Orange and olive oil whole wheat breakfast bread

We, the (internet) people

Officially we are going to be the last generation which has known the per-internet age as well as the internet one. We are the link between these two vastly different worlds, and since we have known the other side, it is obvious to yearn for the simplicity of that time, while not wanting to let go off the convenience internet offers.

I was born in 1986, and we got the first personal computer in our house when I was 16 and my brother was 10. With a dial-up internet connection. Yes, the one that used to make whoozing sounds before connecting and all mails had to be downloaded (which were mostly forwarded messages) before the internet connection was lost. And browsing speed was not guaranteed. Additionally, being connected to the internet blocked the telephone land-line and grandmothers resented their only link to the world being broken. That was the time when Orkut had just appeared and was becoming a rage and mobile phone call charges still cost a lot per minute. So we used to give each other ‘missed call’ for fun and agonized if someone picked up the call by mistake. SMSes had to be carefully worded in 160 characters, to send it at a minimum cost.

But that’s all the connectivity we had. Now, just 10-12 years later, we cannot imagine a day without being connected to 100s of ‘friends’ over Facebook, getting an email on the smartphones the instant it is sent, following random people on twitter, posting on social networking groups and anticipating atleast a gazillion likes, looking intently on your cellphones at the dozen whats-app groups and… oh the list is endless.

But it is also an era where Google maps does not let you get lost. Sure, you see a lot more stuff and places because of Trip Advisor, but walking up to locals and asking them the speciality of that place and wandering to reach there, is lost on us. Having a friend over and enjoying a few hours of uninterrupted talking without any calls and messages from the outside world is a luxury of the past. Or suddenly bumping into someone you knew years back and catching up on life is not possible as the Facebook feed already keeps you up-to-date with everything that’s going on. And even hunting for those rare books in old libraries for that one piece of information is no longer required, for Mr. Google is doing all of that for us in an instant.

But who am I to complain? I am a blogger, and having my own website/ blog would not have been possible without the simple and abundant internet today. I want people to follow me, to read what I wrote, to bake what I baked and in general I need to be out there on the scene. It is essential that I post on social groups, engage in discussion over twitter, post pictures on Pinterest, Food-gawker, learn Google analytics to maximize traffic to my blog, and do all that is required for self promotion.

And very frankly, I love it when the blog statistics are booming. I love it when someone writes in to say that I enjoyed this post or what you wrote struck a chord in my heart. I also enjoying finding a long-lost friend via facebook and being in touch with all friends and family over whatsapp.

But what scares me is the amount of validation we are seeking from the internet. If my tweet or post is liked, what I am saying makes sense. If my photo is liked, oh, I am definitely looking pretty. If some suggestions appear when I type my name in Google search, oh,  I am making a mark on the world. It is almost as if who I am is defined constantly by the feedback I get and what I think who I am is not significant anymore.

All these debates arise in my head when I am thinking of what values I want to instill in my kids. I definitely don’t want them addicted to internet from a young age, I want them to form their unbiased opinions about themselves and what they like or dislike, but at the same time they should have access to the hoard of information which internet readily provides.

Oh I need not worry, I will pick up on cues from the internet on how to keep your kids internet free 😉

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Last week I baked a very wholesome loaf cake without any butter. It is more of a breakfast bread, not very sweet , but with a beautiful orange flavor and tastes best when eaten with a cup of chai or coffee, or Nutella.

Orange Olive oil loaf

Whole Wheat Orange and Olive Oil Breakfast bread

Recipe adapted from OhtasteandSee

What you will need :

  • Zest of 3 oranges
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  •  a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup Extra virgin Olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup orange juice (from the 3 oranges)
  • butter for greasing the pan

What to do :

  1. Pre-heat oven to 175C. Generously butter a 9×4 inch loaf pan and set it aside.
  2. Zest the 3 oranges and collect the zest in a big bowl. Add caster sugar to the zest and whisk it with a fork or a whisk. The orange oil will get released from the zest and flavor the sugar.
  3. Sift the dry ingredients together, that is the whole wheat flour + all purpose flour+ baking powder + salt.
  4. Add olive oil to the sugar and beat well.
  5. Add the eggs to the olive oil sugar mixture, one at a time and whisk till thick and foamy.
  6. Add the dry ingredients and orange juice to the batter, alternately in 3-4 additions. Fold only till there are no more streaks of flour.
  7. Pour batter in the loaf pan and bake in a pre-heated oven for 50 mins to 1 hour, till a skewer comes out clean.

orange olive oil whole wheat cake

Sizzling Orange upside-down cake

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Currently, all my after-office hours are filled with research on Paris. As on date, it is exactly 3 weeks before I leave for Le Cordon Bleu. For a long time I thought its easy, I am going there for just a month. Or that it is a very touristy place, geared for tourists like me. So it wont be difficult.

But as the date gets closer, I am getting worried-er. Firstly, it will be quite cold in late November and December. Akshay has studied in Rochester, New York where the winter temperature dips to -10°C. So he is comfortable with the cold. But I am really a Mumbai girl, and my comfort zone is restricted to 22°C to 27°C. Outside this range, it is either too cold or too hot.

Secondly, although I love to eat fish and chicken sometimes, I am a vegetarian at heart. And I need meat-less options for everyday meals. The first time that we were in Europe, I came back with a substantial vitamin deficiency. I have to be careful that it does not happen again. While browsing the web,  I found an excellent book of compilation of restaurants serving vegetarian food in Paris. It is by Rashmi Uday Singh and is called ” A Vegetarian in Paris” . I intend to make best use of it. Of course I will report back on some of the restaurants that I visit and like or dislike.

Third and most important fact (or stupid really, if you think in any other way) is that I will miss Akshay (my husband) tremendously. Since the last 3 years since we started dating and then got married, I haven’t stayed away from him for so long. It has been the longest “happiest-stretch” of my life, and we are a perfect team. No idea how to function alone without his comfort and guidance. Yeah yeah, I did survive well for first 24 years of life without him. But that was before I met him, before I knew what it was to have a wonderful partner like him. And the worst part is, it is going to be his birthday in December when I would be in Paris. Duh uh!

Well, cest la vie, this is life. But apart from these little things, I am superly excited. All the Paris research like the Movies to watch, Places to visit, Books to read   is yielding good results and I am quite hooked on to it. Feel free to browse through it and recommend some more exciting movies, places and books.

Meanwhile, last on Sunday, we made this bloody orange cake for Akshay’s uncle’s birthday. I actually got these exotic looking oranges to make marmalade, but then I stumbled upon this Blood Orange upside down cake from Not Quite Nigella, and dear god, I had to make it.

Orange cake1

The original recipe called for 200 gms of almond flour which I thought was too much, so I reduced it to 100 gms. But the nutty almond-y flavor is delicious and goes very well with the citrusy orange depth of the cake.

And the handsome oranges. A burst of color and flavor!

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Oranges sliced thinly with the covering

The almond meal is very easy to make, after blanching almonds overnight. And even if you forget to soak them the previous night, you can get them ready in 20 mins, with a trick. Read on..

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Blanched almonds and simmered oranges

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Oranges lined on to the pan.

Sizzling Orange upside-down cake recipe

What you will need :

  • 3 blood oranges (the ones which have orange color skin), thinly sliced
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 200 gm butter (I always use slightly salted Amul butter)
  • 200 gms powdered sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 100 gm / 1 cup almond powder / almond meal (See the footnote for recipe)
  • 1 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup natural yoghurt

What to do :

  1. In a saucepan, place the water and sugar on low heat till the sugar is melted. Turn the heat to high and let it come to a boil.
  2. Then add the orange slices and simmer it for 20-25 mins on medium heat, till the orange skin becomes tender and slightly translucent.
  3. Remove the slices with a slotted spoon and let them cool. Boil the syrup further till it becomes thicker.
  4. Grease and line a 8 or 9 inch cake tin with parchment paper. Brush the parchment paper with some of the syrup so that the orange slices stick to it. Place the slices on the parchment paper and over to the sides. Cut some into half to fit over the sides of the pan. Reserve the syrup to brush over cake once baked.
  5. With an electric blender, cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy and add the eggs, one at a time. Stir in almond meal, flour and yogurt and mix until just combined (do not overwork).
  6. Pre-heat oven to 160°C.
  7. Spoon it into the prepared tin making sure not to dislodge the orange slices.
  8. Bake for 60 minutes @ 160°C until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  9. Let it cool, then upturn it. Gently remove the parchment paper off the cake. Glaze the cake with the reserved sugar syrup. Serve into triangular wedges.

To make almond meal

  1. Take about 5% more almonds than the required quantity of almond meal. Say if you want 100 gms of almond meal, take about 105 gms of almonds.
  2. Soak them overnight in water and in the morning, peel off the skin. Let the almonds dry thoroughly before grinding. In a mixer, pulse the almonds till it forms a coarse powder. Do not over grind as it would then turn into almond butter.
  3. Or, if you want to make it instantly, blanch almonds by boiling them for about a minute or two, uncovered. Use your hand by and rub the skin off . Completely dry the almonds before using, as the water will make it into butter.
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Covered from top to bottom with blood oranges

Notes :

  1. Almond meal if extra, has to be stored in the fridge, or it turns rancid.
  2. The orange skin when simmered in sugar syrup become beautifully moist and tender. But if you dont like the skin, shave the oranges slightly so as to leave on only a thin layer of skin.

This cake is moist and nutty and wholesome. Before you realise you will be going for another piece.

Orange cake2In a quick glance:

Orange cake collage