No celebration feels complete without cake. This Christmas, sink your teeth into one that is not as sinful. “It’s entirely possible to make a healthy cake that has the same mouthfeel as a traditional one. All you have to do is substitute the right ingredients with the right nutritious alternatives,” says clinical dietitian and nutritionist Geetanjali Mengi.
Nutrient-deficient white flour or maida can be substituted with a healthy, fiber-rich 50:50 combination of semolina and ragi flour. “This gives fantastic porosity and texture. When making the batter, instead of using whole-fat milk or cream, use almond or soy milk. Yogurt too can be used as it gives the cake a good consistency,” says Mengi.
Homebaker Tara Kapur, whose Bombay Bizare Baker makes healthy desserts, says that to make a gluten-free cake, rice, coconut, almond or ragi flour can be used too. “Add apple cider vinegar to help the cake rise,” she advises.
Skinny chocolate cake by Tara Kapur of Bombay Bizare Baker.
- Preheat oven to 180° C and grease an 8-inch square or round pan. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine 1 cup whole-wheat flour, 6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, ½ tbsp each of baking soda and salt, ¾ cup coconut sugar and stir very well.
- In another bowl, whisk together ½ cup almond butter, ¼ cup yogurt, 2 tbsp vanilla extract and ¾ cup water
- Pour wet mixture into dry one and stir until just combined (don’t over-mix), then pour into the greased pan.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Drizzle melted dark chocolate on the cake (optional). Serve warm.
Butter / margarine
These contain saturated and trans fats, which are bad for your heart. “Using ghee made from cow’s milk is a better option as it has healthier fats, is rich in Vitamin A and antioxidants and gives the same mouthfeel as butter would,” says Mengi.
If you’re not averse to sampling a slightly denser cake, crushed nuts can be added to applesauce or banana puree and used in place of butter / ghee.
“If you’re looking for a carbohydrate with a lower glycemic index (read less sugar content), use coconut sugar or jaggery,” says Kapur.
Alternatively, you could use just half the amount of sugar recommended in the recipe, and substitute with apple or pumpkin sauce. Spices like nutmeg and cinnamon powder can be added to boost the flavor of the cake.
Upside-down honeyed oats cake
- Lightly roast 95 gm oats, 50 gm ground millet and 25 gm nachni flour at 150° C for 5 minutes
- Preheat oven to 180°C and grease an 8-inch pan
- In a mixing bowl, beat 2 eggs and 1 tbsp vanilla extract. Mix in 62 gm melted butter, 56 gm almond butter and 50 gm honey
- Fold in millet and nachni mix, ½ tsp baking powder and ¼ tsp baking soda
- Stir in 1-2 tbsp coconut oil
- Drizzle base of the greased pan with honey; sprinkle a layer of oats on it
- Pour the batter; bake in oven for about 30 minutes
- Let cake rest for 5 minutes before upturning
Using two egg whites in place of a whole egg can bring down the calorie and fat count of your cake. “To skip eggs altogether, mix one tablespoon of Omega-3-rich ground flaxseed with two tablespoons of water to make one ‘flax egg’. Let the flax egg sit for some time so it coagulates,” says Kapur.
Opt for glacé icing (made using icing sugar and water) instead of buttercream. Replacing regular cream with soya cream or hung curd can help you make a low-calorie icing that has the same mouthfeel as traditional icing. “Beat the ingredients on ice to get the right consistency. Natural flavouring agents like vanilla, chopped fruit or nuts can be added for taste,” says Mengi. Alternatively, melon seed paste mixed with a bit of hung curd also give the same consistency as traditional icing.