Mothers worry. There are loads of kid concerns, but for many moms it’s their child’s diet that gnaws at them. If you grew up in an eat-your-vegetables home, you know what I mean.
The subject of healthful nutrition dogged my late mother. She read about it. She talked about it. And she insisted that her children abide by her eat-this-not-that rules.
She would have loved Martha Stewart’s newest book, “A New Way to Bake: Classic Recipes Updated with Better-for-You Ingredients from the Modern Pantry” (Clarkson Potter, $26). When Mom made something sweet, she wanted to use ingredients that contained something redeemable. I guess Martha is in that club, too. Today’s baking pantry includes much more than white flour, whole milk, butter and granulated sugar.
Baked goods in Stewart’s book incorporate flours milled from whole grains, including spelt, farro, oats and buckwheat. Nut flours and nut milks often play a role, as do natural sweeteners such as honey and maple syrup.
I’ve baked from the book and, so far, have found the recipes to be foolproof and delicious. Yes, finding some ingredients demanded a trip to Whole Foods or Mother’s Market. Happily, and somewhat surprisingly, I found the taste and texture that the alternative flours yielded to be luscious. Spelt flour, which can be easily substituted for white flour, added mild sweetness and a honeyed hue. Nut flours tackled gluten-free baking and added rich flavor while boosting protein content.
Quinoa flour lent a rich, nutty flavor. Shira Bocar, food and entertaining editor at large for Martha Stewart Living, said quinoa flour offers an almost sesame-like taste to baked goods, adding that it doesn’t contain gluten, so in creating the recipes, they paired it with all-purpose flour for structure. She recommended storing all whole-grain flours (nuts and seeds, too) in the fridge or freezer.
I was impressed that every treat was just sweet enough, nothing so sweet it made my molars quiver. According to Bocar, honey is sweeter than sugar, so she generally uses less of it when baking. She advises that home bakers swap honey or maple syrup into simple baked goods like muffins and quick breads with a few adjustments. One, start with 3/4 cup honey or maple syrup for 1 cup of sugar. Two, reduce the liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup for every cup of honey or maple syrup used. Three, reduce oven temperature by 25 degrees because honey and maple syrup can cause baked goods to darken faster.
Turn the tables on Mom and bake her something scrumptious for Mother’s Day. Here are my favorite recipes from the book.
The chocolate beet cake is my new go-to chocolate cake. Pureed steamed beets…