Archive / Baking

RSS feed for this section

Baking posts

Fat and Sugar Free Chocolate Cake

Ever dreamt of trying a truly decadent dessert which you wouldn’t later regret eating? This chocolate cake recipe was inspired by a friend of mine who cannot have sugar and has to limit fats in her diet (but loves sweets). Most recipes for sinless, guiltless chocolate cake are either low/non fat OR sugar free, but it is very difficult to find a fat AND sugar free recipe that works. This is because sugar and fat contribute a lot to the structure of the final baked cake.

Fat and Sugar Free Chocolate Cake

Not only is this chocolate cake enjoyed by those who are watching their intake of fats and sugars, but also by everyone who has tried it. It’s always a big hit at the office parties where it has been served. I’m sure you will enjoy it too, whether you need to cut back or not.

Here is how I make it:


1 c Milk, nonfat
2 Eggs
½ c Applesauce, unsweetened
2 t Vanilla

1 ¾ c Flour
2 ¼ c Sucralose (Splenda)
¾ c Cocoa powder, unsweetened
1 ½ t Baking powder
1 ½ t Baking soda
1 t Salt

1 c Water, boiling

Preheat oven to 350. Coat a 9 x 13 baking pan with cooking spray.

Blend eggs, milk, applesauce and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.

Combine dry ingredients and add to liquid mixture. I recommend using Dutched Cocoa if possible. That and the boiling water contribute to the deep dark brown chocolate color of this cake giving the impression of richness.

TIP: I often use a large French Whisk to mix dry ingredients. While accomplishing the mixing, it also helps break up large chunks of dry ingredients and is easy to clean afterwards.

Dry Ingredients

Beat with electric mixer at medium speed for two minutes.

Stir in boiling water slowly and mix thoroughly.

Pour into pan (it will be very watery, but this is normal), place in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

  Cake Batter

Cool completely if you will be icing the cake, which I recommend. I don’t recommend removing this cake from the pan to serve as its structure is very fragile.

As you can see from the following image, it is normal for this cake to have cracks after baking. That this cake has no fat or sugar also accounts for the reason it does not rise as much as a regular cake. The standard method for making cakes from scratch is to use the Creaming Method.

In the Creaming Method the sugar and fat (butter for cakes) are first blended together. The purpose of this blending is not primarily to soften the fat, but to add air bubbles. Then the leaveners (Baking Powder and Baking Soda) create the gases which cause those bubbles to expand. These bubbles are responsible for the final texture of the cake. Additionally, butter (which this cake does not have) contributes to the ‘moistness’ of the cake, which helps hold it together.

After Baking

It is because this cake has a tendency to form cracks that I recommend it be frosted, especially if you will be serving it at a party. Frosting, at least in cake baking anyway, covers a multitude of sins. 🙂

Here is the recipe I used for frosting the cake. It is essentially a thick chocolate pudding and although it does call for adding one tablespoon of butter, that amount of fat is pretty negligible in comparison with the composition of the cake as a whole.


½ c Cocoa powder, unsweetened
4 T Corn starch
1 c Sucralose
1/4 t Salt

2 c Milk, nonfat

1 T Butter
2 t Vanilla

Mix together cocoa, corn starch, sucralose and salt. Add milk slowly and stir. Cook until thickened, stirring continuously. Add butter and vanilla. Cool, and then spread on the cake.

Snickerdoodle Disaster

I really didn’t want to admit this, but here goes…

When preparing a previous post about Cream of Tartar I included a recipe for Snickerdoodles because they are traditionally made with Cream of Tartar. However, in my rush to get everything done I made the mistake of adding the sugar to the rest of the dry ingredients when it was supposed to be creamed with the butter and shortening first.

Rather than throw out the flour mixture I saved my mistake in a zippered bag and started preparing the recipe over again from fresh ingredients and using the proper method. Well, that mistake has been staring at me in the pantry ever since. So I decided I would try to turn that mistake into a success.

Using the original Snickerdoole recipe as the basis, I took 1/2 cup of Brown Sugar and creamed it with the 1/2 cup of softened Butter and 1/2 cup of Vegetable Shortening.  Then added the Cinnamon, Vanilla, and Eggs (since I was changing the recipe anyway, why not try the cinnamon inside the cookie?). I blended it in the mixer just until all the ingredients were incorporated, then refrigerated the dough for the regulation one hour.

After rolling the cookies into little balls and baking  on cookie sheets at 400 degrees for 10+ minutes, they came out like this:

Snickerdoodle Disaster

They taste awesome. So, now our family members are all grabbing a tall glass of ice cold milk. Don’t think these will last long.

What is most interesting, besides their having a completely different texture from standard Snickerdoodles, is they actually have a slight coconut flavor as well, although the recipe contains no coconut.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my kitchen crisis and how it was resolved. If only every mistake in life could be remedied this easily. 🙂

We at Lukewarm Legumes would like to hear about your kitchen disasters as well and how you dealt with them; whether and how you were able to turn what looked like kitchen defeat into a resounding victory.


Light and Fluffy Sourdough Bread

For those of you who love the flavor of Sourdough bread, but also prefer a light and fluffy loaf with a thin crispy crust, this is the recipe for you.

Mise En Place - Bread


We start with Mise En Place by first carefully reading our recipe instructions and its list of ingredients*. Then we gather all the necessary items and measure them into separate containers.

An essential ingredient which must be prepared ahead of time is the sourdough starter. I am very fortunate to have a friend who several years ago brought me some starter from Germany that had been Sourdough Starter maintained by a German bakery for several hundred years. If you do not have access to sourdough starter, you can either purchase some, or make your own. The purpose of this blog is not to tell you how to make or where to purchase sourdough starter, so I recommend you enter “sourdough starter” in your favorite search engine to locate the resource you need.

Once you have your starter, to maintain it you will need to regularly ‘feed’ your it and store it in the refrigerator.  I keep mine in Mason Jars.

The first step to making this bread it to mix the dry ingredients. Then blend in the butter. Finally add the rest of the ingredients, including the warm water. It is essential to check the water temperature because if it is not warm enough it will not activate the yeasts properly. If it is too hot, it will kill the yeasts.

Very important to making this bread is kneading the dough in order to form the gluten. It is the gluten that enables the sponge to develop the bubbles from the yeast and produces the lighter loaf.

Water Pan

Another technique I use with this bread is to place a pan of water in the bottom of the oven and heat it with the oven before placing the bread in for baking. The purpose of this is to delay the crusting over the top of the loaf to allow the expansion of the dough by the additional activity of the yeast from the oven heat before the dough becomes so hot to deactivate the yeasts.

It is extremely important to take great care in how the dough rises. Extra rising times help to ensure a lighter loaf. Also, after the first rise, when you ‘punch’ down the sponge, do not literally punch it down, be gentle. The purpose of this stage is simply to eliminate any large pockets of air, rearrange the dough so the yeast comes in contact with more ‘food’ to create additional carbon dioxide, and form the loaves in preparation for baking.

After the second rise, you are ready to bake the bread. Place it in the oven, which should be full of steam from your water pan, and set the timer for 30 minutes. When the timer goes off, rotate the loaves and continue to bake. The bread will be done when the crust has turned a golden color and the internal temperature has reached between 190 and 200 degrees.

Baked Temp Loaf

Loaf 1 Baked


* Light and Fluffy Sourdough Bread

4 c Flour, bread
½ c Flour, potato
¼ c Milk, dry
2 t Salt, kosher
1 ½ T Yeast, instant

½ c Butter, unsalted butter, softened

1 ½ c Water, warm (105 – 115)
1 c Sourdough starter (room temperature)
2 T Honey


In a large bowl combine the flours, dry milk, salt and yeast.

Add the butter and mix with dough hook on low speed.

Then add the honey, warm water and sourdough starter.

When all the flour is thoroughly moistened either beat on medium or knead by hand for 7 minutes to encourage gluten formation.  The dough should be moist and sticky.

Place in oiled bowl, turning once to coat, cover with plastic and allow to rise for 1 ½ hours.

Pour out sponge on a lightly floured counter; gently rearrange dough, shape and place in bread pans.

Coat with oil, cover and allow to rise another 1 ½ hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees for at least 30 minutes prior to baking.  Have the oven shelf at the lowest level.

Bake for 30 minutes, then turn.  Bake until crust is golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 190 to 200 degrees.

Do not use a baking stone for this bread as the heat retained by the stone will produce a thick hard crust.

Slice with Butter

Cream of Tartar – Versatile Kitchen Chemical


Cream of Tartar - Measure

Cream of Tartar is a very useful and versatile chemical for your kitchen. My hope is that through this article you will gain a greater appreciation of it and how its presence in your kitchen ads value to your efforts and the products you make with it.


Records of the use of Cream of Tarter extend as far back as 7,000 years.  The Archaeological Instutute of America reported in the September/October 1996 edition of its Journal that “Patrick E. McGovern and a team from the University of Pennsylvania Museum found calcium salt from tartaric acid, which occurs naturally in large amounts only in grapes,” at a Neolithic village site in Iran, indicating that wine was being produced in that region of the world at that early date.  You can read the full article  here.


Cream of Tartar is obtained as a by product of wine manufacture by extracting it from a crystal that is deposited on the inside of wine barrels as the wine ferments. The chemical names for it are: potassium tartrate, potassium hydrogen tartrate, and potassium bitartrate. Its molecular formula is KHC4H5O6.

Cream of Tartar has many uses in the kitchen, including:

Baking Powder – Cream of tartar can be used to make baking powder by combing 2 parts Cream of Tartar with 1 part Baking Soda and 1 part Cornstarch.

Eggs and Cream of Tartar

Meringue – Cream of Tartar, due to its acidity, can be used to stabilize and add volume to beaten egg whites such as are used in angel food cake, pie meringue and meringue cookies. As egg whites are beaten, they expand in volume.  The beating of the egg whites causes the strands of egg protein to partially unfold and connect with each other. These interconnected strands wrap around air bubbles which leads to foam development. Cream of tartar lowers the pH of egg whites and helps neutralize the tendency of proteins to repel each other; encouraging their connection. This helps support the air bubbles formed by beating. The result is a much more stable foam.


Snickerdoodles – This famous cookie has the characteristics it does because of the use of Cream of Tartar.  See recipe below.*

Icing and Candy – Cream of Tartar is used in icing and candy recipes because it helps produce a product that is smoother and creamier.




Syrup – Adding Cream of Tartar helps prevent crystallization of syrup and honey.




Color Preservation in Vegetables – Boiling vegetables causes them to lose their pigmentation and therefore lose much of their visual appeal.  Adding Cream of Tartar to the water helps prevent this. Because of its acidity, Cream of Tartar also helps retard browning of vegetables and cut fruit. However, care must be taken so that the amount of Cream of Tartar used does not affect the flavor of the produce.

However, I tried an experiment comparing boiling broccoli in a Cream of Tartar solution with my standard steam method. I’ll let you be the judge of which method produces the most appealing results:

Broccoli - Raw

Broccoli - Raw

Broccoli - Boiled

Broccoli - Boiled

Broccoli - Steamed

Broccoli - Steamed



Cream of Tartar can be used to clean your pots and pans as well, particularly aluminum and copper. It can also help take stains out of fabrics such as kitchen towels & aprons, and aid in cleaning your porcelain sink.


Although I have not tried it (yet), there are articles about how Cream of Tartar can be used even to whiten teeth. If true, this is of particular help to cooks after years of drinking hot coffee & tea and sipping wine.


Cream of Tartar can be used along with other items from your kitchen to make modeling clay.

1 cup flour
1 cup water
1 cup salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
3-5 drops of food dye (various colors)

* Snickerdoodles

This recipe comes from the McCormick website.

2 3/4 c Flour, all purpose
2 t Cream of Tartar
1 t Baking Soda

1 1/2 c Sugar, divided
1/2 c Butter, softened
1/2 c Shortening

2 Eggs
2 t Vanilla

1/4 c Sugar
1 T Cinnamon, Ground

1. Mix flour, cream of tartar and baking soda in large bowl. Set aside. Beat 1 1/2 cups sugar, butter and shortening in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Refrigerate 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon. Shape dough into 1-inch balls.

Roll in cinnamon sugar mixture to coat. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheets.

3. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets 1 minute. Remove to wire racks;
cool completely.


If you are looking for a place to purchase Cream of Tartar in bulk you might want to check Penzey’s