“We have so much, too much, that we can buy, yet the basic labor of doing, the making with our own hands, is what enlivens us and makes us feel human." Dan Lepard

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Orange Pound Cake (With Whole Wheat Flour)



Oranges …….…….invoke sensations, flavours and a plethora of memories.  As kids how we loved our favourite orange bar. It was the best treat for the parched throat during summers. Sucking the ever dripping ice lolly would leave our tongue and fingers coloured, but it was so much fun. Memories of eating sweet oranges during sunny winter afternoons in our lawn, squeezing the oily juice from the skin into each other’s eyes only to get it sprayed back into our eyes was game that would leave us rolling in laughter.. Memories of marmalade being made in the kitchen , flooding our home with the lovely citrusy aroma…..love for fresh orange juice………love for orange cream biscuits…..and now, the love for dark chocolate with candied peels……the list is endless.


Last week, piles and piles of oranges in the market impelled me to bake something orangeee. How about a cake with real oranges? I added some whole wheat flour to the recipe. Drenched with orange syrup and coated with orange glaze, It was moist, the juiciest and the most  flavourful cake I have ever baked.


Adapted from Dinner and Dessert 
I have halved the ingredients from the original recipe. Half cup of all purpose flour has been substituted with whole wheat flour.
This is how I made Orange Pound Cake (with whole wheat flour)
Orange Pound Cake (With Whole Wheat Flour)
Ingredients
Cake
1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs
¼ cup buttermilk
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Zest from 3 oranges
Orange Syrup
¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup sugar
Orange Glaze
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoon orange juice
Method
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease one 9x5 inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper, grease and dust the pan.
In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beat well after each addition. Add zest.
In a bowl, whisk together all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
In another bowl combine buttermilk, orange juice and vanilla essence.
Add flour mix followed by buttermilk mixture to the batter (butter, sugar, egg and zest) alternately mixing well each time. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool in the rack.
While the cake is cooling make orange syrup stir together orange juice and sugar in a pan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves completely. Cook for another 3 minutes.
Poke holes in the top and sides of the cake with a tooth pick. Pour warm syrup on top of the cake and brush the sides with syrup. Repeat. Let the cake cool completely.
To make orange glaze, whisk together confectioner’s sugar and orange juice. The mixture should be thick but pourable. Add more juice if the mixture is stiff. Pour the glaze on the cake and let it drip down the sides. Let the glaze harden. Slice next day and enjoy!






Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Low Fat Chocolate Chips Cake


It poured and poured and poured. It always happens…..somewhere in mid-February when it seems that we are out of winters and when the warmth of the spring manifests itself in the beauty of fresh blooms, luxuriant young ferns dotting the landscape, when cacophony of  birds flitting from tree to tree to have their fill of nectar rends the skies…and when the azure sky makes everything look bright and beautiful…..the weather takes a back turn. It rained heavily last week and the hills received fresh snow…..temperature dipped and the …..revelry paused for some time.
We watched the rain fall heavily in the streets as an occasional vehicle passing by splashed the water high up…. the road looked more like a canal…..glutted with rain water. Next day was Sunday. We had planned an outing to a nearby village.


 A periodic dose of nature that helps maintain sanity in the chaotic life and is always rejuvenating and healing.  Hoping some kindness from weather Gods I wanted to bake something for the trip.

Rose Ringed Parakeet


 February is the month of love……of chocolates…..had to make something chocolaty for my loved ones. Don’t we all love something sweet and chocolaty to pep up the mood and drive away the weather blues?  I finalized on Chocolate Chips Cake


Low Fat Chocolate Chips Cake

Ingredients


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon (powdered)
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence                     

Instructions


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease, line and dust on 9x5 inch pan.
  2. Whisk together all-purpose flour, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a big bowl, beat the egg lightly. Add oil, buttermilk, vanilla essence. Reserve one tablespoon sugar and add the rest. Mix well.
  4. Add dry ingredients and mix gently till just incorporated. Do not over mix. Fold in chocolate chips (reserve one tablespoon).
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle one tablespoon sugar and one tablespoon chocolate chips on top.
  6. Bake for 50 – 60 minutes or till a toothpick inserted the center comes out clean. Tent loosely with a foil if the top is browning too fast.
  7. Remove from the pan after 15 minutes. Cool. Slice next day.






Thursday, 13 February 2014

Whole Wheat Cape Gooseberry Cake


I have always been fascinated by the lovely yellow colour and flavour of Cape Gooseberries and also by the way they are bunched together into a perfect round with berries neatly spaced and aligned on the outer circle. A work of art no doubt!

This cherry sized yellow fruity berry was originally cultivated in the Andes where they are still grown today. The round fruit is enclosed in a papery husk called “cape” which provides a natural wrapper for storing the fruit.

I love making jam with seasonal fruits as much as I love to use them in bakes. Last week some bunches of Cape Goose berries were bought with the intention of adding some seasonal fruit to the menu.  I reserved some for making Jam and also to bake a cake. Adding fruits to cake gives a good feeling. It is like adding some “health” to the cake. Cape Gooseberries have a lovely aroma and are full of juice. The experiment resulted in an adorable cake.

I had baked a Cherry Cake some time ago. I used the same recipe. I used whole wheat flour in this cake along with almond meal. The cake was fruity with the lovely crunch contributed by the seeds of the berries. Almond meal made the crumb soft and grainy.


It was a colourful, flavourful and healthy cake. 
 This is how I made Whole Wheat Cape Gooseberry Cake
Whole Wheat Cape Gooseberry Cake
Ingredients
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup almond meal
½ cup (1 stick) butter
2 eggs
¾ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
¾ cup cape gooseberries washed and wiped dry
Method
Grease, line and dust one 8 inch round cake pan. Preheat oven to 200 degrees C
Take about 14 cape gooseberries, cut them into half. Place the cut upper halves on a clean kitchen towel so that the juice is absorbed. Chop the lower halves and the remaining berries into small pieces.
Beat the white of the eggs till stiff. Add sugar. Add yolks. Beat further till fluffy.
Melt butter in a saucepan. Add butter, milk and vanilla essence to the egg mix.
Whisk together whole wheat flour, almond meal, salt and baking powder.
Add flour mix to the egg mix and stir gently till well incorporated. Fold in chopped berries (not the ones cut into half).
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees C for 15 minutes. Remove the cake pan from the oven and quickly arrange the halved berries with cut side down on the cake. Return the cake to the oven and bake further for about 20 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the center come out clean. Tent the cake loosely with a foil if the top  browns too fast.
Let the cake rest in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove and cool in the wire rack. Slice next day.





Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Honey Whole Wheat and Oats Quick Bread


Spring has knocked at our door, but the cold seems to be adamant on staying for some more time. Haven’t we adapted to this change? One pot meals, hot soups, endless cups of tea, frothy coffees, steaming hot chocolate , pleasure of getting up late and peering out of the window to discover layers and layers of fog and rolling  back into the warmth of the quilt for some more time…seems like we’ve always been living in ice age.
 Winters have induced lassitude in plants too! Our cauliflowers are playing hide and seek and refusing to peep out.  Our  vegetable patch looks dull except for some wild bushes that have sprouted forth and borne flowers, keeping with the dates of calendar that have already announced the arrival of the Spring. Following the trend, some plants too have started flowering and little birds with no intention of letting go the opportunity have been hovering around and poking flowers with their beaks and siphoning out the fresh nectar. It is so blissful to watch them…..so healing and so therapeutic!

Oriental White eye 
Purple sunbird
Purple sunbird sucking nectar from Aloe Vera flowers
Planning dinner during winters always helps as it leaves you with some extra time to flip through the pages of your favorite book or the pleasure of reading out another of your child’s favourite fairy tale as she slips into her soft quilt and begins to get lost into her fairy land becoming a princess or a fairy.
I make quick breads quite regularly during winters. Easy and quick to make, it makes simple and healthy dinner with soups or broth. Here is the recipe of Honey Whole Wheat and Oats Quick Bread that I made recently. It is very delicious bread.


Honey Whole Wheat and Oats Quick Bread
Ingredients
1 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup (scant) plain yogurt
1 egg
¾ cup low fat milk
¼ cup Canola oil
¼ cup honey
1 ¼ teaspoon salt
2 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon soda
2 tablespoons oats for topping
Method
Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. Line and grease and dust one 9x5 inch pan.
Whisk together whole wheat flour, oats, all purpose flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
In another bowl, beat the egg lightly. Add oil and honey and beat till well blended.  Add yogurt and mix well. Stir in milk.
Add flour mix and into yogurt mix and gently stir till well incorporated. Do not over mix.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the oats over the top.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Tent loosely with a foil if the top is browning too fast. Turn off the oven; remove the loaf from the pan after 15 minutes. Run a knife around the sides to loosen it and turn it onto the rack. Slice when cold.


Thursday, 6 February 2014

Sweet Tomato Chutney



No Indian meal is complete without a dollop of mouth watering chutney on the side. Chutneys pep up the meals even if the meals are simple and bland. Chutneys have graced the Indian table since ancient times and descriptions of these gastronomical delights have been found in the earliest Indian chronicles.
Every family has its own chutney recipe that has been designed or tweaked to suit the palate. These recipes are passed on from generation to next like a legacy, and often guarded like a secret.
Here is our family recipe of Tomato Chutney and I have no qualms in sharing it. My grandmother used to make this chutney from home grown tomatoes. My mother carried forward this recipe and made some changes to suit her preference for spicy taste. She added red chilli powder. My grandmother used to love raisins in chutney and my mother added melon seeds instead.


 I made the same chutney with both raisins and melon seeds. I have added very little chilli powder.
This is how I made Sweet Tomato Chutney
Sweet Tomato Chutney
Ingredients
500 Gms ripe tomatoes
¾   to 1 cup sugar (depending on your taste)
1 tablespoon garlic paste
1 tablespoon ginger paste
3 tablespoons malt vinegar
6 cloves
2 cinnamon (1 inch) sticks
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon raisins
1 tablespoon melon seeds
Method
Wash the tomatoes. Peel them. Or, blanch them in boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes. Peel and chop them into very small pieces.
Put the chopped tomatoes in a thick bottom steel wok. Add all the ingredients except melon seeds. Cook on low heat. Keep stirring from time to time, till the mixture thickens.
Turn off the heat. Add melon seeds. Let the mixture cool.
Ladle into a clean dry jar. Allow to mature for 2 days.

Linking to Vegan Thursdays





Monday, 3 February 2014

Guava Cheese




 Childhood memories remain with us all our life. When stoked, they sprout forth like a fountain drenching and flooding you, and you love to drown yourself and getting lost in the beautiful past. My mother did a course on fruit preservation. But it was my dad who actually took to trying out every jam, jelly and toffee that my mom learned in her sessions.  As kids we loved to flip through the pages of mom’s notebook that had pictures of fruits and products prepared with them. We could imagine the taste of the goodies shown in the notebook. Having our own orchard with a variety of fruit trees gave a fillip to making jams at home and my father gained expertise in making jams of all kinds and all those who got to taste them admired his dexterity in combining different fruits and coming come out with unique flavors.


Taking a leaf from my past, I went ahead to make Guava Cheese from the pulp left after making Guava Jelly. In the initial stages of cooking the cheese will bubble, jump and spray your cook top and surroundings. As it thickens, it will bubble occasionally and needs constant stirring. The whole exercise of making it is aptly rewarding in the end. Chewy, squidgy and juicy guava cheese is just out of the world!


I have made Guava Cheese from the pulp left after making jelly.


 Guava Cheese
Ingredients
Cooked guava pulp
Sugar
Lemon juice
Butter
Method
Wash the guavas, wipe them dry and cut them into small pieces.
Add enough water to cover the fruit and pressure cook till soft (2 whistles)
Cool, mash and strain the pulp using a steel strainer. Discard seeds.
For every 1cup of strained pulp add 1 cup of sugar and ¼ teaspoon of lemon juice.
Transfer pulp to a thick bottom steel wok. Add lemon juice.
Cook on medium flame. The mixture will bubble a lot. Keep stirring. When the mixture thickens and becomes darker in colour and reduces in volume, add butter (1 tablespoon butter for every cup of pulp).
Cook till it become thick and you feel an effort in stirring it and the mixture begins to collect in the center like a big ball. Keep a greased ceramic or steel plate ready. Put some mixture in the plate and roll it between thumb and index finger. If it forms a ball, it is done or else cook again till it reaches this stage.
Remove from heat, pour the mixture in a greased baking dish and spread it evenly with the ladle. You can also apply oil/butter to your palm and spread it evenly.
Let it cool a bit. Cut with a greased knife while it is warm.
Let the cheese cool completely. Remove the pieces from the dish. Wrap the pieces in butter paper or cut them into smaller pieces and roll them in fine sugar.

Store in an airtight container.
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