There’s nothing quite like the welcoming taste of warm maple syrup drizzled across your favorite buttermilk pancakes. And, believe it or not, maple syrup also goes well beyond breakfast; it’s versatile enough to bake with. Maple syrup is a convenient ingredient for plenty of recipes. Even so, many bakers are still wondering: how do you bake with maple syrup?
There are many opportunities to toss in some sweet maple syrup and bench the old, granulated sugar for a change while baking. Not only is it delicious with its natural sweetness, but maple syrup actually has advantages that can help improve your baking skills.
On the contrary, you might be thinking, there’s definitely no easy way to swap out granules of sugar with a liquid sweetener. Which is a perfectly reasonable perception. Liquid sweeteners take a bit of a steady hand, especially when you’re using them to replace your trusty dry sugar. But that’s where we come in.
To give you an idea of how it can take your baked goods up a notch, we’ll dive in and cover everything you need to know about using maple syrup. So, without further ado, let’s tap that tree and get to baking!
All About Maple
When we refer to maple syrup, most people go straight to the cute and fun little bottle shaped like a lady. But, we’re not chatting about pancake syrup today, my friend; we’re talking maple. Although the pair sit side by side in your local supermarket and plenty of people use them interchangeably, the two are not as similar as they might seem.
Unlike its close-yet-still-so-far relative, maple syrup is a naturally-derived sweetener that is produced from the sap of beautiful maple trees. The sap is boiled down to reduce the water content, concentrate the sugars, and leave nothing behind but that caramelly taste we all know and love.
Maple Syrup Grades: Which is Best for Baking?
Maple syrup does get a bit more complex past the boiling down portion. There are several grades on the market, and while no one choice is wrong for baking, each may leave you with a bit of a different flavor. All of the grades are considered “Grade A,” making for an adventure toward understanding. Let’s take a closer look at what we’re dealing with:
Grade A; Golden Color & Delicate Taste
This maple grade is the first of the syrup season—it’s usually tapped in colder climates, making it a bit more subtle and sweet. It’s a bit lighter in taste, so it generally pairs well alongside your favorite homemade waffles and is great for other classic syrup uses.
Grade A; Amber Color & Rich Flavor
Most foodies love to bake with the Amber maple grade as it’s a bit more flavorful but still offers a smooth and all-encompassing taste that sweetens baked goods beautifully. We love to add Crown Maple’s Amber Maple Syrup to recipes that call for a light yet luxurious taste. This flavor also complements coffee and tea nicely if you’re into that kind of thing.
Grade A; Dark Color & Robust Flavor
As we get a bit darker in color, this grade offers even more maple flavor. Regardless, it’s useful for recipes that could benefit from maple or even a brown sugar-like flavor. Many cooks use this maple flavor to add some richness to grilled meats or specialty cheeses, and it can pair lovely alongside oatmeal or even your cherished Old Fashioned. Our favorite is Crown Maple’s Dark Maple Syrup—try it as a topping on your pastry of choice.
Grade A; Very Dark & Strong Flavor
As the darkest of all maple syrup grades, this flavor is super powerful and is typically saved for maple candy or used in place of molasses.
If you can believe it, there are plenty of manufacturers who formulate and sell “fake” maple syrup. Unfortunately, this stuff’s primary ingredient is corn syrup, which won’t give you the sweetness you’re hoping for in baking. That said, ensure you’re using pure maple syrup, regardless of the grade.
How to Incorporate Maple Syrup into Recipes
Incorporating maple syrup into your baking recipes doesn’t have to be unnerving. Funnily enough, the liquid sweetener offers your favorite desserts a whole new opportunity to be delicious. With its distinct flavor, maple syrup brings a unique, brown sugary enrichment to the table. Not to mention, using liquid instead of dry sweeteners provide moisture like nobody’s business. Say hello to the softest chocolate chip cookies you’ve ever made.
To help you out on your journey toward yum, we’ve conjured up some of the best ways to use maple syrup while baking. Try these on for size, and get ready to be the new honorary baker in your friend group. However, if you’re a perfectionist baker, be sure to do a test run (or two) of your most beloved recipe before bringing it to Thanksgiving dinner.
Opt for Maple Syrup Instead of Sugar
Swapping out your handy bag of granulated sugar for liquid maple can be a daunting concept. Regardless, it can be done. And, once you try it, you may never go back.
In recipes that call for dry, granulated sugar, switch it out with your choice of pure maple syrup. For every 1 cup of sugar, use ¾ cups of maple syrup. And, because it’s a liquid, you’ll want to reduce each of the other called-for liquid ingredients by ¼ cup. But, there is such a thing as maple sugar, also. If you try maple sugar instead, like our well-loved Crown Maple Sugar, it’s a simple 1:1 ratio.
Sub Out Honey or Agave for Maple Syrup
Replacing other liquid sweeteners, like honey, agave, or even corn syrup with maple syrup is a stellar choice. Though the water content and consistency may vary between the different liquids, it’s very much possible. And, it can allow you the opportunity to add some va-va-voom to your next treat.
Because maple syrup is thinner than honey and corn syrup, it’s best to use ¾ cup of maple syrup and ¼ cup of granulated sugar for every 1 cup of the alternatives. For agave, it’s possible to swap them out in a 1:1 ratio.
Out of Molasses? Try Maple Syrup
Ah, molasses. The cream of the crop when it comes to unique flavors. If you’re anything like me, you likely don’t keep molasses lying around the house. But, the good news is that you can easily swap it out with maple syrup. The flavors are a bit different, but they’re fairly close relatives. And maple syrup is relatively more versatile than its cousin. That said, the two make a fine trade.
Molasses and maple syrup are similar in consistency, although molasses is a bit thicker. Regardless, it’s fine to substitute maple syrup using a 1:1 ratio. If you prefer a thicker liquid, try ¾ cup of maple syrup and ¼ cup of sugar for every 1 cup of molasses.
So, there you have it. Maple syrup is a fabulous ingredient for baking. Its unique, sweet, powerful yet subtle caramelly flavor makes for the perfect companion with your favorite sweet treats. Not to mention, using maple syrup in baking can considerably improve any overly dry textures by offering recipes both the liquid and the sweetness they deserve. Take maple syrup for a test run on your next baking day and see the gorgeous difference it can make.