It’s no surprise that many of our most treasured recipes are for cakes and other baked treats.
Many of these recipes have been handed down through the generations and are brought out at family gatherings and holiday celebrations.
But what do you do if you are trying to eat healthy and watch your weight? One option is to totally abstain. Not a very welcome prospect.
The other is to try and find healthy cake recipes to replace those old family favorites. The truth is most cake recipes can be reworked and lightened by substituting the butter for other ingredients and reducing the amount of sugar.
Here are our favorite tips and tricks for healthy baking.
Use good quality cake pans. Aluminium is best as it absorbs and conducts heat. Shiny pans deflect the heat, while dark metal pans cause the outside of the cake to cook more quickly than the center.
As low fat cakes contain less butter than their full-fat counterparts, there’s more risk of them sticking to the cake pans. Spray the tins with canola or vegetable oil spray. To ensure easy removal of your cake line the bottom of the pan with baking or parchment paper.
Accurate measuring is a must. If measuring with a cup, take a large spoon and stir the flour in the bag or container to aerate it. Then lightly spoon it into the cup. Don’t pack it down as you do with brown sugar. Using the flat blade of a knife, sweep it across the top of the cup until it is level.
Cakes should be baked on the center rack in the oven at least 2 inches away from the sides of the oven. Placing the cake in the top part of the oven means it will brown and possibly burn more quickly than in the center.
Don’t keep opening the oven door. If the temperature of the oven drops your cakes will sink in the center.
With less fat, there is more risk of the cake over-baking and drying out. Check for doneness 5 – 10 minutes before the specified time. The normal toothpick test doesn’t always work. The top of the cake should spring back when gently pressed in the center.
Fruit purees such as applesauce can replace up to half of the fat in most recipes without compromising taste and texture. In fact the fruit adds moisture and extra sweetness.
Some of the egg yolks can be replaced by egg whites, but not all. Why not? The yolks contain fat as well as lechithin, which allows fats and water to mix together smoothly. This provides the cake with its smooth texture. Egg yolks also contain protein which helps batters to set.
Beating the egg whites until they are frothy will add air and lightness to your cakes.
To make your cakes healthier, substitute some of the white flour with wholewheat flour. If the recipe calls for two cups of white flour, try one cup of each.
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