Enjoy baked goods without all the fat

July 06, 1999|By Lynn F. Little

The aroma of freshly baked cookies, breads and cakes can bring back memories of special times. Cookies fresh from the oven, bubbling cobblers, muffins, quick breads and moist and delicious cakes are a special part of family traditions and often are passed from generation to generation. (cont. from lifestyle) Until recently those baked goods were made with large amounts of butter, margarine, oil and other high-fat ingredients - ingredients we know must be kept to a minimum in a healthful diet.

This awareness has led to baking with less fat becoming more popular, but there are some techniques that work better than others. A variety of ingredients can be used as fat replacers. For example, fruit purees and juices make excellent fat substitutes in cakes, breads, cookies and muffins. Some flavors work better together than others. Use applesauce in gingerbread, chocolate cakes, white cakes and other recipes that you don't want to change the original taste.


Apple butter is especially good in spice cakes and bran muffins. Try mashed bananas in muffins, quick breads and chocolate cakes. Apple and orange juices work well in carrot cakes, pureed pears in quick breads and coffee cakes, and pureed peaches in muffins and spice cakes.

Prune puree and prune butter can be used in many recipes, even graham cracker pie crusts. Make prune puree from a half cup of pitted prunes (3 ounces) plus 1 cup water or fruit juice. Process these ingredients in a blender or food processor at high speed. Prune butter is thicker and made from about 1 1/3 cups of pitted prunes (8 ounces) in a food processor only. Both can be stored up to three weeks in the refrigerator.

Modifying tips

Some tips on how to be more successful if you are modifying a conventional recipe are:

* Avoid overbaking. Lower the oven temperature and check before the end of the time suggested in the recipe.

* Use a toothpick to test for doneness. Insert a wooden pick into the center of the product. Remove the baked good from the oven as soon as the pick comes out clean. Remove fat-free brownies from the oven as soon as the edges are firm and the center is almost set.

* Adjust the amount of fat replacer. Start adjusting your recipe by substituting only half the fat with the fat replacer, leaving the other half as fat. At the end of the mixing, or the next time you use this recipe, try adding more fat substitute if the mix or finished product is too dry.

* If using a reduced-fat margarine or light butter, use only three-fourths as much as the recipe indicates. For example: if your recipe calls for 1 cup butter or margarine, substitute 3/4 cup of reduced fat margarine or light butter.

* Keep your baked goods moist, fresh and free from mold. Wrap them in airtight containers arranged in single layers separated by waxed paper. Any leftovers not eaten within 24 hours should be refrigerated for maximum freshness. If your baked product has a frosting containing yogurt or a soft cheese-like ricotta, cottage cheese or cream cheese, it should be refrigerated immediately after baking.

Experienced bakers and novices alike will be surprised by the number of creative and healthful ways in which fat can be replaced in baked goods.

Maryland Cooperative Extension programs are open to all citizens without regard to race, color, sex, disability, age, religion or national origin.

Lynn F. Little is a family and consumer sciences extension educator for Maryland Cooperative Extension, Washington County, University of Maryland.

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