Whole Wheat Focaccia

focaccia 1

When Vandana of Esvasa asked me to do an organic recipe for her website. I knew I had to share this recipe. Esvasa is the only online journal which shares and talks about organic food in India (elaborately). It is an informative site and also features list of organic stores and restaurants across India. They also have a monthly news letter and you can sign up for free!

Focaccia is a flatbread, unlike a very thick-crusted pizza. Focaccia is similar to a bread  and can be made in any shape or variation. You can use all kinds of toppings and make it taste good but also visiually appealing. A square of focaccia topped with tomatoes, onions or zataar makes a great lunch or snack, and it’s good lunchbox fare.

Another thing you can do with focaccia is split it laterally and fill it, to make a sandwich.I made myself a nice focaccia sandwich using yellow butterfly’s sundried tomato hummus.

This is a very easy bread. I’m using 100% whole wheat flour and you get a denser than the regular focaccia made with refined flours. You could also use 1:1 variation of whole wheat & all purpose flour (maida) or 2:1 combination.

focaccia 4

Ingredients:

10gms dry active yeast

300gms whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp raw sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup lukewarm water

2tbs olive oil & some extra for rubbing

12-15 pitted black olives, halved

1-2tbs zataar

Procedure:

  • In a glass of lukewarm water, dissolve sugar  and yeast. Allow it to stand for 10 minutes until frothy.
  • In a mixing bowl, mix the measured flour, yeast mixture and form a soft dough, adding more water if necessary.
  • Cream the olive oil and salt separately and work into the dough. Tip onto a floured work surface and knead for 3-4 minutes until elastic.
  • Form into a ball and return to the mixing bowl. Cover with cling wrap and leave to rest for 20-30 minutes or double in size.
  • Knock back the dough (punch it in the middle and let all the air escape) and knead again for 3-4 minutes,
  • Shape the dough in desired shape and place the dough on the greased tray.
  • Roll or press out the dough into a rectangle the size of the sheet pan. Use your fingertips to dimple the dough all over and place the olives at equal distance.
  • Leave it in a warm spot for 20 minutes or double in size.
  • Bake at 200 degrees centigrade for 20 minutes or until the surface is browned.
  • Brush with some olive oil mixed with zataar and cool on a wire rack.

You can keep this bread at room temperature for a day or refrigerate upto a week.

focaccia 3


Wonders of coconut oil & the best recipe ever!

We all are familiar with coconut oil. We all know that it is good for our hair, skin etc.. But have you tried cooking or baking with it?

Baking with coconut oil is something new to me. Studies are now finding it has great health benefits and is a wonderful substitute for other oils in your cooking and baking.

Good points:

  • Coconut oil is one of the healthiest fats available.
  • Promotes weight loss.
  • The main type of saturated fat found in coconut oil is lauric acid. Preliminary studies show that lauric acid increases the levels of HDL in the body and lowers LDL.
  • Virgin coconut oil doesn’t contain hydrogenated oils or harmful trans fats so it’s a healthier option.
  • Coconut oil is incredibly heat stable when compared to other typical baking oils and fats such as butter, olive oil, and even vegetable oil.
  • Unlike butter, coconut oil is shelf stable and does not require refrigeration. Coconut oil also does not go rancid quickly and can be stored for over a year on the shelf.
  • A good substitute for butter in vegan baking.

Bad points:

  • Can be expensive – especially for the highest quality versions
  • Solid at room temperature – usually must be melted to incorporate into baking recipes

pic 538

How to use coconut oil?

In liquid form, coconut oil is an excellent substitute for vegetable oil, melted butter or margarine. One cup of solid coconut oil will melt to approximately one cup of liquid. You can substitute for butter in 1:1 ratio.

You can either microwave or heat on a stove top to melt the solidified coconut oil. It is advisable to use coconut oil, in liquid form at room temperature.

What type of coconut oil to use?

Virgin (unrefined coconut oil or pure) or the less processed oil, preferably organic is the best. The virgin oil is minimally processed using very little heat and has a mild coconut scent and flavor.

Coconut oil helps to curb the salt content, which is otherwise found in salted butter. I find that when I bake with it, my bakes have a special lightness to them and a slightly sweet fragrance unique to coconut oil. I love to incorporate coconut oil into my weekly baking because it makes sweet treats a little healthier. Add some whole wheat flour and natural sweetener, and you have a nourishing, real food. I even use coconut oil in baking my breads!

I’ve shared my banana bread recipe before but this one is different. Way different!  Everyday I’ve been having a slice with my morning & evening cup of coffee. Every bite takes you to heaven. Trust me.

The traditional banana bread is made by using mashed and over ripe bananas. Here we are using sun dried bananas.  I discovered these from Sirsi, Karnataka. You can also substitute the dried bananas to  dried figs. I like my organic  figs from Ecorico . The millet inspiration is from Smitten Kitchen.

Millet &  sun dried banana bread

Ingredients for Crackly Dried Fruit Bread

170 gms whole wheat flour

30 gms uncooked millet (you can use madhira, amaranth or foxtail)

75gms dried banana or dried fig, roughly chopped

1 egg, room temperature

50 gms raw sugar

50 ml agave syrup or maple syrup

80 ml coconut oil, room temperature

1/4 tsp cinnamon powder

1 tsp (5 gms) baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

Procedure:

  1. Preheat the oven at 160 degree centigrade and grease a 8 by 4 inch loaf pan or equivalent.
  2. Sieve the flour along with baking soda, salt and cinnamon powder.
  3.  Add egg, raw sugar and beat until mixed well. Add coconut oil and mix.
  4.  Combine the dry and wet ingredients gently and mix it with the help of a spatula.
  5.  Pour the mixture into the greased pan and  bake for about 45 minutes or until its done based on your oven settings.
  6. Allow it to cool on a wire rack for about one hour.

You can store this bread at room temperature for 3 days or refrigerate up to 10 days. Most of the ingredients used in making this bread is from i2cook.com.

Millet & sundried banana bread

Some useful links on coconut oil:

http://eatdrinkpaleo.com.au/your-ultimate-guide-to-coconut-oil-benefits-types-uses/

http://www.livestrongfitness.com/blog/coconut-oil-miracle-or-myth/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/511678-how-to-make-coconut-oil-a-part-of-your-diet/


Banana bread with peanut butter glazing and cocoa nibs

I’ve got mixed feelings today – the year is coming to an end and wondering what the next one has in store. Do you feel the same?

2012 has been a good year, not  great  but good. A year when I got an opportunity to meet new people and make some new friends. A year that helped me hone my skills and got me started with baking. A year of  disappointments and a year of collaboration. I hope  tomorrow will be a better reflection of the past year.

The combination of banana and peanut butter is heavenly and have you tried it in a smoothie? Ohhh its heavenly. If you’re like me who doesn’t like to cook morning breakfast, then breads are great but banana bread is even more awesome.  Bake it a night before and glaze it in the morning. Warm the bread a bit before  glazing  it with some yummy peanut butter. The nibs add a nice crunch to the bread. I tasted cocoa nibs from Peru for the first time and exploring new recipes with it.

banana bread 1

Ingredients

2 overly  ripe bananas

80gms butter (Amul or Govind)

1 egg

100gms raw sugar (you can add 25gms more if you like yours sweeter)

1tsp baking soda

1tsp cinnamon powder

140gms wheat flour

60gms all purpose flour

For glazing

1tbs peanut butter

1tbs milk (room temperature)

1tsp raw sugar

cocoa nibs for garnish (optional)

1. Preheat the oven at 160 degree centigrade and grease a 8 by 4 inch loaf pan or equivalent.

2. Sieve the flours along with baking soda and cinnamon powder.

3. Mash the bananas in a bowl. Add egg, raw sugar and butter and beat until mixed well.

4. Combine the dry and wet ingredients gently and mix it with the help of a spatula.

5. Pour the mixture into the greased pan and  bake for about 45 minutes or until its done based on your oven settings.

6. Allow it to cool on a wire rack for about one hour.

7. Prepare the glaze and spread it over the cake while its still warm and sprinkle some cocoa nibs for some crunch.

banana bread 3

Happy New Year! Look forward to more food love 🙂


Pulla or Finnish sweet bread

Finnish sweet bread – Pulla

I love baking breads and I had to share my new found love on this day “World Bread day”. I like to bake especially wheat breads. But today I wanted to raise the bar and bake  a sweet bread from a different continent.

Pulla is a Finnish style sweet bread which can be baked in either a bun or roll. They are different from American style cinnamon rolls as pulla is traditionally made with some cardamom. They also add raisins to it sometimes. Its not only delicious but it is so satisfying. The aroma can get your mood to a high and all you want is to grab a hot piece; straight out of the oven then and there.

When I first traveled to Finland I felt liberated. I traveled when I was working, unmarried and with my own money. Not that I’m complaining now but your first travel experience will always be “special”. Baking bread also makes me feel liberated and I think most of you agree with me on this ;). I never got to taste pulla when I visited Finland, but today I know, I would have loved to have tasted it. However, I did taste a lot of berries and I shouldn’t be complaining.

At the arctic circle and I received a certificate 🙂

Ingredients:

250gms flour

1tbs (15gms) active dry yeast or fresh yeast

1 glass luke warm water

1tsp cardamom powder

2tbs butter

2tbs raw sugar

1tbs cinnamon powder

1/2 egg

1tsp rock salt

some sugar to sprinkle (I used raw sugar)

Procedure:

  1. In a glass of lukewarm water, dissolve sugar and yeast.Allow it to stand for 10 minutes until frothy.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix the measured flour, yeast mixture,  and form a soft dough, adding more water if necessary.
  3. Cream the 1tsp fat, cardamon, salt separately and work into the dough. Tip onto a floured work surface and knead for 3-4 minutes until elastic.
  4. Form into a ball and return to the mixing bowl. Cover with cling wrap and leave to rest for 20 minutes or double in size.
  5. Knock back the dough (punch it in the middle and let all the air escape) and knead again for 3-4 minutes.Roll the dough flat with the help of a rolling pin.Mix butter, cinnamon and sugar in a bowl. Note that the butter should be at room temperature and not cold.
  6. Spread the cinnamon mixture on the rolled dough and roll into a braid or any desired shape.
  7. Lay the dough on a parchment sheet.
  8. Leave it in a warm spot for 20 minutes or double in size.
  9. Preheat the oven and brush the bread with some egg and sprinkle some sugar on top.
  10. Bake at 200 degrees centigrade for 20 minutes or until the surface is browned. My pulla had a slightly burnt sugar taste as I baked it for 25 minutes.However, it tasted good.
  11. The bread sounds hollow when done. Allow it to cool on a wire rack.

Cinnamon sugar and coffee – you really can’t go wrong with your day 😉

Store in an air tight container for 3 to 4 days. It is best eaten warm with a nice cuppa coffee.

A lot of the recipes that I found online use a lot of egg and milk, which I found not necessary. I’ve tweaked the recipe to my liking and used egg only at the last stage for brushing to give the bread a nice crust. The recipe has been adapted from here.

You might also like the recipe of whole wheat bread (organic)

Perfect with coffee!


Baking my first bread & one of a kind cooking studio

I bought my first oven  and  it was lying in the box for close to a month! While travel kept me busy, I was wondering where to place it for the perfect hot spot. The thought of handling a new gadget and not having worked with it before made me a little nervous and excited at the same time.

I’ve always been fascinated with bread baking but never had an oven to bake one. A lot of bloggers used to write about how bread baking can be soothing and indulging. I always wondered why and wanted to experience it myself. I got an opportunity to go for the bread baking class at the APB Cookstudio, one of a kind cook studio in India started by Rushina of  A perfect Bite and her husband Shekar. The studio has individual work stations with high end kitchen equipment, a dream kitchen for anyone who loves to cook. My friend Saee from My Jhola was taking an intensive class on bread baking at the studio. Also note with no clue about baking and my oven still lying in the box, I registered for the bread baking class. With a hands on experience and we made different types of breads like white loaf, whole wheat dinner rolls,chocolate rolls etc. After the class, I gained a little confidence at dealing with ‘yeast’.

The next day, my husband helped me instal the oven and I was set to start my journey in “baking”. I couldn’t resist and had to kick start  my new mission immediately. I chose to bake whole wheat bread over the all purpose or maida because I like the nutty taste of the wheat breads. However, no first timer will attempt at whole wheat bread; the reason being – whole wheat breads have a reputation for difficulty because it contains gluten, which doesn’t allow it to rise like the white flour or maida breads.

I enjoyed the process of kneading and waiting for the dough to rise. I cannot account how nervous I must have been going like a million times to check if my bread is browning well. I loved the aroma lingering in my house and for some reason I felt satisfied. Bread baking can lead to short lived simple pleasures of life. Do I sound addicted?  I’ve only  baked twice and on a mission in exploring more variations.

Homemade organic whole wheat bread tastes MUCH BETTER than the store bought one

**The recipe is adapted from Saee’s recipe for whole wheat bread rolls, from the APB class with slight modifications. I used fresh wheat flour instead of packaged ones. If you’re using packaged flour, Saee suggests to add some wheat bran to give your bread a nutty texture. I used fresh/wet yeast, bought from the local bakery for 10 rupees, which will last you for 3-4 bread making sessions. You can freeze rest of the yeast for six months. I used raw sugar the first time and jaggery the second time – I found the one with jaggery better, but  its a personal choice.

Ingredients:

350gms whole wheat flour (use the chakki atta and not processed ones for better results)

2tbs wheat bran (**see note above)

1tbs (15gms) dry active yeast or fresh yeast (**see note above)

1 glass luke warm water

2tsp (10gms)  sugar or jaggery (**see note above)

2tsp ghee/oil/butter ( I used ghee) & some for greasing

2tsp rock salt

for topping – sunflower seeds/sesame seeds/ poppy seeds etc

  1. In a glass of lukewarm water, dissolve sugar/jaggery and yeast.Allow it to stand for 10 minutes until frothy.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix the measured flour, yeast mixture and form a soft dough, adding more water if necessary.
  3. Cream the fat and salt separately and work into the dough. Tip onto a floured work surface and knead for 3-4 minutes until elastic.
  4. Form into a ball and return to the mixing bowl. Cover with cling wrap and leave to rest for 20 minutes or double in size.
  5. Knock back the dough (punch it in the middle and let all the air escape) and knead again for 3-4 minutes,
  6. Shape the dough in desired shape and place the dough on the greased tray.
  7. Leave it in a warm spot for 20 minutes or double in size.
  8. Preheat the oven and sprinkle some water on top and top with the desired toppings.
  9. Bake at 200 degrees centigrade for 20 minutes or until the surface is browned.
  10. The bread sounds hollow when done. Brush with some olive oil and cool on a wire rack.

Store in an air tight container or you could freeze it wrapped in a foil for 3 months.

APB Cookstudio conducts cooking classes regularly. Sharing some of the bread baking class pictures.

Individual work stations at the APB studio

Basic white loaf

Focaccia

Whole wheat bread rolls

Chocolate rolls

We also made some donuts!