Lowfat cake recipe?
September 22, 2006 8:27 AM   Subscribe

Birthdayfilter: What's your favorite low-fat(-ish) cake recipe?

Mr. elr will be returning from a trip on his birthday. His roommate and I want to have a cake waiting for him. Since we all know his sensibilities, and I'm not a habitual cake-maker, especially of the "healthy" variety, I'm looking for suggestions.

Reading that thread linked above will make you think that I shouldn't make him a cake. This is bullshit. He will love a cake. Trust me on this.

I know cake isn't healthy, nor can it be. I'm just looking for something a little less horrifying than the standard. I don't have an angel-food cake pan (can that be made in, say, a 9-inch round pan?). His mom makes a denser, richer kind of angel food cake with chocolate chips from a Weight Watchers recipe that he LOVES. I'm looking for something new, since he's had that before. And, in typical AskMe fashion, for some reason a recommendation from a bunch of people on the internet is better than just picking a recipe at random.

The rules: No fruit, and not too hard -- I'm a good baker of scones, biscotti, cookies, pizza crust, even a soufflee once -- but I've never had much success with complicated cakes. Also, I have a couple of round cake pans and I think I can track down a square or rectangular one. So no fancy bundt cakes, unless I can make them in a differently shaped pan or find the right shape at the thrift or dollar store. So I guess I'll take those recipes, too, but I'd like them at a minimum.
posted by ruby.aftermath to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This isn't an angel food cake, but it's my favorite low-fat cake recipe. It doesn't necessarily have to be made in a bundt pan, either: I've made it as cupcakes, and I think you can probably do it in two nine inch round pans or a nine by thirteen rectangular one.

Also, I'm of the Alton Brown school that cake mix is not evil. :)

* 1 package (18-1/4 ounces) devil's food cake mix
* 1/2 cup baking cocoa
* 2 egg whites
* 1 egg
* 1-1/3 cups water
* 1 cup reduced-fat plain yogurt
* 1-1/2 teaspoons confectioners' sugar


Mix the cake mix and the cocoa, then add the wet ingredients. Bake in a bundt pan that's been sprayed with cooking spray for 35-40 minutes. Cool for ten minutes, then remove to a wire rack.


Nutritional Analysis: One piece equals 191 calories, 3 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 19 mg cholesterol, 399 mg sodium, 40 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 5 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2-1/2 starch.
posted by sugarfish at 8:38 AM on September 22, 2006 [2 favorites]

Oh, and the confectioner's sugar is for dusting on top, but I never do that.
posted by sugarfish at 8:40 AM on September 22, 2006

Agree with Alton Brown and Sugarfish that cake mix is fine.... but you can substitute appleasauce (or baby food - any fruit variety) for the oil and it saves you a lot. Also, if you make cupcakes, the portion size thing is really obvious. And make a glaze rather than a frosting - thinner and more sophisitcated anyway.
posted by DenOfSizer at 8:46 AM on September 22, 2006

(PS I know you said no fruit, but the applesauce/babyfood thing works just fine in a chocolate or yellow cake mix; you can't really taste it as a distinct flavor.)
posted by DenOfSizer at 8:48 AM on September 22, 2006

Best answer: * 3 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 cups white sugar
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* 3/4 cup vegetable oil
* 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 2 cups cold water

Add all but vinegar and stir to combine. Add the vinigar and stir to mix well and bake immediately at 350 for 30-40 minutes. Always comes out great and while the 3/4 cup of oil isnt probably low fat enough it is easy and tasty. It also has no eggs so that might be a bonus.

posted by koolkat at 8:49 AM on September 22, 2006 [3 favorites]

you are a good friend. if I'd had someone take my dieting wishes into account when I was being hardcore about it (you should still celebrate on your birthday!) I would have appreciated it so, so much.
posted by pinky at 9:39 AM on September 22, 2006

Don't have a recipe for you, but don't try making angel food cake in a round pan--it will fall in the middle. It needs a tube in the center that is raised higher than the rim of the pan for it to climb up as it bakes and so you can then invert it as it cools.

Here's a disposable tube pan for $1.49.
posted by zadermatermorts at 10:00 AM on September 22, 2006

Response by poster: I, too, am a huge fan of the easiness of cake mix. I'm glad there's some alternate recipes out there; although I'm REALLY into food, I'm also perpetually watching the calories (damn you, metabolism-the-speed-of-a-tortoise!), so I'm out of the loop when it comes to sweet things.

The fruit restriction is because he hates fruit. If you can't taste it, or feel the texture, it should be fine (I'll just keep that ingredient a secret until he eats it -- and probably reads this thread when he gets back -- hi, elr of the future!).
posted by ruby.aftermath at 10:26 AM on September 22, 2006

You might try searching through EatingWell's online recipe database for cake. I've made one of their cakes, and it was very good (for the record, it was the "Died and Went to Heaven" chocolate bundt cake).
posted by amarynth at 10:29 AM on September 22, 2006

I had a friend who was a health nut and loved monkeys so I made him a magic monkey ice cream cake. I bought four cheap round pans and filled two of them with bananna low fat frozen yogurt and two with choclate low fat frozen yogurt. I extracted them and stacked them, adding 3 long bamboo skrewers to keep it all together. Then I made "icing" with more yogurt and wrapped it tight in plastic wrap to let it freeze together more. You can add fruit, jelly, nuts, or bits of cookies or cake in between the layers.
posted by stormygrey at 10:29 AM on September 22, 2006

You can make angel food cake in a muffin pans-- really, any sort of cake in cupcake form allows for celebrating AND portion control.

I think for my birthday coming up that I want those ice-cream-clowns, with the scoop of mint-chocolate-chip with the upside down cone on top, from Baskin Robbins. That would be fun and celebratory. You might want to think outside of the "cake" box-- birthday ice cream is just as celebratory.

Oh, and the holy eat-anything-day of Weight Watchers is one's birthday.
posted by orangemiles at 11:00 AM on September 22, 2006

Oh, and after reading sugarfish's recipe, I'm pretty sure you don't spray the cooking spray for 35-40 minutes. (I'm stifling giggles.)
posted by orangemiles at 11:02 AM on September 22, 2006

I don't have a recipe in particular, but how about carrot cake w/ a light cream cheese frosting? It is pretty easy (though tedious to shred the carrots if you do it by hand). Not that this will necessarily be low calorie, but it will be much healthier than many other cake options, and low calorie is really only possible if you use a sugar substitute.
posted by advil at 11:41 AM on September 22, 2006

The biggest issues with low/no fat baking are operational ones. All the fats in 'normal baking' provide for a very wide margin of error (not just luscious taste & mouthfeel!) - if your oven temp is a bit off or you time the baking incorrectly odds are you'll still do just fine. These margins aren't there for the very-low fat cake baker.

In most cakes, the fats come from eggs, and oil. You'll want to lose the eggs last - they don't add that much fat, and they provide lecithin, which means good margin-of-error possibilities.

Since controlling the number of variables is the way to go in any experimental process, for time and money's sake, your best bet may be to buy several box mixes, and follow their low-fat directions - usually, switching apple sauce for the oil. Keep making them until you find just the right way for your own set-up. As long as you keep the eggs in the mix you should be able to eat the less than perfect ones!

But whatever you do, make sure you know exactly what your even temp is, and NO PEEKING before the cake is done - even a slight change in oven temp can ruin a low fat cake.
posted by Jos Bleau at 11:48 AM on September 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

I stunbled across what i feel is a very good tip for low fat cake baking a long time ago. Instead of replacing the oil in cake mix with applesauce et al, I replace it with instant sugar free jello pudding of the same ilk. SO vanilla cake gets sugar free instant vanilla pudding. Chocolate = chocolate, etc. It sets up in 5 minutes in the fridge, so it doesn't really add much time to the baking. Every time I have done this, it has worked perfectly, and I think it even added to the flavor. For icing, I use a couple of squares of semisweet baking chocolate. You melt them in a pan and thin it with sweetened condensed skim milk and (while it's still very warm; work quickly) spread it over the top like a glaze. It is quite sweet due to the condensed milk, but very low in fat, and not overpowering in the way i find most store-bought frosting. The cake itself is very moist, so it needs little icing. Personally, I arrange some strawberries on the top, but that's all personal. You might try dusting with powdered sugar for a pretty effect if fruit is on the outs. Love this stuffffff.
posted by theantikitty at 12:00 PM on September 22, 2006 [2 favorites]

Oops. I forgot to mention. I usually wind up replacing some of the LIQUID in the cake mix recipe with pudding too. I would replace approximately 1/3 of the liquid. This is up to you, though.
posted by theantikitty at 12:01 PM on September 22, 2006

Seconding koolkat's recipe. It's my favorite cake in the whole world, it's not that unhealthy and it's so light and fluffy and chocolatey. Oh man! Here's one I made, stuffed with raspberries.
posted by thirteenkiller at 12:12 PM on September 22, 2006

I used to make poppyseed angel food cupcakes from an angel food cake mix, which I made according to the package directions and then added about a cup of poppyseeds to at the end. As cupcakes, it cooked fine (maybe a bit denser, but that tasted good with the poppyseeds), and as this is a birthday, you can get those coloured cupcake papers.
posted by joannemerriam at 3:34 PM on September 22, 2006

As kids, we sometimes made Cockeyed Cake*, the recipe for which is easy to follow, quick, uses no unusual ingredients, and fun even for the cuisine-impaired. If my sense memory isn't too rusty, it's pretty chocolately and quite moist — and you make it in one pan!
*The recipe's pretty old, so I couldn't find any nutritional analysis. Today, less cavalier about hurtful labels, we might rename it something like Gâteau au strabisme.
posted by rob511 at 4:06 PM on September 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

I've made a wonderful chocolate cake/torte that uses garbanzo beans as the main ingredient. It's delicious, especially topped with a little whipped cream & some fresh strawberries.

1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained
1/3 cup orange juice
4 eggs (room temperature)
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

Blend chickpeas & juice in food processor. Put in mixing bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, & beat. Add everything else & mix thoroughly.

Bake in a 9" round cake pan at 350o for about 50 minutes.
posted by belladonna at 6:07 PM on September 23, 2006

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