Inspirational People: Harini Prakash | Recipe: Lemon Cake with Mint Syrup
I’ve always talked about how this blog gives back to me much more than I give it–over the years, I have benefited in terms of catharsis, projects, and knowledge, of course. But must of all, I have found a new bunch of friends–people I would have never known otherwise; people who have had an important role to play in the food blogger that I am today.
The Inspirational People series is something I intend to write on a monthly basis to show off my friends and gurus–new and old. I’m kicking off the series with Harini Prakash, Vegan Blogger and one of the most talented food photographers I know.
Considering my recipes are very liberal with the use of dairy and non-vegetarian foods, it may come as a surprise that I am inaugurating the series with a Vegan recipe. This post is more about the person behind the food, though. I may not be vegan, but I do admire the ability to unlearn a lifestyle, give up on things you grew up eating and probably find comfort in and adapt to a whole new thought. I admire the ability to experiment within a certain radius and still produce delicious food and feed it to non-vegans who almost always, can’t even tell the difference!
I clearly remember the day I first landed on Harini’s blog, Tongue Ticklers. I spent hours reading through it and admiring her photographs and then, finally, left her a comment that could not adequately articulate how enamored I was. She responded and over the next few days, we discovered that we lived in the same suburb. With our own busy schedules, though, it was quite a while before we finally met. And yet, when we did, it seemed like we were taking off from a previous conversation left unfinished–that’s how warm and encompassing Harini is. She always greets you with a wide grin and a special treat.
Today, she’s been kind enough to do a recipe for me; here it is: Lemon Cake with Mint Syrup. It sounds gorgeous and her pictures are, as always, beautifully composed. I hope you enjoy this series, dear reader, as I open up a little more of my world to you. Here’s Harini’s post:
Being invited by Saee to do a first time guest post is flattering and humbling. We are practically neighbours as we live in the same city and we have met as often as two good friends busy with their own lives can. When ever we have met, Saee has treated me to good food – amazing food comes closer. Her strawberry jam was a hit with my family, and her mango jam became my favourite. I had it with practically all kinds of food – bhakris, rotis, breads and even crackers! Once when she visited she brought along a jackfruit and cashew subzi. It was one of the best versions of savoury jackfruit preparations I have ever had. We hogged. Saee not only cooks well but is also very generous with portions, which works really well for me. I would like very much to go on, but I promised I would share a recipe.
The recipe I am sharing with you all today is the kind that is usually featured on my blog. It does not contain gluten or milk and the ingredients are all plant based. I must warn you that the cake in texture and taste may or may not be the same as the regular version made with refined flour and butter. That is because gluten and eggs add lift to cakes and achieving the same is always not possible in a vegan cake. Nevertheless, once you start living gluten-free, you will find that these desserts do justice to flavours of the ingredients. Gluten free flours like jowar (sorghum), ragi (millet) and brown rice have nutty taste and they go on to make not only healthy desserts, but also leave better after taste.
Ever since I discovered that my ‘mint and rosehip’ tea does wonders to desserts, it has become a favourite with me. You can substitute with your favourite mint. This cake is dense and is best when served in small portions with a little cream (I used tropolite) on the side.
I have used Italian lemons which are bigger in size, and sweeter than Indian lemons.
Recipe : Vegan sticky lemon cake drizzled with lemon-mint syrup
Yield : Serves 5
- Brown rice flour – 1/3 cup
- Amaranth flour / Rajgira atta – 1/3 cup
- Whole ground almonds with skin – 1/3 cup
- Corn flour – 1 tbsp.
- Baking powder – 1 tsp.
- Baking soda – A generous pinch
- Rind of one Italian lemon
- Raw sugar – 100g / ½ cup
- Fine ground sea salt – A pinch
- Almond oil / Olive oil – ¼ cup
- Water – ¼ cup
- Place all ingredients listed under ‘dry mix’ except lemon rind in a mixer and blend to incorporate ingredients evenly. Remove in a wide mixing bowl and add the lemon rind.
- In a steel saucepan place all the ingredients listed under ‘wet mix’, and heat on low flame till the sugar dissolves. Remove and let it come to room temperature.
- Pre-heat oven to 180 deg. Cel.
- Fold the ‘wet mix’ into the ‘dry mix’. The batter will be of thick lava consistency. If needed add 2-3 tbsps. of water.
- Prepare a 7” tart tin or cake tin, dusted with brown rice flour, and pour the cake batter into it. Tap the tin to spread the batter evenly.
- Bake in the centre of the pre-heated oven at 180 deg. Cel for about 20-25 minutes till the top is golden. Check for burn spots in between baking, after about 15 minutes and rotate the tin as needed and bake further. Check for doneness using a toothpick. Remove the tin and let the cake cool for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile make the syrup:
- Juice from one Italian lemon – About ¼ cup
- Sugar – 2 tsp. or as per taste
- Beans scraped from one vanilla pod
- Dried mint leaves – 1 tsp.
- Place the ingredients in a saucepan and heat till the syrup become sticky and sweet. Filter. Use while warm.
- Make holes all over the lemon cake with a toothpick, space apart by an inch.
- Drizzle about two teaspoons of the syrup all over the cake. You will not need the entire syrup.
- Let the cake absorb the syrup completely.
- The left over syrup can be thinned and the sugar adjusted to make juice.
Slice the cake and serve with a little soy cream or cashew cream. The cake will be a little tangy, and sticky, from the syrup. Since the cake is gluten-free, it will be dense, more like a well-set halwa.
Serve in small portions.