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 !
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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 

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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.

apple, barley flour, coconut sugar, eggless, healthy baking, oats, pie

4/11 City- Cologne/Koln, 4/11 Healthy Bake: German Apple Pie in a Barley-Oats Crust

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Cologne / Koln, November 2008: the only thing I knew about it was that this was the first European city I was going to visit, it sounded exotic and I was going to be attending a conference by Chemicals organizations there. That was it.

Strange as it may sound, my excitement was centered around meeting my colleagues from the US, South America and Europe.  Not around the city. It is not that I was under-estimating the loveliness of the city. It was just that at that time in my life, I thought work should be an all-consuming part of one’s life.

I am one of those people whose senses are more heightened after a sleepless night!

And so driving into Cologne immediately after landing at Frankfurt, was probably what made me absorb the gorgeous beauty of the city – there were streets that were actually cobbled and people strolling in a leisurely manner with little dogs on the side-walks in the middle of a busy week-day !  At the heart of the city towering above all else was the Cologne Cathedral – not only is it a resplendent architectural wonder, since it stands next to the river the entire picture is a sight to watch, almost like a painting.

I walked through the city since that is what the hotel staff suggested and I would recommend that to everyone – it is the only way to absorb the sights and sounds. But seeing the quaint ( and quite modern too!) trams go past, was enough to tempt me to climb into one of them for a short ride. It seems to be a common form of transport through the city and it took me back to the time I used to take tram rides in Calcutta.

In a short 2 day work visit, this was all I could manage, but the city’s charm is irresistible-it lies somewhere between being a small city to a large town, steeped in German tradition and yet somewhat welcoming towards those like me who wandered through it before moving onto other places.

So for a city as multi-layered as Cologne, the German Apple Pie, a comforting bake with complex flavours is what comes to mind 🙂

I tried it on one of my walks and this is my healthier version of it in a buttery Barley-Oats crust with a delicious apple-cinnamon filling, topped with caramel sauce and baked. It is entirely free of refined white flour/all purpose flour and the sauce uses coconut sugar.

Ingredients –

  • 3 large apples, peeled, sliced and stewed with 2 tsp of freshly grated cinnamon, in 1 1/2 cups of water.
  • For the crust – 1 cup barley flour, 1/2 cup powdered oats, 1/2 cup wholewheat flour, 100 grams butter. Rub the cold butter into the flour mix, cling wrap it and keep it in the fridge for at least 5 hours. Blind bake the crust at 180 degrees C just before making the pie, for 20-25 minutes.
  •  For the caramel sauce – 1 tbsp barley flour, 3 tbsp coconut sugar and 20 gms butter. Plus the liquid from the stewed apples.  Melt the butter, add the sugar and stir it well till it caramelizes. Add the flour while stirring well so that it doesnt become lumpy. Finally add the liquid that is drained out from the stewed apples.

Method –

If the above three elements are ready, the method is just about assembling them and baking. So layer the baked crust with sliced stewed apples.

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To use

Pour the sauce uniformly and then place the pie into the oven to bake for 30 minutes, at 180 degrees C.

Serve warm as is or with ice cream !

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baking, eggless, flourless, gluten-free, healthy baking, savoury, vegan, vegan baking

Leftovers and Baked Sprouted Moong Dal in Coconut Milk ( Oil & Butter free)

Zero-fat Sprouted Moong Dal in Coconut Milk (2)

Leftovers – As mothers we know all about leftovers, whether it is food or memories. For both these, we have an inherent quality – of how to innovate and create magic by meshing things that might be so different that putting them together seems impossible 🙂 Not only that, they also know how to cherish it, how not to not waste – whether it is food or memories.

Different elements of leftover food come together in our kitchens regularly just as we weave a pattern from diverse memories to create something to hold dear in our twilight years. So hold onto those leftovers – whether it is food or memories, conserve and recreate them. Because both form the foundation of what we call “living” .

Why am I talking about leftovers today ? Because what I baked is not even a proper well-defined dish, but just a one-pot healthy bake that came about because I had some portions leftover from other things that I had made.

 

Baked Sprouted Moong Dal in Coconut Milk ( Oil / Butter free ) 

Recipe –

1 cup sprouted green moong dal

1 1/2 cups coconut milk, homemade

1/2 cup warm water

1/2 tomato, 1/4 onion, 2 garlic cloves, small piece of ginger – chop and grind well into a paste.

1 small piece of cinnamon

Salt as per your preference

2 tbsp Malvani masala , homemade

1 tbsp Grated coconut ( optional)

Method –

Put the coconut milk, sprouted green moong/gram dal and warm water into an oven-safe dish. Bake them in a pre-heated oven for 20 minutes, at 170-180 degrees Celsius. Take it out. Add the paste made with tomato, onion, garlic and ginger to it and mix well. Add the cinnamon, malvani masala and salt, and the grated coconut.

Put it back into the oven. Bake for another 40 minutes at the same temperature.

Take it out and serve hot.

 

butter-free, dairy-free, eggless, healthy baking, rice flour, savoury, vegan, wholewheat

Shifting Lives and Zero-Fat Vegan Baked Spinach Wholewheat Sticks with Black Sesame and Chives

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How would you sum up 11 months of stay in a place – moved in, settled in, moved out ? That’s pretty much the way I would have thought probably a decade ago. But today it seems like even in those short 11 months, one can fit in so much into one’s life in a place.

It starts with being unfamiliar and you yearn for your earlier comfort zone.

It goes into a resigned kind of acceptance of what you have currently and even if its different, you can live with it.

It changes to looking at the goodness that is present in parts of it, and which you probably overlooked before.

It moves to liking the place, forming a few relationships and getting involved with the community.

It escalates into enjoying your stay there, waiting to see the neighbourhood dog who wags her tail, the same children cycling around each day, the same help who cleans the apartment, the same person in the flat above who you havent had a chance to know by name yet but who smiles at you each time.

And then you pack and move on.

Such is life. That fragile. That ever-changing. That is how it shifts, it moves and changes shape each day for us. We wait for it to “settle” into a routine. But of course, it has its own plans.

So here is a quick, simple and versatile recipe which is simple to life in all those qualities-

Zero-Fat Vegan Baked Spinach Wholewheat Sticks with Black Sesame and Chives

1 cup wholewheat

1 tbsp of rice flour

1 cup boiled and pureed spinach ( I added ½ a green chilly, 2-3 cloves of garlic and a little chopped coriander to it while pureeing)

3-4 tbsp chopped chives

2-3 tbsp black sesame

1 tbsp white pepper

Salt as per requirement ( I used rock salt)

Add some warm water to make the dough pliable.

 

Mix all the above dry ingredients well. Then add the spinach puree and the warm water ( if needed). Cling wrap it and store it in the fridge for about an hour.

Take it out, roll it into a rectangle, use a sharp knife to cut long strips/sticks. Place them onto a baking tray which is lightly greased. Sprinkle some chives and black sesame. Bake in a pre-heated oven ( preheat for 10 minutes) at 175 degrees Celsius for 20-25 minutes. You need to turn the sticks around mid way. Allow it to cool entirely for it to become crisp.

Zero-Fat Baked Spinach Wholewheat Sticks with Black Sesame and Chives

 

bread, butter-free, eggless, healthy baking, oats, savoury, wholewheat

The Wholewheat-Oats Buttermilk Bread with Gooseberry Jam

I am not really a night person ( or not any longer!) in most cases – The only thing that I love doing before sleeping off is reading. And that was the case for a long time. Even now, given the fact that I have to get up very early I try to plan a lot of my work in terms of baking or writing in the those wee hours.

However, there are rare occasions particularly on the weekend, when even after a long day in the kitchen, I love to unwind with some baking. And usually it happens to be experimental in nature – not because I want to brood over a disaster, incase that it is the result. But more so because, I want to know and therefore plan for what I want to do the next day to rectify or re-try an experiment if the one done the night before fails !

Thankfully for me though, this recipe of Wholewheat-Oats Buttermilk Bread (adapted from a blog, which had in turned been inspired by a book on Jewish baking) has turned out superbly in its second trial. The first one was not too bad, but the second one has turned out beautifully and I can’t wait to bake it again.

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Wholewheat Oats Buttermilk Bread topped with Chilly flakes , with homemade Gooseberry Jam

The texture and flavour is delicious and while you can smear it with butter, my personal preference to have it with Gooseberry/Amla Jam – the combined flavours of the bread, chilly flakes and Amla are brilliant.

Whole Wheat –Oats Buttermilk Bread

Ingredients

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 Cup Rolled Oats

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons honey

2 ½ teaspoons instant yeast

Oil for greasing the tin

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup warm water

Sprinkling of red chilly flakes

Method

Mix the whole wheat flour and oats with salt.

Mix the honey with warm water. Dissolve yeast and keep it aside for 10 minutes.

Add the honey-water and the yeast to buttermilk. If you do not have it at home, you can use regular milk in which 1/2 tbsp of white vinegar is added.

Add the liquid mix to the flour mix and mix well. Let it rest for 15 minutes.

Start kneading after 15 minutes, and knead well for 5-6 minutes. Grease a bowl and let the dough rest in it, until it doubles(it took about 1 hour mine to double).

Grease your loaf tin and place the dough in the form of of an oval shaped loaf into the tin. Leave it to rest and rise for another hour.

Pre-heat the oven at 175 degrees C. Brush the top of the loaf lightly and sprinkle chilly flakes and then bake in the oven for 40 minutes.

Cool and slice.

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Wholewheat Oats Buttermilk Bread with chilly flakes, and with homemade gooseberry jam

 

*** Recipe for Gooseberry Jam/Amla

1/2 kg of Amla / Gooseberry washed and dried and boiled well so that the exterior is soft. Drain out the water ( you can use that for anything else ) . De seed the boiled amla, run it through the grinder.

Put it into a non stick kadai / pan. Keep it on low heat and stir. Add 3/4 cups cane sugar, 2-3 tbsp honey, 2 tsp ginger and 1 tsp or more if you prefer of cinnamon powder.

Keep stirring till it acquires the sticky jam like consistency. Cool off and store in air tight glass container.

 

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

Christmas Baking Stories -1 :Spiced Wholewheat and Jowar Shortbread

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#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.
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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.

 

chocolate, coconut, coconut sugar, community impact, eggless, gluten-free, healthy baking, tart, Uncategorized

What Ovenderful has been upto and the Gluten Free, Eggless Dark Chocolate Ragi Tarts with Coconut Cream

You might be wondering why it has been so quiet at my end. Well, it has been a very busy month in many ways. The reason for the same is that I have been involved with 4 events all of which are unique and special.

I loved being a part of each of these experiences and from all the invitations that I receive, why I choose to be a part of these is entirely because of their uniqueness and the depth they added to my own journey as a healthy baker and blogger. They opened up a new and wider perspective for me as an individual and Ovenderful as a social enterprise.

Here’s a quick look at 2 of those 4 events ( the remaining 2 will be covered  –

 

  • Panel Discussion by Mom Bloggers: Bloggers Adda by Mums and stories at Bhive Workspace in HSR, Bangalore, was about bringing together 4 moms, including me who were blogging in different spheres and how they had been successful at it.

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See more pictures here: https://www.facebook.com/mumsandstories/posts/682771135219738)

Audio Link : https://soundcloud.com/radioactivecr90-4mhz/active-bangalore-mums-and-stories-a-panel-discussion-on-how-moms-can-create-successful-blogs

  • Collaborative Baking for Kritagyata Trust

Over 35 bakers came together to bake for 3000 children in 27 government schools in rural Bangalore, to make Children’s Day a special one for them. When Aruna, who is the Founder of Kritagyata Trust got in touch I knew there had to be a way to make this work.

So here is what we did ! I think Children’s Day had a new and special meaning for me this year simply because I believe at some level we were able to touch lives, unknown to us so far and yet find a connect that is so heart-warming.

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As a tribute to these two events both of which helped me reach back within my soul to rediscover what I truly love – writing ( and hence blogging ) and baking for community impact, here is an earthy, close-to-the-roots kind of recipe :

Gluten Free and Egg Free Dark Chocolate Ragi Tarts filled with Coconut cream and grated dark chocolate ( Baked for an event that I will share in my next post) 

(Picture Credit – https://www.facebook.com/IndiaPhotoArtist?fref=ts)

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For the tart –

1 cup ragi flour
1/4 cup jowar flour
60 grams cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup  Coconut sugar

1/4 cup Dark chocolate ( grated )

2 tbsp cocoa powder

The mixing process is exactly like it is for the pastry crust of tarts – Mix the flours, coconut sugar, dark chocolate and cocoa. Then slowly rub cold butter into this mix till it looks like bread crumbs or comes together. Keep some milk in the freezer to use incase you need to bring the dough together. Cling wrap this and keep it for 2-3 hours in the fridge. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes prior to baking. When the dough is ready to be baked, take it out and press it into muffin trays to give it the shape. Bake them for 20 minutes till it becomes crisp.

For the filling – Mix together some fresh coconut cream, liquid jaggery, grated coconut and grated dark chocolate. The proportions will depend on how sweet you want it, how ‘coconuty’ and how liquid in texture !

You can use any other filling of your choice too 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?”