Friday, 10 August 2012

How-to 3: Make basic eggless cake

Cupcakes and muffins are also possible- the recipe here makes 24 small/ 12 large (depending on the size of your tin)
Another example of what you can do with this recipe...

This month's how-to gives you a very basic tried and tested, foolproof cake recipe that you can use as it is, or adapt for different flavours. Every cook should have a favourite fail-safe plain cake recipe, ready to adapt for any occasion! For even more cake-baking know-how and tips, see this post.
If you don't want to use sugar, do a straight swap with xylitol (my preferred alternative) or put agave nectar/ date syrup in the liquid ingredients instead- use 200ml for each 200g of sugar. You can even use 100ml agave/ date syrup in the liquid and 100g xylitol in the solid ingredients. Melted gour in the liquid ingredients instead of sugar in the dry ingredients gives a fudgey, brownie-like texture. You can add 3-4 tabs of cocoa powder or 2-3 tabs of carob flour for a dark and chocolatey cake, lemon or almond essence for flavoured cakes, or 2-4 tabs of desiccated coconut: just use your imagination... once you know this recipe by heart, making an eggless cake is so quick and easy!
One word of caution though: the recipe works best if you use a cake pan/ silicone mould that is about 9" in diameter and not too deep; if you use, say, a 7 1/2" pan that is deeper, you need to watch carefully as the top may cook to a crust while a spot in the centre remains raw. Result: a cake that sinks in the middle and cracks on top!
I have found that this cake cooks best in a fan oven and using a silicone mould- but is still okay if you don't have those things. Oh, and using agave nectar for some or all of the sweetener results in a beautifully soft and fluffy cake; softer than if you use all cane sugar.

The Recipe:
400g self-raising flour (I usually use white as its easier to get hold of, but wholemeal/ brown is fine unless you want a pale yellow cake)
200g demerara/ caster sugar (you could even grind the demerara finer so as to get the caster texture but still go unrefined)
4 tsps baking powder (not plain bicarb.)
400ml soya milk/ other milk
150ml ricebran oil/ peanut or unrefined sunflower oil/ melted butter
2 tsps vanilla essence

  • Sift the flour with the sugar and baking powder into a large mixing bowl and stir together.
  • In a separate bowl or jug, combine the milk, oil and vanilla essence.
  • Beat the wet mixture into the dry mixture for about 1 minute. You should be able to see the air pockets that the baking powder is creating as it meets the liquid- a sign that your cake will rise okay.
  • Spoon into prepared tin/ mould/cases and bake in the centre of a preheated oven at 180C for 20-30mins, until a thin skewer inserted into the centre of the cake emerges clean. (Cupcakes or muffins take about 15 minutes to cook; test as for regular cake.)
  • Place on a rack to cool, but do not turn out until cooling is underway and the pan is okay to touch. (If it's still too hot, the cake may crumble.)
  • Decorate and fill however you like- see this post for a few ideas.
...Happy Baking!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

No-Fry Stuffed Parathas- vegan

Stuffed parathas... not easy to photograph! (sorry)

This goes with the No-Fry Matar Paneer I posted back at the beginning of June. No-fry Indian food is gaining in popularity and once you get used to it,  you'll really notice the oiliness of the traditionally-cooked versions if you happen to have them and be glad you know how to make healthier versions for everyday meals...
I used potato, sweetcorn and parsley for the filling, but you could put whatever you like in. (Potato is good as it mashes down and makes a smooth, homogenous texture for easy spreading/ rolling.) The only oil in these parathas is a small amount used for cooking the chilli and spices in the filling- but you could even dry-roast these if you want. I didn't make a note of quantities, as I only made a small amount, for experimental purposes, but they were a hit, especially with the kids, so here's how I made them:
  • I made ordinary chapatti dough (with organic wholemeal flour) which I rolled into equal-sized balls. I did not add any oil to the dough.
  •  Next I made the filling by cooking cubed, unpeeled organic potatoes until soft, rinsing them in cold water afterwards. I then cooked a little minced fresh chilli and ground cumin in a very small amount of oil, added the potaoes and mashed the lot. 
  • Not having any fresh coriander (cilantro) to hand, I snipped off some flat-leaved parsley from the garden and stirred that in, along with some sweetcorn kernels, paprika, ground coriander and salt. 
  • Putting the parathas together was not difficult; I rolled out one ball of dough into a circle (almost full size), spread the filling mixture onto it, leaving a gap of about 1.5cm round the outside, and brushed the bare outside edge with water. I then rolled another ball of dough into a circle the same size as the first one and laid it on top of the stuffing.
  • I then sealed the dampened edges and rolled out the paratha until the dough was pretty much as thin as you can get it without it breaking. I turned the paratha over once whilst rolling.
  • I cooked each paratha individually on a tava as you would a chapatti, flipping them over until both sides were cooked- they even puffed up a little, so I knew the filling was also heated through.
  • We ate them for lunch with a sabji of sweated spiced courgette (zucchini) and kadoo, and the kids chose to have theirs with salad and cheese. Delicious and guilt-free!