Review of “Enlightened Cakes” by Camilla V. Saulsbury

This is a cookbook that promises to allow you to have your cake and eat it too, but with significantly less fat and fewer calories.

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There are very few pictures in this cookbook – only a couple of pages of “thumbnail” pictures in the front. Ordinarily, I prefer them, but really, with cakes, I could see how you wouldn’t see all that much. Besides, it’s just a matter of my liking food porn.

The author basically takes a number of good recipes and uses substitutes to lighten the calorie load. She also provides nutritional information at the end of each recipe. So, for example, she may use fat-free milk, or egg whites, or fat-free vegetable shortening. She does talk about the use of refrigerated egg substitute, but doesn’t mention that the substitute for whole eggs instead of egg whites usually contains bizarre additives – even garlic, that will affect the taste of the cake. (I always use boxed egg whites for health reasons, and have never had a problem with taste.)

She begins with tips on how to lighten recipes and provides examples of foods that work for substitutes (for example, using fat-free ricotta cheese instead of cottage cheese). Sometimes she uses “reduced fat” products instead of fat-free, depending on the recipe.

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Categories of recipes include “favorites,” bundt cakes, layer cakes, cupcakes, cheesecakes, and “frostings and other extras.”

I found that in cases in which there is a strong flavor in the baked item, like banana bread, and not much of a requirement for butter or cream cheese, it doesn’t affect the quality so much to use substitutes. It all depends on the recipe.

Evaluation: In my opinion, most of these recipes are the equivalent of using no butter and “light syrup” on pancakes. To me, if you’re going to have pancakes, you might as well have butter and maple syrup, or else it’s just a waste of calories. But this book will be excellent for those who have the proper incentive to change their lifestyles toward something more healthy.

In addition, if you have health issues or weight issues and are unable to exercise portion control (note the use of the word “exercise” as a double entendre in the sentence), this book will be helpful. I, for one, am not so good at portion size control. Still, I would rather have a small piece of something fantastic than a bigger piece of something not quite as good. But my willpower is non-existent, so when I start my New Life (which I do faithfully every January 1st), I will be whipping out this cookbook.

Published by Cumberland House, 2008


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11 Responses to Review of “Enlightened Cakes” by Camilla V. Saulsbury

  1. Beth F says:

    Ha ha on the new you — My new me is born every Jan 1 and dies about Jan 3. I agree, though. I’d rather have a single piece of fabulous full-fat cake than 6 slices of so-so cake. Still, this sounds like a good book for people who like to have dessert or for those who are on special diets.

  2. BermudaOnion says:

    Yeah, I’ve found some of those low fat or sugar substitutes just aren’t the same. Still, it would be worth trying a recipe or two from this book.

  3. Rita K says:

    I don’t bake cakes. But if I did I would want lots of fat and sugar in mine.

  4. I skip the butter and have just maple syrup on my pancakes… but totally agree with having a sliver of something fantastic rather than a slab of something just okay!!

  5. Tina says:

    I’m with you, quality over quantity any time!

  6. Molly says:

    I love the pancake analogy! Yes, a sliver of the authentic recipe is worth the extra calories.

  7. jama says:

    Chiming in with everyone — a rich indulgence once in awhile is better than eating a lot of “compromised” stuff.

  8. Vicki says:

    I might have to get a copy of this book. I agree that taste trumps size every time.

  9. I agree a small amount of something very decadent is much better than lightened up dishes

  10. joyweesemoll says:

    I have many problems with cake, including sodium (not just salt — baking powder and baking soda have sodium, too). These days, I prefer flavored yeast breads — which tend to be lower in fat, calories, and sodium. I can usually find a recipe or invent one that hits the flavor points of any cake that I might want. Then, as you say, I save my cake for an opportunity of something truly delicious and decadent.

  11. stacybuckeye says:

    I’ve been substituting my homemade apple/mango/or strawberry sauce in place of butter on our new diet and I don’t even miss the butter 🙂 This book would be of no help to me these days 😦

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