Having recently relocated to San Antonio and finding a lack of bakeries, I purchased a Cuisinart convection breadmaker. Although the Cuisinart CBK-200 comes with a decent set of recipes, many are laden with fat (with 30% or more of calories coming from added oil, butter, nuts, etc.) and sugars. I try to eliminate oils, fats, sugar and salt from my diet, so I was looking for a healthier alternative to home breadmaking.
Enter The Best Low-Fat, No-Sugar Bread Machine Cookbook. Added fats have been replaced by lean, fruit- and veggie-based alternatives such as unsweetened apple butter, applesauce, minced prunes, and mashed sweet and white potatoes. Sugars such as molasses and honey are replaced by dried fruits (raisins, currants, cherries). Sun-dried tomatoes, zucchini, corn, carrots, kale, and onions are among the many veggies that make a guest appearance.
Although I was doubtful that these healthy, lean (less than 5% calories from fat) breads would be tasty, I have tried three loaves thus far and all were sensational. My first loaf was the Butternut Squash and Balsamic Vinegar loaf (page 51). I substituted canned pumpkin for the squash and dried cherries for the raisins, and the loaf was pleasantly sweet, with an orange color but not an overwhelmingly pumpkin-y taste.
My second loaf was a breakfast bread (Oat and Raisin Bread, page 35). Although I only made a one-pound loaf, the bread was so light and airy that it was nearly as big as a large loaf. Both the Butternut Squash and Oat and Raisin bread are delicious toasted in the morning.
My third loaf was made to accompany soups: lentil bread, with a hearty helping of cooked lentils and Mediterranean flavors courtesy of sage and sea salt. Denser than the first two breads I baked, the lentil bread is a savory, hearty accompaniment to soups and sandwiches.
Although one reviewer mentioned a disasterous loaf of zucchini bread, I am brand new to breadmaking (my first loaf ever was from this cookbook) and have had nothing but success. It’s important to add ingredients in the order recommended by your breadmaker: usually liquids first (at room temperature, except for water, which should be between 80-90 degrees), then flours and seasonings, and finally the yeast. The directions are straightforward and easy to follow. Several breads require finishing in the oven (low-fat challah, whole wheat baguettes, pitas). Besides low-fat, no sugar added recipes, the book also includes a chapter on salt-free breads (but not gluten-free).
The Best Low-Fat, No-Sugar Bread Machine Cookbook Ever truly lives up to its name. Although over ten years old, the recipes work beautifully with my brand new, circa 2006 bread machine. Thankfully, the ingredients are fairly common, with some alternative grains and flours (amaranth, quinoa, barley, rye) called for to add variety. I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves bread but is looking to lighten up on refined sugars, oils, and salt; these recipes offer all of the taste with none of the guilt.