Rustic Beetroot Cake (Eggless)

I have been baking often over the last few days. Simple occasions demand simple cakes without too much frosting or decoration. Real flavours and things that can be whipped up within an hour.

My 14 month old baby boy has begun to enjoy the cake decoration part. With his tiny little fingers he helps me put chocolate chips on the cake, but most of the fruits and sprinkles end up in his stomach. And now he gets excited when he looks at the pans, or the whisk or the even the weighing scale. He knows something delicious is coming up. I let him have little pieces of cake. Since he was 12 months old, he eats everything that we eat. And I bet he is turning into a foodie.

Since we are a nation obsessed with eggless cakes, I have been trying my hand on a couple of them. Substituting ingredients in a cake which calls for an egg or two doesn’t work. The whole composition has to be changed. So here is one based on a chocolate eggless cake from The Big Book of Treats by Pooja Dhingra.

This cake uses 2 small beetroots and gives a very nice flavour to the cake. it does not use any added colour. The texture is also very soft and crumbly. Topped with whipped cream and coloured sugar crystals, it looks very rustic.

Beetroot cake

 

Rustic Eggless Beetroot Cake 

What you will need :

  • 2 small beetroots, steamed/ boiled and pureed
  • 130 gram all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 100 gram Amul butter at room temperature
  • 20 gram castor sugar
  • 30 ml warm milk
  • 150 grams condensed milk
  • 150 gram dark chocolate melted

What to do :

  1. Melt the chocolate in microwave or double boiler and let it cool.
  2. Sift together all the dry ingredients – flour+ baking powder + baking soda and keep aside.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 180C for 5 minutes.
  4. In a big bowl, whisk butter till soft and fluffy. Add the sugar and whisk.
  5. Now add the milk, condensed milk and melted chocolate and mix well.
  6. Then slowly add the pureed beetroot and incorporate well with a whisk.
  7. Now fold in the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula.
  8. Line one 6-8 inch pan with parchment paper and butter and flour the sides.
  9. Pour the batter in the prepared pan and bake at 180 C for 20-25 minutes till a skewer inserted int he centre comes out clean.
  10. I cut the cake horizontally into half to frost and stack them up.
  11. Decorate with some whipped cream and coloured castor sugar on top.

Slice of beetroot cake

Notes :

  • I steamed the beetroots (just like steaming potatoes) in a pressure cooker, removed the skin and then pulsed it in a mixer for a couple of minutes.
  • You can easily serve the cake without any frosting, it is very soft and melt-in-the mouth.

Mentoring : An everyday walk. And Flan de mango – the last of this season

It is true that every day, in every walk of life we are learning something new. Something that you didn’t know a day before, but something that you can’t live tomorrow without. Most of it is self-awareness, but the nudge to move towards that zone of being aware, is an external one. Sometimes I think you yourself are your best mentor; but of-course that would be being too full of yourself. So we assign the ‘mentorship’ to a teacher, a coach, a boss, a friend or even an author whose writing played a major role in your belief system. Positive or negative, they all had a role to play in what you are today and I am thankful to them, to say the least.

I remember, till the seventh grade, I disliked mathematics. And then it changed, because I was in love with my new mathematics teacher. She was so warm, kind and witty, that I had to do well in her subject. And at the end of that year, I genuinely started liking those numbers, and went on to become an accountant. Of course, all the Sin-Cos-Tan is now lost on me, but I knew that these numbers can be manipulated and that I could do it.

Few years later, in the first month of my internship, I was assigned to work with a hated big, fat, snobby boss. He asked me to study a particular accounting standard and would grill me at the end of every day about my learnings and no answer seemed to please him. He constantly counter questioned and looked at me with a cultivated look of hopelessness that still scares me. I was 19, had cleared the difficult entrance test in the first go and considered myself at-least an average student. But this guy, within a week, shattered the very base of my belief. Predictably, after about 10 days, I broke down one evening in the office. And then suddenly, he was like this big daddy, trying to console me, explaining how he was “preparing me” for the future. I wanted to punch him in his gut. I didn’t care about those stupid accounting standards, but I knew that this is a corrosive man, I needed no association with him. I almost managed to stay away from him for the rest of my 3 year internship, and hence preserved my sanity. He has damaged a lot of my friends by constantly assuring them that they are no good. Somebody needs to shut him up.

At a deeper level, in a rougher way I realised that some people will try to pull you down. You have to recognise them and run as far away from them as possible, because arguing with them is just not worth it.

But soon after, I took up a job in a private bank and luckily for me, I reported to a sensitive and mature lady, the VP of our audit department. She soon realised, even before I knew it, that I needed freedom and independence to work my best. Those two years, I was at the peak of my performance, firstly because I loved my work and secondly because I could think and audit in a way no-one had before. She subconsciously ingrained out-of-box thinking in me, by making me believe that I could do it. Had it not been for her, I would have been a mediocre clerk in some bank, assuming that I could be only as good as the person besides me.

Another very crucial role in my mental set-up has been played by Ayn Rand. Basically it felt as if she was talking to me through her books and telling me (in her own words) –

“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it’s yours.”

Hang on to everyone who tells you that. Because those people are precious. In this dog eat dog world, sometimes all you need is that word of encouragement which will restore your belief in yourself. And yes, the person next to you needs it as much as you do. Go on, tell him that he worked well, tell her that she is right in taking a firm stand, pick up that child and teach him a magic trip, or just help fix that little girl’s broken doll.

It always helps. The ball is now in your court.


Well, the Indian monsoon is almost here, and to cherish the mangoes one last time before they disappear for this season, I made the Mango flan. It is delicate yet robust, smooth but chunky and colorful yet natural.

Flan de mango

Presenting : Flan de Mango first brought to my notice by a friend Jasmine Gandhi on CAL

What you will need :

  • 1 cup mango puree
  • ½ can condensed milk
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup milk

What to do:

  1. Dissolve the corn flour in 2 tbsp milk so that there are no clumps. Then combine it with the rest of the milk, mango puree, condensed milk and eggs.
  2. Scoop the batter into four-six ramekins or metal molds.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 170C.
  4. Take a large shallow pan and fill it halfway with water. Put it in the oven while it is being preheated.
  5. Now place the four-six moulds in the pan with the warm water.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes till the flan is set.
  7. Let it cool at room temperature before putting in the fridge to cool for 2-3 hours.
  8. Before serving, release the flan from the sides of the mold with a knife and turn it upside down on a serving plate.

Mango flan single serving

Notes :

  • By placing the molds in a shallow pan filled water, we are essentially creating a water bath. This helps provide moisture while baking, so that the flan does not dry up, but still gets firm.
  • While un-molding, if it is unwilling to leave the sides, gently heat the mold on a gas flame before turning upside down.

Rose Misti Doi or Sweetened Curd

The last whole week was quite a frenzy, and I was utterly unable to post. I was preoccupied with so many things, that the transition from unrelated short sentences in my head to coherent, meaningful paragraphs was just not happening.

It feels strange, but just a few weeks back, my mom and brother were down with dengue, and this time around my mom-in-law (Mom-IL) and dad-in-law (Dad-IL) were down with typhoid and pneumonia respectively. I had only heard of these things before, and in a matter of three months, I am dealing with all of it, in my own house. With not one, but two people to be looked after suddenly.

My Mom-IL and Dad-IL are super-independent and I realized that even after 2 and half years of my marriage, I knew so little about their daily habits and routines. For instance :

  1. Dad-IL likes to have masala tea atleast 15 times a day, and just a super hot quarter cup each time. And he complains if you give him any more than a quarter cup.
  2. Mom-IL liked to have something sweet everyday. It is odd, because on normal days, both of them swear away from sweets, and only ‘taste’ it when I make some new dessert.

It was not an easy task keeping those two almost hyper-active individuals home-bound, but being a daughter in law here, I could not be over-assertive.  My secret weapon was my husband, their son. I would immediately call him up in office and ask him to call them to persuade them from doing something, viz. gardening on the third day after being detected with pneumonia. Yeah.

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I also realized certain things about myself in this week. I found my brain was working like clock. It would automatically wake me up at 2 hour intervals at night to check on their temperature. I found that when left on my own, I do kitchen-work exactly like my mom. I line up used cups on the wash-basin just like she does, heck, I even cut onions the same way she does. I teased her for being so particular, but now I am doing the same things!

It was a hectic week, no doubt, but interspersed with so many realizations, it was quite a ride. And both of them are quite fine now.

Sweetened curd SnD

Meanwhile, last week I had made this Misti-Doi or Sweetened Curd. I remember a few years back, when I was in Kolkatta for audit, I had this misti–doi in the earthen pots and it was so good, that I ‘smuggled’ a big pot of that curd on the flight back home. It was thick, full of flavor and very creamy.

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The real method is to boil and simmer and reduce milk and then add sugar, and some curd as a starter and let it rest. But I substituted it with condensed milk, making it a very easy and quick dessert, which can even be made on a large scale for house parties. It is baked to get a thick creamy texture, but it can also be kept to set overnight in a warm environment.

Misti-Doi or Sweetened Curd recipe :

What you will need:

Plain Yogurt : 2 cups / 500 gm / 17.6 Oz
Sweetened Condensed Milk – 1/2 can or 200 gm or 7 Oz  or as per taste
Sweetened Rose Syrup (preferably with rose petals in it) – 5-6 tbsp

What to do:

  1. Take a cheese cloth, or a soft cotton cloth, pour the yogurt into it, tie the cloth loosely and hang the yogurt along with the cloth on the kitchen faucet / tap for 15 to 20 minutes or till most of the whey ( yogurt-water) has been drained.
  2. Take the yogurt out from the cloth, put it in a big bowl and add the sweetened condensed milk and the rose syrup. Mix all the ingredients nicely by using a spoon and check the sweetness. Pour the mixture into a oven proof dish. ( cup / bowl / pan )
  3. Preheat the oven to 220°F or 100°C. Bake the yogurt for 30 minutes on the middle rack.
  4. Check it if the top of the yogurt has set, and turn off oven. Cover the yogurt with foil and let it sit there in the oven for another 4-5 hrs or overnight.
  5. Then take it out and put it in the refrigerator for couple of hours.
  6. Serve chilled, garnish with rose petals.

The next time, I am going to let it set in earth pots, for a very rustic Kolkatta feeling.

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