Baking : Borma (Cob Oven) Tales

Who doesn’t like crisp biscuits, rich cakes and other baked snacks? We do. But the normal baked fare available everywhere is made using ‘Maida’ or refined flour. Maida is neither healthy nor a necessity. It can be replaced a 100% by whole wheat flour, millet flours, rice flour etc.

Right from the time Hiranya could understand we told her that though tasty the baked goodies in the omnipresent ‘bakeries’ were not good for our health. Occasionally we did indulge in them. We also bought healthier alternatives whenever we could. We also made traditional snacks at home so that the children do not feel deprived. A sustainable solution to this was to make our own baked snacks.

All our plans of life at Sarang featured a wood-burning cob oven. This past year we finished a small new kitchen complete with an oven. It is made with sieved mud mixed with jute strands. The floor was laid with half foot of pebbles. This along with a door keeps the heat in. There is a chimney to pull out the smoke.

It has been finished for a while now, but we were procrastinating on using it. Today, we did! And with great results considering the lack of a temperature measuring device and proper baking utensils. We looked up two simple whole wheat recipes for biscuits on the internet. One was a whole wheat/ragi combination and the other was for coconut biscuits.

IMG_5332 IMG_5333Gautham fired the oven. I had the mix ready and put them in once the fire had died down leaving only hot coals. The coals should have been taken out but I was a little scared so I just pushed them to the sides.

The whole wheat/ragi biscuits got completely charred but the coconut cookies turned out quite well. As I write, a second batch of coconut cookies are getting baked. We are overwhelmed by how easy the whole process was and how tasty the biscuits were!

We hope to continue baking, maybe even breads, the most difficult to turn out.IMG_5343 IMG_5337

Here are the recipes we used:

Whole Wheat/Ragi Biscuits

Whole wheat flour – ¾ cup
Ragi Flour – ¼ cup
Sugar – ½ cup
Ghee – ½ cup
Vanilla essence – ½ tsp

  1. Preheat the oven to 275 degree Celsius.
  2. Sieve the flours.
  3. Blend the flours with sugar and ghee in a mixie into a smooth dough.
  4. Brush the baking sheet with butter or ghee or oil.
  5. Roll the dough into round balls.
  6. Flatten them with the palm to shape.
  7. Place an inch apart on the baking sheet.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes.

The original recipe called for cardamom powder which I did not have and so replaced with natural vanilla essence.

Coconut Cookies
( )

Whole wheat flour – ½ cup
Sugar – ¼ cup
Grated coconut – ¼ cup
Unsalted butter or ghee or coconut oil – ¼ cup
Salt – a pinch
Vanilla essence – ½ tsp
Milk – 1 Tbsp or a needed
Grated coconut for garnish

  1. Preaheat oven to 180 degree Celsius.
  2. Powder sugar.
  3. Cream butter, ghee or coconut oil with powdered sugar.
  4. Add vanilla essence and salt and mix well.
  5. Add flour and grated coconut and combine.
  6. Sprinkle milk and make smooth, soft dough.
  7. Divide into 10-12 round balls.
  8. Flatten with palm to shape.
  9. Dip top into grated coconut and place on baking tray one inch apart.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes.
  11. The soft cookies will firm when they cool.