Baking With Stevia
A lot of people don't know how to bake with stevia. New users often find the taste bitter or are unsure just how much to use. Others end up treating stevia much like any other artificial sweetener.... using it too much and too often....
encouraging their sweet tooth and forgetting that most stevia sweetened recipes are still packed with calories.
It's important to remember that except for the actual leaf (whole or ground) stevia is a processed product. There are a variety of healthy minimally processed sweeteners that can be added to recipes:
- Whole fruit purees.
- Whole dates
- Very small amounts of natural sugars like honey and maple syrup.
The first thing I do when I experiment with new recipes is reduce the sugar by half. Shockingly, this rarely affects the taste. Then, I'll try reducing the sugar by another half. I might add one or several of the above natural sweeteners. Recipes that are fruit and/or nut based work best. If extra sweetness is needed, then I might add stevia.
When you do so, it's important to use stevia in the correct amounts and in combination with the right foods. There are also some consequences when baking with stevia.
When you reduce the sugar in a recipe it changes the volume. Stevia can cause a drastic change in volume.
- 1/2 to 1 tsp of stevia sweetens as much as 1 cup of sugar.
- 2 to 3 drops of liquid stevia sweetens as much as 1 tsp
For every cup of sugar you take out of a recipe, try replacing it with 1/3 of a cup of moist bulk like applesauce, black beans or bananas. You might need more or less.
If you want a flatter cookie or need more even baking, flatten cookies with a fork before baking. In the end as long as it tastes good…who cares!
There are tricks to making fluffier cakes. Volume can be added by folding in beaten egg whites. You can also fiddle around with the amounts of baking soda, baking powder, oven temperatures and cooking times.
Whatever you do, please do not fall for stevia products sold as 1 to 1 "sugar substitute". These are usually filled with processed ingredients and sugar alcohols. Yuck.
Let’s be honest, stevia is a unique sweetener, with it’s own taste. But, chances are, if the taste of stevia is bitter, you're probably using an inferior stevia product or using too much.
Using the right stevia product can make or break your opinion about it. I have my favorites and most people can’t even tell when I’ve used it, simply because I don't use a lot of it and use it in conjunction with natural sweeteners.
Ditch the powder and stick with pure liquid stevia that only uses water as a filler. It's easier to control and tastes the least bitter.
Think of stevia as a spice ... not a sweetener
Stevia should enhance the natural flavors in food, not cover it up with sweetness. Use ingredients like lemon, lemon zest, berries, dark chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, fruit purees, etc... to flavor your food. A little stevia will bring out those flavors.
But, here's the key: Combining stevia with a small amount of natural sugar can make the biggest difference in the authentic taste of your baked goods.
Over the past couple years I've learned how to make stevia work flawlessly in many recipes. There are times though that it just doesn't work. While I feel there's a time and place for stevia, I use it sparingly, as I focus on eating an unprocessed diet overall.
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