The ketogenic diet — known simply as “keto” — has taken the nutrition world by storm in recent years. Today, you can find hundreds of keto-friendly products and recipes to ensure weight loss success.
One of the least enjoyable aspects of any diet is food restrictions. However, with the keto diet, you can still have dessert in moderation using certain baking ingredients.
What if you’re not much of a baker, though? No worries — several keto baking tips for beginners can help.
What Is the Ketogenic Diet?
The keto diet restricts the body of glucose — carbohydrate foods that give your cells energy — and swaps it with ketones from stored fat. When you cut out or reduce your carb intake for three to four days, you begin to eliminate the body’s stored glucose.
People on the keto diet should only consume 20 net carbohydrates daily — total carbs without fiber. The rest of your food primarily consists of protein, leafy green vegetables and dairy products.
Your fat intake should account for about 55%-60% of total calories. Naturally, you might wonder why any diet would want you to increase the amount of fat you eat. High-fat food plans suppress the hunger hormone ghrelin, making it easier to eat less and feel fuller. Also, adding protein to your diet boosts your metabolism.
Although you might feel hunger pangs, fatigue, aches and fogginess from eliminating carbs, symptoms usually subside once your liver starts producing ketones — a state called “ketosis.”
Are Keto Desserts Any Good?
Try as you might, it’s hard to match the consistency and flavor of a traditional molten lava cake using keto-friendly ingredients. Every flour and sweetener alternative will produce different flavors and textures.
However, making baked goods that satisfy your sweet tooth doesn’t have to be complicated. Rather than feel like you’re missing out on your favorite dessert, look at keto baking as an opportunity to experiment with new ingredients.
For example, almond flour alone might taste spongy the first time you try it, while coconut flour could make your cake dry. However, combining the two could result in perfection.
10 Baking Tips for Beginners on the Ketogenic Diet
Any diet presents different challenges when it comes to cooking. Learning about unfamiliar ingredients and techniques may feel overwhelming and daunting. However, these 10 keto baking tips for beginners will make following keto dessert recipes a cinch.
1. Gather Keto Baking Ingredients
Consider stocking your pantry and refrigerator with standard keto baking ingredients. Then, separate everything into three categories: baking, refrigerated and add-ins.
Baking ingredients should include your flours — almond flour, coconut flour and xanthan gum — baking soda, baking powder and sugar replacements.
Refrigerated items will likely comprise eggs, butter, dairy and nondairy alternatives, heavy cream, and cream cheese.
Finally, oils, extracts and spices will bring it all together. Most bakers keep vanilla extract on hand — however, you can choose countless other flavors. Salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg are common spices, while thyme is always a refreshing herb to add to something lemony.
It might surprise you, but you can have nut butter and chocolate on the keto diet — just be sure it contains at least 70% cocoa. Dark chocolate and cacao are excellent sources of antioxidants and flavonols, which lower blood pressure and decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease.
2. Find the Right Keto Baking Substitutes
White flour is out when you’re baking keto desserts. Fortunately, other options may make your favorite sweets taste even better, such as the following:
- Almond flour
- Coconut flour
- Chia flour
- Xanthan gum
- Psyllium husk powder
- Oat fiber
- Lupin flour
- Flaxseed meal
Some ingredients like flaxseed meal are excellent sources of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. A tablespoon of flaxseed has 2 grams of polyunsaturated fat and omega-3s and 2 g of dietary fiber. Additionally, it’s easier to digest and relieves constipation.
3. Use Fresh Ingredients
One of the most practical keto baking tips for beginners is using fresh ingredients, including dry ones.
Some ingredients, like coconut flour, will absorb moisture if improperly stored at room temperature. The change in chemistry will cause your mixture to become lumpy and result in a drier cake texture.
Always check your ingredients for expiration dates and consistency before using them.
4. Make Precise Measurements
Measuring each ingredient before you start baking is helpful. For one thing, pouring and mixing ingredients in the bowl is much easier. It’s also helping in knowing whether or not you’re missing something.
Keto baking demands precision. Using the correct measurements of dry and wet ingredients is critical to baking a delicious baked good. Swapping, eliminating or miscalculating what the recipe calls for could impact the final result.
5. Look for Mixes
The grocery store carries numerous products if you need help baking on the keto diet. From cakes to biscuits, you can buy plenty of premade mixes for delicious keto-friendly sweets every time you whip out your mixing bowl.
The ketogenic diet market size reached $9.57 billion in 2019 and has a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.5% between 2020 and 2027.
The keto diet has become a popular and effective weight management program to combat obesity across all ages. In the United States, the obesity rate increased from 30.5% to 41.9% between 1999-2000 to 2017-2020.
6. Try Different Sweeteners
What’s the point of dessert if it doesn’t give off a bit of sweetness? It’s essential to get acquainted with different types when starting with keto baking.
You might consider the following sweeteners to include in your keto-friendly baked goods:
- Monk fruit
You can enhance your desserts by combining multiple sweeteners for the right flavor. However, be mindful of Stevia. Some people find it to be too strong with an off-putting aftertaste.
It’s also important to add only a little of one sweetener. If your batter has yet to reach your preferred sweetness, opt for a different kind instead of the same one. Consider the second to be a support for the first.
7. Don’t Swap Out Ingredients
If a recipe calls for one ingredient, it’s best not to substitute it for another. There’s a reason why recipes will call for almond flour and xanthan gum as opposed to coconut flour.
You risk altering the outcome when you change the ingredients in keto baking. Further, it’ll require you to modify the entire recipe. For example, some flours may need a specific number of eggs for moisture. If you switch the flour you use, you may also need to use more or fewer eggs.
Keto-friendly ingredients work differently than regular baking items. Until you become an expert in keto baking, follow the recipe.
8. Allow Ingredients to Reach the Right Temperature
There’s always a reason if a recipe tells you an ingredient must be room temperature, cold or melted in keto baking.
For one thing, ingredients at specific temperatures may release different flavors. Other ingredients’ consistencies may not work together — for instance, cream cheese is easier to mix at room temperature.
Another example is coconut oil, which solidifies at 76° Fahrenheit and may become too lumpy when mixed with cold eggs. You may want to allow your eggs to warm up beforehand.
Additionally, if you’re using whole psyllium husk or flax meal, adding lukewarm water will expand the soluble fibers and create a stickiness to hold your dessert together.
9. Follow the Recipe’s Oven Temperature
Using the correct oven temperature is equally important in keto baking — flour alternatives may not bake the same way as white flour does.
Once your oven reaches the right temperature, wait a few minutes to ensure consistency throughout the chamber. An oven thermometer is an excellent way to double-check that the thermostat is accurate.
Baking at the wrong temperature could produce a gooey, burned or ultra-dry cake.
10. Allow Your Dessert to Cool Down
The final keto baking tip for beginners should also be a no-brainer — allow your baked item to cool fully before taking a slice.
Removing your cake or bread too quickly could cause it to deflate due to the immediate temperature drop. It’s best to leave it in for a few minutes with the oven off to allow a gradual reduction.
Place your dessert on a cooling rack when it’s ready to come out.
Have Your Keto Cake and Eat It, Too
The keto diet has many rules and restrictions for dieters to follow. Fortunately, you can still enjoy an occasional dessert by following these 10 keto baking tips for beginners. For those with less experience, baking keto-style will become much more manageable.
About the author:
Mia Barnes is a health and wellness writer with a passion for nutrition and mindful eating. Mia is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Body + Mind Magazine, an online healthy living publication. When not writing, you can find Mia reading mystery novels or practicing yoga.