Joanne Chang: Baking with Less Sugar

Joanne Chang by Kristin Teig

Summer sweets?

Yes, but how to sweeten?

Take some the white sugar out of your recipes, and you are left with flavor. That’s the point of Joanne Chang’s Baking with Less Sugar: Recipes for Desserts Using Natural Sweeteners and Little-to-No-Sugar (Chronicle 2015).

When baking, I am pretty laser focused on one thing – creating pastries that are simply irresistible – and these recipes are no exception. In defining “low sugar” I took a moderate approach, so if you are aiming to reduce the amount of refined white sugar you are baking with, these recipes will help you learn to do so. (p. 15)

She either reduces the amount of white sugar in her traditional recipes from Flour, or replaces it with the sugars in chocolate or other sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, molasses, or fruit sugars. The point is to make scrumptious desserts, but not rely on white refined sugar to make them sweet.

Baking with Less Sugar by Joanne ChangSince replacing dry white sugar with a liquid like honey is tricky, let’s look at chapter three: Using Honey. Honey Cashew Morning Buns (p. 94) are just a warm and enticing way to start the day “Made with a light, yeasted, unsweetened dough, they get filled with chopped cashews (my favorite nut) and then baked in a honey goo that is rich with cream and butter, and sweet with a little honey, but not so much that they hide the flavor of the bun or cashews.” You can make these buns up to a week in advance and then finish them off on a lazy Sunday morning for brunch.

And while waiting for the buns to rise and bake, try a bowl of Cherry Almond Granola (p. 97) full of healthy nuts and seeds. For lunch, cook up Banana Cinnamon Bread Pudding (p. 103) or Vanilla Honey Rice Pudding (p. 104) served cool in the summer or warm in the winter. Since it is raspberry season practically all year round, Raspberry Honey Frozen Yogurt, with Greek-style yogurt (p. 106) served with a few fresh berries in Joseph De Leo‘s photograph, looks luscious and creamy. Lastly, you can have cake with honey for dessert. Lemon Ricotta Cupcakes with Fluffy Lemon Frosting (pp. 116-118) or Honey-Almond Snack Cake (p. 119) with a vanilla and almond cream cheese frosting.

If white sugar is the culprit in your post-sugar crashes, and you want to eat your sweets with a little less cloying sugar flavor, then Baking with Less Sugar is a superb book. Joanne Chang will tempt you with desserts and treats that are just as good, if not better, than traditional sweets loaded with white, refined sugar.

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