5 Naturally Sweet Treats for Christmas Morning

Reduce the sugar in your favorite breakfast treat recipes by up to 50%.

Published Dec. 8, 2016.

Face it: no one wants to eat a banana for breakfast on Christmas morning. Sure, it’s the wise choice—but it’s also the holidays, which means it’s time to indulge before committing to all those strict resolutions we’ll make a week later.

But that sweet breakfast treat doesn’t have to be all bad. The following breakfast breads and cakes come from our recent publication, Naturally Sweet, and use between 30% to 50% less sugar than the original versions. Indulge away.

Crumb Cake

Who says you can’t eat cake for breakfast? The iconic New York version consists of a rich, buttery cake and a lightly spiced crumb topping. Initially, we found it difficult to take much of the sugar out without getting a sandy product. In the end, our secret weapon was Sucanat, a natural sugar substitute, which gave the crumbs a lovely butterscotch flavor. (Learn more about baking with Sucanat.) The best part: we managed to reduce the amount of sugar used in the recipe from 29 grams to 13 grams.

Fun Fact: Most people associate crumb cake with Entenmann’s, but their shelf-stabilizing preservative-laden version of the dessert has nothing on the bakery-fresh versions first popularized by German immigrants in late 1800s New York City.

Honey-Almond Coffee Cake

Coffee cakes come in many sizes, shapes, and flavors. For ours, we wanted a golden, honey-sweetened cake with a flavorful, unique topping. A little bit of honey goes a long way here—just a half cup gave this cake a rounded, floral, earthy sweetness. We were able to make a delicious morning treat while still cutting the sugar nearly in half, from 45 grams to 23 grams. Open your presents quickly, because the real gift is this coffee cake.

Fun Fact: Pure almond extract is made from three primary ingredients: alcohol, water, and bitter almond oil. The last is extracted from almonds or (more frequently) their kin, drupes, the botanical term for stone fruits such as peaches and apricots. The almond flavor comes from benzaldehyde, a substance in the kernels of drupes.

Baking with Less Sugar

Naturally Sweet

Naturally Sweet is a collection of 100+ truly groundbreaking recipes that rely only on natural, less-processed sweeteners like Sucanat (unrefined cane sugar), coconut sugar, date sugar, honey, maple syrup, or no sweeteners at all, just dried fruit and chocolate.  
Buy the Book

Apple-Cinnamon Danish

Apple Danish usually take one form: a no-holds-barred confection filled with sticky goo that barely resembles fruit. They’re also tough to make. Luckily, we found that store-bought puff pastry was the perfect base for our Danish. We also wanted our fruit—not our sweetener—to be the star of the filling. Apples, coconut sugar, and apricot preserves combined to make a perfect, not cloyingly sweet filling. We were also able to cut the sugar in the recipe by a third, from 21 grams to 14 grams.

Fun Fact: We like the deep, sweet-tart flavor of apricot jam on toast, but it’s also a pantry staple for the bakers in the test kitchen. Like professional bakeshops, we use apricot jam to add a glossy sheen and delicate sweetness to fruit tarts.

Cinnamon Buns

There’s nothing like a warm, decadent, homemade cinnamon bun, but we were shocked when we realized our favorite recipe contained a whopping 44 grams of sugar. We managed to cut that number in half to 22 grams, while still maintaining the integrity of the treat.

Fun Fact: “Cinnamon” is actually an umbrella term for several different species of evergreen trees in the genus Cinnamomum. The age of the bark at harvesting affects the amount of volatile oils. Harvesting entails stripping the exterior bark from the tree and then scraping its interior into strips, or quills, that are then sun-dried and ground. Older trees contain the most oils.

Honey Buns

With their nostalgic charm and luscious, sticky appeal, honey buns seemed like the perfect candidate for a unique, naturally sweet alternative to warm-spiced cinnamon buns. However, most honey bun recipes call for hefty amounts of corn syrup and granulated sugar, effectively negating any honey flavor. We managed to cut the amount of sugar nearly in half—from 39 grams to 21—while also amplifying the honey flavor.

Fun Fact: America has a sky-high demand for honey: According to the National Honey Board, we eat more than 400 million pounds of the stuff every year. Considering that the average honeybee produces only 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey over its lifetime, that’s a lot of honey—and a lot of bees.

More from Naturally Sweet

Reinventing the Chocolate Chip Cookie

Senior editor of books Stephanie Pixley was charged with developing a naturally sweet chocolate chip cookie recipe. How did she manage to cut out the granulated sugar and get chocolate chip cookies that were still crisp on the edges with a chewy interior?  
Read the Interview

For more breakfast inspiration, check out more of our Eggs and Breakfast recipes.

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