Baking fascinates me — especially when the aroma of fresh cookies and cakes fills up the home.
Growing up, birthdays were made extra special with home-baked cake. I’d eagerly wait for my mother to whip up the cake batter. When she transferred the batter to the greased cake tin, I’d grow impatient. ‘Why are you being so thorough! Let me have the joy of cleaning that up!” As soon as the mixing bowl left her hands, I’d dip my finger to scrape out every last drop!
Unlike my mother, I have zero knowledge of what goes into baking. It’s the end result that truly matters (and the batter, yes!).
I find it hard to remember the chemicals involved in the process — is that baking soda or cooking powder — what proportion are they to be used and when should they be added, most importantly, what are the chances that the mixture will explode?
Most recipes are handed down generations, and when in doubt, I simply pick up the phone and ask, either my mother, or my mother-in-law; sometimes asking the same questions over and over. Thanks to the internet, I now also have advisors who don’t mind my asking the same questions repeatedly.
With the help of the food blogging community, I have got answers to some questions, such as, “what if I want to bake a cake without eggs… and without refined flour?” and “what if I don’t have an oven, and what if I’m off refined sugar too?” And I think to myself, how did people remember recipes before the internet?
I posted a few pictures of my experiments with different types of cake and some friends asked me for the recipes. This gave me an opportunity to document my own scribbled notes for future reference.
But first, the credit roll
The original recipe for this cake is by the food blogger / YouTuber ‘Hebbar’s Kitchen’. I replaced some of the ingredients with what was available with me, and it worked out just fine!
If you’d like to see a detailed step-by-step process, I recommend visiting the website, or better yet, check out the YouTube video.
And now, here’s my version:
Step 1: Soak ’em up
- 2 cups of dates, without the seeds
- 1 cup hot milk
Soak the dates in hot milk for half an hour. In the meanwhile, read ahead, gather up the rest of the ingredients and then soak yourself up under the winter sun.
After half an hour, blend the soaked dates and milk into a fine paste.
Step 2: Going nuts
- Handful of your favourite dry fruits
- 1/2 tbsp wheat flour
Coat the dry fruits lightly with flour to prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the batter
Step 3: Just beat it
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup curd
Beat the ingredients till they form a smooth mixture
Combine with the date paste from step 1 and mix well
Step 4: Shaken, not stirred
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp cooking / baking soda
- 1 pinch salt
Sieve all the dry ingredients together
Step 5: All mixed up
- 1/2 cup milk
Mix the date paste (step 3) with the flour mixture (step 4)
Add milk, mix well
Add the chopped dry fruits (step 2) and mix lightly
Step 6: Time to bake!
- Pre-heat the baking apparatus of your choice as you would normally do for any other cake for ten minutes.
- Grease the baking tin 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, as per taste.
- Place in baking apparatus.
- 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!
Coming up in the next post, the very first cake I baked, without an oven or pressure cooker.