3 reasons why we should distribute healthy cupcakes to kids to give a moment of joy when the poverty that surrounds them cannot be removed with just one baked good ? Well, there are more than 3 and very good ones at.
Bangalore, April 2012. We had just moved to a city we didn’t know anyone in. Mala Didi, 60+ years old came to our home, asked if I wanted help with cooking and since I hadn’t hired a cook before, I was a bit uncertain. But I had also discovered that day that I was pregnant with my son and with a full-time job plus the complications, I will need help. I said Yes. She started coming. A few days of hesitant instruction-giving from my end about what we ate, followed. A few days of curt nods in response to those instructions, followed. Slowly, Didi started observing how I was trying to juggle my new-born baby, the full-time job and my nascent home baking venture. And without a word she would do small steps that made me save crucial time – she would ask me what I was baking that day. I’d say “Date & Walnut Cake” . And quietly she would break the walnuts, chop the dates and leave them near my oven. She would ask a general question about how many loaves I had to bake, and since she knew I had only 1 loaf tin going into that 18 litre MR, she would see to it that the used one was washed and greased just I wanted it. My “thank you” was met with a gruff “yes , yes ( in Bengali)” almost as though she was self-conscious of being thanked for it. Then came a day when Didi’s son was diagnosed with cancer of the foot for the first time, and she had to go to Calcutta. She was distraught and yet, as a grandmother’s heart is – in the middle of her worries, she asked me if I could bake a chocolate and banana cake for her grandson. She carried it along and the little boy loved it.
Here is my tribute to that lady whose grit despite life’s odds has been unmatched. Her son has been diagnosed yet again with cancer on the other foot. But she stood by him quietly yet again and helped him fight it. Just has she had stood by a new mother who was constantly on the verge of abandoning her home baking venture. She made me realize through her gestures, that I must go on and make it work. In some ways her grit and determination rubbed onto me.
The Gluten-free Buckwheat Chocolate Banana Cake (No maida/no refined white sugar)
1 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
100 gms good quality dark chocolate ( at least 50% cocoa)
2 ripe bananas ( small)
2 small chopped fresh figs just for added flavour and texture
1 tsp baking powder
50 gms butter
1 cup milk
Mix the mashed bananas and egg together. Melt the butter and chocolate. Shift the flour and bp. Add the butter-chocolate mix to the banana-egg milk and ensure that all the ingredients are mixed well. Add the flour and milk alternately. Fold the chopped figs in.
Transfer to a loaf tin that has been greased and dusted. Bake at 170 degrees C for 30 minutes. Remove from tin and allow it to cool.
For the first 12 years of my school life , I went to a school that did not have its own field. It was the best school that I could have gone to – inclusive , close-knit, encouraging and warm. But we didn’t have a field that we could call our own – our Sports days were conducted in the field of another school. Our ‘heats’ and practice races were conducted in a large maidan / public ground. All that came rushing back to me as I sat in the pavilion and watched the field being prepared for the Sports Meet for my son’s class.
The way he would come and describe his field practice each day lifted my heart. The way he spoke about how they were running the races , made me smile immediately. The thrill of being in an open space , running a race , with your friends , the march-past , the flags , the dust-covered sports shoes. A child who didn’t care that the field didnt belong to her school when she ran. A child who didn’t care that the field did belong to his school when he ran.
It was as if Calcutta 1988 had merged into Bangalore 2018, seamlessly, from one childhood to another. From one field that we couldnt call our own, to one that we could.
We just loved the thrill of running a race, then and now
Alongside that we also love a Butterfree , white sugar-free , Gluten-free Brownie that melts in the mouth. Yup, that’s what a treat should be.
Superfood Amaranth ( if you didn’t know it already, it is my favourite flour ) in the form of grains mingled with dark chocolate – who says we need sugar or butter to make life happier ? 🙂
- 170g Dark Chocolate ( I used Bournville- 50% Dark)
- 50 ml Sunflower Oil
- 80 g Raw Sugar or Coconut Sugar
- 50g Sorghum / Jowar Flour
- 25g Amaranth Seeds , coarsely ground into a flour
- 2 Eggs
- 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
- 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
Mix the chocolate and oil, and melt over a double boiler. Let it cool. Whisk together the sugar, the flours, baking powder. Preheat oven to 170°C.
Beat the eggs well and then add them to the melted chocolate-oil mix. Add the vanilla. Beat well. Pour the batter into your brownie pan or square tin which is lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 20-25 minutes. Cut into slices and serve.
Chanced upon this place in the heart of Bangalore and what a serene place it was , with a sense of purpose. A plant nursery by the Association of People with Disabilities, and the memory I will have imprinted on my mind is of a young boy without legs, expertly guiding us through the rows of plants to help us choose what we were looking for. I did not want to embarrass him by taking a picture and so I strongly urge you to visit the place to meet him, and realize how knowledgeable he is.
Truly the mind is so much more powerful than the body will ever be.
And the icing on the cake was to see my son loving plant our plants into the pots 🙂
What more could one ask for , to brighten up a weekend ? There is one more thing that could brighten it up a wee bit more 🙂 These yum and healthy fudge squares.
Baked Jowar – Oats Dark Chocolate Fudge Squares
- 200g dark chocolate, broken into cubes (I used Bournville, 50% Cocoa)
- 3/4 cup coconut sugar
- 125 gms butter
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup flour mix ( half jowar, half powdered oats)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Pre-Heat the oven to 160 C. Prepare a square tin or square sectional baking pan, since this is a traybake.
- Melt the chocolate, coconut sugar and butter in a pan. Keep stirring with the whisk and then when its well mixed, remove it from the heat. Allow it to cool off.
- Beat in the eggs, flour mix and vanilla extract.
- Pour the mix into the tin and bake for 25 mins or so.
- Cool in the tin and then cut into squares.
1 cup organic ragi flour
½ cup amaranth seeds
½ cup organic cane or coconut sugar
100 gms unsalted butter ( for vegan version use peanut / apple butter or oil – texture will change)
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp organic liquid jaggery
Add the dry ingredients together and whisk them well. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients and add the liquid jaggery. Mix well and keep in the fridge overnight after cling wrapping.
Shape them into cookies, place them onto a greased tray and bake at 170 degrees C for 20 minutes, in a preheated oven.
As a mother, let me share with you that it has been a very crazy yet happy half-year: filled with many worried nights, many days of undiluted joy, lots of second guessing myself as a mother and frustrations, of trying to weigh mother’s instinct against experience and expertise, of trying to wonder how does one need to behave when one becomes a mother..but most definitely a half-year with not a single dull moment in it.
But you know what – Thank you for being patient and waiting for me to grow into my role as your Mom…sometimes
I look at you and it seems to me that you understand what I say, you understand when I say I have two other babies –Gunna Masi and Elsu, and smile back. You understand when I say I won’t pamper you silly, but that doesn’t make me love you any less.
Most importantly you understand that seeing how you do on well-defined milestones is not for your mother, for they seem like a checklist to tick on….it is the uncharted adventures that are for me…
Like our first flight together alone means more than when you first rolled over, or our first road trip, our first visit to the children’s home, how you and Elsa started growing comfortable with each other’s presence or even our daily debates about why sleeping in the night takes precedence over playing away!
So here’s not to more milestones…but to more ADVENTURES, my son ! The adventurous journey that started when I became a mother..”
Sharing a recipe that marks the first break that I am taking from baking on order, as the Chief Baker of Ovenderful, ever since it started in November 2013.
Wholewheat Butter-free Egg-Free Chocolate Almond Cake
1 cup wholewheat flour
3/4 cup cane sugar
½ cup curd
½ cup milk
½ cup boiling water
¼ cup any flavourless oil that is safe for baking
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder ( use great quality cocoa powder, it makes a world of difference)
¾ teaspoon baking powder
4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate chunks
1/2 cup chopped almonds and some additional for topping the cake with
Grease and dust an 7/8 inch round cake tin. I used a springform one, but it is not necessary to use only that one. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
Sift together the wholewheat flour, cocoa powder, baking powder .
Beat the curd, cane sugar, oil and milk. Add vanilla extract and mix well.
Slowly add the dry ingredients to wet ones and mix well.
Slowly add boiling water and mix well ( just use a whisk, no need to beat it) to get a smooth batter. Add the chopped almonds and dark chocolate chunks, fold them into the batter gently. Pour in the baking tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes.
Let it cool off entirely before you remove it from the tin.
You might be wondering why it has been so quiet at my end. Well, it has been a very busy month in many ways. The reason for the same is that I have been involved with 4 events all of which are unique and special.
I loved being a part of each of these experiences and from all the invitations that I receive, why I choose to be a part of these is entirely because of their uniqueness and the depth they added to my own journey as a healthy baker and blogger. They opened up a new and wider perspective for me as an individual and Ovenderful as a social enterprise.
Here’s a quick look at 2 of those 4 events ( the remaining 2 will be covered –
- Panel Discussion by Mom Bloggers: Bloggers Adda by Mums and stories at Bhive Workspace in HSR, Bangalore, was about bringing together 4 moms, including me who were blogging in different spheres and how they had been successful at it.
See more pictures here: https://www.facebook.com/mumsandstories/posts/682771135219738)
Audio Link : https://soundcloud.com/radioactivecr90-4mhz/active-bangalore-mums-and-stories-a-panel-discussion-on-how-moms-can-create-successful-blogs
- Collaborative Baking for Kritagyata Trust
Over 35 bakers came together to bake for 3000 children in 27 government schools in rural Bangalore, to make Children’s Day a special one for them. When Aruna, who is the Founder of Kritagyata Trust got in touch I knew there had to be a way to make this work.
So here is what we did ! I think Children’s Day had a new and special meaning for me this year simply because I believe at some level we were able to touch lives, unknown to us so far and yet find a connect that is so heart-warming.
As a tribute to these two events both of which helped me reach back within my soul to rediscover what I truly love – writing ( and hence blogging ) and baking for community impact, here is an earthy, close-to-the-roots kind of recipe :
Gluten Free and Egg Free Dark Chocolate Ragi Tarts filled with Coconut cream and grated dark chocolate ( Baked for an event that I will share in my next post)
(Picture Credit – https://www.facebook.com/IndiaPhotoArtist?fref=ts)
For the tart –
1 cup ragi flour
1/4 cup jowar flour
60 grams cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup Coconut sugar
1/4 cup Dark chocolate ( grated )
2 tbsp cocoa powder
The mixing process is exactly like it is for the pastry crust of tarts – Mix the flours, coconut sugar, dark chocolate and cocoa. Then slowly rub cold butter into this mix till it looks like bread crumbs or comes together. Keep some milk in the freezer to use incase you need to bring the dough together. Cling wrap this and keep it for 2-3 hours in the fridge. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes prior to baking. When the dough is ready to be baked, take it out and press it into muffin trays to give it the shape. Bake them for 20 minutes till it becomes crisp.
For the filling – Mix together some fresh coconut cream, liquid jaggery, grated coconut and grated dark chocolate. The proportions will depend on how sweet you want it, how ‘coconuty’ and how liquid in texture !
You can use any other filling of your choice too 🙂
There are hardly any Vegan Indian sweets to speak of, or to taste. While many Indians are vegan, gluten, dairy products, and sugar are pretty much the main ingredients to all our sweets. So what’s a vegan to do on Diwali?
First, remember, history’s got your back. There are a few gluten-free Indian sweets you can gorge on.
Boondi Laddoo are made made entirely with gram flour or besan entirely, plus who doesn’t love this classic, right? Similarly, Coconut Barfi or Laddoo with its grated coconut base makes it fully gluten-free!There are also other usual suspects such as Besan Laddoo, which is made with gram flour, and Til Laddo, which is made with sesame.
But, these ain’t no Jalebi, I know. You could try and fry yours in a vegan-friendly oil… but I can’t guarantee that how that’ll turn out.
Instead, why not try my Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake instead?
You know what they say? If you can’t join the treat time, beat them with your own-made deliciousness!
Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Cake
- 1/2 cup Jowar flour,
- 1/2 cup Ragi flour
- 1/2 tsp Baking powder
- 1/2 cup Cane Sugar
- 2-3 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 cup Applesauce
- 1/4 cup Oil
- Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius, grease a round baking pan and keep aside.
- Sieve together the flours,baking powder, cocoa and keep aside.
- Whisk together the applesauce,oil and sugar, beat together until the sugar gets dissolves.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet one. Dont over beat.
- Bake for 30 minutes till the toothpick comes clean at the center.
Article Link :
I can’t have enough of the flavour that the Apple Cider Vinegar which I received from goIndiaOrganic as part of the Plattershare Belly Nirvana program. So I have been looking to include it in my baking in small but significant ways. Here’s a lovely way to include this super- healthy ingredient even in a decadent and delicious Dark Chocolate Fudge Pie 🙂 There are subtle hints of ACV that make this pie so much better than it might have been otherwise in terms of flavour. Continue reading “Dark Chocolate Fudge Pie”
How a mother bakes for her children, a lot of times “seems” to be seen as a reflection of her love for them ! Don’t we all remember how our mothers would bake cakes for us or brownies for our friends?
Continue reading “Of Baking and Sons”
Originally posted in March 2012
For all of you who have been seeing my posts about dogs (adoptions, welfare and anything else! ) on Facebook, irrespective of whether you share the same love or not, there is something I want to share – the first time I have ever sold my baked products was to raise money for a non-profit organization that works towards the recue, rehabilitation and rehoming of abandoned and injured dogs, primarily the Indian stray ones.
Continue reading “Another ‘first’ – who heard about selling cakes to raise funds for abandoned/injured animals?”
I have looked at those wonderfully decorated cakes, gorgeous designs and yummy icing innumerable times and thought to myself – will I ever be able to turn out something that is so visually appealing…perhaps with a lot (and a lot! ) of practice (am sure that really is the way to go, for me at least!)..the shorter route is to go to the cake art / decorating classes but then it won’t remain an ovenderful experience any longer and hence considerably less fun! Continue reading “Keeping it Sweet and Simple…”