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.

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

Scaling up a venture & Wholewheat Chocolate Strawberry-Apricot Cake

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

 

quiche, savoury, tart, Uncategorized, wholewheat

Ovenderful Healthy Baking OpenOut

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I chanced upon OpenOut’s page when I was browsing through some information about events in Bangalore – not the run-off-the mill and done-to-death variety. But something unique that connects with what I enjoy doing and sharing information about – Healthy Baking. To add to that, after experiencing so many occassions to share this, I have come to the conclusion that sharing it with  a small and deeply engaged set of people, is far better than talking to a wide but only partially interested audience.

15027797_669297166582163_2752337623110773124_nSo I spoke to Arun, who is the Founder of OpenOut and after some discussions, I knew I was ready to host an OpenOut at home – the broad theme was Healthy Baking, there would be 8-9 individuals who will be a part of it and I will be baking a healthy brunch of 8 dishes inspired from flavours across India.

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And what a lovely event it was – to be able to meet new people personally in a world that centers around virtual friendships, to be able to bake for them just as you would for your own family and friends, and to be able to find so many diverse and lively conversations that you still smile about when you recall them! That’s what made this such a special gathering of amazing people 🙂

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For those who want to see all the pictures please check them out on the OpenOut FB page

All the pictures shared here are also credited to OpenOut and AJ Photoartist/Ajay Menon.

( https://www.facebook.com/pg/OpenOut.exp/photos/?tab=album&album_id=669296499915563)

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Below are the dishes and a brief description and I will be sharing the recipe of the first one which is the Malvani Chicken Curry Quiche.

Malvani Chicken Curry Quiche – West
Malvani flavours are reflective of a spice mix that is common across the Western coastal area of India. It has a distinct taste and this quiche brings out that, with chicken flavoured with homemade Malvani spice.The quiche pastry crust is healthy and made with wholewheat.
Baked Rajma Wholewheat Wraps – North
Rajma chawal is every North Indian’s staple lunch option ! The garam masala and warm spice mix makes it a treat to eat. The wholewheat wraps are filled with this yummy goodness that is reminiscent of the North.
Vegetarian Baked Goshtaba – North
This is a dish from Kashmir and usually made with minced meat and is fried. But the vegetarian one is as delicious because it includes the same flavours and healthier because it is baked with minimal oil. The balls are made of Soya, Mint, Chana Dal and Curd.
“Ragda Pattice” Bake ( A Chickpea-Potato based Rice Bake) – West
This yummy street food is an integral part of Mumbai. The crisp Potato Patty topped with chickpea / chana gravy to make it a delicious meal in itself. Here is my take on making it a complete meal by including rice into it and replicating the actual flavour.
Baked Begun Bhaja ( Brinjals – East
This is a delicious appetizer from West Bengal made with Brinjal and fried to perfection with the spice mix and mustard. To keep it healthy, here is a baked version which allows the brinjal slices to absorb the flavours and retain them even in the baked form.
 
Wholewheat Flatbread topped with Kadale Bele Chutney and Roasted Peanuts – South
One of the most delicious chutneys from the South of India takes a new form. It is the Kadale Bele chutney which is filled with flavours of Chana Dal and fresh coconut, along with a twist of oven roasted peanuts, on a crisp flatbread made of wheat.
Coconut Cream Tart in a Dark-Chocolate Ragi Crust – South
Tarts are usually shortcrust pasty which encase a sweet filling – here is an usual one for you to try out, using ragi and coconut , which are staples of the Southern region of India and mesh together beautifully !
Baked Phirni with Saffron and Jaggery – North
A delectable rice pudding from the North of India made healthier with the baking process and jaggery – it is almost entirely free of Ghee/Butter/Oil except for 1 small tablespoon of it ! So enjoy it guilt-free !

 

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Malvani Chicken Curry Quiche 

  • Crust Pastry ingredients –
  • 2 1/2 cups Wholewheat flour
  • 1 cup cold butter cut into cubes
  • 2 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp homemade Malvani spice mix
  • 3-4 tbsp of cold water

Filling Ingredients –

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • 1 cup sliced Onions which have been caramelized
  • 2 – 3 tsp of Salt
  • 3 tsp of homemade Malvani spice mix
  • 2 cups of Chicken that has been boiled, sliced and lightly sauted in a tsp of oil, crushed garlic, 1 tsp of salt , 1 tsp turmeric and 1/2 tsp of the homemade Malvani spice mix.
  • 1/4 cup of chopped capsicum

Method

    1. For the crust- Put the flour in a bowl, Malvani spice mix and add salt and garlic powder.
    2. Rub the butter cubes slowly into the flour till it resembles bread crumbs. Do not knead it, if you want a flaky pastry !
    3. Add cold water, 1 tbsp at a time and your dough should come together.
    4. Place the dough in cling film and put it in the fridge for at least 20 minutes
    5. Take it out after that and roll it out onto a cling film sheet
    6. Place it into a tart pan and prick it with fork.
    7. Blind bake it for 20 minutes at 170 degrees Celsius.
    8. For the Filling – In a pan, sauté the sliced onions and caramelize them.
    9. Add the chopped capsicum and precooked chicken turn by turn.
    10. Take the pre baked tart-shell and line the base with grated cheese, caramelized onions and chicken pieces.
    11. In a mixing bowl, put the eggs and milk, as well as the seasoning. Mix well.
    12. Pour this mix into the tart.
    13. Bake the quiche at 170 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes and serve hot !
almond, tart, wholewheat

Deconstructed Bakewell Tart – With a Whole Wheat Oats Almond Crust

 

As the homes awaken to steaming cups of tea, And the mountain café becomes alive with scents from the oven,
I sat on a table, with a book, a cup of coffee and a fresh piece of pie, The serenity from the mountains settles within my soul, as I gazed at the rising sun…
Continue reading “Deconstructed Bakewell Tart – With a Whole Wheat Oats Almond Crust”