Healthy Recipes: Cakes

Chocolate Cake Image

The major contributions that fat makes in cake baking are tenderness and moistness. We’ve devised a number of different strategies for baking tender, moist cakes with less fat:

Oils: Whenever possible, we replace butter with an unsaturated oil. In some cases we use a toasted nut oil to maximize flavor for a minimum of fat.

Buttermilk: Several of our cake recipes use buttermilk, which, despite its name, does not contain butter. The acid in the buttermilk gives cakes a tender crumb. Yogurt has the same effect.

Vegetables: Shredded vegetables—such as beets (yes, beets) and carrots—can provide moisture and a fair amount of sweetness.

Prune butter: Thick, pureed dried plums (prunes) are a good fat replacement and add moisture to dense cakes like brownies.

From The Wellness Kitchen, by the editors of the University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter and the staff of the Wellness Kitchen

Mexican Chocolate Angel Food Cake

Makes 10 slices

This cake gets its name from the combination of chocolate and spices, which is common in Mexican cooking.

3/4 cup cake flour
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
12 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (2 ounces)
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. If your angel food cake pan doesn’t have “legs,” have a long-necked bottle ready to hang the cake on as it cools.
  2. On a sheet of wax paper, sift together the flour, 1/3 cup of the granulated sugar, the cocoa powder, espresso powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 1 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until very stiff peaks form. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts until well combined.
  4. Sift the flour-cocoa mixture over the egg whites and sprinkle the chocolate chips lightly over the top. Fold into the egg whites.
  5. Pour the batter into an ungreased 10-inch angel food cake pan or tube pan and bake for 1 hour, or until the cake is set and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Invert the cake pan over the neck of the bottle and allow the cake to cool upside down.
  6. With a small metal spatula, loosen the sides of the cake and invert onto a cake plate. Dust with the confectioners’ sugar, if desired, before serving.

From The Wellness Kitchen, by the editors of the University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter and the staff of the Wellness Kitchen

per slice: 190 calories, 1.7g total fat (1g saturated), 0mg cholesterol, 1g dietary fiber, 39g carbohydrate, 6g protein, 126mg sodium.

A good source of: riboflavin, selenium.

Chocolate Bundt Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Makes 12 slices

The secret ingredient in this cake is beets, which add fiber and the B vitamin folate, two nutrients not commonly found in chocolate cake. In addition to the nutritional bonus, the beets contribute a hint of sweetness, a dark chocolate-like color, and moisture.

3 ounces (3 squares) unsweetened chocolate
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) sliced beets with their liquid
2 3/4 cups flour
2/3 cup plus 4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
2 cups granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup extra-light olive oil
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons low-fat (1%) or fat-free milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray. Dust with flour, shaking off the excess.
  2. In the top of a double boiler, melt the chocolate. Let cool to room temperature. In a food processor, puree the beets and their liquid. Set the beet puree aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, 2/3 cup of the cocoa, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the whole eggs, egg whites, and granulated sugar until light and lemon-colored. Beat in the melted chocolate, the beet puree, buttermilk, and oil. Fold in the flour mixture.
  5. Pour the batter into the bundt pan. Bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool the cake in the pan for 30 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the remaining 4 teaspoons cocoa, the confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla, stirring until smooth. Drizzle the glaze onto the top and down the sides of the cooled cake.

From The Wellness Kitchen, by the editors of the University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter and the staff of the Wellness Kitchen

per slice: 286 calories, 12g total fat (4g saturated), 37mg cholesterol, 4g dietary fiber, 41g carbohydrate, 8g protein, 395mg sodium. A good source of: fiber, folate, riboflavin, selenium, thiamin.

Nut-Studded Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot Cake Image

Makes 16 pieces

A light cream cheese frosting turns this one-layer cake into a party-worthy dessert, perfect for decorating. If you are making this cake in advance and freezing it, freeze it unfrosted; thaw at room temperature, then decorate the cake shortly before serving.

2 cups flour
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons extra-light olive oil
3 cups coarsely grated carrots
1/4 cup dried currants
1/4 cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel)
4 ounces fat-free cream cheese
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Dust with flour, shaking out the excess.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the eggs and granulated sugar until light and lemon-colored. Beat in the buttermilk and oil.
  4. Fold in the flour mixture. Stir in the carrots, currants, and pistachios.
  5. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out onto the rack to cool completely.
  6. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, beat the cream cheeses, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla together. When the cake is cool, frost the top and sides with the cream cheese frosting.

From The Wellness Kitchen, by the editors of the University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter and the staff of the Wellness Kitchen

per piece: 226 calories, 5.1g total fat (1g saturated), 29mg cholesterol, 2g dietary fiber, 39g carbohydrate, 7g protein, 238mg sodium.

A good source of: beta carotene, selenium, thiamin.

Lemon Poppyseed Cake

Makes 16 slices

This update on a classic cake is low in fat without sacrificing flavor. Buttermilk makes the cake especially tender.

3 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-light olive oil
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 10-inch tube pan with nonstick cooking spray. Dust with flour, shaking off the excess. Place the poppy seeds in a baking pan and cook until lightly toasted, about 4 minutes.
  2. On a sheet of wax paper, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds. In a small bowl, whisk together the whole eggs and egg white.
  3. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the butter, oil, and lemon zest until creamy. Gradually beat in 1 ½ cups of the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg mixture, 1 teaspoon at a time, until light in texture.
  4. With a rubber spatula, alternately fold in the flour mixture and the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, until just blended.
  5. Scrape the batter into the tube pan, smoothing the top. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool. Once cool turn out onto a cake plate.
  6. In a small saucepan, stir together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. With a fork, prick holes in the top of the cake and pour the hot syrup over the cake.

From The Wellness Kitchen, by the editors of the University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter and the staff of the Wellness Kitchen

per slice: 231 calories, 6.1g total fat (2.3g saturated), 35mg cholesterol, 1g dietary fiber, 41g carbohydrate, 4g protein, 134mg sodium.

A good source of: thiamin.

Pumpkin Cheesecake in a Ginger Crust

Makes 12 wedges

If you’ve got leftover cooked sweet potato or winter squash on hand, substitute 1I cups mashed for the pumpkin puree. Timing alert: The cheesecake needs to chill for at least 4 hours.

36 gingersnaps (9 ounces)
1 tablespoon extra-light olive oil
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 packages (8 ounces each) reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel)
1 package (8 ounces) fat-free cream cheese
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 can (15 ounces) unsweetened pumpkin puree
1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt
2 tablespoons dark rum
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
4 large egg whites

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a food processor, combine the gingersnaps, oil, and granulated sugar. Process until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheeses and brown sugar until well combined. Beat in the pumpkin, yogurt, rum, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Beat in the whole eggs and egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Pour the batter into the crust and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until set. Turn the oven off and let the cheesecake stand in the oven for 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Refrigerate until well chilled, about 4 hours.

From The Wellness Kitchen, by the editors of the University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter and the staff of the Wellness Kitchen

per wedge: 276 calories, 9.2g total fat (4.1g saturated), 53mg cholesterol, 2g dietary fiber, 36g carbohydrate, 12g protein, 512mg sodium.

A good source of: beta carotene, riboflavin, selenium, vitamin B12.

Chocolate Cheesecake

Makes 12 wedges

Silken tofu and low-fat cottage cheese make a surprisingly rich-tasting cheesecake. Although silken tofu has the smoothest texture, you could also make this with regular tofu. Timing alert: The cheesecake needs to chill for at least 4 hours.

24 chocolate wafer cookies (5 ounces)

1 tablespoon extra-light olive oil
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons hazelnut liqueur or amaretto
1 pound firm silken tofu
1 cup low-fat (1%) cottage cheese
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (2 ounces), melted
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a food processor, process the cookies until finely ground. Add the oil and water, and process until combined.
  2. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and partway up the sides of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes to set the crust. Let cool on a wire rack. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the cocoa and liqueur until well moistened. In a food processor, combine the cocoa mixture, tofu, cottage cheese, chocolate chips, brown sugar, flour, whole egg, egg whites, and vanilla, and process until very smooth.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared crust and bake for 40 minutes.
  5. Reduce the oven temperature to 250°F and bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheesecake is just set. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled, about 4 hours.

From The Wellness Kitchen, by the editors of the University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter and the staff of the Wellness Kitchen

per wedge: 191 calories, 5.2g total fat (2g saturated), 19mg cholesterol, 1g dietary fiber, 29g carbohydrate, 7g protein, 214mg sodium.

A good source of: isoflavones.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at HealthCommunities.com

Published: 12 Aug 2010

Last Modified: 12 Jan 2015