Discovering Kidney Friendly Bakes

Discovering Kidney Friendly Bakes
Photo by American Heritage Chocolate / Unsplash

I remember when I first started the renal diet (low salt, low phosphate, low potassium), I felt completely closed off from food and it is something that I still struggle with today. However, much like a lot of other people during the pandemic, I re-discovered the use of the kitchen during the medical leave I took to recover from kidney failure and get used to home dialysis.

I first started baking during my medical leave as a way to fill in the time that I had between dialysis sessions each night. I wasn’t strong enough to go outside and as it was the height of the pandemic meeting other people was not an option and I had slowly completed everything worth watching on the streaming networks, a badge achieved by most dialysis patients in the first few months of their therapy I am sure.

Mistakes Were Made

Baking Raising Agents

Well I never professed myself as a professional dietician or baker but something I did not realise was that a lot of baking raising agents (baking power, bicarbonate soda, baking soda, cream of tartar, self raising flours) are all derivatives of phosphates! So they’re actually a big nono for dialysis patients struggling with their phosphate levels. Particularly as these raising agents are artificial phosphates which are very difficult for the body to remove without working kidneys, hence why we take our phosphate binders at meals! What I have learnt more recently is that the dialysis machine is actually not able to remove phosphates easily either so we are entirely reliant on the medication to remove it. A build of phosphates will lead to dry and itchy skin at night and it’s not pleasant!

So, although I never felt the direct effects of consuming my baked goods with raising agents, I have since felt a bit guilty eating anything with them in it. I tend to consume whatever I bake with raising agents in moderation and don’t indulge in ‘guilt-free’ servings anymore

My first baking ventures included Victoria Sponges, Classic Sponge Cakes, Scones, Cupcakes, and Cookies. All of which tend to use a dose of a raising agent.

Chocolate and Cocoa Powder

I will admit that I went into baking with chocolate and cocoa powder with eyes wide open as it is one of the big things that jumps at you in the renal diet pamphlet as something to eat in moderation. Unfortunately Chocolate and Cocoa Powder have the unlucky combination of being high in phosphate and potassium.

Although I am able to stomach my baked chocolate chip cookies. I am unable to stomach a lot of the brownies, chocolate cakes and chocolate puddings I have made. However, once in a while a small home made lava pudding is something I do treat myself to every now and then.

My Shining Discoveries

Once I realised I had to find bakes that did not have raising agents, it led me down a road of meringue based baking. This is where you use egg whites whipped into cloudlike structures to lift your baked goods!

Swiss Rolls

Photo by AM FL / Unsplash

An absolute favourite in my household and in my books too! The brilliance of this recipe is that it is low in sugar as well as does not require any raising agents. If you think about a swiss roll, it is typically a flat sponge rolled. The rise on the sponge is made either whipping egg whites and yolk separately or following a genoise method whipping whole eggs until tripled in size. The sponge is delicate and light and you do not feel like you are missing out on anything!

In terms of fillings, I do spread fresh flavoured whipped creams but I think because the phosphates are  dairy based our bodies have a better time processing it. Furthermore a thin layer goes far with a swiss roll as you spiral the cake and slice a serving you end up receiving a modest portion of everything.

An alternative structure is to slice the sponge into thirds and make a stacked cake. I find this an easy alteration to keep the variety going.

Genoise Sponges

Photo by Aneta Voborilova / Unsplash

A good compromise to a butter heavy sponge. I have made my birthday cakes using the genoise sponge base. By whipping whole eggs to triple their size, it is my go to quick bake as I don’t have to go through the faff of separating eggs in 3 bowls!


Photo by Luna Hu / Unsplash

Honestly, although they do not use any raising agent, I find these the most finicky and way too much butter for my liking. However, they make a nice little display and treat when guests come over as individual portions.

I shall keep you updated on any future discoveries in the baking department. However, at the moment I am very much on a Swiss Roll Rotation between different flavoured cream fillings, sponge colours and patterns!

Photo by Callum Hill / Unsplash


IGA Nephropathy confirmed at 21. Crashed into End Stage Renal Failure at 23. Now, I share with the world my 3 years lived experience on Home Peritoneal Dialysis and Post Transplant Living 10/10/2023