I have always loved delving into the goodness of pastries, cakes, chocolates, cookies and sweets. These have always served me when I crave for something sweet to lift my senses. As a little girl, the only cake I used to feed on were, the plum cakes that used to be passed on to me through friends. Occasionally mother or father used to buy plum cakes from the market. I knew very little about the ingredients that went into cakes and the method of preparation. I never even imagined that I would get into baking cakes.
When I started learning about baking, I dived deeper into this topic. I read many books about baking and its science. It is really interesting of how a sticky batter turns into a soft spongy sweet cake under a high temperature. But my concern was, how healthy could a cake be? I came across many recipes that used maida, lots of sugar and butter.
Maida has been used in many parts of India extensively for making breads, rotis, naans, cookies and cakes. I was forced to dig deeper to know more about maida flour and its properties. Long back our ancestors used to feed a lot on food made from maida flour. This flour is not easily digestible due to lack of fibre. One needs to exercise and workout extensively to digest maida.
As everybody is aware, during the age-old days, people used to burn out calories and fat very easily through their physical hard work. Most of their food digested immediately. Even today, our Indian wrestlers and other sportsmen consume a lot of butter and ghee to attain the required body strength. They hardly suffer from high cholesterol levels since they workout extensively. But considering the desk jobs that people have today, one really needs to limit the intake of maida. To make the sinfully tasty recipes from maida, a lot of additional greasing is required.
I had always felt guilty of baking cakes of maida and butter, since one needs to put in a lot of effort for its digestion. Taking consideration of our present lifestyle, it forced me to find an alternative way to bake a cake. It might surprise you, that it is possible to bake a basic eggless cake using wheat flour (atta), jaggery, water and vegetable oil and still get a very soft and spongy cake. Thanks to the wonderful info given here on whole wheat flour baking! The outcome was a big surprise for me. I had to share this wonderful recipe here.
The inspiration for me to bake a cake out of wheat flour was the sri lankan jaggery cake and a recipe from here. Sri Lankan Jaggery cake is made from jaggery, which is combined with either wheat flour or semolina (rava) and the cake uses some extra ingredients like dates, coconut, cinnamon, cardomom and pumpkin.
Another challenge was, I had to make this cake an eggless version. To bake this cake, I had tried different combinations of wheat flour and liquid and the cake used to fail me. The previous mistakes were taken into consideration, but each time I used commit a new mistake. It took me a long time to realize that wheat flour cake requires lesser fat.
The last time I tried baking this cake, my joy knew no bounds. I looked into the cute, tiny, old-fashioned round oven of my MIL in which the cake was baking. The cake had risen beautifully with a dark color, the top was adorned with those cracks! Thats when I learnt that patience can eventually give me something I long for. I didn’t have to struggle to make the cake rise. The success of this cake gave me immense satisfaction that, I found a way out to serve a guilt free version of a basic vanilla cake, using wheat flour and jaggery..
This is a recipe for a basic vanilla sponge cake made from Wheat flour, jaggery and vegetable oil.
Recipe adapted From here : Link
TIP: Use cardamom powder (1 tsp) for a better aroma in the cake.
- Dry Ingredients
- Wheat Flour - 1.5 cups
- Jaggery - 3/4 cup - Powdered (You can use 1 cup for more sweetness)
- Baking Powder - 2 tsp (Use Double-Acting baking powder)
- Table Salt - A very small pinch
- Wet Ingredients
- Water - 250 ml (1 cup) (Use milk for a non - vegan version)
- Vegetable Oil - 7 tbsp
- Vanilla Extract - 1 tsp
- 7 inch round cake tin -
- Vegetable Oil - 1/2 tsp (For greasing the cake tin)
- Wheat Flour - 1 tsp (For dusting the cake tin)
Step 1: Grease the cake tin throughout with oil. Dust 2 tsp of wheat flour throughout and tap the cake tin so that the cake tin is evenly dusted with the flour. (The wheat flour sticks to the greased cake tin and this ensures your cake doesn't stick to the cake tin while unmolding.) Keep the cake tin aside.
Step 2: Pre-Heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F for 10 minutes.
Step 3: Dissolve jaggery in Water completely. If there are any impurities or dusty particles, strain the jaggery+water liquid through a sieve. Mix in the vanilla extract. Keep this aside.
Step 4: Sift Wheat flour, salt, baking powder (Dry Ingredients) through a sieve at least 3-4 times.
Step 5: Once sifted, mix all the dry ingredients thoroughly using a spoon. This is just to ensure the salt, baking powder are evenly distributed through the wheat flour.
Step 6: Make a depression in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the water+jaggery+vanilla extract liquid, that was prepared in step 1. (You can also add a teaspoon of cardamom powder at this stage for a better flavor)
Step 7: Gently bind the ingredients with a spoon. Please don't use any whisk or beater for this. Over beating will make your cake very dense and heavy. Next add in the oil. Again combine the mixture gently. The batter might form a few clumps. But that won't come in your way.
Step 8: Pour this batter into the prepared cake tin. Tap the cake tin on the counter to ensure the batter levels out.
Step 9: Put this into the pre-heated oven and bake at 180°C / 350°F for 20-25 minutes or bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. (The baking time depends on the oven. Mine took just 15-17 minutes to bake. While other ovens may need 20 - 30 minutes. So you need to start keeping a tab on the cake after 15 minutes.)
Step 10: After the baking time, allow the cake to cool down completely. If the cake is done well and if the greasing and dusting of the cake tin is correct, your cake will unmold by just inverting the cake tim upside down onto a plate.
Step 11: You can cut and serve this cake just plain or you may top it with any icing or chocolate syrup.