Baking | Wholewheat Apple Walnut Cheddar Thyme Hand Pies … it’s Pi{e} Day after all #wholegrain #together #healthy #pie

“The people who influence you are the people who believe in you.”
Henry Drummond

Wholewheat Apple Walnut Cheddar Thyme Hand PiesWholewheat Apple Walnut Cheddar Thyme Hand Pies … pies for a day like today that honours the humble pie. Handiwork of a genius foodie  who equated Pi Day to Pie day ….and the rest as they say is history. In taste terms these turned out to be quite delicious. I think they are a fab fit for Pie day which incidentally falls today on the 14th of March. {Read 3.14}

Wholewheat Apple Walnut Cheddar Thyme Hand Pies There was a time a couple of years ago when I never missed doing a pie for Pie Day. The whole concept had me enchanted. With a deep dislike {read  hatred} for math in school, the very concept of 22/7=3.14 being applied to mathematical problems flew over the top of my head. My poor father would break his head trying to drill some math intelligence into me. Never happened.

Wholewheat Apple Walnut Cheddar Thyme Hand Pies Then came food blogging, the Daring Bakers, and a LOT of new foodie friends. We had loads in common. We would wake up and hop into twitter from right across the globe, and break into a twitter chat! It was an obsession, and a load of good was born out of it too. It was in March one year when, much to our amazement, someone started a chain asking to make pies for Pi Day? Most of us crawled out from under the rock … it was a huge YES!

Pi Day is an American annual celebration commemorating the mathematical constant π (pi). Pi Day is observed on March 14 (or 3/14 in the month/day date format), 3, 1, and 4 are the first three significant digits of π in decimal form. In 2009, the United States House of Representatives supported the designation of Pi Day.

I’ve had some great pie baking on my blog. I credit a lot of what I’ve learnt to the Daring Bakers. Without them I wouldn’t have been half the baker I currently am. Some pies were FUN all the way like this Pie Bird & A Strawberry Pie I made after watching the film Life of Pi. I loved it!Strawberry Pie ... & a pie bird Some pie baking memories are poignant like the time there was a call for International Pie Day in honour of Jennifer Perillo. Jenifer’s Mikey loved Peanut Butter Cream Pie and she kept postponing making it for him. Then suddenly one day it was too late. I couldn’t make peanut butter cream pie as I had no peanut butter or cream cheese at home, but I made a no-bake Upside Down Mango Quark Cheesecake Pie. Upside Down Mango Quark Cheese PieSo was talking to the Ruchira yesterday and she said she was making a yummy Cheese & Bacon Pie … and the first thing that came to my mind was Pie Day. She was like huh? There’s something like Pie Day? So the mathematical equation was duly explained. Was she excited or what.  She loved the very idea, and that in turn got me going. I would do pie too, hand pies!

ThymeWhat a memorable day today was. Just the motivation I needed! No time to do grocery so I had to work with what I had on hand. Apples & thyme. Walnuts and cheddar are pantry staples, so I knew just what to make. Not one for an APF pastry, I decided to challenge myself. Would do a wholewheat version … and surprise, surprise, it worked beautifully. Crisp and light. You wouldn’t miss the normal pastry at all!

Wholewheat Apple Walnut Cheddar Thyme Hand Pies Shortcrust pastry needs delicate handling; don’t overwork it. Make sure the cut in butter is pea sized. Add just enough liquid so that it comes together comfortably, little more than just staying together than pinched. Pull it together in a ball, don’t knead the dough. The pastry gets tough. Cling wrap it into a flat disk and chill for a couple of hours. Who doesn’t like a good rest?  The pastry does too. Mine got an overnight rest so I had little work for this morning. I did the filling last night too so basically I was just down to rolling and pinching today!

Eggs & ThymeI got the eggs out for a glaze. Then decided to keep it a 100% vegetarian. Someone on FB posted a honey glaze ages ago. Unfortunately I cant remember her name, but I remember honey! I love the the goldenish brown hue it gave my pastry.  It’s a great choice if you want to keep a bake a 100% egg free. I used to do a single cream wash in the past. Honey is my new wash to go!

Wholewheat Apple Walnut Cheddar Thyme Hand Pies The flavours are beautiful too. Apples and walnuts are good old friends, cinnamon ties them together. Thyme and cheddar stirred in some magic. What a pleasing bite these had. Sweet little hand pies, just perfect for Pie Day. Despite being tired to bits with renovation on at home, a little nudge from a friends is all it took. It’s difficult to be optimistic all day, every day; and sometimes we need a little nudge to get on track! That is the power of being #together!

Wholewheat Apple Walnut Cheddar Thyme Hand Pies So I manged to bake pie to mark the day. Something else good also happened today. I walked 10,000 steps with the GOQii fitness band. What’s that you might ask? More about that on my next post!

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Baking | Orange Almond Cake {gluten free} … light, healthy, delicious and glutenfree {I’m ready for the new year}

“Celebrate what you want to see more of”
Thomas J. Peters

Orange Almond Cake {gluten free} Orange Almond Cake {gluten free} … wafts of sweet almond with citrusy notes of orange float through the kitchen, virtually transporting you to the Mediterranean. One bite and you will find it hard to believe that the cake is flourless with no added fat. It is delightfully moist and orange flavoured.  Almond meal adds interesting texture, and pairs beautifully with the choice of fruit.

Orange Almond Cake {gluten free} It’s the peak of winters here, cold as cold can be. Day before was the coldest at 2.6C, the lowest temperature recorded in December in the past so many years. The statistics don’t leave you, neither does the deep chill. It gets into your very bones. This is North Indian winter for you. In the background the TV plays endlessly; CNN telling you about the latest aviation disaster. Dreadful news at the end of the year. I’m ready for a new year. Bye bye 2014!

Fresh & local produce, mood photographyIt’s easier to immerse yourself in what comforts you most. I click. Loads. Moody shots mainly. Sometimes you crave good news. Sometimes you wish you could turn the clock back to simple living. For times like this, I head for the kitchen, get embraced by the warmth, lose myself in the aromas that warm the cockles of your heart!Orange Almond Cake {gluten free} 5

Orange Almond Cake {gluten free} Speaking to Cookaroo a couple of days ago, she mentioned she was off to make an Orange Almond Cake. Snapped me out of my somnambulent frozen state. I had an Orange Almond Cake sitting here in my drafts, one I had done for Travel & Leisure Asia a few months ago. I’ve remade it recently since oranges and back in season.

Orange Almond Cake {gluten free} With the market flooded with ripe, orange juicy fruit, it’s a great time to bake this cake. I’ve baked this a couple of times, both with oranges and with kumquats too. Always good. Made a couple of trifles as well. Orange Almond Cake, whipped cream with Grand Marnier, and some almond praline made the layers. Divine!Orange Almond Cake Trifles {gluten free}The recipe is inspired from passover cakes that find root in cuisine of the Sephardic Jews who originate from the countries of the Middle East. The cake is ‘leavened wheat free’ which is the diet that defines the passover holiday. Interestingly, ancient Greeks also savoured the combination of fruit, nuts and honey. Sugar only appeared later during the Ottoman times. The recipe first appeared in Travel & Leisure, Asia May 2014.

Bidding adieu to 2014…
Have a warm and wonderful 2015. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

A Fit Foodie recipe

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Baking | Whole Grain Apple Crumble … always room for dessert and #Fujihoro #dessert #wholegrain

“Sometimes you’ve just got to grab an apple – or grapes, or strawberries. Something that’s healthy but maybe a little bit more adventurous, if you can see fruit as adventurous.”
LL Cool J

wholegain apple crumble Whole Grain Apple Crumble. Always room for dessert as I limp back into normal everyday life after too much indulgence of late. That weekend trip to the Jaipur Marriott spoilt me silly. Then came a family wedding/reunion. With the holiday season now in full swing, I am taking a small ‘eating out‘ sabbatical. I have to knock off the pounds I’ve gained. Gotto get fit!
wholegain apple crumble And that certainly does not mean no good home eating. Or baking. Fruits and whole grains are always welcome as dessert. I love to bake with them, and the family loves to dig into them. There is something comforting about a fruit bake with apples, cinnamon, walnuts and brown sugar. A nice crisp topping and it promises to be a winner.

wholegain apple crumble I’ve been working with a publisher to style a cookbook and I took this along for the team one morning. Fresh from the oven, it smelt divine. We dug in later halfway through the shoot and everyone loved it. There was lots of other food I cooked and styled for the book that day, that we eventually devoured. Even though we were ready to burst, there was room for dessert! Always is!wholegain apple crumble 4I bake crumbles a lot through winter, with different permutations and combinations. Sometimes when I’m short of time, I do the fruit filling in advance, make the crumble and store it alongside. Pop it into the oven an hour or so before dinner. It holds sweet promise of a delicious end to the day. Serve it with a good quality vanilla ice cream for extra indulgence, or maybe just unsweetened single cream. For me, just a small serving as is works. Drat, those extra pounds!!
Fujihoro Porcelain Enamelled Kitchenware And in other news, something special again came my way a few days ago. After the beautiful Mauviel 1830 set I received from France, a sweet lady stopped by my place one morning. She brought for me this retro porcelain enamelware set from Fujihoro Japan. I fell in love with the colours, the quality and the workmanship. Incidentally, Fujihoro has recently been featured in India Today as one of the hottest new products!Fujihoro Porcelain Enamelled KitchenwareBright yellow really works with me, as also the fact that you can cook and serve in this beautiful cookware too. One of the recipes shot for the cookbook was a Kachi Mirch ka Gosht. An absolutely lip smacking recipe which I cannot divulge as the book is yet to go into print. I cooked a murgh {chicken} version of it at home a few days ago.

Kachchi mirch ka murgh and Fujihoro

Kachchi mirch ka murgh and Fujihoro With a heavy tight fitting lid and great insulating properties to allow a low simmer, the pan delivered an absolutely delicious curry. The enamelware surface has a non-porous hardened vitreous coating which does not absorb any residue from previously cooked food and is stain resistant, odourless and bacteria free once cleaned. The pan can go into the oven too {sans the lid which has a really really nice fitted wooden knob on top}. I think I just might bake the fruit crumble in the next time!

Recipe: Whole Grain Apple Crumble your picture

Summary: The Whole Grain Apple Crumble is an autumn / winter dessert which is pure comfort food. Here’s a version of the apple crumble gone healthy. Serve with some good quality vanilla ice cream, or some unsweetened cream, or just as is.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Ingredients:

  • Apple mix
  • 5-6 apples, cored, peeled, diced
  • 30g brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Topping
  • 75g oats
  • 25g whole wheat flour
  • 30g whole almonds
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 75g unsalted butter, chilled, cubed or grated {I grate frozen butter}

Method:

  1. Apple mix
  2. Preheat oven to 180C
  3. Toss all ingredients for apple mix in a bowl to oat fruit well. Can add raisins and walnuts if desired. Turn into 1 litre pie dish, and make topping
  4. Topping
  5. Run oats, whole almonds and wheat flour {aata} in blender. Add in brown sugar and mix. Reserve. Gratein  frozen butter and toss lightly together to get a bread crumb like mix {I normally pulse in processor, short and quick to evenly distribute}
  6. Cover the fruit with the topping, pressing down gently to make sure the fruit is sealed in.
  7. Bake for about 30 minutes until light golden brown on top.
  8. {Tent with aluminum foil if the top is over-browning.}

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