Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Strawberry Cake

Finally it is the end of feb and here comes my valentines day cake...:) A cake that I had almost lost hope of been seen here..Now there is no point in saying about my love story as Valentines day is long we will stick to cake and the day it is baked...
I have been saying that feb was a terrible month for why is never here it is...
   The month begins with a busy schedule for hubby..which in turn means..early to office and late to home...That is its just me and son through out the day and sometimes night which kept me busy than my husband...:)Those days went on for a week and then hubby gets a dental surgery and a liquid diet for 5 days....Now i should say sick men are worst than small kids..;) To put it in single work I was totally messed up..with a son overactive, a hubby drowsy with medicines and awake with and rest of my routine..
Then comes the carpet changing day of the whole house...Luckily divided to 2 days..Now u got to imagine... Me and son in a room with all stuffs...Terrible!!!!
Now this very special Valentines day was in between this... I had no plans to do anything crazy..but then empty mind is devils workshop..:) Suddenly on 13th around 11 I feel that I need to bake..Started off with this cake as I already had a tub of fresh strawberries. Then start the frosting in between all this rush.. Halving the cake gets messed up as the cake slides and it gets cut slant.The layers get messed up...:) Then when i did the strawberry frosting I felt that it was less and decide to frost the layers with whipped cream...That was another disaster. As I used too much whipped cream the cake started to slip..Now there was a plus point ..the cake was not too sweet.. Then frosting I had a different plan..Anyways that dint work as I thought and then I went with this rose and chocolate bark idea.. Now if I would say this cake can also be mentioned as a disaster cake...:)
Texture and taste wise the cake and frosting is excellent...Its only my mistakes that made the cake a disaster..But then its  for my husband and kid who don't see how it is...For them it is only the taste that matters...And I got a thumbs up for that...That makes a happy me...:)

Fresh strawberries-1 cup
Sugar-1 to 2 tsp
Milk-1/4 cup
Egg-6 large whites
Vanilla-1 tbsp
Cake flour-2 nd 1/4 cup
Sugar-1nd 3/4 cup
Baking Powder-4 tsp
Salt-1 tsp
Unsalted Butter-12 tbsp
Pink food coloring- few drops

Method of preparation:
1. Wash fresh berries and chop them. Add sugar and set aside for about and hour or two until juicy. Place the berries in a food processor and puree it. You can use frozen berries too.
2. Use 3/4 th cup for cake and remaining for the frosting/as filling.
3.Preheat the oven to 350F and grease and dust two 8 or 9 inch pans.
4. In a small bowl combine puree, milk,egg, vanilla and mix with fork till well blended.
5. Mix flour,sugar, baking powder and salt to combine using a mixer.Add butter and continue beating Mix until combined and resembling moist crumbs.
6. Add liquids and beat at high for  about a minute or until evenly combined. Add food coloring and then beat to combine. Scrape the sides.
7. Divide batter into two prepared pans and smooth top.
8. Bake for 25 to 30 mins or until tooth pick comes out clean.Let cake rest in pan for 10 minutes and then on wire racks.Let cakes cool completely before frosting.

Strawberry frosting:

Butter-1 cup
Icing Sugar-6 cups
Vanilla-2 tsp
Strawberry puree- 1/3 cup

1. Mix butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl on low speed until light and fluffy.
2. Blend in strawberry puree and vanilla.
3. Add milk one tablespoon at a time, if desired consistency is not achieved. Keep covered.

Chocolate barks:
Bittersweet Chocolate pieces-4 squares
Parchment paper

1. Melt the chocolate and spread it on a strip of parchment paper. Let it set.You can keep it in freezer for 4 to 5 minutes. cut to pieces.

Whipped cream-as needed.

Assembling the cake:
1. Let the cakes cool. Then cut it to halves.
2. Spread the whipping cream/strawberry frosting.
3. Place the other half and then cover it with the strawberry frosting.
4. Using an open star tip pipe the roses on top.
5. Ten press the chocolate bark on the sides and keep in the refrigerator to set.

1. I used half the recipe for frosting and cake.
2. Baked a 6" X 2"cake. There was a bit more than 3/4th of pan for first time, so kept the remaining in fridge for the time the first batch was baking. Cooled the pan and then baked the remianing.
3. I have used whipped cream for the inner layer.

Linking  this to Recipes with fruit @ Zesty South Indian Kitchen & Valentines Day event @ Priya's Versatile Recipes.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Classic Croissants- A buttery flaky delight..

This time Aparna gave us the detailed recipe to bake buttery croissants. They are cute buttery delights when done. But baking them meant a lot of patience, effort, and calculation, all divided into 3 days. I have had them many times from here and have thought of baking them too but never imagined that it was going to be a 3 day process and some work. Thanks to the group "We Knead to bake" which inspired to make this and for the detailed information given by Aparna.. The original recipe is by Jeffrey Hamelman. This video will help you too...Here is my bake...

For dough:
All purpose flour-4 cups
Cold water-1/2 cup nd 2 tbsp
Cold milk-1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp
Granulated sugar-1/4 cup
Unsalted Butter-40gms(soft)
Instant Yeast-1 tbsp plus scant 1/2 tsp
Salt-2 tsp

For butter layer:
Cold unsalted butter-250gms
Cold milk-1/2 cup
or egg for egg wash-1 no

Method of preparation:


Make dough:
 1. Combine all ingredients for dough in a bowl of dough stand mixer fitted with a hook. I used my hand to do this.
2. Mix everything together and knead for 3 minutes to form a ball of dough.(If using mixer, mix everything on low speed for 3 minutes, scraping the sides of the mixing bowl once if necessary. Then mix further on medium speed for 3 minutes)
3. Lightly flour a 10" pie pan/dinner plate and place the dough ball on it.
4. Gently flatten the dough slightly, lightly dust the top with flour and wrap well with a clear film/plastic so that it doesn't dry before storing it in fridge. Refrigerate overnight.

I am too bad at clicking pics while making food, so here is an effort to represent it pictorially..Hope it helps..:)

 Day 2:

Make butter layer:
1. Next day cut two 10" square pieces of parchment/wax paper.
2. Cut the cold butter to 1/2" thick slabs. Place these pieces on one parchment paper so they form a 5 to 6 " square. Cut the butter as required to fit the square. Place the other paper on top.
3. Using a rolling pin, pound the butter with light even strokes. When it starts to stick use more force.
4. Pound the butter till it flattens out evenly to form approxi.  a 7 and 1/2" square. Trim the edges to form a neat square. Add the trims on top of square and pound them again to form a smooth slab of the above measurement.Refrigerate when you roll the dough.

Laminate the dough:
1. Unwrap the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Roll it out to 10-1/2" square and brush off the excess flour.
2. Take butter from fridge which should be cold but pliable. If it isn't refrigerate till then. This so that when you roll out the dough with butter in it, neither should it be soft enough to melt, or hard enough to break.
3. Unwrap the butter and place it in the center to form a diamond shape on the dough.
4. Fold one flap of dough over the butter towards you and stretch slightly so that the point slightly touches the center/middle of butter square.
5. Bring the opposite flap to the middle and stretch slightly to overlap the previous one. Similarly work with other two flaps which will result in a dough forming an envelope around the butter.
6. Lightly press the edges together to seal the butter inside the dough so that butter doesnt escape when we roll it later.
7. Lightly flour the top and bottom of the dough with a rolling pin, firmly press along the dough uniformy to elongate it slightly.Now begin rolling instead of pressing to lengthen the dough instead of widening.Keep the edges straight.
8. Roll the dough into 8"X 24" rectangle. If ends lose their shape gently reshape corners with your hands.
Brush off the excess flour.
9. Lightly mark the dough into three equal pieces along the long side.Now using this as guideline pick up one short end of the dough and fold 1/3rd of it back ver the dough,  so that 1/3rd of the other end is exposed.
10. Now fold the 1/3rd exposed dough over the folded side. Basically the dough is folded in form of a three fold letter.
11. Put the folded dough on a floured baking sheet, cover with a plastic wrap, and freeze for 15 to 20 minutes to relax and chill the dough.
12. Repeat the rolling and folding, this time rolling in the direction of the two open ends(from the shorter sides to lengthen the longer sides) until the dough is about 8" X 24".
13. Once again fold the dough in thirds,  brushing off excesss flour and turning any rounded edges or short ends with exposed or smeared layers. Cover once again with a plastic wrap and freeze for another 15 to 20 minutes.
14. Roll and fold the dough exactly in same way for third time and put it in baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap, tucking the plastic under all sides and refrigerate it.

Day 3:

Divide the dough:
1. Next day, unwrap and lightly flour the top and bottom of dough and then cut the dough along the longer side into halves. Cover and refrigerate one half while working with the other one.
2. Wake the dough up by pressing firmly along its length using a rolling pin. Just lengthen the dough do not widen it by this method.
3. Then roll the dough to a 8"X 22" long narrow strip. If dough sticks use flour.
4. Once dough is about 1/2 to 2/3rd of its length, it may resist to roling and may even shrink back. In that case fold the dough in thirds, cover and refrigerate for 10 mins.Then unfold dough and finish rolling.
5. Lift dough an inch off the table at its midpoint and allow it to shrink back which will keep it from shrinking when cut. See that there’s excess dough on either end so that when you trim the edges to straighten them, you have a strip of dough that is 20" long. Now trim the edges so they’re straight.
6. Lay a measuring rule and measure lengthwise along the top length of the dough. With a knife, mark the top of the dough at 5-inch intervals along the length (there will be 3 marks in all).
7. Now place the rule or tape measure along the bottom length of the dough. Make a mark 2-1/2 inches in from the end of the dough.
8. Make marks at 5-inch intervals from this point all along the bottom of the dough. You’ll have 4 marks that fall halfway between the marks at the top.
9. Make diagonal cuts by positioning the measuring scale at the top corner and the first bottom mark. Use a pizza wheel or a bench scraper and cut the dough along this line which connects each top mark to the next bottom mark and then back to the next top mark and so on.
10. This way you will have 7 triangles and a scrap of dough at each end.( If you’re good at “eyeballing” and cutting the dough into triangles, then forget the measuring rule, marking and cutting instructions)

Shape the croissants:
1. Work with one piece of triangular dough at a time. Using your rolling pin, very lightly roll (do not make it thin but only stretch it slightly) the triangle to stretch it a little, until it is about 10" long. This will give your croissants height and layers. You can stretch it by hand too, but if you don’t have the practice  your stretching could be uneven.
2. Using a sharp small knife, make a 1/2- to 3/4-inch-long notch in the center of the short side of each triangle. The notch helps the rolled croissant curl into a crescent.
3. Place the triangle on the work surface with the notched side closest to you. With one hand on each side of the notch, begin to roll the dough away from you, towards the pointed end.
4. Flare your hands outward as you roll so that the notched “legs” become longer. Roll the triangle tight enough but not too tight to compress it, until you reach the “pointy” end which should be under the croissant.
5. Now bend the two legs towards you to form a tight crescent shape and gently press the tips of the legs together (they’ll come apart while proofing but keep their crescent shape).
6. Shape all the triangles like this into croissants and place them on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet leaving as much space between them as they will rise quite a bit.

Proof the croissants:
1. Brush the croissants with milk (or a mix of milk and cream) or egg wash.
 If using an egg wash make by whisking one egg with 1 tsp water in a small bowl until very smooth. Lightly brush this on each croissant.
2. Refrigerate the remaining milk/ milk+cream or egg wash for brushing the croissants again later.
3. Place the croissants in a cool and draft-free place (the butter should not melt) for proofing/ rising for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  They might need longer than 2 hours to proof, maybe as much as 3 hours, so make sure to let croissants take the time to proof.
4. The croissants will be distinctly larger but not doubled in size. They’re ready if you can see the layers of dough from the side, and if you lightly shake the sheets, the croissants will wiggle.

Bake the croissants:
1. Just before the croissants are fully proofed, pre-heat your oven to 400F in a convection oven.
2. Brush the croissants with milk/ milk+cream (or egg wash) a second time.
3. Place your baking sheets on the top and bake them for about 15 to 20 minutes till they’re done and golden brown on top and just beginning to brown at the sides.
4. If they  seem to be darkening too quickly during baking, lower the oven temperature by 25F. Cool the croissants on the baking sheets on racks.
5. Serve warm. This recipe makes 15 croissants.

1. Do not over knead the dough. My dough was a bit dry so had to add 2 tbsp of extra water.
2. The butter and dough should be cold while working.
3. Seal the butter completely. While rolling the butter should not leak.
4. If there are leaks in 2 to 3 places use flour to seal it. Dust little.

Done by "We Knead To Bake" group:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Kappa Masala/Tapioca Masala

As in any part of world, Kerala too has a diverse character when it comes to food and culture. Since here we are speaking about food the south and north of Kerala have a wide difference there.... Now that I belong to this part I totally love the food there and love to cook it..When Nags started the Kerala Kitchen group in fb,  I was interested to learn new recipes and so joined there. The very first one being Tapioca masala by Edible Garden.
Tapioca is accepted whole heartily in my family and the recipe was a bit different from my normal ones...We totally enjoyed having a twist to our normal dish..

Tapioca-3 cups(cubed)
Turmeric-1/4 tsp
Dry red chilies-3 nos
Garlic-2 to 3 nos
coconut Oil-1 tbsp
Mustard seeds-1 tsp
Split urad dal-1/2 tsp
Curry leaves- few
Salt to taste

Method of Preparation:
1. Peel tapioca and then roughly cube them to small pieces. Add them to a vessel along with a pinch of turmeric powder and wash thoroughly.
2. Add them to a vessel/ pressure cooker with required amount of water and cook till it is done. If cooking in cooker you will have to get 1 or 2 whistle with heat on medium.Once done drain the water and set aside.
3. Coarsely crush garlic and dry red chilies using a motar and pestle or a mixer.
4. Heat oil and add mustard seeds, when they pop add split urad dal along with curry leaves. Let dal turn golden.
5. Add the ground garlic mixture to this along with turmeric powder and salt.Mix for a second and then add the cooked tapioca and mix well till spices coat.See that the heat is on low or you will burn the spices.
6. Turn off the heat and serve.

1. Change the amount of garlic and chilies according to your taste.
2. If cooking tapioca with turmeric powder then do not add turmeric while mixing it with other ingredients.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Quinoa Tabbouli/Tabbouleh

Feb has been a rough month for me until now(later part is yet to come)...There has been no time to do anything..was buried in work and health related issues..The first thing I abandon at these time is this little space..and it is evident when you see only 2 recipes for this whole month. Now I cant redo it but to remove the guilt feel I have finally drafted a recipe and here it is...

Lightly tangy with loads of herbs and crisp and juicy veggies makes this a perfect,  filling and healthy salad that you want to make  for your snack, lunch or dinner...Do try this simple quick preparation...

Quinoa-1 cup
Cucumber-1/2 cup
Carrots-2 medium
Onion-1 small
Pomgranate arils-1/2 cup
Flat leaf parsley-1/4 cup
Coriander leaves-1/8 cup
Mint leaves-1/8 cup
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Olive oil-1/8 cup
Lemon Juice-1/8 cup

Method of Preparation:
1. Cook quinoa with required water for 15 mins or until you see a thread like stuff from them. Then drain the remaining water and keep aside to cool. Or you can cook quinoa(the above given amount) with just 2 cups of water,  till the water is completely evaporated and quinoa is cooked..
2. Finely dice cucumber,onion and carrots. Extract arils from pomegranates. Mince herbs.
3. Mix all ingredients together except oil and lemon juice.
4. In a bowl whisk lemon juice,salt,pepper and olive oil together and pour over the quinoa mixture.
5. Mix well and serve immediately
1. You can add green peppers, tomatoes,nuts to this.
2. Quinoa can be replaced with bulgur/bulgar or couscous.

Friday, February 15, 2013

French Macarons- Baking Partner challenge #7

This time  Baking Partners group came up with cute but devilish recipe..yes..MACARONS. The recipe was suggested by Swathi and Vidhya from Martha Stewart. These are such cute and delicious treats that seeing them and the ingredients you definitely will want to try them. They are easy to get hold on  but it requires lot of patience, perfection and homework to achieve that.I went with the basic recipe and the things I did are written in notes and have kept a few links too.Felt great baking them and getting it right. A note of thanks to the lovely ladies in this group. Feels great to work together and this time it was more evident that we are awesome together.. :)
So here are my attempts...Need to perfect a lot..

Icing sugar/Confectioners' sugar-3/4 cup
Almond flour-3/4 cup
Egg whites- 2 large at  room temperature(aged)
Cream of tartar- Pinch
Superfine sugar-1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon

1.  Pulse confectioners' sugar and almond flour in a food processor until combined. Sift mixture twice/thrice.
2.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk whites with a mixer on medium speed until foamy.
3.  Add cream of tartar, and whisk until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low, and then add superfine sugar. Increase speed to high, and whisk until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes.
4.  Sift flour mixture over whites, and fold until mixture is smooth and shiny.
5.  Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip, and pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets, dragging pastry tip to the side of rounds rather than forming peaks. 6. Tap bottom of each sheet on work surface to release trapped air. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.
7. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake 1 sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until macarons are crisp and firm, about 10 minutes.
8. After each batch, increase oven temperature to 375 degrees, heat for 5 minutes, then reduce to 325 degrees.
9.  Let macarons cool on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack. (If macarons stick, spray water underneath parchment on hot sheet. The steam will help release macarons.)
10. Sandwich 2 same-size macarons with 1 teaspoon filling. Serve immediately, or stack between layers of parchment, wrap in plastic, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Chocolate Ganache
Bitter sweet chocolate-8oz
Heavy whipping Cream-3/4 cup

Method of Preparation:
1. Chop the chocolate to small pieces and keep aside in a bowl.
2. Heat cream in a pan on medium heat and when it starts to boil turn off the heat.
3. Pour the hot cream on chocolate and keep for 2 minutes without stirring.
4. Then mix until smooth and set aside to cool and thicken for some time. Once thick to the consistency you need it add to a piping bag with round nozzle and squeeze little to center of nacaron. Then press the other one on top and twist it to spread the ganache.

1. Making Almond Flour:
         I used blanched almonds. Powdered them along with the little icing sugar to fine powder without releasing oil. If you feel that the almonds stick to the wall just tap on outside of mixer and if the powder falls back its fine, but if it starts to stick then oil is generated. In that case stop grinding and dry the flour.
2. Now sieve the flour to get fine powder. Mix remaining sugar to it and sieve again for 3 times. If any big particles are there then powder it again and if they cant be powdered future discard them.
3. I kept the egg whites separated for 11/2 days outside closed with a kitchen tissue. You can keep it up to 5 days in refrigerator. To beat the whites use a clean oil and dirt free vessel.
4. Have used an extra baking sheet to slow the process of having feet and dome due to high heat at the bottom.
5. Tap the tray and any air bubbles not broken is poked with a toothpick. Any air bubbles left will lead to cracks.
6. The temperature for baking perfect macarons depends on your oven settings. It need notbe the same as I have mentioned here. The above temperatures were perfect for my oven.
7. Macarons  can be filled with buttercream, ganache, jam, lemon curd. Once filled they taste great after 24 hours of resting in fridge.
8. There are a lot of videos and sites I have checked. some of them are:


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Kerala Naranga Achaar/ Lemon/Lime Pickle

Pickle is a condiment that is very popular in Indian food culture. Naranga achaar is a spicy tangy pickle.

 Lemon/Lime-20 nos
Water -Enough for steaming the lemons
Sesame Oil/Gingely Oil - 3 tbsp
Mustard Seed-1 tsp
Whole Dried Red Chili - 4 nos
Curry leaves-1 to 2 sprig
Salt as required
Garlic - 8 cloves
Green Chilies- 10 nos(cut to small rounds)
Turmeric Powder- 1/2 tsp
Red Chili Powder- 2 tbsp(add more if needed)
Fenugreek Powder- 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida Powder- 1/4 tsp
Vinegar- 1 tbsp

Method of Preparation :
1. Boil some water in a steamer and steam the lemons/limes for some time. Say 15 to 20 mins till it becomes soft. Remove and wipe the lemons dry. Let cool.
2. Cut the lemon into  halves/four/eight pieces. According to the size you need them.
3. Add salt to these lemon pieces, mix well and keep for 10 to 15 days in a clean dry airtight glass jar in room temperature. Shake the jar once everyday.
4. Slice the garlic pods lengthwise and set it aside.Wash,dry green chilies and then cut to small pieces.
5. Heat sesame oil in pan. Add the mustard seed, when  it starts spluttering, add the curry leaves and dry red chilies and saute for 30 second.
6. Add the garlic slices,green chilies into it and saute for few seconds. See that it doesn't turn brown.
7.Lower the flame. Add the red chili powder, asafoetida powder, fenugreek powder and saute for couple of  seconds then turn off the heat.
8. Allow the mix to cool down and then add the lemon slices,  mix well and adjust the salt.
9. Then add vinegar and combine well such that vinegar and pickle mixes well.
10. Transfer it in an airtight container and keep it in a room temperature for a week for the flavors to set and  then refrigerate it for further use.

1. You can steam the lemons the previous night, wipe and keep for the water to dry. Same with the green chilies, wash and keep aside to dry.
2. You can cook the lemon till it is tender instead of steaming.
3. Adding green chilies is not compulsory. If making in large quantities adding green chilly may be a reason for reducing shelf life of pickle.
4. Add about 1/4 or less cup of water to make a gravy. Heat for some time and then turn off the heat.
5. Lower the flame while adding spices else you will burn them.
6. See the lemon/lime becomes just soft not mushy and break while steaming.
7. You ca use lemon,lime,combo of both for this pickle.



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