Better Batter

Better Batter

Cakes, cookies, or brownies? Or how about pastries, pies, croissants or danishes? The world of baked desserts is too far and too wide to narrow the staggering variety of treats down to one winner. But in all the flour and cream and butter and sugar, you can easily add inches to your waistline without even realising that you’ve become as fluffy as your last chocolate cake. Never fear, because these tips to cut back on calories and fat in your baked goods will help you trim the guilt without sacrificing taste.
 
Whenever possible, go the extra mile for high-quality ingredients such as premium chocolate and pure vanilla extract. Better-tasting products will let you make substitutions without missing the calories you do cut, adding to the sensation of consuming what might otherwise taste like cardboard. A puree of tofu can often be used to replace half the fat (butter, margarine, shortening, etc.) in your preferred recipe, reducing calories while upping the protein. Beetroot has a sweetness and moisture that can work wonders in lower-calorie versions of baked desserts, all without removing an ounce of flavour. Finely grate raw beetroot to add to your brownie batter; about two-thirds of a cup can fill in for a quarter cup of sugar.
 
Cream cheese frosting on a red velvet cake 
 
Cream cheese frosting on a red velvet cake is just about the most sinful thing around, but it’s absolutely loaded with calories. As an alternative, try beating together eight ounces of reduced-fat cream cheese with a cup of powdered sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. At just 59 calories and three grams of fat per tablespoon, it’s a fluffy substitute sans all the guilt. Buttercream can also pack the calories – 100 per tablespoon, to be precise. Fat-free whip, a common substitute for whipped cream in the U.S., can be used as a topping for most cakes and pastries. Powdered sugar (10 calories per tablespoon) is another good choice for a dessert topping, and it adds a texture that’s tough to replicate any other way.
 
Eggs might be healthy for breakfast, but they can really add calories to baked goods. Instead of a whole egg, use two whites to cut out 60 calories and six grams of fat. For those so inclined, it’s possible to do without eggs altogether. Simply mix half a teaspoon of baking powder with a tablespoon each of vinegar and water in place of a whole egg or, alternatively, one tablespoon of flaxseed plus three tablespoons of water.
You know the pre-packaged cake mixes? They may not be the healthiest option, but sometimes you just need to bake a cake at short notice. When you don’t have time for all the preparations, you can simply mix a can of diet soda into the packaged product for a moist and fluffy pastry at 160 calories per piece. Try lemon or orange soda for yellow cake, root beer or cola for chocolate cake, and cream soda for coconut and fruit-flavoured cakes.
 
Chocolate chip cookies 
 
Chocolate chip cookies are among the most popular treats you can make in an oven, but the kind that people usually bake are five to seven times as large as the recommended portion size. Reducing these to a healthier size might take some getting used to, but here’s a good rule of thumb: just one tablespoon’s worth of dough is enough for a cookie. As for brownies and sheet cakes, two-inch squares are the right serving size.
 
Speaking of chocolate chip cookies, one cup of mini chips instead of two cups of the regular kind can trim 1,100 calories and a staggering 64 grams of fat off the batch. With smaller pieces, you’ll also get more chocolate per bite. Not only do you feel as though you’re enjoying plenty of chocolate, but you’re also cutting back on loads of calories. The same principle applies to other calorie-laden ingredients, such as butterscotch chips, nuts and dried fruits. Cut back on overall quantity in favour of smaller individual pieces.
 
Let’s not forget the foundation of most baked goods: flour. Substituting just one cup of all-purpose flour with a whole-wheat variety tosses in 10 grams of fibre. Remember that whole grains aren’t as fine as the white kind; begin with a 50-50 ratio, slowly increasing the proportion of wheat flour until you find what works best for you. If you can find it, there’s a type of flour made with white wheat instead of the red kind in traditional wheat flour. It has all the nutrition of regular wheat flour, but a milder, less nutty taste.          ..... Ashwin