Monday, January 10, 2011

Kitchen Queries: Sugar Substitutes

Anna P. wrote: "What is the best substitute for sugar? I want to make cinnamon rolls but the whole 'diet thing' is getting in the way."

Well, Anna, baking is surprisingly scientific, so tweaking recipes is more challenging. When you're cooking dinner, you can add a pinch of this and substitute that without affecting the outcome of the dish. But when you bake, a whole new set of rules comes into play. Alton Brown's show "Good Eats," and Harold McGee's book On Food and Cooking are great resources for the scientific details, which I won't go into here because people would get bored really fast.

I'm not personally a fan of artificial sweeteners for a ton of reasons, but if you're OK with them, you could substitute Splenda's Baking Blend into the filling of the cinnamon rolls. Usually the dough itself has sugar in it too, though, and I wouldn't make any substitutions there. That's where that pesky science comes in- you don't want to mess with the chemistry of a yeast-risen dough. Of course, the easiest way to make cinnamon rolls diet-friendly would be to make them smaller and only have one! I'm a much bigger fan of real food in moderation than chemically-engineered "healthy" food...

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