Stevia Herbal Sweetener Works in our Whole Wheat Brioche!

Brioche is one of our favorite breads, and our recipe in Healthy Bread in Five has been a great choice for sneaking some whole wheat into our diet. But some of our readers who really need to limit their sugar and carbs have asked about sugar substitutes.  After some research and tinkering this past week, I was happy to discover that stevia extract can be swapped into our brioche recipe–in place of honey.  So this is a no-sugar way to sweeten this loaf– and I’m guessing that it will work in any of our sweet recipes.  

Stevia is a plant, native to warm regions of the Americas, that has naturally sweet leaves–but not because of plant sugars–what we’re tasting are naturally-occurring “glycoside” compounds of hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon.  An extract of the leaves has been approved for years in Japan and other countries, but until recently all Stevia extract in the U.S. had to be labeled as a “nutritional supplement,” not as a sweetener, though the non-pure versions are still technically “supplements” here (I’m going to stay out of the politics of this–please don’t post about that here).  I’m just pleased that a natural non-sugar sweetener is now available in the U.S.. and one that can produce results like this…

Many companies are now marketing Stevia extracts as powders or liquids. After a lot of back and forth, and changes in the products, I’m preferring the pure liquid extracts of stevia, rather than the ones cut with erythritol or maltodextrin, additives where there’s been controversy about whether they raise blood sugar.

It’s a pretty easy recipe swap–just start with our Whole Wheat Brioche recipe here on the website or on page 275 of Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day (make sure you’ve corrected for typographical errors in that recipe by checking the link if you’re using the book version). About 20 drops (yes, drops) of the pure liquid extract was enough to replace the honey in the whole batch without introducing any odd flavors.

I also tried several methods for baking up the brioche; not everyone has a traditional broiche pan, but this dough works well in several typical shapes: free form, in an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan, and in a muffin pan…

You can use some egg wash (one egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water) to give extra shine and browning (use a pastry brush).  The free-form loaf was used with 1 pound of dough (30 to 35 minutes at 350F). It also bakes well in a Dutch oven (but be sure to adjust the temperature).  The loaf pan took 2 pounds of dough (40 to 45 minutes at 350F), and the muffins used 1 pound of dough, separated into 8 small pieces, and placed in the individual pan wells to rise (20 to 25 minutes at 350F). All methods needed an hour and a half rise time (cover loosely with plastic for the resting time).

There are so many ways to eat and serve this brioche. Berries and creme fraiche can make this into a simple summer dessert; butter and jam make for a delicious breakfast. This bread also makes a fantastic french toast, so you can make a few extra loaves when the humidity drops,  tuck them into your freezer, and pull them out for a summer-day brunch.  If you’re stocking stuff like this in the summertime, you’re always ready to turn the brioche into a treat (note the Nutella in the upper left!).

We’re very excited to start sweetening doughs with this product, and others like it.  Please let us know how your experiments go!

15 thoughts to “Stevia Herbal Sweetener Works in our Whole Wheat Brioche!”

  1. I love NuNaturals Stevia. I tried for years to find one that wasn’t bitter tasting. A friend recommended this one and I have used it for a couple years in coffee and tea. I am glad to see you used it in this recipe I have to try it now. LOL 🙂

  2. As a result of a post I saw of FB “home made bread in Crock Pot” … I have since (2 days) purchased a 3 of your books, a stone and all the items I need to begin baking homemade bread. My endeavors in baking bread has been
    – using a bread machine maybe 3 times (that has set idle for some 12 years now)
    – making homemade cornbread regularly
    – attempting homemade biscuits prob 10 times
    – baking homemade “canned biscuits” lol

    So I am beyond excited to jump feet first into this new found hobby I have been blessed to come in contact with.

    The way I look at this is: I have fed 3 generations now and this 3rd one can handle some Tender loving cooking.

    All the posts and comments I have read have been totally promising. I can read and with the correct equipment hopefully I can be bringing some love out of my oven.

    Thanks for all the free knowledge on your site, it has helped me to find something to put alot of energy into.

    God Bless Jeff and Zoe

    1. Hi Patty,

      What a wonderful note, thank you and enjoy all the bread! Let us know if you have any questions.

      Cheers, Zoë

  3. I wonder if you have ever par-baked pizza crusts and tried finishing them in a toaster oven.

    I would like to take some to my knit night group but have to travel 30 – 40 minutes.

    I considered par baking the crust,at home adding the ingredients and finishing in the shops toaster oven.



    1. Hi Angela,

      We talk about par-baking the crust in our pizza book, but I have never tried then finishing them in a toaster oven. In fact, Jeff and I were just discussing this very thing today and wished we had one to experiment with. If you give this a try, please let us know how you find it.

      Thanks, Zoë

  4. I am another one of your devotees, thank-you for all your work. My question is this, my family loves Ezekiel bread,is there a bread recipe in one of your books that would lend itself to this type of bread. I love making bread from your doughs. Thank-you for any help. Also would you consider developing a vegan brioche recipe using your techniques for dough storage. Thank-you again.

    1. Suzie: About brioche– it’s defined by the eggs! Without eggs, it’s not brioche. You could try egg substitute I suppose, but the flavor won’t be there.

      Ezekial is a mixture of whole-grain flours– you could try varying some of the recipes from They’d be the closest we have.

      1. Thank-you Jeff. Am I understanding you correctly, that I can take any of your recipes in HBN5, and as long as I stay with in the amount of flour specified in the recipe it should work. Thank- you for your advice and help

  5. Hey Zoe!
    I just happened on your website purely by accident! Wow! I’m just getting ready to order your books from Amazon. I’m about an hour east of Toronto in Canada and I am much obliged for the info on Canadian flours. I never new about all the differences in flours! Can’t wait to get the books and will talk to you soon

  6. I can’t wait to try this! But I do have a question. How much stevia powder would it take in place of the stevia liquid?
    Thanks for your time, Diane

    1. The stevia powder I’ve tried supposedly measures just like sugar or honey, so that’d mean about 3/4 cup in this recipe. But not all of them measure just like sugar, so be very careful and follow the manufacturer’s instructions, or this’ll be very odd-tasting indeed.

      Further–I’d say use less than the manufacturer suggests, maybe 30% less. Otherwise I’ve found there are weird flavors being introduced.

  7. I made the ABin5 recipe for Gluten Free Buttermilk Bread in a Pullman loaf pan and used Whole Earth Baking Blend (Raw Sugar & Stevia Blend) in place of the honey (per the sweetener instructions I used 1/4 cup the of the blend in place of 1/2 cup of honey for one 2 pound loaf). It came out perfect, is surprisingly tall loaf for gluten free bread, a nice golden brown color and the substitution cut back on the sugar and carbs. You would never know this is a gluten free recipe – so far this is my favorite. Loving all your recipes!

    1. Hi Darlene,

      Thank you so much for telling us about your successful substitution! Other readers will likely benefit from knowing this.

      Cheers, Zoë

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.