Rose scented Hazelnut Cookies

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This is my third and final post on New Year Challenges. I have been planning forever to experiment on ideas and recipes instead of adapting other recipes. Though I am sure most flavour combinations have already been discovered and perfected, there is a thrill and satisfaction of discovering something on your own instead of simply adapting another recipe. I used to do that a lot during my initial days in the kitchen but then it slowly died down as the years went by. Now I want to try dishes on my own and document it. Here is the first one – a rose scented cookie with hazelnuts and rose petals.

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Makes around 15 cookies

WHAT WE NEED

1 cup Whole wheat flour

1/2 cup Sugar

1/3 cup Unsalted butter, room temperature (around 80 gms)

1 tbsp Rose water

2 tbsp Hazelnuts, chopped

1 tbsp Dried rose petals

2 tbsp Milk / as required

 

WHAT TO DO

  • Preheat the oven at 175C
  • Beat butter and sugar till soft and fluffy, around 4-5 minutes
  • Add the rose water, flour and hazelnuts and mix
  • Add milk to form a smooth dough
  • Line a baking tray with parchment
  • Divide the dough into 15-20 parts
  • Roll each one into a ball, flatten and place on the baking tray
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes till the cookies get brown at the bottom
  • Let cool for 10 minutes
  • Enjoy!

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This is my post for the Blogging Marathon under the theme, ‘New Year Challenges’.

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Whole Wheat Bran & Seeded Bread

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All my life, I have been a staunch supporter of all purpose flour when it comes to baking bread. It makes a lovely light loaf and easily beats all other flours in terms of taste. Call it destiny or old age, of late I have started enjoying whole wheat loaves a lot. I love the chewy texture and the flavour it brings along. Though I still maintain that the case against all purpose flour is mostly making a mountain of a molehill, whole wheat flour features a lot more in my breads these days.

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If you remember, I had written about how imperative it is for me to finish a pack of wheat bran that I had bought and forgotten. So I have been trying to add it to many bread loaves just to get done with it. I have significantly modified the whole wheat sandwich loaf recipe from the New Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes. So I figured this is a good loaf I could add bran to. I also topped it with some seeds to get the daughter to eat them. Both these ingredients are optional and the bran does make it a comparatively dense loaf but it is a healthier loaf and the little extra dense-ness is a small price to pay. Else it can be replaced by whole wheat flour. I forget about the dough during proofing and ended up over proofing it which can be seen in the loaf. So don’t do that and bake the loaf at the appropriate time.

 

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Makes one 8″ loaf

WHAT WE NEED

140 gms All purpose flour

110 gms Whole wheat flour

30 gms Wheat bran

1 1/2 tsp Salt

1 tsp Instant yeast

26 gms Honey

20 gms Oil

226 gms Warm water

Mix of seeds

 

WHAT TO DO

  • Mix all the ingredients except the seeds and form a dough
  • Cover and let it rise till it flattens or collapses which should take around 2 hours
  • Refrigerate for 2-3 hours
  • Take out the dough and sprinkle some flour on it and shape it like a ball by pulling the dough back on all 4 sides
  • Grease an 81/2″ * 4 1/2 ” pan
  • Pull the dough to form an oval shape and drop it in the loaf pan
  • Cover and let it rest for 90 minutes
  • Preheat the oven at 250C with an empty tray at the lowest rack
  • Sprinkle some flour and slash the dough on top
  • Pour 1 cup hot water on the empty tray in the oven
  • Bake the loaf on the middle rack for 50-55 minutes till it is richly brown
  • Let it cool completely on a wire rack before slicing
  • Enjoy!

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This is part of the Bake-a-thon 2017

Khobz dyal Zraa’ – Moroccan Wheat Bread

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Another awesome part of baking bread is the scoring of the dough before baking. Scoring is simply slashing the dough top so that we are able to control where the bread expands from. When you score the bread with a pretty design it adds a delightful artistic side to the loaf, a treat to the eyes and you are in awe of it even before biting into the first slice. Though it appears easy, scoring requires a little confidence and quite a bit of practice. The tool used to score dough is called lame and it is basically a regular blade mounted on a stand. As usual, this is not available in India and so I fashioned myself one in order to be able to score the dough well. This is my first effort with my new tool and it doesn’t look too bad for a first attempt, right? Despite a slightly misshapen loaf, that is.

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Bread is an integral part of Moroccan cuisine and they have a wide variety of breads, both dough raising and flat breads. I picked the whole wheat bread which has an equal amount of whole wheat and all purpose flour. This bread is a relatively flat bread and needs only one rise which makes it a comparatively faster bake. But because of the low hydration, the air pockets are not huge but small and uniform throughout.

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Recipe adapted from here

Makes 1 large loaf

WHAT WE NEED

135 gms All purpose flour

135 gms Whole wheat flour

1 1/2 tsp Instant yeast

180 gms Warm water

1 tsp Salt

1 tbsp Oil

1 tbsp Honey

 

WHAT TO DO

  • Mix the all purpose flour, whole wheat flour and salt together
  • Make a well in the middle and add the yeast
  • Add the oil, honey and water to the yeast and mix it first
  • Then mix with the flours to form a dough
  • Knead for 6-7 minutes till you get a soft pliable dough
  • Set aside for 15 minutes
  • Grease a baking tray and sprinkle some semolina
  • Press down the dough with the palm of your hand to make a 1/4″ thick circle
  • Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside for 1 hour
  • Preheat the oven at 250C
  • Sprinkle some flour on top and slash the dough in any pattern of your choice
  • Put the dough into the oven and reduce the temperature to 220C
  • Bake for 10 minutes
  • Turn the tray around and bake for another 10 minutes or till the loaf acquires a rich brown colour
  • Take it out of the oven and cool on a rack
  • Enjoy!

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This is my post for the Blogging Marathon under the theme, ‘Moroccan Cuisine’.

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This is part of the Bake-a-thon 2017

Sourdough Brown Bread

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One thing I learned is that the temperature and weather of a place has such a huge effect on the type of bread produced, especially in a sourdough loaf. The sourdough starter has to be able to double in size at a good speed for the loaf to rise and proof well. The same starter which doubled in less than 3 hours just a couple of months ago now takes nearly 6 hours and more if it is left to double at night. What bread baking has taught me more than anything else is patience. When you realize that there is nothing you can do to make the dough rise to double its size except wait and watch, you also realise that there are so many things not in your control and sometimes all you can do is wait. When I started baking, I would rush to the kitchen every now and then to check on the dough. Now that anxiety and palpitation has transformed to amazement and wonder when I see how 3-4 simple ingredients when put together can result in a beautiful loaf. I still go to the kitchen every now and then to check but it is more to observe how nature works in wonderful ways and stare at the bowl in amazement every single time.

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Recipe adapted from Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast by Ken Forkish

Makes 1 loaf

WHAT WE NEED

151 gms All purpose flour

74 gms Whole wheat flour

174 gms Water

6 gms Salt

57 gms Sourdough starter / Levain at 100% hydration

 

WHAT TO DO

  • Mix the all purpose flour, whole wheat flour and water. Kneading is not essential. We just need to ensure that there is no dry flour left.
  • Cover and set aside for 30 mins
  • Add the salt and levain and mix well to integrate them into the flour mixture
  • The dough temperature needs to be around 25C. If it is lower then the dough will take longer to double
  • We need to stretch and fold the dough four times of which atleast 2 should be in the first hour and the rest in the next 2 hours
  • Set aside for bulk fermentation for 14-16 hours or till it doubles in size
  • Gently take out the dough and transfer it to a lightly floured surface
  • Shape it into a tight ball by stretching it on each of the four sides and pulling back the dough
  • Place the dough seam side down and let it proof for 3-4 hours
  • Preheat the oven at 250C
  • Check if the dough is proofed optimally by the finger dent test.
  • Transfer the dough to an oven safe bowl with a lid and bake it covered for 20 minutes
  • Take the lid off and bake it for 20 minutes
  • Take the loaf from the bowl and let it cool completely
  • Slice it only after it has cooled fully
  • Enjoy!

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This is part of the Bake-a-thon 2017

Cornell Bread

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I have a bread today which I owe to my sudden bouts of cleaning my kitchen. There are certain days, however rare, when I go into a cleaning mode. Nowadays I do more frequent cleaning but just a small area at a time. When I was clearing up my baking section, I discovered a pack of wheat bran that I bought quite a while ago and which was due to expire in another month. I got into panic mode and have been trying to add bran in everything and simultaneously convincing my husband and daughter that it is the absolute healthiest and best thing they can ever have.

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I had to get a bread recipe with bran and I got super lucky with this Cornell Bread. This one is from ‘The New Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day’ and is a keeper primarily because my daughter loved it. It isn’t often she loves bread unless it is topped with excessive jam. Cornell bread was developed during World War II when food rationing worried people about giving adequate nutrition to their children. It was the Cornell University Professor Clive McKay who developed the bread including dry milk, wheat germ and soy flour to provide proteins and vitamins.

Since I did not have wheat germ, I used wheat bran. I also used a lot more bran and soy flour than the original recipe because my primary purpose was to get a healthy loaf (and more importantly finish the bran and soy flour). The loaf was beautiful and tasted well even for the husband and daughter. It worked great as a buttered toast too. So try this awesome loaf and let me know how you liked it.

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WHAT WE NEED

212 gms All purpose flour

185 gms Whole wheat flour

50 gms Soy flour

20 gms Wheat bran

393 gms Lukewarm water

5 gms Instant yeast (1 1/2 tsp)

23 gms Honey

12 gms Salt

19 gms Milk powder

WHAT TO DO

  • Mix the all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, soy flour and wheat bran with water and set aside for half hour
  • After that, add the yeast, honey, salt and milk powder and mix well. Cover and set aside.
  • Stretch and fold the dough after 20 minutes and again after 45 minutes. The dough should be relaxed completely before the stretch and fold.
  • Let the dough rest and double in size. It should take around 2 hours depending on the temperature of the dough and weather. The ideal dough temperature is 25-26C. If it is less then the dough will take longer to rise.
  • You can shape the dough after it has doubled but it will be easier to handle after 3 hours of refrigeration. I let it refrigerate for 16 hours because of a change in my schedule. Dough can be refrigerated up to 7 days.
  • Take out the dough and gently transfer it to a lightly floured surface
  • Shape it into a ball by stretching it gently on one side and pulling it back and below the dough. Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat till all four sides are pulled back and the dough is ball shaped
  • Let it proof for 1 hour. Press the dough lightly with a floured finger. If it springs back immediately it is not yet prooofed. If it doesn’t spring back at all then it is overproofed. If it gets back to position slowly then it is rightly proofed. This is the finger dent test
  • Preheat the oven at 250C
  • Transfer the dough to a greased and floured oven safe bowl
  • Sprinkle some dough on top and make few incisions in any desired pattern and close with a lid
  • Bake it covered for 20 minutes and then take off the lid
  • Lower the temperature to 225 and bake uncovered for 20 minutes
  • Lower the temperature to 200 and bake for 7-10 minutes till it gets a nice dark brown colour
  • Take it out of the oven and gently unmould the bread from the bowl
  • Let it cool completely on a cooling rack before slicing
  • Enjoy!

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NOTES

  1. If soy flour is unavailable then you can replace it with equal amount of whole wheat flour
  2. If you want to measure the ingredients in cups instead of gms then here is a nice conversion chart you can use

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This is part of the Bake-a-thon 2017

Lemon Tea Cake

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Some recipes you bookmark to try later and others tempt you so much that you rush to your kitchen, make it at the earliest and rest only after you have sunk your teeth in a slice. This dish is one of the latter. It was made by Valli earlier in this Bake-a-thon and I saw it and have been salivating ever since.

To add to it, my mother-in-law was due for a visit last weekend and I needed an eggless recipe to bake for her. So I picked this recipe immediately and she was also pleased that this one was a whole wheat flour cake. Needless to say, I scored some major brownie points with my mother-in-law in addition to stuffing my face with all the cake. What more to ask for?

Recipe from here.

Makes one 7″ loaf

WHAT WE NEED

Sugar                              3/4 cup

Curds                              3/4 cup

Oil                                    1/4 cup

Lemon juice                  2 tsp

Zest from one large lemon

Baking powder             3/4 tsp

Baking soda                   1/2 tsp

Whole wheat flour       1 cup

 

WHAT TO DO

  • Preheat the oven to 185C
  • Powder the sugar finely in a blender
  • Squeeze the juice from the lemon and grate the required lemon zest
  • In a medium bowl, add the sugar, curds, oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, baking powder and baking soda and mix well
  • Set aside for 5 minutes and the mixture will froth a little
  • Grease the loaf pan and line it with parchment paper
  • Add the flour gradually to the mixture and combine well
  • Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 25-27 minutes or till the tester comes out clean
  • Cool completely before slicing
  • Enjoy it with some tea!

 

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This is part of the Bake-a-thon 2016


Simple Whole Wheat Crepes

  


For the third and final day, I wanted to do a desert / sweet dish and so I tried the French goey chocolate sponge cake from Priya’s blog but I managed to burn the top of the cake. Though it tasted good, it was in no condition to be clicked and so I switched to this simple crepe recipe which can be breakfast or a desert if teamed with an ice cream. So here goes –

Rexipe source – here

WHAT WE NEED

Eggs                                  3

Whole wheat flour       1 cup

Milk                                  1 cup

Water                               3/4 cup

Honey                               1 tbsp

Vanilla                              1 tsp

Salt                                     1/4 tsp

Butter, melted                 1 tbsp + extra for cooking
 WHAT TO DO

  • Put all ingredients in blender and mix well. 
  • Let stand about 15 minutes.
  • Melt and swirl around a small pat of butter in a pan over medium heat.
  • Angle pan and pour enough batter on one side to thinly and evenly cover the pan. 
  • Swirl the batter around quickly to cover the pan in one thin layer.
  • After about a minute (and once it is golden brown on the bottom) carefully flip it over without tearing the crepe.
  • Fry for another minute on the other side (until it is golden brown as well) and then roll up each crepe. 
  • Serve with maple syrup or honey
  • Enjoy!

   
 

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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for other marathoners doing this BM. 

 

Whole wheat Pancakes

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I typically need instant breakfast ideas on a Monday morning. That’s the day we are most likely to oversleep, run around in circles trying to find stuff and that’s the day the daughter decides to wake up earlier than her usual time and demand a fifteen minute cuddle. So instant breakfast for me is what I can get ready between the time the husband wakes up and wears his shoes for going to work.

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This is the most wonderful pancake recipe I have ever seen or made. I have tried following the instructions to a T. I have tried all sorts of shortcuts. But the result is a consistent fluffy pancake every single time. Yes, it’s like invincible pancake recipe. It’s like Rajinikanth of Pancake Recipes! Need I say more. You got to try it. A salute to Joanne of Fifteen Spatulas for this recipe.
So here goes – (for 7-8 pancakes)

WHAT WE NEED

Milk                                        1 cup

Apple cider vinegar           1 tbsp

Whole wheat flour             1 cup

Sugar                                      1 tbsp

Baking powder                    1/2 tsp

Baking soda                          1/4 tsp

Salt                                          1/4 tsp

Egg                                           1

Melted butter                        2 tbsp

Butter for greasing the pan

WHAT TO DO

  • Add the apple cider vinegar to the milk and stir it in.
  • Leave it aside for 2-3 minutes till it curdles.
  • If you need to melt butter, put it in the microwave for 20- 30 seconds
  • In a separate bowl, mix all the dry ingredients – flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda
  • Add the egg and melted butter to the curdled milk.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix. Small lumps are fine. Just ensure no part of the dough is dry

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  • Heat a griddle / pan and grease it with butter.
  • Pour a ladle full of pancake batter and keep the heat at medium-low.
  • Once you see small bubbles appear, (around 2 minutes) carefully flip the pancake with a spatula
  • Let it cook for 1-2 minutes on low and then take it off the heat.
  • Repeat the same process to make around 8 pancakes with the entire batter.
  • Enjoy with honey or preserve of your choice.

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NOTES

On to the ‘jugaad’ or shortcuts I have used with this recipe –

  1. I have tried it with pasteurised milk and boiled milk, with milk just out of the refrigerator and with milk at room temperature. Pancakes were awesome everytime.
  2. I have added all the dry ingredients to the wet ones one by one without premixing them together. Recipe still works
  3. White wine vinegar can be substituted for apple cider vinegar.
  4. When I was lazy, I omitted the salt but used salted butter instead. Still worked.
  5. I used 1 1/2 tbsp butter instead of 2 tbsp or sometimes even 2 1/2 tbsp. Works.

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This is my post for Blogging Marathon for the theme – Instant Breakfast

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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for other marathoners doing this BM.

 

 

Whole wheat orange muffins

   
This is a recipe I am very sentimental about. This was the first recipe I baked. I started baking around two years ago and was pretty nervous. I had read up a lot on baking and everyone spoke about how important precise measurements are and how necessary it is to choose the right way to measure – cups versus weight. The line that gave me the most nightmares was – Mix but don’t overmix. Actually this line still scares me. 

  

It was at such a time a friend came to my rescue and told me – think but don’t overthink. I was on the verge of strangling her when she handed me this recipe and said – try it out. You’ll learn only if you attempt. Wiser words were not spoken since.

So here it is –

WHAT WE NEED

Plain yogurt                               1/2 cup

Milk                                              1/4 cup

Oil                                                 1/4 cup

Orange juice                              2 tbsp

Whole wheat flour                   1 cup

Sugar                                             1/2 cup

Baking powder                           1/2 tsp

Baking soda                                 1/4 tsp

Orange zest                                  4 tbsp

Raisins                                           6 tbsp

WHAT TO DO

  • Preheat the oven to 180C
  • Mix the wet ingredients – oil, yogurt, milk and orange juice.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients – flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients
  • Mix them well till there is no fry flour visible.
  • Add the orange zest and raisins and mix
  • Pour the batter into a greased muffin tray or lined with muffin liners.
  • Bake for 20 minutes
  • Cool for 10 minutes 
  • Enjoy!

NOTES

  1. I use freshly squeezed orange juice. If you re using store bought juice then add 6 tbsp sugar, taste the batter and add an additional 1 or 2 tbsp sugar later.
  2. If your orange juice is light in colour then replace 2-3 tbsp of sugar with brown sugar to get a darker colour. 

This is my post for the Cooking from Cookbook challenge hosted by Srivalli.

  

Whole wheat carrot walnut date cake disaster

Ever since I started this blog, luckily I have been having a string of successes – not only when I was trying new recipes, even when I tried altering some of them to suit my ingredient availability and weight reduction needs. I have documented quite a few of them and have been patting myself on the back far too many times.

But this morning I had an epiphany of sorts. I realized that I did not even think about documenting my not so successful / failed recipes ever. Somehow I had internalized that only the good ones were to be put up to the world. So it struck me this morning that I was defeating the very purpose of this blog which was to document my journey into bakersville and that obviously entailed documenting the failures as much as the successes. So here goes –

I had quite a few carrots left in my fridge and also the pitted dates and chopped walnuts which I forgot to add in my previous recipe. So I googled and found this wonderful recipe for whole wheat carrot walnut dates cake. It looked and sounded simple and I did not have too many doubts about it turning out well.

Since I was confident about it, I decided to try out some modifications which would not mess with the taste but reduce the calorie intake sizably. So I reduced the amount of sugar by half and replaced it with honey. In order to not make it too liquid-y, I reduced the water in the recipe to maintain the form and structure. I also included 1/4 tsp of additional baking powder because sugar would also help leavening. Then when the batter was mixed, it seemed too thick and the possibility of it being dry seemed very high. So I added the rest of the water which I had discarded in favor of the honey. Yet I was kind of proud with this and reasonably confident of getting a good tasting cake.

But that was not to be. The pros of the cake were that it did come out of the pan in one piece without creating a mess. It did not sink and had risen evenly all over instead of a mountain shaped cake. That’s about it. I can’t create any more pros to this dish. The cons, on the other hand, were few but significant. The cake was very dense. There was no flavor of the carrots or walnuts. There were portions in which you could taste just salt and wheat, which was like a soggy roti and totally disastrous. The husband did not like it at all and neither did my daughter. But we did manage to finish it up.

Carrot walnut dates cake

Lessons learnt

1. Mix the batter well. By fearing overmixing, do not undermix it

2. Don’t make too many or large changes in a recipe. Try replacing 20-25% of ingredients before making a huge cut.

3. Be more careful with whole wheat cakes as compared to plain flour cakes because of its additional density.

But as I am writing this, my next cake is fast sinking. Guess, another post is in order soon!