Friday, March 28, 2008

Sweet and Salubrious

Back to breakfast! All the new-and-improved breakfast treats I tried so far this month have been savory, in a frank display of my personal preferences. But every once in a while, I do crave a little sweet something to go along with my morning chai.

Today's whole-grain tweak: Using whole-wheat pastry flour and almond meal for baked goodies. Whole-wheat pastry four is a low-gluten flour of finely milled whole wheat. I started using it only this month, and am I loving it! It is the perfect substitute for all-purpose flour in a variety of popular breakfast foods like pancakes, coffee cake, biscotti and muffins. Apparently, it works even in a decadent chocolate cake!

Almond meal is nothing but almonds that are ground to a flour. I got mine at Trader Joe's, but of course it can be made it home by simply blitzing down almonds to a fine powder. Nut flours can go real rancid real fast, so I store it in the refrigerator. Almond meal is becoming more commonly available because it is a useful flour replacer for those who are on a low-carb or gluten-free diet. Almond meal can be creatively used in all kinds of sweet treats like apple crisp, cherry clafoutis, lemon ricotta-almond cake and also in savory recipes like Kalyn's breakfast muffins.

In a bid to use up some buttermilk left over from this recipe, I used the proportions given in this Vegetarian Times recipe to come up with a simple pear and almond loaf. Grated pears add a beautiful moist and sweet touch to this cake.

Pear Almond Loaf

2008_60

Ingredients:
1 ½ firm medium Pears
1 T Lemon juice

2 large Eggs
½ C Sugar

Dry Ingredients (mix together)
1 ½ Whole-wheat pastry flour
¾ C Almond meal
1 ½ t Baking powder
½ t Baking soda

Wet Ingredients (mix together)
¾ C low-fat cultured Buttermilk
2 T Applesauce
2 T Oil
1 t Vanilla extract (or almond extract)

Almond slivers for garnish

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 350F and grease/spray a loaf pan.
2. Coarsely grate the pears (you need about 1 cup), add the lemon juice and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, beat together eggs and sugar for several minutes until the mixture is pale and fluffy.
4. Add the dry and wet ingredients alternately, a third of each at a time, into the egg-sugar mixture and mix gently.
5. Press the extra liquid out of the grated pears and stir them into the batter.
6. Pour batter into the loaf pan evenly. Sprinkle with slivered almonds. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the top is golden and an inserted toothpick comes clean. Let it cool before slicing.

Verdict: What a spongy and delicious loaf this is! The rich almond flavor was unmistakable. The loaf rose just beautifully and I got that coveted crease on top. The almond slivers did add a pretty touch and a great crunch to the loaf (IMHO) but they sure made it a challenge to cut neat slices. I found it easier to turn the loaf on its side and cut that way. Cut into thin slices or thick wedges, this is a great loaf to pack into a lunch-box or take along on a picnic, or to serve with your favorite beverage. Instead of pears, other fruits like apple or ripe banana would work just as well, as would chopped dried fruits like dates or figs.

This post is making its way to Raaga's blog, where pears are being celebrated as the fruit of the month!

40 comments:

  1. Whole wheat flour instead of maida? Now, that's interesting.

    I so want to bake cake, but don't want to use maida. Do you think I can use whole flour and still end up with spongy cakes?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anamika, whole-wheat *pastry* flour is specifically designed for baked goods. It yields tender and spongy products because it is milled very fine and because it has a low protein content. Regular whole wheat flour may not work the same way, but you can always experiment. I don't know where you are located. The products I mentioned can be found in the US but that may not be the case in other places.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sounds like a lovely combination!

    ReplyDelete
  4. cake looks very good, Nupur!
    i too love that almond flour in muffins etc and feel it is especially good in eggless bakes.
    hv recently started using whole grain pastry flour. am still not sure if there is any diff bet'n ww pastry & whole grain pastry?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Nupur, the pear-almond loaf looks delectable. I'm a long-time convert to whole-wheat pastry flour. Since I started using it, I've never found the need for all-purpose flour in any baked goods except in the most delicate cakes and cookies.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh wow! The bread looks simply delicious.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I totally agree. I replace about 1/4 portion of flour with almond meal in cakes and muffins. Boy, the flavour they impart is unbelievable. There is an almond chocolate cake in Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert. Its unbelievably good.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This looks like a delicious and healthy way to start the day -- but that also would be delicious with afternoon tea. Trader Joe's never ceases to amaze me with the variety of their product.

    ReplyDelete
  9. That is really sweet, indeed! The bake looks really tempting. I must drop by for the evening chai :-D. I love almond meal. There is this old fashioned Punjabi winter time chai recipe that uses ground almonds :-D. Quite a treat, if you ask me-and very rustic! Btw, the buttermilk bread from last week was a total delight-loved every bite of it! Thanks a ton for the lovely recipe, Nupur!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Nupur never heard of almond meal, cake looks yum, How is dale dear doing? Haven't seen his pics in a while

    ReplyDelete
  11. Ohhhh!! Gorgeous!! would SO luv a peice of that!!! Am off sweets now :((, so I hv to be content at just drooling over this!! sigh!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. This sounds so good Nupur! Maybe you could even swap a little homemade pear-sauce (I imagine you could make that small amount very quickly in the microwave) for the applesauce.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Nupur!!I so want to taste that cake with my afternoon tea. It was be heavenly right!! and so healthy!!!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Anjali, IMHO= In My Humble Opinion

    evolvingtastes, yes, pear and almond is a classic combination (for instance, pear and almond tart).

    Richa, I should try almond meal in some eggless baked goods! I need to use up my stash soon :) From what I know, whole wheat pastry flour is sometimes labeled whole-grain pastry flour. But the label should tell you whether your whole grain pastry flour is made up of only wheat or has some other grains as well..

    Vaishali, I started using whole-wheat pastry flour only recently...but better late than never! I agree completely with you- I will be saving AP flour for only a very few select recipes that I don't make often. For regular baked goods, this works so well!

    TheCooker, I was very very pleased with the taste. It is more cake than bread though :)

    Suganya, the flavor of almond meal in baked goods really is so rich and special. Almond choc cake sounds oh-so-good. I am going to have to find that recipe!

    Lydia, it was completely delicious with afternoon tea :) Yes, I am really happy to have a TJs nearby and get a chance to try a lot of wonderful products. Like dried dragon fruit! :D

    Musical, you are all talk :) I'll believe it only when you show up for chai one day. I'll make this and anything else you like!
    Chai with ground almond. What a concept! Everyday I learn something new from you. Glad the buttermilk bread worked out :)

    Sreelu, if you like to bake, almond meal is a nice thing to have at hand. Thanks for asking about Dale :) he is doing a lot better this week and says arf-woof (hello)!

    Manasi, oh dear :( well, take care of yourself.

    Cathy, pear sauce is an excellent idea! :) I should try making some in the microwave to see how it turns out.

    Padmaja, I did love the taste. And yes, I think it is more nutritious than most baked goods (still an occasional treat, though) :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Nupur, you rock at baking! No doubt!!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Great loaf....looks so perfect & good. I am driving by to your place today to get my share!!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Nupur wah! The cake-bread looks droolworthy, your description of tastes makes me want to bake it too!
    Neat! :D

    ReplyDelete
  18. I'm more of a savory breakfast too but about 3 or 4 days a month I just need a muffin or something sweet.
    I see you shop at Trader Joes- I love that place. Thanks for the quick info on nut flours, I wouldn't have thought to put it in the fridge and I'm sure it would spoil before I got full use of it!

    Teddy

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thanks for this lovely entry Nupur.

    I added almond cashew powder to my carrot cake and it was great. Next, I'll try this. It looks so yummy.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Nupur, I've been busy, and away from your blog for a while. I dropped in yesterday, and saw I had a lot of catching up to do! But when I saw that pear-almond cake, I knew I HAD to make it right away, so that's what I did today. It was delicious, perfect for the dreary, wet, weather we're having - and it seems to be quite healthy too - at least, compared to most baked goods!
    Kamini.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Nupurrrrrr
    absolutely wonderful to chance upon your blog...i was randomly searching for frankie recipes and came across your mouthwatering site and suddenly i was like...WAITAMINUTE...I KNOW THIS GIRL!!!!:D
    thanks for the great recipe! i'll have you know i did make the frankies (amongst other dishes) and won best food award for the competition:)
    you're quite the celeb i see! totally love your blog and those pictures are just totally delightful! yumyumyum...
    keep 'em coming!
    (in case you're wondering, Kanika from Xaviers!)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi Nupur, very nice recipe, jus saw your blog, u do have wonderful recipes :))

    ReplyDelete
  23. That is even better than any professional baker bakes.
    Photograph is very tempting Nupur. Nice entry with Pears :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. almond flour...i need to start using that more often.

    i know it can be made at home, but i'm always scared i'm going to blitz my almonds right into almond paste.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I envy your courage in the baking department, Nupur! I just got King Arthur's white whole wheat (regular, not pastry) flour the other day and thought of you. Another batch of your yummy sub rolls is in order for that, but now I can see I have to find some pears and try this, too :)

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi!

    I am new to blogs itself and it was my luck I would say that I came across yours and thank you so much for such wonderful recipes. So far I cooked becos I must but after going thru yours I really want to cook and you are going to see mee often in your blogs

    ReplyDelete
  27. Nags, you mean my baked goods have the taste and texture of rocks?!! :D Thank you for that sweet comment, my dear!

    Seema, I will make this loaf for you happily! Seriously! Just tell me when you want to stop by.

    Purnima, well, it is not that hard to make, if you do decide to bake it :)

    Teddy, Yes, I do shop at Trader Joe's often and really like some of the stuff they sell. In fact, the nut flour might be best stored in the freezer (not even the refrigerator) if you don't use it often.

    Raaga, I recently added cashew powder to gajar halwa :) yes, nut flours are so flavorful! Thanks for hosting this event.

    Kamini, how nice to see you!! :) I hope all is well with you. I'm glad you had a chance to try this recipe. Yes, it is a wee bit healthier compared to the average baked good :)

    Kanika, hello! I'm glad you found my blog, and glad you like it. How are you doing? Apart from winning food awards, that is! :)

    Madhavi, thank you!

    Pooja, glad you like it!

    Michelle, well, even if you do blitz them into almond paste, you could use it as almond butter (so tasty!) or make some marzipan : )

    Linda, the baking bug seems to have bitten me, Linda! I keep wanting to bake :D but only these simple recipes, not any elaborate confections.
    Can't wait to see what you make with www flour!

    Radhika, welcome, and I am glad you like this blog. I agree, if you have to cook on a regular basis, you may as well enjoy it.

    ReplyDelete
  28. The cake looks so delicious. Since I'm into eggless baking, I'm thinking of adding mashed bananas. I've tried Indira's carrot cake with bananas, hope it suits this recipe also.

    ReplyDelete
  29. any particular brand of the whole wheat pastry flour?ur cake is tempting, nupur.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hi Napur -- I was lovely meeting you at the potluck. Welcome to St. Louis! I can't wait to try your recipes. -- margaret

    ReplyDelete
  31. I didn't realize TJ's sold almond flour. Thanks for the heads-up, Nupur. And that cake looks terrific, like it's going to leap off the screen. Mmmm.... :)

    ReplyDelete
  32. I do not know when would i see such a lovely bread coming out of my oven......think i shud get some tution from you for baking...:P

    ReplyDelete
  33. the cake looks, soft, moist and totally tempting. didnt know about whole wheat pastry flour. keep learning something new everyday.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Amy (Miss Food Snob)April 05, 2008 10:27 AM

    I can't wait to try this loaf! I love breakfast the best, even though Jeff could just as soon go without. I'm really enjoying all your breakfast foods.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Madhuram, if you are into eggless baking, you could look into trying ground-up flaxseeds as an egg substitute. Mashed bananas might also work well- perhaps you could add some extra baking powder to make up for the lightness that eggs give to baked goods. If you do experiment with this recipe, let us know how it works so that others could learn from your experience :) Thanks!

    Mallugirl, the brand I used here is 365 (store brand of Whole Foods). I just bought my second bag of whole-wheat pastry flour and this time it is Bob's Red Mill- have not used it yet. I doubt there is much difference between the brands (or that I am sensitive enough to detect it!) :)

    Margaret, it was so wonderful meeting you too :) I'm enjoying your blog!

    Susan, the TJs in my area sells it, and I hope yours does too. If not, I am sure you will find it in natural food stores. I think you will enjoy using it :)

    Bhags, contact me for easy breezy lazy baking ;) anything more elaborate and spectacular, contact the Daring Bakers :D

    Priyanka, if you like baking, whole-wheat pastry flour is worth seeking out...tastes great and so much more nutritious than all-purpose.

    Amy, it takes mere minutes to put together and tastes divine :) Let me know how you like it, if you do try it. Glad to know you are a breakfast lover too!!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Amazing blog Nupur. The recipes look great!

    Radhika.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Nupur:
    I got to taste the almond you made a couple days ago, thanks to a common friend of ours! It was incredible. My husband, a very picky eater, absolutely loved it.

    -R.

    ReplyDelete
  38. R, I think I know who this common friend is :) I am so glad you and your husband enjoyed this almond loaf! It is so easy and fun to make. I sure appreciate your feedback :)

    ReplyDelete
  39. Hi Nupur
    I tried out the combination of pear and almond meal in my eggless cake recipe and the result was a super moist and delicious cake. My daughter has specifically asked for that cake to be her birthday cake. Thanks for the inspiration!

    http://veggiefoodist.blogspot.com/2008/06/she-dreams-in-frosting.html
    .....I usually use whole wheat flour for my baked goodies but the almond meal idea is inspired from the amazing blog-One Hot Stove’s Pear and Almond Loaf, (I did try that combination in my eggless recipe and it was the moistiest cake- Thanks Nupur) It works really well in this carrot cake and adds a good doses of healthy fats, protein and Vitamin E.......

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to say hello!