Tag Archives: baking


“A baker should never let distance stand in the way of sharing.” – Flo Braker

banana cake

My mom was doing a visit to her youngest sister in Bombay who is convalescing from a period of illness.

I have the fondest memories of this precious aunt. She was the star in the family. Growing up, I was always asked to look up to her, and with good reason…

Quite an all rounder in her time, she was equally good in academics and sports. A sprightly character with a care free attitude. she was pretty too, with her flawless skin and petite structure. And, she had deep sensitivity toward others.

We were a joint family of seven in a tiny Bandra flat, all of us huddled together, like a bunch of fresh sardines, set to be sold in the local market.

Night times were great. My grand dad and grand mom would occupy the small bed on the side of the wall, my mom and another sister on the adjascent little bed, my uncle under the table near the kitchen, and my youngest aunt and I, in the middle of the room, on a mattress with pillows. She would fervently sing to me each night, melodies of the mid seventies, in her not so melodious voice. I thought nobody could sing better…it provided an overwhelming sense of security. Soon after, my parents shifted base to Kerala, and I missed her bitterly then.

When I had my Summer hols and we did trips to Bombay, she and I would religiously go together to the Paan shop, buy 2 meeta paans each (sans the thambaakku), and stick them to the farthest corner of our mouths. We’d viciously grind those beetle juices with our teeth, extracting every sweetish pungent flavour, and aim for the next big gutter to see who would shoot best. She would laugh heartily at the lightest jokes and it would take her a while to get her bearings back. We had to wait for her to finish enjoying the gleeful moment! Life’s precious and fleeting flavors, sigh!

So, my mom was going to Bombay and I threw myself into making two of my aunt’s favourite cakes…A Carrot cake and, her absolute favorite, Banana cake.

Now when it comes to a good banana cake, ”we want it moist, we want it delicious”, quoting Peter Reinhart from “Crust and Crumb”, and that is all.

Have tried many variations in the past, and nothing matched up…it was either too bready or it was too dense.

We have fantastic baby bananas in Kerala, one of the most delicious and varied flavours that the Earth can offer. And I wanted to maximise on it.

Banana cake

This recipe is from Joanne Chang, from her book, Flour.
Here is the recipe, it has soft and warm flavours, and is not bready.

Flour’s Famous Banana Bread, Re-printed with permission.

Makes one 9 – inch loaf


210 gm  All purpose Flour, 1 1/2 cups

1 tsp Baking Soda

1/4 tsp Cinnamon

1/2 tsp Salt

2 Eggs

230 gms Sugar, 1 Cup + 2 Tbs

100 gms Canola Oil, 1/2 cup

340 gms Mashed Bananas, 1 1/2 cups

2 Tbs Sour Cream

1 tsp Vanilla

75 gms  Walnuts, 3/4 cup

banana cake


Position a rack in the centre of the oven, and heat the oven to 325 degrees F ( 162.78 degrees Celsius).  Butter a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan.

In a bowl, sift together Cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment,( or a hand held mixer), beat together the sugar and eggs on medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. If you use a hand held mixer, the same step will take about 8 minutes.

On low speed, slowly drizzle in the oil. Don’t pour the oil in all at once. Add it slowly so it has time to incorporate into the eggs and doesn’t deflate the air you have just beaten into the batter. Adding it should take about one minute. Add the bananas, sour cream and vanilla, and continue to mix on low speed just until combined.

Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture and the nuts just until  thoroughly combined. No flour streaks should be visible and the nuts should be evenly distributed.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hrs. or until golden brown on top and and  the centre springs back when you press it. If your fingers sinks when you poke the bread, it needs to bake a little longer. Let cool in the pan or wire rack for atleast 30 minutes and then pop it out of the pan to finish cooling.

The Banana Bread can be stored tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temp for upto 3 days. Or it can be well wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for upto 2 weeks. Thaw overnight at room temp for serving.

Thanks for stopping by…

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Posted by on July 25, 2015 in recipe


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Rosemary Olive Oil Knots – My Take

I love to bake because its fun and relaxing, and because baking,to me,is all about sharing something special with family and friends– Nick Malgieri, The Modern Baker

My dad requested for the Rosemary Olive Oil Knots again. He said it tasted unique, and my mom seemed to love it too. Last week when I first made it, it seemed a lil chewy for me – though it did have that compelling taste that draws you back to these rolls. But then again, it could be a cultural thing…am a Malayalee you see, and like most Malayalees, I like my bread soft – really soft – like a Milk Bread.

Rosemary Olive Oil Knots
Was wondering if potato water would solve the problem, so I instantly popped the question on Roses’ forum,

where you get expert advice on Cake, cookies, pie and Bread related queries… ‘Potato water may not alone suffice’,came the prompt revert, try adding boiled potatoes as well. That did it! My chewy bread problem was solved.

Please bear in mind it is a lean dough and therefore does not have a custardy soft crumb, but is soft enough. It has a firm crust and paired great with some Garlic paste a friend sent across… tastes great with Cheese too.

The recipe is from Nick Malgieri’s book, The Modern Baker, pg no.88

Ingredients (reprinted with permission) – Rosemary Olive Oil Knots:

3 1/2 cups all purpose Flour (spoon flour into a dry measure cup and level)

2 tsp salt (had some Garlic salt on hand so i used that)

2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

1 1/2 cup warm water, abt 110°F, 45°C

3 Tbsp Olive Oil

For the Filling

1/2 cup pitted Olives, cut into 1/4 inch pieces

3 Tbsp chopped Rosemary leaves (had only dried Parsley, so I used that)

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 cookie sheet or jelly roll pan lined with parchment or foil

Rosemary Olive Oil Knots

Preparation – Rosemary Olive Oil Knots

Combine salt and flour in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse several times to mix. Or you can do it by hand which is how I did it.

Whisk the yeast into the water and whisk in the oil. Pour the liquid into the processor bowl and pulse until the dough forms a ball.Let rest for 10 minutes and then let the machine run continuously for 15 seconds.

Invert the food processor bowl over a lightly floured work surface to turn out the dough. Carefully remove the blade and transfer any dough on it to the surface.

Fold the dough over itself several times with the help of a bench scraper. Turn the dough into an oiled bowl and turn the dough over so that the top is oiled. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise until it has doubled in bulk, 1 hr.

Scrape the dough to a floured work surface and lightly flour the top of the dough.

Pat the dough into a 10 inch (25 cm)square. Fold the dough into thirds and slide both hands under it, palms up and flat, and lift it to a floured cookie sheet. Unfold the dough, even out the shape, refrigerate until it firms up, abt 1 hr.

While the dough is chilling prepare the filling: Place the olives, Rosemary, Oil and pepper in a small bowl and stir to combine.

When the dough is firm, remove it from the refrigerator,leaving it on the pan or cutting board.

Evenly distribute filling on the bottom half of the dough. Fold the top half of the dough down over the filling w/o pulling onto it or stretching it, and press well with the palm of your hands to adhere.

Cut the dough into 12 equal strips,each about 2 cm wide and 5 inches long. Set the prepared pan next to the dough. One at a time, loosely knot the strips of dough, letting one end of the strip protrude slightly at the top and arranging the other end under the roll.

Transfer them to the prepared pan, leaving room for expansion.

Cover the pan with a towel and let the rolls rise until they have doubled in size, abt 1 hr.

About 20 minutes before the rolls are completely risen, set a rack in the middle of the oven and pre-heat to 400°F or 200°C.

Bake the rolls until they are well risen,deep golden and firm to the touch, about 30 minutes.Slide the rolls on parchment paper onto a rack to cool.


Keep the rolls loosely covered with plastic wrap on the day they are baked. Bag and freeze for longer storage. Defrost and reheat at 350°F (180°C) for 5-6 minutes, and cool before serving.

You may also steam them and use the next day.

There are different kinds of egg washes you may use on your bread to get the desired effect, do check the  Roses’ blog for the glazes for bread thread, they are awesome hints to help you achieve the right kinda crust.

Rosemary Olive Oil Knots


This dough has a high level of hydration which may be a challenge if you are baking bread for the first time. Make sure you put the dough in the fridge after the first rise and in between shaping it into rolls or knots. Also do oil your hands before shaping so you can shape them easily.

I weighed my dough pieces,70 grams each,and found them to be a good size when I served them.

I used a whole boiled potato and mixed it with the flour and used warm potato water to the yeast.

Hope you enjoy the Rosemary Olive Oil Knots! Thanks for stopping by…

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Posted by on November 21, 2012 in Uncategorized


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