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The Purpose of Sugar in Baking

Updated on June 26, 2011

The Purpose Of Sugar In Baking And Why Is Sugar Bad For You?

The purpose of sugar in baking is an important aspect. It plays a vital role in the formation and taste of baked goods. Many people are concerned about why sugar is bad for you with good reason. Are you wondering about the many uses of sugar in baking or possible health effects? Read on to find out more!

purpose of sugar in baking
purpose of sugar in baking

Uses of Sugar in Baking

What role does it play?

Though most people think of it as simply a sweetener, the purpose of sugar in baking is quite complex. One ingredient adds volume, texture and color. It also acts as a preservative because it attracts moisture. That's a lot of responsibility! Moisture causes the amount of gluten formed to decrease. Less gluten means that the baked good will be more tender without chewiness. It also means that the batter will rise more during baking. Liquid sugars hold the most moisture and baked goods made with it will last longer than those made with other sugars. Brown sugar is the second runner up as it holds more moisture than granulated sugar.

Recipes often call for the butter and sugar to be creamed together. On too many occasions in my younger years, I skipped this step or only did it half-heartedly. When my cookies came out flat and not very tasty, I figured I was cursed to make flat cookies forever!

I was wrong though. Creaming the butter and sugar will do wonders for any baked good. It's an important step as it allows air to penetrate into the butter. Air bubbles form in the butter and when a leavening agent is added it causes the air bubbles to expand. Rising in the oven is the result of this.

When something is baked, it often browns. When heated, sugar reacts with proteins from other ingredients causing the browning. This reaction is known as the Maillard reaction. Darker crusts usually have an abundance of sugar.

In bread, sugar is key to yeast formation. It is eaten by yeast cells and carbon dioxide is released, which results in alcohol. For bread to rise, this reaction must occur.

The purpose of sugar in baking is complex yet vital to the success of baking. When you understand the role it plays, you can overcome many obstacles in baking.

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purpose of sugar in baking
purpose of sugar in baking

Why Is Sugar Bad For You?

Problems Caused By Sugar

Health professionals recommend we eat no more than 8 tablespoons of sugar each day, but the average person eats more than HALF A CUP each day! The purpose of sugar in baking is important, but your health is more important! If you eat sugar in excess, consider a sugar alternative.

One of the biggest reasons sugar is bad for you is that it suppresses the immune system. This is obviously detrimental to your health as it can lead to weakened defenses against infections. It can also cause hyperactivity, anxiety and difficulty concentrating.

Other serious issues that may arise with high sugar intake:

-formation of kidney stones

-enlargement of the kidney stones

-headaches

-depression and emotional instability

-increased insulin responses

-exacerbation of PMS symptoms

-epileptic seizures

-gum disease and tooth decay

-high blood pressure

-gastric cancer

The list goes on and on. Sugar won't do too much harm if your consumption is moderate. Like many things, moderation is key! But sugar is sneaky. It is in so many foods and beverages these days, it can be hard to determine how much you are consuming. If you are trying to stay healthy, eating too much sugar will work against you. There is hope, however! You can reduce the ill effects of sugar by trying some sugar alternatives.

Which Do You Use?

Do you use artificial sweeteners or regular sugar?

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