Vegeyum Ganga has a fantastic post on cooking by the senses rather than the “exacting measures“. Cooking for me is a therapeutic experience that is supremely rejuvenating (This is when I am in my “love to cook” phase). I love to cook by the feel of my ingredients, by the smell rather than the time or measurement to the last grain of flour. Unfortunately not all recipes are amenable to such an experience – the recent sponge cake that I made is an example of a recipe high on science, low on senses. For the first time (I am not so precise even for my breads), I measured to the gram – no approximations. I discovered that a tablespoon is about 15 ml. And that I have a scoop that can measure 30g. The experience was highly educative and exhilarating – I was mighty relieved when my sponge rose in my third attempt. Three times to get a cake right??!!! And I always thought cakes worked with sensing the right amount of moisture, consistency et al.
I always thought cakes were amenable to experimentation, choosing flavours and ingredients, adjusting sweetness according to taste. I had two eggs purchased for sponge cake trials (I stocked adequately after my first failed attempt for multiple trials). Besides wanting to use them up in a recipe that hides them so well that I’d forget eggs are even there (I don’t like eggs and usually avoid them), I also wanted to see if I had some of the cake charm left in me.
I love making cakes (no frosting, thank you) . I have never failed in making a cake although I have poured batter all over the kitchen before baking on one occasion.
Was the sponge cake an exception or had I forgotten to bake cakes in my bread baking frenzy? Thankfully the sponge was definitely an exception! I baked a carrot cake today and din’t use any tried and tested, precise recipe. I made my own as I usually do with most cakes. This link here gives an overview of what a carrot cake is. I made a mental note of the basics and proceeded to bake the cake. The cake was delicious, soft, just moist and not too dense at all for a whole wheat cake.
Makes: 8 -10 pieces
- 1 cup carrot (grated)
- 1 cup Whole Wheat Flour (finely ground 100% Whole Wheat Atta)
- 1/2 cup Honey
- 1/4 cup Sugar
- 1/2 tsp Nutmeg (I used 1 tsp – it was quite spicy. I’d recommend adjusting this to taste.)
- 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
- 2 Eggs (Substitute: Usually I replace 2 eggs in most cake recipes with 1/2 cup (milk+1tbsp curd)+ 1/4 tsp cooking soda. Since eggs here are primarily for moisture and some leavening this should work. I had to use the eggs bought for my sponge cake experiment. )
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 1/2 tsp Cooking Soda
- Few Drops of Vanilla
- Grease and line an 8inch Baking Dish.
- Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, cooking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and sieve once. Add grated carrots.
- Grind the sugar. In a bowl beat the sugar, honey and eggs together. Add this to the flour mix, add vanilla and combine.
- Bake at 200C in an oven for 40 minutes till the cake is well browned. The cake is done when it springs back if pressed lightly and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Oven timings may vary and it is recommended that you test for doneness at the 35th minute and keep for more time accordingly.
- Allow cake to cool. Take cake out of baking dish, cut into pieces and store in an air tight container.
Carrot cake is usually frosted with cream cheese – I run away from any kind of frosting unless its chocolate ganache.
Healthy, spicy, moist and yet airy. It was a perfect cake.