This is the second post that I’m writing for the Blogger Tuesdays series for the Home Bakers’ Guild – a Facebook group of passionate home bakers.
Happy Tuesday morning (or is it afternoon already???) all ye bakers! It is the 13th of January today and we’re just 10 days away from the HBG Grand Annual Bake Sale.
My excitement is at its peak. My little home-baking business Lotsa Lavender that I run with my partner Bhavna is going to put up a stall there. There’s loads to be done – packing boxes and bags to be organised, the right ingredients to be sourced, a banner to be made, friends and family to be informed and invited in time, getting our menu finalised and experimentation with new flavour combos is on.
Given that we bake only with unrefined, organic ingredients, getting the right ingredients from trustworthy sources is of utmost importance to us. Also, given that we try and promote sustainable living and eating, plastic containers and bags, Ziploc packs, cute cupcake boxes with plastic windows, paper plates with lovely prints and even those cute little mousse cups are not an option for us. So we hunt around for simple paper bags, areca plates (paaku mattai), simple brown cardboard boxes, reusable glassware and the humble matki for all our needs.
My mind is so full of organising for all these that I often wake up with a start in the middle of the night when a simple solution strikes – like using the easily-available banana leaf to wrap our breads in place of brown wrapping paper. We hope people who visit the bake sale and our stall find out simple ideas and bakes as appealing as the droolicious awesomeness that’s gonna be present at the other stalls.
Since we started including millets in our bakes, we’ve got numerous messages from clients, other bakers and homemakers to ask if we conduct classes on cooking with millets. I’m often stumped when someone calls up to ask if I could teach them to bake healthy millet cookies for their families. For one, I don’t make a good teacher at all; I’m impatient and lose my cool pretty soon. Second, using millets in the kitchen as well as in baked goods is a learning experience for me too. What I do today is a result of continuous experimentation and very many failed bakes.
I find that replacing wheat for maida can result in a dense cake, albeit one that’s soft, even if the dough/batter is handled carefully. For that reason, depending on what I’m baking, I normally substitute a part of the flour with powdered almonds or any millet flour. I’ve noticed that replacing 1 cup of maida with ¾ cup of whole wheat flour and ¼ cup of ragi gives as a texture that is almost as light and soft as that with maida. This works especially well with chocolate bakes. Do give it a shot. In cookies, you could replace 1 cup of maida with 1/8 cup of powdered almonds topped with wheat flour. Or dry roast any variety of whole millets (especially foxtail millet/thinai in Tamil/kangni in Hindi and little millet/saamai in Tamil/kutki in Hindi).
Today’s recipe is an extension of what we’re trying to tell everybody with the sort of baking we undertake – that natural, organic, unrefined ingredients can bake up some wonderful stuff. Here, I’ve taken a loaded chocolate mocha cake and used healthy substitutions easily available even at the local grocery store, without compromising on its rich, lush appeal. I’ve used a combination of whole wheat flour and multi-millet flour (you could use ragi or any other millet flour too) in place of the all-purpose flour and organic brown sugar (which is simply granulated unrefined cane sugar) to replace granulated sugar. For brown sugar, I’ve used a mix of organic jaggery powder and fine Demerara sugar. I’ve baked the same before, following the original instructions. You can find the previous post here.
Since I was baking multiple cakes at the same time, I mistakenly put the batter of this cake into a 6 inch round pan in place of the 8 inch square one. This resulted in a brownie cake that was higher at the sides and lower in the middle with a pool of the mocha sauce, but was otherwise well baked with a good texture. Hope you like this one. Let me warn you though: this is RICH and VERY addictive!
Millet & Wheat Brownie with Mocha sauce
(Makes one 8 inch square pan)
Granulated organic brown sugar – ¾ cup
Whole wheat flour – 2/3 cup
Mixed millet flour – 1/3 cup (you could use ragi or any other any other millet flour too)
Baking powder – 2 tsp
Salt – ¼ tsp
Dark chocolate – 75 gm (I used Cocoacraft bittersweet chocolate couverture – 70% cocoa)
Butter – 2 tbsp
Milk – ½ cups
Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
For the mocha sauce:
Organic granulated brown sugar – ¼ cup
Organic powdered jaggery – ¼ cup
Fine granulated demerara sugar – ¼ cup
Cocoa powder – 4 tbsp
Coffee decoction or strong coffee – 1 cup
- You could use regular granulated sugar if you can’t find Demerara or organic brown sugar)
- The decoction/coffee should be cold
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 inch square pan
Mix together 3/4 cup granulated brown sugar, both flours, baking powder, and salt
Melt the chocolate and butter together
Add to dry ingredients alternately with the milk and vanilla. Mix until just mixed. Don’t overdo it. Pour into the prepared pan
Combine brown sugar, Demerara sugar, jaggery and cocoa powder. Sprinkle over the cake batter
Pour the coffee on top. Do not stir
Bake 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Let cool for some time before serving