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.
A couple of conference calls related to work on the project front and the Ovenderful front , a quick visit to the swimming pool to take the little boy whose holidays have started in full flow , a little walk on the way for his little sister, a set of articles written and submitted and booom – half the day is gone ! And just as you ponder over how it’s 12 noon already and feel a bit worried about how you didn’t realise how time flies , your crazy day is made – a friend calls and tells you that the only way to describe your cookies is by saying ‘Your food makes me happy, truly’ 🙂
And you are so much at peace with these busy days that fly past, because being bone tired is good. When you are happy with what you do. Being fatigued is good. When you have such a lot of happiness that it starts reflecting in your food !
To more such days
On that note, here is a lovely and simple recipe for a quiche we make very often at home. Baking different quiches is yet another thing that makes me very happy.
1 cup milk ,
1 TSP paprika ,
salt and basil as per taste.
Blanched and chopped spinach
Crumbled cottage cheese
For the Crust – 1 cup whole wheat flour, chilled water as per what is needed, 50 gms unsalted butter cold , 1/2 tsp and 1 TSP thyme. Mix the flour ,thyme and salt. Rub the butter into it to form bread like crumbs. Slowly add chilled water only as much as is necessary to bring the dough together. Wrap in cling film. Store for at least 2 hours in the fridge. Take it out. Roll and place in quiche pan and blind bake for 20 mins.
For the filling –
Beat the eggs well along with the milk and the spices. Keep it aside. Blanch and chop spinach and crumble some cottage cheese. Proportions for all these will depend on what you want more or less of. You can add onions too if you want. Grate half a cube of cheese. Add the spinach and cottage as the first layer at the base of the prebaked crust. Add the grated cheese. Pour the egg mix uniformly. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 160 degrees C.
Gearing up to start 2018
The cupboard can definitely be cleaner but that’s the best I can manage with a 5 year old and a 6 month old acquiring new personalities in 2018 – while one has discovered that she has a voice and she must use it at the highest pitch possible , the other has realized that he still prefers his sister’s rattles to his puzzles ( as is the case with all siblings !) .
But then 2018 was never going to be about a cleaner baking cupboard it is about more and more opportunities to dig into it and try out all that it contains !
One such opportunity arose when I had to think through a healthy ingredient, for my healthy baking community bakers on Facebook, Ovenderful Mom Bakers Community, to bake with, for the month of January. And guess what – its Coconut !
Here is my first take ( or rather bake!) – a lovely Wholewheat Coconut Almond cake with coconut sugar. The thick sauce on top is a mix of Coconut cream, coconut powder and some almonds.
1 1/4 cup wholewheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 dessicated coconut
1/2 ground almonds
3 / 4 cup coconut sugar
100 gms butter
1/2 cup milk
Preheat the oven at 165 degrees C for 10 minutes. Cream the butter and sugar well. Add the eggs and mix, one at a time. Add the ground almonds and dessicated coconut, and mix well. Add the sifted flour and milk, alternately.
Transfer into an 8 inch round pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes and allow it to rest before removing from the pan.
For the topping, all I did was mix coconut cream and some coconut powder. I am fine with the mild sweetness that the cream lends. But if you want it sweeter, add a healthy sweetener of your choice.
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup Oats ( Rolled)
Jeera and Kasoori Methi, as much as you prefer
Salt as per your preference
Homemade garam masala, as per your preference
Red chilly powder , as per your preference
4 tablespoons of oil + 2 / 3 tbsp of ghee ( to make a vegan version, exclude ghee and add only oil)
Warm water to bring the dough together
Mix together whole wheat flour, oats( I ground them roughly), salt, jeera, kasoori methi in a big bowl.
Add the oil and ghee, into the above mix and rub into it till it turns crumby. Add only as much warm water is needed to bring the dough together.
Preheat oven to 165 degrees Centigrade and prepare your biscuit tray.
Roll out the dough as thin as possible. Cut out the crackers with a cookie cutter. Arrange them on the baking tray. Bake for 15-20 minutes till it turns crispy. Cool it off and store.
There is a moment of calm at the point where a super tiring day ends and a sleepless night begins – that moment is this picture for me. Football buddies don’t need to have the same shoes or shoes at all. They don’t need to speak the same language. They don’t need to wear similar clothes. They don’t need to carry where they come from to the field – they need to simply carry who they are. They only need to have the same passion. They only need to discover the sense of rhythm, that works for them and their game. And that is the game that is in play, with a great sense of concentration between the two boys – the one of the right is my son, the one on the left is the little boy we met at Richmond Park, when we were playing there.
On that note of carrying who they are from within, here is one fruit that carries its depth of flavours in all bakes – Orange.
I did a batch of Semolina/Sooji Cupcakes with Kinu, which is a variant of orange but more intense in flavour:)
Here is the recipe for you to try out.
- 100 g unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind/orange rind
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups semolina
- 1/2 cups wholewheat flour
- ½ cup milk
- add a little vanilla extract
- For the Kinu syrup (check the sugar in the syrup to ensure that when combined with the cupcakes it does not become excessively sweet) 1/4-1/2 cup caster sugar Almost 1/2 cup lemon or kinu juice, strained
Preheat oven to 180°C. Line cupcake tray with liners.
Using an electric mixer, beat butter, orange rind and sugar on high speed. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating between each addition.
Stir in semolina, ww flour and milk.
Spread mixture into cupcake liners. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Meanwhile, make the kinu syrup: Place sugar, kinu juice and a little cold water in a saucepan over low heat.
Pour half the syrup over cupcakes by make tiny insertions to allow it to get absorbed. Let it stand for about 15 minutes and then serve.
I had started this post on a separate note. Then something prompted me to re-write it. So here goes…
About evolving times but stagnating taste buds. About oscillating between wellness and rules. Some of the views that I hear as a healthy baker are – healthy baking is a fad or what we consume through our traditional bakes is not harmful or even better, there is nothing called healthy baking.
And in my mind – all I am thinking is, even the best of us can sometimes get trapped in the confines of our own minds, get tricked by our own taste buds, get slowed down by our own lack of courage.
Yes, healthy bakes are an acquired taste, it does not happen overnight, it comes to us slowly. But it only comes to those who approach it with an open mind. Have you given yourself enough opportunities to open your mind? Forget a big change, just try this to start with – instead of beginning with a thought that it can’t taste delicious, tell yourself that it will taste different. Possible?
Let’s just try and remember that when the world evolves at the pace that it is now, everything has a disruption which leads to the next phase of growth- The same is happening with rule-based baking. We owe it to our family and friends to bake with healthier ingredients, because our lifestyles and the quality of what we are consuming has changed. Rules are good, but work with rules in a way that you put your wellness first and rules second. Not the other way round
So what’s YOUR next step ?
Start with this simple healthy cake – take it one step at a time 🙂
Wholewheat Apple-Coconut Cake ( with coconut sugar)
1 1/2 cups wholewheat flour
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2-3 tbsp honey
1 tsp grated cinnamon powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 large apple peeled, cored, grated
1/2 cup grated coconut
100 gms butter
Preheat the oven at 170 C. Grease and dust a 7 X 7 inches square pan. Beat the butter, coconut sugar and honey well till it becomes creamy. Add eggs one at a time and beat well. Sift the flour, bp and cinnamon together. Add it slowly to the batter while beating at low speed.
Fold in the apple, coconut and almonds gently. No beating is needed at this stage. Pour it into the tin. Bake at the same temperature for 45 minutes or till it becomes golden brown.
Remove from the oven, let it cool off entirely before de-moulding.
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.
How would you sum up 11 months of stay in a place – moved in, settled in, moved out ? That’s pretty much the way I would have thought probably a decade ago. But today it seems like even in those short 11 months, one can fit in so much into one’s life in a place.
It starts with being unfamiliar and you yearn for your earlier comfort zone.
It goes into a resigned kind of acceptance of what you have currently and even if its different, you can live with it.
It changes to looking at the goodness that is present in parts of it, and which you probably overlooked before.
It moves to liking the place, forming a few relationships and getting involved with the community.
It escalates into enjoying your stay there, waiting to see the neighbourhood dog who wags her tail, the same children cycling around each day, the same help who cleans the apartment, the same person in the flat above who you havent had a chance to know by name yet but who smiles at you each time.
And then you pack and move on.
Such is life. That fragile. That ever-changing. That is how it shifts, it moves and changes shape each day for us. We wait for it to “settle” into a routine. But of course, it has its own plans.
So here is a quick, simple and versatile recipe which is simple to life in all those qualities-
Zero-Fat Vegan Baked Spinach Wholewheat Sticks with Black Sesame and Chives
1 cup wholewheat
1 tbsp of rice flour
1 cup boiled and pureed spinach ( I added ½ a green chilly, 2-3 cloves of garlic and a little chopped coriander to it while pureeing)
3-4 tbsp chopped chives
2-3 tbsp black sesame
1 tbsp white pepper
Salt as per requirement ( I used rock salt)
Add some warm water to make the dough pliable.
Mix all the above dry ingredients well. Then add the spinach puree and the warm water ( if needed). Cling wrap it and store it in the fridge for about an hour.
Take it out, roll it into a rectangle, use a sharp knife to cut long strips/sticks. Place them onto a baking tray which is lightly greased. Sprinkle some chives and black sesame. Bake in a pre-heated oven ( preheat for 10 minutes) at 175 degrees Celsius for 20-25 minutes. You need to turn the sticks around mid way. Allow it to cool entirely for it to become crisp.
I am not really a night person ( or not any longer!) in most cases – The only thing that I love doing before sleeping off is reading. And that was the case for a long time. Even now, given the fact that I have to get up very early I try to plan a lot of my work in terms of baking or writing in the those wee hours.
However, there are rare occasions particularly on the weekend, when even after a long day in the kitchen, I love to unwind with some baking. And usually it happens to be experimental in nature – not because I want to brood over a disaster, incase that it is the result. But more so because, I want to know and therefore plan for what I want to do the next day to rectify or re-try an experiment if the one done the night before fails !
Thankfully for me though, this recipe of Wholewheat-Oats Buttermilk Bread (adapted from a blog, which had in turned been inspired by a book on Jewish baking) has turned out superbly in its second trial. The first one was not too bad, but the second one has turned out beautifully and I can’t wait to bake it again.
The texture and flavour is delicious and while you can smear it with butter, my personal preference to have it with Gooseberry/Amla Jam – the combined flavours of the bread, chilly flakes and Amla are brilliant.
Whole Wheat –Oats Buttermilk Bread
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 Cup Rolled Oats
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons honey
2 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
Oil for greasing the tin
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup warm water
Sprinkling of red chilly flakes
Mix the whole wheat flour and oats with salt.
Mix the honey with warm water. Dissolve yeast and keep it aside for 10 minutes.
Add the honey-water and the yeast to buttermilk. If you do not have it at home, you can use regular milk in which 1/2 tbsp of white vinegar is added.
Add the liquid mix to the flour mix and mix well. Let it rest for 15 minutes.
Start kneading after 15 minutes, and knead well for 5-6 minutes. Grease a bowl and let the dough rest in it, until it doubles(it took about 1 hour mine to double).
Grease your loaf tin and place the dough in the form of of an oval shaped loaf into the tin. Leave it to rest and rise for another hour.
Pre-heat the oven at 175 degrees C. Brush the top of the loaf lightly and sprinkle chilly flakes and then bake in the oven for 40 minutes.
Cool and slice.
*** Recipe for Gooseberry Jam/Amla
1/2 kg of Amla / Gooseberry washed and dried and boiled well so that the exterior is soft. Drain out the water ( you can use that for anything else ) . De seed the boiled amla, run it through the grinder.
Put it into a non stick kadai / pan. Keep it on low heat and stir. Add 3/4 cups cane sugar, 2-3 tbsp honey, 2 tsp ginger and 1 tsp or more if you prefer of cinnamon powder.
Keep stirring till it acquires the sticky jam like consistency. Cool off and store in air tight glass container.
How did you start your “venture” ? If you are a little bit like me, which means someone who takes it slow and steady ( and focuses on the l0w-investment channels !) then its likely you might have followed the arduous route of trying whatever little you understood of social media marketing. That would mean – the FB page and groups to start with. Perhaps some more channels like Twitter, Instagram and so on.
In my case, because of healthy baking being a new concept, many people came to try out things because of dietary constraints or food preferences, but a lot of them came out of curiosity. How can you possibly bake a cake with atta ( wholewheat!) – it has got to taste like chapatti 🙂 graduated to “But isn’t white sugar essential at least for the growing children”?” and shifted to the incredulous “Your cake doesn’t contain butter, how can it taste delicious?”
Well, eventually came the slow acceptance of the use of healthy alternatives in baking. Ovenderful started becoming popular – which resulted in the next dreaded step….how does one scale up?
Don’t get me wrong – I am fairly ambitious and result-oriented, perhaps more so than most individuals. But drawing up a roadmap for a client, was far easier when I was in a consulting role, than for my own social enterprise.
But it was a challenge I was ready for and so after 3 years of turning Ovenderful into a venture, thanks to a friend’s persistence and thought process, I am happy to share the website that you can use should you like to order any of the standardized healthy bakes. For customized orders, you can email as always to email@example.com !
Website for orders – http://ovenderful.in/
And to thank him, I made this super yum and simple Wholewheat Chocolate Strawberry-Apricot Cake 🙂
- 4 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
- 1 cup Boiling Water
- 2 cups Wholewheat Flour
- 100 gms butter or 1/2 cup of Oil
- 2 cups Cane Sugar
- 1/2 cup Buttermilk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Strawberries chopped as much as you want
- Dried apricots sliced into small pieces
Melt the butter in a pan and add cocoa. Then add the boiling water and mix well. Mix the flour, baking powder and sugar. Slowly add the butter-cocoa mix, and then fold in the extract.
Mix the eggs and buttermilk well. Add this to the above mix and fold in well. Do not over-beat. Add the chopped strawberries and apricots to the mix, pour into the greased baking tins and bake in a preheated oven at 160 degrees Celsius for 30-35 minutes until its baked through.
Spiced Wholewheat and Jowar Shortbread
- 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
- 1 cup whole-wheat flour
- 1/2 cup jowar flour
- 1/4 cup demerara sugar
- 1/4 cup cane sugar
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
Method – Cream the butter and sugars together till it is light and fluffy. Sift the flours together with the ginger and nutmeg. Add it slowly to the sugar-butter mix and mix well. Wrap it well in cling wrap and refrigerate for an hour or so.
Take it out and press it into a greased flat baking tray. Pre-heat the oven at 175 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes. Place the tray in the middle rack. Bake for 10 minutes and then take it out. Use a sharp knife to cut the rectangle shapes on the tray itself.Bake it again for 15 minutes after doing that and then remove them from the tray to cool off and store.
Photo Credit : AJ Photoartist/Ajay Menon
For as long as I remember I haven’t been fond of Chana Dal and I love anything that is crisp ! I have made excuses so that I don’t have to eat that particular dal despite a whole lot of effort from my mother.
But as I grew older and I tried many versions of it – a few that did seem better and something that I could probably get used to. But the one version I discovered when I moved to Bangalore and absolutely loved was the Kadale Bele Chutney / Chana Dal Chutney and I was finally a convert – I could eat a whole bowl of it, not just with Dosa or Idli but also with a chapati !
So for a while I was thinking of where I can fuse it into my baking since it is such a traditional Indian recipe. But then healthy baking for me has been largely about being able to incorporate as much of the local elements as I possibly can. What I also discovered while trying to dip a cracker ( yes, my love for the crisp) into the chutney and eat it was that there was a way to combine these.
That is when I decided to bring together this bake for the OpenOut event that I hosted at home.
For the Wholewheat Zero-Fat flatbread/Lavash
– Whole wheat flour: 2 cups
– Red chilly powder: 2 tsp
– Salt: 2 tsp
– Jeera powder : 1 tsp
– Warm water: 1 cup
– Black sesame seeds : 3 tsp
Add flour, salt, chilly, jeera powder and mix.
Add the black sesame seeds and mix through the dry mixture well so that it is uniformly present.
Add 1 cup of warm water and knead into a smooth soft dough. Cover with a damp muslin cloth and let the dough rest for 30 mins.
– Make small balls of the dough of uniform size.
– Dust them one at a time and roll it out into a round or square shape. Make sure to roll it out as thin as possible.
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius.
Brush the baking tray lightly with oil.
Place the round / square on top of the tray and cut it into squares with a pizza cutter ( you can choose to make any other shape with cookie cutters too).
Bake for 10 to 12 mins or until light brown and crisp. Turn them around mid way to allow even browning on either side.
Take it out and cool completely.
For the Kadale Bele chutney ( I used this one as per our taste buds, if you have your own traditional recipe, feel free to use that).
Roast about 1/2 cup kadle bele or chana dal , 4 dry red chilies, 4-5 fenugreek/methi seeds, 3-4 curry leaves and 1 pinch of hing/asfoetida in 1 tsp oil. When this is roasted ( be careful not to burn it), cool it off well. Then dry grind it with 1/2 cup freshly grated coconut and 1 tsp of salt ( you can adjust this to your taste preference). Keep this aside.
To assemble –
Once the flat bread pieces are baked through , with a spoon or knife spread the chutney on top of them and top it off with dry roasted peanuts. If you want to retain crispness, after the assembling place it into a preheated oven for 2 minutes at 160 degrees Celsius, before serving.