Carrot Bread

I have made carrot bread few times before too, but somehow have never been able to click pictures and share it with you all. As I am typing out the recipe, I am waiting for it to cool down well, so that I can slice them and click pictures of that too. 

You might wonder what is so special about this bread? Well, for one thing this bread has a good amount of oats in it. I have used the normal saffola oats. The oats is first cooked in little water to form a thick porridge. The mixture is then cooled and added to the dry ingredients. Secondly, it does not have milk, milk powder, fresh cream, eggs or maida in it. Except for a final light brush of butter on top, this bread is almost vegan. Also there is not much fat in it other than 1-2 tablespoon of olive oil which is used while kneading. Plus there is no added sugar, just a teaspoon of honey. Aren’t these reasons sufficient to try out this bread? 🙂 It is mildly spiced with chilli flakes, onion and garlic powder.

Ingredients:

  • Whole wheat flour 125 gm (1 cup)
  • Semolina 125 gm
  • Oats 50 gm
  • Salt to taste
  • Honey 1 tsp
  • Instant yeast 1/2-3/4 tsp
  • Carrots 75-100 gm
  • Chilli flakes to taste
  • Coriander leaves 3-4 sprigs
  • Garlic powder 1/2 tsp (optional)
  • Onion powder 1/2 tsp (optional)
  • Water around 3/4 cup
  • Olive oil 1-2 tbsp
  • Sesame seeds for sprinkling

Method:

  • Mix the oats with around 1/2 cup water and cook it well. Allow it to cool well.

  • Mix the yeast and honey in 1/4 cup lukewarm water and keep it aside till it is frothy. 
  • Peel and wash the carrots and grate it. Chop the coriander leaves finely.

  • Mix the flour, salt, chilli flakes, onion and garlic powder in a mixing bowl.
  • Now add the grated carrots and coriander leaves and mix well.

  • Add the cooked oats and mix it with the dry ingredients. The mixture will almost form a dough.
  • Now pour the yeast honey mixture and knead into a soft dough.
  • Sprinkle the oil and knead well to the dough becomes soft and elastic.
  • Place the dough in a well oiled bowl and cover the bowl with a cling film.
  • Allow the dough to double in size. It might take around 60 minutes. 
  • Now grease a bread tin and keep it ready. I have used a 7 by 2.5 inches small bread tin.
  • Once the dough is doubled, transfer the dough onto a well floured counter and knock out the gases. 
  • Knead the dough again for a minute or two.
  • Roll the dough using a rolling pin and shape into a tight log. 
  • Slowly place the shaped loaf into the bread tin and sprinkle some oil or milk on top. 

  • Cover with a big dome like lid and allow it to rise again till almost double. It took almost 30-32 minutes.

  • Meanwhile preheat the oven at 180 degree Celsius for atleast 10 minutes.
  • Sprinkle some sesame seeds on top
  • Bake the bread for 30-35 minutes or till the internal temperature is around 90 degree Celsius.
  • Remove from oven and let it remain in the tin for 3-4 minutes more. Apply butter on the crust.

  • Transfer the bread from the tin into a cooling rack and allow it to cool well.

  • Wait for atleast 2-3 hours before you slice them. Believe me you get neater slice and a better crumb texture if you allow it to cool well. Ideally, bake during late evening and slice it in the morning. 

  • Enjoy these slices with a slather of butter or make cheese sandwiches or toast. 

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Eggless Fruit Cake I

After seeing many of my baker friends soaking up dry fruits for their Christmas cakes, I was also motivated to try something. I do not want to soak the fruits on alcohol for obvious reasons, though I know that’s the most oldest and preferred way of baking these yummy beauties. Just like how we associate cakes with eggs and butter, likewise these cakes are associated with soaking the fruits in rum, brandy or red wine. But since I bake eggless cakes, this is also going to be an eggless and non alcoholic version and believe me this one is equally scrumptious and flavourful with the richness of dry fruits and nuts and home ground spice mixture.

To start with, we need to cut the desired dry fruits into small uniform size pieces and then dissolve it in either apple, pineapple, grape or orange juice or tea decoction. Just for an experimentation, I decided to soak the dry fruits in (i) fresh grape juice and (ii) tea decoction. The details of these are in the below link.

For this particular recipe, I have used the one with fresh grape juice. This is just a trial method and will surely try some other version and update the same. I have not soaked the nuts and just roasted it a bit, chopped and then used it for an added crunch. Feel free to use any dry fruits and nuts that you have at your disposal. 

I have used a 240 ml cup.

Ingredients:

  • All purpose flour 125 gm (1 cup)
  • Salt a pinch
  • Baking powder 1/2 tsp
  • Baking soda 1/2 tsp
  • Butter 75 gm
  • Brown sugar 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp
  • Vanilla extract 1/2 tsp
  • **Caramel syrup 1-2 tbsp
  • Cinnamon powder 1/4 tsp
  • Nutmeg powder 1/8 tsp
  • Almonds plus Cashew nuts 1/4 cup
  • Walnuts (optional)
  • Pecans (optional)
  • Orange/lime zest 1/2 tsp
  • Soaked dry fruits 1/2 cup
  • Drained juice of dry fruits 2 tbsp
  • Warm water 2 tbsp
  • Candied orange peel (optional)
  • Candied ginger (optional)

Method:

  • Sieve the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, spice powder for 3-4 times.

  • Roast the nuts over low flame till it becomes crunchy. Chop them into bite size pieces. Drain and measure 1/2 cup of the soaked dry fruits and keep it ready.

  • Preheat the oven at 150 degree Celsius for atleast 10 minutes.
  • Grease an 8 inch round or square pan or mini loaf pans or a bread tin with butter and dust it with flour. Place a parchment paper at the base. I have used 3 mini loaf tins.

  • Beat the butter and sugar till it is soft and fluffy. 
  • Add the caramel syrup and vanilla extract and mix well. Now add the zest of the orange or lime. Add 2 tablespoon of warm water and mix.
  • Now add half cup of the soaked dry fruits and add it to the flour. Also add the pieces of nuts and the candied orange peel if you are adding any.
  • Now slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and fold gently.
  • Add some of the strained liquid from the soaked dry fruits. The batter will be a bit thick.
  • Slowly pour the batter into the prepared cake tin/tins and smoothen the top.

  • Bake at 150 degree Celsius for 45-50 minutes (for an 8 inch round tin) or till a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. My mini loaf tins took 35 minutes to bake.
  • Remove the tin from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the pan over a wire rack.
  • Slowly run a plastic knife or spatula at the edges of the tin and loosen the cake. 
  • Transfer the cake onto a cooling rack and allow it to cool well.

  • Slice gently and enjoy a piece 🙂

    Notes:

    • Allow the cake to cool in the tin for few minutes before you take it out of the tin.
    • Wait till the cake cools well on a cooling rack and then slice them slowly. 
    • You can dust the cake with icing sugar if you want to.
    • Cut the cake with a sharp serated knife and very gently, or else it will crumble.
    • I found this cake to be a bit sweeter than what I would have liked, so those who want a mildly sweet cake, please use only 1/4 cup of sugar.
    • Also reduce the amount of spice powder, if are not a big fan of spice taste. My home ground spice was a bit strong.
    • Also I found my cake to be a bit crumbly, but the taste is really good, with a nice bite of dry fruits and roasted nuts in every mouthful.
    • The cake tastes better0 the next day when all the flavours would have infused well.

    **How to make caramel syrup:

    • Take around 1/4 cup of brown sugar in a thick sauce pan and add 1 teaspoon water to it. Let it boil well. 
    • Lightly swirl the pan. It will slowly turn darker in colour and form a thick dark brown solution. 

    • Add around 2-3 tablespoon of water and mix well. Remove from heat and cool. Your caramel syrup is ready. 

    Soaking Dry Fruits

    November-December is the best time of the year… Weather is much better even in a warm m place like Chennai, which is a boon for Bakers. Plus lots of fruits are available and Christmas is round the corner where every food group is full of interesting and tasty baked goodies. There are many Bakers adding various posts on how to soak the dry fruits in alcohol or non alcoholic liquid in their blog. So, here are my two cents on soaking and baking the most delicious fruit cake. 
    While I was choosing various dry fruits and chopping them into uniform sized pieces, I thought of experimenting with the liquid used for soaking. After reading various blog and seeing lot of videos on you tube, I decided to use fresh home made black grape juice and secondly use tea infused with cinnamon, cloves, star anise and mace. Wow what an aroma while it was getting boiled. Outstanding !

    So here goes my recipe. I have not measured the dry fruits accurately. It’s more of an approximation. I can assure you it doesn’t matter in the final product. Also you can use whatever dry fruit is available with you. No hard and fast rule as I always stress upon. So just get ready and enjoy what you are doing 🙂 All the fruits that I have used are either dry fruits or dehydrated ones.

    Ingredients:

    Dry fruits:

    • Cranberries 5-6 tbsp
    • Black raisins 5-6 tbsp
    • Golden raisins 3-4 tbsp
    • Black currant 3-4 tbsp
    • Glazed cherries 2-3 tbsp
    • Dehydrated apples 8-10 pieces
    • Dehydrated strawberries 8-10
    • Tootifrooti frooti 3-4 tbsp
    • Dates 16

    For the liquid:

    Tea Decoction:

    • Water 1 cup plus 2 tbsp
    • Tea granules 2 tsp
    • Cinnamon 2 inch piece
    • Cloves 3-4
    • Star anise 1-2
    • Mace 1-2

    Grape Juice:

    • Fresh black grapes ~ 250 gm

    Method:

    • Cut the dry fruits into uniform sized small small pieces.
    • Remove the seeds and chop the dates too.

    • Clean and wash the grapes and blend it in a juicer or mixer and strain the juice. Do not add water or sugar. 

    • Boil 1 cup of water in a sauce pan and add the spices. Bring it to a boil.abd add the tea granules to it.
    • When it boils well and all the flavours are infused into the tea, remove from heat and allow it to cool down.

    • Divide all the dry fruits into half and put the two halves in two clean and sterilized glass bottles or jars. 
    • Pour the grape juice into one bottle and pour the strained spice tea into the other bottle. The dry fruits should be fully soaked with the liquid.

    • Give it a nice stir and close both the bottles with an airtight lid.
    • Store the bottles in a cool dark place for 24 hours.
    • It is ready to be used after 24 hours.
    • Or you can store the bottles in a refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.
    • The dry fruits will soak most of the liquid and become all puffed up.
    • Drain the liquid and use it in your fruits cake.

      Granola Cookies

      When my niece wanted me to bake some healthy cookies for her mom i.e., my sister, I decided to use the muesli that I had at home and try something with that. It’s absolutely crunchy and perfect. With very little fat and added sugar, this is surely power packed with healthy ingredients 🙂 Please do try and share your feedback with me. I added Bournvita because I had some stock of it. You can very well skip it. There is no added baking powder or baking soda in it. 
      Ingredients:

      • Whole wheat flour 65 gm(1/2 cup)
      • Muesli/Granola 125 gm
      • Cornflour 1 tbsp
      • Salt a pinch
      • Dark chocolate 50-60 gm
      • Brown sugar 2 tbsp
      • Butter 56 gm (1/4 cup)
      • Vanilla extract 1/2 tsp
      • Bournvita 2-3 tbsp
      • Milk 1-2 tbsp (if required)

        Method:

        • Mix the four, cornflour and salt in a mixing bowl.
        • Cream butter and sugar till the sugar is fully dissolved. Add the vanilla extract and mix well.
        • Add the flour mixture, muesli, bournvita and the dark chocolate pieces into the butter and sugar and mix well.
        • Add milk if the mixture is too dry and mix everything. Do not knead hard.
        • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and keep it ready.
        • Preheat the oven at 150-160 degree Celsius for atleast 10 minutes.
        • Shape the cookies and bake for 12-15 minutes or till it looks done.
        • Remove the tray from the oven and allow the cookies to remain in the tray for 3-4 minutes.
        • Remove them from the tray and place them on a wire rack and allow them to cool well.
        • Once cooled store in airtight containers.
        • Enjoy these healthy cookies with a glass of milk 🙂

        Strawberry Muffins

        Winters are the best time for baking, especially in a hot city like Chennai. And the best part is we get lot of fresh fruits and berries which otherwise is not very abundantly found in Chennai. I love going to the fruit and vegetables shop and the very sight of fresh fruits and veggies make me extremely happy. Last week, during my regular visit to buy veggies, I happened to see a fresh pack of strawberries. These days, my mind is always preoccupied with the thought of baking and trying out new stuffs so that I can update my blog 🙂 I know too much of flour and sugar is not very good for health. So, this is the time when my mini cupcake mould comes to my rescue. Perfect for a small measure of flour and enough to experiment with. Small pretty ones which makes you feel less guilty even if you gobble 2 of them at a go. Perfect to pack in your kids lunch box, weekly once 2-3 such small cupcake is ok for growing kids, atleast it’s home made, isn’t it? 

        Initially I thought of making a strawberry compote and then adding it to the batter. But then I thought of adding the fresh fruit directly. If you wish to frost these, it’s better to make strawberry compote and then add a spoon or so of it to whipped cream and frost the cupcake. But I prefer to make simple muffins so that I don’t add the fat of whipped cream too in our diet 🙂

        Ingredients:

        • All purpose flour 100 gm
        • Salt a pinch
        • Baking powder 1/4 tsp
        • Baking soda a pinch
        • Thick curd 2 tbsp
        • Oil 2 tbsp
        • Milk 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp
        • Vanilla/strawberry extract 2-3 drops
        • Beetroot powder a pinch (optional)
        • Sugar 1/3 cup
        • Strawberry 7-8
        • Strawberry liquid 1 tbsp **

        Method:

        • Wash and pat dry the strawberries and chop them into bite size pieces. 
        • Sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar in it and keep aside for 10 minutes. Drain the liquid and use it in the cake batter. **
        • Preheat the oven at 150-160 degree celsius for atleast 10 minutes.
        • Grease a mini cupcake mould or line them with cupcake liners.
        • Sieve the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
        • Mix oil, milk, curd and sugar till the sugar is fully dissolved. Add the extract and the beetroot powder or 2-3 drops of pink colour. 
        • Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and fold gently. 
        • Add the chopped strawberry pieces and fold well.
        • Pour into the muffin mould till 2/3 rd of its capacity.
        • Bake for 20-22 minutes or till the centre looks cooked.
        • Remove from oven and allow it to cool for 2-3 minutes.
        • Transfer onto a cooling rack and cool well.
        • Enjoy it with a glass of milk 🙂 

        No-knead Dutch Oven Bread

        Oh my God! I never thought I would get so much addicted to baking breads and reading about them, though this is what has been my favourite hobby for more than a year now. After I got my new Prestige clay pot or Dutch oven (DO), I have started reading about baking breads in that. After successfully making some stuffed buns in my DO, now it’s turn of breads. Never knew that these no-knead breads could be this soft. And it’s so very easy to make, with just a pinch of yeast. Only thing you need to have in hand is lot of time, yes you heard it right, you need atleast 12-15 hours right from mixing the flour to getting a bread ready to be devoured. 

        The idea is to make a very very wet and shaggy dough just my adding water, flour, salt and very little yeast. Mind you, there is not even a pinch of sugar or a drop of oil or milk. This makes it ideal for diabetic patients and for those who follow a vegan diet. To make it more healthy, I have substituted half of the all purpose flour with whole wheat flour. 

        All you need is some flour, salt, yeast, water, parchment paper, a DO and a good working oven. The best part is, you can mix the ingredients at night before you sleep and then allow it to proof very very slowly at room temperature. The ideal room temperature would be around 21-22 degree celsius. Since Chennai homes are more than that, hubby suggested to keep the bowl in our bedroom and we switched on the ac for some time and when I got up in the morning, I was pretty pleased to see my bowl full 🙂 Now the next step was quite simple, just flour your surface and transfer the shaggy mass onto it. Just fold the dough over itself for few times and then shape it into a round ball. Place it on a floured parchment paper and allow it to rise. Meanwhile preheat your oven with the DO inside it  till the oven temperature is around 220-230 degree Celsius or 450 degree Fahrenheit. It took around 35 minutes and today I got a chance to use my oven thermometer. Oh my…. I have almost written the entire procedure here… So what to write in the method now? Well… So here is the recipe …

        Please go through the Notes.

        Ingredients:

        • All purpose flour 200 gm
        • Whole wheat flour 200 gm
        • Salt to taste
        • Hot Water 400 ml
        • Instant yeast 1/4 tsp

        Method:

        • Take a big mixing bowl and all the flour, salt and yeast and mix well.
        • Now add the hot water (not boiling hot, but warmer than lukewarm) to the flour mixture and mix it well using a wooden spoon till there is no dry particle left.

        • Cover the bowl with a cling wrap and keep it on the counter (approximately 21-22 degree Celsius) for atleast 8 hours or overnight. 

        • After the specified time, take the dough onto a well floured surface and fold the dough over itself for 8-10 times. Do not knead the dough. Sprinkle flour if it sticks a lot. Mind you, the dough will be very very sticky. You can use a bench scrapper to fold the dough.

        • Now take a parchment paper and dust it liberally with flour.

        • Slowly place the shaped dough onto the parchment paper. 
        • Now place the parchment paper along with the dough into a mixing bowl or a round bread basket and allow it to rise. 

        • Cover the bowl with a moist towel.

        • Meanwhile preheat the oven at 220-230 degree Celsius or 450 degree Fahrenheit.
        • Keep the DO into the oven and heat for around 30 minutes. Having an oven thermometer helps to know when your oven reaches the desired temperature. It took 35 minutes for my oven.

        • Take the hot (very hot) DO from the oven very very carefully and slowly lift the parchment and place it in the DO.
        • Close the lid and keep the DO into the oven and bake for around 30 minutes or so.
        • Now remove the lid and bake for 5 more minutes till the top looks brown.
        • Remove the DO from the oven and place it on a wooden board. 
        • Remove the bread using a laddle or spatula and place on a wire rack.

        • Keep a moist towel on top of it and cool it well.
        • Slice it with a serated knife and enjoy it with a dash of butter 🙂

          Notes:

          • You can bake this with 100% apf. One can add any nuts, berries or any herbs in the dough during the shaping and make the bread more flavourful.
          • Do not knead the dough. Just mix with a wooden spoon and keep it for fermentation.
          • You can refrigerate the dough maybe after keeping it outside for first 2-3 hours and thereby allowing the flavours to develop slowly.
          • When you place the parchment paper with the shaped dough into the DO, cut the extra flowing parchment paper. The flowing edges burn inthe high temperature.
          • Handle the hot DO very carefully.
          • After you take the DO out of the oven, place it on a wooden board or a thick towel. Do not keep it on a cold surface. It might cause a crack in the DO with the sudden temperature variation.
          • Wash the DO only when it is fully cooled. Dry and store it in a clean place.
          • When I bought my DO, I didn’t know that straight walled ones are better fit bread baking than the ones with slanting walls. Breads will tend to go flat and look more like a Focaccia or Ciabatta rather than a tall one.
          • To overcome this, it is better to keep the parchment paper with the dough (while it’s rising and DO is getting preheated inthe oven) in a bowl with straight wall or in a less flatter bowl. This will ensure that the bread won’t spread much while you transfer it into the DO.
          • Hope you will find these notes and tips useful.
          • Feel free to comment on the post and ask for any clarifications. Happy baking. Bake breads at home and keep your family safe from the chemical and preservatives ladden store bought ones. Believe me, nothing can be more satisfying than a perfect or even not so perfect healthy home baked bread. 

          Dutch Oven Buns


          I remember last year I had decided to buy a Dutch oven (DO) when I saw bread bakers using it for their sourdough breads and others for making casserole dishes and recipes which require slow cooking. But then somehow it never materialized and I almost forgot about it until last week when an extremely talented Baker friend of mine wrote about her new DO. That triggered me and on getting further details from her about where to order, the price etc, I ordered it online and voila… within 4-5 days, one of the most attractive abd stunning red beauty is in my hands. 

          Now you guys might wonder what’s so special about this cooking pot. It’s just like any other cookware. I think we will realise its beauty and effectiveness once we start using it. For one thing it is very very heavy ( so the fragile kinds…. Be prepared 🙂 ) and hence perfect to retain heat. Moreover it can be used on normal at be top, induction, electric coil top and oven too. When we bake breads or any dishes by placing it inside this DO and then keeping the DO in the oven, it will cook uniformly. The heat will be evenly distributed, ensuring a perfect bake. Plus it’s ideal for cooking meat and other slow cooking recipes like stew, casserole dishes etc. 

          Basically, it’s a heavy cast iron or ceramic or cast aluminium heavy and thick cooking pot with a snugly fitting lid. For more information on Dutch oven, you can browse the internet. In olden times it used to be made of cast iron and hence required lot of seasoning and after use care. But this Prestige clay pot is coated with an enamel, making it very easy to wash and store till you use it the next time. But just be sure not to use metal spoons so that the enamel doesn’t come off. As given in the instruction leaflet, just wash it with warm water and soap and dry it completely. Do not keep it in the sink when it is very hot. Let it cool first before you add water and wash it. Place it on a cooling rack or thick Kitchen towel or wooden board when you take it out of the oven.

          Ingredients:

          • Whole wheat flour 250 gm
          • Semolina 50 gm
          • Salt to taste
          • Honey 2 tsp
          • Instant yeast 1/2-3/4 tsp
          • Milk plus water to knead
          • Any veg or non veg filling of your choice
          • Butter 2 tbsp
          • Olive oil 1 tbsp

          Method:

          • Add the yeast and honey to aroumd 1/4 cup of lukewarm water and stir well.
          •  Keep it aside undisturbed for 5-10 minutes.
          • Mix the flour and salt well. Add the yeast mixture to it.
          • Slowly pour the milk and water mixture and knead into a soft and smooth elastic dough. Sprinkle the oilive oil while kneading.
          • Once the dough has been kneaded for 10-12 minutes, place it in a clean and well oiled bowl and allow it rise till the dough is double in size.
          • Cover the bowl with a cling film or a moist kitchen cloth.
          • Once the dough is double in size, punch out the gases and knead for a minute or two.
          • Divide the dough into equal size balls. I got around 9 balls each weighing approximately 55-56 gm.

          • Now heat your clay pot/Dutch oven on your stove or oven for 4-5 minutes over medium flame.
          • Add a tablespoon of butter and let it melt and coat the base and sides. Remove from the stove and keep it on a cooling rack or a thick kitchen towel or wooden board.
          • Flatten a ball of dough in your palm and fill it with your desired filling and seal the edges.
          • Place it in the Dutch oven carefully. Repeat with the remaining dough.

          • Cover the clay pot with its lid and allow it to proof for 20 minutes or so till it looks puffy.

          • Meanwhile preheat the oven at 180-200 degree celsius for atleast 10 minutes.
          • Place the clay pot into the oven very carefully and bake at 180 degree for 20-22 minutes.
          • Remove the lid after this and bake for another 8-10 minutes till the top looks golden.
          • Remove from the oven and apply a coat of butter on top.
          • Let it cool for a while and then carefully rove it from the pot with a wooden or silicone spatula or spoon. No harsh metal objects please.
          • Serve it warm with any dip or a cup of hot soup.

          Notes:

          • This was my first bake using the clay pot, as I try different bakes, I shall update my experience. As of now, my experience with this is limited. But I shall happily share all that I get it know subsequently.
          • I got this for Rs. 2184. It’s 240 mm in diameter.
          • You can look for it maybe in Prestige showroons too.
          • I have ordered it from http://www.ttkprestige.com/blog/show-all/6102/fine-cooking-with-cast-iron
          • I didn’t know this before, but got to know yesterday that pots with straight walls are better for sourdough bread baking. Mine has a slanting side walls.
          • It took 4-5 days for delivery.
          • Its very very heavy, so please be careful while handling it. Even the lid is heavy. 
          • You can use it to bake sourdough boules or any no knead rustic breads.
          • Use it to make baked casserole dishes or any kind of meat or stew. 
          • Do not use metal spoons or metal brush to clean it. 
          • It’s a prized possession, so handle it with love 🙂