Victoria Taylor tells us how, with some careful recipe planning, you can have your cake and eat it.
Like many children, I was drawn to the joys of baking by the promise of licking the cake mixture from the bowl. Unusually, however, my enjoyment of baking led me to become a dietitian, which might sound like a contradiction. But is it? While the common view is that baking and healthy eating don’t mix, I’ve learned that baking doesn’t have to be bad for you, and healthier baking doesn’t have to taste, or look, terrible.
With a few tweaks, an eye on portion control and a sense of occasion, it’s possible for all of us to enjoy home baking as part of a balanced diet.
- Make your own bread to use less salt
Bread is probably the bakery product we eat the most, which means that, while it might not be the saltiest food you can think of, it can make a significant contribution to the salt content of our diet.
In recent years, many manufacturers have reduced the amount of salt that they add to bread, but it can still vary widely. A recent survey by Consensus Action on Salt and curso de confeitaria saudável Health found that one in four loaves contained more salt in two slices than a packet of crisps. This means we all need to check food labels carefully but, better still, why not make your own bread so that you have complete control?
- Try different flours and flavourings
Making your own bread also gives you flexibility in terms of the type of flour you use. Wholegrain flour is a healthier choice than white, but it doesn’t have to be just wheat – you could try spelt, barley or oat, either on their own or mixed. Add some seeds or herbs to give an interesting crunch and flavour.
- Make a quick soda bread
If all the kneading and waiting associated with a yeasted loaf sounds like too much effort, try our wholemeal soda bread flavoured with caraway seeds. You use bicarbonate of soda as the raising agent instead of yeast, so it needs to be eaten fresh, but it’s quick and easy to make. It’s delicious served with soup at lunchtime or a boiled or poached egg for breakfast.
- Bake with unsaturated fat
Cakes should really be an ‘every now and then’ food. However, with a few tweaks to the ingredients and toppings, baking your own can be better for you than buying them.
Using an unsaturated spread instead of butter has more benefits than simply reducing the amount of saturated fat: it actually gives a lighter texture, especially if you’re making an all-in-one sponge cake. You can just swap spreads for butter in most recipes without making any other changes. Just make sure the spread you use is suitable for baking.
Hands shaping dough If you’re reluctant to use a spread, then oil is a good alternative. It can make cakes lovely and moist, but as it’s a liquid it will alter the balance of the mix, so find recipes that are specifically designed to use oil, such as our carrot cake recipe.