Autumn is on its way and The Great British Bake Off allows us to snuggle down and prepare for a season of dough mixing and carb-loading. As comforting as home baking is, it’s a sure-fire way to lose that hard fought-for summer figure. So is there a way to make home baking healthy?
One answer would be to resist temptation and just bake for other people, but watching as they tuck into a large slice of delicious buttery cake would surely be torture – the best way is to try and cook with ingredients that lessen the calorific content of your bake.
You can substitute most ingredients with a healthier alternative if you know where to look. Firstly, let’s talk flour. Every mouth-watering pastry and cake is most likely going to involve flour, but you can find flour made from almonds and rice rather than wheat – which standard flour comes from. White flour is heavily refined and so not as good for you as whole-wheat flour, which tends to be a light brown colour and contains several vitamins, including folate, riboflavin and vitamins B-1, B-3 and B-5. These vitamins are lost in the refining process, which is why it’s better to look for alternatives to white flour. Other types of flour include Spelt, barley, buckwheat, potato and corn flour. Or you can try polenta, which makes a much lighter cake texture. Check recipes using alternative flours.
Milk is a fatty option when baking and with so many milk substitutes on the market at the moment it’s fairly simple to make it lower-fat. You could try milk made from soya, rice, or almond in order to cut down the calories.
Sugar is a tricky one. It’s used in most of the tastiest sweet treats and baked goods, but there are ways around using too much. Try a cake that uses sweet fruit in it to try and cut down the sugar content, or add honey as an alternative. There are sweeteners on the market that you could also try as a substitute, the latest to make bold claims about being much better for you than sugar is Stevia, made from a plant extract. If you’re going to use sugar try some unrefined varieties like Demerara or Muscovado, which contain higher levels of natural minerals that white sugar.
Fats are pretty much unavoidable in home baking. Often a recipe will call for half a block of butter, but there are alternatives. Olive oil cakes or cakes that call for less butter in them are a good option, or you could substitute butter with margarine.
For a healthier cake option, think about using vegetables in your bake. It might sound strange, but beetroot and chocolate cake and courgette and polenta is a popular choice. You wouldn’t think twice about using carrots in a cake – so don’t be afraid to experiment. Think pumpkin pie, apple and carrot muffins, or even sweet potato and white chocolate cake.
You don’t have to cut out all the bad stuff of your bakes – you can just use a few of these shortcuts to help you make a healthier version of your favourites. And if you’re struggling for inspiration, here’s a recipe to get you started:
Beetroot and Chocolate cake
For the cake
For the topping
by Jessica Ward
by Kath Webb
by Jessica Ward
by Laura Briggs
by Jessica Ward