All grains contain peptides that mimic morphine or endogenous opioid substances. This is where I deal with my latest loaf craving. Get your bread-based exorphin fix here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Reinhart's Hearth Loaf: a bread-off with 3 different sugars

3 Versions of Reinhart's Hearth Loaf

All about Sugar

For some time now I have been thinking about Reinhart's hearth bread recipe (the most recent recipe in his "Whole Grain Breads" book that I have tried, and where I seem, once again, to be stuck, as I bake my way through the book, one bread at a time).  There are several suggested alternatives in the recipe -- one can make it with sourdough, or with a biga, or one may use any one of several optional ingredients, particularly various oils (butter, vegetable oil, etc.).  Another of the ingredients that has a number of alternatives is a sweetener.  Reinhart says you can use sugar, brown sugar, honey, or agave syrup pretty much interchangeably.  

I have an inherent distrust of pure white sugar (I don't feel good eating things that are overly sweet), I have heard that brown sugar is just white sugar with some molasses sprayed on it for colouring, and I was totally unfamiliar with agave syrup -- I didn't even know where I could buy it, since I didn't see it offered for sale at either of our local supermarkets.  So normally when faced with a choice like this, I will take the honey.  That is what I used, the last time I made this Whole Wheat Heart Bread.  My thinking about honey is that it is the more natural, least processed, sweetener, and thus it is going to have more benefits. 

But my actual understanding of all that was involved, and all that is at stake, was miniscule.  A recent viral video ("Sugar: the Bitter Truth" on the dangers of fructose by Robert Lustig) on YouTube got me thinking about carbs and sugar.

I realized that there is a huge disconnect in my understanding of the sugars that are available to us in stores, and the way science tells us that the body metabolizes and uses glucose as the primary fuel source for its many and myriad cells, by conversion of it to ATP.  This disconnection has caused me to do some research on various sugars, and some of the info I've gleaned has been interesting.  

It turns out, the story of sugar is a fascinating one to me.  For most of you, however, this is simply going to be a review.  So if you want to just skip the essay and get to the bread, hit this link.  Otherwise, bear with me.

A. History of Sugar
B. Carbohydrate Chemistry
C. What we can Obtain
D. Today's Bread-off
E. Results
A. History of Sugar
"The Story of sugar has very few heroes and many villains."-Peter MacInnis, Bittersweet, The Story of Sugar (2002)

Life is sweet.  All of life is carbon based, and all fuel for life is ultimately derived from the energy of the sun.  Somewhere along the long chain of evolution, bacteria learned to use photosynthesis to transform and store energy: carbon dioxide is taken from the air using solar energy to make carbohydrates, a storage form of energy.  Plants retained this way of storing energy, and we call the chains of carbohydrates that they use for growth and maintenance "starch"; animals similarly store energy, but we call this "glycogen".  But ultimately, all cells use glucose, which the mitochondria transform into ATP for energy.  And glucose is a simple sugar. 

Fruit was the first source of sweetness that the earliest humans ate.  Outside of fruit, the first sweetener used by humans was honey, a "found food" made by wild bees; gathering honey is commemorated by prehistoric Stone Age petroglyphs.   Sugar cane, a wild grass, was first cultivated in New Guinea (ca. 6000 years ago), and its juice was collected.  Because of its sweetness, it was transplanted to India, where the technology to extract, boil and crystallize sugarcane juice developed.  King Darius invaded India in 510 BC, and the Persian Empire then controlled sugar technology and production until 642 AD.  At that time Omar, who had been one of Mohammad's companions, brought the Persian Sassanian dynasty to an end, and Moslems inherited the secret of sugar.  Sugar traveled throughout the Islamic world, through North Africa and into Spain, but it didn't truly enter European culture until after the Crusades.  Thereafter, the richest Europeans traded for it, as they did for rare spices.

Sugarcane doesn't grow well in Europe's climate, and one of the reasons why colonial expansion took place by European countries was to find a climate where sugarcane could be grown.  South and Central America was found to be ideal.  The industry, however, required a huge workforce, and when the native Americans succumbed to European diseases, African slaves had to be imported.

Portugal started sugar plantations in Brazil.  Holland started sugar plantations in the Caribbean.  So important was sugar to European nations, when Britain took the tiny island of Guadeloupe, France traded all of Canada for it, to get it back; and the Dutch traded New Amsterdam (New York) for the South American island of Suriname.

With the Enlightenment came a new scientific quest for understanding, and new technologies were developed; as sugar's production became more mechanized, there was less need for slaves to produce the sugar.  Slavery was abolished (in Britain in 1838) when it was affordable to do so, not because there was a sudden understanding that it was unethical.  As long as Europeans and North Americans were still getting their sugar, they could do away with expensive slavery.

B. Carbohydrate Chemistry

The German chemist Andreas Marggraf isolated sucrose in 1747, and within a generation, sugar beets became a sugar source for Europe.  In just a few centuries of agricultural selective breeding, sugar beets went from 5 percent sucrose to 20 percent sucrose, by dry weight.

The first chemists to analyze the structure of sugar used a device called a polarimeter.  By shining light through crystals of various sugars, the shape of the molecules could be inferred.  Thus, glucose was isolated from raisins in the 18th century, and was called dextrose because it bent light rays towards the right.  Galactose had similarities but was not identical.  Other sugars, such as lactose and  maltose became known.  Determining the structure of these sugars using the tools at hand was quite a feat of 19th century chemistry.

"It was in Würzburg in 1884 that Emil Fischer and his students turned their attention to the prodigiously difficult task of bringing together the incoherent knowledge of the sugar family and to elucidating the specific structures of all the members.  This had to be done without an accepted understanding of the stereochemistry of the carbon atom, with few developed applicable chemical reactions and almost no characterized reference compounds.  Furthermore, no techniques other than crystallization were available for the separation of mixed products and for their purification, and crystallization had to be applied to a series of compounds with notoriously poor crystallizing properties."  -Daniel Levy, The Organic Chemistry of Sugars (2006)

Nevertheless, Fischer demonstrated proof of the structures of monosaccharides.  He also did ground-breaking work on amino acids, glycerides, and peptides; and it is his investigation into enzymes that provided him (and through him, us), with the analogy of a 'lock and key mechanism', by which enzyme action is understood today.

During a long period of experimentation, more became known about atoms, electrons, chemical bonds, and the varied functional groups, chiral forms and stereochemistry of sugars.  Then, in 1953, Canadian chemist Raymond Lemieux achieved the rational synthesis of sucrose, with the new tools of spectroscopy.  His yield from octaacetate was 5 1/2%; today an 80% yield has been achieved, with new methodologies.

Carbohydrates are carbon atoms attached to groups of hydrogen and oxygen atoms to create chains.  Their chemical formulae can usually be expressed as  Cm(H2O)n.

6. The most important carbohydrate is glucose [ C6H12O6 ], and the body uses glucose in its simplest, single molecule form.  Other simple sugars -- e.g. fructose (found in fruit, first isolated in raisins) [an isomer of glucose, so it has the same formula C6H12O ] and galactose (found in mother's milk) [ an epimer of glucose, so it has the same formula C6H12O ]  -- are similarly formed of one sugar molecule, and thus are called monosaccharides.  (Fructose's different structure gives it different properties from glucose: it is more water-soluble, it is absorbed directly through the human intestine, and it is sweeter than glucose.  Galactose is a epimer of glucose, and is slightly less sweet than glucose.  Both fructose and galactose are metabolized quite differently from glucose.) Glucose, fructose and galactose, having six carbons, are called hexoses.
5. If the sugar has five carbons in a chain, it is a pentose.  One example, Xylose [ C5H10O5 ] , a sugar derived from wood, cannot be metabolized by the human body, but is excreted through the kidneys; work is underway to genetically engineer yeasts that will metabolize it to make ethanol.  Ribose has the same chemical structure [ C5H10O5 ] as xylose, but is far more ubiquitous: RNA, the messenger unit of all genetics, is based on its structure; and once added to phosphate, it is useful to the body in making certain amino acids or providing energy.   
There is one important exception to the general formula for saccharides, and that is the monosaccharide deoxyribose with the chemical formula [ C5H10O4 ] -- it is derived from ribose, having only lost an oxygen atom.  Deoxyribose is the backbone of DNA, our main storage of genetic information.
4. Sugars with 4 carbon atoms are tetroses, and there are three naturally occurring sugars with this chemical  formula  [ C4H8O4 ] : erythrose, threose and erythrulose.
3. There are only two sugars with 3 carbon atoms: glyceraldehyde [ C3H6O3 ] (from which lactic acid is derived) and dihydroxyacetone (from which pyruvic acid is derived).  
2. A sugar with 2 carbon atoms would be called a diose if it could be built; and glycoaldehyde fits the chemical formula  [ C2H4O2 ] and it is the only possible case, but it is not a saccharide.  It has been identified in the centre of the Milky Way galaxy, and in areas of space where stars are forming.  In humans, it can be found in pathways that break down purines.
7. Heptoses have 7 carbon atoms: mannoheptulose [ C7H14O7 ] can be found in avocados; and sedoheptulose  [ C7H14O7 ] can be found in the leaves of sedum and certain succulents.  These are among the largest sugars found in nature, as larger chains tend to break down.

Several sugar molecules can be linked in pairs to form disaccharides: sucrose, or white sugar, is just such a molecule, and it consists of glucose and fructose.  Other familiar disaccharides are maltose (formed of two glucose molecules with a 1-4 bond, when grains are sprouted, roasted and ground into malt), and lactose (formed of glucose and galactose).

Maltose can also be formed when amylase breaks down starch.  Starch and fibers are known as polysaccharides, or complex carbohydrates.  Glycogen has about 10 monosaccharides in a chain; starch [ (C6H10O5)n ] has about 25; and cellulose may have between 100 and 200 simple sugars. 

C. What we can obtain

"Sucrose is sucrose, regardless of its source.  When Sugarcane juice is refined to the ultimate stage, it is virtually pure sucrose with the barest traces of minerals, vitamins and impurities.  When the extracted juice of the sugar beet is refined, the result is also pure sucrose with those trace ingredients.  In theory, they should be identical.  However, in cooking applications, the two sugars don't always behave the same way.  Beet sugar can be more difficult to melt and has a tendency to foam up in candy making.  The infinitesimal amount of trace ingredients may be causing the problems, but no one has yet pinpointed the precise culprit."-Mani Niall, "Sweet! From Agave to Turbinado, Home Baking with every Kind of Natural Sugar and Sweetener" (2008)

Before this burst of research, I assumed that molasses was always made from sugar beets, but after reading Niall's "Sweet", I have learned that that is simply not true.  Nial says that molasses is essentially a byproduct of the purification of sucrose from sugar cane, and that molasses that comes from sugar beet sucrose purification is "not fit for human consumption."  

In this book, Niall discusses all the natural sugars that are currently available for cooks and bakers, and gives examples of how to best use them.  I will do little more than list them here:

  • Granulated White Sugar - refined and crystallized sugarcane juice.  Some vegans refuse to eat it because it may be refined with animal by-products such as bone char.
  • Light and Dark Brown Sugars - cane or beets are refined to white granulated stage, and then the molasses (always cane molasses) is sprayed back on.
  • Demerara - a carmel-brown sugar from sugarcane that has not had all the molasses refined from it; originally from Guyana's Demerara River
  • Muscovado - a dark brown to butterscotch-brown sugar from sugarcane from Barbados, that has never been refined all the way to white sugar.
  • Turbinado - a light brown sugar with coarse crystals, "turbinated" from steaming evaporated cane juice; considered a raw sugar.
  • Treacle or Golden Syrup  - Clear, light brown syrup "with flavour notes of buttered toast", made from raw sugar, filtered and concentrated.  Fake stuff is out there, so be sure it is labelled "pure cane syrup".  The extra dark stuff labelled "black" is probably too bitter to use in baking.  Treacle is the dark, bitter stuff.
  • Agave Syrup - from the Blue Agave Cactus; when fermented, this produces tequila.  it is 90% fructose.  And it is minimally processed, which has made it popular among some vegans and raw food enthusiasts.
  • Jaggery - a traditional cane sugar, boiled by traditional methods and shaped into cones.
  • Palm Sugar --  derived from Sugar Palm Tree sap;  date palms and coconut palms are also used.  The sap is boiled to a syrup then whipped and heaped in lumps to solidify.  From India (where it goes by the traditional name Gur), and southeast Asia, especially Thailand.  Some may be flavoured with ginger or turmeric.
  • Panela (also called Piloncillo, Penuche or Panocha) - a very dense first-stage processed cane sugar from Spanish speaking Mexico and South America, often dark brown, and in cones that require grating.
  • Maple Syrup - boiled maple tree sap; it is the only liquid sugar that requires refrigeration upon opening, or it will mould.  The only sweetener native to North America, the sap is collected only in spring when warm days and cold nights awaken the tree prior to the sprouting of leaves.  The sap is boiled down 40:1 to a golden syrup with a distinct taste.  The various grades are not necessarily indicative of quality, and tend to be idiosyncratic.
        The sugar in maple syrup is primarily sucrose, with some fructose and glucose.
  • Honey - the colour and flavour vary widely based on the plant nectar that the bees collect to make it.  Most supermarket brands are blended varieties.  Baking with honey is variable because of the differences in flavour, viscosity and acidity.
  • Malt Syrup - Grains such as barley, corn and rice are sprouted, roasted, cooked and dried; the result is a syrup that has lots of flavour and not much sweetness: it is mostly maltose with a bit of glucose, fructose and sucrose.  it is often used in bread to encourage yeast growth (Niall says that sugar retards yeast growth).  Malt is still used in beer making, so it should still be available for bread makers too.
  • Sorghum is a cereal grain from Africa, that was brought to the Americas in the 1600s; a sweet juice can be squeezed from it, and then boiled into a syrup.  It is milder than molasses, but has a roasted sweetness.
  • Sucanat - a proprietary manufacturing of cane and the least processed of all sugars, which retains the maximum amount of vitamins, minerals and trace elements.  It is made from organic Costa Rican sugarcane, and is granular, not crystallized.  Niall leaves one with the impression that it has few good baking properties.
  • Chinese Rock Sugar - evaporated cane juice is crystallized around a string until the chunk is hard as glass.
  • Raw Sugar - is not actually raw, it has been boiled to remove impurities; but it retains much of the molasses.
  • Evaporated Cane Juice and Organic Sugar - crystallized cane juice, without some of the final refining stages, leaving it tan in colour from the molasses.
  • Cane Syrup - is evaporated sugarcane juice, prior to crystallization.  It can be light or dark brown; produced in southern US
  • Molasses - traditionally the by-product made from centrifuging cane sugar to remove impurities; "mild" is from the first centrifugation; "robust" or "full flavour" is from the second round of purifying; and "blackstrap" molasses is from the final spin  Blackstrap molasses is too strong a taste to be used in much baking.
        Sometimes sulphur dioxide is added to the cane as it is centrifuged, which acts both to separate the impurities and as a preservative.  If the molasses is marked "unsulfured" it will be sweeter.
        Molasses is now often made by boiling sugar cane juice until it is concentrated.
  • Corn Syrup - also known as high-fructose corn syrup, intensely sweet and inexpensive.  Made by inverting the glucose in corn starches to fructose.  Now a major source of sugar in processed foods.  May be the main culprit in the obesity epidemic.  
  • Stevia comes from the shrub Stevia rebaudiana, a native plant of Paraguay. The active sweet molecules of the leaf are not succroses, but are glycosides, and they occur in the leaf in the following order; between 70 and 90% of the total sweet substance in the leaf are the first two; they are considered stevia's primary glycosides:
    • stevioside  [ C38H60O18 ]  - 110-270x sweeter than sucrose. Source of aftertaste 
    • rebaudioside A   [ C44H70O23 ]  - 150-320x sweeter than sucrose. no aftertaste, least bitter, least astringent
    • rebaudioside C   [ C44H70O22 ]  - 40-60x sweeter than sucrose.
    • dulcoside A -  [ C38H60O17
More on Stevia
I have heard a lot about stevia recently, but was told that it is not available in North America except as a health food supplement.   This may be changing.  In the beginning, not enough studies were done to prove its safety; there was some talk of it being mutagenic.  But I see it now on the shelves in our supermarkets, and the World Health Organization seems to consider it safe and/or beneficial.  In my area, most of the producers are adding Maltodextrin derived from corn to it, to give it some substance.  Purists poo-poo the use of maltodextrin (it is going to be digested as glucose, so it might increase the glycemic index a bit which is not what a diabetic might expect; and it may be derived from transgenic corn, which is not what people interested in raw food, organic food, or health food want to hear), and I am seeing some producers back-pedal a little on the use of maltodextrin now.  One package I saw today advertised "No Maltodextrin!"

Before today, I have never tried it, because its price was prohibitive.  

A lot of people seem to be interested in it because the body doesn't metabolize it: with no food value, people think they can eat it and get their sugar rush but not gain weight.  To me, that's just plain crazy -- eating something with no food value.  On the other hand, I can see where some people who are obese or diabetic might gain something from such a product if it can reduce a craving and make life tolerable again.  To me, it is a natural alternative to the host of artificial sweeteners that I generally steer clear of: but I say that if you already require one of the artificial sweeteners, for whatever reason, stevia might be a way to go.

Niall doesn't care for stevia, since it is too intensely sweet, has a bitter aftertaste, and has no other benefits to a baker: it will add no texture, will not cream with butter, will not caramelize, will not activate yeast: in short, "it takes an intrepid cook to use it as a recipe's major sweetener."

I get the impression that Niall considers stevia similar in many ways similar to artificial sweeteners, and he simply doesn't want to discuss them.  Among the many artificial sweeteners he doesn't mention:

  • Aspartame - (Equal, NutraSweet) may be linked to cancers; is in diet pop, yogurt, cereal and gum. 44% of market
  • Sucralose - (Splenda) is added to many packaged foods and is sold in granulated form for baking; might promote weight gain, might harm beneficial gut flora.  26% of market
  • Cyclamate (Sweet'N Low, in Canada; Sugar Twin, Sucaryl) is still banned as a food additive in Canada because it was once linked to cancer and male reproductive problems;  may yet be vindicated as safe. 
  • Saccharin -- Benzoic sulfilimine (Sweet'N Low in US)  11% of market
  • Neotame (Nutrasweet). 7000-13000x sweeter than sucrose. Rapidly metabolized and fully excreted by human digestive system.  C20H30N2O5
  • Xylitol (C5H12O5 ) - a sugar alcohol sweetener found in fibers of many fruits and vegetables, from which it can be extracted.  It is the same sweetness as sucrose but has only 2/3 the calories.

D. Today's Bread-off:

Originally I wanted to try a bread each with the following sugars, to see which one I liked the best:

  • White sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Molasses
  • Honey
  • Agave Syrup
  • Maple Syrup
  • Stevia

But I just couldn't bring it off.  My oven only bakes two breads comfortably at a time, and three is pushing it.  Besides, I'd already done one with honey.  And molasses is just not used much any more in these modern recipes (are tastes changing, or is there just other sugar now that is better/more available?).
So I made Reinhart's hearth bread recipe with Maple Syrup, Agave Syrup, and Stevia.  I must say that Agave is the only one of these three that he actually gives as a suggestion.  I found some in a distant bulk barn (then I found some locally later).

I really didn't know how much Stevia to use.  I had purchased one of those boxes that had the maltodextrin added, long ago before I knew what I was going to do with it (I don't think that this product is offered any longer). This is certainly the wrong one, according to stevia enthusiasts.  I added one packet to 1 teaspoon of water and left it overnight (somewhere online I read that someone had done this and the sweetness had intensified, or the bitter taste had dissipated, or something).

That means I am using 48mg of stevia's rebaudioside, and that means, I guess, 952mg of maltodextrin (which the picture on the box indicates is enough to sweeten one cup of tea -- and everyone believes what is on the box, right?  Right.) supposedly 1 gram.  Our inaccurate kitchen scale will not even register the weight, though.

I found various scales that other online bakers had used, most were less than helpful to my specific situation.  These tips from SteviaCanada are not helpful

This table for baking conversion needs to be updated, and there are lots of problems with it:

This conversion table seems to be best: , but again it is talking about 100% stevia, not the hybrid stevia/maltodextrin that I had.

1 Tsp Stevia (powered)=1 Cup Sugar
1 Tsp Stevia (liquid)=1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Tsp Stevia=1 Tbsp Sugar
6 Drops liquid Stevia=1 Tbsp Sugar
A pinch of Stevia=1 Tsp sugar
2 drops liquid stevia=1 Tsp sugar

The Bake-Off
The bake-off went off without a hitch.

I tripled up on the soaker and the biga, refrigerated it on Saturday, and divided it all into thirds on Monday's baking day.  That was easy.

I measured the ingredients for the Final Doughs too, but of course, I didn't add the liquids to the flour until baking day.  They too were refrigerated.  The maple syrup I ended up using was my own, not a purchased kind.  You can see that its colour is darker than the agave, and that the stevia is colourless.

Everything came out of the frig 2 hrs before working with it.  I did divide all the pieces and roll them in flour before they came to room temperature, though.  They probably should have been mixed at 1 1/2 hours, the pieces were already starting to expand as they woke up.

The first bread mixed, kneaded and into the oven was the Maple Syrup loaf:

...then the Agave loaf:

...and finally the Stevia loaf:

The dough was bulk fermented for 1 hour.

I shaped the dough.  First, the maple syrup:

Then the agave:

Finally the Stevia:

These were then covered at room temperature for 40 minutes; most of that time, I was preheating the oven.  All of the baskets saw some proofing: probably the stevia loaf was slightly less than the others. 

But I only took a picture of the maple syrup loaf, after that I was moving quickly to get the loaves into the oven.  All the loaves were scored, but I nearly forgot to score the stevia loaf, remembering to do it only after it was put on the stone -- so that is why it is scored so poorly.

There wasn't much room for the Stevia loaf on the baking stone(s), and some of it dripped over the edge before the crust formed.  So it turns out that this experiment didn't really give each bread an equal chance.  Well, that's life.

Kneading the doughs, I found the Maple syrup to be wettest, the agave to be stickiest, and the stevia to be just right.  In terms of yeast fermentation, they seemed to like the Maple syrup best and (of course) the non-fermenting stevia the least.  This was also reflected in the final oven spring of the loaves, although I think that here, the agave outperformed the maple syrup loaf slightly.

Reinhart's Whole Wheat Hearth Bread Recipe, made with Maple Syrup, Agave Syrup, and a Stevia extract
But, the final proof of the bread is in the taste, and for that I waited to the next day.

E. Results

For breakfast the next morning I sliced into the Agave and Stevia loaves, side by side, for a taste test and to have a look at the crumb and crust.

There is very little difference.  I'm guessing that most of the taste of these loaves comes from the amylose in the grain, and perhaps other starches that have been broken down slightly by Reinhart's enzymatic method/processes.  The amount of sweetener added here is small, but may be there to 'mask' any residual bitterness left in the whole wheat -- a taste that I am pretty much used to by now, and one that I enjoy and look forward to.

Because stevia is not consumed by yeast, one can imagine that the yeast in the agave loaf are going to enjoy more food, and therefore the crumb in that loaf will be airier due to more yeast metabolism.  I think that a case could be made for this, however in practice it seems not to make that much of a difference.  The yeast in the stevia loaf are happy enough to munch on the sugars in the grain.  There is very little difference in the crumb, both are airy and full of holes from fermentation.

There might be a slight difference in the crust.  Both are soft-textured, not crunchy hard, and it is difficult to say precisely what the textural difference is.  The agave crust is a bit crunchier maybe; or else slightly more caramelized, more flavourful.  The stevia crust has less differentiation from its own crumb.

And the taste?  Little difference.  I begin to suspect that any difference is so subtle, I may be merely searching for words that meet my expectations rather than my actual experience of these loaves.  When forced to discern between the two breads, I might hint that the agave loaf tastes slightly "fuller" flavoured; it rounds out the mouth slightly more.  But this is not a blind taste-test; and I doubt if I were offered the breads side-by-side while blind-folded that I would be able to tell them apart accurately.

At any rate, there is no bitter aftertaste in the stevia loaf. 

I'll have to see what my wife thinks of these loaves.

Late Addition:

These breads were a hit, all of them, with my wife.  She couldn't taste the difference between the Agave loaf and the Stevia loaf, but I noticed she ate the Agave loaf always in preference.  The maple syrup loaf she ate happily, and she said that she could taste the maple syrup in the bread.

She even said that her mother, my greatest critic, would like these breads.

I almost missed taking a picture of the Maple Syrup Loaf.  Just before we finished it, though, I snapped this picture because it seemed to me that of all the loaves, it had the best crumb.

Notes to Myself

  • I have also done a bit of research on how the body metabolizes these carbs, but its a work-in-progress, and I'll probably mention something about that later when I talk about bread and the gut: there is a lot more to learn about flora and how sourdough works with it to metabolize carbs -- an endless study, it seems.
  • Probably I should confine my 'bread-offs' to two loaves maximum, if they are going to be baked on an oven stone.  Three breads is pushing it, and as you can see, some loaves drip between the stones.
  • I can't see myself using these stevia packages ever again.  Likely I'll end up tossing them in the garbage.  I just can't see the sense of using stevia with maltodextrin.  Or stevia at all, in baking. Maybe it would be different if I grew the actual plant, and used a bit of its leaves.  Maybe I'll try that.  But why?  It is not as if I am crying out to make these breads sweeter.  In fact, quite the opposite.
  • Agave is mostly fructose, so why use it, especially after listening to Lustig's video?
  • Maple syrup is so precious, we tend to use it sparingly around here.  We know the energy it takes to make it, and how expensive it is.  The taste is absolutely unique, however.  Does it change a bread?  Almost certainly.  But again, it is a lot of fructose.  Why use it, if it is not going to be metabolized well by the body?
  • These Reinhart loaves probably don't require any extra sweetener.  You can make the loaves without them.  


  1. great write-up on sweeteners; there was a lot of new information for me in there. for instance, I wasn't aware that light brown / dark brown sugar were refined sugars with the molasses sprayed back in, but it makes a hell of a lot of sense given its consistency.

  2. Wow! LOTS of great information! I've never even considered trying different sweeteners in bread. I almost always use honey since it is more "natural" and works well in bread.

    Concerning stevia, I tried using it in canning fruit last summer. It worked VERY well. I always hated dumping all the sugar into my home canned peaches and pears and with stevia, I eliminated the sugar and still had wonderful fruit. It only took a 1 tsp of pure stevia for a gallon of water.