Flavored yogurts range in taste from subtle flavors to intense, highly sweetened varieties, but mild flavored options are the most versatile for baking. While plain yogurt is an even better choice, yogurt flavored with vanilla or lemon work well in many baked goods. For baking purposes, your best bet is to choose a thick yogurt with a mild flavor and very little added sugar. Use whole-milk yogurt, when possible, rather than low-fat varieties.
Making the Swap
Yogurt adds moisture and flavor to brownies, quick breads and cakes, creating a soft, fine crumb. Yogurt can be used as a substitute for butter, shortening, margarine or oil in baking. Substitute yogurt for butter, shortening or margarine at a rate of 1/2 cup yogurt for every cup of fat called for in the recipe. Substitute yogurt for oil at a rate of 3/4 cup yogurt for every cup of oil. For the best results, start slowly, replacing up to half of the fat in a recipe. If you're satisfied with the results, you can replace more of the fat with yogurt next time. Cookies made with yogurt tend to be soft and puffy, rather than crisp. Use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, or thin it down with some milk for a quick buttermilk replacement.
Vanilla yogurt has a mild, neutral flavor that pairs well with almost any baked good. When using other flavors, consider the ingredients in the baked good and choose accordingly. Lemon yogurt, for example, pairs well with raspberries, poppy seeds or blueberries in cakes and muffins. Use raspberry yogurt in a raspberry cheesecake, for instance, or add lime yogurt to a key lime pie.
When using flavored yogurt, another thing to consider is the added sugar. Plain yogurt contains only natural milk sugars, but flavored yogurt may have considerable amounts of added sugar. In baking, sugar has a tenderizing effect, creating soft, tender baked goods. Use too much, though, and your baked good may taste overly sweet or become too soft. Reduce the sugar by 2 to 3 tablespoons if you add flavored yogurt.
Once you've chosen a flavor, the next task is choosing the type of yogurt to use. Both Greek and regular yogurt can be used for baking, but they perform differently. Greek yogurt is thicker, drier and higher in protein than regular yogurt. It gives baked goods a fine, tender crumb and a slightly tangy flavor that balances the sweetness. Regular yogurt, in some cases, may actually toughen baked goods by adding too much liquid. Unless a recipe specifically calls for regular yogurt, use Greek yogurt instead.
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