A couple of days ago I received my copy of “Plate to Pixel,” a food photography & styling guide written by food-porn queen, Helen Dujardin a.k.a. ‘Tartlette’. It is hard not to drool over the exquisitely styled creations on her blog. When I say ‘drool’, I mean that her pictures make me want to create something as beautiful, and present it in such a way that it inspires people to try my vegan recipes. Tartelette was one of the blogs I started reading when I just broke into the blogging scene, and till today it remains my favourite for its photography and engaging style of writing. It seems to me that having maintained a top blog for the past so many years, turning an author was only a natural step for Helene. Her book maintains the same open, friendly style that takes me back to her site repeatedly. I have not finished reading the book as I am absorbing the ideas suggested for better photography and one of the things she emphasizes on, apart from the obvious such as ISO, aperture, shutter speed settings of the camera and lighting techniques, is styling. I need to practice a lot to get to her level but I am determined to be there someday.
I went to bed curled with the book and it must ave played on my sub-conscious mind, because next morning I got up, very enthused, very inspired – all set with ribbons and scissors to photograph a dessert. Only there was no dessert to be photographed! The cloudy skies and fairy light that prevails on a slightly-rainy day helped maintain the fervour and I quickly made this delicious tea cake I often make using seasonal fruits available in my area. I tried setting up the atmosphere like the book said and hope it tells you our breakfast stories.
We have desserts for breakfast quite often. Primarily, because desserts are best enjoyed, not after a meal but on their own. Secondly, I am a morning person and at my energetic best when the climate is pleasant. All said and done, I never get a chance to photograph the desserts I make in the evening and discovered the above two excuses for making them for breakfast! I still use natural light and after getting back from work there is no way I can get decent shots.
This dessert is a relatively healthy cake. I say ‘relatively’ because no matter which oil you use, it is ‘oil’ at the end and excessive consumption will have ill effects. Another word of caution – the cake is tasty and is best made in small portions. Yet, it is healthy as it uses wholewheat, flaxseed powder and powdered jaggery as its base.
All the ingredients that went in except for the fruits are organic. Plums are juicy, fresh and easily available right now. I buy these and lychee by dozens but they get over in a trice! P has been asking me to make pflaumkuchen but I made this instead. It is as good. I wanted to incorporate lychees but Jr.P and Jr.H won’t listen. They say lychees look best styled on a tart. They too have been browsing your book, Helene!
This recipe like most other bakes I post, has been veganized from a vegetarian recipe. Someone recently asked me whether I have any original recipes. I do not know anyone who has. A new recipe comes out of a modified / experimented-upon existing recipe, and one can at the most take credit for the form it takes after such modification. Many a time I admit that I rejoice when I see that a few modifications do lead to something more delicious than the actual recipe. I believe it is a result of intuition, experience and a fair amount of luck, but a lot of credit still lies with the recipe that forms the base. Today’s recipe is a modification from the ‘Apple and plum cake with almonds’ which appears in ‘Cakes and Bakes’, a hamlyn publication. The book is my sister’s and since she does not use her oven I haven’t returned it yet. The book has delicious cake and cookie recipes and they always turn out well. What I like is that none of the recipes call for difficult icing. I find icing a daunting task!
The original recipe calls for apples, eggs, refined sugar and flaked almonds. I have added powdered hazelnuts to the flour as I find that the cake becomes lighter and tastier.
Recipe: Wholewheat Pear and plum cake with hazelnuts (Vegan)
Serves 4 persons if taken as dessert, and 2 if had as breakfast
Recipe adapted from: Pg.64, Cakes and Bakes
Wholewheat flour – 125g / 1 cup + 1tbsp.
Powdered hazelnuts – 3tbsps.
Baking powder (aluminium free) – 6g / 1tsp.
Powdered jaggery – 85g / approx. 3/4 cup
Flaxseed powder/flaxmeal – 8g / 1tbsp. whisked in 3tbsp. warm water
Orange rind – 1 tsp.
Canola oil / any neutral oil – 3/4 cup (I forgot to measure in weight)
Non-dairy milk (I used cashew milk) – 3/4 to 1 cup (please go by the consistency)
Ripe but firm pear, diced small – 1/4 cup
Indian plums, pitted and diced small – 4 nos.
Hazelnuts, halved or quartered – 3 tbsps.
(All ingredients need to be at room temperature)
Oven temperature and baking time: 160 deg. C. for 30minutes or till firm.
In a blender / grinder, place flour, hazelnut flour, and baking powder. Give it a good whirl till the ingredients blend together uniformly. Empty into a mixing bowl and set aside.
In the same blender pour the whisked flaxmeal, oil, orange rind, and milk, and blend well till a fairly uniform emulsion forms. Set aside.
Prepare a suitable cake tin, about 4 x 4 or two 3 inch deep springform tins like I did. Pre-heat oven at 180 deg. C for ten minutes.
Gently fold the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. The batter should resemble muffin batter, not pourable but not dry and a little sticky. Scatter the fruits and fold in gently. Do not mix roughly.
Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared pans. It won’t spread very well as it is not of pourable consistency but try and level it with a spoon without pressing much. Scatter the halved nuts over the cake.
Bake for about 30 minutes or till the cake is firm to touch.
Cool in the tin for about ten minutes and turn out gently onto a wire rack. The cake remains firm but has to be transferred very gently as it breaks if handled too much.
Serve as it is or with vegan cream. Tastes very very good. Do not leave out the rind as it adds a good flavour.