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Putting your Dessert on a Diet! - Jane's Challenge

There should be absolutely no reason for ending a meal without a dessert. Dessert to a meal is like a punctuation mark to a sentence. One would hope it would be an exclamation point, but non-the less, a sentence needs an ending. Excluding it from dinner would be like ending a movie without a proper resolution; or like telling a joke without a punch line. It leaves you wanting and feeling uneasy. Yet we often bypass the finale to minimize the guilt we associate with it.

So I started thinking, what if I put my desserts on a diet? There has to be a way to eliminate or reduce the amount of sugar, fat, and carbohydrates and still make a dish that satisfies and finishes a meal on a sweet note. So, for the past few weeks I began researching and considering the possibilities to help me achieve this goal.

I am really looking forward to this challenge. It is well known that all formulas used in baking need to be followed precisely in order to achieve a desired effect. This is what makes baking different from cooking. The science that takes place throughout the baking process, from the ingredients chosen, the mixing method applied, and the baking process itself are all factors in re-creating a recipe regarded as being tried and true.

Following this introduction is a general list of guidelines and substitutions that will put my theory to the test. They are broken down into two sections. The first is a list compiled from a variety of sources both on-line and from some of the books you’ll find listed on the bibliography page on my site. The guidelines are more generic and could be applied to any recipe.

The second section, is mostly referenced from, Delicious Baking for Diabetics, by Angelica Kirchmair, published by Skyhorse Publishing (2014, 144p) ISBN: 978-1-62873-753-0, and are from recipes adapted for making specific types of cakes and breads.

Through experimentation and personal experience, I hope to rethink and fine-tune each recipe so that it maintains its’ original flavor profile and tactile qualities; yet will be easier on the conscious to consume.

General Guidelines and Substitutes


  • Reduce the amount of sugar in recipes by 1/3.

  • Replace part or all of the sugar with alternative sweetener such as Splenda®.

  • Follow instructions on package.

  • Reduce the amount of extraneous ingredients ie.: Chocolate Chips and Nuts

  • See specific guidelines for sweeteners to calculate liquid sugar substitutes.

  • Honey, Agave, or fruit jam in muffins.

  • Maple Syrup, Agave, Honey in spice cakes and muffins

  • Fruit Juice Concentrate in muffins and breads

  • Corn Syrup in all baked goods

  • Chocolate Syrup in chocolate baked goods


  • Apples* (you can use apple sauce or a whole grated apple with the skin)

  • Bananas*

  • Prunes*

  • Pears*

  • Peaches*

  • Pumpkin

  • Zucchini (grated)

  • Use Canola Oil whenever possible to replace butter

  • For a short crust (pie dough):

  • Replace half the butter with sour cream at a ratio of 2:1 or 2:2

  • (ex.: 100 g of Butter + 50 to 100 g of Sour Cream = Total Fat in recipe)

When and how to use:

  • *Replace in baked goods without affecting the flavor profile.

  • Replace part or all of the solid fat in muffins, breads, biscuits and scones. [Replace ½ the solid fat in cakes.]

  • Replace part or all of the liquid fat with ¾’s as much with a fat substitute. Add more if batter seems to dry.

  • When substituting any fat, replace 1 whole egg with two egg whites or an equal amount of egg substitute.

  • When substituting any fat, lower the oven temperature by 25°. Always check for doneness before removing from the oven.

DAIRY: the following can be used to replace whole milk and cheeses.

  • Yogurt, Sour Cream, Farmer Cheese to replace all or part of the solid fat in a recipe

  • Skim Milk, Non-Fat Buttermilk, Coconut Milk, and Reduced Fat Alternative Milks such as Nut and Soy to replace all or part of the Whole Milk in a recipes

  • Coconut Milk, Alternative Nut and Soy Milks, Evaporated Milk to replace Heavy Cream in recipes; by placing a can of coconut milk in the refrigerator over night, you can separate the fat that gathers on top and whip it as an alternative to Whipped Cream.

  • Frothing skim milk can also be used as an alternative whipped topping.


  • Whole Wheat, Spelt, Emer, Einkorn, or Gluten-Free Flour (up to a 1:1 ratio)

  • Tip – Grate an apple with skin into the mix using part whole grain flour.


  • Two egg whites instead of 1 egg with yolk, or egg substitute


  • Calculating the amount of sugar needed in a cake:

  • Add all ingredients that do not contain sugar in a recipe

  • 10% of the sum = the amount of sugar needed

  • 1% of the sugar = the amount of liquid artificial sweetener needed

  • Tip – add spices and flavoring

Substitutes Marked for Specific Cakes

Sponge Cake 9 to 11-inch cake

Butter Reduce amount of Butter by 20% with Oil

(ex. 200g x 20% Butter = 160g Oil)

Reduce calories further by replacing half the Oil with Sour Cream or Yogurt (ex. 80g Oil + 80g of Sour Cream or Yogurt = 160g Fat Substitute)

Flour Substitute Whole Wheat or Spelt at a 1:1 ratio for every 1/3 cup flour, mix in

¼ to ½ teaspoon of phosphorous-free Baking Powder

Sugar Calculate per total weight of ingredients (see above)

Eggs No change

Water Add about 1 1/3 tablespoon of water per egg

Spices Add Cinnamon, clove, ginger or citrus zest to boost flavor.

Short Crust

Butter Replace half of the Butter with sour cream by half with a 1:½ -1:1 ratio

Flour Substitute Whole Wheat or Spelt at a 1:1 ratio; less 10% of total white flour

Add ½ tablespoon (3 g) per ¾ cup (100 g) of flour for rising

Sugar Calculate per total weight of ingredients (see sweetener section)

Eggs You can remove 1 egg if using Sour Cream in a recipe

Water Add if to crumbly

Spices Add cinnamon, clove, ginger or citrus zest to boost flavor.

Yeast Dough

Butter Reduce by 20% of butter with oil (ex.: 200g Butter with 160g oil)

Flour Substitute Whole Wheat or Spelt up to a 1:1 ratio

Sugar Replace with 10% of recipe

Eggs Use whole egg if possible

Water Lukewarm

Spices To taste to boost flavor profile.


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