Make some changes in baking routine

New ingredients add new flavors

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Apple cider doughnut cake is topped with a delicious mix of cinnamon and natural cane sugar, which gives it a nice, subtle crunch. Lisa Boykin Batts | Times
Apple cider doughnut cake is topped with a delicious mix of cinnamon and natural cane sugar, which gives it a nice, subtle crunch. Lisa Boykin Batts | Times

If I could, I would bake something new every day. When I’m reading a new cookbook or scrolling through Pinterest, my eye always stops at cookies dotted with chocolate chips, loaves of yeast breads baked to golden brown perfection, muffins filled with fruit and nuts and easy, quick breads I can whip up in no time with ingredients I have at home.

I love the familiarity of my favorite baked goods including often-requested recipes for banana nut bread, blueberry muffins and cinnamon swirl yeast bread. But I also love the chance to try something new. Really new.

“A New Way to Bake” from the Kitchens of Martha Stewart gives me the chance to experiment with different ingredients and try a few new tastes.

The cookbook’s premise is to offer “alternative ways to bake old favorites” using minimally processed grains, a variety of flours and natural sweeteners.

I’ve read through these recipes several times now and enjoy seeing the many alternative ways to bake. For instance, instead of picking up that familiar bag of white flour, these recipes give you the option of trying spelt flour, buckwheat, whole wheat and even chickpea flour.

The creativity factor in many recipes really intrigues me. For instance, I really want to try pecan, oat and dark chocolate chunk cookies. The vegan recipe does not use flour. Instead, the 2 cups of finely ground pecans act as the “flour.” And I’d love to try gluten-free fudgy pecan brownies made with plenty of chocolate, but no flour.

I had a hard time deciding what to make in this cookbook and debated zucchini and chocolate loaves as well as whole-grain pumpkin bread or spiced apple and oat scones before deciding on apple-cider doughnut cake.

This cake is made with natural cane sugar and extra-virgin oil instead of what I would normally use for a cake: granulated sugar and canola oil or butter. It also calls for a blend of all-purpose flour and whole-wheat flour. (I used white whole-wheat instead of whole-wheat because it’s what I had in my pantry.) Apple cider adds extra sweetness and flavor.

This is the first time I’ve baked with natural cane sugar, and I really liked it, not only for the taste but also the texture. After the cake has baked, melted butter is brushed on top along with a mixture of the sugar and cinnamon. I love the subtle crunch of the sugar I wouldn’t have gotten with granulated sugar.

We really enjoyed this delicious cake. It’s a simple dessert that’s really good with hot tea or coffee mid-morning! We didn’t need a whole cake, so I wrapped part of the cake in foil and stored in the freezer for a few weeks. I took it out last week and let it thaw. It was still delicious!

In addition to the recipes, this book has a few other features I really like, including a description of the ingredients used in the cookbook and the best way to use them. An extra index also breaks down recipes by dietary preference include vegan, nut-free, dairy-free and gluten-free.

I recommend this cookbook to any of you who like to bake and aren’t afraid to try something new, to break out of the expected. You can find it at the Wilson County Public Library or buy a copy for your own collection!

Apple Cider Doughnut Cake

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan*

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan

1 cup whole-wheat flour (I used white whole-wheat)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 3/4 cups natural cane sugar

1 cup pure apple cider

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3 large eggs, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, baking powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, baking soda and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups sugar, apple cider, olive oil, applesauce, vanilla and eggs. Add egg mixture to flour mixture; whisk until combined. Transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet; let cool 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together remaining 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.

Turn out warm cake onto rack. Brush with melted butter, then sprinkle liberally with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Let cool completely before serving. Cake can be stored, covered, at room temperature up to 2 days.

* I have trouble with cakes sticking to my Bundt pan, so I sprayed it with Baker’s Joy instead of using the melted butter because I was confident that would work for me, and it did. I wrapped about a third of the cake in foil and froze it for a few weeks; it was still delicious!

“A New Way To Bake”