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Baking ~ Possibly the best Chocolate Cupcakes I’ve made

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Last year in August, I opened up my kitchen commercially…. taking orders for custom made cupcakes from family and friends and the word spread. Why am i talking about it here? for the longest time, i felt embarrassed to post it here….but it is an extension of what i love, and you my dear blog readers deserve to know…. also, cupcakes are all the rage currently, so i thought i would put the information out there for anyone who wanted to know about where to order custom made cupcakes in Hyderabad. Look no further. Send me an email at arundati(dot)rao(at)gmail(dot)com or leave a comment here and i will get back to you. You could also leave a message for me on my Facebook page.

Recently, I made a batch of chocolate cupcakes with my regular recipe but wasn’t happy with the texture of the cocoa powder only cupcakes. I tweaked the recipe a bit and added melted dark chocolate and a pat of butter to the same batter and the cupcakes turned out like magic! deep dark full of texture and very rich. the compliments I got for these cupcakes alone should keep me from seeking any other recipe out in the future!

here is the recipe

Chocolate Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 cup sugar (I powdered it finely)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup coffee decoction  (or 1 cup of warm water mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons of instant coffee powder)

1 Tbsp white vinegar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract/ essence

6 Tbsp Vegetable oil

100 grams dark chocolate, chopped

3 tablespoons of butter, melted

METHOD

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a muffin tin with cupcake liners.

In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt until everything is mixed well.

In the large jar attachment of a food processor (or a large bowl if doing by hand) mix together the coffee, vinegar, vanilla extract, and oil.

Melt the chocolate and butter together (you can heat in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time till just melted, then stir to mix thoroughly)

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir only until they just come together. The mixture will be thin. Add the melted butter and chocolate into the batter.

Fill the cupcake liners with batter till about 2/3 full.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or till a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool on a rack.

Once cool, frost or eat/ serve as is.

I made 12 mini cupcakes, and 5 regular sized ones with this batter.

Hearts in the Right Place – An Appeal for Help & Heart (y) Centered Cupcakes

The hoopla for Valentine’s day is hard to miss. I’ve never believed in making monuments of days and dates. I would like to, like a lot of people, turn my nose up at a lot of what is now the genius of the guys up at marketing who manage to put the pressure on everyone to express your love with diamonds and roses and other such stuff…. but i couldnt this year. What with my writing for a newspaper and all… i had to do a valentine’s day special and i brought out the pink hearts with a vengeance!

On the sharing love bit… if you like me have been inactive (blogwise that is) you may/maynot have heard of the fund raiser drive by this very dear blogging friend called Siri for Vaidehi Ashram in Hyderabad. She is like a woman possessed and it is so inspiring to see how her passion to really make a difference has resulted in this ashram recieving donations from bloggers and readers accross the world. For me who feels emotional even about inanimate objects, i cannot even imagine being alone in this world and not having anyone or anything to call my own. Vaidehi Ashram in Hyderabad is a safe place for girls where they are provided  an environment to live and study and given some semblance of family and community.  The world as it is, is a harsh place, add to that the knowledge that you have been abandoned for whatever reasons, is reason enough to feel battered. But here is a place that will help you and care for you. And then there are people like Siri who dont just sit back and wonder why something cannot be done, but actually do it. Several bloggers are sponsoring beautiful prizes for the raffle and there is really a wide variety to choose from. plus its all for a good cause… You can get all the details about the Fundraiser here and please click here to buy a raffle ticket. 

What can you to to help?

Its as easy as buying a raffle ticket. Each Ticket for the raffle ticket is for $10 (INR 500). Buying multiple tickets will give you a better chance of winning the prize you want.

How can you Buy the Raffle Ticket/s

There is an easy to use link to make your payment. All you have to do is make a payment via Paypal or credit. 

You could also email Siri at info(dot)siri(at)gmail(dot)com to check about making donations in indian rupees.

When you have completed the donation process, please email Siri at  info(dot)siri(at)gmail(dot)com with confirmation of your payment and specifying the raffle prize you are interested in.

Escapades is making a small contribution to this fund drive. A Box of assorted handcrafted Chocolate Truffles made by me. there are 10 boxes to be won and shipping is within India. Code is RF3.  

If you are not a resident, you can nominate an indian resident to receive the chocolates. Chocolates have literally changed the way i think about work, and yes i do this for a living, but i know each piece is carefully handmade and will put a smile on the face of the person who will taste its pure indulgence. I really hope you will be moved enough to do your bit….you have until Feb 25th to participate in the raffle. Goodluck!

Handcrafted Chocolate Truffles (10 boxes to be won) the raffle code is RF3

Back to Valentine’s Drama… and if you forget all the hoopla, these beautiful cupcakes are so pretty, that i couldnt get myself to eat them without feeling bad! if pink and hearts dont rock your boat, please try it with any other colour or shape….

this is a basic cupcake recipe that i tweaked a bit.

Heart Centered Cupcakes

Butter – ½ cup (unsalted at room temperature, if using salted butter, skip the salt)

Sugar – 1 cup (powdered in a blender)

Eggs – 3 (at room temperature)

Baking powder – 11/2 teaspoon

Baking soda – ½ teaspoon

Vanilla extract – 1 teaspoon

Salt – 1/4 teaspoon

Maida – 1½   cups

Milk – ¼ cup

Red food colour – 1 teaspoon

Method: 

In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar till pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well till completely mixed. Add the vanilla and beat some more.
Sift the Maida with the salt (if using) baking powder and baking soda. Mix in the Maida and the milk alternately, 1/3 quantity at a time. Mix this lightly and do not over mix.
Take ¼ of this batter and mix in the food colour. Spread this into a flat baking tin and bake at 180 C for 20 minutes or till a tester comes out clean. Cool this cake, when completely cool, using a heart shaped cookie cutter, cut out hearts and set aside. You can use the scraps for a trifle pudding or cake pops.Line a cupcake mould with liners, using a round spoon, put about 11/2 tablespoon of batter in the liner, stick a baked heart into it and add 1 tablespoon of batter over it. Repeat till all the batter is used. Bake at 180 C till done (about 20 minutes).

Cool completely before serving the heart surprise cupcake! Cut to reveal the heart if needed.

As I write this, there has been an outpouring of grief amongst the blogging community over the untimely passing away of Raji, better known as Miri of Peppermill. I admit that i didnt know her personally. I came accross her blog (it was hard to miss) but i didnt intereact with her much. Never once thought she was ill. She leaves behind a 6 year old daughter and her husband. I wish them the strength to bear their grief. Through all the tributes, I have gathered that she was a vivacious lady who faced life with a beautiful smile and not once let on about her health issues. When I wallow in self pity, I hope to be strengthened by her and her life…. not knowing her, is purely my loss…. RIP.

Eggless Baking ~ Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Cake

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My life is currently held captive by an 8 week old pooch who has no consideration for the fact that i am not a morning person and i dont like my ankles bitten into by razor sharp teeth. Despite all the mayhem around here (Read Sage’s story here), who could not fall in love with this face?

Meet Sage Sizzler Iyer. His sombre Sagacious look made K decide he should be called Sage, also scored high with me for the foodie connotation. (K was petrified i would give the pooch a sissy (according to him) name like basil or pepper). Since he’s anything but sagelike when he gets fortified with food, i went in for a second name as well!

Early morning wakings (at insane hours, even for my board exams i didnt wake up as early as Sage makes me these days) means that i have more time on my hands and browsing begins at a much earlier hour for me.

You can’t ignore the assault of beautiful pictures at 5 a.m when you are just wanting the milk to heat up and boil already so that you can have some caffeine in your blood stream and begin to resume your humanly functions. Its like the lowest resistance to anything. and so yesterday morning, rudely shoved out of bed at 5 a.m to feed the resident pooch baby food, I was waiting for the milk to boil, i saw this piece of cake on foodgawker and i was smitten. I had a bag of frozen blueberries stashed away in the freezer that i bought all glassy eyed at the supermarket the other week, from the imported foods aisle at hypercity. but am sure this recipe will work well with any other fruit cut up real small.

I looked thru my pantry and gathered all the things i needed. I made it eggless as we were expecting guests dinner who dont eat eggs. it was convenient that i had an egg replacer on hand, else I’d have used powdered flax seeds. I used a 9 inch tart pan to bake it and not as a loaf. Also swapped the All Purpose Flour for my regular multi grain chapati flour.

i had this baking in the oven even breakfast was made. it smelt heavenly as it baked. The flavour of the blueberry with the lemon syrup was very unique and it was served warmed up after lunch as dessert.

Here is the original recipe. below is my version with the changes.

For the cake:

1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon Multigrain Wheat Flour (you could also use Whole Wheat flour or all-purpose flour), divided

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (I used home made, made with toned 2% fat milk)

1 cup sugar

3 teaspoons Orgran Egg Replacer mixed with 3 tablespoons of water or use 3 large eggs

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (approximately 2 lemons)

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed and rinsed ( I used frozen)

For the Lemon Syrup:

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/3 cup sugar

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bottom and sides of one 9 inch round cake tin or 9 x 5-inch loaf pans; dust with flour, tapping out excess.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, (I did this in a blender jar used the mixer) whisk together the yogurt, sugar, egg replacer, lemon zest, vanilla and oil. Pour it into the dry ingredients and slowly with a gentle hand, incorporate them to make a batter.

Sprinkle the reserved flour over the blueberries and toss them. Gently fold into the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared cak tin pan and bake 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack on top of a baking sheet.

Make the lemon syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir together the lemon juice and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once dissolved, continue to cook for 3 more minutes. Remove from the heat; set aside.

Use a toothpick to poke holes in the tops and sides of the warm loaf. Brush the top and sides of the loaf with the lemon syrup. Let the syrup soak into the cake and brush again. Let the cake cool completely.

The original recipe even has a lemon sugar glace, but I omitted this. I liked the tartness that the lemon syrup gave the cake. It was wonderful warm, am sure will taste fantastic when paired with vanilla icecream too. This is a moist cake and leftovers should be stored in the fridge. I think it will keep for 3-4 days. Ours was all gone the same day I baked it though!

Mango Cardamom Pound Cake (Eggless) and The Baking Club

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Am the last to post this fab cake we made as a result of some chatting with friends on facebook. A few weeks ago, my namesake and I were chatting. Its a ritual that we catch up even if its only online…. infact thanks to blogging, this is a friendship for keeps. i was in the midst of some heavy baking and was keeping her updated with my progress when she said all this baking talk made her want to bake too. I was just too happy and asked her to keep me company and bake alongside. So what if our kitchens were in Hyderabad and Singapore respectively! small difference it made.

When she wrote about this on fb, remembering another occasion where she and nandita had baked together, both Aparna and another namesake (yes, there are three of us… with differently spelt names mind you!) thought it would be fun to do something like a baking club, get together and bake together.

Since mangoes are in abundance, we decided to make a mango cake, zeroed in on a mango pound cake. Each one was free to choose a recipe of their own choice.

I went with the same recipe that Raaga chose, from Divya’s blog. Which i am told is from Deeba’s blog…. if you are confused with all the names, let me just say, i have been fortunate to find like minded friends in the blogosphere….and these are people i would keep in touch with even if i were to stop blogging.

So here goes. We were supposed to post on the 7th. but i was too busy celebrating my new car, a hectic weekend, and some fun stuff including chaperoning a couple of 10 yr olds to watch Kung Fu Panda -2. Excuses aside, here is the cake. Mine was a little underbaked but still yummy. the only change i  made was to make  mine eggless.

Eggless Mango Cardamom Pound Cake

1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour / Maida
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cardamom, Powdered
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter
2/3 cup Sugar
3 tablespoons thick curd / or 2 eggs
100ml Buttermilk (add 1 tsp white vinegar to 100 ml room temp milk, leave for 10 mins till it curdles and use)
1/2 cup Mango Pulp
1 cup mango pieces chopped small
Icing sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F. Prepare a cake tin with butter and dust it with flour (i skipped this cos i used a silicon bundt pan)
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Cream the butter with the sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the curds (or eggs if using) and beat well. my mixture curdled a bit at this point.
Add the buttermilk, mango pulp and cardamom and beat again.Add the dry ingredients into the batter, a little at a time.
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a knife/ tester inserted into the cake comes out clean.
My tester came out clean at 40 mins, but i think i needed to increase the baking time to 50 mins
Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan. Dust with icing sugar, slice and serve.
Notes:
This is the first time i am baking with mango and cardamom. i loved the combination (yeah i know it is classic, but i am slow like that). I used 1 cup of mango pulp but in the recipe i have written 1/2 cos the liquid was too much in the batter. I also reduced the sugar to 2/3 because i found the original of 3/4 cup a bit too sweet. If you like your cakes sweeter, add all the sugar in the recipe. I’d also skip the dusting with sugar, this was for purely cosmetic value!

Eggless Multigrain Nutmeg &Honey Cake Recipe

For the last year, most of my baked goods, especially cakes and muffins are made almost exclusively using whole wheat flour (the regular chapathi/ roti flour). To be honest, I have stopped buying and using refined flour / maida. When I bake for friends, I am not sure if everyone will be happy with the healthier flour, so use refined/ all purpose flour.  A few months ago, we completely switched to multigrain flour for our daily rotis. It was an easy way of introducing the benefits of various grains like jowar, bajra and ragi in our daily diet apart from whole wheat flour that we generally use. I have been wanting to use it to bake cakes and muffins, but shied away wondering if K would be able to detect it and refuse to eat it. worse still, would it be inedible and thus mean a wastage of the other precious ingredients that are used. I need not have worried. This cake turned out to be absolutely moist with a beautiful texture. It was a little too sweet for my taste, but am giving here the original quantities i used because i know most people prefer a cake to be … well, sweet.

Try it, the flavours of the honey and nutmeg blend so well, that i think this is my new best cake. move over chocolate, i think you were always overrated! here comes the nutmeg!

Eggless Multigrain Nutmeg & Honey Cake

Makes one 7 inch cake

1 cup multigrain flour (you can substitute with maida/ all purpose flour

a pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 level teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup honey

1/2 cup melted butter or oil (I used oil)

1/2 cup thick curd/ yogurt (make sure it is not sour)

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon finely powdered dry ginger

1/2 teaspoon powdered nutmeg

3-4 tablespoons finely sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. butter and line a cake tin with greaseproof paper or aluminium foil

Mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, powdered sugar and nutmeg and dry ginger powder thoroughly with a whisk or a fork.

In a medium bowl, mix together the yogurt, milk, oil/ melted butter and honey.

Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid ingredients. mix together lightly with a whisk or a fork. Do not overmix.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin. Sprinkle the slivered almonds on top and bake for about 30-35 minutes. Check for doneness with a skewer or a knife till it comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before removing the cake liner and slice.

this cake tastes best after sitting overnight. the flavours burst out when you bite in. This is a beautiful cake to serve at tea time.

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