Low / Reduced Fat Baking Techniques

Here we’ll discuss the basic ingredients that go into most low-fat and reduced-fat baked goods. We’ll also walk you through how we changed a standard recipe into a low-fat or fat-reduced one, and the steps we took to do so. Along the way, we could also reduce the sugar when using certain fruit purees as ingredients. With plenty of tips for success, you’ll be on your way to crafting your own baking recipes for your lifestyle. Or go directly to our Low / Reduced Fat Baking Recipes.

If you ever have a question, come talk to us and other members in the CraftyBaking Community. We would love to help! 

When my family decided to pay more attention to our diet, I knew that Mom's chocolate fudge cake, as it stood, didn't fit into the plan -- especially after I ran the Nutritional Analysis on the original recipe. I almost fainted!

Per slice, Mom's Fudge Cake was 603 calories, 28 fat grams (11 grams of saturated fat), and 100 milligrams of cholesterol (twelve slices per cake)!

Healthy Oven Chocolate Fudge Cake Recipe

I decided to reduce the fat and calories and create my own Healthy Oven Chocolate Fudge Cake Recipe. It was a difficult task because buttercakes such as Mom's rely heavily upon butter for their characteristics, such as flavor, texture, color and look. When I cut the fat down from 16 to 4 tablespoons of course, the recipe went haywire. My task was to select ingredients that would still keep the recipe reduced-in-fat, but still have a similar flavor, taste, texture and color as the full-fat version. It wasn't easy.

The Final Outcome: Per slice: 280 calories, 18 grams fat (6 grams saturated fat), and 69 mg cholesterol, per slice, less than the original.

If I had announced to my gang that they would never eat chocolate cake again, they would have packed their bags and found a new mom and wife. But I knew that somewhere in Mom's beloved recipe there was a wonderful reduced-fat version just waiting to be discovered. Of course, I didn't get it right on the first try. But, get it right I did, because I came to understand the interplay between the ingredients and the techniques used in reduced-fat baked goods. Add finally, after many trials, I came up with a rich, delicious, Healthy Oven Chocolate Fudge Cake that my family loves.

So, I rolled up my sleeves and got busy. Obviously, the place to start was with the butter:
1. After much experimentation, I cut the fat down to 25 percent of its original amount—before the flavor and texture were adversely affected. (in other recipes, substituting a fruit puree like applesauce for part of the fat works well.)
2. I substituted low-gluten cake flour for the all-purpose flour, as cake flour will produce a more tender cake which can be a problem win the absence of fat; 
3. To make up for the flavor lost by reducing the amount of melted chocolate, I added one-half cup of cocoa powder, which is a surprisingly low-fat ingredient;  and,
4. In addition I added two teaspoons of instant espresso to complement the chocolate flavor. I used low-fat buttermilk which has a similar full, rich flavor to sour cream, but fewer calories and less fat.

1. I believe that it is best to only reduce the butter in a recipe which relies heavily on butter of fat for its characteristics---such as a tender Healthy Oven White Cake Recipe, a crunchy Healthy Oven Icebox Sugar Cookie Recipe, a tart and creamy Healthy Oven Key Lime Bars Recipe, the Healthy Oven Fudge Brownie Recipe, a flavorful Pumpkin-Orange Cornbread Recipe, or Healthy Oven New York Modern Cheesecake Recipe.

Here, I reduce the butter, and then add or subtract new ingredients in my book, The Healthy Oven Baking Book. There is no magic formula that I can give you--each recipe has to be tested over and over again, sometimes 100 times or more, while slowly reducing the fat and altering the other ingredients to see what works best.

Healthy Oven Chocolate Chip Cookies RecipeFor instance, it took me months to develop the Healthy Oven Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe which that has only 4 tablespoons of butter. I also added in 1 TBSP canola oil and 1 TBSP corn syrup in the recipe to maintain a crunchy, chewy taste, as well as alter the other ingredients! The result was a crunchy cookie with a chewy inside, with 70 calories, 3 grams of fat, and 9 milligrams cholesterol.

2. Fruit purees can be used effectively as a fat substitute in both muffin, quick-bread recipe and other oil based recipes that rely upon oil to act as a flavor carrier, reduce stickiness in a recipe and help to retain the flavors during the baking process.  I developed Sarah's Healthy Oven Mixing Method: mix the dry and liquid and sugar ingredients separately from one another and then add the liquids/sugar to the dry. Mix gingerly because with less fat the end recipe is more prone to getting tough and dense when baked.
SARAH SAYS: Ignore the information that says you can use applesauce as a substitute for butter in any recipe. The best candidates for fat replacement with fruit purees are quick-bread and those recipes that use oil, such as the Healthy Oven Do It Your Own Way Muffin Recipe. When you replace the butter with applesauce in a recipe that depends upon butter for its characteristics, such as a crispy and crunchy cookie, you will get a cookie that bends and is soft or may not resemble a cookie at all. So, in those types of recipes, I recommend reducing the amount of butter, instead of substituting it with applesauce, to the point where the lower-in-fat one is still similar to the full-fat version. That takes LOTS of experimentation, sometimes adding in or taking out ingredients from the original recipe!

Many ask me for stead-fast rules to follow when substituting oil with applesauce. There are a few, but it sometimes takes a lot of testing on your part to get it right. And, substitutions sometimes may never work in general they don't.

As an oil substitute, I like to use unsweetened applesauce and other thick fruit purees. I generally take 1 cup oil and substitute it with 3/4 - 1 cup unsweetenedHealthy Oven Applesauce Layer Cake Recipe applesauce. You can also use pumpkin, banana, mango, squash and other purees in recipes, but I always use an extra 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce along with the purees, because I have found that recipe, when baked, turns out more moist with a better texture. I always add in 1-2 TBSP canola oil, as well to enhance the recipe's flavor.

3. You also must adjust the baking powder or baking soda, and the type of flour, as well as add in more flavoring, plus review all of the other ingredients. Because applesauce is considered to be an acidic ingredient, add about 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda, to start, to the recipe to smooth its flavor.

4. AND, if a recipe calls for all-purpose flour and you're using applesauce as a fat replacer, more than half of the time you'll need to use whole wheat pastry flour instead. In the absence of fat, you'll need a more tender flour containing less protein.

5. Egg yolks provide fat and lecithin (a natural emulsifier), which contribute to the fine texture of baked goods, and egg whites contain proteins that give structure to the final product. The little bit of lecithin in just one yolk can make a big difference. Too many egg whites will make a baked good dry and rubbery.

6. PLUS, I always increase the flavorings when baking with applesauce. When you use it as a replacement for a large amount of fat, the flavor of the recipe becomes bland because fat is a flavor carrier.

7. BAKE until just done. Low-fat batters can quickly turn from done to overbaked and dry.

The Healthy Oven Baking Book, by Sarah Phillips, Doubleday, 1999  

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