JulAug Issue – Sweet Science Extra: Substituting Stevia

Eileen Gray followed up her Sweet Science column in the July/August issue with an examination of popular sugar substitute, stevia.

{image above via Active Beats}

To coincide with my research regarding sugar in cake batter, I also tested a sugar substitute made from the Stevia plant. Stevia is 150x sweeter than Sucrose, or table sugar. I thought it would be helpful to see if Stevia can be used to replace sugar in a cake batter.

I baked a test cake using 8oz by weight of a granulated sugar substitute made from the Stevia plant. Because I knew that Stevia is much sweeter than sugar I didn’t expect the cake to taste good, but wanted to use the same amount as a comparison.

The cake made with the Stevia product was heavy, dense, hard and brittle with a gummy mouth feel. It was extremely sweet with a bitter, unpleasant aftertaste. The cake was inedible.

As I expected, Stevia products cannot be used 1 for 1 for sugar in a recipe. The product I used recommends using less than half the amount of Stevia by volume. Since sugar affects baked goods in more ways than just the flavor, reducing the amount of Stevia in the baked good may improve the sweetness level and aftertaste of the cake, but the texture would still be compromised.

For those who must use sugar substitutes in baking, recipes will have to be revised further than just swapping out the sugar with a sugar substitute for a good result.

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