Most low-fat cakes are either gummy or dry, with two things in common--chemical additives and an unnatural taste. But low-fat cakes can be delicious, as these three recipes demonstrate. Each uses just enough butter and whole eggs to ensure good flavor and texture without going overboard. Healthy substitutes like low-fat buttermilk, egg whites, and fruit purees make up for what's missing.

The tender banana cake uses both ripe and overripe bananas. The chunky ripe one punches up the banana taste, while the pureed overripe ones add sweetness and moisture. Juicy pear and apple chunks and cranberries add texture and succulence to the fresh fruit cake. And for the chocolate cake, low-in-fat unsweetened cocoa delivers most of the flavor, with a small amount of chocolate stirred into the batter for richness.

For the final touch: replace gooey, buttery frostings with simple, pretty garnishes. Sprinkling a little granulated sugar on the batter before it goes in the oven gives a shiny finish to the top of any light-colored cake. Dust a dark cake with confectioners' sugar and cocoa after it's cooled; use a paper doily as a stencil for a fancier finish.

Each serving of any one of these cakes contains no more than 8 grams of fat (less than 12.5 percent of the recommended daily intake).