A slice of cake is always a pleasure, but it doesn’t have to be a guilty one.
When baking cakes, there are a few things you can do to give most recipes a healthy makeover. This pumpkin-cranberry spice cake, for instance, is an indulgent but healthy treat that uses tricks easily applied to other recipes.
First, half of the all-purpose flour is replaced with white whole-wheat flour, which significantly increases the cake’s whole grain count without adding the astringent flavors some people associate with more conventional whole wheat.
White whole-wheat flour has the same nutrition as standard whole-wheat flour, but with a lighter color and milder flavor. It’s milled from a hard white winter wheat berry, rather than the hard red spring wheat berry of traditional whole-wheat flours.
Like standard whole-wheat flour, white whole wheat requires additional moisture and some recipes intended for all-purpose flour will require some adjustments if making a substitution.
Second, canned pumpkin puree does double duty by providing a classic flavor and replacing all but 1/3 cup of the oil. This combination keeps the cake moist and tender, while keeping down the fat.
For many cake and quick bread recipes, especially richly flavored ones such as chocolate and gingerbread, you also can use fruit purees to replace up to three-quarters of the fat.
Apple butter or prune puree (which is available commercially in cans as prune or plum pie filling) work best because they add plenty of moisture and contain pectin, which like fat coats the starchy flour particles and prevents them from forming the glutens that make baked goods chewy.
Finally, the pumpkin cake is simply decorated with a dusting of powdered sugar rather than a heavy frosting which would add additional fat and calories.
For a fancier finish, you can make a glaze by whisking together 2 tablespoons of orange juice, 1/2 teaspoon of orange zest and 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar. Drizzle the glaze over the cake just before serving.
PUMPKIN-CRANBERRY SPICE CAKE
Start to finish: 1 hour 10 minutes (20 minutes active)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
15-ounce can pumpkin
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons water
1 cup dried cranberries
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Heat the oven to 350 F. Coat a large Bundt pan with cooking spray or brush with oil. Add a small amount of granulated sugar and turn the pan to coat the inside, discarding any excess.
In a medium bowl, stir together both flours, the cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, combine the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on high until the mixture is thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Add the pumpkin, orange zest and juice, and water. Beat on low until smooth.
Sift the dry ingredients on top of the pumpkin mixture and stir just until combined. Stir in the cranberries.
Using a rubber spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted at the center comes out clean. Turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 205 calories; 54 calories from fat; 6 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 48 mg cholesterol; 37 g carbohydrate; 4 g protein; 3 g fiber; 311 mg sodium.