Dairy free, fuss free, one bowl carrot and orange cake

(dairy free if you can stop yourself from slathering dollops of butter or cheese)
I called up my vegetables and greens provider to ask him what carrots does he have. And he merrily told me all three. In india, the most popular ones are Black (deep maroon, darker than beetroot), the red ones and the usual yellow to orange ones. Colours galore in my kitchen and off course I told everyone I spoke to that day that am making carrot cake tomorrow. And strangely everyone told me ‘oh I love carrot cake’

This means that it is indeed a very popular cake. Come to think of it, most cafes and bakeries of any stature have this on their menu and mostly its a tower of cake with cream cheese layers. Not for me. I love carrot cake, but without all this fuss.

Without the walnuts and dry fruits seeped into it. Without all the extra cheese. Because a carrot cake is supposed to be simple. Carrot cake.

This recipe is a simple cake which can be mixed in a bowl. And baked . The end result is a loaf which can be used two ways. Like a stale bread, toasted and buttered. Or if you really want some cheese, then a mascarpone whipped with cream with a dash of orange zest and enough cointreau.
290 gms all-purpose flour
2 pinches table or fine sea salt
2 tsp baking powder (aluminum-free)
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
120 gms sunflower oil
145 gms dark brown sugar
3 l small organic eggs
235 ml strange juice fresh or otherwise
1 tsp vanilla extract
255 gms grated carrots

To make it better
1 slab good organic butter


200 ml full cream
200gms mascarpone cheese
30ml cointreau
1 tested orange
1 handful toasted walnuts for prettiness

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line a loaf tin (9×5-inch loaf pan). Keep this ready.
2. Grate the carrots and set aside. This will be folded into the cake mix in the end.
3. Add the eggs one at a time to the oil and orange juice mixture. Use a balloon whisk.
4. Throw in every thing else into this liquid and ensure all flour is blended in. Fold in the carrot in the end
5. Pour into the ready loaf tin and bake for about an hour. Ensure the cake is cooked through before you take it out of the oven.
6. Allow to cool and stash it away for 24 hours
7. This cake tastes best 18-24 hours old.
8. Serve toasted with butter
9. Or whip the cream, mascarpone, orange zest and cointreau and pour over the loaf. Top with the walnuts and slice away.

Breakfast muffin

I am a double breakfast eater. There is no time of the day when I would say no to a great cake with a cup of black coffee. These cravings are at their helm in the mornings. I would however consider myself not much of a sweet breakfast eater, unless off course its winers.

There was a time when I was growing up and since I was raised egg-free vegetarian, I found it very hard to find cakes without eggs. Now however, we find that it is becoming rapidly popular to bake without eggs.

So the next question is then what is the egg substitute to be used for the rise of the cake.

One of the (now) most common egg substitutes it flax seed and water. Great to taste as it adds an additional nuttiness plus protein. This recipe was tested on the demand of a reader, after I posted a banana bread recipe on the blog. She is allergic to eggs. So here it is finally. I replied the butter with coconut oil to make it vegan.

Tip – The one thing I did was that I forgot to add the chocolate chunks in the batter, I topped the muffins with it. If you are doing the same thing as me, then sink the chocolate chunks deep into the batter. If it lies on top it can dry up or burn, specially the ones near the heat of the oven.

Vegan banana and cinnamon muffin
2 tbsp ground flax seeds
6 tbsp warm water
180 gms light all-purpose/ gluten-free flour
1 tsp baking soda
1½ tsp baking powder, aluminium free
¼ tsp fine sea salt
90 gms palm sugar
100 gms coconut oil
2 very ripe bananas (total of 1 cup smashed)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup vegan- chocolate chunks

1. Mix the flax seed and water and let it sit for 15 minutes.
2. Sift all the dry ingredients. Wen backing without egg, it is important to incorporate as much as air as possible to get a lighter cake.
3. Heat the coconut oil till it just melts. Add the mashed bananas and the vanilla extract.
4. Add the flax seed and water mixture and fold the rest of the dry ingredients.
5. In the end add the chocolate chunks and stir.
6. Use an ice-cream scoop to add the batter onto lined muffin trays.
7. Bake for about 20 minutes at 160 degrees in a preheated oven. Watch the muffins closely because they can be done quickly if there is low humidity or the bananas are fresh, etc.
I have never been able to wait for them to cool before I can eat. The warmer, the better. the fluffier. Enjoy with a cuppa.

Woesar and cake, cake and cardamom, Cardamom Cake

This piece is from the archives, when I started writing, scribbling actually. This was the piece I shared with some people, some encouraging feedback and some not very. Also back then I wanted to write a book about how food and memory are interlinked, a book that explored how so much in our lives is a food memory. But that was then, and today I am sharing the story, abridged with current pictures and a recipe to boot. Reinventing the old in the new year are we?

On a cold September morning in Mcleodganj I was looking around for a bakery called Woesar. And after resisting the temptation of steamed potato momos and other cafés serving breakfast goodies, I sweated a bit, walked up and down the same street, asked everyone I could and then finally found it. And good that I did.

Most of the reviews of the place write about the famous carrot cake, but when I walked inside the door I could smell only one thing. Cardamom.

Fresh out of the oven, on the cooling rack, a cake. The bakery is owned by a lady and the bakery is named after her daughter. Woesar means the ‘rising sun’ in Tibetan. We exchanged greetings and I asked for the carrot cake, well the carrot was being grated before my eyes and would take a few hours to be on the plate. The bake of the morning was a cardamom cake.

I asked for a slice of the same and a cup of freshly pressed coffee.

I had my doubts. I probably associated cardamom to Indian desserts alone. The smell reminding me of the aate ka halwa challenges at home most winter, the turns we took to to churn out the perfect halwa with the humble aata, sugar, ghee and cardamom. The obvious winner each time being my father. The effort of roasting besan for ladoo which gets it’s finishing touches when ghee and cardamom come together with the pink roasted besan and sugar, painted a picture of my mother and her two daughters sitting with a big plate (parat) , three sets of palms churning out ladoos like halwais. The centre of a raj bhog, cardamom seeds, a little bit of semi-evaporated milk (khoya) as center of a giant rasgulla, my sisters favourite sweet and the many attempts she had made as a child to gobble them up at social does. The final sprinkle on a creamy kheer cooled by the full moon of Kartik Poornima, the seeds that added texture and flavour to a cold home churned kulfi, all memories that that smell of cardamom had evoked.

I have always felt memory over a period of time gets condensed into recollection by a colour or that melody which you recognise without any strain, more often than not it’s also by a smell.

To my utter surprise, the cake was just the right sweet and incredibly flavoured.

Back home I tried to recreate the cake. Failed the first time, simply because I got the amount of cardamom wrong, it was too less. Take your favourite vanilla cake recipe, and simply replace the vanilla with cardamom. The quantity of cardamom should be generous as the high heat of baking takes a lot of flavour away. Also the quality of cardamom.

I enjoyed every morsel of that slice of cake with my sugarless coffee. It was right after that I left Mcleodganj but that memory and the many others that were linked to that one fragrance stayed.
250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda / sodium bicarbonate
1 tin (395g) sweetened condensed milk
100g unsalted butter, melted
175ml milk/water (I used 175ml full fat milk)
2 tsp Cardamom Powder

1. Pass all he dry ingredients through a sieve. This traps some air and makes the cake lighter.
2. Whisk together all the wet ingredients with a hand blender. Fold in all the dry ingredients in the wet mixture. Do not over mix as the cake will then become flat.
3. Pour the mixture in a greased and 20 cm lined cake tin. Bake in a preheated oven for 40-50 minutes. The time required in the oven can vary greatly with the amount of water/ milk added to the batter.
4 Once called, sprinkle with icing sugar and cardamom powder.

Netflix – Madam Secretary – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3501074/
Movie – Lady Bird – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4925292/

Listen –
Prince – When Doves Cry – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UG3VcCAlUgE
The Cranberries – Linger – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6Kspj3OO0s
Josh Groban – You Raise Me Up – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJxrX42WcjQ

Blog/ Webpage: https://www.cupcakejemma.com
Book: Men Without Women – Hakuri Murakami

Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám


‘Tis all a Chequer-board of Nights and Days
Where Destiny with Men for Pieces plays:
Hither and thither moves, and mates, and slays,
And one by one back in the Closet lays.