Posted by


July 23, 2015

These recipes has been taken from Guilt-Free Baking by Gee Charman.

A sin-free way to lighten up your day

Well, not if they are traditional tarts and pies. The battle over pastry has always been well fought among dieters. Pastry is full of fat and has barely an iota of goodness in it. The problem is that it tastes great and some of our best-known desserts and baked treats are surrounded by it.
Apple pie was a signature dish of my grandmother and her pastry was so short, it melted in your mouth. But when you watched her make it you could see why – butter, and lots of it. My solution is to use ricotta cheese instead in pastry for pies and tarts, which reduces the fat and gives beautifully crispy results.

Cherry Bakewell Tart

Per serving:
Fat 4.4g (of which saturates 1.75g)
Calories 152kcal
Preparation time: 25 minutes, plus 10
minutes chilling
Cooking time: 50 minutes


For the low-fat shortcrust pastry: low-calorie cooking oil spray, for greasing; 150g/5½oz/1¼ cups plain flour, plus extra for dusting; 30g/1oz butter, chilled; 1 tbsp caster sugar; 3 tbsp ricotta cheese; 1 egg white.
For the cherry filling & almond topping: 1 tbsp cherry or raspberry jam; 200g/7oz/heaped 1½ cups pitted cherries, halved; 30g/1oz/¼ cup ground almonds; 50g/1¾oz/⅓ cup fine polenta; 2 tbsp plain flour; 50g/1¾oz/scant ¼ cup caster sugar; 2 eggs; 150g/5½oz/scant ⅔ cup fat-free natural yogurt; 1 tsp almond extract.
For the icing: 1 tbsp icing sugar, sifted; 2 days 1 month

I can hear the people of Bakewell shouting from here. I know it’s not a classic Bakewell tart but when you guys come up with such a great recipe, those of us watching the calories still want to enjoy it. It works equally well with raspberries, plum halves, blueberries or blackberries.

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and lightly oil a 20cm/8in deep, fluted non-stick tart tin with a little low-calorie cooking oil spray.
  • To make the pastry, put the flour in a large bowl, then rub in the butter, using your fingertips, until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar, then use a fork to mix in the ricotta and gently blend to a smooth dough, adding up to 1 tablespoon water, if necessary, a drop at a time, to bind the ingredients together. Cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to 3mm/⅛in thick. Use to line the base and sides of the prepared tin. Carefully push the pastry into the flutes of the tin, leaving any overhanging pastry attached. Line the pastry with baking paper and cover with baking beans. Bake for 12 minutes, then remove the paper and beans. Brush the base and sides of the pastry with a little egg white, then bake for a further 10 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and use a serrated knife to trim off any excess pastry.
  • Spread the jam over the base of the tart, then sprinkle over the cherry halves. Mix together the ground almonds, polenta, flour and caster sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt
    and almond extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix together well. Spoon evenly over the cherries. Bake for 20 minutes until just set with a slight wobble in the centre. Cool in the tin.
  • Meanwhile, put the icing sugar in a small bowl and add about 1 teaspoon water, a drop at a time, stirring vigorously until you have a thick paste that just runs off a spoon. Drizzle in lines across the tart, then leave to set for 5 minutes before serving.

Pear & Blackberry Pie

Per serving:
Fat 3g (of which saturates 1.75g)
Calories 115kcal
Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus
30 minutes chilling
Cooking time: 30 minutes

For the ricotta pastry: 150g/5½oz/1¼ cups plain flour, plus extra for dusting; 30g/1oz butter; 1 tbsp caster sugar; 3 tbsp ricotta cheese; grated zest of 1 orange.
For the pear & blackberry filling: 4 pears; 250g/9oz/2 cups blackberries; 1 tbsp cornflour; 1 tbsp agave syrup; 1 tbsp dried semolina or couscous (bear with me!); 1 egg, beaten; 1 tbsp clear honey; juice of 1 orange

I can generally eat a dish in a restaurant or café and get home and recreate it – it’s habit and a skill most chefs pick up. But I just cannot make an apple pie like my grandmother. It’s not human nature to admit our shortcomings but this is mine – I can’t do it. So I have given up and I now make other pies instead. This one is my favourite and – though I say so myself – it is blinking good!

  • To make the pastry, put the flour in a large bowl, then rub in the butter, using your fingertips, until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar, then use a fork to break the ricotta into the mix. Add the orange zest, then gradually add about 1 tablespoon water, a drop at a time, and mix to a dough. Add the water very gradually as all flours absorb different amounts of water. Roll the pastry into a ball and flatten to a patty, then wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • While the pastry is chilling, peel, core and slice the pears. Put them in a bowl with the blackberries.
    Dust with the cornflour and toss everything together, then drizzle over the agave syrup and
    mix once more.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and line a baking tray with baking paper.
    Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 30cm/12in circle and put it on the prepared baking tray. Scatter the base of the pastry with the semolina – this will help absorb any juices and prevent the pastry from having a soggy base. Pile the fruit in the centre of the pastry and bring the sides of the pastry up around the fruit. This doesn’t have to be neat – you want it to look rustic. If the pastry does crack, just patch it up. Brush the outside of the pastry with a little beaten egg.
  • Bake for 30 minutes until the fruit has softened but has not gone mushy and the pastry is cooked and golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
    Meanwhile, put the honey and orange juice in a small saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 2 minutes until syrupy. Brush this over the cooked pie before serving.


Gee Charman
Guilt-Free Baking
Available from Nourish in August 2015



Sign up for our newsletter to get our new articles straight to your inbox every month.