Monsoon is the season of abundance. Thousands of rain lilies in the lawn present a beautiful contrast to lush grass that is growing taller day by day. We tread carefully as hundreds of red patches in the lawn are the tiny baby centipedes huddled together. Our pond is teeming with thousands of tadpoles crisscrossing the length and breadth of the pond whole day. Dragon fly babies have almost completed their larval stage and will fly out soon.

Our cat is being well fed or over fed these days lest she should eye the baby birds that have left the nest and are perched on the lower branches of Magnolia. They are still being fed by the parents and very soon they will be on their own in the big big world rife with dangers, facing vagaries and struggling to survive.  Nature is pulsating with life, all life forms are thriving and flourishing!

Mango season will soon be over. It will be one year till we get to bite into the juicy mangoes.

My love for mangoes and love for chocolates had me have them both in a cake. I baked an Egg less Whole Wheat Mango Chocolate Cake.

Egg less Whole Wheat Mango Chocolate Cake
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour (atta)
¾ cup to 1 cup sugar depending on sweetness of mango puree
½ cup mango puree
½ cup yogurt
1/3 cup olive oil
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
3 slabs of dark chocolate (40 gms each)
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Grease and line the bottom and sides of one 6 inch round cake pan. You can also bake the cake in one 9 inch x 4 ½ inch loaf tin.
Melt chocolate in a double boiler.
Mix mango puree and yogurt in a deep bowl. Add sugar. When sugar dissolves, add baking powder and soda. Mix well and let it bubble for 3 minutes. Add olive oil and vanilla essence.
Whisk together whole wheat flour and salt. Add to wet ingredients in three shifts. Mix gently till there are no lumps. If the batter feels too dry, add some milk to get the right consistency.
Divide the mixture into two parts. To one part add melted chocolate and mix well.
Ladle the batters alternately into the pan starting with the plain batter. Swirl with the back of a spoon.
Bake at 200 degrees C for 12 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 180 degrees C and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or till the top turns and cake shrinks from the sides or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Tent loosely with a foil if the cake browns too fast.
Remove from the tin after 10 minutes. Invert on the rack. Slice next day.
My notes: Mango puree adds colour and softness to cake. The flavor of the mangoes is not too strong. The cake slices really well when kept in the refrigerator. It is moist and healthy snack cake.

Vietnamese baguettes or more specifically the baguette was introduced by the French during its colonial period.  Bánh mì is a Vietnamese term for all kinds of bread. The bread most commonly found in Vietnam is a single serving baguette, therefore the term Bánh mì is synonymous with this type of bread. The bread has thin crust and soft airy crumb. It is used to make the famous Vietnamese Sandwiches. (Source- Wikipedia)

I was very keen to bake Vietnamese Baguettes. The spindle shaped baguettes with thin crust and soft airy crumb beckoned me to try out my own batch. 

We loved the chewy baguettes with soft crumb.

Bánh mì  – Vietnamese Baguettes

Recipe adapted from Danangcuisine and Vietworldkitchen 
2 cups all-purpose flour
180 ml warm water
1 ½ teaspoon instant dry yeast
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar

In a large bowl take 180 ml warm water. Add sugar and yeast. Add 1 cup all- purpose flour. Mix well. Cover the bowl and keep in a warm area for 3 hours.
Add remaining 1 cup flour and salt to sponge and stir well. Remove the dough from the bowl to the floured counter and knead by stretching and folding method (stretch the dough with the heel of the hands and fold it back with the fingers without tearing it). This helps gluten to develop. Knead for 8 to 10 minutes till dough becomes smooth, supple and elastic.
Make a boule (ball) and place it in a large bowl. Cover and keep in a warm place to rise for 1 to 1 ½ hours or until double in size.
Remove the dough carefully from the bowl without deflating it completely, into the counter. Cut the dough into three equal pieces. Form each piece into boule. Cover and let the balls rest for 10 minutes.
Gently flatten each boule, slap it gently into the counter three times. Flatten it again to get a rectangular shape. Roll it lengthwise and pinch the edges together. Place both hands on the rolled dough, roll it back and forth on the counter, applying more pressure on baby fingers than on your thumbs to shape it into a spindle shape roll – Banh mi. (watch the video here….its helpful)
Place the shaped roll on a piece of parchment paper and cover with a kitchen towel. Let it rest for 1 hour or until double in size.
Preheat the oven and the baking tray at 230 degrees C. Place a bowl of hot water at the bottom of the oven.
Slash the baguette with a sharp knife or a fresh razor blade. Keep the blade at 45 degree angle and make quick slash across the baguette. Bake immediately after slashing.
Remove the preheated tray, lift the parchment paper with the baguettes and transfer onto the tray. Spray water on the baguettes.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. After the first 8 minutes, spray some more water on the baguettes. Keep rotating the parchment sheet so that the baguettes turn golden evenly. Turn off the heat and let the baguettes remain in the baking tray for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven. You can hear the crackling sound from the baguettes.
Let the baguettes cool before serving.

Submitted for Yeastspotting 

Life in the country side has its own quaint charm. A weaver bird raises alarm as our cat comes home after wandering around in the neighbourhood. I wonder at the agility of the tiny bird who has been feeding her fledglings with worms and moths whole day almost incessantly. The fledglings peep out stealthily and curiously at the world outside which is so different from their cozy nest- The monsoons have been sluggish but occasional downpour keeps the weather pleasant, turning the grass green and supporting a whole lot of ecosystem. Tiny insects, strange worms, giant snails make their annual appearance, breeding and flourishing and completing their life cycle. Every seed that has managed to reach the soil has sprouted into a tiny plant…..a multitude of plants of varied species grow in our backyard providing feeding ground for the grasshopper nymphs and tiny caterpillars. How intricate and beautiful is the web of life!

My son, hitherto a non-fussy eater, is beginning to develop strong food preferences. In his transitional phase from infancy to boyhood, he now prefers to eat on his own and has food choices which he never compromises with.

 Last week I baked a coconut cake. I had a lot of desiccated coconut at home. I had to use it before it turned rancid. The cake turned out to be quite a surprise. 

The combination of chocolate and coconut made it really special also the fact that it is my own recipe gave me immense happiness. 

My son approved it and had a big slice much to my exhilaration.

This is how I made Egg less Coconut Chocolate Cake 

Egg less Coconut Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze (Whole Wheat)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup thick yogurt
1/3 cup olive oil
½ cup dry desiccated coconut
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1 ¼ teaspoon soda
1 tablespoon warm water
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Line the bottom and sides of one 6 inch round cake pan.
Beat yogurt till smooth. Add sugar. Leave till sugar dissolves.
Whisk together whole wheat flour and desiccated coconut.
Mix 1 tablespoon cocoa powder with 1 tablespoon warm water. Mix well so that there are no lumps. Add more water if it is too dry.
Add baking soda and baking powder to yogurt. Mix and leave for 3 minutes. It will start foaming. Add olive oil.
Add flour mix to yogurt mix and stir gently till you get a lump free smooth batter. Remove three ladles of this batter and add cocoa to it.
Spoon the batters into the prepared pan. Add half of the plain batter. Now add chocolate batter followed by adding the remaining plain batter.
Bake at 200 degrees C for 12 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 180 degrees C and bake for another 45 to 50 minutes till the top turns brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Tent loosely with a foil if the top becomes too brown too soon.
Turn off the heat, remove from the pan after 10 minutes. Cool in the rack.
Chocolate glaze
2 slabs of dark chocolate (about 40g each)
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon butter
Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Add milk and butter. Beat till smooth. Pour over the cake. Refrigerate before slicing.

A stem of mint put lovingly by my mother into the soil grew roots and threw new leaves. Rain did some magic and my mother’s loving care and touch did wonders. A small stem transformed into a multitude of suckers spreading into every inch of the small vegetable patch. This is the miracle of love and care.

The glossy green and fragrant leaves of the herb beckoned me to use them in my bread. Baking Focaccia has become more of a habit than hobby. It is the sheer ease of making it that makes it so popular. It is also the most versatile bread in terms of the variety of ingredients that one can experiment with. I made a Potato and Mint Focaccia. Harvesting home grown fresh mint was such a pleasure!

Potato and Mint Whole Wheat Focaccia
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 ½ teaspoons instant dry yeast
¼ cup olive oil plus more for bowl
2 ½ teaspoon salt
2 medium size potatoes
1 teaspoon coarse salt to sprinkle on top
A handful of fresh mint leaves chopped finely
Peel, wash and slice the potatoes thinly. Boil 2 cups water with half teaspoon salt. Turn off the heat, add potatoes and cover. Keep for 3 minutes, drain, put on a clean kitchen towel.
Dissolve sugar in warm water. Add yeast. Cover for 15 minutes till it turns frothy.
Mix the flours. Add half the quantity of chopped mint. Add water and knead for 5 to 7 minutes to get soft supple dough. Oil one big size bowl and transfer the dough into it. Cover and let it rise for 1 hour to 1 ½ hours or till doubled.
Preheat oven to 190 degrees C. Grease one baking tray.
Punch down the dough gently and turn it out into the prepared tray. Stretch the dough to a rectangle big enough to fit into the baking tray. Brush dough with 2 to 2 ½ tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle remaining mint leaves. Allow dough to rest for 10 minutes.
Arrange potato slice on the dough, pressing them down gently. Brush the potato slices with remaining olive oil. Sprinkle remaining mint leaves. Sprinkle salt over the dough evenly. Cover and let the dough rise for 20 to 30 minutes. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden from top.
Cool in the rack. Serve warm or cold.
Linking to Yeastspotting 

Ciabatta was always on my “must bake” list. I find it  very interesting bread that has a rustic shape and chewy crust and soft crumb speckled with air holes. Cibatta is an Italian white bread made with wheat flour and yeast. Ciabatta ( chi-bat-uh) means slipper shaped. Baker’s lore says that the loaves are meant to resemble old house slippers. The dough is extremely wet and difficult to shape into loaves. The dough is given a series of folds during its long rising time.

The recipe is not complicated at all. However, it does require a bit of planning since the biga needs to be made the night before you plan to bake it. This step is very important as it gives ciabatta its extra crispy crust and chewy crumb. It is a perfect bread for dunking into soup, or mopping up the last bit of gravy from your plate or simply slathering with butter and enjoying with a cup of tea. Having made one, I wonder what took me so long.

Adapted from
You can read more about Ciabatta here

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups cool water
1 teaspoons instant yeast
Stir all the ingredients in a deep bowl. Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight. By next day, the biga will look soupy with many bubbles dotting the surface.
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 ½ teaspoon salt
Add all the ingredients of dough to biga and mix vigorously. I used a ladle and my hands to bring dough together, for 6 to 8 minutes. Add more flour if the dough is very soupy.
Place the dough in a lightly floured bowl. Let it rise for 1 hour. Deflate it, turn around and let it rise for another hour.
Turn the dough to a liberally floured counter. Flatten the dough and fold it over two three times. Cut it into two pieces, each about 4 inches x 10 inches. Transfer the loaves gently into a floured baking tray with 6 inches gap between them. Cover with a well-oiled plastic wrap and leave the loaves to rise for 1 ½ to 2 hours till vey puffy.
Preheat the oven to 245 degrees C. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or till puffy and well browned.
Cool in the rack. Slice when completely cold.

Linking to Yeastspotting

The languid monsoon has failed to reach here. Cloudy nights and humid days have become a disappointing norm. Sometimes an unexpected drizzle makes the weather temporarily pleasant and leaves with a craving for some more- but in futility, as the sun shines through the clouds or the stars peep through the holes in the clouds.

 This season we had a lot of birds visiting the bird bath. Perhaps the only solace ……A shy barbet has been coming to the birdbath every day. Hiding in the branches of the mango tree, it would inspect the place and then fly away. Few days back, it showed great gumption and we saw it enjoying bathing and splashing water.

Pitter patter of a mild drizzle, cool breeze, and aroma of bread baking is a great combination and a great recipe for good mood. I baked a Harvest Wheat Bread last week.

The bread is delicious, sweet and has the grittiness of cracked wheat and crunch of sunflower seeds.

You can add your own favourite seeds as well. We also add flax seeds sometimes.

Add 1/4 cup flax seeds  to the dough ingredients in place of sunflower seeds.

Harvest Wheat Bread


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup cracked wheat
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds (or, seeds of choice)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon instant dry yeast
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • ¼ cup warm water.


  1. Add cracked wheat to boiling water, cover and let it sit for half an hour. It will become soft. Add remaining ¼ cup warm water, sugar and yeast and leave it covered for 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl. Whisk together all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, salt, sunflower seeds, and oil. Add cracked wheat and yeast mixture and knead for 6 to 8 minutes to get a soft and supple dough.
  3. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Oil one 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch loaf pan.
  4. Transfer the dough to a floured counter. 
  5. Roll out the dough into a rectangle not bigger than the width of the pan you are using. Roll the dough towards you, tightly. Pinch seams to seal. Place the roll in the greased loaf tin with the seam side down. Cover and keep it to rise for 1 ½ hour in a warm place. Or until, it has crowned 1 inch above the lip of the pan.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven at 180 degrees C for 35 to 45 minutes or till the top turns brown and the bottom of the pan sounds empty when tapped. If the loaf is browning too quickly, tent the loaf loosely with a foil.
  7. Remove from the loaf tin after 10 minutes. Cool in the rack.
  8. Slice the next day.

Summer break is over and it is back to school time. Last few days went in preparation for the school. I wonder how things that are kept with special care always get misplaced. There is always a massive hunt for the water thermos, lunch box, and books and of course not to forget the socks that always get separated and refuse to be discovered easily. My daughter had requested me to bake a cake on the last day of her break. She wanted to take a slice for the snack break.  My heart did not cringe as I had a vegan cake in my mind. With lots of cherries at home, I added a cup of cherries to the batter. With  whole wheat flour, no butter and no eggs, the cake couldn’t have been healthier.
The cake is moist and delicious. On second day, it tastes the best.

 Recipe adapted from and  few changes made to suit taste.

This is how I made Vegan Whole Wheat Cherry Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze-
Vegan Whole Wheat Cherry Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze| Vegan Baking
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup muscovado sugar (or ¾ cup white sugar)
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons coffee powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup warm water
1 cup cherries pitted
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Grease and dust the sides with flour and line the bottom of one 9 inch round cake pan.
Whisk together whole wheat flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
Mix coffee in warm water. Add sugar, oil and vanilla extract.  Add vinegar
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix till well incorporated, do not over mix. Fold in pitted cherries.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Reduce the oven temperature to 180 degrees C. Bake for 35-45 minutes or till the top turns brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Invert the cake on the rack and cool completely.
Ingredients and method for chocolate glaze (Optional)
3 slabs of dark chocolate (40 gms each)
2 tablespoons of water
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon chocolate shavings
In a double boiler melt the chocolate. Add water and vanilla extract and stir till smooth. Spread the glaze lightly on the cake. Garnish with chocolate shavings and cherries.
Linking to Vegan Thursdays  

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