Passion for traditional food has always been there within me. But, when I was young and started trying my hands in cooking, I would attempt only exotic recipes from cookery books. Biriyanis, Pulavs, North Indian Specialities, and especially Cakes and other baked items used to be favourites. There was always amma and aachi to make the Tamilnadu specialities.
One such item which was always on my list of exotic recipes was cake. Cakes are hugely popular among young and old ones – irrespective of age. The soft, fluffy, sugary, sometimes nutty – vanilla, strawberry, pineapple, caramel and the king of all flavours if I can say – chocolate – cakes and their flavours steal the show in many places.
I remember amma baking cakes on stove – in a cake making vessel with sand as the base inside. First, sand used to be filled in the cake making vessel and preheated on the burner. The cake baking vessel looked like an idli kopparai or traditional idly steaming utensil. The cake batter would be prepared, poured in the metal baking tray, which would be placed on top of preheated sand and the vessel would be closed with lid. After an hour or so, cake would be ready. In the meantime, the exotic smell of cake being baked on top of sand would spread in the house… kids waiting for the minute to open and have the king and queen’s share!
Now, with oven in every household, cookery books, blogs and cookery classes – baking cakes have become a household affair – everything made easy. Though, baking cakes of different varieties has become easier now, I have always not been a great fan of the self-raising flour/all-purpose flour or maida as it is called locally. Maida, a refined product, too fine and sticky is considered as empty calories and quite often a waste material to the system. The usage of maida in my cooking is near to nil. So, I try baking a bit healthier cakes. Sugar is another empty calory intake – I try substituting sugar with other healthier options. Not compromising on the fluffy texture and basic nature of cakes, I have tried some cake varieties. At least, the guilt feeling of having an empty calorie sweet is reduced and the cake is also made fibrous and more nutritious for kids!
I always told my daughter sugar was bad. I substitute jaggery for sweetness in her porridges. Till today, she is not interested in the various sweets made at home or outside. She always says ‘sugar is bad amma’! So, when I started baking cakes with whole wheat flour, she immediately asked me – can we bake cakes without sugar? I seriously took that in mind and tried it. Next time she said – ‘butter is also bad amma’ – so I started baking cakes with whole wheat flour, any natural sugar substitute like raisins or dates with very little unrefined cane sugar and oil instead of butter.
When I plan to bake a cake,I would take out all ingredients and arrange them and just call my daughter to mix. She is the true mixer at home. My work is to give her all the ingredients and after she blends them well, keep the baking tray inside the oven. (I lend a helping hand to bring it to proper consistency). Though she loves to beat the eggs and roll the batter, she doesn’t try tasting any of them. She only bakes for others. Just that the sweet tooth forgot to appear till today!
Oats and Apple Cake
hands of my little one beating the cake batter
arrange apple pieces
- whole wheat flour – 50 gms
- Oats – 50 gms
- cane sugar – 75 gms
- eggs – 2 nos
- refined oil – 50 gms
- milk – ¼ cup
- apple – 1 small
- baking powder – ¼ tsp
- baking soda – ¼ tsp
- Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
Method of Preparation
- Take sugar and oil in a wide bowl and mix well
- Beat eggs well
- Mix eggs with the sugar – oil mixture
- Sieve whole wheat flour, baking powder and baking soda twice
- Add oats to the wheat flour and mix well
- Slowly fold in the flour with the egg-sugar-oil mixture little by little
- Add the vanilla extract for flavour
- To bring the batter to better pouring consistency, add milk
- Cut apple into long slices
- Grease a baking tray and arrange apple slices
- Pour the cake batter on top of slices
- Preheat oven at 200°C
- Place the cake batter in and bake for 30 minutes
- Check after 20 minutes with a knife if the cake is done
- If the knife comes out without batter sticking to it, cake is done. If batter sticks, take it out at 30 minutes.
- This is a small cake and might give about 12 small pieces.
- If one needs a bigger cake, just double the quantity of all ingredients
- Sugar content might be less in this cake – if one feels to add more, sugar quantity can be slightly increased.