Baking Better For Your Body
To me the truest of comfort foods are sweets. What soothes my soul like warm chocolate chip cookies or fresh brownies? Nothing! I may have to stop typing and go bake something right now. Okay, I reeled my brain back in and I think I can continue without baked goods.
Thankfully there are a few little tricks for cutting back the fat in those tasty treats. Here are a few:
Pureed Fruit – Applesauce, for instance, is commonly used for reducing the fat in cakes and muffins. Pureed peaches, mashed bananas, and even pureed prunes are great substitutions. Here is an easy reference.
Applesauce – most cakes, muffins, gingerbread, cookies
Mashed bananas – chocolate cakes, spice cakes, muffins, other quick breads
Pureed peaches – spice cakes, muffins
Pureed pears – coffee cakes, quick breads
Pureed prunes – spice cakes, muffins, scones, chocolate cakes, coffee cakes, crumb crusts, brownies, cookies
Pureed Vegetables – It may sound strange to make muffins or brownies with vegetables, but it can be done and really adds some great benefits. Cooked mashed squash (like pumpkin) or sweet potatoes will replace at least half, if not all, the fat in many baked desserts. This super shot of veggies is great for muffins, fruit cakes, quick breads, gingerbread, and other dense cookies and cakes. With veggies you can start with about 3/4 the total amount called for, rather than the 1/2 rule we used with fruit. So, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of butter, try 3/4 cup of pumpkin and adjust if it needs more moisture.
Dairy – Fat-free dairy products like buttermilk or yogurt work as a great substitute for fats in many baked goods. Cakes, muffins, quick breads, chocolate baked goods, and scones are all great places to try the dairy substitution. Start out using 1/2 as much of the substitute as the total amount called for in the recipe.
Egg Whites – Maybe pureed vegetables in place of good old butter seems like a disgrace to you or you are just a little wary of messing with your decadent delights. If this is the case there is one more way to cut back on the fat. Simply use 2 egg whites for each egg called for in the recipe. That will reduce the fat slightly.
Sweet Fat Substitutes - Jam, apple butter, prune butter, corn syrup, honey, chocolate syrup, molasses, and fruit juice concentrates can replace all the fat in many baked goods and at least 1/2 the fat in cookies. Good match-ups include:
Apple butter – bran muffins, spice cakes
Chocolate syrup – all chocolate treats
Corn syrup – most baked goods
Fruit jam – muffins
Fruit juice concentrates – carrot cake, fruit crisp crumb toppings (juices don't work as well in scones or biscuits)
Honey – muffins, cookies, scones, biscotti, oat bars
Maple syrup – muffins, spice cakes, quick breads
Molasses – quick breads, spice cakes, muffins, oat bars, certain cookies (spicy, whole wheat, or oatmeal)
Prune butter – spicy muffins, cakes, quick breads
Use 3/4 as much of the substitute as the total amount of fat called for in the recipe if using a liquid sweetener such as honey, 1/2 as much if using a thicker sweetener such as apple butter. If using fruit juice, go with half and if replacing oil go ahead and use an equal amount. Remember that these are sweet so reduce sugar by the same amount as the sweetener added.
One good thing to remember is that you will need to adjust your bake time. Low fat batters can cook and fry out more quickly so check it about 10 minutes before the timer goes off. Use a toothpick to check for doneness. It may take a few adjustments here and there, but I am sure that after a few trials and you will be a pro – and a low fat pro at that!