I love reading new cookbooks. Since it is baking season, I thought I would share one of my cookbook crushes, Naturally Sweet by America’s Test Kitchen. I almost always start off by borrowing new cookbooks from the library. I keep them for a few weeks, read them, and try some recipes. I only want to buy cookbooks that have multiple recipes that I know that I will return to again and again, or really important techniques that I want to reference. Generally, if you only loved a couple of recipes, you can find those online without adding another book to your shelf.
Naturally Sweet is a book that is worth owning if you are interested in baking and looking to reduce your sugar intake. The premise of the book is that America’s Test Kitchen has perfected sweet baked goods with reduced sugar. These are not paleo, or ‘clean eating’ necessarily, but standard baked goods that just use up to 50% less sugar, or use alternate sugars.
I sought out this book because, for me, if I am going to bake a cake or cookies, it is going to have sugar, but that does not mean that I want all of the sugar that many recipes contain. I like sweet treats, I just don’t need them to be as sweet as the standard American diet. I love dark chocolate! However, reducing sugar in recipes can be really tricky, because sugar is important for the baking chemistry, and just subbing out honey or maple syrup doesn’t always give you the same results.
This is where Naturally Sweet really shines. The book, like all of America’s Test Kitchen recipes, contains some technical explanations for how much and what kinds of sugar are needed to get good quality baked goods. So you can understand why that one recipe you found on Pinterest for sugar-free chocolate chip cookies was actually terrible. And you can learn the types of baked goods that can easily do with less sugar, and the types that really need that sugar to turn out well.
Each recipe contains options for different types of sugar that you can use and the correct measurements. So if you never want to use white sugar again, you can make exact replacements with agave, or coconut sugar, or whatever. This is what makes these recipes so important for anyone looking to follow a specific diet, because you can use less white sugar, or adapt to your preferred sweetener, without compromise or guesswork. They have already tested everything. That is what they do!
So in the anticipation of holiday baking, I suggest that you use your library card, or you know google, to check out some of the recipes in Naturally Sweet. You may not end up buying the book, but you will definitely learn something about reducing sugar in your baked goods, and find some delicious recipes to boot!