Know your flours & recipe for cranberry coffee cake

Cranberry cake 1 If you have been a regular reader of my blog, you would have noticed that I don’t use any refined flours or any other ingredients in my baking. I have been using different kind of flours consciously or sometimes to make use of the left over flours lying in my pantry. Sharing with you a list of unrefined flours which can be used to create tasty and healthy bakes. Whole wheat flour/Atta/Chakki atta – I use whole wheat flour in almost everything I bake from cakes, breads,cupcakes to muffins. It is my best substitute to refined maida or white flour. This flour is a safe bet and if you are slowly switching over from white to whole flour, I suggest that you start with wheat flour. Your cakes or breads may turn out dense initially but you will soon learn to mix flours to give your bakes some nice body and lightness. Recipe for Apple Cake using whole wheat flour.

Ragi or finger millet – gluten-free and can give a little sandy taste at times. I personally, like to mix ragi with either one or more flours and some almond meal to combine a nutty taste. Recipe for gluten-free banana bread or egg-less chocolate cupcake.

Amaranth flour – this gluten-free and high on protein flour can be used in combination with various flour mixes. Amaranth flour tends to impart a strong flavor which may not be appealing to some. However, if the proportion of this  flour in the baked item is less, you can add only the amaranth flour, like the gluten-free brownies or chocolate cake. Trying using amaranth & chocolate together, they are a match made in heaven! Recipe for Amaranth Brownies.

Brown rice flour – It is best to use in very small proportions. Brown rice flour is high on fiber as compared to the white flour. This flour can be used to make banana bread or cookies.

Buckwheat or Kuttu – this rarely found nutty flour can be a baker’s delight. Buckwheat like amaranth goes extremely well with chocolate and can be used in a lot of your baked dishes. Recipe for Chocolate Cake.

Corn flour or makki ka atta – This is another flour which should be used in small proportions, mixed with other flours. It is high on fiber. Do not confuse this flour to the refined corn flour which is used in Chinese dishes.

Cornmeal – Corn meal is also famously known as polenta. It is called polenta because the consumers don’t confuse it to be made of any other dish and also to indicate that it is ideal for making polenta. I had made this delicious cake with this ingredient once. This ingredient is coarse in nature unlike other flours. The other types of gluten-free flours are bajra (pearl millet) or jowar (sorghum) which I’m assuming will work well when mixed with other flours.

These flours work great in combination, rather than  using just one flour due to its non-glutenous nature. Whole wheat works great for baking breads but you could also use finger millet or amaranth for that extra nutrition. You can also find mixed millet flours available in most of the organic shops which I’m yet to try. Different recipes call for different flours and I’ve been trying to include as many flours I can in my baking. The choice of using flours is up to you but the proportions is what you should be looking at closely. For eg: If you are using whole wheat and finger millet in a recipe, you could use 2:1 or can be even reduced to half the quantity in some recipes. The reason being that finger millet and most other flours come with a strong flavor and sometimes may over power your baked dish in taste and colour. Cranberry cake 2 Here is a quick recipe for you to start getting acquainted with unrefined ingredients.

Ingredients for Cranberry Coffee Cake

200 gms whole wheat flour

50 gms corn flour

1 tsp baking powder

100 gms butter (salted)

2 free range eggs

250 gms coconut sugar

200 gms frozen or dried cranberries/blueberries

1 vanilla bean split powder

100 ml milk

25 gms chopped almonds

Recipe for Cranberry Coffee Cake

  • Pre-heat oven at 180 degree centigrade
  • Sieve, weigh and measure all the dry ingredients, flours and baking powder
  • If using frozen cranberries, coarse grind them with vanilla and not into a fine paste
  • Measure butter and coconut sugar and beat until well combined
  • Add egg one by one and beat until it is well in combined with the butter and sugar mixture
  • Combine both the dry and wet ingredients. Add cranberries and mix well
  • Add milk and mix well until well combined
  • Add this cake mixture into a greased pan, garnished with chopped almonds
  • Bake for 40 minutes. Once done, allow it to sit for 10 minutes in the pan, before transferring  to a wire rack for cooling.
  • Eat warm with your favorite choice of toppings.

Cranberry cake 3

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Gluten-free banana bread using i2cook’s coconut sugar

Banana bread 1 My all time favorite snack is banana bread. It is not only easy to make but it is so tasty and healthy! The best part about banana bread is that you can always play with different ingredients. I usually make banana bread with whole wheat flour. This time, I wanted to try the gluten-free version by using millet flours that were lying in my pantry for sometime. I’ve made this bread couple of times as this particular recipe has become one of my new favorite. I’ve used two types of millets – pearl and amaranth. The addition of almond meal gives this banana bread a nice texture and a nutty taste. Coconut oil is something that I love using in my banana bread as it imparts a pleasant aroma and is also an healthy option when compared to butter. More about coconut oil here and coconut sugar here.

Ingredients

75 gms finger millet flour or ragi

75 gms amaranth flour

50 gms almond meal

1 medium sized or two small over ripe banana, mashed

80 gms coconut oil (some extra to grease the pan)

80 gms coconut sugar

1 egg

1 tsp baking soda

a pinch of salt

few pieces choco chips or cocao nibs (optional)

Procedure

  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 salt.
  3.  Add coconut oil, coconut sugar and beat until mixed well. Add egg and lightly beat.
  4.  Combine the dry and wet ingredients (with mashed banana) and mix some choco chips gently 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 before slicing.

Banana bread 2


Peanut Butter Blondies

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I’ve been addictive to these blondies and everyone at home just love it! These are made with real nuts and addition of choco chips makes these an heavenly treat.

Baking with nut butters negates the use of butter since nut butters contain their own fat/oil. You can use any nut butter as the main ingredient and these can be made vegan or gluten free or flour-less. Blondies are like brownies but contain less of cocoa or chocolate. As the name suggests, they are brown in colour. They are  great as a snack or you could have them as  dessert with some  ice-cream.

Ingredients 

500 gms nut butters like  peanut butter or almond butter

2 eggs or 30 gms flax seed powder lightly beaten with 6 tbs of water for egg-less version

1 tsp baking soda

120 gms raw sugar

25 gms choco chips

20 gms nuts or cocao nibs

Note: I usually prefer to add some crunch to my blondies by adding cocao nibs or nuts

Procedure

  1. Measure all the ingredients and keep aside.
  2. Lightly beat two eggs in a bowl.
  3. Mix the nut butter, raw sugar, soda , choco chips and nuts into the wet mixture very softly.
  4. Line 10×10 inch baking dish/pan with aluminium foil or parchment paper and spread the mixture evenly throughout.
  5. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degree centigrade for about 18-20 minutes.
  6. Once done, allow it to cool before cutting them into desired shapes. Serve warm or at room temperature.  This recipe makes about 25 pieces.

 

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Keep calm and bake some chocolate cake….

chocolate cake 1

Running two startups is not easy! I’m tired and stressed. But I also enjoy the new learning. It’s a mixed bag of feelings, I tell you. On a positive note I’ve learnt to multi-task. Managing i2cook.com deliveries and dealing with day-to-day production. On the other hand I’m procuring and on the other I’m selling. For instance, right now,  I’m roasting peanuts and writing this post. Ain’t I cool! 😉

There are days when I’m down or just worked up! I don’t like monotonous work and I do take some productive (ahem) breaks. My logic is very simple, when the pressure at work is too much for me to handle, I just bake. Simple. Bake. Bake bread, cookies or just simple cake. I baked this chocolate cake like three times in less than two months! (God save me from the calories). Once I have like a big unit producing tons of peanut butter, I shall dedicate a room for me. I will have an oven and only bake whenever I feel like taking a productive break ;).

This chocolate cake is simple and gluten-free. I was inspired to make this cake by Smitten Kitchen but I’ve made some changes by trial and error. All the ingredients are meant to be with each other, buckwheat, almonds and dark chocolate is a marriage made in heaven. This cake asks you to bake. Trust me. That is why I ended up making it three times before posting the recipe.

Just bake this cake and you will find reasons like me to keep baking 🙂

chocolate cake 3

 

Ingredients

100 gms dark couverture chocolate (70%)

100 gms butter

100 gms organic raw sugar

3 free range eggs

30 gms organic buckwheat flour

35 gms almond meal (blend in silvered almonds in the grinder until you get a fine powder)

1 tsp baking powder

Procedure

  1. Mix the chocolate and butter in  bowl and place it on a double boiler. Allow it to melt completly and keep  aside.
  2. Measure raw sugar in a bowl and break three eggs. Beat it for atleast 10 minutes or till you get a thick and pale yellow mixture. This is the most important part of the cake and a little muscle work (or a fancy gadget) can give you that super crumbly texture.
  3. Gently fold in the melted chocolate mixture.
  4. Sprinkle the buckwheat and almond meal over the batter and fold gently to combine.
  5. Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting  a toothpick in the center of the cake and it should come out dry.
  6. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan and invert onto the rack. Serve warm or at room temperature dusted with powdered sugar or  dolloped with lightly whipped cream or your favourite ice-cream.

I used organic raw sugar & cocoa beans for plating from i2cook.com.

Updates

“i2” series is a new intiative to network and encourage young entrepreneurs.The theme for this month is “i2write” with two awesome hosts! Please join us if you’re in Mumbai. I was invited by Rodinhoods to present my startup – “There but not there!” Read my post here to view the presentation and what i2cook has been upto 🙂

chocolate cake 2


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

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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/


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!