Showing posts with label Cakes n' bakes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cakes n' bakes. Show all posts

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Nigella's Clementine Cake - Oh my darling, Clementine!

Oh my darling, Oh my darling,
Oh my darling, Clementine.

My treasure chest is full of memories about the man who made my days bright by helping me see the world a bit differently, by sharing the knowledge beyond the textbooks. A treasure trove of knowledge, the man who once taught me the Clementine song - in fact, teacher to many. We all loved to sing along with him. Through his eyes, I have traveled around the world in a short time. One who taught me Mulligatawny is nothing more than our own "mulaku thanni."

Sir, to date, I take pride in the fact that I have shared the story of mulaku thanni with  many a Anglo-Indian including my husband and definitely Anglo-Indians can take full credit for teaching  me what steam cakes and salt mango tree are all about. I was in awe when I learned about this first. Hope you all know the recipes for polished steam cakes and salt mango tree.

Your undying passion to impart knowledge even at your old age - Salute you sir. The theory of love and life you shared have all stayed with us. Love you Menon Sir.

Nigella's Clementine cake is a sort of Middle Eastern Cake/dessert. This flourless dessert has a character of moist pudding to it, an orange lovers dream, tastes best the second day, aromatic, and if you are lucky enough you can even get Clementine without pips that make the road to orange heaven so simple. Do you know eating pith and all of orange is good for you. Read on here.

I was hesitant to try this because of the cooking time of oranges, which is 2 hrs  included in Nigella's recipe of a clementine cake. Instead, I tried to pressure cook, was worried about the end result, and cake turning bitter. Much to my amazement it was moist, sweet and orangey.

Clementines - 375 g
Eggs - 6 medium
White sugar - 225 g
Ground almonds - 250 g
Baking powder - 1 tsp

Pressure cook clementines for 20 minutes. Drain the water and let the clementines cool. Cut each clementine in half to remove any pips, if  any. (My Clementines lacked pips, so the job was done within minutes). In a blender, put the clementines and blend to make a paste (skins, pith, fruit and all). Preheat the oven to 190 degrees celsius. Beat the eggs by hand adding sugar, ground almonds, and baking powder. Mix well. Finally add pulped oranges.

Pour the cake mixture into the tin and bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour. If your cake is not done in 40 minutes, cover with foil to stop the top from burning. Remove from the oven and leave to cool the cake in the tin itself. When the cake is cold, you can take it out of the tin.

We had the Clementine cake straight from the tin. Whatever remained the next day turned out to be very tasty.


1. This dessert can very well fall into the category of make ahead dessert as it tastes best the following day and the intensely orange flavor is reduced.

2. Try serving orange cake with a dollop of cream for not so orange lovers. I think they are in for a kick.

3. Drain all the water after pressure cooking and before blending the oranges.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Devil's Food Cake

Abbey’s ever evolving palate is taking sudden twists and turns with my baby trying to be more of a sophisticated mallu in terms of what she eats.  One morning, she popped out of her own zone giving mamma shock of a lifetime by giving 3 choices for breakfast –  PICCHA (pizza), Cake, and I-CHEAM (ice cream).  For now Mamma takes pride knowing that even though her daughter finds refinement in these things, she is satisfied with spoonfuls of congee.

This fudgy cake was supposed to be my b’day cake, but was converted to Christmas cake for obvious reasons like the author was born just a few days ahead of Christmas and my clean disinterest for cakes.
So far this is Abbey’s favourite cake. She enjoyed it very much leaving our not so spotless sofa a nice smudge of chocolate.  

On a truly emotional note, Devil’s cake reminds me of how devilish part of a human being coexist with the good things in life and how we have to embrace both to lead a peaceful yet challenging life. Do you believe that beholding others the way they are is the best bet for your success?

Unsalted butter - 100 g
Caster sugar - 275 g
Eggs - 2 large
Self raising flour - 200 g
Cocoa powder - 75 g
Baking powder - 1 tsp
1 tbsp coffee powder mixed with 125 ml boiling water
Milk - 125 ml
Vanilla extract - 1 tsp

For the frosting
Unsalted butter, diced - 125 g
Cocoa powder - 25 g
Icing sugar - 125 g
Milk - 2-3 tbsp
Dark or milk chocolate shavings

Preheat the oven to 180 degree celsius. Grease the cake tins and line the bases with baking parchment. Uising an electric whisk, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition, until well mixed. in a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder. In another bowl, mix together the cooled coffee, milk, and vanilla extract. Beat alternate spoonfuls of the dry and liquid ingredients into the cake batter. Once the mixture is well blended, divide it between the tins. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the cakes are springy to the touch and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Remove the baking parchment.

For the frosting, melt the butter in a pan over low heat. Add the cocoa powder and continue to cook for a minute or two, stirring frequently. Allow to cool slightly. Sift in the icing sugar, beating thoroughly to combine. Blend in the milk 1 tbsp at a time, until smooth and glossy. Allow to cool (it will thicken) and then use half to sandwich the cakes together, and the remainder to decorate the top and sides of the cake. Finally use a vegetable peeler to create chocolate shavings and scatter them evenly over the top of the cake.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Gingersnaps - Do you know Ginger is a doctor?

Do you know Mr. Ginger is a doctor?

Ginger used to be a star fellow  for me, if not for many. He ruled our house at some point and I was pretty comfortable with that. Now don’t ask me why is G, a he. I consider him more masculine, if not a macho, quite built with the woody kinda body.  

I used to admire the doctor fellow Ginger so much so that I used to boil my water with G, chai with G (adrak wali chai), and last not but the least I often forced others to drink the same.

Some 5 years ago, I was dealing with a bad throat. Now I can see, It was all part of getting accustomed to winter (it was not freezing cold, but I was all skin and bones, so you know what I mean ....... that’s quite a challenge…..… right girlies), a new town, new apartment, and to top it all a new job.  I could have done anything and everything to ward off my coughing.  It was so necessary that I was continuously coughing for hours with a small pause in between.

There was sadly less time to care about coughing, but I can now remember the coughing used to result in popped out eyes accompanied with an exploding sound, and a feeling that I was ripping my very own heart and lungs just the way we do with chickens and duck, and the weird look from strangers when you move up and down a lift for the fear of getting infected …… oh! kill me……that was even more brutal.

The pills in the foiled case used to look like small bullets gushing out from a pistol and when they couldn’t work out their magic. Dr. concluded my immune system was bad. He gave me vitamin C pills to dissolve in water and drink. Ms. M at work used to share this with me as it was intensely citrusy with a fizz and quite a relief from the weary work. So I became the master contributor of orange flavored vitamin C pills.

I was inclined to ward off my cough as medicines could not give me any relief, . Someone told me ginger could do the trick. So I used to stash my freezer with loads of chopped ginger like a crazy lady to feed a massive crowd. 

Switching between work, travel, and cooking  there was very little time to care about me. Food used to be merely soups with some basmati rice poured over, but it was real comforting given that a big bowl could easily put me to sleep and that was another way to get a bit of relief.

In between I was studying and whatever little time I got I used to arrange my files, so that it is easy to cram during exams. That said I am not a studious person, but to lead a decent life I did it all in the stride like anybody else …… exams, job, exams, job ……. period.

I can remember my early love for ginger, candied one, sold in bus stands around TN. I used to love it. It was like rectangle sticks (inji mittai), then of course inji puli ……. Perfect when you are looking for something spicy saucy.

Happy news was that Dr. Ginger did all the work and I no more had to deal with the COUGH.

This time I thought around Christmas time to celebrate that long gone days of ginger with gingersnaps, but I messed it up so badly by using a year or so old ginger powder. Otherwise it was all right, not the best. 

Self-raising flour 350 g
pinch of salt
Caster sugar 200 g
Ground ginger 1 tbsp
Bicarbonate of soda 1 tsp
Butter plus extra for greasing 125 g
Golden syrup 75 g
Egg - 1 beaten
Grated orange rind - 1 tsp

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius, then lightly grease several baking trays. Sift together the flour, salt, sugar, ginger, and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl. Heat the butter and golden syrup together in a saucepan over a very low heat until the butter has melted. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool slightly, then pour the contents onto the dry ingredients. Add the egg and orange rind and mix thoroughly to form a dough. Using your hands, carefully shape the dough into 30 even-sized balls. Place the balls well apart on the prepared baking trays, then flatten them slightly with your fingers. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Rich fruit cake - Christmas cake

An early awakening call from Mom to update my blog as it is all dried up put me in a mood to nourish the same. Though super slow me (according to Dad's standards) could not keep up with blogging as my cooking adventures proceeded, surely have been hoarding all the recipes. So you all may be well past Christmas, but in terms of blogging I have reached only Christmas eve and the recipe today is for a rich fruit cake. As the name suggests it is exceedingly fruits and lot less flour. It means you give it a bite right there, you enter into a  fruit world, wondering where the flour has gone, then sweet sour citrusy gingery kick, and you are no more fruit deficient. The alcohol hint just complements the sweet sour punch in a right way, which fruit cakes are supposed to do. So the idea was to feed the cake with some rum at intervals, but the cake could not see the second dawn and it did not move further than a pregnant friend's house who live by next block.

I have been eyeing on the picture of a piece of fruit cake from The Big Book of Baking for quite long and it was like I wanna bake this. A first timer in making fruit cake, with no recipe to call my own, and with husband's constant nagging to make one, I was pondering until last minute the feasibility of store bought option of a Christmas cake. When my mind was prepared to make one, it was just hours to go before the eve, and with the perfectionist in me popping only at times, I was on a hunt for fruit peels and then the reality hit me - peels are out of stock.

With the habit of cramming everything until last minute, my heart racing, and me gasping for breath, I did it and when the results turned incredibly good,  SIGH! The exhaustive work  saw fruition at 12:00, when baby Jesus was born, and to be exact that's when we cut the cake. Everyone loved it except Abbey.

So shimmery December is going to stay for at least a week in my posts.

Sultanas - 350 g
Raisins - 225 g
Ready-to-eat dried apricots - 115 g
Stoned dates, chopped - 85 g
Dark rum - 4 tbsp plus extra for flavoring
Finely grated rind and juice of 1 orange
Unsalted butter - 225 g
Light muscovado sugar - 225 g
Eggs - 4
Chopped mixed peel - 70 g (I did not use this)
Glace cherries, quartered - 85 g
Stem ginger, chopped - 25 g
Blanced almonds, chopped - 40 g
Plain flour - 200 g
Ground mixed spice - 1 tsp

Soak the sultanas, raisins, apricots, and dates in a bowl and stir in the rum, orange rind, and orange juice. Cover and leave to soak for several hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a 20 cm round deep cake tin. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, beating hard after each addition. Stir in the soaked fruits, mixed peel, glace cherries, stem ginger, and blanced almonds.

Sift together the flour and mixed spice, then fold lightly and evenly into the mixture. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and level the surface, making a slight depression in the center with the back of the spoon.

Bake in the preheated oven for 2 1/4-2 3/4 hours, or until the cake is beginning to shrink away from the sides or do the skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely in the tin.

Turn out the cake and remove the lining paper. Wrap in grease proof paper and foil, and store for at least two months before use. To add a richer flavor, prick the cake with a skewer and spoon over a couple of extra tablespoons of rum, if using, before storing. (I skipped this part, but the cake was packed with right balance of flavors ...... yum yum yum)

Fruits soaked in rum

Monday, December 24, 2012

Nan khatai - My long lost love

I believe you all are set for Christmas and counting your 5-4-3-2. Well, the festival Christian in me is alive and almost all the immediate necessities have been taken care off to make the big day glamorous. Have you all chosen the color for Christmas? For me it is always red and green. This year with Abbey running around and plucking, piercing, and ripping being the keywords running in the house, Christmas tree is decked up over the table. Sending gifts - not started, but cookie making and cake making is showing a graph of high peaks with several tried and tested recipes to make sure I am on the safer side. 

I was neither interested in cookies nor cakes as a child. The only cookie or tea biscuit which I ever liked were Nan Khatais from Suburban stores. There was a supermarket named Suburban in Kochi, which used to sell those yummilicious snow white balls and I always look forward to our trip there to fetch one or two packets. My happiness was short lived as they closed the shop soon after beginning and I was never satisfied with another Nan khatai in my life. 

So this month’s baking started with my long lost love, took the recipe from Show me the curry - can’t go wrong and it was perfect, but I really do miss my Suburban Nan khatais.   


Unsalted Butter – 1 stick (1/2 cup, 4 oz) at room temperature
Powdered Sugar – 1/2 cup
Nutmeg Powder – 1/4 tsp
Cardamom Powder – 1/4 tsp
All Purpose Flour (Maida) – 1 cup
Baking Powder – 1/4 tsp
Salt – 1/8 tsp
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F or 150 degress C.
1. In a mixing bowl, combine powdered sugar (little at a time) with the softened butter until mixture is light and creamy.
2. Add Nutmeg Powder and Cardamom Powder and mix well.
3. In a separate bowl, sift All Purpose Flour with Baking Powder and Salt.
4. Combine Flour mixture (little at a time) with Butter Mixture to form a soft dough.
5. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for 15-20 minutes.
6. Knead dough once again and divide into 12 equal portions.
7. Roll each portion into a smooth ball with no cracks and place on a cookie sheet lined with wax/parchment paper or lightly greased foil. Leave ample space between dough balls.
7. Bake on the middle rack for 22-25 minutes (keep a close eye – nan khatai should remain white).
8. Remove from oven and let the nan khatai cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely before eating.
9. Store in an air tight container at room temperature.

The recipe search for Suburban Nan Khatai continues ........

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" chocolate cake with choco frosting - A day of double celebration

My best Diwali present arrived on evening of Diwali 2010 – It was the sweetest of the package I could ask for and will always be. Yes, my baby, Abigail came in to our lives and life has never been the same. Post delivery was highly eventful. - One being the birth of Abbey and second being me fighting for life. I kept everyone on their toes praying for my life. I held her in my chest soon after delivery …..and then ….fast forward …. I could remember only next day. I woke up at 3:00 in the ICU. Can say, Mommie took over center stage leaving baby alone. All the nurses and doctors did a fab job to save my life and I am totally indebted to them. Sometimes God can do wonders through physicians hands and brains. I am the best set example. Oh! and did I tell you ….. am a rosary girl. Always believe in the power of rosary. My wooden beads never fail me and was waiting for me when I got shifted from ICU to my own hospital bed.

I have seen the fine line between life and death and value life more than ever before. I always say now God give me a fair extension of life. Doctors came hugging and kissing next day saying I am a big survivor. So it is a double celebration for us. One, marked 2 years of our journey with Abbey and second for my 2 years of survival.

To date I believe my godmother, Margaret and Abbey’s godmother, Nandini were attending prayers during the time of delivery and those have done wonders. Thanks to both of you for the love and prayers you have showered throughout my pregnancy and after.

Fast forward 2 years
Our naughty cutie was totally unaware of chocolates as her parents don’t want to introduce it to her. We had plans of introducing chocolates slowly as she walk through her age 2. Let me say, best of our plans got shattered during a Friday mass when a Filipino lady introduced her to M&Ms. Gail has been completely hooked on to it ever after. So to make the day memorable I followed Hershey’s foolproof recipe for chocolate cake and “perfectly chocolate” chocolate frosting to go with it. The idea was to use some M&Ms to surprise her. Seeing the cake she went and licked the M&Ms and not to the cake. So we made a wish and blew the candle. I thanked myself for my extension to God and a lovely baby. Soon we all dived into the cake and photo session followed afterwards.

Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 all purpose flour
3/4 cup Hershey's cocoa
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

1. Heat oven to 180 degree Celsius. Grease and flour two 9-in. round baking pans. 
2. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on med speed 2 min. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour into pans. 
3. Bake 30-35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 min; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. 

"Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
2/3 cups Hershey's cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. 
2. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating on med. speed to spreading consistency. Add more milk, if needed. Stir in Vanilla.

I used one pan (instead of 2) for baking the chocolate cake. It took me 50 minutes (yours may vary). So do the skewer test as you go by. Cut it into two and did the crumb coating and stuff. Decorated it with M&Ms and almond shavings. Oh! I forgot - did a skimpy frosting in the middle too with the same "perfectly chocolate" chocolate frosting.  

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Carrot spice cake with olive oil

I'm enjoying stress-free days with Mommie around. Abbey is very happy with the toys she received as a gift from Ammamma. Of course not to forget, Man of the house says he is relieved from all Daddy duties for now, which leaves him with more time to go fishing. Mom roams with a sweater on and crocheting new mats for me.

Running a home is so easy with Moms around. Moms are always the best. The spontaneity by which she does things always amazes me. It seems like everything is programmed in her head naturally ...... years of experience always speaks in running a house. I didn't cook much as I was aware she will be bringing everything cooked.

I baked a simple cake to spice things up. The cake gave us an early Christmas feel with a good hint of spices in it and left me thinking about the preps I have to do ahead for Christmas.

Cake was a huge hit among friends and nothing is left for now. Even dieters gorged on it guilt-free saying it is baked with olive oil. Abbey loved the spice kick!!!

Recipe source: Hamlyn

Self-raising flour, sifted - 225 g
Ground cinnamon - 2 tsp
Ground ginger - 1 tsp
Allspice - 1/2 tsp
Light muscovado sugar - 225 g
Carrots, coarsely grated - 225 g
Large eggs, lightly beaten - 4
Olive oil - 150 ml

Grease a 20 cm springform cake tin. Put the flour, spices and sugar in a bowl and mix together. Add the carrots and mix to combine. Whisk the eggs with the oil and add to the flour mixture. Mix well with a spoon. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and level the surface. Bake in a preheated oven, 180 degree celsius for 45-50 minutes or until cooked through and golden. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 10-15 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack. Allow to cool before serving.


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