It’s not my first attempt at making cake from condensed milk. My last trial was only moderately successful so I hesitated for a moment before picking up the tin of sweetened condensed milk from my kitchen counter. I stared at it hard and told myself the result had better be terrific this time.

Since it was to be an eggless cake I was even more doubtful about the texture and overall taste. If eggs could not make the cake airy and spongy, how on earth would I achieve the effect by banishing them altogether? Well, forget about the eggs. This cake turned out soft and spongy alright. 

I threw in the last on my jumbo sized unsalted almonds [finely ground and toasted] as an afterthought to give it a slight nutty flavour. Almonds were introduced to me not as a baking ingredient but as a tiny seed with lotsa health benefits.  As a kid I was regularly given 4-5 unblanched almonds at breakfast or as a snack. They were also present in most milk-based favorites like kheer, barfi, ras malai, halwa, kulfi and other desserts.

The actual versatility of almonds struck me when I got started with my cooking and baking experiments. I discovered with delight their different forms and uses in a variety of cuisines. The eggless almond cake featured today [adapted from Anushruti’s wonderful blog, Divine Taste – Feed Your Body, Mind and Soul] has a hint of the delicate almond flavour that make you reach for more. I guiltily admit that I had trouble stopping myself from eating more than my fair share of this simple yet powerfully addictive cake.

EGGLESS ALMOND CAKE

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup self raising flour

1/2 cup almond meal

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tin [400g] sweetened condensed milk

100g unsalted butter, melted

3/4 cup milk

2 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 150ºC. Line a 9×9 inch baking pan with baking paper.
  • Sift flour, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. Stir in almond meal/ ground almonds or any other nut of your choice.
  • In another bowl, beat together condensed milk, melted butter, milk and vanilla extract for 1-2 minutes until well combined.
  • I used 1 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1/4 tsp almond extract to bring out the subtle flavour of almonds. Vanilla and caramel combi is also nice.

  • Pour liquid mixture into dry ingredients and beat well so that all ingredients are nicely blended and no lumps are seen.
  • Do not overmix. Pour batter in prepared pan and level the surface.
  • Sprinkle with slivered or roughly chopped almonds if desired.

  • Bake for 1 hour or until skewer comes out clean from centre of cake.
  • Leave to cool in pan for 5 minutes before inverting on wire rack.
  • Cool cake completely and dust with icing sugar. Makes 16 pieces.

Today we celebrated Ram Nawmi, the birth of Lord Ram by performing a special puja/ prayer lasting till noon.  Bhajans[devotional songs]as well as experts of the Ramayana are chanted in every mandir as worshippers line up to pay their obeisance to Lord Rama’s idol. Worshippers also offer flowers, incense sticks and fruits[esp coconuts and bananas]that they take back home at the end of the ceremony.

This explains why I have one whole coconut [husk removed and cut into pieces] lurking in my freezer in a large ziplock bag. And as I happened to have a vegan recipe bookmarked from Vegan Sweet Tooth for some very good looking coconut muffins, I felt it was perfect time to put the ingredient to good use. The fresher, the better.

It may be hard to believe but this recipe uses neither butter nor eggs making it a particularly healthy one. Fat [and flavour] comes from coconut milk and surprisingly gives a light cakey texture speckled with bits of shredded fresh coconut. Vegan Sweet Tooth mentions adding pineapple chunks to the batter to turn them into piña colada muffins which should make them even more irresistible. I know I’ll be making them again – with the pineapple! 

COCONUT MUFFINS

 

Ingredients:

2 cups self raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 cup coconut milk

1/3 cup applesauce

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp coconut extract

1/2 cup shredded coconut

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper cups.
  • Stir flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a large bowl.
  • In another bowl, combine coconut milk with applesauce, vanilla extract and coconut extract together until well blended.
  • Make a well in dry ingredients and add wet ingredients. Stir until just combined and fold in shredded coconut. Do not overmix.

  • Spoon batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle coconut on top if desired.
  • Bake for 30 minutes until skewer comes out clean from centre.
  • Turn out on wire rack and cool completely before serving.
  • Makes 15 regular or 12 large muffins.

I did not have applesauce so I made my own from 3 large golden apples, peeled, cored and simmered in 1/2 cup water with a stick of cinnamon and 1 tsp lemon juice. After some 20 minutes, the apples were tender enough to be mashed into purée with a fork. Do not taste your applesauce; you’ll probably finish it off before you remember why you made it in the first place 🙂

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