Gluten free , low fat and low sugar. That too a natural brown sugar.
Does that sound like a dampener in cake spirits? In fact with all the healthy ingredients the cake still tastes rich. Ragi millet flour is used instead of cake flour and the fruits are replaced by grated carrots and grated sweet potatoes. At a time when heavily decorated fruit cakes are raining left, right and center, in the blog world and in the markets all around, this cake might look like a tad boring but you would know when you have taken a bite. You would keep on munching on this cake and yet not worry about the muffin top your waist is going to get during the festive season.
A filling breakfast daily with these slices and milk will keep you away from hunger pangs in the mid morning and the rich taste would make it sure you don't grab the next muffin or piece of fruit cake you see around. A lot of cakes and muffins are doing the rounds in offices and homes alike. Don't be cake deprived if you are gluten intolerant or just wanting to have some healthy options.
Ragi millet or Finger millet is a tough grain and the flour is quite grainy too. It gets quite dry after cooking and results in a brittle and crumbly texture if you do not take care to moisten it in some or the other way..
I used a lot of grated carrots and sweet potatoes to make it moist and to bring down the amount of sugar being used. It resulted into a nice rich texture and the sweetness is very very delicate, almost like laced with molasses and spices, just right for the season. My mom and grandmother used to make Ragi laddoo with almost the same ingredients and I turned them into a cake so everybody like to eat them...as kids those Ragi laddoos were forced on us. The cake would make a much favored daily fix of calcium, iron and omega 3s...
I took all the measurements and weights for my blog readers so the recipe would not sound tough to handle. Otherwise I bake with approximate measurements using any of the spoons and cups around. Usually i make a loaf of this cake, this time I baked it in a tray so the browned crust is more for each piece, the crust is tastier so i planned to get more crust per piece...the recipe makes 42 squares of cake,35-40 gm each.
Ragi flour (can be substituted with flours of other millets too) 2 Cup or 280 gm
brown natural sugar(shakkar or boora or grated jaggery) 1 cup or 130 gm
grated carrots (I used red winter carrots) 2 cups packed or 160 gm
grated sweet potatoes (I used Indian white flesh variety) 2 cups packed or 190 gm
walnuts 1 cup or 120 gm or you can use more (chopped in small bits)
fine grated ginger 2 tbsp
baking powder 1.5 tsp
baking soda 1 tsp
dry ginger powder 2 tsp
cinnamon powder 1 tsp
clove powder 1/2 tsp
nutmeg grated 1/2 tsp
red chilly powder 1/2 tsp (optional)
grated orange zest 2 tbsp
ghee (clarified butter) 3/4 cup
yogurt 100 gm (I used a packet of Amul masti dahi)
Mix the ragi flour, baking powder, baking soda, walnuts, dry ginger powder and other spice powders in a dry bowl.
Now add the dry mixed ingredients in to the egg-yogurt mix and fold in nicely. It's a gooey mixture of very very dark color. Night time pictures make the situation worse :-)
The mixture turns heavier to fold and the consistency remains like a muffin batter. Add some more yogurt or milk if you feel the batter is dry.
Pour on a greased baking tray , spread evenly with the help of a spatula as the batter is quite thick.
I cut a strip of this cake right in the midnight when it was ready and this is the picture of the warm temptation.
Eating the cake straight out of the baking pan when the aroma of the baked cake is still in the air is a treat actually. Something really greedy and wicked. The warmth of spices alive and kicking in the air. Late night snacking is never more tempting than this. I usually bake my cakes and breads in the night as that is the time when there are no phone calls, no visitors and no disturbances.
There is something very crucial with cakes baked using Ragi flour. As i said, the flour results in a very dry texture when baked or cooked and there is a grainy bite to it that many people find repulsive.
Even i used to hate those Ragi ladoos in my childhood just because of this reason.
Adding the sweet potatoes along with carrots solves this problem in a way that it's almost unbelievable. The two ingredients are not visible in the baked cake and become melded with the hearty flour in such a manner that the very character of the flour is modified. The texture is provided just by the walnuts , a pleasant nutty taste and you can add more walnuts or other nuts if you like.
The use of ghee is also a personal choice and you can always use butter, just take care to increase the amount by a tablespoon , or may be more if you wish. it will definitely make the cake more moist. I prefer the sweet potato and yogurt trick to make this Ragi cake moist and soft.
You can use other millet flours and the cake turns out great every time. I have used whole wheat and Jowar (Sorghum) flour and a mixture of flours that i often use for my chapatis. Just take care to add the required amount of grated carrots and sweet potatoes for softer cakes every time. This cake is mildly sweet as the natural brown sugar i used has lesser sweetness, you can add a little more sugar if you wish.
Bake muffins with the same batter if you are feeling fancy or a loaf if a loaf pan is handy. It will be the same yummy hearty cake every time. Satisfying to the hilt.
What flour are you using for this cake ??