Baking the Low Fat Way

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

One of the big challenges of adapting recipes to make them low fat or "lighter" is making those recipes not only taste good, but also have a good texture. Fat, of course, contributes greatly to both of these qualities, especially in baking. In baking, the interplay of certain ingredients relies on precise measurements, and in some cases, there really is no adequate substitute for, say, butter or eggs. Something generally has to give. So I can't say with one hundred percent honesty that you simply won't be able to tell the difference between a full fat version and a lighter one -- you most likely will, to some degree. But that doesn't automatically make the revised recipe a poor one. It may make it a little less rich, slightly more dense, perhaps. At the same time, by taking some precautions, we can avoid some of the pitfalls of low fat baking -- principally dryness and too much density -- by remembering a couple of key things: measuring flour properly (do not dip, scoop, and pack your cup -- gently spoon flour into measuring cup and level off with the back edge of a knife), and do not over-mix ingredients.

Cake Mix - Fiona Haynes
Cake Mix. Fiona Haynes

1.  Making Low-Fat Cakes from Cake Mix

Nothing beats homemade cakes or muffins, but sometimes when time is short it's OK to cheat and use those oh-so-convenient boxes of cake or muffin mix. In general, it's better, and cheaper, to opt for cake or muffin mix over the ready-made packaged cakes or bakery muffins you'll find on display at the grocery store because you can still exercise some control over the contents. More »

Low Fat Blueberry Muffins - Fiona Haynes
Low Fat Blueberry Muffins. Fiona Haynes

2.  Low Fat Blueberry Muffins

Warm, fresh blueberry muffins are hard to beat. I've cut the fat in these muffins by using a small amount of heart-healthy canola oil instead of butter or margarine, and fat-free milk instead of whole or 2% milk. Low fat buttermilk would work well, too. More »

Low Fat Banana Cake - Fiona Haynes
Low Fat Banana Cake. Fiona Haynes

3.  Low Fat Banana Cake

This low-fat banana cake is an indulgent treat, but with very little saturated fat, you shouldn't feel too guilty. But if you prefer to omit the frosting, that's just fine. Just a note about the bananas: the riper the better! More »

Low Fat Morning Glory Muffins - Fiona Haynes
Low Fat Morning Glory Muffins. Fiona Haynes

4.  Morning Glory Muffins

These wholesome, healthy and delicious muffins are especially good warm. Perfect for popping into lunch boxes or as an an after-school treat, these muffins will be gobbled up before the kids realize they're eating some veggies! For an extra nutritional boost, replace half the flour with whole wheat flour. More »

Low Fat Pineapple Cake - Fiona Haynes
Low Fat Pineapple Cake. Fiona Haynes

5.  Easy Pineapple Cake

This cake couldn't be simpler. It's meant to dense and fruity, and it makes a great cake to serve around Easter time, although you can make it for any season or occasion. More »

One Bowl Chocolate Cake - Fiona Haynes
One Bowl Chocolate Cake. Fiona Haynes

6.  One Bowl Chocolate Cake

A one-bowl cake means less clean up; a one bowl cake that needs only one cake pan means even less clean up. A low fat, one-bowl, one-layer cake also means less fat and fewer calories per slice. A win-win situation all round. This chocolate cake doesn't even need frosting, especially if you enjoy it warm. More »

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