“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

Friday, 28 November 2014

No Knead 100% Whole Wheat Bread


My son wants a tortoise as a pet. Ever since he saw one at a farmhouse, he is intrigued by the humble creature lugging leisurely with a huge shell on its back. 



We were mesmerised by the avian fauna at the farm 




We spotted some Grey Tits pecking the grains from the fields and from the granary by stealth till they were spotted and shooed away by the owner.
By the time we reached home, it was almost late afternoon. A bread had to be baked for dinner. With less time at hand, I baked a whole wheat bread. 


A simple no knead bread that rises very well and  has a soft spongy crumb. 


It can be veganised easily. Replace honey with maple syrup or agave nectar.  

No Knead 100% Whole Wheat Bread
Ingredients
3 ½ cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons honey / maple syrup / agave nectar
2 tablespoons olive oil (1 tb for dough, 1 tb for greasing the pan and hands)
1 ½ teaspoons instant dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups warm water
1 to 2 teaspoons cormeal
Method
Grease one 8 ½ inch x 4 ½ inch bread pan. Sprinkle cornmeal.
Take water in a deep bowl. Add honey / maple syrup / agave nectar. Add yeast.
In another bowl whisk together whole wheat flour and salt.
Add flour mix and oil to the first bowl. Mix vigorously with a wooden spoon for about 2 minutes till a shaggy dough forms. Cover the bowl with a cling film and leave in daft free place for 1 ½ hours or until doubled.
Stir the dough vigorously again with a wooden spoon for 1 to 2 minutes. Cover and leave to rise for another 1 ½ hours or until doubled.
Stir the dough for about 1 minute and empty the dough into the prepared pan. Apply some oil in your palm and level the dough.  Keep the pan in plastic bag ensuring that there is enough room for the dough to rise. Keep for 40 to 45 minutes or till it crests above the lip of the pan. The dough has high water content. It may spill over the sides of the pan. If it does, take the edges of the dough and stretch it over the loaf on the other side. It will keep the loaf in proper shape as it bakes.
Bake in a preheated oven at 190 degrees C for 40 to 45 minutes or till the top of the bread turns golden brown. Tent the loaf with a foil if it browns early. Remove from the oven after 5 minutes and remove from the pan after another 5 minutes. Cool in the rack. Slice when cold.

Submitted for Yeastspotting 





 

Monday, 24 November 2014

Vegan Dates and Orange Cake (Low Fat, with Whole Wheat Flour)



A trip to a nearby village in the foothills was planned long ago but the trip materialized only this weekend. Sometimes when the monotony of the work inside and stress of the work outside gets too much, a date with nature restores normalcy. It is a great balm for the jangled nerves.


We watched a herd of cows raising a thick cloud of dust and disappearing in the hillocks. After a while only the bells around their necks, tinkling rhythmically were faintly audible. Through thickly foliaged Saal forest, we could see the setting Sun and the endless stretch of tomato fields bordered with marigold imbued in the golden hue.


 Some fields were being ploughed and the cattle egrets were inspecting the freshly turned earth for their catch of insects and worms.


 Some hens too, were ambling around kicking hay occasionally.   Life had its own placid pace………everything looked so tranquil….so beautiful.


We packed our lunch and I baked a Vegan Orange and Dates cake the previous day for the trip. 


The cake had moistness and flavour of oranges and sweetness of dates.

Vegan Orange and Dates Cake (Low Fat, with Whole Wheat Flour)
Ingredients
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 ¼ cups all- purpose flour
½ cup sugar (powdered)
1/3 cup olive oil
25 soft dates pitted and chopped
1 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
A pinch of salt
Finely grated zest of 3 oranges
Method
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and dust the sides and line the bottom of one 7 x 7 inch square cake pan.
Whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Blend dates and 1 cup orange juice to get puree. Add white vinegar, sugar and oil and mix well. Add zest.
Mix dry ingredients to wet ingredients till well incorporated. Add some more  orange juice only if the batter feels thick.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or till 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 and slice next day. The cake tastes better next day and best after two days.





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.
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