Whether you're a caker, baker or sugarcraft creator, it can be almost impossible to stick to a healthy diet when you live and breathe everything that is deliciously naughty! We at CD&S feel your pain, so have been looking into how you can have cakes and keep them healthy. Whether you're looking for plain yoghurt icing or want to jazz things up a bit with chocolate yoghurt icing, we've got you covered!
Health benefits of yoghurt
We've all seen the lovely adverts of pretty women wearing white and blue, sitting at a bay window and delicately eating a tiny spoonful of yoghurt (without getting any on their clothes - how?!) with a lovely message about 'probiotics' overhead. But in between scoffing at the unrealistic expectations of eating yoghurt in such a manner, have you ever wondered what 'probiotics' actually means? As we've all become well aware of in recent years, the health benefits of eating yoghurt are pretty unbelievable. Here's just a few ways having yoghurt as part of your daily diet can be so good for you:
Yoghurt is full of calcium, which is essential for keeping important parts of our bodies, especially bones and teeth, strong and healthy. You can't live without good sources of calcium - so why not get it from yoghurt? Just 230g of yoghurt provides 49% of your daily recommended calcium intake. Your heart, muscles and nerves also need calcium to function properly, so getting that daily recommended intake of calcium is pretty important. The same amount of yoghurt also provides 38% of your daily phosphorus, 12% of your magnesium and 18% of your potassium requirements. These minerals are necessary for regulating blood pressure, metabolism and bone health (it may even help protect against osteoporosis) and can even strengthen the immune system, so just a little yoghurt a day can really help your body!
B vitamins are high in yoghurt and they are important for making sure the body's cells are functioning properly. They help your metabolism, create new blood cells and maintain healthy skin, brain cells, and other body tissues. Especially important vitamins in yoghurt are vitamin B12 and riboflavin, both of which may protect against heart disease.
There's a surprising amount of protein in yoghurt, which helps support your metabolism to burn more calories throughout the day. If you're looking to shift a few pounds too, protein is important for appetite regulation, as it actually increases the production of hormones that tell your body that you're full. So, yoghurt can actually reduce the number of calories you consume overall without you even noticing! If you want to get the most amount of protein from your yoghurt, go for the thicker, Greek yoghurts, as these are naturally higher in protein.
Probiotics are live bacteria (good ones!) that can help balance and regulate your digestive health. Not all yoghurts contain probiotics, so if you do want to give this type a go, look out for ones that say on the label (sometimes they will say 'live cultures' or 'active cultures'). If you suffer from IBS, studies have shown that eating probiotic yoghurts can decrease painful symptoms and reduce bloating. Probiotics have even been shown to reduce inflammation, which is linked to health conditions from viral infections to gut disorders, so they're great for your immune system!
Make your own yoghurt
This might sound a little out there, but if you want to go the whole way and make your own yoghurt from scratch, you can! The most difficult element of this to get your hands on is the 'live cultures'. This is the good bacteria we were talking about before, which will turn plain milk into tangy, delicious yoghurt. You can purchase freeze-dried yoghurt culture starter kits from most good health food shops. Do some research online or ring your nearest health shops for extra advice.
Freeze-dried bacteria culture starter
Milk (higher fat content = thicker yoghurt)
Wide‑mouthed vacuum flask (pre-warm)
Two (at least) jars
It's key that you read the instructions that come with your culture starter to check exactly how much to mix with what quantity of milk. These are all different so you will need to follow your kit's instructions for precise measurements.
- Pour milk into a saucepan and heat gently to 85C, stirring occasionally.
- Once up to temperature, leave it to cool to about 46C. This process is vital to helping thicken up the final yoghurt product.
- Now stir in your cultures, using the amount specified on your starter kit.
- Before the mixture cools, pour it into your warmed vacuum flask and screw the lid down nice and tight.
- Leave for at least 8 hours. Leave it for even longer if you like your yoghurt thicker with a stronger taste.
- Give it a sniff. There's a fine balance with using cultures to make your own yoghurt, so if it smells 'off' you will need to throw it away and start again. If it smells like yoghurt, then congratulations! Pour into jam jars, keep the lids tightly closed and store in the fridge as you would with normal shop-bought yoghurt.
Once you've made your first successful batch of yoghurt, you can save a little as a 'starter' for next time you make your own and save yourself from buying more freeze-dried cultures. Just be sure to replace your homemade starter yoghurt each time you make a new batch, as the flavour and strength of the starter yoghurt will fade over time.
Greek yoghurt icing recipe
Now you know WHY yoghurt is good for you and even how to make it, here's how to use it to its tastiest potential!
80g cream cheese
55g plain Greek yoghurt
5 tbsp icing sugar (or sweetener)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Blend all of the ingredients together until they are completely smooth! This yoghurt icing can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 days. This recipe only makes a small amount, so if you want to make more go right ahead, just increase the ingredient amounts and keep them consistent!
If you're using yoghurt icing to frost cakes/biscuits etc., it's best to use it immediately. Check out our article on How To Pipe Cupcakes to the Perfect Finish to learn the best ways to ice your cupcakes!
If you're looking to do this dairy free then you can easily adapt this recipe! Simply trade out cream cheese for vegan cream cheese and use dairy-free yoghurt and you're good to go!
Greek yoghurt glaze recipe
This is an even healthier version of the yoghurt icing recipe above, with less fat but still looks and tastes great!
250g Greek yoghurt
60g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
As above, simply mix all the ingredients together until you have a smooth glaze. With this yoghurt icing recipe, it's best put the mixture in the fridge for a good half an hour before you use it to ice any cakes and bakes. This allows it to set a little, which makes it easier to control whilst still leaving a gorgeously shiny glaze.
Chocolate yoghurt icing recipe
While this isn't quite as healthy as plain yoghurt icing, you can make it healthier/naughtier depending on the type of chocolate you use and whether you add extra butter, sugar, etc. We're giving you the healthiest version... then a naughtier version!
Remember that these chocolate yoghurt icing recipes can be made dairy free as well if you like, simply swap out any dairy containing ingredients for dairy free versions.
Healthier chocolate yoghurt icing recipe
50g cocoa powder
2-3 tbsp honey (or golden syrup for vegan frosting)
60g Greek yoghurt
Mix all of the ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl until smooth, thick and creamy.
Naughty chocolate yoghurt icing
113g very dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
360g icing sugar
75g Greek yoghurt
- Melt chocolate and butter in a small saucepan.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat once the chocolate and butter have melted and combined and pour into a mixing bowl.
- Add icing sugar and Greek yogurt, then mix at a low speed until smooth. Gradually increase your speed (either by hand or machine) and beat until thickened.
- Place the bowl in the fridge for about 10 minutes to cool and thicken up even more, then ice away!
Flavoured yoghurt icing recipes
In this golden age of delicious flavours left, right and centre, you can create some truly gorgeous yoghurt icing flavours. You can either use yoghurts that are already flavoured, or throw your own flavours in. OR, go crazy and do both!
Here's just a few of the CD&S team's favourite flavours to use in our yoghurt icing recipes...
This one's pretty obvious, but you can add all kinds of different types of vanilla flavourings and get totally different results, depending on what you use. While it's a little pricey, using proper vanilla pods will give you great vanilla flavour without changing your yoghurt icing's texture. For a slightly cheaper alternative, you can get vanilla bean paste from most large supermarkets, however this may change the colour of your icing, so add with caution! Don't forget, there's plenty of vanilla-flavoured yoghurts out there you can add flavour to and give yourself a head start.
Why not use a thick vanilla yoghurt icing with our beautiful Blackberry and Pistachio Meringues instead of whipped cream to add some extra indulgence without such a high fat content?
Most berries will have some kind of seeds in them, so make sure to crush them up and strain them so they're as smooth as possible. Make yourself a basic fruit compote from strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries etc. and add to a basic Greek yoghurt icing recipe. Simple! Just avoid cooking the fruits down as this will create a lot of excess liquid that can alter the consistency of your icing. You can always add pre-made jam or marmalade if you're short on time.
If you do create a delicious berry-infused yoghurt icing, try using it to top our Tangy Lemon Polenta Cake. Most berries pair beautifully with citrus, so berry icing of any kind will complement this tangy cake recipe (that's also gluten-free!) perfectly.
This is a pretty easy one to do - many yoghurts already come flavoured with honey and, if you're using honey already to flavour your yoghurt icing, using a deliciously creamy honey-infused Greek yoghurt as the basis of your icing will create the most luscious, moorish and rich-tasting icing with less guilt than you would expect!
Honey pairs with almost anything, so why not serve it with our Vegan Raspberry, Coconut and Banana Loaf? This honey-flavoured icing will perfectly complement and balance all the beautiful flavours in this vegan cake recipe.
This can add a lovely tang to your icing, but use it with caution as yoghurt icing will naturally be sharper than regular icing. Lemon yoghurt is very easy to get hold of, so simply add some lemon zest to your icing mixture for the perfect tangy yoghurt icing. If you've got lemon curd around then that can be great to help balance the sharpness/sweetness flavour profile of your yoghurt icing and keep it lovely and thick.
Try using lemon icing to fancy up our Blueberry Buckwheat Crepes. You may find it works best to make a yoghurt glaze rather than super thick icing, or just go the whole hog!
Oh yes, coffee really does go with anything and everything! Have you seen all of the new coffee-flavoured yoghurts coming out? Our favourite has got to be the Muller Light Skinny Latte flavour yoghurt (not a promotion, we just love it!). So why not try this as a basis for your yoghurt icing recipe? This will help ensure you don't have to add too much extra coffee to get the flavour, as it's difficult to add coffee without either making your mixture too runny or, if you're using plain granules, bitty and crunchy in all the wrong ways. You could always use coffee-flavour yoghurt in your chocolate yoghurt icing too and make yourself a gorgeously rich mocha topping to blow everyone's minds!
Why not use coffee-flavoured icing to top our Squidgy Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Recipe instead of plain chocolate? We're not saying the cake itself is healthy, but changing the topping certainly helps make it a little less naughty and a whole lot more delicious!
We've given apple its own special place because you can do so much with it in yoghurt icing. Now this is one fruit we do recommend you stew right down in water, but make sure you drain it thoroughly so you're left with a good, thick puree and not a watery apple-flavoured puddle! Stir it into your basic yoghurt icing mix and with a sprinkle of cinnamon and you've got yourself a gorgeous autumnal apple pie-inspired yoghurt icing.
Why not use it to replace the naughty buttercream in our Spiced Apple Cupcake Recipe and create a delicious and healthy alternative?
How can you resist a gorgeous mango or pineapple-flavoured anything? Simple, you can't! So make the most of the tasty tropical fruits on offer in supermarkets or on the market and add them to your yoghurt icing. Puree and strain to remove excess liquid (especially with pineapples - they are very wet fruits!) and mix straight into your base yoghurt icing or glaze recipe.
Go totally tropical and healthy too by swapping out the buttercream in this Passion Fruit and Vanilla Cupcake Recipe with passion fruit (or any tropical fruit!) yoghurt icing instead.
What's great about flavouring yoghurt is you don't always need a huge amount of flavouring to give it the taste you want. This works really well with floral flavours, so why not try adding lavender, rose, jasmine or lilac for an elegant, delicately-balanced yoghurt icing? Florals are a great healthy flavour option too, as you won't find many calories in dried petals!
Add a little hibiscus to your basic yoghurt glaze recipe instead of to the main cake mixture in our Orange and Hibiscus Madeleine Recipe and drizzle across your finished madeleines for the perfect afternoon tea treat.
We know alcohol isn't exactly healthy, but it's all in moderation! Why not jump on the gin and tonic trend and try a little gin liqueur in your yoghurt icing? Liqueur works better than plain spirit as it's generally a little thicker and has more flavour. Maybe try a little splash of Irish Cream to make your yoghurt icing even more indulgent (and naughty, but we won't tell if you don't!).
Try adding a brandy liqueur to your thick basic yoghurt icing recipe and topping your Christmas Cake with it for a healthier twist on brandy butter that's just as delicious!
Who knew you could do so much with something as simple as yoghurt? A basic yoghurt icing recipe will help start off any flavoured yoghurt icing you like. Plus, knowing how to make chocolate yoghurt icing too can give you a whole extra flavour profile to play with. The possibilities truly are endless!
For more information on making your cakes and bakes healthier, be sure to check out Our Top Healthy Cake and Bake Picks for 2020 and see how much fun you can have while getting healthier this year!