“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, 18 September 2014

Vegan Beet Wine Chocolate Cake (Whole Wheat) | Vegan Baking

A helicopter vroomed across the sky….my kids ran out screaming in excitement to spot it. We saw it flying towards the hills becoming smaller and smaller as it eventually vanished in the horizon.  The sky is cloudless and azure. We are in the autumn ….almost. Delicate flowers of Morning Glory dot the landscape.

They wither as the Sun gains strength.

 My son discovered some mushrooms  under the Gulmohur tree. He is amused by them and knocks down a few with a stick. 

By evening, the mushrooms open up completely and look like tiny umbrellas.

My daughter has been requesting me to bake a cake. 

And I readily go ahead. I have decided to bake a cake sans eggs and butter. A whole wheat vegan chocolate cake with a cupful of homemade beet wine is ready to go into the oven. A lovely aroma wafts through as the cake reaches the final stages of baking.

Vegan Beet Wine Chocolate Cake
Recipe adapted from www.lovefoodeat.com
Original recipe uses red wine. I used homemade beet wine in the cake. Our wine had cinnamon and cloves and this lent a lovely flavour to the cake. The recipe asks for strawberry jam. I used homemade Cape GooseberryJam. The cake was moist, chocolaty and flavourful.

This is how I made Vegan Beet Wine Chocolate Cake
Ingredients (Dry)
1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup mineral sugar or unrefined sugar (powdered)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Ingredients (Wet)
1 cup beet wine
5 teaspoons olive oil
¼ cup jam (preferably strawberry, but any jam will do)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Pre heat oven to 180 degrees C. Line and grease one 6 ½ inch round cake pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients except sugar. (Sift cocoa powder to remove lumps)
In another bowl, mix the wet ingredients and sugar.
Now add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir gently till well combined. Do not over mix. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50 -55 minutes or till the cake shrinks from the sides and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from the pan after 5 minutes. Cool in the rack. Slice next day.

My notes: I had homemade beet wine and I used it in the cake. You may use red wine. I used Cape gooseberry jam I had. I guess any fruit jam will do. Marmalade would add a great flavour to the cake.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Guyanese Butterflaps

The fruits of Ashoka Tree or "False Ashoka Tree" (Polyalthia longifolia) are ripening. Branches laden with purple fruits are a feast for the birds. Cacophony of the birds rend the air as they flock the tree to claim their share. Big ones scare the small ones who keep frequenting the tree to try their luck. Shrieks of a bird draw our attention and we discover a Tree Pie enjoying fruits and keeping away others by its shrill cry.

In my kitchen Guyanese Butterflaps are in the final stages of baking. A recipe that is easy and wonderful. Light fluffy and garlicky, they make our dinner so gratifying and fulfilling. Hard work well rewarded.

Butterflaps are made from white bread dough. You can use any of your favourite bread dough. Dough is rolled into tiny rounds, liberally spread with butter, folded over twice and baked.

Enjoy them warm with a bowl of soup or stew. Or eat them plain. They are yum anyway!
I read about Guyanese Butterflaps at www.tasteslikehome. I used garlic in butter for flavour.

This is how I made Guyanese Butterflaps
Guyanese Butterflaps
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons milk powder
1 ½ teaspoon instant dry yeast
2 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup warm water plus more if needed
2 tablespoons butter, softened
4 cloves of garlic peeled and crushed into a fine paste.
Add sugar and yeast to ½ cup warm water. Stir and cover for 10 minutes.
Whisk together flour, salt and milk powder in a large bowl.
Add yeast mixture and oil and knead dough. Add more water if the dough feels hard or dry. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes till dough becomes smooth and elastic. Place dough into a greased bowl. Cover with a towel and keep in a warm place for 1 ½ hours or till double.
Punch the dough. Mix butter and garlic paste.
Pull out small balls of dough. On the floured counter, roll out a circle about 15 cm in diameter. Spread 1 teaspoon of butter garlic spread. Fold dough into a semicircle and then fold further into a triangle.
Repeat with remaining dough. Arrange butterflaps on a greased baking tray.  Cover and keep in a warm place to rise for 45 to 50 minutes.
Preheat oven to 190 degrees C. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or till butterflaps turn a beautiful golden brown. Enjoy warm butterflaps.

Submitted for Yeastspotting

Friday, 12 September 2014

Fresh Pear Tea Bread #twelveloaves

My little boy was perched on the stairs, watching ants for a very long time. He seemed to be intrigued seeing the ants carrying their larvae. He was curious to see so many of them, in perfect queues, moving in almost straight lines surging ahead like a tranquil wave. Ants carrying their larvae to safety is a sign of an impending rain……and we badly need one. Humidity and heat has reached to an almost intolerable proportions.

 Our bird bath is active again and getting a lot of visitors. 

Yesterday a group of Oriental White Eye was spotted here, drinking water, splashing and bathing for a very long time, getting some reprieve from the soaring temperature.

This time of the year, we get ripe pears from the hills. Sweet, gritty and bursting with juice, the pears are surely a treat.

 Yesterday, I used them in my bake. I baked Fresh Pear Tea Bread.

 Moist and bursting with flavours, low fat and with whole wheat flour, it was enjoyed by all.

Fresh Pear Tea Bread
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar (powdered)
¼ cup sunflower oil
¼ cup butter, melted
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt (scant)
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
2 eggs
Juice of a small lemon
Zest of a small lemon
2 pears peeled, cored and chopped into small pieces. Measure 1 cup
1/3 cup chopped walnuts.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line one 9x4 ½ inch bread pan.
Sift the flours with salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add ground spices. Whisk and keep aside.
In a big bowl, take melted butter and oil. Add sugar and mix well. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. The mixture should become frothy and pale. Add lemon juice and zest. Add vanilla essence. Mix well.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix till the batter becomes smooth. Do not over mix. Fold in walnuts and chopped pears. Ladle the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour or till a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from the pan after 10 minutes. Cool in the rack. Wrap in a foil and store in a container. Slice next day. The flavours develop beautifully.

Linking to #Twelveloaves

#TwelveLoaves is a monthly bread baking party created by Lora from Cake Duchess.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Cottage Bread | Vegan Baking

It is the unique and beautiful shape of cottage bread that intrigued me and got me baking my own.
There are a lot of theories about the origins of “Cottage bread”. Most of these theories date back to the time when people had no choice to make their own bread at home. Communal wood fired ovens were shared in the village. To make sure that each family had enough bread and also to save vital space in the oven, people stuck dough on top of each other.
The other theory of course is that back then, the quality of raw ingredients such as the flour was not brilliant, and the resulting bread was very low in volume... so the easiest way to increase volume was to  stick one piece of dough on top of another of course... leading to a cottage loaf!   

A type of basic white bread that is English in origin and is unique due to its shape. The loaf is actually two round loaves – one on top of the other. The top round is smaller than the bottom round. Making a hole through the center of the top round and continuing through the bottom round welds the dough of the two rounds. A wooden dowel or a spoon handle are useful tools for creating the hole. The perimeter of each of the rounds is often slit every 2 to 3 inches, which helps the dough to expand while baking. It is thought that the unusual shape of the cottage loaf was a result of the need to be as efficient as possible with the small baking space available in the ovens of earlier times. The term “cottage bread” is often used to describe a variety of breads that all have the cottage shape in common.
( Source – www.recipetips.com

This is how I made Cottage Bread. You can use any dough. Just make the dough the way you normally would. For shaping the bread this video is helpful - shaping Cottage Bread

Cottage bread
2 cups all-purpose flour + 1 tablespoon for sprinkling
1 cup powdered oats
2 teaspoon instant dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil + some more for oiling the bowl
¾ cup to 1 cup warm water
Add sugar to ¾ cup warm water. Add yeast, stir and keep for 5 minutes.
Whisk together remaining ingredients. Add water and knead dough. While kneading, add water if the dough feels hard or dry. Knead for about 10 minutes till dough become soft and elastic. Make a ball of the dough and transfer it to an oiled bowl. Turn the dough around so that it is well coated with oil. Keep for 1 hour or till it doubles in size.
Punch the dough, knead for another 2 to 3 minutes. Cut the dough into two parts- one large one and one slightly smaller one. Roll out both the pieces slightly, place small one on top of the big one. Sprinkle some flour and push your finger in the center and push down to base to make a hole. With a sharp knife, cut down through dough, ensuring equal cuts all around. Transfer to an oiled baking tray. Cover with a kitchen cloth, leave to rise for 1 hour or till almost double in size. Sprinkle some flour on top.
Baking in a preheated oven at 190 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or till golden brown.
Cool in the rack.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Whole Wheat Oats and Almond Cookies | Egg less Baking

 It was a rainy Sunday. It poured and poured. Then it cleared a bit and the Sun shone, throwing a massive rainbow across the sky. The clouds came together with greater vigour. It thundered and rained again. This interplay of clouds and the Sun restricted the kids indoors. Multiple rounds of indoor games happened but that did not kill the boredom. Home work was completed, words games played, cupboards arranged…..the day seemed too long. Hunger pangs kept coming and were satiated. It was then we decided to bake some healthy cookies together.

It was great fun for the kids who helped in cutting the cookies.

This is how we made Whole Wheat Oats and Almond Cookies-

Whole Wheat Oats and Almond Cookies | Egg less baking
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup oats
¾ to 1 cup powdered sugar depending on your preference for sweetness
¼ cup almonds ground coarsely
½ cup butter (1 stick or 100 gms)
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon milk 
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
A pinch of salt
In a deep bowl, cream together butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add vanilla essence.
Whisk together whole wheat flour, oats,  almonds, baking soda and salt.
Add flour mix to butter sugar mixture and stir with a spoon. The mixture will resemble bread crumbs.
Add 2 tablespoon milk and knead till the dough comes together. The dough should be soft and pliable. It should not be sticky. Add 1 teaspoon milk only if the dough feels dry.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Take walnut size balls of dough and flatten them. If you want cookies with clean edges, use a cookie cutter or a lid of the bottle. Press firmly on the flattened dough.
Arrange cookies on the baking tray about 1 ½ inch apart. The cookies will expand while baking.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes. The cookies will bloat and then flatten while baking. The cookies should brown uniformly. Turn off the heat and transfer the cookies to the rack to cool. Store in an airtight container.
This recipe gives about 30 cookies.

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