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Using Yogurt in Baking Recipes

Can everyone please talk about the use of yogurt in baking stuff like muffins?

E.g. (just to get things started):

Can you get away with lowfat?

Can you swap it in equal proportion with butter?

Any need to adjust liquid content?

Are there situations where this substitution is a no-no?

Since it's so much healthier, and often tastes just as good, why doesn't everyone use yogurt?

Anything else...?

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  1. Using it makes things chewier no doubt. I like the moist, chewy texture it gives cakes/muffins. I use non-fat yogurt or sour cream a lot of the time in muffins/cake.

    BUT - I have also read you should still use at least 1-2T of fatty something (oil, butter, whatever) to keep consistency true. My recommendation is to try a little bit first, and if you don't hate the texture, try again w.more later.

    I imagine if your recipe uses whole eggs (not just the whites), or some other source of fat, you can do oil for yogurt straight up (like betty crocker cakes). If you're feeling adventurous, it adds a slight somethin somethin if you use some fruity yogurt in a white cake.

    Best I have done is orange cream yogurt in a spice cake recipe. Subtle, but nice. Keep in mind you did just add sugar with the fruited yogurt, though..

    1 Reply
    1. re: reannd

      The orange cream yogurt in the spice cake sounds very nice, reannd. I'll have to try that. TY.

    2. I use yogurt mainly in recipes that call for either buttermilk or sour cream and find it works well, with no adjustment. I'm not sure it's actually "healthier" than other milk ingredients - after all, the bacteria are killed in baking so no benefit there.

      Subbing for sour cream, yes, you're reducing the total fat content of the recipe. But subbing for buttermilk, not at all since buttermilk is generally low-fat or non-fat anyway. And if you're using yogurt instead of buttermilk, you may have to increase the amount of yogurt since it's thicker than buttermilk. But flavourwise, texturewise, and otherwise, I don't see a lot of difference. I use yogurt because I almost always have some in the fridge, whereas I don't have buttermilk hanging around very often.

      You could probably also substitute yogurt for normal milk, if you wanted, but I'd want to mess with the baking soda/baking powder ratios and I've never bothered to work out a formula for that.

      1. The recipe I have for Heartsmart Banana bread uses plain yogurt - compared with a more traditional recipe the yogurt one has 5g fat/slice and the traditional has 12g fat/slice. The main differences Light vs. Traditional:

        1 egg vs. 2 eggs
        1/4 cup vegetable oil vs. 1/2 cup vegetable oil
        1 cup mashed banana vs. 1 & 1/2 cups mashed banana
        1/2 cup low fat plain yogurt vs. no yogurt

        Otherwise leaveners are the same measurements... Looks like some of the banana, oil and egg were replaced by the yogurt in this case.

        So, as far as I can see, yes you can substitute but like reannd said some of the fat still has to be used and the liquid content (in this case the mashed banana) has to be adjusted.

        1. Jim, jmo, but I'd say the reason not everyone does it is because, just as reannd says, subs like this will often change the texture, and not everyone needs to worry about it.

          I make a lot of muffins and quick breads and often make changes to the original recipes, including using oil, not butter; 1% or 2% milk; every now and then, egg whites only, but that I'm not so crazy about...

          I seldom use butter when baking for my family. (For guests, or if I'm taking to someone's house, I use butter.) The muffins/breads I make are still tasty, but they're more dense, heavier in texture, and I think they dry out more quickly, after two days or so. They're still good, though, if...rustic??

          I do almost always use at least 2 T. EVOO. Most cookbooks recommend using a more neutral tasting oil (e.g., Canola), but I don't like its flavor (or lack thereof?).

          I usually use less sugar than the recipe calls for, sometimes use a very small amount of sugar and some balsamic vinegar (best in things like zucchini or carrot breads/muffins), or use maple syrup instead of sugar. So those changes probably contribute to the density, as well.

          2 Replies
          1. re: MaggieRSN

            Ooh, could you please post an example of the ratio for balsamic in a savoury bread? That sounds really intriguing!

            1. re: chocolatstiletto

              Sure, stiletto.

              If I'm not using a specific recipe, but just decide while I'm cooking to make up a batch of muffins or a quick bread...I use the basic recipe I learned way back from Joy of Cooking (the 1975 ed., Irma Rombauer), then I add whatever veggie, nuts, fruits, etc.

              That recipe calls for 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) sugar to 1-3/4 cups flour.

              I usually cut the sugar for a plain, savory (say I use just herbs) dinner muffin to maybe two heaping tablespoons of sugar.

              If I'm using Balsamic and adding something sweet (examples--grated carrots; sweet apple varieties, chopped; raisins; dried cherries; maybe the juice & some rind from an orange, or a tablespoon of honey--thinks like that), I'd usually use two level tablespoons of sugar and two tablespoons of Balsamic.

              If I'm adding something neutral or tart (e.g., grated zucchini or cranberries, pumpkin or squash puree, tart chopped or grated apples, or chopped walnuts with the skins on), I'd generally use three level teaspoons of sugar plus the two tablespoons of Balsamic.

              So...general guidelines:

              Sweet additions: 2 level T. sugar; 2 T. Balsamic

              Neutral/tart additions: 3 level T. sugar; 2 T. Balsamic

              These are loose guidelines as the produce can vary, so I taste the batter. (I know, I know...I'm not supposed to do it, but I know the source of my eggs-local farmer--and I wash the eggs first--and it's really the only way I'm sure what the batter needs.)

              Also, if I have them on hand, I try to use three- or four-seal Balsamics for this. The one- or two-seal vinegars are okay, so I don't sweat it, if that's what I have, but the longer aged ones are just a bit more syrupy with less tangy aftertaste.

              And if you haven't seen it, Giada De Laurentiis has a recipe I really like for olive oil/Balsamic muffins:

              http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

              I've never had the almonds on hand for this, but I like the recipe a lot. The original recipe gives a light, fluffy texture, but a cup of sugar is just too much for me. I almost always cut the sugar back, to 3/4 cup or even 1/2, so the texture changes.

              I've used it in standard muffin tins; large (popover) tins; a 9" pie plate, to cut in wedges; and an ovenproof bowl (even Pyrex), so it (sort of) looks like a boule. I really like this bread with roast chicken or pork, something simple.

          2. Cooks Illustrated uses yogurt in banana bread and it's very moist. I've used low fat yogurt and it's good but not nearly as good as the full fat version. There are plenty of recipes that use yogurt/sour cream that it would be easier to use those than to do substitutions in recipes that don't. To make things healthier, I sometimes will use half applesauce for fat and half whole wheat flour for white flour. Like using low fat yogurt, the results are good but not nearly as good as using full fat and white flour. The CI banana bread is in this thread.

            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/352464

            1. Hee hee. This is great. More, more! Please throw in any salient thoughts, however tangential. This is an under-covered issue, IMO....

              1. JL, I prefer 0% fat greek yogurt in baked goods and sauces. Thick and rich without the fat and almost no water. I have sub'd greek yogurt in baking recipes in place of full fat yogurt, sour cream, milk, butter, half n half, light cream, plain soft cheese, buttermilk, frozen yogurt, cream cheese and whipped cream. And, I continue to try new ways to use it. For instance, creamy rice pudding with some of the yogurt sub'ing for the milk was very interesting but chocolate pudding was a big disappointment.

                6 Replies
                1. re: HillJ

                  In general, I think yogurt + chocolate makes for a weird combo -- yogurt is tangy and goes better with fruit or vanilla flavors. So I would add that as a caveat for baking -- yes to banana bread with yogurt, no to chocolate loaf with yogurt.

                  1. re: Pia

                    Pia, I enjoy frozen chocolate yogurt very much. Chocolate pudding using 0% greek yogurt just didn't have the right consistency. Like I said the rice pudding was delicious sub'ing dairy. I'll continue to experiment. 0% greek yogurt (there are several brands besides the ever popular Fage) have become my fav way to get calcium and replace higher fat dairy choices in many baking recipes. Thanks for posting the recipe maggie!

                    1. re: HillJ

                      Hill, we don't have a lot of variety in that regard in our supermarkets. But could you (or anyone) mention a few of the brands sold here in the US, so I can keep my eyes peeled? TY.

                      1. re: HillJ

                        I can buy Fage here in Indiana at our local food co-op, and at an international market.

                    2. re: HillJ

                      For a little treat, I like Greek yogurt with a little confectionary sugar and trail mix (fruited kind) mixed in.

                      In fact, I like it so much, I decided to use the yogurt mixed with enough of the confectionary sugar to sweeten it and give it more body, plus a little vanilla, as a layer cake filling. Maybe it wouldn't win any any baking contests, but we liked it. Two percent or regular are even creamier, but regular Greek yogurt is very high in fat and saturated fat, so I try to behave ;-). I think a cup of regular Fage equals nearly the daily allowance for saturated fat (or close).

                      Have you seen the recipes on the Fage site, btw? Here you go:

                      http://www.fageusa.com/recipes.html

                    3. I will preface this by saying I am no chemist... However:
                      In Pie in the Sky, Susan G. Purdy says buttermilk and yogurt are useful for high altitude baking due to their acidity: "The acidity of a cake batter is important at high altitudes because the more acidic the batter, the more quickly it will set up in the heat of the oven."
                      This leads me to wonder if you will encounter problems (or at least a different cooking time) if you substitute yogurt and thereby change the acidity of a batter.

                      1. You might want to check out "The Joy of Vegan Baking." I'm not a vegan, but I've been trying to make healthier baked goods. This book is pretty amazing, and all of the recipes I've tried so far have produced first-rate treats.

                        1. Check out an Indian recipe where there are no eggs or butter which have been replaced with Greek yogurt. Awesome.