Desi style cardamom cupcakes

 

Cake stand 1

 

Introducing my  Desi style cupcakes, aka cardamom cupcakes with kesar & pista frosting. These eggless cupcakes are a  great way  to indulge and without the frosting can also be guilt-free ;). I know I have your attention now!

These cupcakes are made with whole wheat flour (stone ground organic atta) and organic olive oil. These butter less cupcake are not only organic & healthy but also gives a new dimension to your dessert table for this Dussehra/Diwali.

Using local ingredients as much as possible is the best way to support honorable Prime Minister Mr Modi’s “Make in India” campaign. I used an Indian brand for cream cheese and was happy with its texture and taste. After making the frosting right from scratch, I realized that you can also frost these cupcakes with shrikhand, either homemade or store bought.

And also my company was featured in Mint this month. Yay!

 Ms Sussanne Khan’s The Home Label team sent me this gorgeous two-tiered cake stand & cake stand for my cupcakes.
 2 tier stand 4
Ingredients
187 gm whole wheat flour
150 gm raw sugar
1 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp baking soda
84 gm olive oil
 a pinch of salt
1 tbs vinegar
245 ml buttermilk or 1 cup milk mixed with 1 tsp of vinegar
Ingredients for frosting 
1 tub or 180 gms cream cheese (I used Britannia)
25 ml of cream
2 tbs of raw sugar
few strands of saffron (kesar) soaked in warm milk for that lovely yellow colour
pistachio for some garnish
Preparation
  • Measure and mix all the dry ingredients like flour, soda, salt, cardamom, sugar in a bowl.
  • Add the wet ingredients one by one  to the dry mixture and mix well.
  • Pour the cake mixture in the cupcake molds and bake at 160 degree centigrade for about 15-18 minutes.
  • Cool on a wire rack once done. Makes 20 medium sized cupcakes.
  • Beat all the ingredients for frosting until smooth in texture. Frost your cupcake garnished with some pistachio. You can also use some thick shrikhand as mentioned above in this post.

 

 

2 tier stand 1

 

DSC_05802 tier stand 3

 

 

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Eggless chocolate cupcake

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Eggless Chocolate Cupcake

choco cupcake

 

Cupcakes are everyone’s favourite and the best part is that they are bite sized (to make us less guilty). Cupcakes are every where! There are dedicated stores only doing cupcakes and you even have cupcake vending machines in America. Have you seen the cupcake wars on television? Originally these cakes where baked in small cups, hence the name cup cake.

If you have been reading my blog you will notice that the use of refined flour is very minimal. I use  a lot of wheat flour in my baking and sometimes use ragi or amaranth flour to make brownies or chocolate cake. I use unrefined and sulphurless raw sugar or coconut sugar in my baking. I also keep a jar of vanilla sugar which comes handy every time I bake. Vanilla sugar can be made by adding  few pods of vanilla into your jar of sugar. I always tend to forget to add vanilla in my baking but luckily the vanilla sugar always comes to my rescue.

These chocolate cupcakes are eggless and I’ve made them twice already before penning down the recipe here. These are very soft in texture. They seem so easy and seamless to make that your family or friends may not even know if you have added oat flour.

Ingredients:

187 gm flour*
150 gm raw sugar or vanilla infuse sugar
30 gm cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
84 gm olive oil
1 tsp vanilla powder or essence
 a pinch of salt
1 tbs vinegar
245 ml buttermilk or 1 cup milk mixed with 1 tsp of vinegar
2 tbs chopped chocolate (50-60%)
Note: I used a mix of wheat & ragi flour in my first batch and wheat & oat flour in the second. Feel free to experiment with flours.
Procedure:
  • Measure and mix all the dry ingredients like flour, soda, salt, cocoa powder, vanilla, sugar in a bowl.
  • Add the wet ingredients to this dry mixture and mix well.
  • Pour the cake mixture in the cupcake molds and bake at 160 degree centigrade for about 15-18 minutes.
  • Cool on a wire rack once done. Makes 24 nos. You could also frost your cupcakes with some chocolate ganache.

 

 


Gingerbread Cake or Molasses Cake

Hello from my new office in Bengaluru 🙂

office

i2cook office in Bengaluru

I kickstarted 2014 with a new office and the madness called ‘transfer & set up’. I felt like I was restarting i2cook but with a bit more experience and help. Couple of months have been busy with birthdays and family time too! I seem to have finally settled into my new space and hoping this year to be a super duper one and promise to bring you more recipes!

I’ve also been spending less time cooking and having a long distance relationship with my husband, who is in Mumbai (Sigh). Which is why baking a cake always makes me happy even if I’m missing him 😉

Gingebread 2

Gingerbread cake has a lovely texture

I maybe a little late at sharing the ginger bread recipe adapted from 101 Cookbooks. But this cake has become my all time favourite cake to bake any time of the year.
Baking a cake has its own positive energy! I like to use only unrefined ingredients. I avoid using maida in my baking and use wheat flour or gluten-free flours. If you are not comfortable using 100% whole wheat flour, I suggest you change the proportion to 50-50 mixed with multi-purpose flour (maida). We are going to use three types of sweeteners in this cake. Remember my post about natural sweeteners… We are using raw sugar, molasses and honey. Molasses does a perfect job at giving that nice flavour which can get you addicted.

Gingerbread 3

This cake is good for any occasion. You could add some walnuts to it and have it as a tea cake or just have it plain. I served this cake for my brother’s birthday with some cream cheese flavoured with coffee and garnished it with some caramelized walnuts; his reaction was a silent smile. You could also make a trifle and gift it to your friends. This cake is  versatile and with a little creativity with flavours can get your guests asking for more!

Gingerbread 1

Gingerbread trifle with cream cheese, pomegranate and cocoa nibs

Ingredients

For dry mixture:

350 gms wheat flour

6 gms ginger powder

5 gms cinnamon powder

6 gms grated ginger

5 gms baking soda

For wet mixture:

200 gms butter

100 gms raw sugar

150 gms black strap molasses

150 gms honey

110 ml water

120 ml milk (at room temperature)

Procedure

  1. Measure and mix the dry mixture along with grated ginger. Mix well and set aside.
  2. Measure all the wet ingredients like butter, sweeteners and water in a non reactive pan. Heat on a stove top until the sugar and butter has melted. Keep aside to cool.
  3. Add eggs one at a time to the wet mixture while it is  warm. Add milk and mix well.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and mix well.
  5. Pour them in the desired pans and bake in a pre heated oven at 160 degree centigrade for 45-50 minutes or depending on your oven settings.
  6. Once baked, allow it to cool for about 30 minutes before removing it from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Gingerbread4

Gingerbread cake is good for any occasion – topped with coffee flavoured cream cheese and caramelized walnuts.

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Gluten-free chocolate cake

Polenta cake

Carrot cake with liquid jaggery


On a sugar rush!

We are all fond of sugar and it has become an integral part of our everyday diet. Sugar is everywhere! Your morning cup of tea/coffee, fruits, cereals, bread all contain sugar. If sugar is such an important part of our diet; don’t you think you should know what your options are, before choosing the right type of sugar that your body requires? Some may also tell you that your body doesn’t require any sugar and you may go on a “no sugar diet”. Sometime later, you find yourself losing control over a candy; to kill your sugar craving. There are times when you are stressed or going through your PMS and all  you want is a piece of that scrumptious dessert. Why is sugar bad for you? Is it because all good things have to be the devil incarnate?! 😉 Perhaps a little knowledge on what sugar really is might help.

Sugar is a source of energy for all our body cells. It comes from food, mainly carbohydrates and excess sugar gets stored in our muscles and liver. Which means that, most naturally available food already contains sugar as a natural sweetener. Hence sweeteners are a necessary food of life! One of the easy or the fastest way to detect sweeteners in food is by it’s  GI (glycemic index).  Glycemic index is a measurement of how quickly sugars from food enter your blood as glucose. High GI results in high levels of blood glucose and low GI results in slower absorption of glucose with fewer changes in blood glucose levels.

Sucrose (combo of glucose + fructose) comes from sugar cane or beet and is often referred to as ‘table’ or ‘added’ sugar. It also occurs naturally in some fruits and vegetables. Chemically speaking table sugars refined from cane and beet sugar are quite similar. However, many of the labels do not specify if the sugar is extracted from beet. Cane sugar may caramelize better than beet, but the difference may not be noticeable to most. Though, sugar beet is common in other parts of the world, there has been some interest in growing sugar beet in India too.

There are so many sweeteners available in the market and the promotional doctored articles make it really hard for us to choose what is really good for us. I’m sharing with you a list of natural sweeteners which are not only healthy but also a good alternative to switch from refined and processed sugar crystals. I’ve cooked, baked and have made them a part of my diet. I think you need to be comfortable with each sweetener and that’s when you know what works best for you.

Raw Sugar or Khandsari – This sugar is a part of my everyday diet and I use it in almost anything. Raw sugar is also known as cane sugar or unrefined sugar and it is minimally processed. Raw sugar is  processed in india for hundreds of years. Sugar is made by extracting juice from the sugar cane. The extracted juice is then boiled and cooled, allowing it to crystallize. The sugar may crystallize into a very fine or granular sugar. This pale golden crystals are raw sugar.

Because raw sugar is not heavily refined, it has higher molasses content than table sugar. It has higher moisture content than regular sugar and keeping raw sugar in an airtight container is highly advised. Raw sugar can be used in your daily cup of beverage, in making jams, juices, Indian sweets, desserts or baking.

pic 193

Liquid Jaggery

Liquid Jaggery or kakvi – Liquid jaggery is obtained by boiling raw sugar cane juice in a cast iron. As the liquid begins to boil the molasses is separated out. The removed molasses is usually fed to the cattle feed in India.  Upon further boiling the juice condenses into a thick viscous liquid, which is called liquid jaggery (if further boiled, it leads to form jaggery). The boiling process is stopped and allowed to cool for bottling. Liquid jaggery has low GI. It helps relieve cold, cough, asthma and congestion in chest. Treats Indigestion and constipation. Also acts as a body coolant and antioxidant. Ideal for people with low haemoglobin. The uses are same as block or powdered jaggery. The disadvantage of this sweetener is that it tends to ferment. The best way to use the fermented jaggery is to boil it again with a little bit of water and use it again and you won’t notice any change ;). Here is an awesome liquid jaggery cake  recipe from my blog!

Jaggery or gurJaggery is one of the most popular sweeteners in india. It is an unrefined sugar, made by boiling raw sugar cane or palm juice (known as palm jaggery) in iron pans. It is then formed into trays to dry and either made into balls or powder form. Jaggery is healthier than refined sugars as it retains natural vitamins and minerals.

The mineral content of jaggery includes calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and iron and traces of zinc and copper. The vitamin content includes folic acid and B-complex vitamins. Thus, other than that it is a good source of energy, it also prevents rheumatic afflictions; prevents disorders of bile; helps in relieving fatigue, relaxation of muscles, nerves and blood vessels; maintains blood pressure and reduces water retention; increases hemoglobin level and prevents anaemia.

Jaggery is a versatile sweetener. It goes so well with our Indian cooking that is has become a must have sweetener in every household. Jaggery perfectly enhances and gives a final touch to any Indian dish. Jaggery is used in coffee/tea or in South Indian cooking to make dishes like sambar. Jaggery can be used in baking cookies, cakes or even breads.

pic 470

Palm sugar or jaggery

Palm sugar or palm jaggery – Palm sugar is a natural sweetener made from the sap of palm trees. Coconut palm sugar and palm sugar may sound same but are completely two different sweeteners. The liquid collected from the sap is called toddy or neera. This fresh toddy is boiled to obtain palm sugar or palm syrup. This process is done quickly to avoid toddy from fermenting. To make the sugar solid, the boiled juice is then poured into bamboo sections to form cylindrical shapes or into coconut shells  or into small baskets woven of palm leaves. You also get palm sugar in powder form, which looks very close to coconut sugar. This sugar, even when soft, can be extremely dense and very sticky. Palm Sugar has a low GI and helps prevent diabetes and anemia during pregnancy. It is also known to be effective against cold and lung related ailments. You can use palm sugar in the same way as you would use jaggery.

Coconut sugar or coconut palm sugar – This is a wonder sugar! Most people are amazed and wonder if it tastes all coco-nuty. Coconut sugar is created from the sap of the coconut palm tree, rather than from the actual coconut itself. Coconut sugar is 100% pure, single-ingredient product with no additives, fillers, or added sweeteners. It is the single most sustainable sweetener in the world! Coconut  sugar is a healthy sugar; low in glycemic index and full of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. It is definitely a better substitute compared to all sweeteners including agave syrup.

Coconut sugar has to be stored in an air tight container. It looses its texture to moisture and may also turn hard. Coconut palm sugar is a versatile substitute for conventional cane sugar for most baking purposes. It is slightly less sweet than cane sugar but more flavorful, and in many cases the quantity of sugar can be reduced by up to 25 percent without altering the end result.You will find coconut sugar not as  sweet as refined white sugars (so if using them for cakes or other desserts, you may need to add more to achieve the same level of sweetness). However, I find they have a nice caramel like taste which is similar to molasses, but lighter. You’ll definitely enjoy the taste! I have been using this wonder sugar in baking cookies, muffins, ladoos and I also made some yum vegan salted caramel.

coconut sugar 2

Coconut Sugar

Molasses or blackstrap molasses – This sweetener is used by many as a medicine more than cooking. Cane Molasses is made in a three-step process that begins with the juice from mature or green sugar cane plant. The juice is boiled to concentrate and crystallize the sugar. The result is called the “first” molasses. The crystallized sugar is removed and the residue is boiled again. The mixture darkens as the remaining sugar is burnt or caramelized. What results is called, “second” molasses. After more sugar crystals are removed, the process is repeated once again. The final or “third” boil produces the dark, concentrated syrup known as blackstrap molasses.

Molasses is rich in iron and contains benefits for  menstruating women, who are more at risk for iron deficiency, pregnant or lactating and growing children or adolescents.Molasses is rich in copper, manganese,  potassium, calcium and magnesium.

Molasses should be stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator or a cool, dry place. Unopened containers can be kept for about one year, while opened containers should be kept for not more than six months. I usually refrigerate mine and they last me for a year. Christmas is fast approaching and I have a really good ginger cookie recipe on my blog. In this recipe, I’m using a combination of raw sugar and molasses.
pic 250

Honey – This naturally rich sweetener produced by the honey bees, making it not suitable for vegans. It is an alternative substitute for white sugar. Research also indicates that honey’s unique composition makes it useful as an antimicrobial agent and antioxidant.

The process of making honey begins when the bees feast on flowers, collecting the flower nectar in their mouths. This nectar then mixes with special enzymes in the bees’ saliva, a process that turns it into honey. The bees carry the honey back to the hive, where they deposit it into the cells of the hive’s walls. The fluttering of their wings provides the necessary ventilation to reduce the honey’s moisture content, making it ready for consumption. Raw honey is the best option than the most filtered honey available in the market. Honey is best stored in glass bottles and they can be used in to enhance your juices and smoothies or for cooking and baking.

Pure Maple Syrup – The process of creating maple syrup begins with tapping (piercing) the tree, which allows the sap to run out freely. The sap is clear and almost tasteless and very low in sugar content when it is first tapped.  It is then boiled to evaporate the water producing syrup with the characteristic flavor and color of maple syrup and sugar content of 60%. Maple syrup is an excellent source of manganese and zinc. Pure maple syrup does not contain any flavouring and will be displayed on the labels. Maple syrup is commonly enjoyed with pancakes. You can also enjoy it on peanut butter toasts or in a bowl of cereal.

Stevia or sweet leaf or sugar leaf – Stevia is a plant and origins from South America.  The compound in the leaves  is responsible for the sweetness. This compound is sometimes sold isolated from the leaves in a highly refined form. In other cases, the sweetener is made by crushing or distilling the leaves of the plant to form a powder or a syrup with an intensely sweet flavor.

It has been shown that stevia is much sweeter than other sugars, meaning that only a small amount needs to be used. The body also processes stevia very slowly, which greatly reduces the risk of a sugar high. In addition, it is essentially calorie free, which is why it is popular with dieters. However, there has no proven facts and some scientists claim that it can cause cancer. Though stevia may seem like a natural sweetener, there has been no proven studies. Stevia leaves can be used in your dialy cup of tea/coffee, juices and smoothies. I’ve never baked with stevia and would like to know if you have used it.

Agave Syrup or agave nectar – Agave syrup is made from the juice of the agave plant, particularly found in the deserts of Mexico. Agave syrup looks like honey, but it is usually lighter and has a cleaner taste.  It is nearly twice as sweet as white table sugar or raw sugar. Though agave syrup has low GI it is high on fructose and is compared to the commercially available sweeteners (because of the way it is being processed). Agave syrup can be used to sweeten your juices, smoothies or can be used in baking.

Going the natural way is the best way of not in taking highly processed sweeteners. All sugars contain glucose and fructose but what you need to check and compare is the GI’s for easy understanding. You can go deeper with the breakdowns and open a chemistry lab.  All the mentioned sweeteners are available on our online store i2cook.com.

 Sweetener

Type

 Glycemic Index (GI) (%)

Raw Sugar

Sugar   extract

40-60

Molasses

Sugar   extract

55

Pure Maple Syrup

Natural sugar

54

Honey

Natural   sugar

50

Jaggery & Palm Sugar

Sugar extract

41-45

Coconut Sugar

Natual sugar

35

Agave Syrup

Modified   sugar

15-30

Stevia*

Natural  sweetener

0

*Studies have shown that insulin is secreted by the pancreas soon after the sweet taste is experienced on the tongue, whether the substance contains calories or not. The body is fooled by the zero calorie sweetener. It expects glucose to hit the bloodstream and it gets none. This may result in increased appetite soon after.

References

http://www.livestrong.com/article/334100-types-of-healthy-sugars/

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-jaggery.htm

http://www.ecovillage.org.in/ecopedia/organic-farming/how-to-make-organic-jaggery-part-2

http://www.sugar-and-sweetener-guide.com/glycemic-index-for-sweeteners.html

http://www.nordicsugar.com/know-your-sugar/natural-sweetness/


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


Polenta Cake

polenta cake 2

Polenta is a new ingredient that I have been exploring in different ways, a cake is what I came up with; different isnt it? It is also a gluten free ingredient. Gluten is a protein found in many grains like wheat, bulgur (dalia), couscous, oats etc. A lot of people these days are either being diagnosed as gluten intolerant or choose to go on a gluten free diet for various reasons. What I realized was that polenta is a great ingredient to work with! From savory to sweet, it knows how exactly to blend in with its fellow ingredients. Polenta is also a great substitute for mashed potatoes or you could also serve them as a side in your steaks or bakes.

Polenta cake has a nice moist, grainy and crumbly texture. The minute I saw the finished cake, I knew it has to be good! This cake can be served with your tea/coffee or as a dessert. I recently had some guests at home and served it with some poached peaches, infused with vanilla. You could also use mixed poached fruits to give it a nice colorful and fruitful appeal. I also served mine with some cream cheese. However, my friends on the second serving suggested that ice-cream would be a really good option.

polenta cake 1

Ingredients:

(Serves 6-8)

100 gms fine polenta

100 gms ground almond or almond meal

100 gms butter at room temperature

100 gms raw sugar

5 gms baking powder

2 eggs at room temperature

1/2 tsp vanilla extract or pure vanilla powder

Procedure:

  1. Sieve polenta and baking powder in a bowl. Add almond meal and mix. Keep this dry mix aside.
  2. Mix the butter and sugar in a separate bowl. Add eggs and mix until creamy in texture.
  3. Add vanilla and dry mix to this wet mixture. Mix until combined. Do not mix vigorously.
  4. Put this mixture in a round cake pan and bake  at 180 degree centigrade in a pre heated oven for about 25 minutes or depending on your oven settings.
  5. Test the cake by inserting a tooth pick and checking if the center is cooked. Cool on a wire rack for at  two hours and serve warm or cold with ice-cream or some poached fruits.

I’ve noticed that the cake tastes much better the next day or on a third day. You can store this cake at room temperature for 3 days in cold weather condition.

polenta 3

Ingredients like polenta & raw sugar are available at  i2cook.com.