This article will appeal to three types of people: people who love experimenting with their baking and who are always looking to improve their recipes, those who are looking for lighter desserts and who are trying to avoid sugar and fat, and finally those who feel that light desserts take all the taste and pleasure out of their after dinner treats. With a few clever tips, we can however reduce the amount of sugar, oil or butter, while still tickling the taste buds.
1) Choose the right mold
There is no point in making a light cake if you’re going to bake it in a dish lined with butter or oil so that it doesn’t stick. Go for silicone molds and baking trays which are non stick and easy to clean.
2) Make everything home made
Bad idea: baking a healthy cake and adding shop bought custard or coulis that’s full of sugar. Home made mixtures are generally lighter than what you will buy in the shop, and making your own means you can also avoid the hidden carbs, sugars, fats and all sorts of unhealthy additives in processed products.
3) A cake without butter or oil: it isn’t just the stuff of dreams!
You can absolutely replace butter with sugar-free fruit puree, almond puree, natural yoghurt or cottage cheese. In many recipes for lighter chocolate cakes, you will often find beetroot puree, whose taste does not come through in the finished product. Other vegetable purees such as carrot, courgette, pumpkin, etc. are also great alternatives, particularly for savoury mixtures. And in terms of replacing oil, simply double the quantity of your alternative.
Finally, forget about full fat crème fraîche and choose a 0% fat crème fraîche, skimmed milk or even light cottage cheese.
4) Less sugar, more taste
Certain recipes need a sugar “agent” in order to obtain the ideal texture, such as meringues etc. But for the majority of recipes (cakes, biscuits, flans, mousses, tarts, etc.) it is simply a question of taste, and it is easy to find substitutes.
If you can’t bring yourself to adapt your favourite recipes, consider reducing the amount of sugar by a third. It will have practically no impact on the taste! Always choose low sugar jam and jelly.
If you are ready to swap sugar for other ingredients, experiment with fruits for their natural sugars and sweetness: apricots, raisins, dates and bananas are all good options. Finally, there are other options that you may not tend to think of: sweeteners, stevia or even artificail sugar. Agave syrup is another great alternative that can often get forgotten.
5) Forget about eggs
As with sugar, there are certain recipes that simply won’t work without eggs (such as meringues, or creme anglaise), but this ingredient, which helps bind cakes and make them fluffy when combined with yeast, isn’t necessarily the healthiest. In order to replace eggs in your recipes, there are plenty of options inspired by vegetarian cooking: ripe bananas, linseed and water, agar-agar and water, oil and water, tofu, potato/corn/tapioca starch, soya yoghurt or gluten free flours.
6) Fill your cupboards with alternatives for adding flavour
If you are worried that your recipe will be flavourless, reach for extracts that are full of flavour (vanilla, bitter almond, maple, orange, lemon, etc.). Don’t forget about spices either, which are not only reserved for savoury dishes: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves are also on the list. All of these options add flavour without adding calories.
7) Replace ingredients with healthier options
High calorie foods can easily be replaced with others, as you have seen throughout the article, but this goes for more than just butter, eggs and oil. A few other examples:
- Replace chocolate with cacao
- Use corn flour or ground almonds or hazelnuts instead of your usual flour.
- For a light chocolate cake, forget about melting butter and chocolate, and start with a cake mixture based on yoghurt with added cacao and chocolate chips.
- For making pancakes, replace half of the wheat flour with cornflour, and replace half of the milk with water.
8) Reduce the amount of white flour and refined cereals
Always go for healther and more nutritional options such as non-refined cereals (oat flakes, bran, millet, etc.) and whole cereals/grains, particularly when choosing flours (rice flour, buckwheat flour, spelt flour, etc.).