“We have so much, too much, that we can buy, yet the basic labor of doing, the making with our own hands, is what enlivens us and makes us feel human." Dan Lepard

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Cormeal Semolina Bread


Autumn is melting into winter. After the burst of russet and gold the leaves are falling off, leaving the branches bare. Winters flowers are yet to bloom. Early morning chill prompts us to soak in the Sun before embarking on routine chores. We spotted some Bulbuls yesterday. After pecking from the food table the flock flew noisily and perched in the big Jamun tree flitting from branch to branch preening themselves. 


One of them stayed back and bathed for a very long time. It seemed to be enjoying the cold water in the warmth of the Sun.


The season asks for early and light dinner and we find thick soup with homemade bread an ideal combination. Yesterday, we had green pumpkin soup with Cornmeal Semolina Bread. Semolina always gives breads a great texture. This bread asks for kneading for a long time with addition of water in small quantity till the grains drink water, swell up and become soft. In the beginning, the dough is hard and gritty but by the end of kneading for 6 to 8 minutes, it turns soft and elastic.



Cornmeal Semolina Bread


Ingredients
1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup semolina
½ cup corn meal
2 teaspoon instant dry yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil 
2 tablespoons honey
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 ¼ to 1 ½ cups warm water
¼ cup toasted sesame seeds
2-3 teaspoons olive oil for greasing pan

Method
In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients (use only 1 cup water). Stir till the ingredients come together evenly and the dough begins to leave the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a greased kneading plate, oil your hands and knead for 6 to 8 minutes. Keep adding water. Semolina grains will absorb water and become soft. Knead till dough becomes smooth and supple.
Transfer the dough to a grease d bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for 1 hour.
Grease one 8 ½ inch x 4 ½ inch loaf pan. Dust with cornmeal.
Transfer the dough to a greased surface and form it into a loaf. Place the loaf in the prepared pan. Cover the pan and keep in warm place for I hour or until it crowns over the lip of the pan.
Bake the bread in a preheated oven at 190 degrees C for 30 to 35 minutes or till the top turns brown.
Remove from the oven after 5 minutes and from the pan after 5 minutes. Cool in the wire rack.
Slice when cold.

Sumitted for Yeastspotting





Sunday, 16 November 2014

Low Fat Orange Loaf Cake



Early morning the realization dawned that it was a Sunday. Amongst a lot of odd jobs that were lined up for the day, baking an orange cake was on top of the agenda. My daughter wanted to have one and wanted keep some to take to the school the next day. The freshness and aroma of the orange juice and a generous amount of zest makes it really flavourful. I baked it early in the morning and we sliced it in the evening. Half of the cake vanished in no time. Being low in fat makes it guilt free too!





Low Fat Orange Loaf Cake
Recipe adapted from happyhomebaking 

Ingredients
2 ½ cups all- purpose flour
70 grams butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs
1 cup low fat yogurt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Zest of two oranges
3 to 4 tablespoons orange juice

Method
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. grease and line one 8 ½ inch x 4 ½ inch loaf pan.
Sift together all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a bowl beat yogurt till smooth, add vanilla essence and orange juice.
In another bowl beat butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Beat the eggs lightly and add to butter sugar mixture. Add orange zest.
Add half of the flour mixture to butter sugar and egg mixture. Add half of the yogurt mixture. Mix well. Add remaining flour mixture and add the remaining yogurt mixture. Mix well to get a smooth batter. Add more orange juice if the batter is thick.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or till the cake turns golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from the oven after 5 minutes and remove from the pan after another 5 minutes. Cool in the rack.

Slice next day

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Peanut Chikki | Peanut Brittle



Peanut chikki invokes many beautiful memories. Memories of simple childhood, memories of cozy winters, oranges, aroma of marmalade being made at home, eating peanuts sitting in the Sun and a whole lot of winter sweets and candies being made at home. My father loved making chikkis and peanut chikki was our favourite. He would make lots of it but the chikki would never last long. He would make it every weekend and we never had enough of it.


Taking a leaf from  history, I made chikki this weekend.


Peanut Chikki | Peanut Brittle
Ingredients
1 cup peanuts (roasted and skin removed)
1 cup crumbled jaggery
1 teaspoon ghee or oil 
Method
Grease one big size plate.
Take jaggery in a steel wok and cook on low heat. Stir till jaggery melts completely. Cook further till the jaggery starts bubbling. Keep stirring.
Keep a bowl of cold water for testing jaggery for doneness. When the colour of the jaggery turns deep golden, put a drop of it in the bowl. If it feels hard and crackles in the mouth, it is ready. Turn off the heat and add peanuts. Mix well so that the peanuts are all coated with caramelized jaggery.
Spread the mixture on the prepared plate. Grease a rolling pin and use it to spread the mixture evenly in the plate. When the chikki becomes cold, remove from the plate and break into bite size pieces.

Store in an airtight container.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Murmura Laddoo | Puffed Rice and Jaggery Balls



Cold evening melting into misty night…scattered light of yellow lamp…..transistor playing a popular Bollywood number….rustle of peanuts being roasted in sand in a huge iron wok on smouldering logs….cloudy packets of peanut chikki and murmura laddoo hanging in the thela (cart)….a crowd around the thela to buy the goodies, some relishing goodies right there in the warmth of fire while others tucking into their pockets for their loved ones and disappearing in the darkness of approaching night. This was my town of the yesteryears. Today, it hard to find such sights and sound, the nostalgic aroma and the rustic goodies.


Yesterday, puffed rice laddoos in a departmental store caught my attention. Perfectly made, neatly stacked and overly charged laddoos did not have any charm as the ones that were sold in every nook and corner of the streets.


 I had to make my own batch. We love the crunch of the laddoos and love the fact that they are low in calories. Jaggery makes them healthy.

Murmura Laddoo | Puffed Rice and Jaggery Balls
Ingredients
3 cups murmura (puffed rice)
1 cup crumbled jaggery
1 teaspoon ghee (clarified butter)
Method
Roast puffed rice in a thick bottom steel wok for 3 to 4 minutes on low flame. Transfer roasted puffed rice to a plate.
Put ghee in the wok. Add crumbled jaggery. Stir and break lumps if any. Keep stirring till jaggery melts completely. Add puffed rice and stir till it is evenly coated with melted jaggery. Turn off the heat.
Take cold water in a bowl. Dip your hands in cold water. Take handful of mixture from the wok and make balls from mixture. Press the mixture tightly to get walnut size laddoos. (Apply water in your hands once and make 2 to 3 rounds of laddoos. Apply water again only when the mixture start sticking to your hands.
If in the end mixture becomes cold and hard, heat the wok on low flame, the mixture will become soft and easy to mould.
Keep the laddoos in the open for 1 hour.
Store in an airtight container.


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Apple Cake (With Whole Wheat flour)


An unanticipated holiday brought a surge of excitement. At first, an outing to a nearby village was decided with long walks and bird watching being the main charm of the trip. But then practicality dawned and it was decided that a lot of pending chores would be finished. We shopped for kids’ winter wear and bought some more Pansy and Dahlia plants from the nursery besides a lot of other odd jobs.


Market is flooded with apples. A bookmarked apple cake recipe was waiting to happen. There couldn’t have been a better occasion to bake one. I baked an Apple Cake with whole wheat flour. 


The cake turned out delicious, loaded with apple chunks, toasted walnuts and juicy raisins. Cinnamon added a lovely flavour. The cake tasted really delectable and flavourful the next day.



Apple Cake
Recipe adapted from  www.joyofbaking.com 
Ingredients
1 ¼ cup whole wheat flour (replace 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour for a lighter crumb)
¾ cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
2 eggs
3 large apples
¾ cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup golden raisins
 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
Method
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease, dust and line one 7 inch square cake pan.
Place walnuts on a baking tray and bake for 8 to 10 minutes till walnuts turn brown and a pleasant aroma emanates. Cool and chop coarsely.
Peel, core and chop the apples into small bite size pieces. Pour lemon juice on the pieces.
In a large pan whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
In another pan mix melted butter, eggs, vanilla extract and milk. Beat till smooth.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix till you get a smooth batter.
Fold in walnuts, raisins and chopped apples.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Level the top.
Bake for about 35 - 45 minutes or till the top turns golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in the rack. Slice next day.





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