Sunday, July 25, 2021

Ayurvedic Sugar or Gur Shakar | Gurshakar

Used for centuries in India, Gur Shakkar or Jaggery Sugar is an excellent nutritional sweetener. Also known as Ayurvedic Sugar or Punjabi Sugar, it is chock full of all the essential nutrients of sugar cane. Gur Shakkar is made from fresh sugarcane juice which is boiled until it solidifies. This sugar is rich in antioxidants and minerals like magnesium, zinc, and selenium. It also has high levels of iron and calcium. Considered an effective blood purifier, this form of raw sugar can also help with digestive issues. It is especially good for liver detox and helps flush toxins from the body.

Unlike refined sugar, it is not empty calories. In fact, jaggery has a mineral content approximately 50 times greater than that of refined sugar and five times more than brown sugar. You can substitute jaggery for granulated white sugar or brown sugar in many recipes. To achieve equivalent sweetness, you may need to use about one-and-a-half times the amount of jaggery as white sugar. However, I recommend experimenting with the quantity. The unique taste of this sweetener more than makes up for the lighter sweetness. As a rule, instead of 1/2 cup white sugar, I substitute a maximum of 2/3 cup Gur Shakkar.

Ayurvedic Sugar (Gur Shakkar) enhances the taste of milk, tea, coffee, lemonade and any other beverage hot or cold that could use a sweetener. It provides a wonderfully malty flavor to milk, tea, and coffee. I also like to use Gur Shakkar for baking. It enhances the flavor of cookies in which you might consider using brown sugar, molasses, or other kinds of syrups. I have also used it in cakes, especially multigrain ones. You can substitute it for white sugar in many India desserts too, especially Rice Kheer, Sevitan Kheer, Halwa, Laddoo, and many more.

A word to the wise: while this sweetener may provides a healthy energy boost due to it nutritional profile, it nevertheless is still a sweetener and is calorie rich. Like all other sweetness, consume in moderation.

Recipes with Gur Shakkar
All content, text and photographs in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright of © Stocking My Pantry 2021. All Rights Reserved. Kindly do not reproduce without permission.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Vital Wheat Gluten | Essential Wheat Protein

Have you noticed an ingredient called Vital Wheat Gluten (VWG) in baking recipes in your favorite books and cooking sites? If you have, and you don't know what the recipe is asking for or where you can get your hands on it, you are not alone. We don't enjoy the texture or taste of regular white bread in our home. I remember, my Mum always looked out for whole wheat, whole grain, or multi grain breads when we went grocery shopping. When I started baking bread in my home, I always went for recipes with whole grain flour. While I always got a beautiful loaf, indeed just like the one I sometimes buy at our local bakery, I also found that it was also the kind of loaf best eaten fresh - on the day it was baked. Keeping it over 48 hours inevitably resulted in it becoming hard and completely unsliceable!!
Vital Wheat Gluten
So I began to wonder what I was getting wrong. A little digging here and there led to the revelation that pastry chefs and bakers use an ingredient in their bread baking that plays an important role in improving the texture and quality of their dough. This ingredient is Vital Wheat Gluten. So what exactly is VWG? VWG is the pure protein portion of the grain. It is separated from the grain using water, dried, and then powdered.

And why use it? VWG is what gives you a beautiful loaf of bread. Just a few tablespoons per recipe is enough to improve the elasticity and volume of the dough as it rises. This in turn allows your bread to hold a beautiful shape and develop a great texture and crumb when baked. It can also improve the taste of home baked goods while extending their freshness. VWG is especially useful when you make breads using low gluten flours whole wheat flour, rye flour, and oat flour. You can also add it to gluten free that you may use for baking including amaranth flour, buckwheat flour, millet flour, and even cornmeal.

While VWG has only recently become accessible reasonably easily to home bakers. You can find it in the flour aisle of the supermarket, and most local coops, organic food stores and health food stores carry it. You can also order it online.

Recipes with Vital Wheat Gluten