A gust of wind shakes the branches of the cherry tree and we get a pink shower as the petals come down dancing, twirling and spinning all around and settle on the dew-laden grass.


Wild cherry is in bloom these days and is adding to the beauty of Autumn. 


The winter chill is setting in. The Himalayas make an appearance off and on when clouds dissipate revealing the majestic peaks from one end to the other.


A sunny day entails endless chores both inside the house and outside. There is a rush to complete the work and drag a chair outside to sit in the Sun, soaking in the pleasantly delightful warmth that is a blessing in the late Autumn.



Watching butterflies on flowers seems like a fantasy, so beautiful so vivid and so charming.


Weekends are for baking and this weekend, we baked an Eggless Vanilla Cake. A cake with half a can of condensed milk,  has a lovely crumb and a great taste. 


 Our friendly neighbour gave us some homegrown pomegranates. We used one for the pretty pink glaze to dress up the cake in the colours of autumn.

 


Eggless Vanilla Cake / Eggless Condensed Milk Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3 tablespoons unrefined cane sugar
  • ½ cup milk (warm)
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons condensed milk ( ½ can)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon  vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven at 170 degrees C. Grease and line one 8 inch cake pan or grease generously and dust one medium size bundt pan.
  2. In a large bowl, take the first five ingredients and whisk well.
  3. In another large bowl, add butter to warm milk and leave to melt.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and mix well to get a uniform mixture.
  5. Add dry ingredients. Mix well until incorporated and you get a smooth batter.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top turns golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Remove from the oven after 5 minutes. remove from the pan after another 5 minutes.
  8. Cool on the rack. Slice when cold.

Note: if using a silicone bundt pan, leave it in the pan to cool.

Autumn is casting its magical spell. The color of the sky is a deep shade of blue, mornings are magical, noon is balmy, evening calm and cold and night still, starry and chilly.
As the morning Sun  pours it’s gold and warmth into our world, foraging and feeding of the birds and bees begin. The serrated Himalayas loom large in the horizon and look white as fresh snow fills up the nook and crevices.


Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch creeps up in the trunk of the apple tree.
A  Blue Capped Rockthrush perches on a stump after swooping down for insects.


 It’s a heavenly autumn morning. Watching birds is like meditation to me. I love the Autumn sunrise, sunsets, and the birds.
We collected fresh coriander and some fresh green chilies growing in the fields Weekends are so relaxing and the pace of life gets lazy as there are no deadlines. We decided on early brunch. With most of the ingredients homegrown, we plan to make Bedmi Parathas with potato tomato curry and yogurt.


Bedmi Paratha is made with urad daal (Black Gram Lentils). Soaked daal is ground coarsely. Turmeric, chili powder, asafetida, and fennel give it a burst of flavours.


 It makes a great breakfast option with just plain curd. Parantha is soft and robust in Indian flavours. 



The parathas are great to pack in the lunch box for kids to take to school.  These are ideal to take on picnics and journeys. Pair with curry and enjoy a sumptuous meal.


Bedmi Paratha (Vegan)

Ingredients

  • 2 bowls whole wheat flour
  • 1 bowl soaked urad daal  (Black Gram Lentils split and skinned )
  • 1-2 green chilies
  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped green coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon asafetida
  • 2 teaspoon fennel (mildly roasted and crushed)
  • 1 – 1 ½ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon oil

Water for kneading
Oil for cooking
Dry flour for rolling parathas

Instructions

  1. Soak Urad dal overnight or for a minimum of 2-3 hours. Add chopped green chilies and grind coarsely.
  2. In another deep bowl, take flour and add all the remaining ingredients. Mix well.
  3. Add ground dal and add water just enough to get a soft dough. Start with very little water and keep on adding water as you need.
  4. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
  5. Apply some oil to your hands and knead for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Heat the tawa (hot griddle). Take a small portion of dough. Roll into a ball and then flatten it. Dust with flour and roll it into a parantha.
  7. Carefully place the parantha on tawa. When tiny bubbles appear on the surface, flip it, apply oil and cook till golden. Repeat on the other side.
  8. Serve hot parathas with curry and yogurt.


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 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.



BreadBakers


This month, the Bread Bakers are making Indian Flatbreads/Parathas, a theme chosen by Renu from Cook With Renu.
And don’t forget to check out all the amazing Indian Flatbreads/Parathas done by our talented bakers.






One quick bake that satiates the sweet cravings and that too without much guilt, is a Gluten-Free Chocolate Mug Cake. The ease and quick gratification that comes with the mug cake makes it the ultimate comfort dessert.





Waking up to a foggy morning in early November is quite unusual in the hills. Retreating monsoon this year was overly long and hence the fog and early winters. The fog keeps floating from bottom to top and sometimes in reverse pattern and sometimes seems to be swallowing up the complete village that disappears in its white arms. And in between the foggy spell, it also clears up almost magically and the golden Sun seeps into our world making it warm and pleasant.


Yesterday, it cleared up later in the morning. We went out to collect the ripe corns from the field. Slightly ahead, close to the orchard,  on a stump, we spotted a Blue Capped Rock thrush. 



It swooped down for insects and came back to its perch repeatedly. 
On sensing our presence, she flew up and perched on the branch of the pear tree.


On cold evenings, one yearns for something sweet and hot after an early dinner. A hot dessert really fits the bill. One quick bake that satiates the sweet cravings and that too without much guilt, is a Gluten-Free Chocolate Mug Cake. Easy and quick to bake, chocolate mug cake is quite regular on our menu. The ease and quick gratification that comes with the mug cake makes it the ultimate comfort dessert.


I have worked on this recipe several times and discovered that of all the gluten-free flours, water chestnut flour tastes the best. We sourced some water chestnut flour from our grocer in the foothills.  Water chestnut flour has a subtly sweet taste and it goes very well with chocolate.
If you are not a great stickler for a gluten-free version,  you may take a blend of all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour or just all-purpose flour. I have added coconut milk for a vegan version. Whole milk also works well.


Do add dark chocolate chunks generously to the batter to get molten chocolate in every bite. It feels like lava cake in a mug. You may serve plain, with ganache, with ice cream or with a generous sprinkle of cocoa or drinking Chocolate.


I have baked this mug cake in my oven. I do not have a microwave. If you have a microwave, cook for two minutes or 30 seconds extra.




Chocolate Mug Cake (Vegan and Gluten-Free)

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons water chestnut flour (or, all-purpose flour or, a blend of all-purpose flour and wholewheat flour if not baking gluten-free)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons unrefined cane sugar (adjust according to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons oil (any neutral oil)
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk (or, fresh whole milk if not baking vegan)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tablespoons dark chocolate chunks (break the dark chocolate into small pieces) or chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C.
  2. Take all the dry ingredients in a large mug. Whisk with a fork.
  3. Add remaining ingredients (except chocolate chunks/chips) and stir well with a fork so that there are no lumps and you get a thick cake batter.
  4. Add chocolate chunks/chips.
  5. Bake in the middle rack for 12 minutes. Shift the mug to the lower rack and cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Enjoy warm mug cake plain or with a drizzle of ganache.

Note:  Bake in a large mug or else the batter will overflow.







Amaranth and Garlic Crackers are vegan and gluten-free. The crackers are crisp, soft, nutty, with a tinge of sweetness from the fresh flour and very flavourful. They make wonderful guilt-free snacking option.




Autumn is here and heading to winter slowly. There is a thick carpet of fallen leaves on the pathways and the courtyard. Pear trees are prepping for winter and shedding leaves profusely.
Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.
Last month there was a riot of colours in the hills. Amaranth plants were in profuse bloom. The colourful flower heads referred to as tassels are deep pink to magenta in colour. Amaranth is a wonder plant. The nutrient rich tender leaves are perfect for salads. Bigger leaves are cooked and eaten.



Seeds ripen three months after planting. They are ready to harvest when the seeds begin to fall from the tassel.  The tassels are cut from the plant and dried on a clean cloth. Seeds keep falling off. The flowers heads are rubbed. A winnow is used to remove the chaff.


Dry seeds are dried in the Sun and stored.
We got some fresh amaranth flour from the village. We made crackers.


We used fresh Thyme, Rosemary and garlic from our garden.


The crackers are vegan and gluten-free. They make wonderful guilt-free snacking option.
Most of the ingredients in the crackers are seasonal and fresh and sourced locally. Like with anything we do, baking can also be made greener and less impacting.  We try to be sustainable and practical. And change comes in small steps.



The crackers turned out crisp, soft, with a tinge of sweetness from the fresh flour and very flavourful.


Amaranth and Garlic Crackers (Vegan and Gluten-Free)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Amaranth flour
  • 5 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons water + 1 more if needed
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 big clove of garlic crushed or grated
  • 3-4  sprigs of fresh Thyme
  • 1 sprig of Rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon salt

*If you do not have fresh herbs, use 1 tablespoon of Italian Spice mix. Adjust salt accordingly.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Pick thyme leaves. Pick Rosemary leaves and chop them finely.
  3. Take all the ingredients in a large bowl.
  4. Mix well. The dough will be clumpy and sandy initially. Add more water only if needed.
  5. You can mix the ingredients in a food processor also.
  6. Transfer to the counter and knead till smooth.
  7. Divide the dough into two parts.
  8. Place one half in a parchment sheet. Cover with another parchment sheet. Roll out with a rolling pin to an even thickness of about 5mm.
  9. Cut with a sharp knife. Prick with a fork to prevent puffing up. This also helps in baking evenly.
  10. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden around the edges. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  11. Cool on the rack and store in an airtight container.






The morning arrived over the sleeping village. Drawn broke, splashing hues of grey that turned purple and yellow that turned gold as the Sun rose in the East. Retreating monsoon has been overly long. A clear sky after a long time felt like a rare sight.



 The Himalayas made an appearance after a long time and sight was majestic and mesmerizing.
A pleasant morning is no less than a celebration of myriad colours, sights, and sounds. Bees crowd the wildflowers and a constant hum is audible you pass by. 


A yellow bumblebee settles repeatedly on a yellow Dahlia perhaps by choice and is almost camouflaged.
Birds forage and their cacophony suffuses the air.  


While a  Rufous Sibia  quietly pecks the ripe pears.
The mellow Sun is soothing, healing and comforting.
In one corner of the kitchen counter, bread batter is covered and kept overnight. We check the batter of our overnight bread. It's bubbly and well risen. After giving it a vigorous stir, it is folded over in the mixing bowl itself and then transferred to the prepared pan. It is a high hydration dough and needs to be shaped with oiled hands once transferred to the prepared pan.
Make sure to sprinkle the greased pan generously with flour. You may also sprinkle the top of the loaf with wheat bran prior to baking.
Cold fermentation really helps dough develop flavor.



The bread is one of the most delicious breads. It has a very soft crumb.
We loved it with a generous spread of homemade peanut butter and Apricot Jam.
This is an amazing and very versatile loaf. You’ll love it with hot soup. It makes great sandwiches too!


Overnight No-knead Bread (Vegan)

Ingredients 

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons raw unrefined sugar
  • 1 ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 2 cups cold water ( plus 1 tablespoon if the dough is too dry)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil.
  • 2 tablespoons bran

Instructions

  1. The night before baking day, mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Add water and oil over the dry ingredients.
  3. Stir the ingredients with a large spoon until thoroughly mixed.
  4. Spray the top of the dough with oil. Cover with a plastic wrap.
  5. Let the dough rise overnight (12 to 18 hours)
  6. Grease one 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch loaf pan. Dust the greased pan generously with flour.
  7. Stir the risen dough vigorously.
  8. With an oiled spatula, with the dough still in the bowl, fold the dough over itself to form a loaf. This step develops tension and helps the dough to rise upwards uniformly.
  9. Invert the dough into the prepared loaf pan, seam side down. With oiled hands,   press and shape  the dough, spreading it uniformly in the loaf pan.
  10. Cover with a plastic wrap and let it rise and doubles, and crests over the lip of the pan.
  11. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  12. Bake for 60 minutes or until the loaf turns golden brown. Tent with a foil if the top is getting too brown.
  13. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
  14. Slice when cold.
Note- If you are baking this bread in cold weather or even warm weather, let it sit on the kitchen counter overnight. If you are baking during summer, keep the batter in refrigerator for about 18 hours.

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