With temperatures dropping and a mild sheet of fog looming all over, I had sealed and packed my yeast and sent it for hibernation in a safe corner of my refrigerator. Artisan Bread bakers (fb), a forum for the passionate bread bakers, announced the Bread of the month – Whole Wheat Hazelnuts and Raisin Bread. It was a simple challenge and I wanted to make it.

My yeast was unpacked; layers of covers peeled and the bread making proceeded. I used Almonds, golden raisins and black grapes. To give it an interesting shape, I used a small steel container for final proofing and baking.

This is how I made Whole Wheat Fruit and Nut Bread
Whole Wheat Fruit and Nut Bread
1 cup Whole wheat flour
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoon instant dry yeast
¾ cup almonds (roasted and chopped)
½ cup golden raisins
1/3 cup dried black grapes (seeds removed)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup warm water
Dissolve sugar in ½ cup warm water. Add yeast. Cover for 15 minutes.
Whisk together whole wheat flour, all purpose flour and salt. Add olive oil.
Add yeast mix to flour mix in a kneading plate and knead for 6 to 8 minutes. Keep adding warm water from the remaining ¼ cup of water till the dough becomes soft and smooth. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover and keep for 30 minutes in a warm place.
Transfer the dough to the kneading plate, punch, and stretch with the heels of your palm and knead for 3 to 5 minutes. Stretch again and sprinkle fruits and nuts evenly. Fold, and add fruits and nuts and repeat till fruits and nuts are evenly distributed in the dough. Knead again for 2 minutes.
Oil one 7x3 inch loaf pan; roll the dough into a rectangle. Fold the two sides of the dough to the center, and fold  here)
Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or till doubled.
Bake in a preheated oven at 190 degrees C for 30 to 35 minutes or when golden brown from top and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.
Remove from the pan after 10 minutes. Cool in the rack. Slice next day.

Submitted for Yeastspotting

Adding fruits and veggies to breads adds a lot to the taste and increases its nutritive value too. Sweet potatoes are in season and market is full of them. Sweet potatoes make a wonderful addition to breads. Its natural sweetness enhances the taste. It makes the breads a bit dense but adds natural sweetness and also loads of nutrients.
Sweet potatoes also commonly known as yams are the nutritional powerhouses that add several important components to the diet. Sweet potatoes have high fiber content. They are rich in Vitamin E and contain high amounts of Potassium. This makes them good for heart. Sweet potatoes are rich in Beta-carotene, which is an important antioxidant. Sweet potatoes are rich in Manganese, Vitamin C and Vitamin E.
I made sweet potato rolls yesterday. The warmth of spices and sweetness of sweet potatoes make them just the right choice for breakfast or a good accompaniment to the afternoon tea. Enjoy them with a generous drizzle of honey, or slather some butter and enjoy with hot tea.

Sweet Potato rolls
Adapted from The fresh loaf
This is how I made sweet potato rolls
3 cups all purpose flour
1 sweet potato steamed and mashed
1 cup milk
½ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
¼ teaspoon nutmeg grated
2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
Mash sweet potatoes. Add sugar and milk to make a paste.
Whisk together 2 cups all purpose flour, salt cinnamon powder, nutmeg powder and yeast.
Add this is sweet potato paste. Mix well.
Add more flour from the remaining one cup flour and knead. Keep adding flour till you get manageable dough. Knead till soft and supple.
Transfer dough to an oiled bowl. Turn the dough to coat it with oil from all sides. Cover and let it rise for 1 hour.
Punch the dough, divide into 16 to 18 pieces, and shape into rolls. Place them in a greased baking tray. Cover and allow them to rise for 1 hour or till double in size.
Bake in a preheated oven at 190 degrees C for 20 to 25 minutes or till well browned.
Remove from the oven, place on the rack to cool. Brush the top of the hot rolls with some butter.


One word that truly describes Christmas to me is the little word “joy”.
Joy of the first snow in the hills, joy of playing Santa to our kids, joy of decorating Christmas tree and reliving childhood, joy of surprising loved ones with gifts, joy of togetherness and the joy of sharing………..
One more joy that I really look forward to every year around this time amidst all the hustle and bustle is the joy of deciding which cake to bake for Christmas and then the joy of baking it. Truly a rewarding experience.

This year I decide to bake a Fruit Cake. Loaded with fruit and nut bits with barely enough batter to cover them all, this cake is truly festive.

Fruit Cake
Adapted from Joy of baking and baked with small changes
This is how I made Fruit Cake
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
¾ cups ground almonds
1 ½ cup chopped almonds, walnuts and cashews
¾ cup mixed peels and black currants
½ cup chopped dried figs
½ cup golden raisins
Juice and zest of an orange
Zest of one lemon
3 tablespoons brandy
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
12 almonds (blanched) to decorate the cake
Some brandy to brush the cake
Grease and line one 8 inch round cake pan. Line the sides of the pan with a buttered parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C
Whisk together all purpose flour, baking powder and salt.
Cream together butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add orange juice and brandy. Add orange zest, lemon zest, chopped nuts, peels and fruits.
Fold in flour mix to wet ingredients.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin. Level with a spoon. Decorate with blanched almonds.
Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour.
Reduce the temperature to 150 degrees C and bake for another 35 minutes. Insert a skewer in the center to check for doneness.
Remove the cake from the oven and remove from the tin after 5 minutes. Remove the parchment paper lining and place on the rack to cool.
Brush the top of the cake with a little brandy. Wrap the cake in a foil and place the cake in box.
Brush the cake periodically with brandy until Christmas.
My Notes
The original recipe calls for baking at 160 degrees C for 1 hour and then baking at 150 degrees for another 1 hour 30 minutes. In my case, I baked the cake at 160 degrees C for 1 hour followed by baking at 150 degrees C for 30 minutes.
Prepare the cake in advance so that the flavours develop fully by the time you enjoy it.

Festivals bring happiness. It is the time to gift and share. It is also the time when a little indulgence is pardonable. I generally do not pay much attention to the calorie count of the goodies around this season. After all, these are shared amongst friends and family. And the best part of home baking is that one play with the ingredients. Small changes like adding whole wheat flour and substituting butter with healthy oil makes the recipes healthier besides giving a personal touch. 
I have been on a festive bread baking spree.  I love exploring and trying out the festive breads from different corners of the world. Made Stollen yesterday.

A Stollen is a fruit cake containing dried fruit and often marzipan and covered with sugar, powdered sugar or icing sugar. The cake is usually made with chopped candied fruit and/or dried fruit, nuts and spices. Stollen is a traditional German cake, usually eaten during the Christmas season, when it is called  Weihnachtsstollen or Christstollen.
Stollen is a bread-like fruitcake made with yeast, water and flour, and usually with zest added to the dough. Candied orange peel and candied citrus peel, raisins and almonds, and different spices such as cardamom and cinnamon are added. Other ingredients, such as milk, sugar, butter, salt, rum, eggs, vanilla, other dried fruits and nuts and marzipan may also be added to the Stollen dough. Except for the fruit added, the dough is quite low in sugar. The finished cake is sprinkled with icing sugar.
(Source- Wikipedia)

Whole Wheat Christmas Stollen

Adapted from myrecipes.com myrecipes.com

This is how I made Whole Wheat Christmas Stollen
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 ½ to 2 ¾ cups all purpose flour
½ cup milk
¼ cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons butter
2 ¼ teaspoons instant dried yeast
2 eggs
½ cup orange juice
1/3 cup mix of dried and sweetened cranberries and black currants
1/3 cup chopped dried figs
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup candied peels
½ cup sliced almonds
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoon grated zest
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
Take orange juice in a bowl, add raisins, cranberries, black currants and chopped figs and keep for 20 minutes.
Heat milk, add sugar and yeast. Mix and keep for 15 minutes. Add butter. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add orange juice and fruits. Add almonds, candied peels and zest.
Whisk together whole wheat flour, 2 cups all purpose flour, salt, and grated nutmeg.
Add flour mixture to yeast mixture, stirring till a soft dough forms. The dough will be quite sticky at this point of time. With floured hands, knead for 5 to 8 minutes adding the remaining all purpose flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. The dough will soon become manageable, smooth and elastic.
Place dough in an oil coated dough, turn the dough to coat oil all over. Cover and let it rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Punch dough down, divide into two equal parts. Roll each part into 11 x 6 inch oval. Fold 1 short end towards center; fold other short end also towards center until it overlaps the first end. Place loaves with seam side down on a greased baking tray. Cover and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C for 10 minutes.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or till the loaves turn golden. Cool on wire rack.
Dust with confectioner’s sugar before serving.

Submitted for Yeastspotting

Mild Sun filtering through clouds, the cacophony of migratory birds and the descending of fog
 announce the arrival of cold days here.
Winter tends to make the yeast languid. Breads take unusually long to rise. A whole lot of tricks are put into use to help the yeast work. In my kitchen, quick breads take the center stage then, hot soups are made, stews enjoyed and one pot meals become the order of the day.

Before winters set in here totally, there is a long list of breads that I am literally rushing to bake.
Here is the batch of whole wheat mini Panettones with Cranberry and Pistachios that I baked recently

Panettone is a festive Italian yeast cake flavored with candied fruit peels and raisins.
Panettone is a type of sweet bread loaf originally from Milan  usually prepared and enjoyed for Christmas and New Year (source - Wikipedia)

Panettone is a yeasted brioche bread, flavored with citrus, studded with dried fruits and nuts, and baked in a decorative round paper mold. Italian immigrants to South America brought this special cake with them, and it has become a beloved part of the Christmas celebration throughout Latin America, traditionally enjoyed with hot chocolate on Christmas eve.(source about.com)

Whole Wheat Cranberry and Pistachio Mini Panettones
Adapted from  myrecipes.com and improvised
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour
½ cup warm water
½ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
½ stick (¼ cup) butter
¾ cup sliced pistachios
½ cup sweetened dried cranberries chopped into small pieces
¼ teaspoon salt
2 ¼ teaspoons instant dried yeast
1 egg
1-2 teaspoons oil to coat the bowl and muffin moulds.
Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl. Add whole wheat flour stirring continuously till well combined. Cover and keep in warm place to rise for 1 hour.
In another bowl, combine butter, sugar and salt. Beat well.  Add an egg and beat till well combined.  Add the whole wheat flour and yeast mixture and 1 cup all purpose flour and mix well. At this point, you can transfer the mixture to a kneading plate and use your hands for kneading. Keep adding 1 tablespoon of all purpose flour while kneading as the dough will be very sticky. You can even oil your hands to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands. Keep adding the remaining flour while kneading. Gradually the dough will become manageable, smooth and elastic. Once it reaches this stage, add sliced pistachios and cranberries.
Place dough in a large bowl coated with oil; turn the dough so that it is coated with oil. Cover and let it rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.)
Coat 6 muffin moulds (I used 8 equal size steel bowls) with oil. Divide dough equally among the muffin cups/bowls. Make another batch of small size balls of the dough and place on top of each muffin. Sprinkle some pistachios on top. Cover and leave to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the muffins turn golden brown.
Remove from the oven and remove from the tray/bowls after 10 minutes.

Sending to

#TwelveLoaves is a monthly bread baking party created by Lora from Cake Duchess.  #TwelveLoaves runs so smoothly thanks to the help of the lovely Paula from Vintage Kitchen Notes and Renee from Magnolia Days.
Submitted for yeastspotting

"Hope" is the thing with feathers
"Hope" is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—  

I've heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me.
Today is Emily Dickinson’s birthday. Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was an American poet born in Amherst, Massachusetts on December 10, 1830.
I fell in love with Emily Dickinson when I opted for American Literature in my post graduation. I found her poems very touching, very deep in meaning, dealing with themes of death and immortality. There was some kind of instead connect with her poems. Of all her poems that I read, I loved “Hope” and “success” and these remain my favourite poems till date.
 My thirst to know more about Emily took me to many sites with great information about her life, family and influences in her writing. During one such meanderings, I came across The history kitchen, an amazing website dedicated to a deeper exploration of food, history and culture. Tory Avi, who explores culinary anthropology and the story behind the food, was able to track down one of Emily Dickinson’s actual recipes, a Coconut Cake. If it was not for her site, I would have never known Emily Dickinson’s lesser known passion for cooking and baking and the lovely recipe of her coconut cake.  

On her birthday today, I decided to bake her Coconut Cake and celebrate the life of this brilliant American poet.

Emily Dickinson’s Cocoanut Cake (as Emily spelled it)
Adapted from The history kitchen
This is how I made Emily Dickinson’s Coconut cake
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar (powdered)
1 cup shredded coconut (fresh)
2 eggs
½ cup butter at room temperature
½ cup milk
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
Preheat the oven to 165 degrees C. Grease and line a 9x5 inch pan.
Whisk together flour and baking powder.
Beat butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs one at a time. Add milk and mix well.
Add flour in three shifts till just incorporated. Do not over mix.
Fold in shredded coconut.
Pour the batter in the prepared pan. Level with a spoon.
Bake for 50-55 minutes till the top turns golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

My experiments and use of Semolina in baking are on.  Having baked breads with semolina, it is now cakes. Semolina gives lovely textures to cakes too. The Semolina coconut cake or Basbousa that was baked last week had a soft crumb and great texture. Drenched in sweet syrup, this cake is very easy to make.
Basbousa or Basboosa (Arabic), revani (Turkish) or ravani (Greek) is a sweet cake made of semolina soaked in simple syrup. Coconut is a popular addition. The syrup may also optionally contain orange flower water or rose water. It is found in the cuisines of the eastern Mediterranean under a variety of names. It appears to be a variant of the Egyptian dishma'mounia. Basbousa is very common is Arabia. (Source- Wikipedia and Cookipedia)

This is a very versatile cake. One can try out different combinations. I have baked semolina cake with all the variations and the result has always been great. I have beaked this cake with yogurt instead of milk and olive oil instead of butter.  I have also used 2 tablespoons of honey in place of rose water.
It is very important to prepare syrup and cool before the cake is ready. Pour cold syrup over hot cake.

I read the semolina cake recipes here, here, here and here.
This is how I made Semolina Coconut cake
Semolina Coconut Cake (Egg less)
1cup sugar
½ cup water
½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon rosewater
2 cups fine Semolina
1 cup desiccated coconut
½ cup sugar
½ cup butter
1 ½ cups milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
10-12 almonds halved
Take water, sugar and lemon juice in a thick bottomed pan. Bring it to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes.
Turn off the heat and add rose water. Cool it to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 190 degrees C. Grease and line a 7 inch x 7 inch rectangular cake pan.
Cream butter and sugar. Whisk together semolina and baking powder.
Add semolina mix to butter sugar mixture. Add milk and stir. Fold in desiccated coconut.
Pour the batter in the prepared pan and level it with a spoon. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
Score the batter into 1 inch square with a sharp knife. Place one almond half in each square.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the top and sides are golden brown.
Remove from the oven. Remove from the pan after 10 minutes.
Cut the cake along the lines you scored. Pour cold syrup onto the hot cake. Let the cake sit for two hours before serving.

Semolina gives great texture to the bread. Semolina makes the crumb really soft. When I first used Semolina to bake bread, I was quite skeptical. I was not too sure if the grainy semolina could be kneaded into the dough with the right softness that is required to get a good loaf. But the result was quite contrary to my expectations. The loaf was perfect, the crumb soft, and the taste – great.

This is my second bread with semolina.

Adapted  from How to Bake by Nick Malgieri

Semolina Bread



  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 1 teaspoon instant dry yeast


  • All the sponge, above
  • ¾ cup semolina
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil to grease the bowl, hands and baking sheet.


  1. To make the sponge, add yeast to warm water in a mixing bowl. Add all purpose flour and mix well. Cover and keep it in a warm place for 1 hour or till the sponge doubles.
  2. To make the dough, whisk semolina with all-purpose flour and salt. Add olive oil and mix well.
  3. Stir the sponge and deflate it. Empty it in the kneading plate.
  4.  Add semolina flour mix. Drizzle some olive oil in your hands and knead for 6 to 8 minutes. The dough feels very wet and sticky in the beginning. Gradually semolina absorbs water and begins to swell. The dough becomes soft, supple and elastic.
  5. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl. Cover and keep it to rise for one hour or until doubled.
  6. Turn the risen dough onto the floured counter and deflate it. Knead for 2 minutes and shape it into an oval by stretching the surface and tucking it down.
  7. Grease the baking tray, sprinkle some wheat flour and place the shaped dough with the tucked side down.
  8. Cover with a greased plastic wrap and keep it to rise for 1 hour or until doubled.
  9. Take a sharp knife, hold it at about 30-degree angle to the loaf and slash three lines.
  10. Bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees C for 30-35 minutes, until the loaf turns golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.
  11. Cool on a rack, slice next day.

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