects of Sugar and Choosing Healthy Alternatives
Most sugar comes from sugar cane which is NOT an healthy ingredient.  'Sugar is to be avoided'? Definitely!
* Sugar can decrease growth hormone (the key to staying youthful and lean)
* Sugar feeds cancer

Stevia and Xylitol, Artificial Sweeteners etc. are the substitute of sugar for sweetness but may not be suitable for bread/cake baking.  Google didn't help me to find a sugar substitute which can be easily found on market at low cost, approx similar to sugar, for bread and cake baking, without causing health hazard.

Any suggestion/comment would be appreciated.  TIA




PastryPaul's picture

Firstly, sugar does more than just sweeten, depending on how and where it is used. Admittedly, as a culture, we use way too much sugars. Rather than replace sugar with an artificial sweetner, maybe we should consider reducing the amount we actually use while sticking to sugar (sucrose), brown sugar, honey, glucose, fructose, and dextrose while avoiding things like high-fructose corn syrup etc.

Probably the best substitute would be sucralose ( Splenda, Sukrana, SucraPlus, Candys, Cukren and Nevella.) but it is in no way "easily found on market at low cost, approx similar to sugar." It is heat stable and stable in a wide variety of PH levels, so it lends itself well to baking. Volume-wise, it measures part for part like sugar, but weight-wise you need to use about a quarter the amount. We arrived at this figure by first assuming that sucralose and sugar are equal volume-wise. A US cup of sugar weghs 200g while a US cup of Splenda weighed 49.7g.

It's biggest drawback is cost. My cost for Splenda comes out to C$0.013 per gram compared to sugar's C$0.0013.  Even after taking into account that we only use one quarter the Splenda, it's still 2 and a half times the price. What that difference means to final cost depends, of course on the amount of sugar a formula calls for. Also, we have not done any significant testing to ensure product quality when using Splenda.

For now, we use Splenda in some fruit-based mousses, ice creams, and cakes. We charge a premium price for them that more than makes up for Splenda's extra cost. Trying it in something like a croissant would be silly given the fact that they are 35% butter and would still be highly caloric (although some would agrue that saving some calories is better than nothing... however, since Splenda is less abrasive than sugar, I question whether croissants made with it would actually work well. My curiousity is up, maybe I'll try it).

There is definitely a market for low sugar product. But unless there is a significant sugar component to the formula, little real benefit will be gained by using sucralose.  I would strongly suggest a strong testing regimen prior to offering any such products for sale.


G-man's picture

Given the number of fatalities it causes (Ten fatalaties PER DAY in the US alone, according to the CDC), one would think the stuff would be banned by now!

Except it isn't. Because we need it. Our bodies need carbohydrates, too. Our brains only accept glucose as a form of energy. Without sugars, our brains would starve. When our brains starve, we lose the ability to use them. Permanent brain damage can result.

Is it addictive? Absolutely. We get a huge rush when we eat it, it makes us feel amazing, and then it lets us down. Is it so horrible that we should avoid it entirely? Come on. The same thing has been said about everything that has ever been identified among the things we consume. Fat is horrible for you, it increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc. Too much protein can cause seizures, dehydration, even kidney failure, among other things. Numerous vitamins and minerals that our bodies require are toxic if you consume enough of them. Listing all the ways in which the things you eat can kill you is a nice way to spend several days.

All of these things, in moderation, are essential to our survival. All of these things, each and every one of them, is indisputably lethal in large quantities.

Moderate your quantities and you can eat what you want.

Yerffej's picture

A reading of the book; Sugar Blues by William Dufty could alter your thinking on this subject.


G-man's picture

There are many books on the evils of every food substance. Can you link to a conclusive, unbiased study on the long-term negative effects of sucrose by a credible scientific institution?

gerhard's picture

I agree, unless you are diabetic, moderate use of sugar is healthier than a lot of the artificial sweeteners.


G-man's picture

If you're absolutely dead set against using refined sugar, consider using honey. It's been around since before refined sugar and was used by the general populace for millenia even after refined sugar became more widely available. Some folks use it to this very day. :)

jcking's picture

Honey is a great substitute. Yet recent news stories show imported honey can contain additives and impurities. Buy local, pure honey, when possible.


PastryPaul's picture

There are hundreds of lobbys out there, each pushing their own agenda. They fund research and pick and choose from the results to advance said agenda. They make things sound dangerous by not specifying details.

Example: Aspertame can break down into its components, one of which is cyanide, which we know is deadly. True, but only after extended exposure to a temperature of over 105F. That's why we don't bake with it, it's not heat stable. But, in your body? If your body temp is at 105 you have bigger problems than the Diet Coke you just had.

When manufacturers' are able to produce a reasonable product with or without something, they will rush to promote its benefit or danger. That's callled "selling." When cheaper emulsifiers came on scene, everyone jumped on the Fat-Free bandwagon, even though some fat-free products had the same or higher calorie count, and the study most often cited was largely mis-quoted.

Like G-man says, even water can kill you. So can Vitamin A. So can just about anything that you are alergic to.  Heck, you can even die from having sex.

To cut costs in production, a huge low-salt campaign was launched. Personally, I prefer a less salty flavour, but unless you have high blood pressure or another condition that requires it, it's no biggie.

Avoiding tree nuts is not important unless you have an allergy.

The latest thing now is gluten-free. Depending on who you talk to, celiac disease affects between 0.05% and 1% of the population. While I sympathize with those who are afflicted, I can bet that we will all be seeing increasing demand for gluten-free products probably in the 25-35% range. The general public will respond to the "gluten is bad" line without knowing why and for whom it really is to be avoided.

While we're at it: Stop eating fruits and vegetables trace amounts of carcinogens have been found in upwards of 80% of tested ones. Don't forget to send all your dollar bills to me since 90% have been found to contain trace amounts of cocaine.

Even for real poisons, the adage is " The dosage makes the poison." Forget about trace amounts, that's what your immune system is for.

You can check out for scientific takes on the latest BS


BoyntonStu's picture

I never used anything but sugar in my coffee.

I needed to cut down on sugar, and I tried Truvia, Stevia, the blue, yellow, and the pink stuff.

Then I tried Splenda.  My coffee tastes just like it tasted with sugar.

I do not use anything but sugar in breads.

Perhaps, if I read good reports, I will try a substitute.


Pop N Fresh's picture
Pop N Fresh

Take a look at this:

I just heard about this at the Atlantic Bakery Expo this past weekend.  Used widely in Kashi brand products.  Very Interesting!

Susan Kline's picture
Susan Kline

A sedentary lifestyle is probably more harmful for us than sugar.  When I was diagnosed diabetic, the very first thing my doctor suggested was weight loss and I was by no means obese.  Watching carbs and exercising soon got my diabetes under control to the point where I am no longer considered diabetic.  I realize this will not be true for everyone, but I refuse to think of foods as an enemy.  All things in moderation and let us enjoy life and food!

G-man's picture

I was quite obese and my doctor sent me to an endocrinologist. That man told me that I was pre-diabetic. He sent me to a dietitian, and working with her and taking numerous classes on nutrition at school, I've been able to bring my weight and my blood sugar under control. Over the course of this, I haven't modified my diet much at all (I eat a bit less white rice, I eat a bit more whole grains, and I've cut out processed food almost entirely, but they never were a huge part of my diet). It's all been about portions and exercise.

The upside, aside from losing a lot of weight and feeling awesome, is that I'm learning that pre-made, processed food is really the lowest end of the flavor spectrum. I've also been able to branch out a lot when it comes to my beer and wine, since I only get one or two a week I really prefer it be the best I can find. :)

Sugar is not the source of evil it's claimed to be. Portioning (or lack thereof) is. Everything in moderation.