Here I am with my second post. I started writing it and in parallel was working on a project the night before I was leaving for my 2 month visit to India!! It may have seemed strange that I launched my blog in all that excitement, headed off for vacation 2 days later, and have not been heard from since... or, maybe that’s how it is initially? Maybe be not the one blog in a week type of a scenario for my start?
Well, this might explain some. The reason I started my blog after much procrastination was due to the motivation behind this particular post (I know I have said in other entries and pages there are many that got me to where I am.. but there’s more!). I doubted it would take me a couple of days after I got to India, that I get to complete this entry (as is the case), but the mission was to complete the project by the end of April !! OK, before I start sounding like the person who tried to write about some secret spy mission, with a end of the month deadline on a blog, let me explain the project before you get totally confused.
About 2 months back, my dear friend Madhuri, with her fervor and enthusiasm, came up with this innovative idea for a series of blogger events that would be ‘something totally different’ - Free Spirit Bloggers (FSB), and included me in the mailing list announcing this idea. There I was, seen in a mailing list with some very enthusiastic and inspiring thought leaders in the food making and food blogging society, super excited, but had a slight problem… I did not have a blog to be using, to join a blogger event like this one!
Either Madhuri’s was the final kick-in-the-butt I needed to start my food blog, or this was just plain embarrassing and I had to do something! I had been wanting to do this for some time now whereas I was satisfied with posting some pictures I clicked of the food we make at home, and derived my pleasure talking about, and serving food to people around me when I got the chance - but was I really getting to something with this interest? Don’t get me wrong, I still love that experience and I am sure everyone who enjoys food and cooking, does too... but to take the effort to organize thoughts, recipes and pictures in trying to represent the taste of the food, while also sharing a good recipe, and facing a larger audience on the web, is something that takes some hard work and being inspired, to make happen! It is a bit harder for me than cooking and eating itself! I wondered for a while... did I have it in me? Is there a right circumstance that would present itself.. ‘a while’ here btw, being almost 2 years!!
I think you get the idea.. FSB + realization that I was being a lazy bum, got me to seek some help I much needed, from my husband and Madhuri. This connects back to some other stuff I said here. Believe me, I’ll soon stop talking about why and how I started blogging :P, but for now, I am saying this to myself so I keep myself motivated. Now let’s get to the project at hand.
FSB is a group of 8 bloggers. We will work together every month to pick a theme and share 8 recipes based on that theme, but only at the end of the month (still wondering what this post is doing coming out mid-month?!- I am late posting, as I was leaving for a 2 month trip to India, and no this is not an example of IST :P). While each recipe can be quite different, and sometimes not even the same general dish, we will all stick to the central premise of the theme of that month. Read more here.
April's theme was egg substitutions. I think most of us Indian vegetarians have at some point wondered about egg substitution - be it for ourselves, for our parents who do not eat eggs, for a friend/ relative who is allergic, of course the Brahmin sect that traditionally considers egg as non-vegetarian and would not eat it, while many of the same sect have said “egg is allowed, but chicken, mutton, beef, sea food not allowed” (as though the latter covered everything that’s not vegetarian!), or “ I will eat it in cakes, but not omlettes or boiled eggs that stink of the Hydrogen Sulphide I remember from the Chemistry Lab” (me talking anything remotely chemistry is my husband’s influence or his input to a post... sure, you guessed that if you know my relationship with the subject :P).... or maybe egg replacers simply because you feel like substituting something that is so vital to baking! We FSBs had around 16 substitutions (!) for eggs at our disposal to work with, and we each picked 2 out of that list to work into a recipe that otherwise needed eggs. I picked Ener-G, a commercial egg replacer, and a combination of water + oil + baking powder. These 2 were to be used in the making of 2 separate chocolate pound cakes.
As you can tell, I was very excited to start working on this project, get my blog going on the side, and I started out very optimistically and excited, and must say had a great experience doing this and writing about it. Let’s go to the recipes and the outcome, shall we?
*I have presented the original recipe in italics and my notes on alternative approaches adopted in regular bold font as I walk you through this.
250 Grams All purpose flour/ Maida
250 Grams Sugar
250 Grams Butter
50 Grams Cocoa powder
( I accidentally reset the scale before the Photo. That was about 50 grams of Cocoa Powder)
4 Eggs –
I used :
for cake (a), 1 ½ tsp Ener -G + 2 Tbsp warm water in place of 1 egg, and
for cake (b), 1 tbsp oil + 2 tbsp water + ½ tsp baking powder in place of 1 egg.
1 tsp Baking soda
½ tsp Baking powder
½ tsp Salt
1 tsp Vanilla extract
Upto ½ cup Milk
- Preheat oven to 350f/ 180c and grease the baking tin - Check
- Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt 2-3 times and set aside - Check
- Cream butter and sugar until creamy and pale . Add vanilla extract and beat well - Check
- Add the eggs one at a time and beat till well incorporated. - For cake (a), I mixed Ener-G and water, whisked it, and set it aside for 5 minutes. Then I added that mixture to the mixture with butter and beat it till nice and creamy. For cake (b), I added Oil and beat it till it was well incorporated.
- Now, add the sifted flour mixture to the butter mixture little by little and beat well till blended smoothly - Check
- Add adequate milk to achieve a batter of dropping consistency - I maxed out on the ½ cup milk . For effort (a), I found that the batter was not of dropping consistency and that it was slightly thicker. For effort (b), I found that the batter was very thick in spite of adding ½ cup milk + 8 Tbsp water ( part of the egg re-placer)
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake @ 180C/ 350F for 45-50 mins or until done - Check, I baked Cake (a) in a 8*8 pan and it took me 45 mins. I baked Cake (b) in a 13*9 pan and it took me 20 mins.
Now the results ...
Cake (a) using Ener-G Egg replacer
Cake a) The cake tasted absolutely great and it was super soft. But what seemed odd after I set it to cool, was this mini meteor crater/depression that had formed in the middle of the cake! My husband said it must have been plate tectonics/faulting created by angered ingredients for not seeing their egg around them in their good times in the hot sauna, the oven (the show-off Civil Engineer!)!
Don’t think seeing the picture and the missing patch that looks like the boundary of the state of Bihar (before jharkhand), and think I am calling that the crater, or that my husband dug into it while I was not looking, it was just a patch that would have been covered with the icing, and now it sat in the middle of this crater/depression. Nevertheless, I covered it up with blissfully- gooey- chocolatey-goodness i.e., Chocolate Ganache!. No one would know about the crater unless I tell them, right ?
Cake b) This cake was super duper fragile (which, of course, I did not know when I took it out of the oven) and when I turned the cake upside down to cool it, only half of the cake came out. The rest decided to stay in the pan for a bit longer!. I tried to coax the rest of the cake to come out of the pan and I think they got pissed off with me and decided to crumble when I forced the rest of the cake out of the pan. Disaster, ain? Well, They don’t know me that well I am not the one to give up a fight so easily.... not when I have been trained for fights by my brother who I am so pally with now! So this is what I did: I crumbled the entire cake in a big bowl..Mugahahah! I am evil. crumbly cakes get more crumbled. All this in a state of mind where I am wondering what I did wrong and I still have not figured it out, and did not want to conclude that the substitution did not do the trick for me. Then for a change, the usually rule book, recipe following, chart-out-a-plan-well-before-you-can me, was taken over by some experimental rush. I was motivated in wanting to get something out of this. I poured some nice warm chocolate ganache on its crumbly head (Mittu to cake: You didn’t expect that for revenge did ya? hah! If you thought that was evil, you have no idea what you are in for) . I mixed up the cake and ganache well and I made lemon sized balls out of it, and stuck in some lollipop sticks (serves you right). I refrigerated them for a while. Once they were a bit hard, I dipped them into some more Chocolate ganache I had set aside. I should have stuck these on a piece of Styrofoam, but well, this was disaster recovery being performed by someone who is usually very bad at it (I will be very mad if anyone provides any snippets in the comments section to prove this :P). Oh, I also did not have a Styrofoam ready in hand. Hence, I placed them in a muffin tray ( not the best idea, but it worked) and again put them back into the fridge. After about half an hour later, we had some sinfully chocolate, cake pops!.
Cake (pops) (b) using Oil+Water+Baking Powder Egg substitution
Then those little rascals started going after her.. and then shortly chomped together (Yumm!)
So, I guess with both my substitutions I could have done better. Given what I ultimately did with my second cake (you got chomped, ***** ), I probably was not my usual self - one following recipes down to a tee, and being a little more in control of the outcomes (Baking is a science with rules unlike cooking where you have more room for experimenting). Maybe a slightly more experimental self of me took over. This could be because these are substitutions, and already an attempt to break the norm :).
I will be sure to try these substitutions again and report back to you on how it worked and what I did better to get the consistency right, not just the great taste I got and in the altered form. Having said that, I had a lot of fun this time being part of the FSB initiative, enjoyed the hard work and the challenges I had to overcome (phew!). Hope that I have not let the team down by pulling a stunt and not figuring out what went wrong and fixing it, but instead, that I have shared with you, a fun experience I had. I have continued determination to make these egg substitutions work well, and hope to try some of the other options too. Thanks again to Madhuri and other Free Spirit Bloggers for the company, and for being part of inspiring me to start this blog.