Pear Cake is delicately flavoured with cinnamon. Two cups of chopped pears go into the batter. It has a very light crumb and is full of juicy pear bits and crunchy walnuts. Every bite is a burst of flavours, and amalgamation of different textures. It is a low fat cake and is very delicious. It makes a great breakfast cake and is a tasty accompaniment to a cup of tea.






The pears trees in our homestead are the old trees some as old as 30 to 40 years or more. 





These are gritty, juicy, and sweet pears albeit not very good looking ones. They have blotchy skin and are spindle-shaped. These pears don’t command a good price in the market. After all, good looks sell.


Most of the farmers in the village are now growing a small variety of pears that are round and juicy and have a lovely smooth yellow skin. These pears ripen early and fetch a good price.
Last week, one of our neighbours got a bag full of these pears. Most of the pears were eaten and some saved to bake a Pear Cake.


Pear Cake is delicately flavoured with cinnamon. Two cups of chopped pears go into the batter. It has a very light crumb and is full of juicy pear bits and crunchy walnuts. Every bite is a burst of flavours, and amalgamation of different textures. It is a low fat cake and is very delicious. It makes a great breakfast cake and is a tasty accompaniment to a cup of tea.



Last year I baked Wholegrain  Pear Cinnamon Cake. The cake has a lovely aroma of cinnamon and has the goodness of wholewheat flour



Low Fat Pear Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chopped pears ( ripe  and soft)
  • 1 cup unrefined sugar
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 free-range egg whites
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon (scant) salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. In a deep bowl, take chopped pears and sugar. Add lemon juice. Give a good stir. Cover and keep for one hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.  Grease and dust one medium size bundt pan or a regular 8 inch round cake pan.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the last four dry ingredients.
  4. Beat the egg whites till fluffy. Add oil. Mix well.
  5. To this add pear mixture. Add dry ingredients. Mix well so that there are no dry pockets or lumps.
  6. Fold in chopped walnuts.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top turns golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Remove from the oven after 5 minutes. Remove from the pan after 6-8 minutes.
  9. Invert on the rack to cool.
  10. Slice the next day.



 Vanilla Wholegrain Cake has a tender and moist crumb. The berry compote made with the wild berries collected from the forest compliments the cake.




It was a foggy morning this Saturday. As the day progressed, it was calm and overcast. 


Last year around mid-June, we had spotted some berries growing wild in the forest. We discovered the berries to be black raspberries. 



Hoping to find the berries again, we went to the adjoining forest. Forest trail was serene and cushioned heavily with leaves and petals.  The dancing treetops and the rustling of the leaves felt like a gentle whisper. Such surroundings quieten the mind and your soul feels at rest.


Forests in the hills are treasures of edible wild berries and fruits. Cold weather and almost negligible human intervention favours the exuberance of wild growth. We reached the same site and discovered fruit-laden branches. Some were eaten right from the plants and some collected.
We got home some cuttings from the older plants and planted in our garden. Nature is amazing and kind and there is something magical about the salubrious Himalayan clime. All the cuttings survived.


Black raspberry is almost like the red raspberry. Red raspberry is very common while black raspberries are a unique type and only grows in certain locations. The ripe fruits are sweet and juicy and full of tiny crunchy seeds. The berries are rich in vitamins and antioxidants.


A wholegrain cake was baked this weekend. We made compote with the black raspberries, Golden Himalayan Raspberries( Hisalu) and homegrown strawberries


Sustainable baking is all about sourcing all the ingredients locally and from around. Most of the ingredients that went into the cake are sourced locally.
The cake turned out moist and soft. The compote complimented the vanilla cake.


You may use any local fruit or berries to make the compote. It adds so much zing to the cake and is a pleasant change from the regular ganache frosting.

Wholegrain Vanilla Cake (Eggless) With Wild Berry Compote

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar/apple cider vinegar

Wild Berry Compote

  • 1 cup mixed berries
  • 1/4 cup water or orange juice
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2-3 tablespoons sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Grease and line one 8 inch round cake pan.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together first four dry ingredients.
  4. In another deep bowl, take the milk and heat it until warm. Add Butter.
  5. Add vanilla extract.
  6. Add dry ingredients and mix until well incorporated.
  7. Add vinegar and mix well. The batter will begin to bubble and feel light.
  8. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top turns golden and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  9. Remove from the oven after 5 minutes. Remove from the pan after 5-6 minutes.
  10. Cool in the rack.

Wild Berry Compote

Mash the wild berries with a fork. Transfer the mashed berries to a steel wok. Add water or juice and lemon juice and sugar. Cook on medium heat till the mixture bubbles and attains a thick sauce-like consistency.
Cool. Pour on the cooled cake.





Cornmeal bread has a lovely taste of cornmeal. The crumb is very airy and soft. Makes a great breakfast bread.



It is mid-summer and it is too early for the rains. The pitter-patter returns to the forest and brings out nature’s magic. Brown pathways turn verdant green, reviving the ferns and foliage. Rain washes everything anew and adds so much richness to each hue.


A bright day after a week of torrential rains is the most beautiful thing one can ask for. The hills were fog-laden and clouds took on strange shapes. Some like dragons, some like demons, and some like puffed cotton balls.


The rains caused rain lilies to bloom before time.


Hydrangea heads looked bigger and vibrant.


It gives so much happiness to see the tiny plants nurtured a year back blooming in all glory.


Dainty daisies brightened up a corner of the garden.

Warm weather calls for baking bread. We had some cornmeal sourced from a village shop.  Farmers in our village grow corn. Tender corns are roasted on the wood fire and enjoyed with homemade garlic chilly salt smeared generously on corn with sliced lemon. Corn kernels are cooked. And the excess corn is dried. The dry kernels are made into flour and stored. After the corn is harvested, the plant becomes fodder for the cattle. Nothing goes waste. Sustainable living is a way of life in the hills.


We decided to bake a cornmeal bread. The bread came out very soft with a mild cornmeal flavour. Cornmeal also lends a beautiful golden colour to the bread. The bread toasts well.
We loved the warm buttered toasted slices with homemade apple jelly.


Yeast Corn Breakfast Bread (Vegan)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1  cup warm water ( 1-2 tablespoons more if required)
  • 2 tablespoons unrefined sugar
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons instant dry yeast

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together first three ingredients.
  2. Add sugar and yeast to warm water in a bowl. Stir and let sit for 10 minutes. It will turn frothy.
  3. Add yeast mix to flour mix. Add oil. Knead for 8-10 minutes. Form a sticky mess initially, the dough will become smooth and elastic and a little tacky. Add more water if it feels dry or hard. The dough should be soft and a little sticky.
  4. Transfer the dough into a greased pan. Turn around once to coat evenly with oil. Cover and keep to rise for 1 hour or until it doubles.
  5. Grease one 8 ½ x4 ½ inch loaf pan.
  6. Punch dough down. Shape into a loaf and place into the prepared pan seam side down. Cover and keep in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until double.
  7. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the top turns golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped at the bottom.
  8. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool.
  9. Slice the next day.

 Linking to #BreadBakers
#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers.
We 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.
Our host this month is Stacy Livingston Rushton who blogs at Food Lust People Love .
Her blog has lovely recipes.
Also, check out  the cornmeal recipe posted by out enthusiastic bakers


BreadBakers

  • Bacon Country Bread with Corn from Karen's Kitchen Stories
  • Corn Bread from Sneha's Recipe
  • Grits Sandwich Bread from Pastry Chef Online
  • Honey Skillet Cornbread from Making Miracles
  • Hot Water Cornbread from Palatable Pastime
  • Iowa "Corn" Pancakes from A Messy Kitchen
  • Polenta Rosemary Garlic Sourdough Bread from Spiceroots
  • Polenta-Crusted, Kernel-Dotted Sourdough from Culinary Adventures with Camilla
  • Sourdough Cornmeal Dinner Rolls from Zesty South Indian Kitchen
  • Southwestern Chicken Skillet with Cornbread Topping from A Day in the Life on the Farm
  • Studded Golden Cornbread from What Smells So Good?
  • Sweet Peach Cornbread from Food Lust People Love
  • Yeast Corn Breakfast Bread from Ambrosia





  • Nettle bread has a soft and airy crumb and a pleasing green colour. It has all the goodness that the nettle has to offer. The slices toast very well and also make great sandwiches.


    Rain laden clouds are looming low on the horizon. Another heavy downpour is expected soon. The weather has been quite strange this year. It has been a wet summer so far.



    The clouds rumble and grumble and a strong breeze makes the trees sway. Soon the rain begins to fall and becomes intense and there are undulating curtains of rain moving across the valley with the wind.

    A flash of sunlight in the evening creates a rainbow far in the valley.

    Cold and wet evenings call for healthy and simple meals. Living in a forest, and love for a sustainable living makes one forage and try out the wild and obscure food growing around the area. Dependence on store-bought food is minimal.



    Recent rainfall has caused the plants of stinging nettles sprout everywhere around our homestead. Old bushes have become lush and healthy. These needed to be pruned and this is where we got the star ingredient of our bread.



    Remember to use a pair of gloves to harvest nettle and pick only the tip and the first two leaves.

    Nettle imparts a deep green colour and to the loaf. The loaf has all the health benefits that nettle has to offer and goes well with a hearty soup. It is believed that nettle is rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins and antioxidants.



    The slices toast well and are best enjoyed with a generous lashing of butter.



    Last year, I baked Wholegrain Nettle Bread.  The blanched leaves were chopped and added to the dough. 



     This time I pureed the blanched leaves and added while kneading the dough. The loaf turned out to be green and flavourful with a soft airy crumb.

    Himalayan Nettle Breakfast Bread (Vegan)

    Ingredients

    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup whole wheat flour
    • ¾ teaspoon salt
    • 2 tablespoons oil
    • 2 tablespoons unrefined sugar or honey (for a non-vegan version)
    • 2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
    • ¾ cup of warm water
    • 2 cups tightly packed fresh young nettle leaves

    Instructions

    1. Blanch the nettles in boiling water, lightly salted water until tender, about 1-2 minutes. Discard water, add a little cold water and blend to get a fine puree. Keep aside.
    2. Dissolve sugar in warm water and add yeast. Stir, cover and keep for 10 minutes. The mixture will turn frothy.
    3. Whisk together first four ingredients (dry ingredients) in a large bowl.
    4. Make a well in the center. Add pureed nettles. Add yeast mixture. Mix the ingredients and knead the dough. Add warm water if the dough is feeling dry. Knead to get a smooth, soft and supple dough.
    5. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl. Turn around once so that the dough is evenly coated with oil. Keep in a warm place to rise for 1 hour or until it doubles in volume.
    6. Grease one 8 ½ x 4 ½ inches loaf pan.
    7. Punch the dough and roll into a rectangle no wider than the loaf pan you are using.
    8. 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 hour or till the loaf becomes double its size.
    9. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until the bread becomes brown and the bottom of the tin sounds hollow when tapped.
    10. Tent with a foil if the top is browning too fast.
    11. Remove from the oven and remove from the tin after 10 minutes.
    12. Cool and slice it the next day.

     

     


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