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Although Greek yogurt is versatile and can be used as a substitute for many higher-fat, higher-calories ingredients, baking with Greek yogurt requires some care to achieve the best results. One of the most important aspects of baking with Greek yogurt in recipes that do not specifically call for it is to watch the amount of liquid being added to the batter or dough, because there is less liquid in Greek yogurt than in unstrained yogurt, milk and buttermilk. Another thing to consider when baking with Greek yogurt is how it will affect the texture of the final baked product, because the lack of a high-fat ingredient, such as oil or eggs, can cause the final cake, muffin or cookie to be overly dense and potentially rubbery. Even though Greek yogurt has less of a tendency to separate when cooked, the amount of heat that can be used when baking with Greek yogurt can force it to separate unless extra ingredients — such as egg whites or cornstarch — are added to counteract the effect.
Greek yogurt is made in a way similar to most other types of yogurt, except it is strained near the end of processing to create a thicker, less watery texture. This means recipes that call for ingredients such as sour cream, cream cheese, whipped cream or even certain types of soft cheeses can have Greek yogurt used as a substitution without any modification to the amounts used. In many cases, more traditional results from baking can be achieved if full-fat Greek yogurt is used, although some modifications to the recipes can mean that baking with Greek yogurt that is non-fat or low-fat also can work.
When baking with Greek yogurt in a recipe in which the yogurt is being used as a substitute for a liquid item, then attention has to be paid to the proportion of Greek yogurt that is added in relation to the original amount called for. The reduced amount of liquid in Greek yogurt by volume when compared to milk, buttermilk or cream can lead to a finished product that is dry or crumbly. To compensate, either more Greek yogurt should be added to the batter or, alternately, some amount of another type of wet ingredient — such as applesauce — can be added.
If Greek yogurt is being used to help cut down on the amount of fat in a recipe, then the texture of the final baked goods might be different than intended. Cakes, muffins and cookies can all become very dense and chewy if there is not enough fat in the dough or batter. Even if Greek yogurt is going to replace most of the fat in a recipe, some amount of the original fat — whether it is butter, oil or egg yolks — should be kept to help maintain the texture.
Baking with Greek yogurt can cause the yogurt to break and separate into curds and whey. This is because heat can cause the proteins in the yogurt to seize, shrink and pull apart from the liquid whey. One way to avoid this is to mix the Greek yogurt with something, such as egg whites or cornstarch, to stabilize the proteins before the yogurt is added to the rest of the ingredients.
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