Two bakers push their goodies into the fat-free zone


To make sure consumers can have their cake and diet too, major baking companies are offering fat-reduced or even fat-free baked goods.

Faring well in an informal taste test were Entenmann's new fat-free products, expanding upon the cholesterol-free line that the company introduced two years ago.

Entenmann's says it uses non-fat milk and egg whites in this line of 15 baked goods, which range from $2.59 to $3.29. Packaging includes nutrition labeling but doesn't give diet exchanges (a breakdown of nutrition contents for use in diabetic eating and weight-loss programs).

Each serving has fewer than 100 calories; but the servings are rather small.

We tasted the Chocolate Loaf Cake and the Raspberry Twist. Some of our tasters complained of a strange taste in the loaf cake ("aspirin" is how one described it), but, overall, most people liked the taste. And the Raspberry Twist was a big hit, with tasters describing it as "rich" and "flavorful."

Also entering the fat-free fray is Sara Lee, maker of frozen baked goods. Its Free & Light line features goodies such as Blueberry Muffins, Apple Streusel Pie, Pound Cake, Cherry Streusel Pie, Chocolate Cake, Strawberry Yogurt Dessert and Apple Danish. All are at least 98 percent fat free with a third fewer calories than conventional versions. They range from $2.59 to $3.29.

The labeling includes calories, fat, what percentage of calories comes from fat, cholesterol and sodium. It also includes diet exchanges for people on weight-watching programs.

In general, our tasters thought the Sara Lee products weren't bad, but they were a far cry from the conventional versions. The Chocolate Cake, tasting artificial, had a pudding-like texture. The Pound Cake had good flavor, but was dry. The Apple Danish was more like a cake than a true danish. The pie crusts, in particular, left a lot to be desired.

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