All the sweetness, without all the sugar

picture of a Centennial College chef preparing french toast with bananas and maple syrup

Bakers today are increasingly getting creative in how they come up with delicious treats. Dietary restrictions (think diabetes), healthier lifestyles, allergies (such as those to gluten) are all common issues that bakers may encounter and they have to be prepared.  Refined sugar is often a staple of treats such as cupcakes, cakes, pastries and…well, all desserts. It not only sweetens but also, says Marisa Churchill (author of Sweet & Skinny), moistens, caramelizes and helps add structure. But there are many ways in which bakers are incorporating other sweeteners into their treats to address various diets. Here are some of them as well as a few tips for keeping your sweet treats delicious.


Well, duh! One Green Planet says you can turn to applesauce, for example, which not only sweetens but also makes a great stand-in for eggs, butter and oil. It works in brownies, homemade bars and pancakes. Berries, meanwhile, can sweeten up tarts, pies and muffins. And maybe the sweetest fruit of the three is bananas, which help cookies and bars attain a great texture and can also be used in brownies, vegan pies and raw cake recipes. These fruits, of course, have various health benefits as well.


Winnie the Pooh's favourite thing in the world also has many health benefits. According to Care2 Healthy Living it contains antioxidants that help reduce the risk of some cancers and heart disease, is antibacterial because of an enzyme that makes hydrogen peroxide, helps regulate blood sugar, may possess large amount of probiotics (depending on the variety), helps to improve skin and can be moisturizing as well. Treats that can be made with honey include: honey ricotta cheesecake, the Middle Eastern dessert Baklava, banana and honey sweet bread.

Maple syrup

Canada, proudly stand up for this one! Organic Facts reports that, like honey, this drizzle has antioxidant properties. It also contains zinc, which is essential for a healthier heart, as its presence is one of the best ways to protect against diseases such as atherosclerosis and stroke. Also according to Organic Facts, maple syrup is especially good for men because its zinc properties contribute to a healthy reproductive system, particularly the prostate gland. Treats that can be made with maple syrup include: Carrot cake oatmeal cookies, sticky toffee pudding with maple sauce and maple syrup gingerbread cookies.

Other tips and tricks

Did you know that adding grated vegetables to chocolate cake recipes will help produce a moist cake that allows for less frosting and sugar? Yup, the BBC reports this and also says that you can make reduced sugar cakes with ground almonds because they add a more complex texture and boost flavour with their natural sweetness.

If you're ready to get creative and bake your way to a sweet career, Centennial College's Baking and Pastry Arts Management program may be the answer. Not only will you build on fundamental baking and pastry arts knowledge and skills but you will also learn about: menu design, purchasing, planning or execution and much more in Centennial College's state-of-the-art commercial bakeshops.

By Izabela Szydlo


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