Baking is an art. Evidence of baking dates back as early as 5600 BC, and since then we have been working to perfect the art. There are certain laws which must be obeyed to achieve a desirable taste and texture. Baking with protein powder tampers with, and sometime outright breaks these laws. Therefore, new laws must be written to account for this evolution of healthy baking.
Use of different flours, sweeteners, and other creative ingredient additions also changes the game. I am discovering these laws as I experience them, through trial and error. I can’t rewrite the entire evolution of baking in a day, but here is what I’ve found so far.
TWO TYPES OF PROTEIN BAKING
There are two distinct types of protein baking:
In re-creative protein baking, the goal is to replicate as closely as possible the taste, texture, and look of a traditional recipe. You use a traditional recipe as your guide, and swap out and adjust ingredients to make a protein version. In creative protein baking, you throw caution to the wind and create a recipe totally from scratch, with a goal of optimal healthiness. I do both and their are pros and cons to each.
With re-creative baking, there is more structure – and a protein baking formula as such. There is less chance of failure, and your goodies with usually closely resemble the traditional treats you crave. Your friends and family will be more likely to try, and enjoy them as well. You will have created a sugar-free, lower carb, and higher protein version of your favorite baked good. Success! The drawbacks however are that you will still usually be using a gluten-based white flour, and your creation will still be devoid of micronutrients and fiber.
The opposite side of this coin is creative protein baking. This eliminates white flour, and incorporates the use of fiber and nutrient rich (and gluten free) grains, flours, beans, veggies, fruits, nut butters and milks, dairy, and super-foods. The results can be delicious, but there is a bit more risk and experimentation involved since there is no traditional baking formula to follow and adjust.
The goal with creative protein baking is to find innovative ways to incorporate protein AND nutrient dense ingredients that promote optimal health, and to bake them into a treat that you enjoy. The easiest and most forgiving thing to start experimenting with is muffins, so this is a great place to start. Slowly I am gaining ground in other areas as well though, so stay tuned!
Whichever style of protein baking suits yours best, here are some things to keep in mind to make sure your goodies are a success.
MY TOP PROTEIN BAKING SUCCESS TIPS
- Protein powder absorbs more moisture than flour, therefore, extra moisture in the form of pureed fruit/veg, yogurt, or milk (dairy or nut/soy/coconut varieties) needs to be added. Erythritol also draws more moisture than sugar, so again extra moisture.
- Protein powder almost always needs to be used in combination with some type of flour in baked goods. Too much protein powder, or not enough flour equals a dense rubbery mess. I usually aim for a 50/50 ratio.
- Fat is your friend. You’re already replacing some of the flour with protein powder, and all of the sugar with sweeteners. If you try to reduce/replace the fat by more than 1/3 of the traditional recipe, you will get either cardboard or mush.
- Baking times will usually be less than for traditional baked goods. This is especially true for the more dense/fat based recipes (e.g. cookies, cheesecakes, brownies), and less so for the lighter fluffier ones (muffins, cupcakes, donuts – quick breads of any kind).
- For those light fluffy textured goodies mentioned above, you may want to bake them at a slightly lower temperature, and for a bit longer to ensure that they don’t cook on the outside before they finish cooking on the outside.
- Don’t put pure erythritol on the outside of your food (e.i. sprinkled on the tops of cookies, coating a donut etc). Erythritol has a “cooling effect” that is not really noticeable baked inside of your food, but when it directly hits your taste-buds it feels kind of like a minty aftertaste. So cut the erythritol with a bit of regular sugar. A gram or two won’t kill you, and it’ll be worth it.
- Mix well. (Especially for cookies, as the dough will be be very flakey and temper-mental otherwise) Protein powder is not as fine as wheat flour, erythritol is not as fine or dissolvable as sugar, so they may need a little extra help to mix. Also, use room temperature ingredients when possible, as they will help everything blend easier and avoid clumps. Sometime I’ll even throw a muffin or cake mix in a blender or magic bullet to make sure the mixture is smooth.
- Protein goodies dry out faster than regular baked goods. Most are best eaten within 2-4 days, and a lot of them them can be frozen and eaten later.