Monday, 19 June 2017

Sfouf – Lebanese Curcuma Cake (Vegan)


It is late morning. We are sitting on the stairs in our backyard. The Sunlight is visible on the tree tops. The Sun will soon rise up higher and engulf our world in sweltering heat. Another very hot day is about to unfold. We are feeling listless. It is heat-induced lethargy. The Sun rises higher and golden hues spread further down. We see a spotted dove in our Magnolia tree.  It seems to be thirsty. The water pot is duly filled up.

Ginger tea arrives and we love to sip a  hot mug of steaming tea. Before the heat makes working impossible, we clean our backyard, a pumpkin climber is guided to climb the branch fixed on the ground. We notice the Dove again, now sitting next to the bird pot and intently watching our activities. We realized that we had forgotten to keep millets in the food table. The needful was done.

Later in the day, we got down to baking   Sfouf.
Sfouf is a sweet almond cake from Lebanon. Sfouf gets its beautiful golden hue from Turmeric. Turmeric is a powerful antioxidant. It has antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. This definitely makes Sfouf healthy. Aniseed gives it a beautiful flavour. This is a simple, healthy, low fat and easy to make cake

Sfouf – Lebanese Curcuma Cake


  • 1 cup fine Semolina
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
  • 3/4 + 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons aniseed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup almonds (blanched, peeled and halved)


  1. Grease and line the bottom of one 8 inch round cake pan. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Boil water. Add aniseed, cover and let steep for 20 minutes.
  3. Strain and keep aside anise tea till lukewarm.
  4. In a large bowl whisk together semolina, all-purpose flour, baking powder, turmeric powder and caster sugar.
  5. Add anise tea, oil to dry ingredients and mix well.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  7. Decorate with almond halves.
  8. Bake for 40 minutes. Check with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, it is done, Else, bake for another 5-6 minutes.
  9. Remove from the pan after 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges and invert onto the cooling rack.
  10. Slice when cold

My Tip   Substitute water with milk. In that case, add just ground aniseed. You may also use toasted sesame seeds and pine nuts for decoration

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Mixed Berry Almond Loaf | #BreadBakers

The season of flowers never seems to get over in the foothills. Even when the Sun is belligerent and spewing heat with all generosity, the Neem tree bears small milky flowers. It is a soothing sight to see cascades of flowers in the boughs. A sweet smell soothes the senses as you pass by or stand underneath. Bees, insects small birds all swarm around the bunches of flowers.

Last week we had an unexpected downpour. It rained heavily and our lawn turned into a swimming pool. A few days later, we a riot of colours. Football lilies sprouted out of every inch of the Earth. 

Dad loved them and the bulbs planted by him have been multiplying. He must be smiling from up there.

 It is early morning and we head to our backyard to collect ripe wood apples and mangoes that fall and remain hidden in the dead vegetation.  Our backyard is a parched landscape in the summer with mottled shades of brown. Some plants ( presumably planted by Dad) brighten the dull corners of the dry patch. These are snow white flowers growing around the tender branches.

We come home with bags full of ripe fruits and enjoy a hot cup of tea. No matter how hot it is, a cup of tea is refreshing. 

Later, we get down to baking a Mixed Berry Almond Loaf.
The loaf is moist, mildly sweet and full of chewy berries. Almond meal makes the crumb really soft and delicious. You can identify every berry by its taste and flavour.

Mixed Berry Almond Loaf


  • 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup Almond meal
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (scant) baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 flax egg (1tbsp flax meal + 3 tbsp water. Mix and refrigerate for 10 minutes, Whisk. Use)
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 ½ cup dry mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, strawberries, blackberries)


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line one 8x4 inch loaf tin.
  2. Whisk together first six ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. In another bowl, take all the liquid ingredients and mix well.
  4. Add dry ingredients to liquid ingredients and mix to combine.
  5. Fold in berries tossed in some flour.
  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf tin.
  7. Arranged almond slices on top.
  8. Bake for 50 minutes or till the top turns golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. Remove from the tin. Slice when cold                                                                                              
Linking to Breadbakers -

This month's BreadBakers' theme is Breads with Nut Meals and Nut Flours inspired bread, hosted by Cindy at Cindy’s Recipes and Writings

Enjoy all these creative breads using nut meals and nut flours from The Bread Bakers Group!

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page
We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to [email protected].


Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes

The heat is excruciating.  It has been the hottest summer it seems. It is still outside. Occasional call of the birds breaks the silence. Or, a thump of a ripe wood apple falling on the dry grass rips the calm. We hear a rustling sound in our backyard. It’s a Crow Pheasant walking on the dry leaves.

 We also spotted a baby tailor bird perched on a dry branch.

Kids declare that they are terribly bored. Having played board games, read story books, drawing, painting, and craft, they want to engage themselves in something new. Watching TV does not interest them. Heatwave restricts them indoors and they feel asphyxiated. Entertaining kids and involving them fruitfully can be a daunting task. Baking together is one beautiful way of killing boredom and monotony.  Kids love participating in the process. We decide on baking some vegan cupcakes with funfetti.

Kids are flooded with excitement and they squeal with joy as they begin measuring flour, mixing, stirring and also licking ladles and pans after the batter has been filled up in the cupcake tray.
It was good a utilization of time and the cupcakes were delicious.

Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes


  • 1 ½  cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½  teaspoon baking powder
  • ½  teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼  teaspoon salt
  • ¾  cup caster Sugar
  • 1 cup warm  soymilk (or, dairy milk for a nonvegan version)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1/3  cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1/3 cup funfetti


  • ½  cup icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 teaspoons funfetti


  1. Preheat oven to 180  degrees C. Line the standard 12 cup muffin tray with paper liners.  
  2. In a large bowl whisk together first five ingredients.
  3. In another bowl, take milk. Mix vinegar and let rest for 5 minutes. The milk will curdle
  4. Add oil and vanilla essence and mix well
  5. Add dry ingredients. Stir to combine and get a smooth batter.
  6. Fold in funfetti. Stir
  7. Pour the batter into the muffin tray filling 3/4 of each cavity.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes.
  9. Remove from the tray and cool on the rack.
  10. For glaze, mix icing sugar and milk to get a thick paste.
  11. Pour over the cupcakes. Sprinkle funfetti and serve.

My Tip: To make the glaze, add less milk first and check. Add more milk only if required. The glaze should be thick. 

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Old Fashioned Buttermilk Bread

Summer is at the peak. Heat has sucked up all the energy leaving listless and restless. Trees wear a withered look, the ground is parched, grass dry and almost dead. Thirsty birds throng our bird pot. A pair of Koel drinks
water and looks relieved.

By evening, clouds begin to gather in the sky. Soon they spread all around. Air is heavy and vaporous.  It becomes humid. We pray that a good downpour happens. Many times before, the clouds gathered and got dissipated by the strong breeze leaving behind just dust. But as the evening progressed, there was lightening and thunder and it rained in torrents. The parched Earth drank up the water leaving a heavenly petrichor. It rained for hours and all the woes were forgotten and washed away. 
There was a jar of buttermilk in the refrigerator. We were loving it tempered with roasted cumin and a pinch of asafoetida. As the weather changed, we decided to use it and bake a buttermilk bread.

Buttermilk bread has an incredibly soft crumb and a great taste. It toasts well.
We toasted it and enjoyed with a generous amount of butter and hot tea.

Buttermilk Bread


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup oatmeal
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 ¼ teaspoon instant dry yeast
  • ¾ cup buttermilk


  1. Whisk together first three ingredients in a deep bowl. Add oil. Mix well
  2. In another bowl, take water. Add sugar and stir it till it dissolves. Add yeast. Cover and keep for 5-6 minutes. The yeast should turn frothy.
  3. Heat buttermilk till just warm (keep stirring while heating). Add to the yeast mixture.
  4. Mix dry and wet ingredients and knead for 6-7 minutes to get a smooth and supple dough. If the dough feels hard or dry, add more warm water and knead for another 3-4 minutes.
  5. Transfer dough to a greased bowl. Turn around so that it is evenly coated with oil. Cover and keep in a warm place for 1 hour or till double.
  6. Punch again and roll it into a rectangle. Starting with shorter side, roll up tightly, pressing dough into roll. Pinch edges and ends to seal. Place in greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Cover with a kitchen towel.
  7. Keep in a warm place to rise for 1 hour or till dough crests slightly above the lip of the pan.
  8. Bake in a preheated oven at 190 degrees C for 25 to 30 minutes or till the top turns golden brown.
  9. Remove from the pan. Cool.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Olive Oil Chocolate Banana Cake (Eggless)


Heat is showing the greatest effect on Bananas in our kitchen. They are ripening at a phenomenal speed. A day ago, half a dozen of the fruit was bought. The Same day, we went to a village in the periphery of the Jim Corbett Park. It was hot but serene. The breeze was cool. The forest was mesmerizing. The trees stood tall donning new leaves. The sound of the birds was soothing. Every time when there was a movement in the grass, we hoped to see some animal. But we had to be content with the distant sound of a barking deer and a peacock that we spotted by the side of the road.

We stopped by a village. There, an old man gave us a bunch of pahari bananas. The bananas were small, sweet and had a very distinct taste. We were hungry and ate up half the bunch. 

We returned home in the evening, exhausted and happy after a forest drive. The blackened bananas had to be salvaged. We decided on baking an Eggless Banana Chocolate Coffee Cake with olive oil. We also used the local bananas in the cake. The Cake was delicious. Soft, moist and chocolaty.

Olive Oil Chocolate Banana Cake (Eggless)


  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • ¼  cup cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
  • ¾  teaspoon salt
  • 4 very ripe sweet bananas
  • ¾  cup warm milk
  • ¾  cup Caster Sugar
  • ¼  cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar


  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C. Grease and line one 9 inch round cake pan.
  2. Whisk together all the dry ingredients (first six ingredients) in a large bowl.
  3. Puree the bananas in a blender.
  4. Add sugar, olive oil, vanilla extract and caster sugar and blend to get a smooth mixture.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Arrange some banana slices on the top (optional)
  7. Bake for 55 minutes or till the cake shrinks from the sides and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Remove from the oven. Remove from the pan after 5 minutes. Cool in the rack. Slice when cold.

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