We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we giveWinston Churchill
Our baking community believes in creating and learning, and then sharing and enabling. Everyone helps each other to learn and grow along as a baker. In our world there is no ‘race’ (thank God for that, we are tired of running) and there is just no competition (again so different from the real world). What a relief! No wonder we come back to each other for support, for guidance and for acknowledgement. May our tribe grow!
Last week, we saw more and more bakers following the recipes on the blog and those of our Guest bakers and thanking and acknowledging them profusely.
Today’s guest baker is Meenakshi Goswami, my colleague and friend and one of our most ‘prolific’ bakers. Her bakes are artistic, low on sugar, fruits all over, healthy and look mindblowing — a riot of colours!
Her story is so very interesting and is bound to inspire us all. Her recipes are our group’s ‘haute’ favorite always and leave us waiting for the next one. In today’s post she introduces two recipes; the Wholewheat & Jaggery Eggless cake and the Oats, Spinach and Broccoli Bread. Herewith, in her own words, is Meenakshi —
I am a civil servant by profession and I call myself an ‘Experimental Baker’.
In 2015, as part of our family’s steps towards making our eating habits more healthy, we stopped eating maida altogether and switched almost completely to whole wheat flour or aata. That meant giving up all biscuits, cakes, buns that were commercially available as they all contained maida in some proportion or the other.
While we switched from commercial breads to home made chapattis easily, my foodie family was missing out on the cookies & cakes that we used to enjoy on the weekends.
So I started baking cakes and cookies occasionally on weekends by hunting for whole wheat recipes available on the internet. I often replaced ingredients I could not find with something available locally.
The experiments were not always successful but my supportive family almost always ate what I baked. But there was a learning process even in the failed attempts. Too much liquid, consistency of batter, cut & fold flour instead of too much mixing, never put a cake in a cold oven, and do not open the oven in the first two-thirds of the baking time, were valuable lessons my mistakes taught me.
With practice came the confidence to try baking breads, kulchas, Naan, pizza base, pita bread, buns and foccacia — all with whole wheat and made without any harmful chemicals, preservatives or additives.
In January 2017 we moved into a housing complex where Renu Ma’am was our neighbour. She is my senior in service and we have had a good rapport from the time that we first met in 2007 when we got posted in the same office.
I was invited to attend some of her bread baking sessions and met a group of highly motivated home bakers. I also got to join a WA group where all of us shared not just our bakes but also our queries and experiences. It was a platform for exchanging our baking joys and seeking help for failed attempts from our fellow Bakers. Suggestions and feedback was freely available as also appreciation for our efforts.
My experiments with ingredients was an attempt to create healthy snacks that my family & friends can enjoy. Appreciation of friends who tasted these bakes became an inspiration for further bakes. My most popular cakes are my fruit based ones which friends and family have now begun to request for birthdays, anniversaries and other get-togethers at office and home.
Here is my Basic Wholewheat & Jaggery Eggless Cake recipe which forms the basis of many of my fruit based Cakes. This basic recipe can be customized to create a Banana Cake, Blueberry muffins, Pineapple upside down cake, strawberry cake, Fresh plum cake, Cherry Clafoutis, Apple Cake, Coffee/Chocolate cake, Basic Wholewheat cake Topped with nuts, choco chips, almonds, Tutti-frutti to create a large variety. It’s a simple to follow recipe with no elaborate preparations or exotic ingredients. The cake can be baked from start to finish in Less than an hour and doesn’t require any special equipment. A mixing bowl and an oven is all that’s needed. The cake can also be baked in a kadhai with a lid or a pressure cooker (without the whistle).
- 1 cup Whole wheat flour or atta
- 1 tsp Baking powder
- ½ tsp Baking soda
- ½ tsp Cinnamon powder
- ⅛ tsp Salt
- 1 cup Jaggery or Khand sugar powdered
- ½ cup Curd whisked
- ½ cup Olive Oil (or any flavorless oil)
- 4 tbsp milk
- 1 tsp Vanilla essence
- Any dry fruit/nuts/choco-chips for topping as desired
- Grease a 7 inch cake tin with butter, ghee or oil. Dust with flour or you can line it with a parchment paper.
- Pre-heat oven at 180℃ for 10-15 mins.
- In a bowl, add ½ cup whisked curd, 1 cup powdered jaggery or country sugar (Khand). Add ½ cup of any flavour-less oil and mix until well combined. Keep this aside.
- Sieve together wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Sieving these together helps proper mixing of ingredients as well as aeration. (For chocolate flavour simply replace 2 tbsp of flour with cocoa powder).
- Add a tsp of vanilla essence and a generous pinch of cinnamon powder to the jaggery mixture and mix well. For chocolate cakes, we can add coffee powder as well.
- Add the flour in two batches and mix using the cut & fold method until combined. Do not over mix.
- Add 4 tbsp of milk (at room temperature) one tablespoon at a time and mix until combined.
- You can add nuts/raisins/chocolate chips/fruit pieces after dusting it with flour to prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the pan. Transfer the mixture to the greased tray. Gently tap the tin to remove air bubbles.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 180℃ for 35-40 minutes or until done. Keep it in the middle rack and on baking mode. Duration may change depending on the oven. Check from 30 minutes onward. Do not open the oven in the first 25 mins.
- Insert a toothpick in the center of the cake to check if it is cooked. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is cooked well. Invert and remove the cake. Cool on a wire rack. Then slice it and enjoy healthy, guilt free whole wheat jaggery cake.
I have attached below some pics of my fruity aata cakes made with the above basic recipe and it’s variations.
The Oats, Spinach and Broccoli bread:
- 1½ cup oats flour
- 1½ cups spinach & broccoli puree
- 1 cup almond milk
- 3 tablespoons of soaked chia seeds
- 1½ tsp BP
- ¾ tsp B. Soda, a pinch of salt
Mix everything together. Add a tablespoon of instant oats, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon oregano, pinch of cinnamon & nutmeg powder each. I put the seeds & nuts for toppings in the base of a greased Bundt pan and put the batter on top of it. Baked it at 180℃ for 35 mins. Cool & de-mould.
Baking is a very scientific process and with the right measures and techniques — any one can bake. The kitchen can become your laboratory for experiments with flour and the creativity it allows you is without bounds. There’s no better way of showing your love to your family & friends than baking a healthy & tasty treat for them with your own hands.
I have found kneading the dough to be a therapeutic process that takes you away from everything else and the rising bread dough uplifts your spirits. The sweet smells of cake baking can fill your home & kitchen with happiness and bring smiles to the faces at the dining table.
Some Closing Thoughts…
Mind blowing! The base cake is atta and jaggery. It is indeed great to know that with atta and jaggery i.e. without sugar and maida one can bake such delicious fruit cakes.
See you in Wednesday’s post. Till then!