How to Make Healthier Baked Goods Using Applesauce

Homemade Apple Sauce. Photo by Jennifer Maliniak

Homemade Apple Sauce. Photo by Jennifer Maliniak

If you love dessert, but also love your figure, you can make your sweet treats healthier by simply switching either your fat or your sugar for apple sauce.

You could equally substitute either of these undesirable ingredients for any type of fruit purée, like pear or even different berry purées.

Not only do these fruity sauces improve the nutritional quality of your dessert, but they also enhance the flavour of your dish. I use strawberry purée in one of my chocolate cakes giving the cake a beautiful berry aroma. I simply blitz the strawberries in a blender, and voila- strawberry purée.

One thing to be mindful of, however, is the fact that swapping sugar or fat for a fruit sauce will affect the texture of your batter because these elemets have a significant moisture content, and moisture affects gluten.

The more moisture present, the more you activate your gluten and the more elastic your batter will be. In bread, this would be fine, because bread doughs need to be elastic. However, when it comes to bakes goods, like cakes, you want to discourage your gluten development least you want a sagging goopy blob.

Therefore, in the case of cakes, when you are adding moisture that, if not for the substitution, would not be present in the recipe, you will have to adjust your other ingredients in order to  account for the added moisture- which means removing moisture from somewhere else.

In order to help retain the proper texture of a particular type of baked-good, there are a few rules you must keep in mind:

For cake:
If you are replacing your sugar, only replace half the sugar with applesauce, then use 1/3 more applesauce than the amount of sugar you replaced; If your recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, use 1/2 cup sugar and 3/4 cup apple sauce.

You must also reduce the amount of liquid by 1/4 cup for every cup of applesauce you use. If you are off by a bit ( because with 1/3s, the math can get too complicated) it’s okay.

Mix the applesauce in with your egg(s), and follow the regular steps of the recipe.

If you are replacing your fat, use the same amount.

For cookies, brownies, or muffins, you can replace up to 2/3 of your sugar.

Making apple sauce at home is quite easy. Like apple compote, it consists of cooking down apples until they are mushy. The only difference is that I add water to make a thinner style “sauce.”

The following recipe is for my Apple Almond Cake, which I created specifically to celebrate Quebec apple season. Using both apple sauce, and sliced apples, this cake  has a wonderfully pungent apple flavour.

Apple Almond Cupcakes

Apple Sauce:
4 apples
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp butter

1/4 cup butter
1/3C sugar
2 tbsp honey
2/3 cup apple sauce
1 egg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 apple
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup milk

For the Apple Sauce:
In a large saucepan, over medium-heat, melt the butter.
Add all the ingredients and cover the pot. Stir periodically.
Cook until apples are soft and mushy.

You can make this sauce a day or two in advance.

For the Cake:
Peel,quarter, core and thinly slice your apple.

Thinly sliced apples to add into your cake batter. Photo by Jennifer Maliniak

Place in a bowl, and toss with your cinnamon.
Set aside.

Using a stand mixer, or electric beaters, cream together the butter,sugar and honey.

Mix the applesauce into the egg, and add to the creamed butter mixture.

Combine the dry ingredients, and add alternately with the milk.

Mix in the sliced cinnamon apples.


Mixed batter. Photo by Jennifer Maliniak


Scoop into a lined muffin pan.
Bake at 375 degrees for 17-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.


Baked Cupcakes. Photo by Jennifer Maliniak

I use a plain vanilla buttercream to ice these little cakes, and top it off with a homemade apple chip.

Apple Almond Cupcake. Photo by Jennifer Maliniak

Apple Almond Cupcake. Photo by Jennifer Maliniak

You could also add a bit of cinnamon or honey to your buttercream.

You don’t have to abstain from desserts just because your are watching your diet, you simply have to make a few alterations.

Using apple sauce or fruit puree is a very easy, stress free way to do that.

Enjoy your sweets, and happy baking!
Jennifer Maliniak

1 Comment
  • Time With Thea
    Posted at 11:33h, 15 October Reply

    Hi Jennifer! This is brilliant! I so appreciate the information about how much applesauce to add in order to replace some of the sugar. YOu explained it very well. I make big batches of applesauce ever year with apples from the B.C. Okanagan where my husband is originally from and where a lot of family still lives. I either freeze it or process it. Your recipe looks delicious too! Pinning! Thanks again ~ Thea

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