Low Fat Holiday Baking

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

When the holidays come around, one of the things I like to do most is bake. But if you're trying to cut fat, baking can present something of a challenge. The thing about baking is that it really is as much a science as it is an art, and as such there are tried and tested formulas that ensure the success of a cake or a cookie recipe. When it comes to low fat baking, and sugar-free baking too, there is some trial and error involved because we are messing with these formulas.

Fat plays a central role, not only for flavor, but also for texture: chewiness, crispness, and what we call the "melt in your mouth" quality. Fat makes baked goods tender, by coating the proteins in flour, which inhibits gluten. So while you can bake without using fat, you will have a product with a very different flavor and texture -- very likely dense and possibly rubbery.

So if you really do want to ditch the fat, you must change your expectations. With some experimentation, you may be able to approximate the taste and texture of a cookie or cake that's made with its regular, no-substitution ingredients, but you can't expect it to be exactly the same.

That said, you can make perfectly yummy treats with a fraction of the fat and calories of their original counterparts. Which is why I generally use some butter in cookie recipes, for instance, although I do generally use vegetable oil, specifically canola oil, in muffins and quick breads.

You must remember one key thing: when you measure flour, be sure to lightly spoon flour into your measuring cup and level with a knife. If you pack flour directly into your cup, you will have too much in terms of weight.

So here are some lighter recipes for cookies, cakes, and muffins for the holidays and beyond.

Healthy Cranberry Bars - Fiona Haynes
Wholesome Cranberry Bars. Fiona Haynes

1.  Wholesome Cranberry Bars

Wholesome and delicious, these cranberry bars make a great holiday treat. and even once the holidays are over, you can make them using other fruit such as blueberries or raspberries. if you want to lessen the amount of sugar, you can try using one-third of a cup or your preferred sugar substitute that's suitable for baking . More »

Low Fat Cranberry Orange Muffins - Fiona Haynes
Low Fat Cranberry Orange Muffins. Fiona Haynes

2.  Low Fat Cranberry Orange Muffins

These delicious cranberry orange muffins have just the right balance of sweetness and tartness. The other thing about these muffins is that despite being low fat, they really are tender and light. More »

Low Fat Thumbprint Cookies - Fiona Haynes
Low Fat Thumbprint Cookies. Fiona Haynes

3.  Thumbprint Cookies

I firmly believe a little butter is necessary with these. I use just a 1/4 cup. Enjoy these little cookies with a cup of nonfat cocoa. This is the perfect cookie recipe for kids to make. More »

Low Fat Holiday Cookies - Fiona Haynes
Low Fat Holiday Cookies. Fiona Haynes

4.  Holiday Sugar Cookies

With almost half the butter of most sugar cookies, you can treat yourself to one of these low fat Christmas cookies without feeling too guilty. Top with sprinkles before baking or add a glaze afterwards using confectioner's sugar, lemon juice and some food coloring. More »

Chocolate Crinkles - Fiona Haynes
Chocolate Crinkles. Fiona Haynes

5.  Chocolate Crinkles

Get your chocolate fix with these low fat, low calorie chocolate crinkles. The keys to these soft chocolatey delights are to refrigerate the dough for at least 4 hours, and to roll them in plenty of powdered sugar before baking. More »

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