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Mindful baking: Have your cake and eat it too!

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To spread the joy of baking all around the world, World Baking Day will be celebrated tomorrow. Started from the year 2012, the day has gained popularity over the years, especially during the pandemic when people started baking more often than ever. “When it comes to baking for a beginner, cakes are the first thing that clicks. But gone are the days when cakes were supposed to be loaded with calories. They have taken a healthy twist, and what better day to talk about it than around World Baking Day. Amid pandemic, health became the top priority and people realised the importance of healthy grain powder and this shot up the demand for healthy and vegan cakes,” says Ashish Singh, corporate chef, Cafe Delhi Heights.

People are trying healthy ingredients to make their favourite food, and thus breaking the myth that it can alter the dish’s taste. “Thanks to the growing awareness, people understand the importance of alternative flours, and the best part is it makes zero difference to the cakes,” adds Singh.

The variety of healthy, delicious options include vegan gingerbread cake, applesauce spice cake, vegan chocolate beet cake, amaranth dark chocolate cake, vegan lemon pistachio cake, pumpkin carrot cake and much more!

There are a number of flours and ingredients available to use for healthy baking. “Locally sourced ingredients like coconut, almond, amaranth, buckwheat, chickpea, quinoa and buckwheat flour, chia seeds, almonds and fresh fruits available during the season can be used,” says Akash Khandelwal, chef, Welcomhotel Sheraton, New Delhi.

Cranberry coffee cake

For vegan varieties, the substitutes of dairy products are used. They impart a rich flavour and texture to the cakes. “Soy, almond, cashew, peanut, walnut, flax, oat, rice and coconut milk are some of the alternatives for milk. Replace commonly used cheese with silken tofu or cheese prepared with cashew, almonds and soybeans. Plant-based sweeteners like maple syrup and apple syrup can be used instead of honey,” says chef Reetu Uday Kugaji, who also emphasises on replacing butter with extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, ripe bananas and ripe avocados. For eggless cooking, use aquafaba, nut butters, tapioca starch, mashed potatoes, paste of flax seeds, apple vinegar and agar agar.

If one does not specialise in baking vegan cakes, it can be a little tough for them initially till they get a hang of it. However, to ease down the process, one must know the ingredients and process well. “Read your recipes well, sift your flour and scale the ingredients properly. The oven loves you, but don’t open it too much while baking. Preheat your oven and whip your eggs to ribbon consistency with your sugar,” adds Khandelwal. Another word of advice: don’t forget to use icing droplets for topping the cake instead of butter icing. “Whole grains are healthier options than white, but don’t have to be whole wheat. Add some seeds and herbs to give an interesting crunch and flavour,” says Sunil Kumar Gopalan, executive chef, The Lalit Resort and Spa Bekal.

Vegan Chocolate Cake by Shivesh Bhatia, baker
Vegan Chocolate Cake by Shivesh Bhatia, baker

Vegan Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 + ½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

1 + ½ tsp espresso powder

¾ cups cocoa powder

1 + ½ cups boiling hot water

1 cup organic brown sugar

¼ cup + 2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp white vinegar

Instructions

PROCEDURE

Pre-heat your oven to 180*C. Line a 9” pan with parchment paper.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda,salt, espresso powder and cocoa powder

Pour the hot water into a large bowl. Add brown sugar, vegetable oil and vinegar. Mix well.

Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Do not over mix- mix only until well combined and there are no flour pockets in the batter.

Pour the batter into a prepared cake tin and bake at 180*C for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cover with dark chocolate, melted with one teaspoon of vegetable oil.

Garnish with nuts

Recipe by Shivesh Bhatia, baker




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