Eggless Alphonso Cake

Spring has been behaving rather bizarre these days. I think it mistook May to be July. Nights have been ending with a downpour and mornings beginning with the hangover of one. If not for my spring flowers, I’d be misled to think of the day as the sluggish reminder of the upcoming monsoons. So I baked a happy cake. A happy, eggless, Alphonso mango cake! I had baked a (mousambi) sweet-lime cake, on Mom’s birthday in April. Its popularity encouraged me to try this.

Alphonso mangoes are happy by default, both in colour, texture and softness of tang, unlike our desi aam! The rich yellow colour of its purée is so enlivening, I decided to offer my eyes some succour in the otherwise dull morning today.

Here’s the recipe:

1 1/2 flour (whatever suits you, although gluten-free ones usually require a little more baking powder/soda for upliftment)

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda (Or more precisely, two pinches if you please. I have had disasters with a little too much of this petty little thing, so I’m extra cautious)

1/2 tsp cinnamon powder

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup regular veg oil

1 cup of Alphonso mango puree (homemade or otherwise)

3 tbsp sweetened condensed milk (works for the sugar as well)

2 tbsp milk* (The recipe I used, didn’t call for it, but I used it to loosen the condensed milk)

A pinch of salt

Blend it all and bake it for 30 mins. Done-done-a-done!

For frosting, you can use puree with whipped cream (or low-fat cream) and honey. I had neither. So, Clumsy Kitchen blended the puree with condensed milk and 1/2 tsp salt and spread it over the cake. The taste was what Sheldon calls — bazinga!

 

 

 

 

4 reasons why salad lunches are a good choice

Indians and oil/grease-free cooking don’t go together typically. Yes, people do choose it over fried foods nowadays because of awareness, but their hearts keep longing for their exes. So I don’t know who’s going to buy it when I say that salad lunches, vegetarian for that matter, are awesome. Usually, foods like these go with the label of healthy cooking, which is the Indian Morse Code for bland. Haters gonna hate, call me a gastric-lost traveller in the world of food, but what the hell. I love low-slash-non-spiced food and I won’t deny it. I am a hardcore fishetarian too – whether baked, steamed or curried. Yet…I chose this darling over my already lightweight, non-spicy, gluten-free, traditionally Assamese must-have luncheons of fish curries and rice platters. So there must be a delectable reason for that.

Pause for a breather.

The reason I chose vegetarian salad lunches on the menu is because salads are:

Delicious

The humble texture of parboiled veggies sprinkled with a dash of olive oil, salt/pepper, lime and nuts – is equally, if not profanely, sublime.

Last minute friendly

They usually don’t need too much attention or sticking to a recipe. You can go wild and yet come up with a wonder of a salad. I like a gluten-free salad, occasionally with lightly toasted cottage cheese and mostly without meat.But you may have your way and sprinkle hard/soft cheese shavings or boiled/baked/grilled meats over yours.

Safe for the tummy

They are also, for lack of a better word, healthy. They are pleasing, comforting and reassuring for the delicate lining of the tummy.

A good, post-hangover meal

Salads are wonderful accompaniments for a wine-and-dine. But they are also gut saviours when you don’t want to have anything heavy and yet want to keep off being hungry. A bowl or plate of veg salad post-4am-parties and a tepid slumber is respectful towards your digestion and lets your gut rest.

I love my food to be light and hearty. How do you like yours?

Gluten-free + egg-free: Chocolate cake in a bowl

I swear I began the recipe for a mug. I had seen enough of those pretty cake-in-a-mug pictures of my friends to finally park my procrastination and try it out.

But you must remember, I am a clumsy cook. So the measure went a little overboard. The first trial – cake in a mug – was a dry one. I over-microwaved it and I won’t show you that picture. But I’m a cake glutton. So I punched holes into it and poured a sweetened orange-butter syrup and washed it all down.

Now, coming to the cake in the bowl. The timer was set for a minute at first (once bitten, twice shy). Then, peeking at the rise through the microwave window, I increased the time a couple of times, 10-20 seconds at a time. So, I can say it took me about 2-2 & 1/2 minutes for the cake in a bowl.

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Gluten-free flour: 3 tbsp

Sugar: 3 tbsp

Curd: 1 tbsp

Veg oil: 1-1 1/2 tbsp

Pinch of salt

Cocoa powder: 2-3 tbsp

Baking powder: 1/4 tsp

Pinch of baking soda, optional*

I whisked it all together in the same microwaveable bowl I’d bake it in. No preheating required really. You can simply put it in, choose microwave mode (not convection) and set the timer. Ka-Ching! Cake is done. Dig in with a spoon.

Do you have any quick and easy baking ideas? Please share. I’m all ears.

Chocolate Walnut Cake

The husband doesn’t like eggs in his cake. Yes, he can be absurd like that. But who am I kidding? I am not an easy-eater myself. So yesterday I tried a Yolanda Gampp in my clumsy kitchen and whipped up a walnut cake. Actually, two walnut cakes frosted into one. Mind you, it isn’t gluten-free. It was a special one for the husband and he isn’t gluten allergic. Hence…

So anyway, here’s the recipe:

Chocolate Walnut Cake

Flour – 4 cups

Curd – 2 cups (you can reduce if you want)

Baking powder – 2 tsp

Baking soda – 1+1/2 tsp

Vanilla essence – 1 tsp

Sugar – 3 cups

Butter – 1 cup

Veg oil – 2+1/2 cups

Walnuts (chopped roughly) – 2 cups (for batter) + 1 to 1+1/2 cup for frosting

Dark chocolate – 300gms

I baked two separate cakes so I could frost the mid layer easily. You may bake one big cake and slice it half. Your take. I made the batter together however.

Sieve (it makes the batter smoother if you don’t have a blender) and then blend the dry ingredients in a big bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the curd, vanilla essence, oil and butter and whisk it with your hand or machine as applicable to you. I did it manually with a whisk.

Add the walnuts and check how thick the batter is. Usually I like my batter a wee bit runny but on this eggless occasion, I decided to have it a little sticky. Now, halve the batter and bake it separately or wait till the first one is done (like I did; now isn’t my kitchen clumsy?!).

For the frosting: Use a double boiler to melt the chocolate. I put a little milk in my saucepan and added the chocolate to melt it.

After the cakes are done, let them cool. Put the crusty side (usually the top) on the cake plate or in my case, just a dinner plate. Frost the top of one cake with just a big dollop of the chocolate. Place your other cake on top. If the edges protrude, slice the extra off and then pour the rest of the melted chocolate on top. Let it pour down the sides and level the top and sides with a dinner knife. Now sprinkle the chopped walnuts on top and the sides. My chocolate ran down to the plate a little, so I sprinkled walnuts there too. I wish I had taken a picture when the cake was whole. Clumsy me! But I saved a piece for the click before the guests could wipe the plate clean.

So go ahead and make your unassuming chocolate walnut (truffle sorta) cake. And let me know how it works. Share your ideas too. I’m sure you’d have smarter ways to make this than I did.

Gluten-free and fun!

 

gluten free flours and typography

The other day I came across this website that made me rethink my predicament and accept the new me – which is supposed to be, gluten free. I am putting it like that because the other way would be – I am allergic to gluten. So anyway, the website made me feel part of a community, accept that this is going to be a way of life and that there are many others who are facing the same problem. In short, they were saying, “Welcome to GFA – Gluten-Free Anonymous”. I could almost see myself sitting on a chair in a circle of other troubled celiac-cursed people. The website did have recipes and options for gluten-free living and diets but I still wasn’t convinced it wasn’t a sorry situation. The whole thing sounded like ‘we are with you’. Was I into therapy now?

I shun the putrid thoughts and concentrated on the good things about it. I would have to give up maida (refined flour) which somehow managed to screw up my lipid profile already and my LDL is now pretty borderline! For those scratching their heads, lipid profile is not something that makes you a pro or look pretty, it is your cholesterol test. So the bad cholesterol aka LDL was busting my blood stream and the gut was already celiac cursed. Need I worry more? Damn, I was supposed to talk about the ‘good things’.

So yes, the good thing that came out of my ‘condition’ is that I started watching what I was eating. I love cakes; which goes on to say that dropping flour off my chart was like getting dumped on email – shocked and without explanation! I decided that since it was necessary to drop pasta, pizza and the equally criminal cheese and cream out of my way, I would not give up on cakes, even if it means having a slice a month. Now since the website (which shall not be named) already made me feel clinical about myself, I chose to find a happier path and started browsing Instagram! And then, I found Sheila (realglutenfreemeals.com). Yeah, that’s her name and she surely is one helluva Sheila. Sheila here is not only young and pretty, she also has a very handsome husband and two adorable kids and she makes me feel classier about being gluten-free. I emailed her a few times and let’s say, she and not her customer care team, encouraged me to try a few things for starters. I had a bag of almonds, gifted by someone on some occasion lying in my drawer and I had never thought of them until now. Sheila skips dairy and drinks almond milk instead, and the flour that is the residue of the process comes in handy for baking! My heart cried out with joy. I was ready for cakes again.

That a friend’s Facebook food posts were tugging at my sorrow chords, is now not beyond repair. Sure, I might not immediately come up with her delectable Bundt cake, but I shall and I will, try and try again. To cut to the chase, I baked an almond cake yesterday and it turned out so yum, I felt like a mother rescuing her kid out of the kidnapper’s hands! The recipe I turned to, did not mention butter or oil but I was worried it might burn the cake and therefore added a few dollops of butter nonetheless. I mean, I hadn’t yet come to trust the oil of almonds completely. And the best part is that the husband, who is usually ordering off a completely different menu than mine, loved it to bits…literally! There are only a few portions (not slices) left of it now and I am super excited to try something more gluten free.

In all this, I have learnt one lesson. Practice more than you preach. Sheila, thank you for not trying to put the spirituality of ‘gluten-free living’ down my throat and instead, enticing me to try it as an adventurous new lifestyle. I know I will have to manoeuvre a lot through the aisles of spicy, dairy-loaded, flour-heaped Indian cooking, but I will find my way of living and revel at that very soon.

For those, remotely interested in the recipe, here’s it.

ALMOND CAKE (no wheat!)

Ingredients:

250g ground almonds

225g caster sugar

1tsp baking powder

6 eggs

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp vanilla essence

Blend this together and bake for 40 minutes. Voila!

P.S. This is not Sheila’s recipe. I just got it off a Youtube Clementine & Almond cake and dropped Clementine off the list.