“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, 10 January 2017

Quick Whole Wheat Bread #BreadBakers


It has snowed in the hills and the plains are shivering in the cold wave. It rained day and night yesterday and we knew it must be snowing in the hills. Rain washed away all the dust and next morning a clear sky and clean fresh air greeted us.



We ran to our terrace to see the snow in the hills. It did not snow heavily and only some peaks were white.


 The air was chilly and we saw some Babblers huddled together in our mango tree.


Later, the Sun rose graciously spreading warmth and mirth.


Sitting in the Sun in winters induces lassitude. It is soothing to read a book, oil your hair and do any other chore outside or just doze off. It is a bliss. While we all were outside sunning ourselves in the lawn, the oven timer chimed. 



Our Quick Whole Wheat Bread was ready. A soup and a veggie with would be our dinner tonight.


This is a great recipe. The dough needs just one rise. The crumb is soft and the bread is delicious. This is one bread that I bake quite often and everyone at home loves it.


Quick Whole Wheat Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 cups whole wheat flour (atta)
  • 1 cup very warm water
  • ¾ tablespoons instant dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons+2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons+2teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt

Instructions

  1. To prepare the sponge, stir together 1 cup flour, 1 cup warm water, and yeast. Cover and keep for 15-20 minutes until bubbly and well risen. Prepare sponge in a big bowl.
  2. Grease one 8 ½ x4 ½ inch loaf pan. Dust with cornmeal or with flour.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and 1 cup flour. Stir till the ingredients come together.
  4. Keep adding remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. When stirring becomes difficult, transfer dough onto a floured counter.
  5. Knead with the heels of the hand. Push the dough with the heels and pull back with fingers. Knead for about 6 to 7 minutes until a soft and supple dough forms.
  6. Shape dough into8-inchinch log and place in the prepared pan. Cover with a kitchen towel and keep in a warm place.
  7. Allow the bread to rise for about 1 to 2 hours, or until the center has crowned about 1 inch above the rim of the pan.
  8. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Bake the bread for 30-35 minutes or till the top turns golden brown and the bottom of the pan sounds hollow when tapped.
  9. Cool. Slice when completely cold.
#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.

This month’s host is Pavani of Cook's Hideout. She chose the theme "Healthy Breads". It is a beautiful way to start new Year the healthy way. Pavani is a talented baker. Check out her blog for some great bread recipes.

BreadBakers



Check out the Healthy Breads that our fellow #BreadBakers have baked this month:


  • Amaranth Flatbread from Mayuri's Jikoni


  • Beet Rye Bread from What Smells So Good?


  • Blueberry Almond Bread from Cindy's Recipes and Writings


  • Brain Booster Pancakes from A Day in the Life on the Farm


  • Grain-free Nutty Carrot Flatbread from A Baker's House


  • Healthier Applesauce Spice Bread from Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks


  • Healthy Whole Grain Bread from The Bread She Bakes


  • Honey Almond Brioche from Kidsandchic


  • Honey Oatmeal Bread from Food Lust People Love


  • Honey Whole Grain Bread from Hostess At Heart


  • Multigrain Pesto Swirl Bread from Herbivore Cucina


  • Quick Whole Wheat Bread from Ambrosia


  • Rugbrød from A Shaggy Dough Story


  • Spiced Besani Paratha from Sneha's Recipe


  • Sprouted Wheat Bread from Palatable Pastime


  • Sweet Potato Loaf from The Wimpy Vegetarian


  • Sweet Potato Millet Bread from The Schizo Chef


  • Ten Grain No Knead Bread from Karen's Kitchen Stories


  • Whole Wheat Brioche Buns from Gayathri's Cook Spot


  • Whole Wheat Pineapple Quick Bread from Basic N Delicious


  • Whole Wheat Carrot Apple Walnut Quickbread from A Salad For All Seasons


  • Whole Wheat White Bean Bread from Cooks Hideout







  • Monday, 2 January 2017

    Chocolate Mendiants




    It’s a cold morning. East is a beautiful blend of pink, orange and gray. Some clouds are aligned in a strange but beautiful pattern. A fish in our pond jumps with an audible “plonk”! Far in the sky, a flock of migratory birds moves in an arched line. Some birds are left out and they seem to be flapping faster to join the group. A beautiful day and another year is unfolding graciously


    Today evening promises to be exciting. Our kids have organised a get together. Some close friends have been invited. We are all busy making cupcakes, chocolate cake, cookies and Mendiants.
    Making goodies together gives joy.



    Mendiants are a French confection that is popular at celebrations or given as gifts on Christmas. They are chocolate discs studded with dry fruits and nuts.  We added a lot of candied peels that we made last weekend. Some Lemon peels were also added.
    Kids love to participate in making them. Make them around Christmas or any special occasion, it is always enjoyable to assemble them with dry fruits and nuts of choice. 


    Chocolate Mendiants
    Ingredients
    • 300 grams bitter sweet chocolate or dark chocolate (take two slabs of 150 grams each)
    • Handful green raisins
    • Handful golden raisins
    • Handful dry cranberries / candied cherries
    • 5-6 dry figs cut into long thin strips
    • 5-6 dry apricots cut into long thin strips
    • 1/4 cup thinly sliced candied orange and lemon peels
    • Handful almonds chopped
    • Handful pistachios chopped

    Instructions
    1. Break chocolate into small pieces. Melt in a double boiler.
    2. While the chocolate is melting, take a parchment sheet big enough to cover your baking tray. Make circles of 2 1/2 inches with a pencil. Turn the sheet. Circles must be visible.
    3. Pour 1 tablespoon of melted chocolate inside the circle and spread with the back of the spoon to get a perfect circle.
    4. Arrange dry fruits and nuts.
    5. Repeat till melted chocolate is over. If the chocolate becomes firm melt again and continue.
    6. Keep the tray with Mendiants in the refrigerator for an hour.
    7. Remove and store in an airtight container.

    My Tip: Prepare Mendiants with one slab at a time. Reheat chocolate as needed. Use your creativity in decorating the Mendiants. Use pepita seeds, walnuts, cashews etc.

    Sunday, 25 December 2016

    Stained Glass Cookies


    It is Sunday. Post breakfast, kids are excited as we are about bake some stained glass cookies. Candies were purchased a day before. Younger segregated the candies according to colour and crushed them in a steel mortar and pestle. Older of the two helped in preparing the dough. Kids enjoyed their designated task and soon the cookies were ready to be put together.


    Kids love to participate in baking. They learn and develop an interest in baking.



    We loved to assemble the cookies, filling the center with crushed candies. The candies melted and filled up the center to give a stained glass effect.



    Stained glass cookies are beautiful and flavourful. 


    They fill up your home with heavenly aroma when baking. 


    You may use them to decorate your Christmas tree.



    Stained Glass Cookies
    Ingredients

    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • ½ teaspoon baking powder
    • 100 gms (1 stick, ½ cup) butter
    • 1 cup castor sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tablespoon honey
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • Hard boiled sweets of different flavours

    Instructions
    1. Whisk together all-purpose flour, salt and baking powder in a deep bowl. Keep aside.
    2. Beat butter and sugar till creamy and light. Add egg. Beat well. Mixture should be smooth.
    3. Add honey and vanilla extract. Stir well.
    4. Add flour mixture and keep stirring till everything comes together. Use hands to form a soft and smooth dough.
    5. Press dough to a circle and wrap in a cling film. Keep it in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.
    6. In the meantime, cut a parchment sheet to fit into your baking tray.
    7. Segregate candies according to colours/flavours.
    8. Crush the candies of the same colour and keep in separate bowls.
    9. Remove dough from the refrigerator. Cut into two. Keep one-half back into the refrigerator.
    10. Take one piece between two parchment sheets and roll with a rolling pin. Roll to get a sheet of about  1/4th-inch thickness.
    11. Use a cookie cutter to cut the shape of your choice.
    12. Take another cutter (small size), or a cap of a bottle to cut a circle in the center.
    13. Transfer the cut cookies carefully to the baking tray placing at least ½ inch apart. If the cookies are too soft to handle, put them in the refrigerator until they are firm and easy to handle.
    14. Fill the center with a ½ teaspoon or of more crushed candy. Fill enough crushed candy so that it fills up the cavity.
    15. If you intend to use the cookies for decorating the Christmas tree, poke a hole at the top.
    16. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C for 10 to 12 minutes.
    17. Turn off the heat as soon as the edges of the cookies begin to turn brown.  Remove from the oven and remove the sheet from the tray very carefully. Place on the wire rack to cool. Remove when cool.
    18. Repeat with the other pieces of dough.
    19. Store in an airtight container.

    My Tips
    • Roll dough between parchment sheets only otherwise it will be very messy.
    • Whenever dough becomes too soft and sticky, put it in the refrigerator.
    • You may put a whole candy in the center of the cookie. It melts and fills up the center. However, if the candies are of the big size, crushing them is a better idea.
    • Watch out after 10 minutes of baking. Turn off the heat as soon as the edges begin to brown.
     

    Monday, 19 December 2016

    Easy Fruit Cake



    The month of December entails festivities, celebrations and lots of baking to commemorate the two. A box with candied orange peels was saved for December. Some golden raisins and black currants too were kept in a corner of the pantry awaiting special baking.

    This weekend, we all got together to make our fruit loaf. Walnuts were shelled, almonds blanched and halved, peels chopped fine, dates and figs measured and sliced. It was fun. Amidst animated conversation, busy hands worked with dexterity and soon, a flavourful and rich cake was rising in the oven. It filled up the nook and crannies of our home with a heavenly aroma.


    Baking a fruit cake around Christmas is a ritual we love. This is a no-fuss fruit cake that requires simple ingredients and is incredibly delicious. It is full of fruit bits and walnuts.



    Easy Fruit Cake | Easy Fruit Loaf
    Ingredients
    • 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • ½ cup (100gms) butter
    • 1 egg
    • 1 cup sour cream*
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 cup chopped walnut kernels
    • ½ cup golden raisins
    • ½ cup currants
    • ¾ cup chopped dates
    • ¼ cup chopped figs
    • ¼ cup candied orange peels
    • ¼ cup glace  cherries
    • ¼ cup all-purpose flour to toss the dry fruits
    • Handful of almonds blanched and halved (for decoration)

    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 165 degrees C. Line one 9x5 inch loaf pan with greased parchment paper. Extend parchment sheet along the sides like handles. It will help to bring the cake out of the pan easily.
    2. Mix flour and salt well. Keep aside.
    3. Beat butter and sugar until light and pale. Add egg. Beat till well incorporated.
    4. Take sour cream in a bowl. Add baking soda. It will begin to bubble. Keep for about 10 minutes.
    5. Take all the dry fruits and walnuts in a bowl. Add flour and toss well. This will prevent the dry fruits from sinking to the bottom of the cake.
    6. Add sour cream mix to butter-sugar-egg mix. Mix well.
    7. Now add flour in three shifts mixing well after each addition.
    8. Fold in dry fruits and walnuts. The batter will be thick and not runny.
    9. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Level with the back of the spoon.
    10. Decorate the top with blanched almonds.
    11. Bake for 1 hour 50 minutes to 2 hours. The top should turn brown and should be firm to touch. Cover with a foil if the top browns too soon.

    * To prepare sour cream, bring 1 cup cream to a boil. Leave it to cool. When warm, add 1 tablespoon curd (whisk it smooth). Mix well. Leave to set .overnight, or, for 6-7 hours. Use.

    My Tip: You may also add dry fruits of your choice. You may also brush the top and sides liberally with brandy and wrap in cling film. Repeat next four days. Enjoy the boozy cake.


    Sunday, 18 December 2016

    Ragi Flax and Sesame Laddu



    Come winter and every household in the hills start preparation for the weather that is sometimes inclement, unfriendly and harsh. Stocking eatables and making food that keeps one warm is common yet important. This is also the time when the fresh harvest of millets has been crushed and the flour is used in a variety of ways. The fresh lot of jaggery also reaches the market. And a very traditional recipe that is made in the hills during winters is Ragi flax and sesame Laddu. Finger millets are locally called Ragi and madua.
    Last, when we went to the hills, it was late autumn. Radha Devi, who cultivated a small patch around her home in the hills gave us some Ragi flour that was crushed in the water mill. We made Ragi Laddu that turned out delicious. Ginger powder gives a nice warming aroma.


     Ragi, sesame, and flax are rich in calcium. Sesame seeds are a very good source of copper. Flax seeds are very good for the heart as they contain a high level of omega-3 fatty acids. This is a power packed Laddu made with all the ingredients sourced locally. It has a good shelf life too.
    During winters you’re likely to be offered Ragi Laddu with steaming hot ginger tea in a pahari home. This is a traditional recipe made with seasonal ingredients mostly home grown and homemade. Laddus are delicious and nourishing. They are energizing and keep you warm in winters. Ragi laddus are made and enjoyed throughout the winters in the hills.



    Ragi Flax and Sesame Laddu

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup ragi flour (finger millets flour)
    • ½   cup sesame seeds
    • ¼ cup peanuts
    • ¼ cup almonds
    • ¼ cup flaxseeds
    • 2 ¼ cups crumbled or grated jaggery
    • 1 to 2 teaspoons dry ginger powder
    • 1 ½ tablespoons ghee (preferably made from cow's milk)

    Instructions

    1. Take ragi flour in a thick bottom wok. Dry roast it till it begins to change colour and a sweet aroma emanates.
    2. Roast sesame seeds till they puff up, begin to change colour and crackle. Stir continuously while roasting.
    3. Roast peanuts till they crackle and become golden brown. Stir continuously while roasting.
    4. Roast flaxseeds till they crackle and begin to change colour. Stir continuously while roasting.
    5. Let the roasted ingredients come to room temperature.
    6. Grind sesame seeds, peanuts, and flaxseeds to a fine powder. Grind almonds to a fine powder.
    7. Take Ragi flour and powdered nuts and seeds in a large, wide-mouthed pan.
    8. Add crumbled jaggery and ginger powder. Mix well. Add ghee.
    9. Take the mixture in a grinder and blitz for 1 to 2 minutes, two times. It should become warm, sticky and easily shapeable.
    10. Take mixture in your hand, press and shape to get walnut size laddu.
    11. Store in an airtight container.
    My Tip: If the mixture is not coming together, increase the quantity of jaggery. Use winter jaggery only. It is soft and pliable. Do not use jaggery powder. You may use 1/2 cup peanuts if you do not have almonds.


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