One might think that Nettle bread is a little extreme in my bid for healthy baking. But this is the beauty of home baking. Liberty to use freshest seasonal ingredients of choice. The joy of baking your own bread and the wonderful aroma wafting through and you know exactly what has gone into your bread is a good feeling

Monsoon is on the wane. It rains erratically now. Monsoon has blessed our hills with lush and luxuriant greenery. The landscape is full of ferns, grass, bushes, and weeds.  All sorts of wild greens including nettles have sprung up. Our vegetable patch had to be prepared   for the new crop and a thicket of nettles had to be removed. I decided to use some in my whole grain bread.

Nettles or Stinging nettles as they are commonly called are rich in Vitamins (A, B, C, and K), minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium, fats and amino acids. Adding a handful of nettle leaves to the bread makes it healthy and delicious.

Make sure you use a pair of gloves to pluck tender leaves. Wash and blanch the leaves. Drain and chop the leaves and add to the dough after the first rise.

Nettle bread has a tender crumb. The crumb is speckled with nettle leaves.

Wholegrain Nettle Bread (Vegan)


  • 3 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 2 tablespoons unrefined sugar
  • 1 ½ - 2 cups water cups warm water
  • 1 cup fresh nettle leaves (new tender leaves)


  1. Whisk together first three ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. In another bowl, take sugar and water and add yeast. Stir, cover and let sit for 10 minutes or until frothy.
  3. Add yeasted water slowly to the dry ingredients and knead the dough. Keep adding water and keep kneading till you get very soft and supple dough, about 7-8 minutes.
  4. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl. Turn around dough so that it is evenly coated with oil. Cover and keep in a warm place for 1 ½ hour or until double.
  5. In the meantime, wash the nettle leaves. Bring water to a boil in a large pan.  Add Nettle leaves. Cover and keep for 10 minutes. Drain. Reserve some leaves to put on top. Chop remaining leaves.
  6. Punch the risen dough. Add chopped nettle leaves evenly in the dough.  Knead for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Shape into a ball. Stretch the top and tuck under the seams.
  8. Cover with a kitchen towel and leave to rise for 1 hour or until double.
  9. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  10. Brush the top of the bread with water. Arrange the leaves.
  11. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the top turns golden.
  12. Remove from the oven. Cool in the rack. Slice when cold.
Note: You may use a blend of 50% all-purpose flour and 50% whole wheat flour to get a lighter crumb. In this case, water requirement will be less. You may also use any green leafy vegetable in place of nettle 

Baking a chocolate cake never needs a reason. Good weather uplifts your spirits and makes you do something that you love. In our case, a long walk down the mountain happens often to savour the good weather. Walking under the giant Oaks and Rhododendrons with fog rising and falling or just lazily walking across the valley gives immense pleasure and we never have enough of it.

Last time we walked to a nearby village. And it was almost dark while returning. It was a full moon and the forest trails were light up by the silvery light. Back home, we baked a chocolate cake. Baking is therapeutic.  We baked a wholegrain Buttermilk Chocolate Cake with free-range eggs.
We are lucky to have discovered a lady in the foothills who rears country hens for eggs. Visiting her farm was a delightful experience. Healthy, happy, free hens pecking, forging and roaming all around freely was a beautiful sight. One does not feel guilty to use eggs that come from happy and free hens raised humanely and lovingly.

Farm animals hold a special place in society. They support the burgeoning human population. Their health and happiness should be of utmost importance for those rearing and those consuming their products.

The cake was baked at night. We sliced it the next day. The cake came out soft and delicious. You may add a teaspoon of instant coffee to the batter for a hint of coffee in your cake. You may also drizzle some ganache before serving.

 Wholegrain Chocolate Buttermilk Cake


  • 1 ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • 100 grams butter ( ½ cup)
  • 1 cup unrefined sugar
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 100 ml buttermilk


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Grease and line one 8 inch round cake pan or grease very well and dust one medium-size non-stick or silicone bundt pan.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together first five ingredients. Keep aside.
  4. In another bowl, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  5. Add eggs,  one at a time. Beat well. Add vanilla extract.
  6. Add flour in three shifts, followed by the buttermilk. Mix gently to get a smooth batter.
  7. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50 -60 minutes or until the top turns brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Invert onto the rack to cool.
  9. If using a bundt pan, place the pan on the wire rack and let cool for 10-20 minutes. This allows the cake to become firm enough to be removed from the pan without breaking apart. Tap the pan firmly a few times and shake it gently to help loosen the cake. Invert the pan onto the rack. Lift it off and let the cake continue to cool on the rack.

Slightly sweet, fluffy and soft, Poppy Seed Rolls have lovely crunch and nuttiness that comes from the poppy seeds in the dough. 

Buzzing and clicking of cicadas and chirping of crickets make our nights musical. Moon lends a silver glow to the forests. The night is mystical and sometimes eerie and has its own charm.

Yesterday, in the morning, a Scarlet Minivet was raising alarm. Birds raise alarm when they sense danger and generally, the alarm is raised on sighting a cat, a snake, a bird of prey or some animal that preys.

While going to vermicompost pit to empty the waste, I saw some movement in the grass. I froze as I saw a pair of Yellow Throated  Martens. I have often had a fleeting glimpse of this majestic mammal but never saw it so close. Cute, agile and very alert, Martens are omnivores, arboreal members of the weasel family. 

Last month, Pine Marten is believed to have run away with the packet of jaggery from my baking studio. It perhaps entered the room from the exhaust outlet. The packet was found torn and empty in the nearby forest.

This weekend, we baked Poppy seed rolls for dinner.
We had some white poppy seeds at home and we added to the rolls.

Slightly sweet, fluffy and soft, poppy seed rolls have lovely crunch and nuttiness that comes from the poppy seeds in the dough. We loved them with home made apricot jam. They taste delicious with butter.

The rolls have a great oven spring. Bake them in a broad 9 inch cake pan. There is nothing intricate and elaborate about the recipe. And you get amazingly soft, fluffy and sweet rolls.

Poppy Seed Bread Rolls


  • 1 cup warm water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon butter flavor (optional)


  1. In a large bowl, add ¾ cup water, sugar, and yeast. Stir to dissolve sugar. Cover and keep for 10 minutes. (This is to ensure that the yeast is active.)
  2. When the mixture turns frothy, add oil and vanilla and butter extract if using. Stir.
  3. In another large bowl, whisk together flour, salt and 2 tablespoons poppy seeds.
  4. Make a well in the center and add yeast mixture. Mix to get a shaggy dough. Keep kneading for 8-10 minutes or until you get a very smooth and elastic dough.  While kneading, keep adding the remaining water.
  5. Transfer the dough into a greased bowl. Turn around once so the dough is evenly coated with oil. Cover with a kitchen towel and keep in a warm place for about 1 hour or until double.
  6. Grease one 9 inches round cake pan.
  7. Punch the risen dough and divide into two equal portions. Cut each half into 5 small pieces.
  8. Roll out each piece into a ball. Stretch the top skin and tuck under the seam. This will create surface tension and help rolls to rise up. Press each roll into the remaining 1 tablespoon poppy seeds spread on a plate.
  9. Arrange the rolls in the pan. Cover and keep to rise for 1 hour.
  10. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C for about 15 minutes or until well browned.
  11. Remove from the oven and let sit in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and serve warm.

Linking to #BreadBakers
#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme.
Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.
We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.
This month, the Bread Bakers are baking breads with
seeds. Many thanks to Stacy of Food Lust People Love for such a great theme.

·  Amaranth and Honey Bread from What Smells So Good?
·  Brioche Buns from Simply Inspired Meals
·  Cheddar Poppy Seed Bread Sticks from Food Lust People Love
·  Everything Sourdough Bagels from A Day in the Life on the Farm
·  Kaak from Sara's Tasty Buds
·  Nordic Stone Age Bread from All That's Left Are The Crumbs
·  Poppy Seed Rolls from Ambrosia
·  Seeded Sourdough Boule from Bread Therapy
·  Seeded Turmeric and Leek Levain from A Messy Kitchen
·  Sesame Crackers from Anybody Can Bake
·  Sesame Scallion Bread from Karen's Kitchen Stories


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