Ever since my elder daughter, Zoey was born, I have been practicing this ritual of celebrating monthly birthdays of my daughters on the date they were born every month for their first two years. It was my younger daughter, Elina’s 16 month birthday this 8th of July, but my pantry was empty with most of the ingredients I bake with. It was raining heavily outside and to top it all, I was down with a flu. I just didn’t want to skip the celebration because of such trivial issues. I started searching my kitchen and boggling my mind as to what I can get together to bake a cake and make the day special for my little one.
I gathered ingredients like whole wheat flour, ragi flour and jaggery which reminded me of the sweet cheelas and gulgule my mom used to make for us on festivals or on a rainy day. We used to wait for such special occasions and cherished them to the core. But since I wanted to bake a cake for my little one to cut and celebrate, I mixed the ingredients to bake a recipe for a ragi cake. To add some richness to the cake, I added dry fruits that truly enhanced the taste of the cake. The addition of ragi gave a chocolaty color and a nutty flavor to the cake which made the kids happy and the nutritional benefits of ragi made this mother super happy.
Baking with whole wheat flour is healthier, mainly due to the fiber content, which will help stabilize blood sugar levels when consuming sugary pastries. Additionally, dietary fiber prevents constipation, lowers blood cholesterol and promotes weight loss. There is more nutritional value in whole-wheat flour than white flours. Whole-wheat contains more vitamins such as B1, B3 and B5. White flours have the same vitamins but lower in content due to the refining process.
Ragi is a finger millet, which is high in protein and minerals in comparison to all other cereals and millets. Also a source of protein, it is perfect for vegetarians. Finger millets contains important amino acids—isoleucine, leucine, methionine and phenyl alanine which are not present in other starchy meals. It has the highest amount of calcium and potassium. Ragi is a great source of iron making it beneficial for individuals with low haemoglobin levels. Low in fat and gluten free, ragi is good for the stomach and for good digestion. It is therefore, usually given as first food to babies in the form of ragi porridge.
Jaggery is not chemically processed, so it is free from many chemical agents that are involved in industrial manufacturing of white sugar. Jaggery contains natural phyto-chemicals, which activates the digestion and helps in correcting digestive problems. It acts as a blood purifier and helps to eliminate toxins from the body. It helps to boost energy and is an aid for various health ailments.
The outcome of my experiment turned out to be a great hit with kids and husband. Both the kids enjoyed the cake so much that they skipped dinner and had the cake instead. The cake was also the school snack for Zoey the next day. The recipe is a definitely a keepsake. Hope you guys enjoy the recipe and do let me know how it turned out for you. Happy Baking!!
RECIPE FOR RAGI & DRY_FRUITS CAKE:
PREP TIME: 20 minutes
COOK TIME: 40 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 60 minutes (1 hour)
1 cup Whole wheat flour
1/2 cup Ragi flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
4-5 cardamom pods peeled and powdered
3/4 cup jaggery powder
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup milk
3/4 cup finely chopped dry fruits ( walnuts, almonds, cashews)
A handful of raisins dusted in wheat flour
- Sieve whole wheat flour, ragi flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon powder 2 times. Mix well and add cardomom powder. Keep aside.
- Mix jaggery powder, olive oil and half cup of milk in blender till jaggery dissolves.
- Add the remaining milk to jaggery-oil-milk mixture.
- Fold in the flour mixture in step 1 in parts to the wet ingredients in step 3 to get a cake batter consistency. Do not overmix.
- Add half cup of chopped dry fruits and handful of flour covered raisins to the batter and mix gently.
- Let the batter sit for a while till then preheat the oven to 160 degree Celsius.
- Prepare the cake pan by applying oil and dusting flour to the cake pan.
- Add the cake batter to the pan. Decorate the sides of the cake batter with the remaining chopped dry fruits mixture. Pat the pan gently on the kitchen slab to remove any bubbles.
- Bake the cake for 40 min.
- Let the cake cool on wire rack for 5 min and take the cake out. Let it cool completely before frosting. I only used some buttercream frosting for writing the message on the cake to avoid addition of too much sugar but you may frost the cake with buttercream and decorate as you desire.
- Enjoy the cake.