Birthdays, graduations, weddings - these special and fun occasions all have one thing in common: cake! After all, what better way to celebrate than with a giant slice of something sweet? And the satisfaction of making the decadent confection is a feeling unmatched by simply buying it from a bakery. But with all that homemade deliciousness often comes large amounts of sugar, fat and calories (as much as we may deny it while chowing down). Instead of giving up cake altogether, there are little ways you can tweak your favorite recipes to make them a bit healthier and lighter. In fact, recipes for baked goods are actually fairly flexible and can be modified until you find the perfect combination of ingredients. Here are some ways to satisfy your sweet tooth without the guilt:
Something as simple as changing up the flour you use could make your cake just a bit lighter. Whole wheat flours often have fiber and nutrients, while white flours have usually been stripped of some of these properties.
However, cooking with whole wheat flour is a bit trickier because it creates a more dense food product. The flour labeled "whole wheat" is usually high in gluten and best for baking bread. TLC suggested looking for whole wheat pastry flour instead, which is made from a softer wheat, low in gluten and perfect for baking treats like cakes, muffins, biscuits, scones, cookies and other pastries.
When preparing a cake, recipes often call for a large amount of butter and oil. Without this fat, the texture of the cake tends to become more dry and crumbly rather than moist and fluffy. However, you don't need to use these calorie-packed ingredients to bake a delicious cake with the perfect light texture. Instead of butter and oil, use applesauce: It will give you the consistency and delicious taste that you're looking for and be much healthier! You can even prepare your own applesauce by boiling apples with water, sugar or honey, lemon juice and cinnamon for about 20 to 30 minutes. Puree everything well and store it in a tight container so you can keep it for other sweet recipes. Other ingredients that would work as fat substitutes include dates or chopped bananas, which add moisture along with extra pops of flavor.
Cakes almost always call for baking powder to act as a leavening agent. What you may not know, however, is that there may be aluminum in the variety that you use now. According to Yahoo, aluminum has been associated with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, as well as lateral sclerosis. To keep your baked goods healthier, opt for a baking powder that is aluminum free - it should say it on the label. You could even make your own if you wish, using 1 teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon cream of tartar, ¼ teaspoon baking soda and ¼ teaspoon cornstarch.
The function of sugar varies greatly depending on what is being made. It can serve simply as a sweetener or it could provide volume, tenderness, browning, crispness, moisture or structure to the final product. Diabetic Living suggested baking with Splenda Sugar Blend for Baking as a substitute. But cooking with a sugar substitute can be different than cooking with regular sugar. Here are a few things to keep in mind when baking with Splenda:
Add extra moisture to the batter because it doesn't dissolve the same ways as regular sugar