baking, biscuits, cane sugar, chocolate, coconut sugar, cookies, eggless, gluten-free, healthy baking, liquid jaggery, vegan, vegan baking

The Sounds of the Night and Eggless Gluten-Free Ragi Amaranth Chocolate Biscuits ( Vegan version also)

13606662_983472168433767_6897550753612608363_n.jpg
It’s 3 weeks since we welcomed our second baby into this world – our little girl.
As it is with newborns – the erratic pattern that sets in with their arrival , seems to be overwhelming at first. You start taking it a day at a time. Then you tell yourself that as a second time mom you are seasoned and will handle it with ease.  Much to your shock you realize that each baby is different ( yes, everyone might say it to you but it’s only when it happens that you realize it )  and while you might be able to handle it a bit better, you still tend to struggle with a lot of the basics.
Then you calm yourself down.  Your mind makes the effort to find the high points in seemingly crazy days that flow so rapidly and fluidly into each other, that you stop seeing the calendar.
I have found those moments of re-connecting with the positive elements around me, in the middle of the nights that I am spending awake. Since those times always seems to go by slowly  in order to bring some calmness to one’s tired soul I have rediscovered the sounds and sights of the night – the sky at 3 AM, the moth flitting under the dim night lamp , the rotating fan’s monotonous and comforting sound, the slight drizzle that falls on the road beyond the curtains, the occasional dog barking up a storm, the quiet breathing of my other child sleeping.  Nothing can break that rhythm of the night sounds – and that is the peace that every new mother clings to, as she remains awake with her newborn baby and manages a slight smile.
The darkness of the night always reminds me of one of the flours I discovered when I moved to Bangalore 5 years ago – Ragi. Apart from being highly nutritious, I realized that being a naturally gluten-free flour it lends itself to so many recipes. So I tried using it along with Amaranth seeds in a biscuit recipe. And these beautifully flavoursome bites emerged as a result of the experiment.
Gluten-Free Eggless Ragi Amaranth Chocolate Biscuits

1 cup organic ragi flour

½ cup amaranth seeds

½ cup organic cane or coconut sugar

100 gms unsalted butter ( for vegan version use peanut / apple butter or oil – texture will change)

2 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tbsp organic liquid jaggery

Add the dry ingredients together and whisk them well. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients and add the liquid jaggery. Mix well and keep in the fridge overnight after cling wrapping.

Shape them into cookies, place them onto a greased tray and bake at 170 degrees C for 20 minutes, in a preheated oven.

 

almond, baking, butter-free, cake, cane sugar, chocolate, eggless, healthy baking, wholewheat

Uncharted adventures, not milestones..and a Wholewheat Eggless, Butter-free Chocolate Almond Cake

This is not a regular Mother’s Day post – I am using this post to simply share my thoughts again – thoughts that I shared when my son ( and I !) turned 6 months old.
More than anything else – what is exactly the same as I re-read this piece from May 2013, is that my little boy is still an adventurer and his mother is still discovering the little joys of uncharted adventures, not milestones !
KD2
From May 2013
“We both turned 6 months old recently, my son…and it surely has been an adventure – from that night of 18th November when you decided to give us indications of your arrival up until now at 11.30 PM when I am sitting and writing this, as you suddenly discover that you want to play with the rattle into the midnight!  Right from that moment I should have known that my baby was an adventurer at heart !

As a mother, let me share with you that it has been a very crazy yet happy half-year: filled with many worried nights, many days of undiluted joy, lots of second guessing myself as a mother and frustrations, of trying to weigh mother’s instinct against experience and expertise, of trying to wonder how does one need to behave when one becomes a mother..but most definitely a half-year with not a single dull moment in it.

But you know what – Thank you for being patient and waiting for me to grow into my role as your Mom…sometimes

I look at you and it seems to me that you understand what I say, you understand when I say I have two other babies –Gunna Masi and Elsu, and smile back. You understand when I say I won’t pamper you silly, but that doesn’t make me love you any less.

Most importantly you understand that seeing how you do on well-defined milestones is not for your mother, for they seem like a checklist to tick on….it is the uncharted adventures that are for me…

Like our first flight together alone means more than when you first rolled over, or our first road trip, our first visit to the children’s home, how you and Elsa started growing comfortable with each other’s presence or even our daily debates about why sleeping in the night takes precedence over playing away!

So here’s not to more milestones…but to more ADVENTURES, my son ! The adventurous journey that started when I became a mother..”

 

Sharing a recipe that marks the first break that I am taking from baking on order, as the Chief Baker of Ovenderful, ever since it started in November 2013.

Wholewheat Butter-free Egg-Free Chocolate Almond Cake 

IMG_5994

Ingredients

1 cup wholewheat flour

3/4 cup cane sugar

½ cup curd

½ cup milk

½ cup boiling water

¼ cup any flavourless oil that is safe for baking

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder ( use great quality cocoa powder, it makes a world of difference)

¾ teaspoon baking powder

4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate chunks

1/2 cup chopped almonds and some additional for topping the cake with

Method

Grease and dust an 7/8 inch round cake tin. I used a springform one, but it is not necessary to use only that one. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.

Sift together the wholewheat flour, cocoa powder, baking powder .

Beat the curd, cane sugar, oil and milk. Add vanilla extract and mix well.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to wet ones and mix well.

Slowly add boiling water and mix well ( just use a whisk, no need to beat it) to get a smooth batter. Add the chopped almonds and dark chocolate chunks, fold them into the batter gently. Pour in the baking tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

Let it cool off entirely before you remove it from the tin.

baking, cake, cane sugar, healthy baking, strawberry, wholewheat

Scaling up a venture & Wholewheat Chocolate Strawberry-Apricot Cake

final

How did you start your “venture” ? If you are a little bit like me, which means someone who takes it slow and steady ( and focuses on the l0w-investment channels !)  then its likely you might have followed the arduous route of trying whatever little you understood of social media marketing. That would mean – the FB page and groups to start with. Perhaps some more channels like Twitter, Instagram and so on.

In my case, because of healthy baking being a new concept, many people came to try out things because of dietary constraints or food preferences, but a lot of them came out of curiosity. How can you possibly bake a cake with atta ( wholewheat!) – it has got to taste like chapatti 🙂 graduated to “But isn’t white sugar essential at least for the growing children”?” and shifted to the incredulous “Your cake doesn’t contain butter, how can it taste delicious?”

Well, eventually came the slow acceptance of the use of healthy alternatives in baking. Ovenderful started becoming popular – which resulted in the next dreaded step….how does one scale up?

Don’t get me wrong – I am fairly ambitious and result-oriented, perhaps more so than most individuals. But drawing up a roadmap for a client, was far easier when I was in a consulting role, than for my own social enterprise.

But it was a challenge I was ready for and so after 3 years of turning Ovenderful into a venture, thanks to a friend’s  persistence and thought process, I am happy to share the website that you can use should you like to order any of the standardized healthy bakes. For customized orders, you can email as always to ovenderful@gmail.com !

Website for orders – http://ovenderful.in/

And to thank him, I made this super yum and simple Wholewheat Chocolate Strawberry-Apricot Cake 🙂

  • 4 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
  • 1 cup Boiling Water
  • 2 cups Wholewheat Flour
  • 100 gms butter or 1/2 cup of Oil
  • 2 cups Cane Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Strawberries chopped as much as you want
  • Dried apricots sliced into small pieces

Method –

Melt the butter in a pan and add cocoa. Then add the boiling water and mix well. Mix the flour, baking powder and sugar. Slowly add the butter-cocoa mix, and then fold in the extract.

Mix the eggs and buttermilk well. Add this to the above mix and fold in well. Do not over-beat. Add the chopped strawberries and apricots to the mix, pour into the greased baking tins and bake in a preheated oven at 160 degrees Celsius for 30-35 minutes until its baked through.

 

 

 

 

 

almond, baking, biscuits, cane sugar, cookies, healthy baking, jowar, Uncategorized

Christmas Baking Story 2 & Wholewheat Jowar Apricot & Almond Cookies

15724207_10207991196569086_295410625_n.jpg

What does a child want ? Nothing in the world will be a perfect answer to that question. You will think it will be the “bigger” things – love, security, appreciation, family, education. You will also think that it could be the “smaller” things – toys, chocolates, candies, shoes, clothes.

Well, I am not an expert on understanding children and their psychology, but I think often we overlook the fact that perhaps, just perhaps, a child wants things that are not categorized, things that cannot be slotted into any form of definition.

Could it be a fleeting moment of joy when they see their friends after a school break? Could it be the chance to savour a few minutes of having the slide at the park, just to themselves ? Could it be the thrill of hearing their voices fill up a festive song ? Could it be the anxious anticipation of few seconds from when the school gets over till when they actually see their mother/father across the gate to pick them up ?

Why is my post talking about this ? It is because when I visited Ashraya Initiative for Children( a picture from that visit is shared above), an NGO that works with 200 slum children, with the Pune bakers in December 2016 as part of the “Bake a Sunshine Cake” initiative, I found myself reflecting about what are the things that bring such a warm smile on the faces of children living in abject poverty and why we adults are not able to muster up a smile despite the comfort we live in…

The only answer that connected with me was – because they keep it simple. It is that easy to be happy ! And so simplicity is the approach that I always follow when it comes to my healthy bakes. Presenting one such simple bake here for you to put together easily – Wholewheat Jowar Apricot Almond Cookies.

img_5659

Ingredients – 

  • 1 cup wholewheat flour
  • 3/4 cup jowar flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried chopped apricots
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Method –

Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Mix together the flours, almonds and apricots.

Beat butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the egg, beating until incorporated. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Add the flour mix slowly and mix without over-beating.

Scoop the dough using a spoon and drop them onto the baking tray, 2 inches apart. Add a chopped almond and apricot on top, and bake them for 15 minutes.

Cool them off and store in air tight containers.

 

baking, biscuits, cane sugar, eggless, healthy baking, jowar, wholewheat

Christmas Baking Stories -1 :Spiced Wholewheat and Jowar Shortbread

15356675_1472566506094540_6064392949560971177_n
#BakeaSunshineCake, by the Ovenderful Mom Bakers Community is yet again making it a December to Remember, for the 2nd year in a row. Christmas is truly here early in many parts of Bangalore and the US 🙂  Here is a little story from one of those parts – a quiet and serene old age home in Whitefield Bangalore.
A deep sense of poignancy and dejavu hit me the moment we started walking through the gates of Cheshire Old Age Home. Because around the same time last December ( 2015), we had walked into it for the first time – hoping to spread a little bit of warmth and take back a lot of memories. This year was as special as the first – the young ( our children) and the old ( the ladies at the home) met each other and connected instantly, the Christmas carols reverberated through the walls of the home and for a few hours , life became magical for us, the volunteer bakers as it possibly did for the ladies at the old age home.
On my way back from the visit, my son decided to sleep off. And that left me alone with my thoughts – And these were the only ones that kept playing on my mind.
I was thankful…..
For still being able to cry when something moves me.
For not accepting everything that is sad around us as ‘reality of life’.
For being able to know when to move on and when to wait a while.
For still being able to smile instantly on hearing an old friend’s voice.
For being able to wake up with a mind full of ideas.
For being able to sleep with tired feet and plans for next day.
 img_5656

Spiced Wholewheat and Jowar Shortbread

  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
  • 1  cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup jowar flour
  • 1/4 cup demerara sugar
  • 1/4 cup cane sugar
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

Method – Cream the butter and sugars together till it is light and fluffy. Sift the flours together with the ginger and nutmeg. Add it slowly to the sugar-butter mix and mix well. Wrap it well in cling wrap and refrigerate for an hour or so.

Take it out and press it into a greased flat baking tray. Pre-heat the oven at 175 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes. Place the tray in the middle rack. Bake for 10 minutes and then take it out. Use a sharp knife to cut the rectangle shapes on the tray itself.Bake it again for 15 minutes after doing that and then remove them from the tray to cool off and store.

 

cake, cane sugar, caramel, coconut sugar, liquid jaggery, wholewheat

The Caramel Cake with bold flavours of 3 natural sweeteners !

 

Just like you have Triple chocolate cakes or brownies or cookies, is there a way to have different natural sweeteners in one single cake? Tempted to pick a chocolate cake for this experiment just so that the chocolate masks the flavour if something was to go wrong? Continue reading “The Caramel Cake with bold flavours of 3 natural sweeteners !”

baking, cane sugar, coconut sugar, liquid jaggery

Healthy Sweeteners for Baking

 

Its time for the festivities to set in as they already have in all parts of the country – and as we all know, this is truly the best time of the year. Having worked in healthy baking for several years now, I am absolutely certain that while refined white sugar forms an integral part of so many sweets, it has almost zero nutrition value. Continue reading “Healthy Sweeteners for Baking”

biscuits, buckwheat flour, cane sugar, cookies, eggless, gluten-free, jowar, liquid jaggery

Is Baking a science or an art?

Most people will tell you that baking is a science mainly because it is driven by proportions, measures, time specifications.

But a few will tell you that it is part-science, part-art. Science when it comes to proportions of ingredients, art when it is about what the ingredients should be ! Science when it comes to following a recipe, art when it comes to creating one from scratch. Continue reading “Is Baking a science or an art?”

biscuits, cane sugar, cookies, gluten-free, gramflour, nankhatai, rice flour

How Festivals become alive and Gluten-Free Besan Nan-Khatais

I don’t recall how many festive seasons I have spent away from home (I know it should be easy to say my parents’ home, but the child in me still yearns to call it home). Sometimes I was away because of work or travel associated with that, sometimes because I didn’t get leave and sometimes, in hindsight I can admit that I didn’t think much about festivals being a big deal for me, 10-12 years ago.
Continue reading “How Festivals become alive and Gluten-Free Besan Nan-Khatais”