It is a balmy autumn morning. A lot of chores need to be done and being a Sunday, the pace of the work is relaxed. Lawn is being mowed. As the blades of the mower nibble the grass, a horde of moths, butterflies and grasshoppers emerge and take refuge in the nearby vegetation. My daughter removes the leaves from the fish pond. She seems to be enjoying her task. A welcome break after cramming for exams- an exercise so futile and monotonous. My son is digging up the Earth in the backyard. He is making pits of various sizes, filling them up and digging up some more. He claims he is making a house and is thoroughly involved and happy with his work.

As the Sun climbs higher, it becomes hot. The body feels the exhaustion and we pine for cup of hot tea. In the oven, a loaf of milk bread made last evening is ready to be sliced. 

The tea is made and enjoyed with bread which is fluffy, soft and sweet.

 It tastes great with butter and even tastier when toasted and had with a combination of butter and jam.

Simple Milk Loaf

A Dan Lepard Recipe adapted from and the cornerloaf


  • 3 ¾ cup all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk ( at room temp.) plus extra for brushing the loaf
  • 25 g (2 tablespoons) butter
  • ½ teaspoon instant dry yeast
  • 1  teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Some  oil for greasing
  • Some flour for dusting


  1. Place the milk and honey into a large bowl and whisk together.
  2. Whisk together flour, yeast and salt. Add this mix to milk honey mix. Mix with your hands to bring together a soft, sticky dough.
  3. Pour over the warm melted butter and mix this into the dough with your hands, then cover the bowl and leave to stand for ten minutes.
  4. Grease your hands with olive oil. Remove the dough from the bowl to a floured counter and knead for ten seconds, then form the dough into a smooth round ball. Wipe the bowl clean and grease with olive oil, then return the dough ball to the bowl and leave for a further ten minutes.
  5. Repeat this ten-second kneading and resting process every ten minutes twice, then leave the dough to rest for 30 minutes.
  6. Grease one 9 x 4 ½ inch loaf tin. Divide the dough into three equal pieces, shape into three balls and place side-by-side into the loaf tin. Alternately, you can also make 12 small balls of dough and place them side by side in a 7x7 inch square cake pan.
  7.  Cover with a cloth and leave to rise for one and a half hours, or until almost doubled in height. Preheat the oven to 210 degrees Centigrade.
  8. Brush the top of the loaf with a little milk and place into the preheated oven to bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180 degrees Centigrade and bake for a further 25-30 minutes, or until the top of the loaf turns brown and the loaf has come away from the sides of the tin. Tent with a foil if the loaf turns too brown.
  9. Remove from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.
  10. Slice when cold.

A robust curry leaf plant stands in a corner of our small lawn. Fed by the monsoon showers, the plant is lush, bearing new leaves in every stem. We have often noticed larvae of Mormon butterfly feeding on the tender juicy leaves. But we have always been intrigued by the fact that the larvae slowly disappear from the plant before completing their life cycle. Lately, we started keeping a watch and the culprit was found. It was a Magpie Robin.

 A gusty bird that sings beautifully at dawn. She has been feeding on the caterpillars. 

Though one should not intervene with nature, out of sheer affection and concern for the remaining caterpillars, we cut thin strips of paper and wrapped around a stick, with an adhesive. The stick has been fixed in the ground next to the plant, perhaps the flapping of the strips will deter the bird from attacking the future butterflies.

Some overripe bananas in the kitchen were salvaged yesterday. I baked a whole wheat banana chocolate cake.

Whole Wheat Vegan Banana Chocolate Cake with Roasted Peanuts | Vegan Baking


 Dry ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup whole wheat flour (scant)
  • ½ cup to ¾ cup unrefined sugar (depending on your preference for sweetness)
  • ¼ cup + 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 pinch salt
  • A handful of roasted peanuts.

Wet ingredients

  • 2 medium-size ripe bananas mashed
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • ½ cup of warm water


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees centigrade. Grease and line one 6 inch round cake pan.
  2. With the help of a roller, crush the peanuts coarsely. 
  3. In a large bowl whisk together all the dry ingredients except for sugar and peanuts.
  4. In another bowl, take all the wet ingredients and stir well. Add sugar.
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix till well combined. Do not over mix.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle crushed peanuts evenly on top
  7. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven after 10 minutes. Remove from the pan after 5 minutes.
  8. Cool in the rack. Slice the next day.

A trip to the hills happened last week. Having travelled for a very long time, we stopped at a chai shop. We were pining to have tea….we badly wanted to get out of the car and walk around exercising our limbs that had almost gotten numb sitting since hours. A hot cup of tea is an elixir that drives away the exhaustion caused by travelling on hilly roads for hours.
We sat on a flat plank balanced on stones while the owner prepared tea. In a corner of the shop sat a mottled glass jar, clouded by the smoke that emanated from the singeing log on which a dented kettle filled with tea gurgled merrily. The jar was half filled with jeera biscuits or “biskut” as the owner called them.

 Jeera biscuits are the most popular goodies of the local bakeries here. One can find them in every road side stall. With a beautiful balance of sweetness and salt and with flavour of jeera that gets roasted while baking, these biscuits are unique in taste. I wanted to bake them at home.

I baked my own batch this weekend. I used whole wheat flour and used table spread instead of butter.

This is how I made Whole Wheat Cumin Cookies
Whole Wheat Cumin Cookies- Jeera Biscuits
1 ¾ cup whole wheat flour
½ stick  (100 Gms) butter or table spread
½ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons + 2 teaspoon milk (room temperature)
¾ teaspoon to put in dough + 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds (jeera) to sprinkle on top
Beat butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
In a bowl whisk together whole wheat flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add ¾ teaspoon cumin seeds.
Add dry ingredients to butter sugar mixture and mix well till it resembles bread crumbs. Add milk. Begin by adding 2 tablespoons. Knead. Add 2 tablespoons more and knead. Add more milk only if the mixture feels dry. It should come together as soft dough. It should not be sticky.
Preheat oven to 170 degrees Centigrade. Grease a baking tray.
Roll out a thick chapatti of dough on the floured counter. Sprinkle a pinch of cumin seeds. Press them with the roller. Cut out cookies with a cookie cutter. Arrange them on the baking tray. Bake for 12 -15 minutes till the cookies turn golden.
Cool and store in an airtight container.

My notes- I used whole wheat flour. If you are using all purpose flour, you’ll require less milk. Also, you can make plain biscuits by avoiding cumin seeds, and adding ½ teaspoon vanilla extract to dough. Adjust quantity of salt accordingly. You might require just a pinch of salt for plain biscuits.

A helicopter vroomed across the sky….my kids ran out screaming in excitement to spot it. We saw it flying towards the hills becoming smaller and smaller as it eventually vanished in the horizon.  The sky is cloudless and azure. We are in the autumn ….almost. Delicate flowers of Morning Glory dot the landscape.

They wither as the Sun gains strength.

 My son discovered some mushrooms  under the Gulmohur tree. He is amused by them and knocks down a few with a stick. 

By evening, the mushrooms open up completely and look like tiny umbrellas.

My daughter has been requesting me to bake a cake. 

And I readily go ahead. I have decided to bake a cake sans eggs and butter. A whole wheat vegan chocolate cake with a cupful of homemade beet wine is ready to go into the oven. A lovely aroma wafts through as the cake reaches the final stages of baking.

Vegan Beet Wine Chocolate Cake
Recipe adapted from
Original recipe uses red wine. I used homemade beet wine in the cake. Our wine had cinnamon and cloves and this lent a lovely flavour to the cake. The recipe asks for strawberry jam. I used homemade Cape GooseberryJam. The cake was moist, chocolaty and flavourful.

This is how I made Vegan Beet Wine Chocolate Cake
Ingredients (Dry)
1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup mineral sugar or unrefined sugar (powdered)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Ingredients (Wet)
1 cup beet wine
5 teaspoons olive oil
¼ cup jam (preferably strawberry, but any jam will do)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Pre heat oven to 180 degrees C. Line and grease one 6 ½ inch round cake pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients except sugar. (Sift cocoa powder to remove lumps)
In another bowl, mix the wet ingredients and sugar.
Now add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir gently till well combined. Do not over mix. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50 -55 minutes or till the cake shrinks from the sides and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from the pan after 5 minutes. Cool in the rack. Slice next day.

My notes: I had homemade beet wine and I used it in the cake. You may use red wine. I used Cape gooseberry jam I had. I guess any fruit jam will do. Marmalade would add a great flavour to the cake.

The fruits of Ashoka Tree or "False Ashoka Tree" (Polyalthia longifolia) are ripening. Branches laden with purple fruits are a feast for the birds. Cacophony of the birds rend the air as they flock the tree to claim their share. Big ones scare the small ones who keep frequenting the tree to try their luck. Shrieks of a bird draw our attention and we discover a Tree Pie enjoying fruits and keeping away others by its shrill cry.

In my kitchen Guyanese Butterflaps are in the final stages of baking. A recipe that is easy and wonderful. Light fluffy and garlicky, they make our dinner so gratifying and fulfilling. Hard work well rewarded.

Butterflaps are made from white bread dough. You can use any of your favourite bread dough. Dough is rolled into tiny rounds, liberally spread with butter, folded over twice and baked.

Enjoy them warm with a bowl of soup or stew. Or eat them plain. They are yum anyway!
I read about Guyanese Butterflaps at www.tasteslikehome. I used garlic in butter for flavour.

This is how I made Guyanese Butterflaps
Guyanese Butterflaps
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons milk powder
1 ½ teaspoon instant dry yeast
2 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup warm water plus more if needed
2 tablespoons butter, softened
4 cloves of garlic peeled and crushed into a fine paste.
Add sugar and yeast to ½ cup warm water. Stir and cover for 10 minutes.
Whisk together flour, salt and milk powder in a large bowl.
Add yeast mixture and oil and knead dough. Add more water if the dough feels hard or dry. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes till dough becomes smooth and elastic. Place dough into a greased bowl. Cover with a towel and keep in a warm place for 1 ½ hours or till double.
Punch the dough. Mix butter and garlic paste.
Pull out small balls of dough. On the floured counter, roll out a circle about 15 cm in diameter. Spread 1 teaspoon of butter garlic spread. Fold dough into a semicircle and then fold further into a triangle.
Repeat with remaining dough. Arrange butterflaps on a greased baking tray.  Cover and keep in a warm place to rise for 45 to 50 minutes.
Preheat oven to 190 degrees C. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or till butterflaps turn a beautiful golden brown. Enjoy warm butterflaps.

Submitted for Yeastspotting

My little boy was perched on the stairs, watching ants for a very long time. He seemed to be intrigued seeing the ants carrying their larvae. He was curious to see so many of them, in perfect queues, moving in almost straight lines surging ahead like a tranquil wave. Ants carrying their larvae to safety is a sign of an impending rain……and we badly need one. Humidity and heat has reached to an almost intolerable proportions.

 Our bird bath is active again and getting a lot of visitors. 

Yesterday a group of Oriental White Eye was spotted here, drinking water, splashing and bathing for a very long time, getting some reprieve from the soaring temperature.

This time of the year, we get ripe pears from the hills. Sweet, gritty and bursting with juice, the pears are surely a treat.

 Yesterday, I used them in my bake. I baked Fresh Pear Tea Bread.

 Moist and bursting with flavours, low fat and with whole wheat flour, it was enjoyed by all.

Fresh Pear Tea Bread


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup unrefined cane sugar  
  • ¼ cup sunflower oil
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt (scant)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs
  • Juice of a small lemon
  • Zest of a small lemon
  • 2 pears peeled, cored and chopped into small pieces. Measure 1 cup
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts.


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line one 9x4 ½ inch bread pan.
  2. Sift the flours with salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add ground spices. Whisk and keep aside.
  3. In a big bowl, take melted butter and oil. Add sugar and mix well. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. The mixture should become frothy and pale. Add lemon juice and zest. Add vanilla essence. Mix well.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix till the batter becomes smooth. Do not over mix. Fold in walnuts and chopped pears. Ladle the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour or till a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Remove from the pan after 10 minutes. Cool in the rack. Wrap in a foil and store in a container. Slice next day. The flavours develop beautifully.

Linking to #Twelveloaves

#TwelveLoaves is a monthly bread baking party created by Lora from Cake Duchess.

It is the unique and beautiful shape of cottage bread that intrigued me and got me baking my own.
There are a lot of theories about the origins of “Cottage bread”. Most of these theories date back to the time when people had no choice to make their own bread at home. Communal wood fired ovens were shared in the village. To make sure that each family had enough bread and also to save vital space in the oven, people stuck dough on top of each other.
The other theory of course is that back then, the quality of raw ingredients such as the flour was not brilliant, and the resulting bread was very low in volume... so the easiest way to increase volume was to  stick one piece of dough on top of another of course... leading to a cottage loaf!   

A type of basic white bread that is English in origin and is unique due to its shape. The loaf is actually two round loaves – one on top of the other. The top round is smaller than the bottom round. Making a hole through the center of the top round and continuing through the bottom round welds the dough of the two rounds. A wooden dowel or a spoon handle are useful tools for creating the hole. The perimeter of each of the rounds is often slit every 2 to 3 inches, which helps the dough to expand while baking. It is thought that the unusual shape of the cottage loaf was a result of the need to be as efficient as possible with the small baking space available in the ovens of earlier times. The term “cottage bread” is often used to describe a variety of breads that all have the cottage shape in common.
( Source –

This is how I made Cottage Bread. You can use any dough. Just make the dough the way you normally would. For shaping the bread this video is helpful - shaping Cottage Bread

Cottage bread
2 cups all-purpose flour + 1 tablespoon for sprinkling
1 cup powdered oats
2 teaspoon instant dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil + some more for oiling the bowl
¾ cup to 1 cup warm water
Add sugar to ¾ cup warm water. Add yeast, stir and keep for 5 minutes.
Whisk together remaining ingredients. Add water and knead dough. While kneading, add water if the dough feels hard or dry. Knead for about 10 minutes till dough become soft and elastic. Make a ball of the dough and transfer it to an oiled bowl. Turn the dough around so that it is well coated with oil. Keep for 1 hour or till it doubles in size.
Punch the dough, knead for another 2 to 3 minutes. Cut the dough into two parts- one large one and one slightly smaller one. Roll out both the pieces slightly, place small one on top of the big one. Sprinkle some flour and push your finger in the center and push down to base to make a hole. With a sharp knife, cut down through dough, ensuring equal cuts all around. Transfer to an oiled baking tray. Cover with a kitchen cloth, leave to rise for 1 hour or till almost double in size. Sprinkle some flour on top.
Baking in a preheated oven at 190 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or till golden brown.
Cool in the rack.

 It was a rainy Sunday. It poured and poured. Then it cleared a bit and the Sun shone, throwing a massive rainbow across the sky. The clouds came together with greater vigour. It thundered and rained again. This interplay of clouds and the Sun restricted the kids indoors. Multiple rounds of indoor games happened but that did not kill the boredom. Home work was completed, words games played, cupboards arranged…..the day seemed too long. Hunger pangs kept coming and were satiated. It was then we decided to bake some healthy cookies together.

It was great fun for the kids who helped in cutting the cookies.

This is how we made Whole Wheat Oats and Almond Cookies-

Whole Wheat Oats and Almond Cookies | Egg less baking
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup oats
¾ to 1 cup powdered sugar depending on your preference for sweetness
¼ cup almonds ground coarsely
½ cup butter (1 stick or 100 gms)
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon milk 
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
A pinch of salt
In a deep bowl, cream together butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add vanilla essence.
Whisk together whole wheat flour, oats,  almonds, baking soda and salt.
Add flour mix to butter sugar mixture and stir with a spoon. The mixture will resemble bread crumbs.
Add 2 tablespoon milk and knead till the dough comes together. The dough should be soft and pliable. It should not be sticky. Add 1 teaspoon milk only if the dough feels dry.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Take walnut size balls of dough and flatten them. If you want cookies with clean edges, use a cookie cutter or a lid of the bottle. Press firmly on the flattened dough.
Arrange cookies on the baking tray about 1 ½ inch apart. The cookies will expand while baking.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes. The cookies will bloat and then flatten while baking. The cookies should brown uniformly. Turn off the heat and transfer the cookies to the rack to cool. Store in an airtight container.
This recipe gives about 30 cookies.

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