Cut the Fat in Baking

by in Healthy Tips, November 30, 2009

Winter Baked Goods
This week, we’re giving you a bunch of cookie ideas, but we didn’t want to skip on out on general baking advice, too. One big concern is all that fat. Fat ensures that your baked goods are moist and tender (pretty important!), but you can dial it down and still make them delectable with a few basic swaps.

How Much Fat Can You Cut?
The easiest way to reduce fat when cooking is to just use less oil or butter. Since baked goods require very specific measurements, that can be trickier when baking. Sometimes cutting down added fat will work; other times you’ll need to replace some of that fat with other ingredients. When trying to re-invent your favorite recipes, it may take some trial and error. Instead of wasting batches upon batches of ingredients, I like to split a recipe into thirds and make adjustments to each mini-batch. Once you discover what works best, make sure to write it down for next time — and don’t be afraid to double-check your math!

Simple Swaps to Try
The typical ingredients that add fat to your baked goods are eggs, oil, butter, shortening, milk and cream. There are several easy swaps you can make, but be warned that they may change the texture slightly. In the end, these changes will cut back on the total fat and much of the less-healthy saturated fat.

  • For cookies, replace half the butter with applesauce, egg whites or plain yogurt.
  • Replace regular butter with equal amounts of healthier buttery spreads such as Promise or Smart Balance.
  • Trade half the butter with pureed fruit such as mashed bananas, apple butter or prunes (prunes work best with chocolate recipes).
  • Replace half the oil with applesauce.
  • Replace each whole egg with two egg whites or 1/4 cup egg substitute.
  • Replace cream with equal parts of evaporated skim milk.
  • Replace half the cream cheese with equal parts of reduced-fat cottage cheese or part-skim ricotta cheese.
  • Replace each 1/2 cup shortening with 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil.
  • Replace equal parts sour cream with plain yogurt (I like to use the Greek-style yogurt).
  • Replace whole milk with 1% or 2%.

TELL US: How do you lighten up your favorite baked goodies?

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Comments (17)

  1. Food Makes Fun Fuel says:

    I love baking with yogurt. fat free greek yogurt can cut butter out of most recipes. When I need a fat, I tend towards smart balance canola oil or vegan organic butter spread–at least that way I know I'm not taking in cholesterol as well.

  2. Sarah says:

    Along with the pureed fruits that was mentioned, I have also tried replacing fats with canned pumpkin. This was in granola bars, so it also added a nice fall flavor :)

  3. Greta says:

    I bake often and after some experimenting, I always use Smart Balance Butter now. I find that it actually makes cookies softer and chewier…mmm

  4. Krikri says:

    Your cookie ideas are welcome and for the start , you provided wonderful delicacies. To answer the question you posed, I try applesauce.

  5. kmunoz says:

    I often substitute at least half the white flour in a recipe for whole wheat flour.

  6. Melanie says:

    I substitute the white flour in a recipe with whole wheat pastry flour. The whole wheat pastry flour gives a smoother texture than regular wheat flour. And I will cut the sure by 25% in most muffin and cookie recipes. The baked goods will be less sweet on a side by side comparison, but nobody will know the difference.

  7. Caren says:

    How about margarine? I never bake cookies with butter – only margarine – and they still come out chewy and plump.

  8. SnowCookie says:

    I don't care much for fruit puree's, like prunes, because the result can be alittle gummy…I like using applesauce, plain nonfat Greek yogurt, or baby food…yes baby food…for instance, carrot cake…I use canola oil, and replace half of it with purreed baby food carrots, or sweet potatoes…you don't even notice a difference….For a basic plain 3 3gg cake, I replace half the fat with vanilla custard baby food…and the results are awesome. I also replace half the white flour in some recipes with Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, or fine ground Oat Bran…or sometimes do a combination of all 3….I always use lowfat milk or buttermilk in all my recipes, and reduced fat cream cheese. A great product for replacing Half & Half in a recipe is to use Land-O-Lakes Fat Free Half & Half … this reduces a big amount of fat from a recipe, and works great with homemade puddings to….you cannot use it in place of Heavy Cream to be whipped…
    Also, if you use powdered ginger in cookies or cakes, try using Candied Ginger, and chop very fine…the difference in taste is awesome, and has a clean fresh ginger taste.
    Hope my suggestions help!

  9. Sconehead says:

    I usually replace 1/2 or more (sometimes all depending on what I am making) of the white flour with whole wheat flour…I love the texture. I also have replaced eggs with flax seed and use alot of pumpkin puree and applesauce. I recently partially replaced alot of the fattening ingredients in Amish Friendship bread and I couldn't tell the difference.

  10. kasop says:

    I made revel bars and used avocado and oil in place of butter , also used whole wheat pasty flour and white whole flour taste great !

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