Let’s face it American’s are getting fat. We have super-sized ourselves almost to death. Diabetes, high blood pressure and other serious health problems are on the rise and most of these are caused by being over-weight. I know I am seriously over weight and have been most of my life. About 2 years ago I started on Weight Watchers and I have to say it hasn’t been easy. It has never been what I ate but how much. I love vegetables, grains, bread, etc. I have never been one for a lot of meat or sweets. But, when you sit down and eat half a loaf of bread or 4 or 5 rolls that is a problem.
When I started Weight Watchers I quickly discovered that just like drug and alcohol addiction food is an addition as well. Understanding this helped me to understand that this was not going to be an easy or fast journey and that like many things there were going to be good days and bad days.
I have always loved to cook and bake especially bread. It was this love a baking and being on Weight Watchers that got me interested in finding ways to cut down or completely remove fat from recipes. Sometimes this is easy to do other times it isn’t. Many times there are reasons a recipe calls for some sort of fat. Baked goods and especially bread are perhaps the easiest things to reduce or eliminate fat from. For many of these items fat is for texture, freshness and flavor and there are other ways to achieve this without using real fat.
For example a bread recipe that calls for 2 or 3 tablespoons of butter or oil can do just fine without that fat. However, it will affect the texture and how long it keeps. Fat in this case improves the texture of the bread and it helps keep the bread from drying out as fast. Also, in some small way it helps with flavor. So if you are going to replace the fat in bread you need to replace it with something that has roughly the same effect. For whole grain breads prune butter is what I recommend. Simply replace the fat in whole grain breads with an equal amount of prune butter. For white breads prune butter can be used but it will cause an off color and may affect flavor, if this is a problem then use unsweetened applesauce again replace the fat with the same amount of applesauce. Myself I don’t mind the slight color or flavor change. Why unsweetened applesauce? You don’t want to add any more sugar than the recipe calls for. This could be a problem for the yeast as well as the end result in the bread.
Why does prune butter and applesauce work for replacing fat? It is the pectin in them. The pectin which works with the gluten in the bread helps with texture and structure just like fat does. Pectin also traps moisture in the bread just like fat does which helps keep the bread from drying out so fast. They both also help with flavor. While prune butter has a stronger flavor than applesauce it works very well with whole grain flours. In fact I think it is a great complement to the flavor of the grains.
Making Prune Butter
While you can buy jars of prune butter, it is sold under different names and may include other ingredients that you may or may not want. These commercial products can be expensive and I don’t think they are worth money. Making your own prune butter is simple, fast and much cheaper.
1 Package Dried Pitted Prunes/Plums (I Like Sunsweet)
In your blender container place the dried pitted prunes. It is best to check them quickly to make sure there are no stray pits, they do sometimes sneak through. Add enough hot tap water to just cover the prunes. Blend on high for 1 minute or until smooth. If you find that your blender is having a problem with the thickness you can add a bit more water. You want this to be as thick as possible so don’t add any more water than is needed. You don’t want soup.
When the prune butter is done, put it in a mason jar or other non-metal container with a tight lid and store in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to a month. To use it simply replace the fat in your bread recipe with the same amount of prune butter.
Spicy Toast Spread
I like prunes, now called plums (it’s a marketing thing). I like to take the above prune butter and divide it in half and turn one half in to a spicy toast spread. To the 1/2 batch of prune butter add 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger. Mix well. When you make toast you can spread this on in place of butter or with butter, I also like to use this as the filling for cinnamon rolls type breads. Instead of the butter, cinnamon and sugar filling use this, the roll up the dough, cut in to rolls, etc. for a really nice breakfast or snack bread.