Baking | Millet & Whole Wheat French Fougasse … rustic bread with caramelised onions, walnuts, dehydrated tomatoes and mozzarella

“If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.”
Robert Browning

Millet & Whole Wheat French FougasseMillet & Whole Wheat French Fougasse … this bread is like music to my ears; a celebration of all things ‘breadily‘ good! Rustic, earthy, chewy … good to grain! Warmer days are here. Feels like we missed spring somewhere along the way and landed up in summer. The days can only get hotter as the mercury hits 32C. At times like these, yeast is my BFF, performs beautifully, making me want to experiment endlessly.

Millet & Whole Wheat French Fougasse We had a beautiful wholewheat soda bread that Sangeeta made while we drove from Pune to Baramati for the vineyard visit. I think I ate most of it, greedy me. It was bursting with earthy flavours of whole wheat and sun dried tomatoes. The whole wheat was stone ground and you could tell because of the texture. It had been given a good dunking of extra virgin olive oil too.

Millet & Whole Wheat French Fougasse Bread like this makes you wake up and notice how good whole grain can get. Plain flour just doesn’t cut it for me anymore. The more I see plain flour breads on menus across eateries and in stores, the worse I feel. Whole grain is good and it’s a good choice to opt for.

Millet & Whole Wheat French Fougasse 4Someone once told me that the luxury of plain flour bread is the way to go. You can eat salad and maybe soup on the side, other greens and veggies to tank up on fibre, and yet not feel guilty about ‘white bread’. I beg to differ.

BreadWhole grain isn’t a punishment. Get used to it gradually and it might be difficult to return to plain flour. It’s a choice you have, and a good one you might make especially if you have young kids with changing palettes.  Make a gradual change and you’ll be surprised at how they jump to fresh home made whole grain bread.

Dehydrated tomatoesSun-dried tomatoes are a wonderful addition to breads. My last experience of store bought ones from Fab India was pathetic. I didn’t have time to make some, so figured the Philips AirFryer could help a bit. I have now begun caramelising onions after Abha mentioned it to me one day! Great discovery! 1 tsp of oil for 1 sliced onion is all it takes, and a few minutes.

Millet & Whole Wheat French Fougasse In went sliced tomatoes tossed in olive oil, dried herbs, garlic and some sea salt. Can say YUMMM? Just wonderful… it took about 15-20 minutes as I experimented on different settings but was thrilled to get just what I wanted. I always have a batch bottled in the fridge now.

Millet & Whole Wheat French Fougasse The fougasse is as rustic as it gets. You will find a selection of French Fougasse, this flat French bread, on my blog as we love it at home. I began with a plain flour bread, graduated to part pain flour, part whole wheat, and this time did a version with some sprouted ragi flour / millet.

Millet & Whole Wheat French Fougasse Rustic, moorish, and delicious! If you are a new to whole grain breads,  the earthy flavours will gradually grow on you. It’s a dough that takes well to additions. Roasted garlic, roasted bell peppers, salty olives, sun dried tomatoes, caramelised onions, feta, fresh herbs, nuts {I particularly like walnuts in here} but let your imagination lead you.

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Baking | Lime & Strawberry Cream Cake … a splash of pink in December!

“Cake is happiness! If you know the way of the cake, you know the way of happiness! If you have a cake in front of you, you should not look any further for joy!”
C. JoyBell C

Lime & Strawberry Cream CakeLime & Strawberry Cream Cake … a very simple cake made in the Philips AirFryer a few days ago. 15 minutes was all I could manage that day. There have been no desserts of late and the kids were beginning to make strange unhappy sounds. There’s been barely any ‘free time’ what with final exams on for both teens which are well underway. The cake came out surprisingly nice. Lime & Strawberry Cream CakeDidn’t take pictures of it once made as it was slightly domed and I didn’t have time to pretty it up. One bite down and I thought it was really nice. Lime and strawberries pair well. The second round of the strawberry season has finally begun here in North India. Can’t have too much of this delicious fruit.

Lime & Strawberry Cream Cake The sponge was soft but not moist as always because I whisked in the flour instead of folding it in G E N T L Y. So I didn’t get a ‘light as air’ sponge. Still it was quite soft. Interesting!

Lime & Strawberry Cream Cake The easiest way to get cake moist is to give it a good soaking with a simple sugar syrup. Love doing that when I make my pineapple cream cake. If you are doing a black forest cake, you can always reduce the syrup the cherries are canned in, and add a dash of Kirsch or lime juice to it to moisten the sponge.

Lime & Strawberry Cream Cake I thought the Lime & Strawberry Cream Cake was nice enough to share, a quick easy cake, make ahead, light and delicious. A slice was hidden away for a picture opportunity while the rest of the cake was devoured by the happy family. Lime & Strawberry Cream Cake Then late that evening the bell rang. It was the courier with the Samsung Netbook that I had won at the Del Monte recipe contest hosted at Indiblogger.  My entry was the Tropical Cream Pie. Much excitement followed and we found a candy pink gizmo. Even though I’m not a pink person, the netbook is really pretty and very handy! I ♥ it!!

Seems to be an early Christmas over and over again. I am feeling quite pampered … maybe too pampered! First the Philips AirFryer, then Finla spoilt me silly, next Mr PAB got me a Samsung S3. My sister sent me more stuff as her better half was visiting … and just when I thought I had everything and more I could ever ask for, PINK came into my life!

Lime & Strawberry Cream Cake December’s here already. A clutch of days to fly through, a year that’s been packed to the gills. So much happening in this foodie world. Oh, I forgot to tell you that I was pleasantly surprised with some fabulous tea from a beautiful tea company in China. Yes China! And yes tea! Teavirve Blurberry TeaIt’s funny because I am a 100% coffee addict and never drink tea. My first foray into tea was at the Aussie MasterChefs breakfast meet where Sangeeta talked me into sipping some lavender tea. It was wonderful. Then she got me some beautiful green tea from Darjeeling from a recent visit. Teavirve TeaThis herbal and green tea from Teavirve was a nice coincidence. In the bag were samples for green tea, and for Blueberry Fruit Tea and Apple Awakening Fruit Tea. The green tea was similar to others that I have recently sampled, but it was the Blueberry Fruit Tea that was amazing, and stole my heart. Beautiful aromas and subtle flavours of blueberry, black currant, roselle and grapes. The teen is in love with this tea!

Lime & Strawberry Cream Cake The Apple Awakening Fruit Tea is really refreshing too … teasing the palette with an intriguing combination of apple and lemon.  With such an extensive selection which can be shipped across the world, Teavirve is a great gifting option. Green, white, black, Oolong, Pu-erh, herbal, fruit, ice, organic, flavoured … the variety is endless.Teavirve Blurberry TeaTo make the range complete, Teavirve offer a stunning range of teaware too. {They offers worldwide free shipping for orders over $30 … you should check out there collection.}

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Baking | Lime ‘n Lemon Quark Cream Cake … the Philips AirFryer that bakes too!

“Will you still love me tomorrow?”

Lime 'n Lemon Quark Cream CakeOne bite of  Lime ‘n Lemon Quark Cream Cake later, “This is really nice. Will you now not use the Thermomix Mama?”,  asked a small voice. Then, “Ummm, may I have another slice please? “. The Philips AirFryer has caught my interest. Call it a new toy, an innovation or a creative idea, it’s here to stay. It’s my new passion, has me smitten. I baked a cake in it a few days ago! Almost a fatless sponge cake {if you don’t take into account 2 tsps of olive oil} which ended up a layered cake with a tangy quark cream … light, moist, flavourful and gone quick! Lime 'n Lemon Quark Cream Cake I treaded very gingerly, knowing from recent experience that the AirFryer can bake, but a cake? The bee in my bonnet will not sit still until I explore, so it was time for cake. A quick check meant my most oft used 7″ round cake tin was a perfect fit, and so I whirred the batter in the Thermomix.Philips AirFryer & ThermomixThe mind is still amused by the lads question. I wanted to show him that I would still love the TM forever. The cake was my effort to show him the best of both worlds, a pairing, or a jugalbandi. It worked! Philips AirFryer.This is in no way an attempt to prove that the AirFryer is an oven. It’s primary role is one of a fryer that uses less oil,  a LOT less oil. It is far easier to clean up than scrubbing the pan! Also, how cool is it that there is no ‘turn over when one side is done‘ step involved. It has a nifty timer …  leaves you ‘hands free‘ to chop the salad, wash the dishes, clear the counter … or sing to the dog! Lime 'n Lemon Quark Cream Cake An added bonus is that it bakes too. Surprisingly enough, the cake was ready in 15 minutes. The AirFryer behaves like a fan forced oven. The cake was slightly domed when I took it out. I leveled it while frosting, and ran the ‘dome’ in the Thermomix to make cake crumbs. I pressed those into the sides of the cake … nothing wasted! Lime 'n Lemon Quark Cream Cake We’ve had a miserable few dark and dull days here in North India, smoggy and bleak. The sad bit is that it’s man made! The NASA satellite has reported that the environmentally hazardous smog is attributed to farm fires {stubble burning} in the state of Punjab that lies to our North. My rather off colour cake pictures are therefore also attributed to the same! LimesA very sweet neighbour sent me limes from her tree a few days ago…beautiful, organic, unwaxed, seedless limes. her tree is ready to keel over with the fruit and I was a very grateful recipient. Last years crop that was gifted to me made some preserved lemons from Ottolenghi … Ottolenghis Preserved Limes … and a few jars of lemon curd. That found exciting use in Strawberry & Whipped Lemon Curd Napoloeans, Lavender Chiffon Cake with Whipped lemon Cake FrostingStrawberry & lemon Curd Shortbread and also a repeat of Chocolate Buckwheat Lime Curd Tart. I plan to make a few more jars this year too! Baking with Lemon CurdI  made some Lime Pistachio & Craisin Cookies yesterday which the kids loved {pictures still in the camera}, and a lime or two perked up this cake. Light and citrusy with a delightful twang of quark, it was a nice way to cheer up the dreary day! Clearer days are forecast by then end of the week. Oh and BTW, you can easily bake this cake in an oven, the good old way!

Thank you Indiblogger for picking me a winner for the Del Monte recipe contest. I am pleased {read very thrilled} to have won a Samsung Netbook. The recipe I created was a Tropical Cream Pie.

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India