The ‘unrefined’ cake


For over three years now, we’ve tried to keep certain items out of our kitchen — refined flour and refined sugar. Refined flour was easy to keep out. Sugar, is a different matter — because we occasionally make sweet dishes, and guests shouldn’t be forced to drink sugarless tea or coffee. And so, we buy sugar, in the least possible quantity at such times, letting the stock remain in the kitchen cupboard.

A little over a year ago, we added another item to the no-stock list — refined oil. And I’m happy to report, I haven’t missed it at all. We now have a range of oils — mustard, sesame and coconut — to add richness to different dishes. And yes, there is white unsalted butter and homemade ghee.

Now, I love cake. And it seemed difficult to make cake without these three ingredients. I also didn’t have an oven, or a cake tin. My pressure cooker wasn’t big enough for a decent size bowl.

So, I did what everyone these days does — ask the internet. I found some makeshift alternatives for the baking apparatus and tried out a wholewheat recipe for my mother’s 60th birthday. It turned out decent.

There has been a pattern to some of my Instagram food posts — with friends asking for the recipe. And so, going forward, I’m going to start posting some recipes that I’ve tried out — for my friends, and my own future reference — with due credit to the original chefs, of course.

The credit roll

A big part of this recipe is borrowed from a recipe on YouTube by Piya’s Kitchen. I replaced some ingredients and the result was not so bad! I recommend going through the video for the original recipe.

Step 1: Going nuts

  • Chopped dry fruits of your choice (I used cashew, almonds, pecans, raisins and assorted berries)
  • 1/2 tbsp wheat flour

Coat the dry fruits lightly with flour to prevent them from sinking to the bottom and keep aside.

Step 2: Just beat it

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup jaggery (I used honey — turns out, it gives the cake a richer colour)
  • 1/4 cup curd

Beat the ingredients till they form a smooth mixture and keep aside.

Step 3: Shaken, not stirred

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder (or cardamom powder) for flavouring (skip this if using vanilla)

Sieve the dry ingredients together two times to ensure there are no lumps and they are nicely mixed.

Step 4: All mixed up

  • 1/2 cup milk

Fold the dry (step 3) and wet mixture (step 2) and add half of the milk.

If you’re using vanilla for flavouring, add 1 tsp in at this stage.

Add the chopped nut mixture (step 1) and the remaining milk.

Note: When mixing, make sure you stick with one direction; clock-wise or anti-clockwise, your pick — don’t ask me why.

Step 5: Time to bake!

Pre-heat the baking apparatus of your choice as you would normally do for any other cake: oven / pressure cooker / heavy-bottomed pan with lid. I heated a tawa on high flame for ten minutes.

Grease the baking tin (in my case, a saucepan) with butter and dust the greased tin with a little flour.

Pour the batter and tap gently to level the cake.

Garnish with more more nuts.

Place in baking apparatus (I placed the saucepan on the tawa and covered it with a glass lid so that I could see what was going on; and cooked it on low flame)

Cook for 45-50 minutes (or till you get the sweet scent of heaven)

Check if it’s done by inserting toothpick / knife – if it comes out clean, it’s cooked.

Patience, my friend — let it cool.

Transfer to a plate, and then, dig in!


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