Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Coconut Ladoo in 15 minutes

It's the festive season, and the sweet overload has begun.!!!!!  Lights all around, firecrackers in the air, so much happiness around, it's a wonderful season. I love Diwali. As a kid, I revelled in lighting crackers, gobbling up the sweets, helping my neighbours with the rangoli and lighting diyas on our balcony. So many years later, not much has changed, except that I don't light too many crackers now, not the noisy ones for sure. With everyone around getting into the Diwali mood, I couldn't resist, making some sweets. I tried making pedas first, and boy, that flopped. Buuuuut, I guess it was the festive angel that blessed me and turned that disaster into a lovely milk barfi, that I thouroughly enjoyed. YUUUMMMM. Little embarrassed to put up that recipe here though. It was such a simple one and I managed to flop that one. So . . Ahem.  Next I moved on to this recipe for coconut ladoo, the cheat's version obviously. I had this terrible pressure to get this one right, I couldn't be failing another easy recipe , NO WAY. Well, I did get this right, I wouldn't be writing about it here otherwise now, would I.

I know I'm a little too late putting this recipe up, but considering it takes so little time to make, there's still a good chance you could make them for this festive season, like today. Trust me, these homemade ladoos are so easy to make and are yummmmmmm. Because, festive days are filled with a million things to do, I'm going to keep this post short, So here goes :


Ingredients:

1/2 can condensed milk
250 gms desiccated coconut
Pistas, chopped finely 2 tbsp
Cardamom powder ; 1/2 tsp

Here's how you make it :

1. Keep aside 50 gms of the coconut for rolling the ladoos.
2. In a pan, put  the condensed milk, 200 gms of the coconut , cardomom powder and chopped pistas.
3.Keep on a medium heat and stir the mixture, taking care not to let it brown, and heat the mixture  till it begins to leave the sides of the pan. This will take about 10 mins, not more.
4. Take off the heat.
5. Grease your hand with a little butter and shape the mixture into ladoos and roll them in the remaining coconut.

And there one sweet done. I enjoyed making and eating these. Hope you will too.
 Happy Diwali everyone . May this Diwali brighten up your life with much happiness and prosperity. 

Friday, 12 September 2014

Banana Sundae

Before I get on to the post, I must request (I mean order), each of you who read this blog, to follow the blog by email. This way you won't miss any of the posts I put up here. Come on, it is so simple; all you got to do is enter your email address in the FOLLOW BY EMAIL column you see on the right side of the page as you scroll down. Please, just do it.

I hereby call you peoples to be my followers!!!!! Ha. . Scroll down a bit further and you can click on the JOIN THIS SITE button. It will be very encouraging to see that number increase. Thank you my people............


Now getting on to this Sundae. It is Heavenly!!!!!! That is the only word I can think of to describe it. HEAVENLY!!!!!!!!!Yes it is also addictive, so good, cant get enough , I love to eat everyday kind of dessert, but heavenly describes it the best. You hear banana and think, that would be nice baked into a bread maybe, but dessert? I don't know... Hmmmm. THIS is where you'll have to just trust me. This is so simple to make and yet sooooo o o o good. I got the unexpected craving to make it, last week, in the middle of my dinner and I was lucky to have all the ingredients at home. It took me less than 10 minutes to make it and hubby and I devoured it and scraped the pan to get all that yummy caramel sauce. Sigh. . I think I'll need to make some today as well. Hee hee. . .


Keeping my kitchen mantra in mind, this dessert is very very easy to make, and takes less than 10 minutes to make. It needs only 1, 2, 3, ......5 ingredients and some chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream to go with it. That is alllllllll............


Oops, the ice cream melted a bit too much, by the time I could get a decent picture of the dessert.

Now when I think of it, I feel that craving for this dessert came from seeing that there were too many bananas lying on the dining table, all ripening at lightening speed, together!!!!!. And although I love making banana bread, cake or fritters, I had an insane urge to make something with ice cream , and so I did.

Get your ingredients together first. Considering this is going to take only 5 minutes to make, you won't have much time once you begin the dish.



Starting with the bananas. While over ripe bananas are perfect to make fritters or banana bread, this dessert will need bananas that are just ripe, that are not all mushy and over ripe. Reason being, we are gonna fry these in butter and if they're all mushy, they won't hold their shape too well and letting them stay intact is going to be a challenge. Now don't misunderstand , assuming you have to use almost green bananas, not at all . They need to be ripe, just not over ripe, and even if they are over ripe, you can still use them, but with a little bit of extra care. In fact, the first time I made these, I used nearly over ripe bananas, because they were the only ones I had lying around in my kitchen.

Ok, So peel em and cut into fairly thick slices, slant, lengthwise and not into rounds. Then throw in some butter on a pan, and fry the bananas, till they get to a nice golden brown on each side. Use a knife and spoon maybe to turn them, a spatula may not work best here. I used about 2 tbsps of butter, I know it's a bit too much, but you need that extra butter for when you add that brown sugar later. If there's isn't any butter in the pan, the sugar will burn very easily. And anyway I cooked the entire dish on a very medium flame.  No taking chances with that butter or sugar burning.






Then for the cinnamon bit, a big pinch of cinnamon goes into the pan, and that my friend is where the magic begins. That scent of cinnamon is so inviting, it fills the kitchen with this sort of christmasy aroma..... This reminds me, just about  3 months for Christmas!!!!!!! Yayyyyyyyyy. My favourite time of the year. Is there a particular Christmas recipe you'd like to see on the blog. Let me know in the comments below. I'd love to know.






Getting back to the sundae....... After the cinnamon, its the brown sugar. Lower the flame, taking care not to let that sugar burn. Swirl the pan gently to mix the sugar and butter. I left it sit on a low flame for about 2 minutes, before I put in the cream. Again, swirl the pan, let it mix and the topping for your Sundae is ready.

To assemble, I put 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream in a bowl, put a bit of the topping and then a drizzle of rum, yes dark rum. Of course, you can skip the rum bit, but using it, takes the dessert to a whole new level. You can also toss in the rum, before you add the cream, swirl the pan gently and let it go all flambe. But be careful with those flames going up. Drizzle a bit of chocolate sauce and your dessert is READY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Get ready to go bananas over this!!!!!!!!!!!


Banana Sundae
This recipe will make about 4 servings

Ingredients:

Bananas : 2
Butter 2 tbsp
Cinnamon: 1/2 tsp
Brown sugar: 4 tbsp
Fresh cream : 1 -2 tsp
Rum : to drizzle over the ice cream (Optional)
Vanilla Ice cream and Chocolate sauce to make the Sundae

Method:

1. Start by peeling and slicing the bananas into fairly thick pieces
2. Heat the butter in a pan, and fry the bananas, about 2 minutes of each side, till they are golden brown.
3. Sprinkle in the cinnamon and toss it around in the pan. Let it cook for a minute.
4. Add the brown sugar, lower the flame , swirl the pan to let the butter and sugar mix. Let it cook for     2-3 minutes
5.Add the cream. Swirl the pan again to let it all mix
6. To assemble, set 4 bowls. Put 2 scoops of ice cream in each. Put 2 tbsp of the banana mixture. Then drizzle half a tsp of rum, and then a bit of chocolate sauce.


Tuesday, 9 September 2014

4 easy peasy ideas for Party Food!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Every cook has a food journey, and as they tread further, each realizes what really their cooking mantra is and these days I know I have found mine......... " Easy and delicious cooking".  My friends often envy the foodie on duty ( read as my husband), imagining,  I cook elaborate meals everyday. Truth is, I hardly do. Meals for us are usually really simple. Yes, I love to cook, but also true is that I love to make fast, simple and delicious food. Maybe it has to do with my mum, constantly telling me when I was a child to choose simple recipes over laborious one, whenever I wanted to cook something. Looks like it's here to stay I cannot emphasize enough how much I need to KEEP IT SIMPLE". I can hardly imagine myself spending long hours in the kitchen, over one dish, or shedding too much effort in grinding a masala, marinating or anything of that sort. As much as I also love traditional cooking, I'm always looking for ways to minimize the effort that goes into making them, ensuring however, they turn out just as delicious. 

So......  I  put together some really really easy to do party food. They all need 6 ingredients or less,  involve hardly any effort, minimum or zero cooking, and you'll hardly find enough material to call it a recipe. But sometimes, just having the idea to put certain ingredients together can be magical. These are super easy snacks, using just a mix of store bought ingredients. I love these, because they are effortless and can be made in advance, God knows I hate, struggling in the kitchen till the 11th hour, only to end up greeting my guests, smelling all kitcheny....


Warning:  These are too simple and cannot be termed as recipes

Here goes. 

1. Sausage and Capsicum skewers :
No of ingredients: 3

 If you skip the part where you need to just toss them in the oven, these require no cooking at all. Yet, these look fancy with all the colours and all. So yes, don't go with all green capsicum, the yellow and red just bring so much colour, they look superbly summery and fresh. So mix and match the colours. To save me time, I prep the skewers much in advance,( even a day earlier will do) keep them refrigerated and  just stuff it into the oven as my guests arrive. This way I can serve the skewers nice and warm 



You will need :
Chicken sausages : 200 gms
( I usually use the smoked variety, I love the extra flavour, but you can use plain ones too )
Bell peppers: Yellow, red, and green, 1 each
Barbeque sauce



This will be all you need to do:
Chop the bell peppers into little squares and the sausages into bite sized pieces. Stick 2 pieces  of  capsicum and a piece of sausage on a toothpick. Arrange in a dish. Bake them at a 180 C for about 15 minutes. Serve with Barbeque sauce, or drizzle a bit of sauce over the skewers and serve.


Chop chop chop



Assemble





In the baking dish





Ready !!!!!!!!!





2. Chip and dip :

No. of ingredients: 4


Told you there hardly is a recipe, see.??? Somehow, having chips with a dip makes it much more interesting (and yes a bit fattening). So often, I have served chips with plain mayo, so this one time I thought I'd add a couple more sauces to make it a teeny bit different and it worked!!!!!!. The quantities given are approximations. I just go with tasting it as I mix and if you like that extra zing, amp up the green chilly sauce. It won't get pungent because of the ketchup, but just give you a hint of sharpness. Don't fret if there's any dip remaining, you can use it as a sandwich spread.

You will need :
Salted potato chips: 200 gms
Green chilly sauce :2 tsps
Tomato ketchup : 3 tbsps 
Mayonnaise: 4 - 6 tbsps
( If using store bought mayonnaise, use the eggless variety, it tastes better for some reason)


Mix the mayo, ketchup and green chilly sauce and serve with the chips.




Mix together



Plate it up




3. Tuna crackers:

No of ingredients: 6

I remember eating these as a kid at some party and I was so wowed .They looked great, tasted even better and got very addictive. I love tuna, canned tuna I must specify. It's so easy to use and tossing it with a couple of ingredients can make it so interesting. The only real effort here is chopping the onions and coriander, its important. It isn't very delightful I've learnt to bite into a big chunk of either. So just a little extra 5 minutes there. If you're using the tuna chunks, just shred them a bit first, using a fork before adding it to the rest of the ingredients. I love this filling and any leftovers are packed into sandwiches for lunch the following day with some buttered bread.

You will need :
Cream crackers: 20
Canned ready to eat tuna : 200 gms
Mayonnaise: 4-5 tbps
Black olives: A handful
Fresh coriander leaves: 2-3 stalks, finely chopped
Half an onion: finely chopped



Getting ready.....




All you need to do :

Chop the onion, olives and coriander leaves real fine. Mix with the mayo and shredded tuna. Spread a thin layer of filling on each cracker and serve. Voila!!!!!!!!!!!!111










4.  Ham wrapped chicken:
No of ingredients: 5

These are little effort, great taste, and big feeling of finesse. There's so little to do, and yet these are so good. Apart from the name sounding fancy, they also look pretty interesting and yes they taste good. If I might add, you could serve them with that mayo, tomato and green chilly dip.



Chicken ham slices : 3
Chicken breast : 200 gms, cut into small, flat pieces
Cheese slices: 3-4
Salt and pepper
Oil 1 tbsp

How you do it:

Cut the ham into strips and the cheese into slightly thinner strips. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Place a strip of ham on a board, layer it a strip of cheese and then a piece of chicken. Roll and secure with a toothpick. Continue till you use up all the ingredients. Place in an oven dish, drizzle with the oil and bake at 180 C for about 20 minutes, or till the chicken turns white and cooked.



Getting together





Strips and pieces




Assemble



Wrap






Bake and Serve


Saturday, 30 August 2014

Beef Masala



It's taken me only about 36 months,to put up my first beef recipe. So it isn't a surprise that I don't cook a lot of beef. I rarely do. In fact as a kid, I think the only time I ate beef was during those summer holidays I spent at my grandmother's. She made excellent beef masala . . . . . .  and coconut toffee and chicken curry , hell, even the dal she made was one helluva dish. What fond memories of a beautiful grandma, I miss her much, but I'm so thankful for all the memories I have with her. Precious!!!!

Soooooooo, I have a prejudice about beef dishes, that is; I believe the best beef dishes are made Kerala style. Justified right. I think they have some amazing recipes for meat, ones that use a variety of spices and greens. As always, I went through loads of recipes, before I stumbled across this one on this blog and decided to go ahead with it.
Though it was a recipe for beef curry, I ended up making a slightly dry version of it .The recipe makes great use of spices and the flavour of the curry leaves really shines through, and Oh btw, I love curries with curry leaves, just so much flavour. I used about half a kilo of beef, cut into small pieces and pressure cooked the beef first, before adding it to the masala. I tossed the beef into a pressure cooker with a bit of water and salt, and let it cook for about 20 minutes, till it was tender. This cooking time will of course depend on how tender the beef is. See, this is why I don't cook too much beef; I end up cooking it, opening the cooker, only to find that the meat needs to be cook a little longer. Sigh, buuuuuuuut, that isn't so much trouble once in a while is it? The recipe includes grinding a masala, don't be put off by it, it's simple and you don't need to roast any spices first. Also the recipe uses coconut oil, and I wouldn't change that. Keralite recipes mostly use coconut oil, and taste best using it.

So here's the recipe, adjust the spices according to your taste, and whichever way you go, you'll still end up with a great dish.



Here's what you will need :
Adapted from mariasmenu.com
Ingredients:

1/2 beef, cut into pieces, pressure cooked till tender

Grind to a fine paste :

10 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger
1/2 tsp peppercorns
1/2 tbsp chilli powder
1 tbsp corriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp fennel
2 pods of cardamom pods
1 star anise
1 piece cinnamon
2 cloves


Slice :
2 onions
1 piece of ginger
2 green chillies

You will also need
Salt
2 sprigs of curry leaves
Coconut oil 1 tbsp.

1. Start with pressure cooking the meat with a little water and salt. Cook till meat is tender. Reserve the water.
2. Grind all the ingredients for the masala.
3. Heat coconut oil in a non stick vessel. Fry the sliced onions.
4. Then add the curry leaves, green chilly, ginger. Cook till onions are soft
5. Add the ground masala, and fry till the oil and masala separate.
6. Add the meat,with the water, and check salt
7. Cook for about 5 minutes. If you don't want too much gravy, cook on high heat till the water dries up.
8. Serves with rice or rotis.



Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Baked Corn Dip

Dip Dip Dip......... I would love to have a stash of good dip recipes. As I write this I'm slowly building just that. Dips are great party food. Make a big bowl of a yummy dip, plonk some chips or nachos on a plate and you have a snack that'll keep going for a couple of hours. And yes a good dip is always addictive. I'm sure we've all had 'that' situation, where we sat next to the bowl of chips and dip and just ate them one by one, almost involuntary... No?

So my usual 'dip' is mayonnaise, homemade and times store bought and I desperately needed to try some new dip recipes. So I did what I always do when I want to find an interesting recipe, I turned to pinterest. I didn't have to browse a bit, I realized I had pinned this recipe,  long ago. So click, open and find I did, this recipe for baked corn dip.






Now, this dip does need a little extra effort, it's a little more than the usual 'put a scoop of mayo and serve with chips' kind of dip, but it's simple and it's worth the effort. I know it isn't too much trouble, because I've made it twice now. I usually don't repeat a recipe I thought was complicated. So trust me and try this. It instantly sets your party food standards high and is enjoyable and refreshing from the same old dip dip dips.


So in very simple steps then. I first started by chopping all the ingredients I had to. A little bit of garlic, spring onion, half a red and yellow pepper each.



Though I'm more of a 'chop as you cook' kind of cook, sometimes it's just simpler to have all your ingredients ready. So once I had the veggies chopped, I turned to the corn. I used sweet corn. I removed the outer husk, and then removed the corn kernels by placing the ear of corn in a bowl and then using a sharp knife in downward strokes to trim the corn. A little bit of butter in the pan and the sweet corn, stir fried to brown it a bit.





Then, keeping the corn aside, a little more butter in the pan , to fry the chopped bell peppers, onion and garlic. Sweet corn and bell peppers make suuuuuuuuuch a good combination. You don't need to cook the bell peppers but the stir fry helps them get a bit buttery and lose their rawness. 




So really, it needs just a minute or two in the pan. Then it's all easy peasy from here. Just toss the corn and bell pepper mixture in an oven proof bowl, grate some cheese over it, a scoop of mayonnaise, a dust of paprika. While the recipe originally added jalapeno, I used a bit of store bought green chilly sauce. Cheese, corn and green chilly make a very delicious concoction.





 For the cheese I used milky mist mozarella cheese, you can use any cheese you like, any cheese that will melt and form lovely long strings of cheesiness..



You can make the dip up to this step in advance and then bake it just before you want to serve it. This way, it'll be warm and nice and the cheese will stay nice and melted. Also it takes just about 10-15  minutes in the oven, so you can time it to bake, according to when you need it. 





Once ready, serve it with nachos or chips. I had a tablespoon leftover after the party and I enjoyed the dip between two slices of toasted bread, which makes me think this will make an equally good sandwich spread. What do you think.
By the way, I'd hate for you to miss a post. So just enter your email address in the "Follow by Email" box on the right side of this page and get regular updates from the blog. Also send me pictures of  dishes you try from my blog. Would love love love to see them and share them with other readers. All for now.



Baked Corn Dip:

Adapted from Our Best Bites

Ingredients: 

2 tbsps butter
2 cups fresh sweet corn
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
3 tbsps chopped spring onions
2 tsps minced garlic
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp paprika
100 gms cheese
3 tbsp green chilly sauce
Salt and pepper to taste


Method:

1. In a pan, heat one tbsp of butter. Toss in the sweet corn, salt and pepper, and stir fry for about 5 minutes till the corn softens. Once cooked, put in a medium sized oven proof bowl. 
2. In the same pan, heat the remaining butter, add the minced garlic, fry for a minute and then add the bell peppers, and spring onions. Fry further for a minute, then add to the corn.
3. Add in the grated cheese, the mayonnaise, green chilly sauce and paprika.
4. Bake in a preheated oven at 200 C for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Chocolate Cake: The best one everrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

At last............... No, I'm not singing Etta James, but at last,  I have found my chocolaty chocolate cake recipe. The one I have been waiting for all this time, I have found THE chocolate recipe, my go to chocolate recipe, the one I know I will make when I have my chocolate cravings, the one I'll dig into to with absolute no restraint. I have been waiting for you all my life and here you are, MY FAVOURITE CHOCOLATE CAKE.



It was my birthday last week....... :) Yayyyyyyy. And now I have to wait a whole year for it to be here again........ Boo  hoo. ......I looove my birthday. With each passing year, I get more excited about my birthday, totally disproportional to the number on the cake, but that's me. I get excited like a little kid in the days running up to my birthday. The smiles are extra wide, the mornings just seem happier and there is no need for that alarm clock to wake up early. Too bad my birthday just passed me by... Sigh...


So it's become a tradition these days at home, that I bake my own birthday cake. My family figured that since I am the baker in the family, I might as well bake my own birthday cake. And honestly I love the idea. Though I went thru 100s of ideas of what I should bake, from elegant scroll work, to damask stenciling, to butter cream flowers, I finally realized that I really really wanted just a super chocolaty chocolate cake. I mentioned to you earlier about my healthy eating plan, and since I've been sticking to it mostly, I just wanted to indulge in some totally decadent cake, because................ it's my birthdayyyyyyyyyy..... And so after I looked up scores of recipes, I finally decided to go with the cocoa buttermilk cake from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours.  This book is a treasure pile of recipes and it is one of the 10 books you'll find in my kitchen library., one of my 10 favourite books.




The recipe is easy to follow. What I love about Dorie Greenspan's recipes is that it reads like she's in the kitchen with you. Every little detail is written in the recipe, whether the mixture will curdle, bubble, splatter, every little step is there in the book, so you know at all times if you'r recipe is on track. So you can blindly follow her recipe, knowing very well that it is tried and tested.

Now in all the excitement of the birthday, answering calls, and jumping around just because it was my birthday, I forgot to click a picture of my cake... I know........ but it was my birthday!!!!!!!!!!! you can forgive me. When I cut the cake and tasted it I knew I wanted to share this recipe with my readers as a birthday special, but then again, forgot to get a picture. Then I ended up parceling a large chunk of the cake for my niece and nephew, coz I knew I'd end up eating all of it by myself otherwise. So when I finally sat down to writing this post the next day, all I had remaining was one massive wedge of the cake, so here you go.


The cake makes quite a large cake, of 2 , 9 inch cakes, though I used 2 , 8 inch cake pans and it turned out just fine and quite a big cake, and you can cut out beautiful chocolate wedges for like 10 -12 people. It's got layers of intense chocolate cake, matched with a great chocolate butter cream frosting.

I started with buttering 2, 8 inch pans and dusting them with flour, and setting my oven to pre heat at 175 C. Also, as the recipe suggests, I cut out a round of baking paper to line the bottom of the pans. No worrying about lifting that cake out now.

Then quickly I got all my ingredients ready. Flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, buttermilk. The recipe also suggests optionally using melted chocolate, so I skipped that bit. I used super fine sugar for this cake. You could use castor sugar as well. Also since it's difficult( read as impossible) to get plain buttermilk in any store, I used this little tip I read sometime ago. To make plain milk into buttermilk, all you need to do is add some vinegar to plain milk, mix it and let it stand for about 10-15 mins, about 1 tbsp for every 1 cup of milk. So when I have a recipe that needs buttermilk, I first start with making the buttermilk, so I can give it enough time to curdle while I get the other ingredients ready and prep the cake pans.




Then to make life easier, you can just whisk all the dry ingredients. Yes, I prefer this to sifting flour and baking powder into a bowl, only to have my kitchen dusted in flour. So in a bowl, I whisked together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and an inkling of salt.

Then in a separate bowl, the usual butter and sugar creaming together bit. Then the eggs. The recipe uses 2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks, so quite rich I know, but I had set my heart on this recipe and I didn't want 2 extra yolks stand in the way. Then the vanilla, buttermilk and dry ingredients. That's batter ready. I divided the mixture between the 2 pans and then it was baking time. The batter was quite thick, so I used a knife to spread and flatten it out in the cake pan. About 30 mins later I had the cakes ready.

As the cakes cooled, I took them out of the pan and let them cool on a board, while I got to making the frosting. The recipe was for a chocolate malt buttercream, I skipped the malt bit of it. I'm generally not a fan of buttercream frosting , I prefer fresh cream icing, but this chocolate buttercream was yummmmmmm. Did I mention, it had melted chocolate in it, maybe that's why...  I skipped the malted milk powder mentioned in the recipe and also reduced the amount of butter and sugar.
I let the cakes cool completely, before I frosted them. To layer them and get an even top, using a serrated knife I cut the dome that had formed on top of the cake. I also sliced one cake into two layers and sandwiched them with a generous amount of frosting. I used the remaining frosting on the top and sides of the cakes. I just spread it around in a rustic sort of way and it was perfect for me. No fussing over clean edges and even icing on the sides.

I made the cake a day in advance and let it sit in the fridge overnight, but brought it to room temperature before cutting it and serving. Do not serve the cake straight from the fridge, the soft and creamy layers of the cake are best tasted at room temperature. So make your cake a day in advance, refrigerate it, and keep it out of the fridge for an hour or before you serve it.


Here's the recipe:

Cocoa Buttermilk Birthday Cake

Adapted from Baking: Dorie Greenspan

For the cake:
2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

226 gms butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk


For the frosting :
150 gms chocolate
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp boiling water
175 gms butter
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 to 2 cups icing sugar.


1. Butter  2, 8 inch pans and dust with flour. Line the bottom of the pans with a round of baking paper.
2. Pre heat the oven to 175 C
3.Whisk the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
4. In a separate bowl, beat the sugar and butter till creamy.
5. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the yolks, one by one, beating for 1 minute after each addition.
6, Beat in the vanilla.
7.Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
8. Divide the batter between the cake pans and bake for about 30 minutes, till the cakes start to pull away from the sides of the pan.
9. Let the cake cool for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and invert them onto a board and let them cool completely before frosting.


To make the frosting:
1.Mix the cocoa powder and boiling water
2.Melt the chocolate with half the brown sugar in a bowl, set over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from heat.
3. Whisking the melted chocolate mixture, gradually pour in the hot cocoa mixture till it blends
4.In a large bowl, whisk the butter till soft, add the remaining brown sugar and beat for 2-3 minutes
5.Beat in the vanilla extract and then the chocolate mixture.
6. Gradually add the icing sugar, enough to make it as sweet as you like.


To assemble the cake:

Sandwich the cakes with the frosting and use the remaining frosting to cover the sides and top of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for at least one hour to set the frosting . Bring the cake to room temperature before serving.


Monday, 14 July 2014

Orange and Lemon Cake

The rains are juuuust setting in.... and I love the monsoon. Set aside the flooded roads, mucky pathways and how my dog smells after getting wet on his walks, I love the sentiments the rains bring. I get nostalgic, and I'm reminded of paper boats, and raincoats, muddy puddles, rain dancing and rain holidays in school. You've heard me say that baking is a good activity for any season of the year, and yes it is, but it's special in the monsoon. It's a perfect rainy day activity. As the kitchen fills up with the aroma of freshly baked cake, some good music to set the ambience and raindrops on the balcony railings, baking can be so much fun. I know I sound 30 years older saying this, but truth is I'd be happy spending a weekend doing just this..

This orange cake,  is from my go to cake book, Cake by Rachel Allen, which by the way is available at a discounted rate on Amazon, right now :). This is her recipe for St. Clement's drizzle cake, which is named after the bells in the famous nursery rhyme. Famous apparently, because I never heard of  it. Oooops.
The cake is a lovely citrus cake, inside out, and it uses a combination of oranges and lemons, like in that famous rhyme.
I enjoyed this cake and it kept well in the refrigerator for a couple of days. The cake is made in a loaf tin and then drizzled with orange and lemon juice, while it is still hot, letting the cake soak up all the citrus flavour.






I used a medium sized loaf tin for the cake. The recipe suggests you the line the base and sides of the loaf tin with baking parchment, with the paper coming above the sides of the tin, enabling the cake to be lifted out easily when baked. I however, skipped this part and instead gave it a good greasing of butter and a dusting of flour. Yes, I use short cuts, aaaaallllllll the time.

The cake needs very few ingredients and the method is fairly simple. It's the usual, beat butter sugar, eggs and flour kind. I started by zesting the lime and the orange. My zester is of so much help. I loved seeing the long lovely strands of orange peel. Same with the lime. You can also use a vegetable peeler or a cheese grater to zest the fruit. Just make sure you peel only the first layer of skin, and not the bitter white pith.





 The orange and lemon zest add a lovely flavour to the cake and such a dash of colour. Once you have zested the fruits, squeeze the juice and keep it aside to make the icing later.


From here on the process is very simple. Also the recipe is fairly easy because it uses equal amounts of flour, butter and sugar; something like a pound cake. Well almost. So first I beat the softened butter . I almost always don't remember/bother keeping the butter out to soften. Thank heavens for microwaves, I just measure the amount of butter I need, put it in my baking bowl and defrost it in the microwave in 10-15 seconds spurts. You don't really want to end up with melted butter, and it's just a matter of seconds that decides whether it's soft or melted. 


Coming back to the recipe, sugar was the usual next ingredient and followed by a couple of eggs. Eggs in a cake batter are always always always added one at a time, I have never bothered finding out why, but it's just a rule. So in goes one egg, you beat it till it is incorporated, and then goes the next and you repeat the process. Also don't over beat a cake mixture at any stage, it loses it fluffiness. 




And finally to go in the batter were milk, zest and flour. The cake takes about 45 mins to bake and it turns a nice golden brown on the top when it has baked. I love the sight of that lovely brown crust. It reminds me of the sponge cake I used to bake as a kid, it was also almost the ONLY cake I baked and I never ever got tired of it. I juuuuuust realized that I haven't baked that sponge cake for a really long time now, so there, one more rainy day activity on the list.

The icing for the cake is really simple, it's just the orange and lemon juice mixed with granulated sugar. Make sure to use granulated sugar, it gives the cake a slight crunch. The recipe suggested 100 gms sugar, but in my last minute effort to cut down on the calories,( such a futile attempt, since I gorged on the cake anyway) I used only about 50 gms of sugar, and it was sweet enough for me.




 When the cake had baked, I let it cool for about 5 minutes, before I tapped it out on to a tray and immediately drizzled the icing all over the cake. To allow the cake to soak up all the syrup, the recipe suggests to prick the cake with a skewer times, before you drizzle the icing, this way, the syrup makes it way to all over the cake. Then, once the cake has cooled, (yeah, too bad you got to let it cool, before you take a bite; it's difficult to cut a slice while it is still warm,) cut into slices. I enjoyed this cake at tea time, but it's a perfect bite for any time of the day. I managed to save some for over a day and it stayed well refrigerated for a couple of days. I look forward to baking it another time real soon...


Here's the recipe :


Orange and Lemon Cake
Adapted from : Cake by Rachel Allen


Ingredients:

For the cake :
175 gms butter softened
175 gms castor sugar ( I used powdered granulated sugar)
2 eggs
Zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
50 ml milk
175 gms flour
1 1/2  tsp baking powder

For the icing :
Juice of 1 lime and 1 orange
Sugar 50 gms ( The recipe states 100gms)



Method :

1. Start by pre-heating the oven to 180 C. Butter a medium sized loaf tin and dust with flour. Tap out the excess flour.
2.Cream the butter and sugar till it is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one by one and mix till they are just incorporated.
3. Beat in the orange and lemon zest, followed by the milk.
4. Fold in the flour sifted with the baking powder.
5. Bake for about 45 minutes, till a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean
6. As the cake cooks, make the icing syrup. For the syrup, pour the lemon and orange juice in a bowl and mix well with the granulated sugar
7.When the cake has baked, let it cool in the tray for 5 mins, then gently tap it on to a tray. Prick it with a toothpick all over and then drizzle the syrup all over the cake. Leave the cake to cool completely, and then cut into slices to serve.