Looking for a sneaky way to get more fruits and vegetables in your (or your kids’) diet? Try these six fruit and vegetable purees for moister, healthier baked goods. Purees are excellent fat substitutes in baking. All you need to know is which flavors work best for the type of baking you’re doing. Choosing the right puree can add nutrients that might not otherwise be available in your baked goods.
You can add about two to four tablespoons of puree to most baking recipes for additional moisture without any substitutions. If you’re substituting for a fat, use about half to three-quarters of a cup of fruit puree for every cup of fat and three-quarters to one cup vegetable puree for each cup of fat (oil or butter). If you swap out all of the fat, check your baked goods about 10 minutes early since they can cook faster without fats. You may also want to reduce your baking temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
Avocado puree works great in rich cakes like chocolate or in brownies. The smooth, creamy texture of avocado puree makes it especially great as a butter substitute. Avocado, while technically a fruit, should be treated like a vegetable when it comes to substitution. Use three-quarters to one cup per every cup of fat you’re exchanging. Using avocados in your baking ensures less crumbling than baking with butter.
How to puree: Peel and pit avocados and mash thoroughly. You can also add two teaspoons of lemon juice for every cup of avocado puree to prevent browning.
Try Fudgy Avocado Brownies from How Sweet Eats to introduce yourself to avocado puree.
Roasted beets, either shredded or pureed, should be used in rich baked goods like chocolate cakes or spice cakes. Beets add sweetness, moisture and color, but they don’t add any weird veggie flavor when paired with rich cake. Without the chocolate, the subtle earthy flavor of the beets is evident. That flavor means a vanilla pound cake wouldn’t be a great choice. Red velvet cakes are an especially good use of the puree since the beets also add a deep reddish purple color to your cakes. Use about 3/4 cup beets in lieu of fat in your favorite chocolate cake recipe.
How to puree: Roast beets at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about one hour, until fork tender. Peel or rub skin off of beets, cube and process in a food processor until smooth. Be sure to protect your hands from staining while working with the beets.
Try our Flourless Beet Brownie Cake or Joy the Baker’s Chocolate Beet Cake with Beet Cream Cheese Frosting.
3. Pumpkin or squash
Pumpkin puree makes a great egg substitute. It has a strong flavor, so you need to be wary of exactly what you use it in. Use about 1/4 cup of pumpkin per egg in spice cakes or rich fruit breads. Of course, pumpkin breads are tasty, too. So, if you’re going for the pumpkin flavor–live it up! You can also use grated or pureed zucchini or yellow squash. Pumpkin and squash can work as a direct one to one ratio substitute for oil. For butter, substitute about three-quarters of a cup pumpkin for each cup of butter.
How to puree: You can use canned pumpkin as puree. Or, simply shred raw zucchini or yellow squash. To make pumpkin puree from a whole pumpkin, quarter small pumpkins and remove seeds and pulp. Roast at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes, until fork tender. Peel off skin and process until smooth.
Try three quarters of a cup of pumpkin instead of eggs in Martha Stewart’s Apple Spice Cake.
Mashed bananas work well in chocolate cakes, spice cakes, muffins and quick breads. Using mashed banana works well for eggs needed for binding. Be sure to use very ripe bananas for your puree to get the right texture and sweetness (the blacker the peel, the better).
How to puree: Mash very ripe bananas until smooth.
Try Joy of Baking’s Chocolate Banana Cake.
Plain applesauce is an effective oil or melted butter substitute for nearly any baked good. Its flavor is light and can blend into nearly any cake, muffin or scone. Applesauce is one of the most forgiving fat substitutes. It can even be used to replace about half the fat in cookies, which are more sensitive to lack of fats than other baked goods.
How to puree: Cook peeled apple slices in water, at a ratio of about one cup apples to two and a half cups water. Cook over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes. Mash or blend until smooth.
Try Smitten Kitchen’s Spiced Applesauce Cake.
Prune puree is a bit more flavorful than applesauce, so you’ll want to stick to spice cakes or chocolate cakes. Muffins and scones with rich flavors also work well with prunes.
How to puree: Add one cup pitted prunes and six tablespoons hot water to a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth.
Try prune puree in lieu of coconut oil in this Citrusy Carrot Cake.
Keep in touch with Kristi on Twitter @VeggieConverter