“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

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Whole Wheat Boiled Fruit Cake

There was a birthday in the family last week. Birthdays give a perfect reason to be indulgent, to experiment and to be a little liberal with ingredients that otherwise weigh you down with guilt. A cake had to be baked no doubt. A whole lot of cake recipes floated in my mind and I could literally see a slide show of birthday cakes with lovely frostings dripping and trickling down the cake. Play of imaginations was paused when the much anticipated request for a healthy cake came through…….quite earnestly. It is birthday boy’s absolute prerogative to decide on his day and the request had to be heeded. A lot of recipes were reviewed; the only cake that fitted the “healthy” bracket was a Boiled Fruit Cake.

It is called the Boiled fruitcake because dry fruits, butter, sugar and spices are actually boiled. This mixture is allowed to cool and then the flour is added.

The cake is studded with dry fruits and has a wonderfully moist crumb. It tastes better with age as the flavours develop fully with time.

Whole Wheat  Boiled Fruit Cake
Adapted from The Australian Women’s Weekly
To make the cake “healthy” I made some changes in the original recipe. I swiped 1 cup  all purpose flour with whole wheat flour. Used table spread in place of butter. I also used ½ cup muscovado sugar. The cake had a dense crumb initially. After two days, the cake became really soft, and moist. On the third day, it was a slice of heaven!
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
2 ¾ cups dried fruits (golden raisins, black grapes, black currants, dried figs)
½ cup white sugar
½ cup muscovado sugar [or 1 cup brown sugar]
½ cup (I stick) butter
½ cup water
1/3 cup blanched almonds
1 egg
1 teaspoon mixed spice (4-5 cloves, 2 medium size cinnamon sticks, small piece of nutmeg, 3-4 green cardamom)
½ cup sweet sherry (I used homemade beetroot wine)
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
Combine dry fruits, sugar, butter, spice and baking soda in a large saucepan. Stir over low heat till sugar dissolves and butter melts. Bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in sherry. Cool to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 160 degrees C. Line the base and sides of one 8 inch round cake tin with parchment paper.
Stir egg into the mixture. Mix well. Add flours, baking powder and salt. Spoon mixture into the prepared tin. Decorate with blanched almonds. Bake for 1 ½ hours. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center. The toothpick should come out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven. Remove from the tin. Remove parchment paper linings. Brush the top of the hot cake with sherry. Cool in the rack. Wrap the cake in a foil and slice next day (or after two days).

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Chocolate Pinwheel Cookies (Egg less)

An impromptu trip to Corbett happened last weekend.  After the initial babble of the kids born out of excitement of an unanticipated trip, there was silence in the car. Nature has such calming effect on us. We were drinking the beauty of late spring, savouring every bit of it. The air was fresh, fragrant and intoxicating with the scent of wild flowers that bordered the road on either side. Not a single sound was audible for miles, only the murmur of the car as it glided on the smooth road that undulated every now and then and sometimes went slightly uphill and downhill as we neared our destination.

Next day we went to a village on the banks of river Kosi. Some curious kids collected around us followed by more and more till we had a huge number of children of all ages participating in races and games that we played with them. Frog race had them all splitting in laughter as they fell one by one. A mild drizzle tried to play spoil sport but could not douse the spirits and the games went on until ferocious winds made it impossible to carry on the activities. Back in the room, the kids munched on the chocolate pinwheel cookies that I had made a day before and packed for the journey.

I always wanted to make pinwheel cookies. The chocolate twirls always fascinated me more than the anticipated taste.

 Chocolate and Vanilla complement each other and the cookies were delicious.

 Most of the recipes that I came across had eggs. I omitted eggs and adjusted the quantity of ingredients likewise. The cookies came out really well. Care has to be taken while handling two sheets of dough. During summers the butter makes the dough very soft and sticky. I am sure during winters it will be a lot easier to handle it.

This is how I made Chocolate Pinwheel cookies
Chocolate Pinwheel cookies (Egg less)
1 ¾ cup all purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
½ cup (1 stick) butter
½ tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon milk
Chocolate swirl
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon milk
Beat together the ingredients for chocolate swirl till smooth. Keep aside.
Whisk together flour and baking powder.
Beat butter and sugar till light and creamy. Add milk and vanilla essence. Add all purpose flour and stir till dough forms. Use hands to mix well.
Take ¾ of this dough and keep aside. This is vanilla dough.
Add chocolate mix to the remaining dough and mix till well incorporated. This is chocolate dough.
On a parchment sheet, roll vanilla dough into a rectangle about 6 inches in width and 7 inches in length. Repeat with chocolate dough.
Flip rolled chocolate dough onto vanilla dough and peel off the parchment sheet carefully. Press lightly with a rolling pin.
Roll the dough lightly from the short end. Roll the dough tightly into a log. Wrap with a plastic film and chill in refrigerator. Remove after 25 minutes and roll the log on the counter to retain the circular shape (the log tends to flatten from one side).
Wrap again and keep in the freezer for one hour.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Slice the log with a sharp knife to get ¼ inch thick cookies.
Arrange the cookies on a baking tray. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or till the edges begin to turn golden.
Cool in the rack and store in an air tight container.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Low Fat Whole Wheat Sapodilla (Chikoo) Date Cake (Egg less)

I have become a recipe inventor. Yes! A little experimenting, some play of ingredients, mixing and matching clicked right and I’ve come out with the recipe of moist and healthy Sapodilla (Chikoo) Date Cake.

Temperature is rising steadily. Summer is manifesting itself. A bag of semi ripe Chikoos ripened before the anticipated time. The shelf life of ripened Chikoo is short, they had to be consumed fast or else they would land up in our compost pit. Some went into Chikoo shake; some were added to salad while some still waited in the refrigerator just short of shriveling and going bad. Only way the remaining fruits could be salvaged was to use them in some recipe. A seemingly weird thought of adding them to a cake came to my mind. Sometimes it pays to execute ideas that are off beat. My experiment was successful. And my own recipe was born. The cake was moist with the grittiness of chikoos, dates added mild flavor and natural sweetness. Since chickoos don’t have a strong flavor, dates can also be substituted with semi sweet chocolate chips and a teaspoon of powdered cinnamon. I believe it will be a great combination and I would like to try out next time.

Sapodilla (Manilkara zapota)is rich in dietary fiber. The fruit is rich in antioxidant vitamins like vitamin C and vitamin A. Ripe Sapodilla fruits are a good source of minerals like potassium, copper, iron and vitamins like folate, niacin and pantothenic acid.
This is how I made Low Fat Whole Wheat Sapodilla (Chikoo) Date Cake (Egg less)

Low Fat Whole Wheat Sapodilla (Chikoo) Date Cake (Egg less)
1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup low fat curd
1 cup muscovado sugar or ¾ cup white sugar powdered
½ cup sapodilla (chikoo) puree
10 to 12 dates, washed pitted and cut into strips.
1/3 cup olive oil
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Grease and dust one 8 inch cake tin. Line the bottom with parchment paper.
Whisk together whole wheat flour, baking soda and baking powder.
Mix together sapodilla puree, curd, oil and sugar. Mix well. Add vanilla essence.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix gently. Do not over mix. Fold in chopped dates. Reserve some to sprinkle on top.
Spoon the batter into the prepared tin. Level the top and arrange the reserved chopped dates. Bake for 10 minutes at 200 degree C. Reduce the heat to 180 degrees and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from the tin after 10 minutes. Cool in the rack. Slice next day.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Low Fat Whole Wheat Date and Walnut Loaf (Vegan)

Our daughter came in running, pulling us excitedly to come out and acknowledge her discovery. She had spotted a huge bird in the wood apple tree. It was a Crow Pheasant. Some years ago it was a common sight to see crow pheasants in the foothills. Loss of habitat has made it almost extinct. Spotting one after so many years was indeed a happy moment.

For the last two days we have been covering and labeling our daughter’s books and notebooks as she prepares to join the school. The task seems gargantuan even as our fingers work dexterously through covers and scissors but get fatigued after completing three at a time. Meanwhile our daughter squeals with joy as she flips through the pages of the new books and is amused by illustrations and stories some of which she is familiar with. A surge of anxiety grips me when I see the voluminous study material. Then I remember the assuring words of the Principal about going slowly and being selective about topics. I have to repose faith in her…….keeping aside my apprehensions, I get down to baking a vegan Date loaf cake that I had planned to. Whisking flours, chopping dates and other chores crease out all the stress and a moist healthy cake has us all chomping the delicious slices during tea time.

This is how I made Whole Wheat Date Walnut Loaf
Whole Wheat Date Walnut Loaf (Vegan)
¾ cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup all purpose flour
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup hot water
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon soda
1 ½ teaspoon mixed spice powder (4 cloves, 1 stick cinnamon, 1 green cardamom, ¼ piece nutmeg)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Pre heat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and dust one 7x3 inch loaf tin. Line the bottom with parchment paper.
Combine hot water, chopped dates and sugar in a large bowl. Cover and keep for 15 minutes. The dates will become soft. Mash them against the sides of the bowl with a spoon. Let the mixture cool. Add oil and vanilla essence.
Whisk together flours, soda and spice mix.
Add flour mix to date mix till well incorporated. Do not over mix. Fold in chopped walnuts.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Level the top and sprinkle some chopped walnuts.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Stand for 10 minutes before turning onto wire rack. Slice next day.
My Notes : Spices can be adjusted according to taste.

Linking to Vegan Thursdays

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Cape gooseberry Jam

Silence of dawn is shredded by the coooo ooooo of the cuckoo. The spotted female joins in  by her “kik kik kik and the duo fly away chasing each other. We are at the thresh hold of summers or already into it.
A large number of bees lie dead in pathways. My daughter collects them in a leaf and wonders if they have completed their life cycle. She is aghast to learn that the culprit is the medicine- the better name for pesticide spray being used in the mango orchards. How will we have fruits and veggies in our plants if we exterminate the very agents of pollination?
Charles Darwin once said that “The life of man would be made extremely difficult if the bee disappeared.” Bees are responsible for pollinating 70 per cent of the world’s horticulture and agricultural crops, so without them we simply would not have fresh fruit and vegetables — in fact, we would all starve within five years, because nothing could be pollinated. We need to ponder over that.
Some traffic here...in our bird bath.
Red Vent Bul buls
A Dove and a Magpie Robin

April also marks the beginning of new session in the schools. Having been homeschooled for the last two years, my daughter is all excited to join the school. When I think of her lunch box, I remember my school days. We used to be so excited about lunch time. If our box had goodies, that seemed to be the sole motive of going to school and that, would be the “best day” irrespective of other activities. Simple jam bread would be such a treat sometimes, breaking the monotony of everyday lunch of chapatti with veggie.  And when it comes to Jams, it feels nice and happy to have a variety of them in the pantry.  I am always eager to add a new bottle of jam to my existing ones. Having made Guava Jelly and Black Grape Jam, I wanted to make jam from Cape gooseberries. The seeds in the fruit add a lovely crunch to the jam.
We bought half kg of Cape gooseberries to make jam.

This is how I made Cape gooseberry Jam
Cape gooseberry Jam
500g Cape gooseberries
500g sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Remove the outer husk from the berries. Wash them. Put them in pressure cooker with water just enough to cover them. Turn off the heat after the first whistle.
Transfer the cooked fruit in a thick bottom steel wok. Add sugar. Mash the fruits with a ladle against the sides of the wok. Add lemon juice. Cook on high flame stirring constantly till it come to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat and cook till it becomes thick and attains jam like consistency.
While the jam cools, sterilize the bottles. Place the washed and dried bottles with the lids in the oven. Set the temperature to 100 degrees and set the timer to 10 minutes. Remove the bottles and their lids from the oven. Ladle hot jam into the jars leaving ¼ inch headspace. Secure the lids tightly.

Linking to Vegan Thursdays
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...