Monday, April 1, 2013

Take over!! Boom Boom Pow!

     I had mentioned in my previous post that I would try out cakes yet again to justify my assertion on the faulty old All-purpose flour/Maida for my cake failures.  So I dared to go for it again. This time I made a mix of jowar/sorghum flour with wheat flour for the orange cake batter. Jowar is from the grass species raised mainly for grains but is also used as fodder for animals and is grown in dry and warm regions around Asia, Africa & Mexico. It is widely cultivated in northern Karnataka and other dry regions in India. It requires very little water and is an excellent source of nutrition too. It is a staple food eaten in the form of Jolada Rotti (jowar roti) in northern Karnataka along with aubergine curry, chutney powders, curd and other spicy delicious accompaniments. Since it’s very good for the health I used organic jowar flour with the wheat flour to get a healthier cake. My favourite fruit ever since childhood has been orange, I love everything about the fruit, its tangerine colour, citrus smell and the tickling acidic juiciness and since it is orange season in full swing I went for fresh orange juice and the marmalade which gave the cake its signature titillating citrus smell and a tinge of tanginess. And who doesn’t love chocolate flavour especially when it makes an excellent combination with orange so cocoa powder went in to give its contribution to the cake with its flavour and colour. The rich aroma of the cake wafted through the kitchen and it definitely looked like I was on the winning side but one never knows what one might end up with. I baked it at 150 degree centigrade for 35 to 40 mins to avoid cracks on the surface and voila it definitely came out whole and pretty. I had also had banana puree instead of eggs to hold the cake together but the best thing was that it added an extra sheen to the browned beauty.

The wondrous healthy choco orange cake

 I waited anxiously for the moment of truth, for the moment that would prove that it was all along the Maida’s fault and not the recipe nor me who followed the recipe. The small piece that I cut out looked very porous and felt extremely light in the hand. As soon as I popped it into my mouth I was glad that I took up this challenge and didn’t just throw away my baking skills. Though grainy (jowar is grainy) it tasted perfect with the right amount of sweet & sour and fluffiness. I just felt I had crossed the finishing line leaving my opponent far behind at the starting line itself. So there was an admirable testimony for my latest acquired baking skills as well as my undaunted spirit to keep going on. I couldn’t have been more satisfied about the perfect timing, gave me the much needed boost just before joining my new workplace as designer. Everything happens for a reason….

Fluffy & utterly delicious!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The sunny side up!

            After a disastrous baking day in the kitchen a few days ago, trying to get a citrus cake done (wasted some yummy fresh orange juice), I was quite let down that I had not turned out as good at baking as I had thought I would. I had wanted to indulge in some sinful citrus calories for the hot summer for quite sometime, so I baked a cake with all purpose flour/Maida moving away from my healthier version of wheat cake just so that I could get a spongier cake. Alas I was hugely disappointed. Though it looked pretty for the camera, it didn't go down so well with the tasting buds. It had a rubbery feel, was dense and definitely didn't taste like cake. Though I slept through the night, this mess up was biting my head off the next day to find out what had actually gone wrong with the recipe (remember, one needs to be precise to bake a perfect cake). So I went for it again but this time with smaller batches for citrus cupcakes instead of a cake. It was a good start with the batter tasting  just fine, I went ahead without any change in the recipe and put it to bake. I expected a super fluffy, honeycomb structured cupcake but out came an extremely white set of cupcakes with glazed brown surface. I have seen my mom and aunts bake cake with only Maida and I swear I have never seen a whiter cake as this one. though it tasted good, it still retained that rubbery feel to it. Now this drove me up the wall as the same recipe previously with the whole wheat flour had turned out perfectly well and much fluffier. There I went again racking my brains for where I could have possibly gone wrong. For some strange reason I turned over the All purpose flour's packet to check the date of manufacture, thankfully I hadn't used expired flour (now that would have become an actual disaster) but it was pretty old flour (Maida is rarely used in my kitchens) and old flours result in bad cakes. I heaved a sigh of relief and I am pinning my hopes on the old flour for my cake failure and not myself.
So I am yet again going to try the citrus recipe with wheat flour to assure myself that I was not the wrong one but the old flour indeed. Failure does strange things, well sometimes it just gets the better out of you and I have definitely learnt to take failures in a positive stride. :)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

My Baking Blues..... Cracked

                     This would be my first attempt at writing about food in my blog. Food has always been a great part of my life, ever excited to try various cuisines and breaking down its nutrition factor. I was never the eager kid helping my mum around the kitchen but rather the one having it and burning it all playing outside. Being born and brought up in a Havyaka Brahmin household I have always been associated with healthy & nutritious vegetarian food. Havyaka cuisine is one of the few kinds that use healthy fresh produce and almost no oil to make excellent scrumptious food with taste and nutrition never being compromised for. There was never dearth for nourishing food and the knowledge of what it does to one’s body. Hence I have always looked up at the bigger picture of having wholesome food with occasional indulgence to satisfy my taste buds. As an outdoor person, always away playing in the grounds, my kitchen visits were very limited except for those rare Maggi cooking sessions and helping mother in baking cakes (I guess, No pain no gain & the only kitchen activity that excited me). Contrary to all this I enjoyed watching cookery shows & contests. It was during my stay in the hostel that I realised my folly of never having tried my hands in the kitchen. Nevertheless being a foodie has its own perks, as it goes ‘necessity is the mother of all inventions’, I began trying to cook up with a few resources I had back then and lo & behold there I was putting together a decent edible meal. However it never held my interest for long nor did I have the patience to slog in the sweltering kitchen. 
I have always had a big sweet tooth (well it runs in the family), treating myself with all kind confectioneries, Indian sweets et al, though I knew that these ephemeral joys from the loads of sugar could do me more harm in the long run. Consequently I have always striven to find healthier supplements for my sugar cravings. Incidentally I loved watching people present dainty & tempting three hat restaurant standard desserts & confectioneries in cooking contests. Julia Taylor, the ‘dessert queen’ of MasterChef Australia 4 whose delicious desserts enthused me to experiment with my culinary skills, but with an entirely different emphasis on finding a healthy alternative to the sugar loaded delicacies. My mother and her sisters have always eliminated egg from their cake recipes replacing it with curd & butter so my first step to making vegetarian confectionery was quite easy. However I still wanted to get rid of the superfluous calories from the butter and nutrition less all-purpose flour. So I started replacing it with whole wheat flour and oat flour as the nutritious replacement, but I couldn't think of or find healthy substitutes for curd and butter (though ready-made egg replacer are available in the market it’s not a very feasible replacement) until I came across flax seed meal in the internet which is not only highly fibrous and beneficial but also makes the cakes puffy and fluffy. This not only manages to satisfy everyone’s palate but also nutrition wise is much better than cakes loaded with calories. Though I used olive oil initially I eventually substituted it with water and got an equally good cake. So finally I have the perfect basic recipe which can be implemented to almost any confectionery recipe which is equally nutritious, delicious and Vegan, so you don’t have to count in the calories when you have your sweet cravings. So here I go with my healthy tasty recipe for vanilla cupcakes.

3/4th cup whole wheat flour
3/4th cup oat flour
2 tbsps. Flax seed powder + 6 tbsps. water
3/4th cup of powdered jaggery/unrefined cane sugar/white sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla essence

 Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius. Mix the flax seed powder with water and keep it aside. If you are okay with dairy products take a cup of warm milk and add a tsp. of apple cider vinegar and allow it to curdle instead of the flaxseed meal and water.
Mix all the dry ingredients. You can dry roast ready to eat oats, powder it and use it. Mix the wet ingredients together and slowly add it to the dry ingredients and mix it well together until completely incorporated. 

batter in the cupcake mould.
I got in funky moulds to make the
process all the more fun. 
Line the cupcake tray and pour the mixture into it and bake it for 30 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean. Cool them completely on a rack and voila it’s all set to be devoured.  

Butterflies all set to fly ;)
Perfect with tea or coffee

PS: Tastes best as an evening snack with your beverages, you can top it with nuts or cream (if you are extremely skinny) :P

PPS: Hope you loved it & hope to come back with more.. :)