We are high on the colours of nature. Autumn has splashed the hills with beautiful pinks, gold, rusts, reds and browns. A wild Cherry Tree in the corner of our cottage has been the cynosure of all eyes. Its branches laden with profuse blossoms have been attracting millions of bees. 




A constant hum is audible on walking under the  tree. It’s the sound of nature, so soft, soothing and healing. Birds have been visiting the tree for their share of nectar. 




The mornings are sonorous and colourful and the warmth of the morning Sun is an elixir.

A thin layer of mist looming over the hills perpetually indicates that we are inching towards winter. Gulping endless cups of tea and tisanes becomes the norm during cold days.  And baking also shifts to flavours and tastes to suit the cold season. Spices like ginger, cinnamon and cloves find way into batters and dough. And for us, jaggery becomes the sweetener of the season. It is mineral rich and healthier and keeps warm.




Recently, a whole wheat Cake was baked with jaggery. The cake has cinnamon that imparts  a beautiful aroma and flavour and jaggery further enhances the flavour and taste. It is something like cinnamon and caramel beautifully blending into each other.

Few things to keep in mind when baking this cake.

Use one 8 inch round cake pan. Or, bake in 8x8 inches square cake pan.

Use jaggery powder. Ensure all the lumps dissolve in the batter before baking.

Slice next day. The cake becomes soft and flavours come out beautifully.

 

Whole Wheat Jaggery Cinnamon Cake (Eggless)

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1 cup Jaggery powder
  • ½ cup thick yoghurt (at room temperature)
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons milk (warm)
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line one 8-inch round cake pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients (first four ingredients)
  3. In a large bowl, mix Jaggery and Yoghurt. Stir, cover and let sit till Jaggery dissolves completely.
  4. Add milk, oil and vanilla extract.
  5. Add vinegar and mix well.
  6. Keep a strainer on the mouth of the bowl with wet ingredients and pass all the dry ingredients through the strainer into the bowl.
  7. Mix to get a smooth batter without lumps. Do not over-mix.
  8. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Level with a spatula.
  9. Sprinkle chopped walnuts on top.
  10. Bake for 35-40  minutes or until the top turns brown and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  11. Cool in the rack. Slice the next day.

 

 

Gulab Jamun Cake has robust Indian flavours and a soft crumb. It makes an excellent dessert cake.



It is amazing how festivities infuse so much energy and enthusiasm in us. Even the tired feet and fatigued body can feel so peppy and fresh and undertake all the ritual chores with elan.

Diwali is around the corner and every Indian household is busy cleaning, decluttering and decorating homes. The clanking and clattering of pots and pans is audible amidst animated conversations as sweets and special meals are being curated to celebrate the favourite festival.

Living in the Himalayan forests with no one around for miles, festivals hold a special significance for us. It brings so much happiness, good cheer and  good vibes.

A big Gulab Jamun Cake was baked to kick off the festivities. 




The Cake is eggless with robust Indian flavours. 




Dunk in syrup if you love a higher sweetness quotient. Or, just drizzle some rosewater saffron  infused glazed. It is delicious and addictive.




Gulab Jamun Cake (Eggless)

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup milk powder (not dairy whitener)
  • 2 tablespoons fine semolina
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon  baking soda
  • 6-7 green cardamom seeds powder
  • ¾ cup boora sugar (or, powdered sugar)
  • ¾ cup thick yoghurt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • Some strands of saffron

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk the first six ingredients. Keep aside.
  2. Heat two tablespoons of milk until warm. Add saffron strands. Cover and keep aside.
  3. Whisk boora sugar and yoghurt until smooth. 
  4. Add semolina. Mix well. Cover and keep for 20 minutes.
  5. Add oil. Mix well.
  6. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Add milk. Mix gently.
  7. Add saffron infused milk and mix well.
  8. Pour into the prepared pan. Level the batter with a spatula.
  9. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the top turns a lovely brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

If you want to drench your cake in syrup, take slightly less than ½ cup of water, two tablespoons of rosewater and ¼ cup of sugar. Mix till sugar dissolves. Poke holes all over the warm cake with a toothpick and pour the syrup evenly over the cake. Poke holes in the base of the cake and pour the remaining syrup.

Glaze

  • ¼ cup icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 4-5 strands of saffron
  • 2-3 tablespoons sliced almonds

Add saffron strands to warm milk. Cover and keep for 5 minutes. Add saffron milk to icing sugar and prepare a thick and pourable glaze. Pour it over the cake once it is completely cold. Decorate with sliced almonds and rose petals.

 Ghost Bread has crisp edges and a soft centre.  A combination of different herbs and chilly flakes makes it an excellent snack bread.  It pairs well with hot soup.


Autumn has flooded us with bright colours, pretty hues and delicate shades. Autumn in the hills is the season to savour the warmth of the Sun, the songs of the birds the nip in the air and the majestic view of the snow-capped mountains. Trees have begun to shed leaves. Dry Pear leaves have amazing patterns. Dots, streaks and pale colours from yellow to brown and even pink. The Forest floor is littered with leaves that will rot and enrich the soil. The smell of leaf litter has its own aroma that is intense and unique. The beauty of nature is nourishing for the body and the soul.



A wedge-tailed green pigeon often comes to a tree that has a creeper full of wild berries while the Mountain Bulbul enthrals with her lovely songs every morning.



The last few days have been wet and cold as it rained incessantly for almost a week. We were surrounded by fog and waterfalls. 




There was a constant roar of the mighty waterfalls that sprouted in the forest adjoining our home. Every waterfall has its own rhythm and music. We strolled into the forest to enjoy the waterfalls and a majestic rainbow in the valley.



Being in the hills, we always celebrate festivals with enthusiasm  It brings so much excitement and happiness and keeps us involved. This is the month of Halloween and we decided to bake Ghost Bread. There is no recipe for Ghost Bread as such. You may use the recipe of your favourite bread dough and shape it into Ghost Bread. Shaping is the most exciting part. Roll out the pieces of dough into an oval. Use a round cookie cutter for the eyes and mouth. Then flatten it with a rolling pin. You may stretch the eyes or mouth to get ghost-like features.



In fact, it is your creativity to get the ghosts right. My son got so excited that he ended up shaping the best ghost (the one with teeth)



We used the basic dough for Ghost Bread. We added minced garlic and dry herbs along with some chilly flakes. Our ghosts were delicious. We had them with tomato soup. Perfect dinner for a chilly night.




Halloween Ghost Bread (Vegan)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dries thyme
  • 2 teaspoon chilly flakes
  • ½ cup -3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon oil

Instructions

In a large bowl, mix together the first seven ingredients.

In another bowl, mix water, sugar and yeast. Let rest for 10 minutes.

Add oil.

Now add the liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and make a  soft dough.

Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl. Turn around once so that the dough is covered with oil all over.

Cover and keep in a warm corner until double.

Punch the dough, and divide it into six pieces.

Roll out each piece into a round. Once you have shaped all the pieces, cover them and let rest for 10 minutes.

Roll out each round into an oval. Use a round cookie cutter for the eyes and mouth.

Use a rolling pin to spread out the eyes and mouth. You may use your creativity to shape the Ghost Bread.

Transfer the shaped dough to a baking tray. Cover and leave to rise for 30 minutes or until puffy.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C for 30-35minutes or until golden from the edges.

Serve warm with hot soup.


 Linking to #BreadBakers

#BreadBakers is a group of bread-loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.










Turmeric Milk Bread is soft, sweet, milky and has a great crumb. The patterns of turmeric make the bread beautiful and turmeric adds a nutty earthy taste to the bread.



 The winter is upon us and we are happy. Winter has a unique temperament. The colours of nature fade away, and the monotones of winter have their own charm. While the grass on the ground wears shades of gold and orchards are bare, the oak and wild cherry trees stand like tall sentinels in verdant green. The hoarfrost coated grass and the frozen pond look like diamonds. Howling winds and silent nights give more time to curl up in the bed, to read a book, to contemplate and to reflect. And in winter, there is a simplicity, a sparseness, that no other season shows.




Birds show up more during cold months and a Blue Fronted Redstart regularly visits the bare orchard, letting out periodic chirrups while swooping down seemingly for insects. 



Food gets scarce and every available morsel is valued. A Red-Billed Himalayan Magpie discovers a succulent pear and she gives out raucous calls before alighting from the pear tree and poking out the juicy flesh.




Winter is about late dawn and early dusk. Simple meals and soups. Our favourite and regular dinner is always a soup with homemade bread. 




Last week when it was bright and sunny, we baked bread. 



To make it interesting,  we divided the dough into two parts and added turmeric paste to one part. The dough was rolled out into thin rectangles individually and then mounted one on top of the other and rolled to get a loaf. The loaf turned beautiful with concentric circles of yellow.




You may use any of your favourite bread recipe and divide the dough into two parts, mixing turmeric paste in one. I had a 4 inches x 4 inches container that I used for baking. You may use your regular loaf pan.

 


Turmeric Milk Bread

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½  teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons unrefined sugar
  • 1 ½  teaspoon instant dry yeast
  • ¾ to 1 cup warm milk
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder (or, more or a deeper colour)

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, mix flour and salt. Keep Aside.
  2. Take turmeric powder in a bowl, add 1- ½ teaspoon water to make a thick paste.
  3. In another deep bowl, take warm milk, add sugar and stir to dissolve. Add yeast. Stir. Cover and keep for 10 minutes. Add oil. Stir.
  4. Add the liquid mix to flour mix and knead the dough. Knead for 6-8 minutes to get a smooth and silky dough.
  5. Divide the dough into two equal parts. Oil one bowl and transfer the plain part of the dough into the bowl. Cover and keep in a warm place to rise.
  6. Add turmeric paste to the other piece. Squish and knead until turmeric gets evenly incorporated into the dough and the dough has a uniform bright yellow colour. Oil another bowl and transfer the turmeric dough to the bowl. Cover and keep in a warm place to rise until double (1 to 1 ½ hours)
  7. Work on one piece at a time. Punch the risen dough pieces. Take the plain dough first. Roll into a long rectangle. The width of the rectangle should be slightly less than the width of the pan you are using.
  8. Roll the yellow dough into a rectangle of the same proportion as the plain dough.
  9. Place yellow dough on top of the plain dough. Roll the dough into a loaf. Gently place into the prepared pan. Cover and keep in a warm place to rise for 45minutes to 1 hour or, until double.
  10. During the last stages of rising, preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Bake for 30- 40 minutes or until the top turns brown.
  11. Remove from the pan. Cool on the rack. Slice when cold.



Linking to #BreadBakers



 

 




We are starting this year’s events with a colourful beginning. Our theme for this month is “Naturally Colored Breads” and Radha of Magical Ingredients is our host. 

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

 

Matcha and Strawberry Cream Melonpan by Magical Ingredients

Panini al Pomodoro by Karen's Kitchen Stories

Cranberry Cherry Raisin Bread by Palatable Pastime

Natural Rainbow Challah by Food Lust People Love

Turmeric Sourdough by A Messy Kitchen

Beetroot Pinwheel Paratha by Sneha's Recipe

Turmeric Milk Bread by Ambrosia

Spinanch Monetary Jack sourdough bread by Zesty South Indian Kitchen

Callaloo Bread by Passion Kneaded

Purple Sweet Potato Pepita Swirl Bread by A Messy Kitchen

Beet Bread by A Day in the Life on the Farm

 Whole Wheat bread rolls are soft and delicious. The rolls are bite-sized and make a perfect snack.     Enjoy with butter, homemade jam or honey.



We are at the peak of winter. The orchards are bare, the shrubbery brown and a calm pervades all around. Winter brings with it subzero temperatures and icy winds. The Sun is pale and mostly thick clouds dominate the sky rendering it ineffective.


Baking days are over. The yeast just refuses to awake from its slumber. It needs to be pampered by keeping the dough in the Sun and then keep moving with the movement of the Sun. A few days back, the day started on a bright note. And the bread baking spirits rose high. The dough was prepared quickly and placed under the pear tree where the Sun gets strongest in the morning. It took 4 hours for the dough to double. Second proofing had to be done in the oven itself. The dough was shaped into small bite-size rolls.

When it comes to baking with whole wheat flour, bread rolls are the best bet. Somehow I feel that the rolls are small in size and cook well through. You don’t get a doughy centre that sometimes happens in a loaf. Well, this is my thought and idiosyncrasy, and I always prefer rolls to loaf.



In this recipe, we make a sponge. That makes the rolls really soft.  The sponge method produces bread with more complex flavours and a lighter texture. This method suits baking with whole grain flours very much. And the dough needs just one rise. This suits baking in the winter.

This time, I decided on shaping rolls in a different way, I made oval rolls and arranged them in an eight-inch cake pan that was greased well and dusted with flour. The rolls came out soft and spongy.



On winter nights, we love to slice our rolls, spread a little butter and toast them on the hot griddle. It makes a lovely accompaniment to a bowl of soup and makes a fulfilling light dinner.




Whole Wheat Bread Rolls (Vegan)

Ingredients

Sponge

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons unrefined sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant dry yeast

Dough

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (or, ¼ cup orange juice)
  • Sponge (as above)

Instructions

Sponge

Mix all the ingredients mentioned under the sponge in a bowl. Mix 2-3 times to get a smooth batter. When all the ingredients are well incorporated, the mixture will become stringy. Cover and let it sit for I hour. It will rise and become very bubbly.

Dough

  1. In a large bowl, take all the ingredients of the dough and add sponge. Mix and knead for 5-6 minutes or until you get a very smooth and satiny and slightly sticky dough.
  2. Grease one 8 inches round cake pan. Pinch small balls of dough and shape them into rolls. Place the rolls in the prepared pan. Cover and keep in a warm place until the rolls double in size.
  3. Bake at 180 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until brown.
  4. Brush warm rolls with butter.
  5. Serve warm. 

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