How To: Lighten Up Cake

My birthday is coming up, and after the shit ton of holiday sweets I devoured last month, I'm trying to watch what I eat. But that doesn't mean I can't have my (birthday) cake and eat it too. In fact, my inner fat kid will probably try to shank me if I don't have at least a bit. So I've put together a list of my favorite tips for lightening up my one of favorite indulgences: cake.

Try any or all of these easy tricks for delicious cake without the added calories:

  • Substitute a no-calorie sweetener for half the sugar. Splenda is my favorite of the bunch (I tricked my fiancé into using it in his coffee instead of sugar and he's never turned back). But bakers beware: not everyone may love the taste of artificial sweeteners.
  • Cut down on the sugar called for in the recipe. Sugar also plays an integral part in the texture of cakes, but test it out - there are some recipes where cutting back on the sweet stuff by ¼ really won't hurt.
  • Use whole-wheat flour in place of half the white flower. The extra fiber will improve digestion and increase fullness.
  • Replace fats like butter, margarine, shortening or oils with applesauce. Cut the fats called for in half and replace the rest with applesauce. Other options: a mashed overripe banana, fat-free sour cream, orange juice, light cream cheese, low-fat yogurt, or strong coffee.
  • Replace regular milk with low-fat buttermilk for a lighter cake with better texture. For every cup of buttermilk added, add ½ tsp of baking soda to dry ingredients.
  • Try an egg substitute for half the eggs. Replace one full egg with ¼ cup egg substitute.
  • Add flavor without the saturated fat with cocoa powder. Look for recipes that use cocoa powder instead of chocolate chips. It will even amp up your daily dose of antioxidants. Or for a no-cal flavor booster, try adding citrus zest into the batter.
  • Use less frosting. Cut down on the frosting called for or try substituting a light dusting of powdered sugar or a simple syrup and citrus zest glaze.
  • Use nonstick cooking sprays and pans. Nonstick options mean you can worry less about fat in the batter to prevent sticking.
  • Portion control. Cut the cake into smaller pieces or make some of those adorable mini cupcakes. Notice how everyone always asks for a small piece anyway? Trust me, in the end, everyone will thank you.
  • If all else fails, you can never go wrong with an angel food cake with fresh berries. Happy birthday to me...and to my thighs!

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    Brooke Viggiano is a contributing writer who is always looking to share Houston's coolest and tastiest happenings with the Houston Press readers.
    Contact: Brooke Viggiano