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Category Archives: cakes

Pear and Ginger Cake

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A few years ago, a blogger friend Finla posted a picture of a beautiful pear cake. I asked for the recipe and meant to make it soon. It has taken me almost 2 years. Every time I would buy pears, I’d imagine that beautiful cake, then life would take over and they would languish in the fruit bowl, or perish in the fridge and no cake would be made.

Last week, I had a day to myself and the choice was between making gulab jamoon from a packet mix I got for free with something else or baking a cake. I was on a roll that day, I had to make a cake for my driver’s daughter and decided it was the right muhurtham to make the  pear cake.

The batter is pretty straight forward and comes together quite easily with standard baking ingredients. It was similar to the strawberry cake that took the blogging and instagramming world by storm a couple of years ago. It was one of the most beautiful batters I have made. One can make out that it is going to be a lovely cake just by looking at the batter after a few years of baking.

Finla’s recipe calls for fresh ginger, I didn’t have any so I used dried ginger. Fresh would have tasted way better, but this cake would have never gotten baked if I had waited to go get some! Her recipe was in weight measures, but I always use cups, so everything has been converted for cup measures.

The hint of citrus from the orange juice and the ginger gives this cake beautiful undertones. The combination of a buttery batter, pear, orange and ginger is a really good one. In her recipe, Finla topped it with a chocolate ganache, I skipped that because I loved the cake on its own, plus I am not the world’s biggest chocolate fan! Try this cake for when you want a light snack for tea time, or to pack into your child’s lunch box. Am sure you will love it!

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Pear and Ginger cake

2 tsp fresh ginger grated (I used powdered dried ginger)

2 ripe pears

2/3 cup soft butter + extra for the pan

1 tablespoon lemon zest (I used orange zest)

1/4 cup Orange juice (I added this the original recipe did not have this)

2/3 cup Sugar (can use light brown, I used white)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla essence/ extract

1/2 cup milk

1 cup flour + extra for dusting the pan

1.5 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoon Almond meal (I did not add this)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and butter and line a baking pan with baking paper. I used a 7×7 inch square pan.

Peel and slice the pears, sprinkle with a few teaspoons of the lemon/orange juice and set aside.

Whisk the butter and sugar till pale, fluffy and doubled in volume. Don’t skip this step because it ensures that your cake rises well and is fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well in between. Add the vanilla, orange / lemon zest and ginger, whisk well.

Mix the orange juice with the milk and set aside. In a bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder and salt, mix in the almond meal if using. Add the flour mix and milk alternatively into the butter and eggs mixture and gently fold using a spatula. Make sure not to over-mix the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, arrange the pear slices on top and bake for 40-45 minutes at 180 C till done or a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Cool completely, dust with icing sugar or chocolate sauce and serve.

This cake stays fresh at room temperature for 2 days. Because of the fresh pears, it is best to refrigerate it if keeping for any longer.
Gently reheat in the microwave for 30 seconds before serving.

Coffee Choco Chip Muffins

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I maintain that I am not fully awake and ready to function each morning unless I have my cup of coffee. I am also a tiny bit particular that the milk should be freshly boiled and the decoction freshly brewed. I didn’t realise how important this was to me until a few years ago, on a trip to Bangalore, I stayed with my cousin. She offered to make my coffee. What followed is a tale I cannot forget. I watched her take milk from the fridge, heat it, add decoction that was sitting on the counter top, it wasn’t strong enough, so in went some instant coffee, mixed in some sugar and handed it to me. I tried my best to drink it. Telling myself it was just coffee. I failed and the coffee met the kitchen sink after a few laboured sips. She now laughs and asks me to make my own coffee when I visit!

It is my daily ritual, my start of the day and is kind of sacred. I set the filter with two scoops of coffee powder, add the hot water, soak Sage’s food and go for a walk with him. By the time we come back 20-30 minutes later, he is ready for his first meal of the day and I look forward to my coffee and morning peace.

Some days the coffee doesn’t turn out right. For no fathomable reason. I am decidedly irritated for the first hour on such days. I call them the ‘curse of coffee’ or ‘Kaapi shraabam’ days. You don’t want to meet me early in the morning on such days!

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I recently introduced a 6 day baking course at my studio. I get several requests for longer than my current one day basic class and decided to try it out. We tackle a different kind of bake in more detail than my one day class. One day is cookies, one day cupcakes and so on. Since a lot of my students come back for classes, I try not to repeat the items being taught. They appreciate the variety and I don’t get bored.

In last month’s class we made these beautiful Coffee Choco Chip Muffins. I am not big on chocolate, I have said it numerous times. Yet anything well made with chocolate is always welcome. This blog itself has a tonne of chocolate recipes. This one is a sure keeper. Best for when you have guests over for chai/ coffee or to add to a picnic / travel bag. These are easy to make and are very moist. I like to keep them for a day before eating them so that the flavours are nicely infused.
Try them and do let me know how you liked these muffins.


 Coffee Chocolate chip muffins (Makes 8)    

1.5 cups  Maida / All purpose flour  

1/2 cup  Choco chips  

1 teaspoon  baking powder  

1/2 teaspoon  baking soda  1/2 teaspoon  salt  

1/4 cup  vegetable oil  

1 medium  egg or ¼ cup yogurt  

1/2 cup  milk  

2/3 cup  sugar  

1 teaspoon  vanilla essence

1 tablespoon Instant coffee powder (reduce if you prefer it milder)

  • Sift the flour with the baking powder, soda and salt. Add the choco chips and set  aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees  Celsius
  • Whisk together the milk, egg or yogurt, vanilla, oil and sugar till the sugar has completely  dissolves.  
  • Add the flour in two parts, mix gently till the batter is formed. It will be a thick  batter.
  • Spoon into the muffin liners, fill ⅔ of the liner only.  
  • Bake for 25­-27 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  • Cool for 10 minutes before serving. Can store upto 7 days if refrigerated, cool  completely before storing.   
  • Instead of choco chips, use any chopped chocolate, or nuts

 

Salted Caramel and Ganache Brownie Trifles

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Last week, I introduced a new class at the Studio. Try as I might, to juggle all the classes I run because they are popular and the ones I . want to do because I love teaching them, I fail to accommodate new ones as often as I would like to.

This week, I decided I would sacrifice one of the more popular ones for one that I have been wanting to do ever since everything stuffed into glass jars of all sizes and shapes became the rage. So anyway, I chose a few things that I had not taught before, because a large part of my students do come for multiple classes and I feel guilty if they’re learning something similar to what they’ve already done.

The Brownie trifle is fairly easy. One can make all the components well ahead of time and assemble them as and when needed. That’s the beauty of pre portioned desserts. Serving it up too is absolutely mess free.

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There are four components to this dessert – the brownie (pick your favourite one or use the recipe below), salted caramel sauce, simple chocolate ganache and whipped cream. Add or remove any element you don’t have or don’t like and voila! God level dessert at your fingertips!

Chocolate Brownie (Makes a flat 9 inch brownie)

100 grams Dark chocolate (melted)

½ cup Butter

¾ cup Brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon Instant Coffee powder

2 teaspoons vanilla essence

1 cup Flour (maida)

½ teaspoon Baking powder

½ teaspoon Salt

2 tablespoons Cocoa powder

Sift the maida with baking powder, salt and cocoa powder and set aside.

Add the melted chocolate and butter to a bowl and microwave it for 1 minute or till melted.

Add the sugar and stir. When cooled off a bit, add the eggs and vanilla and beat really well.

Stir in the flour mixture, mix gently without over mixing to form a thick batter. Pour into a greased and lined 9 inch pan.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 25-26 minutes.

Cool before cutting into pieces for the dessert.

Salted Caramel Sauce (Makes 1 ½ cups)

1/3 cup salted butter

½ cup cream

1 cup fine castor sugar

2 tablespoons water

In a heavy bottom saucepan, heat the water and sugar till it comes to a bubble. Do this on low heat, do not stir. Shake the pan if needed. Keep cooking on the lowest heat till the sugar starts to caramelise a light golden colour. Take care not to burn the sugar.

Turn off the heat once it becomes golden and add the butter to it. Mix gently with a whisk to melt the butter. Then add the cream and mix. Return to the lowest heat and mix till it everything has mixed well. Take it off the heat and cool completely before using. It will become thicker as it cools.

Chocolate Ganache (Makes 1 cup)

1 cup Cream + ⅛ cup milk

1 cup Chopped Dark chocolate

Heat the cream till it bubbles, do not boil. Add the chopped chocolate to the cream, mix gently and set aside. The heat of the cream will melt the chocolate. Once it has come to room temperature, gently mix to make sure there are no lumps. Use as needed.

2 Cups Sweetened Whipped Cream

1 cup Heavy whipping cream

4-6 teaspoons confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon Vanilla essence

A pinch of salt

Chill the cream overnight. Chill a stainless steel bowl and the beaters of the hand whisk as well. Shake the cream in the unopened carton well and pour into the chilled bowl. Beat on medium speed till it begins to form soft peaks. Add the salt, sugar and vanilla and beat till it forms stiff peaks. Transfer to a piping bag with a star nozzle fitted (optional) and refrigerate until needed.

To assemble the dessert

Chop the brownie into bite sized pieces. Have all the ingredients ready. Add the whipped cream into a piping bag with a star nozzle.

Add one layer of brownie pieces to the glass jar, drizzle some chocolate ganache, Add 2 tablespoons of caramel sauce and top with whipped cream.

Repeat with another layer. Drizzle some more caramel sauce on the top for garnish.

Chill at least 30 minutes before serving.

Whole Wheat Carrot Cake with Garam Masala

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IMG_20160328_121406.jpgPS: This post has been in the writing since Easter………Yes it has taken me that long! And it isn’t even a spectacular post!

The long weekend of Easter was spent mostly in sloth. Even baths were taken only when I was threatened by the presence of people other than K. Wait….. that’s not true. We went out for a party on Friday night, so I had the said bath and dressed up, even wore lipstick to draw the attention away from my overgrown brows, Saturday I finished class and got home at 3 p.m. Which only left Sunday for sloth, which I think is acceptable.

But my brain works in mysterious ways and told me it was Easter, in another life I would have been up at 4 a.m to attend sunrise service. We’ve come a long way from it and I woke up well after 8 a.m. After realising the day would not have any tedious activities, I started to feel guilty for not doing anything. Chatting back and forth with a new friend, I was prompted to make a carrot cake that she sent me the recipe for. I thought I’ll make it eggless since we were contemplating an evening visit to the in laws who don’t eat eggs, but I was out of yogurt and surprisingly well stocked with eggs. So egg wala cake it was!

I more or less used the blueprint of the Banana Loaf I posted here. This works well with whole wheat flour and gives it a beautiful crust. You can use all refined flour if that’s all you have. Indian kitchens/ pantries have whole wheat flour that is used to make rotis and the commercial ones are very good for baking. If you are using a home made / freshly ground flour which contains more bran, then the recipe may need some more moisture and a little extra pinch of baking powder for aeration.

The cake turned out very good. I was happy with the texture and the mild sweetness. We had it with a scoop of vanilla icecream to celebrate Easter! The flavours intensified the next day. I love nutmeg in bakes and really think cinnamon is so overrated as a spice/ flavour.

Here’s the recipe for this simple carrot cake.

1 cup Whole wheat flour

1 cup Maida (all purpose flour)

1.5 teaspoons Baking powder

1 teaspoon Baking soda

1/2 teaspoon Salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional but substitute with cinnamon powder if you prefer)

1/4 teaspoon Garam masala (yes! I know. Trust me on this!)

2/3 cup sugar ( a mix of brown and white gives it a deeper colour – can add upto 1 cup)

2 medium Eggs at room temperature

1.5 cups Grated carrots

1/2 cup Milk

1/4 cup Vegetable oil or melted butter (I used sunflower oil)

1 teaspoon Vanilla essence

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, line a 7 inch loaf Pan or a 7 inch square cake pan and brush with oil or melted butter and set aside.

Into a bowl, add the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, garam masala and nutmeg, whisk to mix well and set aside. This can also be sifted a couple of times. 

In a blender jar (or another bowl, whisk by hand), add the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, oil and pulse till it resembles a thick milkshake. Make sure the sugar has dissolved.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry and gently whisk till there are no lumps. Add the grated carrot and mix gently again. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, place on the middle rack of the oven and bake at 180 degrees C for 40-45 minutes, depending on the oven, or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean. 

This is a rustic style cake and will crack in the middle a bit. If you do not want it to crack, add 3-4 tablespoons extra melted butter / oil and bake it at 170 C.

When done, leave in the pan to cool for 15 minutes, remove from the pan and peel off the paper lining, slice and serve.

Keeps well in an airtight box for 1 day at room temperature or in the fridge for upto a week.

 

Eggless Pistachio Cake with Thandai Buttercream

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Pistachio Cake with Thandai Buttercream

Pistachio Cake with Thandai Buttercream

I’ve been going over my food pictures over and over again for the last hour. I’ve missed writing here. A lot has been happening and I wrote about it here. Dismal little has been said here. I miss writing here, sometimes the words fail me, sometimes I’m too tired, I have about 25 draft posts and yet nothing to publish. I haven’t been cooking much, definitely nothing fancy and blog worthy. Sometimes I just want to post something, but even that I haven’t been able to…

I’ll start with this cake. I made it last Diwali. Yes that’s a long time ago, but wait, I have pictures that date back to about 5 years ago that will probably never get posted here, or anywhere else. So its ok I think to be posting stuff from not older than a year ago.

So about this cake, it started with wanting to make something with an Indian mithai flavour. One of my favourite Indian sweets is the Pista roll, very similar to kaju katli, but the flavour of pistachios and the colour just gets me as excited as a child each time. I made this cake eggless since I took some of it to share with K’s parents who don’t eat eggs. I used a little buttercream to pretty it up and cut the cake into squares. You can also bake this batter as cupcakes in a paper lined muffin tray.

 

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Eggless Pistachio Cake

2/3 cup                  Milk at room temp

3 Tablespoons       Yoghurt/ curd

1 teaspoon             Pistachio essence

1 1/2 cups              Maida

1/4 cup                  Ground Pistachios

3/4 cup                  Sugar

1/2 teaspoon          Salt

1 1/2 teaspoon       Baking powder

a pinch                   Baking soda

7 tablespoons         Vegetable Oil

1/2 teaspoon          green food colour (optional – I used this)

Preheat oven to 350F / 180 C. Line an 8 inch square cake pan with paper and grease.

Powder the sugar till fine. Add the maida, ground pistachios, salt, baking powder and baking soda to a mixing bowl and whisk with a fork or a spoon to mix together.

Whisk together the milk, yoghurt, pista essence, colour if using and oil. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and with a wooden spoon or a hand held whisk, mix till well blended.

The batter should fall in thick ribbons. Pour the batter into the cake pan and tap it to remove air bubbles.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire cooling rack before slicing into 16 equal squares.

To make the buttercream

1/2 cup    Butter at room temperature

1 1/2 cup   Confectioner’s Sugar / Icing Sugar

2 tablespoons Thandai syrup (substitute with 2 tablespoons milk mixed with crushed cardamom pods, rose petals and a few drops of rose essence)

A few drops of pista essence and green food colour

With a hand beater, beat the butter until it is creamy. Add the sugar, 1/2 cup at a time and whisk till fluffy. Add the thandai syrup, essence and colour and beat. Taste and adjust for sweetness or flavour. Place a star tip nozzle in a piping bag or in a ziplock bag and add the buttercream to it. Press out swirls or rosettes onto each square piece of the cake. Serve with some tea or coffee or with a scoop of icecream as dessert.

Spiced Pumpkin and Carrot Multigrain Loaf

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garam masala spiced pumpkin loaf

garam masala spiced pumpkin loaf

I posted this picture to my instagram account and a lot of friends asked for the recipe. I thought I would do a quick post. I teach this in my healthy baking workshop and students are usually quite surprised at the soft texture which I believe is largely due to pumpkin puree.

I have a special love for yellow pumpkin. I love it as a vegetable, made into a really tangy curry, the way we make it in the south, stir fried with minimal spices and eaten with roti, and as a base for creamy soups minus any cream. But I love baking with pumpkin. The puree of yellow pumpkin lends itself beautifully to rolls and loaves and makes eggless baking particularly moist and soft. Fruit and vegetable purees are great if one wants to do any of the following:

1) Bake eggless versions of cakes and loaves

2) Cut back on sugar and fat

3) Bake with wholegrain flours because coarser flours need more moisture and purees are perfect for this

So this is a recipe that has very little fat, I used vegetable oil, but feel free to use melted butter in the same amount. I’ve used powdered organic jaggery for sweetness. I love using garam masala to bake with, for one it is easily accessible on the kitchen shelf and has great depth of flavour due to the blend of spices over a single spice like nutmeg (to which I am very partial) or cinnamon.

Spiced Pumpkin and Carrot Multigrain Loaf

(Makes one 9 inch loaf)

1+1/4  cup Whole wheat flour

1/2 cup Powdered oats (I use quick cooking oats, powdered in the blender)

¼ cup Ragi flour

2 teaspoons Baking powder

1 teaspoon Baking soda/ soda bi carb

½ teaspoon Salt

2 teaspoons Garam masala powder (or a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and a pinch of pepper)

3/4 cup Grated Jaggery/ palm sugar/ brown sugar

½ cup Vegetable oil

1 Egg (replace with 1/4 cup milk+ 1/2 teaspoon vinegar)

2/3 cup Pumpkin puree (pressure cook or boil chunks of peeled and deseeded yellow pumpkin till fully cooked and puree in a blender with a splash of water)

½ cup Grated yellow pumpkin

½ cup Grated carrot

½ cup raisins

½ cup Walnuts/ Almonds (optional, I did’nt add them)

  • Sift the flours with the salt, baking powder, baking soda, garam masala powder and set aside. Mix in the grated carrot and pumpkin with the flour.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease a 9 inch loaf pan / baking pan.
  • Beat together the oil, egg, pumpkin puree. Add the jaggery/ brown sugar to the wet ingredients and whisk till well mixed.
  • Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in 3 batches and fold in gently.
  • Bake for 45-55 minutes or till a tester comes out clean.
  • Cool in the pan  for 10 minutes and transfer to  a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

Valentine Day Recipes

heartcupcake

Chocolate lovers rejoice!

Mini Chocolate and Strawberry Trifles

Boozey Chocolate Tarts (yes booze makes everything better)

Oreo Brownies

Cake Pops

Chocolate Cheese Cake

Chocolate Valentino Cake 

Deep Dark Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting 

Chocolate Truffles

 

Non Chocolatey stuff but still terrific!

Sweetheart Cookies 

Orange and Vanilla Cupcakes

Vanilla Custard with Pears poached in Orange Sauce

White Chocolate Pannacotta with Raspberry Sauce

Eggless Star Anise Icecream with Strawberry Compote

Valentine’s Breakfast Ideas

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Multigrain herb and cheese rolls

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