Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Fruit Cups... The easiest way to a yummy dessert

Got to admit, this isn't really a recipe, but it's worth a post, because it was easy, simple, pretty, yum and healthy too as I'd like to believe. A dessert is best loved when it's light, specially after a very heavy meal. This took 10 mins to make, (if you put aside the time to get the hung curd) and only 5 ingredients.

Vanilla essence
Ripe Mangoes

So here's how you make these.

I preferred to use hung curd, (you could use yogurt if you like) so I let a litre of curds strain over a cloth and a large strainer over a vessel,  and kept it aside for about half an hour. Then I cut the mangoes, into pieces and they were sweet enough, so didn't need any sugar, but the strawberries did. So I chopped the strawberries, sprinkled some icing sugar on top and put it in the microwave for about 3-4 mins, till they became a little pulpy and juicy.

Next, when the curd was drained of all the water, I mixed it with some icing sugar and vanilla essence. I would've loved to use butterscotch but I didn't have any at home. And the only thing left to do was to assemble these little colourful beauties. In a glass, a dollop of curd, followed by a layer of mango, then another scoop of curd and finally some strawberry on the top that gave it such wonderful colour. Kept them chilled till serving time and dinner definitely ended on a happy and colourful note.  

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Banoffee Blondies

I love banoffee pie and blondies are sort of likeable too. So the idea of merging the 2 sounds pretty good to me. And yet another time, it's a Rachel Allen recipe. If it's baking, it's got to be Rachel Allen. Love that Cake book of hers. It's my go to book for baking adventures. I loved her TV show Bake and I've watched some episodes over and over again, seems like there's something new to learn every time. If you're a baking beginner, this show is perfect for learning a lot of baking basics.

Anyway let's get down to making these blondies..... It's got sort of 2 parts to it, one making the blondies with the white chocolate and banana and two , making the almond praline, for the crunch. I know you get put off with the idea of making praline, God knows I've had praline disasters before, but this was really simple and hassle free. So give it a shot. If you really can't get yourself to make the praline, you can skip it and just add chopped almonds instead, but otherwise, really you can make this praline. It fits the rule of keeping it simple.

Start with making the praline, so that it has time to set. For this you will need:

100 gms castor sugar
100 gms almonds, roughly chopped.(skin still on)

See... I told you it was simple.

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Scatter the sugar and almonds on a non stick pan and cook it on medium heat till the sugar turns a deep golden caramel. (Swirl the pan if you need to but don't tip in a spoon. ) Tip out the mixture on to the tray and let the mixture set. When it has cooled out, roughly chop it. I did this by by just breaking it into large chunks and pulsing it in the mixer... Praline done...........

To make the blondies, you will need

100 gm butter
225 white chocolate, roughly chopped
175 g brown sugar
1 egg beaten
3 bananas, preferably very ripe, mashed
2 tsp vanilla extract
225 gms flour
1 tsp baking powder.

This recipe makes about 16

And continue by getting a cake tin ready. Butter the sides and line the base with baking paper

Place the white chocolate and butter in a saucepan and set it over a really low flame till the butter melts. Take the pan off heat and stir the mixture till all the chocolate has melted. Pour it into a large bowl . Making sure it has cooled down a bit, beat in the sugar, the egg, vanilla and the bananas. Stir in the praline and sift in the flour and baking powder. Blondie mixture done....

Pour it into the prepared cake tin and bake for about 35 mins.

When the blondies are done, they will have a sort of chewy texture on top and softer texture inside. Let them cool completely in the tin before you take it out and cut into squares. I know, this is the difficult part, waiting,........Then ,Lo and behold, you shall have before you little bites of yumminess......

Happy Baking!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, 7 April 2014

Melting Moments: Butter Biscuits

I first heard of melting moments on Masterchef Australia. There was this contestant Julia, dubbed the dessert queen , on the show, who made melting moments which became her signature dish. I've wanted to try these cookies ever since and finally I stumbled upon this very simple and easy recipe in my Essential Baking book.
This is a no fuss recipe, with very easy instructions and is super easy to make. Though traditionally melting moments are sandwiched with a butter cream filling, I felt these biscuits were gorgeous on their own and  I skipped making the filling.

These are the very few ingredients you will need to make these little bits of heaven.

250g unsalted butter softened.
40 gms icing sugar
1 tsp vanila extract
185 gms flour
60 gms custard powder. I used Brown and Polson

This recipe makes 30 cookies.

Cream the butter and icing sugar using a electric beater and when it is light and creamy add the vanilla. Finally sift in the flour and custard powder. Bring it together to make a soft dough. Use a spatula and later your hands if you find it easier to form the dough. Though the recipe instructs that you can immediately roll out the biscuits I found it easier to first chill the dough for 30 mins and then make the biscuits

You can chill the roll by shaping it into a log and wrapping it in cling film. Refrigerate for about 30 mins or less, not more. When the dough has chilled, line your baking tray with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Cut the dough using a knife and shape into small rounds. They don't have to be perfectly round. They'll get into a better shape as they bake. Place them a little apart from each other on the baking tray. Butter and dust a fork with flour and use it to flatten them slightly, making a slight indentation, like you see in the picture.

 Bake for 20 mins until they are slightly golden brown. If you can, let them cool a bit on a rack before you devour them, if not pick up a book, put a few biscuits in a bowl and fly away to pleasure one bite at a time.


Thursday, 27 February 2014

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread

I know.... The obsession of mixing banana and bread just continues. Here's the thing, if you ever are too scared to bake something, fearing it wont taste good, you should make banana bread, you just can't go wrong with it. I've tried different recipes for banana bread and each one turned out better than the previous one. I'm sort of stuck on how to pick a favourite banana bread recipe.

So this Cinnamon swirl banana bread sure sounds fancy, but it super easy to make and makes a great evening cake For that matter , its a perfect morning, afternoon , night cake too. I found the recipe from Lovin from the oven which is by the way a fabulous website with some very tempting recipes. I just don't know how she manages to try out soooooo many recipes though.

Cinnamon tastes great with lots of cakes , though we tend to see it fitting well only in our curries and biryanis. I tried a Cinnamon madiera cake the other day and it turned out just as nice. Will try posting that recipe soon.
Let's get down to baking.
Here's some lovin from the oven.

You will need.

3 over ripe bananas mashed
1/3 cup melted butter
3/4 cup sugar( granulated is just fine)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour

For the swirl

1 tbsp cinnamon powder
1/3 cup sugar.
Mix the two well.

How you do it...
It's really simple. First the usual. Preheat your oven to 175 C. Butter and flour a loaf tin. If you don't have a loaf tin, no sweat. I imagine you could use any other kind of baking dish as well. Maybe a 8 or 7 inch round pan will do.

Mash the bananas roughly using a fork and mix it with the butter, sugar, egg and vanilla. I used the cake beater and mixed it for about a minute or two. Mix the flour and baking soda and sift it into the banana mixture. Pour half the batter into the baking dish and then pour the swirl mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Then gently pour the remaining batter and toss it in the oven to bake for about 45- 50 mins.

Apart from the tooth pick coming out clean and the cake leaving the sides of the pan, you'll know the cake is done when that
crazy good aroma of banana bread and cinnamon invade your entire home.

Happy Baking everyone.... 

Monday, 24 February 2014

Pasta Dough ....

Making pasta has got to be the easiest thing ever. A simple recipe, a little art of kneading, resting and rolling . You're good to go. All those Masterchef Australia episodes I watched, someone or the other was making pasta and I had decided long ago I was going to try making it at home. But you see the time it takes for an idea to be implemented takes a minimum of weeks and months for me. That reminds me, puff pastry is another idea I have. It shall see the light of day soon. So anyway, Friday night I decided that it was now or never and I set out to make homemade pasta. The nice thing about this recipe which is hardly a line by the way, is that you can make different kinds of pasta with it. I made Tagliatelle with it , but you can use it to make Ravioli, Tortellini as well.

So the recipe is really simple. You will need only
Olive oil.

The rule is simple. 1 egg for every 100 grams of flour. That's all you need to remember. So I made this dough with 200 gms of plain flour and 2 eggs, A pinch of salt and a tbsp of olive oil.

Making the dough

Start with a clean work surface. You could even make it in a large bowl, but I find it easier to knead dough on a flat surface. Mix the flour and salt and make a well in the center. Drop in the eggs and the olive oil.

Mix the eggs and olive oil into the flour. You could use a whisk or do it by hand. Start by mixing the flour slowly into the eggs and continue till you have a smooth dough. Don't overwork the dough. Just cover it in cling film and let it rest for about 30 mins.

Rolling out the pasta

To make the tagliatelle, after you've let the dough rest for a while, using a rolling pin, roll it out flat, on a floured surface. You could do this with half the dough at a time. It's easier rolling out a small quantity of dough at a time than all of it at once. Fold the edges to the center to make a square. Roll the dough again, sort of into a rectangle. Roll it out thin , so you can see the shape of your hands when you pick it up with the back of your hands.

Now fold the ends towards the middle and continue to do that till you have a block of about 2 inches. Keep adding flour as you fold. Using  a sharp knife cut the block into strips. When you've cut the entire block, just gently lift the strips of pasta and toss it a bit to separate it.
 I found this video to help you out. The method is slightly different but will help you understand the method better. Put the pics and video together and you''ll get it perfectly.

Cooking the pasta.
To cook it, boil plenty of salted water and add the pasta and let it cook for about 2 minutes. Drain and run it under cold water and use it to make your favorite pasta dish. Maybe you could make this..

I'm soon going to try making ravioli and tortellini as well.... Coming up soon.....

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Sticky toffee date cakes

So....  I'm so in love with my Rachel Allen book right now. CAKE by Rachel Allen is filled with wonderful cake recipes, all kinds of cakes. Rustic, simple and incredibly tempting recipes that make you want to sit in your kitchen all day and put the oven on overtime mode. Oh sister, how I love thee; for you thought of the perfect gift for me.

So yes, I wanted to bake a cake a day, if only. As I started reading it, I began putting my post it notes on every other page, my must try list and it was sooooooooooo difficult to settle on one. The decisions in life I tell you. So one of the recipes I selected was this recipe for Sticky toffee date cakes and boy am I glad I did. These lovely cakes didn't disappoint at all. Easy to make, a little effort and a super easy sauce for the topping. These cakes taste great even without the sauce, but this lovely caramel sauce takes it from simple date cakes to a heavenly addictive dessert. My verdict, don't ditch the sauce. It's hardly any effort and has great results.

Let's get started then.

150 gms pitted dates, roughly chopped.
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
75g butter
100 gms powdered sugar
2 eggs
150 gms flour
1 tsp baking powder.

And this is what we do:
Preheat the oven to 180 C and line a muffin tray with paper cases. This recipe makes about 12 cakes.

Though you only need to roughly chop the dates, make sure you don't have any large chunky bits. Once you've chopped the dates, put them in a saucepan with 200 ml water and bring to a boil. Take the pan off heat and stir in the bicarb.

In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar till creamy. Add the eggs one by one and sift in flour and baking powder. Then add the dates along with any water in the pan. Really , this is how simple it is.
Divide the mixture between the cases. I find using an ice cream scoop very helpful to spoon the batter into the cases. Bake for about 20 -25 mins till they turn a shade of deep golden.

While they cook in the oven, make the sauce simply by mixing 125 gms butter, 125 gms brown sugar, 75 ml cream.(I used Amul Cream) Bring this mixture to a boil and then let it cook for a further 2 minutes and remove from heat. Don't worry if the sauce isn't too thick, it will thicken as it cools. Cook on a medium flame and don't let it burn.

Spoon over the warm sauce over the cooked cupcakes.

While any left over sauce can be stored in the fridge for a few months in a n air tight container, I truly found it hard to let any sauce remain...

So you know the right thing to do: Bake...................

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

One bowl Dark Chocolate Brownies.....

Valentine's day is 2 days away!!!!!!!!! And yes there's going to be that overdose of  hearts, red and all that jazz. So I thought instead , baking something chocolaty and fudgy and cakelicious would be the perfect answer to Valentine Day's. These dark chocolate brownies ( read as Happinesssssss) are easy to make. I said one bowl didn't I? Can't get easier than this. Brownies are easy to make, not really the " handle with care" kind of cakes. Whether or not you have baked before, you can jump blindly into making these.

I found this recipe in Dorie Greenspan's book " Baking: From my home to yours" which by the way is such an amazing book. It's a baker's bible, sort of. A book review of that is coming up soon on this blog.
So the recipe was for Classic Brownies and I tweaked it a bit. ( Read as used Dark Chocolate, a whole load of it).

There are less than 10 ingredients you'll need to for that dose of happiness.

150 gms of dark chocolate
125 gms butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp coffee powder
1/2 cup flour
1 cup cashew nuts. ( Originally the recipe had walnuts, either will do for that bit of crunch.)

Start by preheating the oven to a 175C. Line a 8 inch square baking pan with foil and butter the foil. Don't skip the greasing, it helps the foil peel off with ease when the brownies have baked.

Put a saucepan with a little water on heat and place a heatproof bowl over it, basically the double boiler method. I found this website to help you with it. Put the butter in the bowl, with the dark chocolate cut into pieces. Don't bother chopping the chocolate fine, just roughly will do. Take care not to let the butter burn. Stir till the butter is just melted and then take the pan off heat. Stir till all the chocolate has melted. The melted butter will help the chocolate melt. Whisk in the sugar, and then the eggs one by one. Splash of vanilla, coffee powder, and then the flour. Whisk till the flour is just incorporated. With a spatula stir in the nuts. Pour the batter into the baking pan and bake the brownies for about 35 mins or till a toothpick comes out clean.

 Wait for the brownies to cool a bit and then lift them off the pan with the foil. Turn it over on to a board and gently peel off the foil. Cut into squares. This recipe makes about 16 brownies.

And that's all. Have them warm and with a scoop of vanilla, they'll be perfect. Happy Baking....