So often these days, when I’m eating sweets, half my brain is loving the experience and the other half is chiding me. “So much sugar! I really need to cut back ... "

One of my favorite sweet treats is our Whole-Grain Banana Bread, which I make just about every week. Nine months ago, in an effort to make this go-to breakfast bread more nutritionally friendly, I decided to make it using all whole-wheat flour instead of the 50/50 whole wheat/all-purpose flour combo the original recipe calls for.

At the same time, in an attempt to reduce the amount of sugar in the bread, I substituted our zero-calorie Baking Sugar Alternative for 100% of the sugar in the recipe ... and my world tilted on its axis.

I’d experimented with other baking sugar substitutes in the past and hadn’t been impressed. Whether it was an odd, minty aftertaste, weird texture, or structural issues (cookies that failed to spread), the baking sugar substitutes on the market back then just didn’t pan out.

Cinnamon-sugar topped doughnut muffins on a baking sheet.
Known around the country by various names (e.g., French Puffs, Dirt Bombs), Doughnut Muffins sport a thick crown of melted butter and cinnamon sugar — in this case, Baking Sugar Alternative mixed with cinnamon.

Enter King Arthur’s Baking Sugar Alternative (BSA). Whoa! What a difference. The cookies, brownies, cakes, and muffins I baked with BSA weren’t just “pretty good considering” — they were truly good.

So good, in fact, that I kept experimenting. And found that BSA is good in some applications, very good in others — and to my taste, even better than sugar in muffins, quick breads, and most cakes (the exception being cakes where sugar plays an integral part in structure, e.g. angel food).

Why better? It’s hard to pinpoint, but here are a few particulars: muffins bake up a deeper, richer brown. Quick breads seem to stay moist longer. And cakes: while they don’t rise quite as high, their texture is finer and smoother, with an almost velvety mouthfeel.

Bonus: BSA includes a ton of fiber — another reason to love it. Plus zero calories, zero net carbs — and zero aftertaste? Thanks BSA, I’ll take that any day.

Let’s look at three of my favorite treats, all of which I’ve permanently transitioned to making with Baking Sugar Alternative — because I like these new no-added-sugar versions even better than the originals!

Loaf of banana bread on a plate, sliced, bananas and bag of Baking Sugar Alternative in the background.
Look at this banana bread's extra-fine texture — slice it just as thin or thick as you like; it'll never crumble!

Whole-Grain Banana Bread

Our 2018 Recipe of the Year has always been, bar none, my favorite banana bread. The following substitutions make it even better: a finer crumb and a bit moister texture, which translates to longer shelf life.

Substitutions:

Nutrition information per serving:

  • Original recipe: 42g total carbs, 24g total sugars, 3g dietary fiber
  • New recipe: 32g total carbs, 5g total sugars, 8g dietary fiber
Doughnut Muffins on a cooling rack.
Despite their glorious crown of crunchy, buttery cinnamon sugar, these muffins are only mildly sweet — making them perfect for a big dollop of homemade strawberry jam.

Doughnut Muffins

The signature flavor of a homemade cake doughnut in muffin form: that’s Doughnut Muffins. Substituting BSA for the sugars in the batter produces muffins with just enough sweetness, fine, even texture, and a golden crust. How about subbing BSA in the cinnamon-sugar topping? Trust me, no one will know the difference.

Note that the recipe calls for a baking temperature of 425°F, yet the BSA bag advises you not to set your oven higher than 350°F. This is a general (and good) rule; baked goods with BSA do tend to brown more quickly. But I knew from experience these Doughnut Muffins don't even come close to over-browning at 425°F, so that's the temperature I used.

Substitutions:

  • Dough:
    • 1/2 cup (85g) Baking Sugar Alternative for 1/2 cup (99g) granulated sugar
    • 1/3 cup (57g) Baking Sugar Alternative for 1/3 cup (71g) brown sugar
  • Topping:
    • 3 tablespoons (32g) Baking Sugar Alternative for 3 tablespoons (37g) granulated sugar

Nutrition information per serving:

  • Original recipe: 38g total carbohydrates, 18g total sugars, 1g dietary fiber
  • New recipe: 31g total carbohydrates, 1g total sugar, 6g dietary fiber
Slice of double layer chocolate cake with chocolate frosting on a plate.
Stacked layers of Cake Pan Cake: the darker one is made with granulated sugar, the lighter with BSA. Note the finer texture of the BSA layer, which translates to a very compelling mouthfeel. Despite the color difference, both cakes taste equally rich and chocolatey.

King Arthur’s Original Cake Pan Cake

Delicious, moist, rich chocolate cake in a hurry? Look no further. Versions of this simple one-bowl cake have been around for over 100 years under an abundance of names, including Dump Cake, Depression Cake, and War Cake. (Come to think of it, I’ve been making this family-favorite cake for almost 50 years myself!) When made with BSA in place of sugar I find it has a finer crumb and smooth, melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Substitution:

  • 1 cup (170g) Baking Sugar Alternative for 1 cup (198g) granulated sugar

Nutrition information per serving (no frosting):

  • Original recipe: 22g total carbs, 13g total sugars, 1g dietary fiber
  • New recipe: 16g total carbs, 0g total sugar, 4g dietary fiber

Nutrition information per serving (with frosting):

  • Original recipe: 32g total carbs, 22g total sugars, 1g dietary fiber
  • New recipe: 26g total carbs, 9g total sugars, 4g dietary fiber
Banana bread on a plate, end sliced off so you can see the interior.
Banana bread made with Baking Sugar Alternative stays fresh and moist on my counter (wrapped, of course) for up to a week — though usually it doesn't last nearly that long!

Need more encouragement (besides fewer calories, less sugar, and equal or better taste) to try BSA? See Why bakers are making the switch to Baking Sugar Alternative.

Cover photo by Rick Holbrook.

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PJ Hamel
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About PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, three dogs, and really good food!

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