5 Simple Steps to Healthier Baking
Baking is a thriving sector in the culinary industry because consumers cannot go without sweet and savoury baked goodies like bread, muffins, cakes, cookies, and other pastries. But with so many health concerns emerging today, people have become more conscious about what they eat.
Some people believe that pastries and other treats cannot be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle. Don’t fret, however, because you can still bake your favourites and help others enjoy their desserts while keeping health and wellness in mind.
Healthy baking doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to develop an entirely new recipe from scratch. In fact, you can already learn how to bake healthier but equally delicious treats from previously successful recipes with the help of pastry chef training courses offered here at ICCA, starting with these five simple steps:
1. Reduce or Replace Sugar in Your Recipe
Sugar is one of the reasons why pastries and other baked goodies are seen as “unhealthy” foods. Because of this, the easiest way to make your baking healthier is to lower the sugar content.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you’ll have to stick to bland-tasting cakes and bread. The key is to cut back the amount of confectioners’ sugar by one-fourth of what the recipe calls for. Most of the time, this won’t change the resulting flavour significantly.
But if it does, you have another option: Replace sugar with other natural sweeteners. Incorporating more nutritious ingredients adds more natural sweetness – not to mention more nutrients – to what you’re baking.
Below are some examples of nutritious sugar alternatives:
When using purees and concentrates bearing natural fruit flavours, decrease the number of liquids in your recipe by three tablespoons. Then, measure 3/4 cup fruit concentrates for every cup of sugar substituted in the recipe.
Take note that this substitution best suits baked goods that call for fruity flavours, like muffins and some cakes.
Often used as a topping for pancakes and waffles, maple syrup is also an excellent sweetener. Like fruit concentrates, using this liquid alternative also requires reducing the fluids in the recipe by three tablespoons. The substitution ratio is the same as well: 3/4 cup syrup for every cup of white sugar.
Like maple syrup, honey is another syrupy sweetener you can use instead of powdered or granulated sugar. It is considered one of the best natural sweeteners that add a rich taste to just about any recipe.
Again, the substitution ratio is 3/4 cup of honey for every cup of white sugar.
2. Cut Down the Portions
Aside from cutting down sugar, you can also choose to make smaller portions to discourage overeating. This is a strategy recommended to foster healthier eating patterns.
From mini-cupcakes to two-inch square brownies, there are plenty of ways to do this. If you are a cookie enthusiast, you can also reduce the size of every piece by replacing a tablespoon with a teaspoon when scooping the cookie dough. The size of your muffin tin also matters when making mini muffins.
3. Go for Healthy Fat Substitutes
Fat creates richness and adds moisture to a baked product. However, this ingredient also tends to add more calories than health-conscious people would want in their diet.
Removing high-fat ingredients entirely can result in boring and even inedible products, so you might want to keep some of the fatty ingredients. What you can do instead is substitute the remaining portion with lower-calorie alternatives.
Besides fat-free or low-fat dairy products, you can also add canned pumpkin, a ripe banana, chickpeas, or Greek yoghurt to add moisture and a bit of texture. You should also think about replacing a high-calorie cream cheese frosting with low-fat, higher protein Greek yoghurt.
In some cases, unsaturated spreads also work in place of butter. Besides reducing saturated fat, they also give baked goods a lighter texture, especially in a sponge cake.
If you’re not sure about spreads, you may also opt to use a heart-healthy oil, like canola. This leaves the cake moist but may require some adjustments in the balance of the liquids in the recipe. Don’t take out all the butter for oil, though; you’ll end up sacrificing the cake’s texture.
4. Experiment with Less Common Flours
Besides sugar and fat, another thing you can substitute in a baking recipe is flour. White flour is most common, but you can choose a higher fibre alternative like whole grain flour to make it healthier.
Whole grain flour is more filling. However, it may come with a slightly nutty flavour, which you can adjust by using half white flour and half whole grain.
You can also experiment with chickpea flour for pancakes and waffles or almond flour for recipes with crusts for a bigger punch of flavour.
5. Toss in Healthier Additions
Some recipes may not call for fruits and veggies, but you can still toss in these nutritious ingredients to add sweetness and help you cut back on sugar. Plus, they contain fibre that helps with digestion and other vitamins and minerals that boost your immunity.
While they may not be enough to complete the recommended intake of these nutrients, adding them to desserts help keep them healthy and moist.
Innovate with Healthy Baking
Whether you’re a home baker or someone training to become a professional chef, adjusting to trends and innovating recipes is an excellent way to make it big in the baking industry. Try out these simple steps for healthier baking, and share your story and culinary journey at ICCA.
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