Health and Wellness: Low-Fat Baking
Fat is the backbone of any baked good making reduced-fat baking difficult. Many people use fruit purees to replace the fat in their favorite baking recipes. The pectin in the pureed fruit acts as a film around air bubbles in the batter, much like fat. Mashed bananas, unsweetened applesauce, pureed pumpkin and prunes can all act as fat replacers. Unsweetened applesauce works the best because it contains the most pectin. Fruit purees are only successful in oil-based recipes like cakes and breads. If you want to reduce the fat in a butter-based recipe, like cookies, it’s best to just reduce the amount of butter slightly.
Reduced-fat baking is very sensitive to over mixing and over baking. Fat coats the proteins in flour reducing the formation of gluten. Gluten is formed when mixing flour with moisture. When fat is not present over mixing can cause too much gluten to form resulting in a tougher cake. To help make a lower-fat cake tender measuring the flour is very important. Spoon flour into measuring cup and then smooth it over with a knife or your finger. The proper amount of flour will make a difference in the tenderness of your cake. To prevent over baking check your cake or bread 2 to 3 minutes before the time it should be done.
Reduced-fat baking takes a lot of experimenting, but in time you will discover the right combination to make a delicious reduced-fat cake, bread or cookie.