My Happy Birthday Chocolate Millet Cake I decided to compose my own birthday cake this year, and it might become a tradition. I might even start receiving requests for birthday cake compositions! Who knows? I’ve been curious if I could break the ingredient barrier and make an outstanding cake out of whole millet. My son and I tried last year, and failed miserably. The millet tasted lumpy and dry. But, I know more about millet a year later, and decided to try again, and miracle of miracles it's worked. It’s a very good chocolate cake, and I'm ultra critical of cakes.
What made it work this time?
Toasting the millet to bring out the flavor
Making a porridge out of the millet and letting it thoroughly fall apart. Making a fermented mash for a cake, with fat and sugar in the mash!
Fermenting the batter, so it enzymatically supports the structure and flavor development of the cake
Adding flax and potato starch to offset the dry nature of millet and provide more glue for the cake's structure
Using raisins to create sweetness, without sacrificing minerals
Adding spices, enough salt and a pinch of cayenne to intrigue the tongue
Beating the batter into lightness
Using whole cane sugar, sea salt, butter, freshly ground spices, and undutched cocoa for their superior flavors.
A different rhythm for baking The recipe may seem complicated at first glance, but actually it's quite easy. Once you get the hang of it, it’s relaxing to only need to do a bit of the baking process at one time. If you start it in the evening you can finish it in the morning or afternoon. You can use any sourdough starter but it should be firm and not wet. Just add flour to your starter to make it firm. This cake doesn’t need any more liquid! Let me know how it goes, I’d love to hear from you.
Sourdough Millet Chocolate Cake Gluten free Millet/Sourdough/Low Sugar/Whole Grain Serves 10-12 This is a rich moist, chocolaty cake with subtle spice notes. It’s not too sweet, and has a light crumb. It’s definitely a celebration cake. It will amaze your guests, if you tell them, that it’s made with whole millet. They'll be even more amazed that it’s sourdough, and has only ½ the sugar of a regular cake. The ganache frosting is made with millet milk! It’s naturally gluten free, but try it even if you can eat gluten! It can be made with coconut oil and is eggless if that’s the way you fly.
Ingredients For Step One ¾ cup /150g millet 1 cup/ 125g raisins 1 cup/ 226g unsalted butter or coconut oil ¾ cup/ 130g unprocessed cane sugar 1 teaspoon cinnamon pinch of cayenne 4 ½ cups/1 litre water
Instructions For Step One Toast millet in a heavy bottomed skillet on medium heat for 4-5 minutes. It will smell toasty and start to pop. Add all step one ingredients to a rice cooker and set it for the regular cycle. You are making a millet porridge. If you're cooking without a rice cooker: add everything to a pot and cook on low, stirring occasionally until you have a soft porridge about 20-30 minutes. Let porridge cool to blood warm. I spread mine out on a parchment lined cookie sheet to cool. This porridge is yummy, so it’s ok to snitch a few spoonfuls.
Ingredients For Step Two ½ cup/ 113 g firm sourdough starter 4 tablespoons/ 30g ground flaxseed ½ cup/ 90g potato starch
Instructions For Step Two I used a food processor, a blender would also work Grind flaxseed, add the potato starch, flaxseed and sourdough starter to the food processor and spin until fine. Add the cooled porridge and process for 2 minutes until very smooth. Put batter into a bowl and ferment at room temperature overnight or 8-12 hours. It will taste only slightly sour when fermented and won’t be bubbly, because it's hard work to ferment in lots of fat. Ingredients For Step Three 1 cup/ 100g undutched cocoa ½ teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon sea salt 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder 3 whole cloves ground 5 whole allspice berries ground 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Tip: Grind spices with some of the cocoa to create more volume in the grinder.
Instructions For Step Three Preheat oven to 350F/176C set rack in middle position Line two preferably removable bottom round cake tins with parchment paper, butter the tins. Grind spices with some of the cocoa and set aside Add vanilla to the fermented batter and stir in Mix all dry ingredients together Sift ⅓ of dry ingredients at a time into fermented batter and stir between. With a hand mixer beat batter for 2 minutes on high speed Divide the batter evenly between the two cake tins and bake for 30 minutes. A knife may come out slightly wet when you test the cake but the cake will set more as it cools. Cool completely, while you make the ganache.
Finishing Un-mold the first cake round onto a plate or cake stand, turning it upside down so that the parchment is face up. Pull parchment off, spread a thin layer of ganache on between the layers. Stack the second cake round, also upside down, pull off the parchment and spread remaining ganache on the top and sides of the cake. Make it beautiful, sing a song, have fun, and wipe the edges of the plate of excess ganache when you’re done.
Chocolate Ganache Ingredients ¼ cup /56 g unsalted butter ½ cup/ 118 ml millet milk ½ cup/ 50g undutched cocoa 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract Pinch of sea salt 2 tablespoons honey or to taste
Instructions for Chocolate Ganache Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat or over a double boiler Stir in cocoa, add millet milk, and pinch of salt and honey Ganache will thicken quickly don’t let it get too hot or it will break, take it off the heat and add vanilla. Use for cake at room temperature With Love Enjoy!
Millet is a delicious and nutritious grain if a bit mysterious. I’ve been working with it lately, cooking the grain up into pilafs, making porridges, fermenting it, making it into milk, desserts, and working with the flour in baking.
Several Ah Ha’s I’d like to pass along about millet flour:
Start with the whole grain and toast it. It’s easy to mill into flour, at home with a spice grinder, for the amounts you’ll need for a baking recipe. Toasting millet radically improves its flavor, and helps to open up the nutritional content of the grain.
Make it into a Protein/Starch/Gum mix. Millet flour is fairly high in protein but lacks gluten. It tends to be dry tasting on its own, so I realized that it’s best to buddy it up with a starch and a gum. I chose potato starch for its ability to hold moisture, but other starches could be used to suit where you live and what’s available. I used ground flaxseed for the gum, because it’s nutritious in its own right, easy to buy, and grows traditionally in the same areas as millet.
Let it ferment. Letting millet go through a fermentation process, like sourdough will increase its nutritional bioavailability, help it to retain more moisture, and heighten its flavor profile.
Use it for baking that naturally carries moisture like dosas, idli, muffins, fritters…
Use it with a fat to help offset its dry nature.
My Millet Flour Blend 1 ¾ cup /344g whole proso millet Toast and grind into flour using a spice grinder 1 cup /172g potato starch 2 tablespoons /13g flaxseed ground This mix is 2 parts millet to 1 part starch and 2 tablespoons flax per 500g of mix I haven’t tried other millets because they’re unavailable in the USA !!!
More Fermented Flatbreads
Food For Thought
It takes me into my heart when I really consider millet. How long people and millet have been together, 10,000 years? How it's one of the five sacred grains of China. How it's this hard working grain that takes less water, and will grow in poorer soils. How it feeds the poor. That there are places in Africa where it's eaten three times a day. How in my country it's used as bird seed, and most people have never tasted it. How it's so nutritious, and all of us-- rich and poor are so in need of nourishment. Nourishment for our bodies and our hearts. I've been meeting good people, people who care a lot, and are working to bring millet to us. This grain that will grow in drier and hotter conditions. A grain full of health. I go deep into my heart when I think of these things, standing at my stove toasting millet seed, pressing millet roti, smelling the baked bread, breaking it and bringing it to my mouth to eat.
Spiced Millet Roti
Ingredients Use all of the millet flour blend 1 teaspoon sea salt ½ teaspoon turmeric 1 teaspoon toasted whole cumin ground 1 teaspoon toasted whole coriander ground ¼ cup /55g ghee or coconut oil 2 teaspoons pickled jalapenos minced ¾ cup /100g minced onion ½ cup+/ 4oz/ 114g water kefir, kefir or yogurt You can also use 1/2 cup of sourdough starter They may need a little more liquid
Instructions for Making Dough I use a food processor but this can be done by hand.
Toast whole millet on medium heat in a heavy bottomed skillet until it begins to pop and smells toasty about 4-5 minutes. Let cool. Grind millet in a spice grinder in several batches until flour consistency. Add millet flour, and all other dry ingredients to the food processor. Spin to combine. Add ghee and spin to incorporate into flour. Add jalapenos, and onion combine briefly. Add liquid with the machine running until it becomes a thick dough. Put batter into a bowl and ferment with a towel over at room temperature for 4 to 8 hours or until slightly sour.
Instructions for the griddle Preheat a griddle on medium heat. I use cast iron. Separate the dough into 14 balls of 65g each Press the balls with a tortilla press lined with parchment paper Griddle the roti for 2 minutes with a lid covering it, Flip the roti and cook for another 2 minutes with the lid on. Cook as many roti as needed. Remaining dough balls can be stored in the fridge in a mason jar for up to a week to use as needed. Roti are delicious by themselves, or with a topping, dal, chutney. They're like a corn tortilla except better. With Love EnJoy!
Dough balls will ferment in the fridge and can be used as needed. They'll last several weeks slowly fermenting. You can also save dough balls that are already fermented, and use as needed. This is a fab fast food. Just press and griddle!
A Couple Cool Millet Activists
Dwiddly-- Working towards improving millet cultivation practices in India The Millet Project--Rediscovering the traditions of cultivating and consuming millets.
Millet is on the top of my experimentation list lately. I’m fascinated to figure out what its capacities are. Why am I so interested in millet? Because it’s nutritious, inexpensive, drought tolerant, and an underdog. I’m always a softie for the underdogs. So far, I’ve made a lovely millenta (polenta). The recipe's coming soon. I’ve cultured it like a sourdough, and as a yogurt, working on a cheese... I’ve also made a delicious chocolate millet mousse. The millet milk recipes I tracked down were wanting; too raw tasting, bland, fussy etc. I wanted a rich taste, creamy, easy to make, and digestible. Millet milk wouldn’t be on the top of my nutritious foods list because all of the fiber’s taken out when it’s strained, but I save all of the fiber and am experimenting around with chocolate millet fiber brownies. The last batch were eaten right up. Millet milk with chocolate millet brownies, sounds good to me. The boon to this millet milk recipe is that it’s made in a rice cooker! So no stirring, or fuss. I also toast the millet, which is what should happen to millet before it’s cooked because it adds wonderfully to the flavor. It gets a long porridge cook with lots of water, like a congee. I drink raw dairy milk but several of my children are dairy free, and I like to have a quick home alternative. Have you read the labels for store bought grain, nut, or bean milks? Yuk! Nope. This recipe takes one cup of millet, and about a ½ an hour including cooking and hands-on time and makes a quart of milk. It should be called Millet Creme.
Creamy millet milk is a full tasting yet mild grain milk that’s easy to make. You can drink it, bake with it, or culture it. The rice cooker makes it super easy without needing to stir or watch. Toasting the millet helps to open up the flavors of the grain.
Creamy Millet Milk with a Rice Cooker Makes 1 quart You will need a rice cooker, food processor or blender and a fine sieve. I use a fuzzy logic 10 cup rice cooker, but I bet any rice cooker on regular cycle will work fine. If you don’t have a rice cooker, no problem just cook the millet on a low simmer until it’s a thick porridge. You can use a slow cooker as well, same proportions 10 hours on low.
Cooking Ingredients 1 cup millet 1 tablespoon coconut oil 6 cups filtered water ¼ teaspoon sea salt
Finishing Ingredients 2 cups filtered water ¼ teaspoon sea salt 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract optional Stevia to taste optional
Instructions Toast the millet in a heavy bottomed skillet on medium for 4 minutes or until grains begin to pop and smells toasty Add millet, ¼ teaspoon salt and 6 cups water to rice cooker and set to regular rice cycle After the cycle is finished let the millet sit for 10 minutes without opening the cooker Open and cool to warm The millet will be a creamy porridge. Depending on how big your food processor is, process in one or two batches, blend the millet porridge with two cups of water for 1-2 minutes, then add the vanilla, salt and optional stevia or other sweetener, and blend again for long enough to combine. Strain through a fine sieve, using a spoon to scrape the liquid through. It may need two strainings, the second with a finer sieve, or nut bag. Save the millet fiber to eat or add to muffins, crackers or bread. You now have approximately one quart of creamy millet milk.
How to use millet milk make warm golden milk, use on cereals, in smoothies, for baking, culture as yogurt, make custards, mousse or quiches...