Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Banana Chocolate Chip Espresso Muffins

So, what is the difference between a cupcake and a muffin? Is it just the absence of frosting in one? Or the excuse to eat dessert for breakfast? Whatever the difference, cake is cake. And these muffins are just right to eat any time of the day. The combination of chocolate chips and banana is something that I have already tried before with a cake, but adding coffee to it was something new. However, I could not taste any coffee even though I added double than the quantity called for! Hmm, maybe it's just that my taste buds can only detect chocolate and forget everything else!

Recipe Source - Annie's Eats

Ingredients - This recipe is for 12 Muffins but I got 12 regular plus 8 mini muffins

1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 Tsp Espresso Powder
1 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 1/2 Cups Very Ripe Bananas (Mashed - approx 4 Large Bananas)
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar  (Firmly Packed)
8 Tbsp (1/2 Cup/100 Gms) Unsalted Butter (Melted)
1/4 Cup Milk
1 Large Egg
1/3 Cup Mascarpone or Cream Cheese (At Room Temperature)
1 Cup Dark or Semisweet Chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, espresso powder, baking soda and salt. Stir together and set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the mashed bananas, sugar, brown sugar, butter, milk, egg and cream cheese. Mix on medium speed until well combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and
mix on low speed just until incorporated. Gently fold in the chocolate chips with a rubber spatula.
4. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared muffin cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer the muffins to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Happy Eating!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Daring Bakers - A Stollen For December

This months challenge was something completely new to me, both in terms of eating and making. Prior to this I had never heard of a stollen before and when I read its description, I was a bit put off because of the raisins. I absolutely hate fruit cake or anything with dried fruit in it and thought that I would have to skip this challenge. But then I saw a lot of variations on the recipe and decided to just remove the raisins and continue with the recipe.

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book.........and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

Stollen is a bread-like fruitcake made with yeast, water and flour, and usually with zest added to the dough. Candied orange peel and candied citrus is often also added. It is a very traditional German Christmas bread and the traditional shape is that of a loaf that was originally meant to represent the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes. For this challenge we were asked to make the stollen in a wreath shape.
The recipe and instructions were pretty straightforward and I had absolutely no trouble with it. Well, except the part where the stollen baked into a huge wreath and I couldn't even carry it! It is a nice bread which tastes great toasted with butter. I will make a stuffed french toast with half the bread this weekend.

Stollen Wreath Recipe - Given as I made it, for the original recipe, pictures and more helpful hints check here.

Ingredients - Makes one large wreath or two traditional shaped Stollen loaves. Serves 10-12 people

1/4 Cup (60ml) Lukewarm Water (110º F / 43º C)
2 Packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) (22 ml) (14 grams) (1/2 oz) Active Dry Yeast
1 Cup (240 ml) Milk
10 Tbsp (150 ml) (140 grams) Unsalted Butter (Can use salted butter)
5 1/2 Cups (1320 ml) (27 ozs) (770 grams) All-purpose (plain) Flour (Measure flour first - then sift- plus extra for dusting)
1/2 Cup (120 ml) (115 gms) Sugar
3/4 Tsp (3 ¾ ml) (4 ½ grams) Salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
1 Tsp (5 ml) (6 grams) Cinnamon
3 Large Eggs (lightly beaten)
Grated Zest of 1 Lemon and 1 Orange
2 Tsp (10 ml) (very good) Vanilla Extract
1 cup (240 ml) (3 ½ ozs) (100 grams) flaked almonds
1 Cup Sweetened Shredded Coconut
Melted Unsalted Butter for coating the wreath
Confectioners’ (icing) (powdered) Sugar for dusting wreath

Make The Dough

1. Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.
2. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium - low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.
3. Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and the vanilla extract.
4. In a large mixing bowl (4 qt) (4 liters) (or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.
5. Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.
6. Add in the almonds and coconut and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate.
7. Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the add-ins evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The full six minutes of kneading is needed to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency.
8. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
9. Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.

Shaping the Dough and Baking the Wreath

1. Remove dough from the fridge and let it rest for 2 hours in order to warm slightly.
2. Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.
3. Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.
4. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
5. Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.
6. Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough.
7. Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
8. Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.
9. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
10. Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
11. Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot. Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter. Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first.
The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.

Let cool at least an hour before serving. Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keeps the stollen fresh.
When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style.
Happy Eating!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Black and White Chocolate Cake

Latif celebrated his birthday on the 18th and this was a great day for me as I got to try a new cake recipe! (I think I was more excited than he was). I had been wanting to make this cake for a long time but couldn't justify the effort and time involved. But when his birthday came I knew exactly what I was going to make. This recipe is from Dorie Greenspan's book, Baking: From My Home to Yours. Though I don't have the book, the recipe is on a lot of blogs thanks to the group Tuesdays With Dorie (TWD).

I absolutely loved this cake. The dark chocolate cream is amazing and I could just eat it by the spoonful. The whole thing was actually very easy to make as I prepared the various components one day and assembled the whole thing the next day. I halved the entire recipe and made a 7 inch cake (I didn't have a 6 inch pan) Next time I will make the whole thing as it is a great cake. Check Brown Eyed Baker for the full recipe and baking instructions.

Be extra careful while whipping the white chocolate cream as even a little too much can cause it to spoil. I read a lot of blogs before attempting this so I knew exactly when to stop and got perfect results. However, after sitting in the fridge my whipped cream became a little too thick and so I thinned it a little by adding more heavy cream and stirring gently with a spatula. Use good quality chocolate here (I used Lindt) as it does make a difference in the taste.

Ingredients - Makes One 6 Inch Cake - Serves 5-6.

For The Cake
1 Cup Cake Flour - Used 3/4 Cup All purpose flour + 2 Tbsp Cornflour
1 Tsp Baking Powder
Pinch of Baking Soda
1/8 Tsp Salt
1/2 Stick Plus 2 Tbsp (5 Tbsp) Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 1/2 Large Eggs (To get half an egg, Crack open the egg in a small measuring cup and whisk with a fork. Check the quantity and take exactly half of it) 
1/2 of a Large Egg Yolk
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Essence
6 Tbsp Buttermilk - Used the milk and lemon juice substitute

For the Dark Chocolate Cream
1 Cup Whole Milk
2 Large Egg Yolks
3 Tbsp Sugar - Used 5 Tbsp
1 1/2 Tbsp Cornflour/Cornstarch, Sifted
1/8 Tsp Salt
3.5 ounces (99.2 Gms) Bittersweet Chocolate, Melted
1 1/4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, Cut into 5 pieces, at room temperature

For The White Chocolate Whipped Cream
3 ounces (85 Gms) Premium-quality White Chocolate (Such as Valrhona Ivoire or Guittard), finely chopped
3/4 Cup Heavy Cream
Chocolate shavings or curls, dark or white or a combination, for decoration (optional)

Getting Ready
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 6-x-2-inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

Make the Cake
1. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
2. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy.
3. Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes.
4. Add the eggs one by one, and then the yolk, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla; don't be concerned if the mixture looks curdled.
5. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and mix only until the ingredients disappear into the batter.
6. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula. Bake for 25 minutes, rotating the pans at the midway point. When fully baked, the cakes will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the centers will come out clean. Transfer the cakes to a rack and cool for about 5 minutes, then unmold, remove the paper and invert to cool to room temperature right side up on the rack.

Make the Dark Chocolate Cream
1. Bring the milk to a boil.
2. Meanwhile, in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar, cornstarch and salt until thick and well blended.
3. Whisking without stopping, drizzle in about 2 Tbsp of the hot milk - this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won't curdle - then, still whisking, add the remainder of the milk in a steady stream. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (make sure to get into the edges of the pan), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
4. Whisk in the melted chocolate, and let stand for 5 minutes. Then whisk in the pieces of butter, stirring until they are fully incorporated and the chocolate cream is smooth and silky. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the cream until chilled, or for up to 3 days. Or, if you want to cool the cream quickly, put the bowl with the cream into a large bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water and stir the cream occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes.

Make the White Chocolate Whipped Cream
1. Put the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl and put the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Stir frequently to melt the chocolate evenly. Meanwhile, bring 1/4 cup of the heavy cream to a boil. When the white chocolate is melted, remove the bowl from the pan. Pour the hot cream into the melted chocolate and let it sit for a minute. Using a small spatula, stir the chocolate gently until it is smooth. Let it sit on the counter until it reaches room temperature - it can't be the least bit warm when you add it to the whipped cream.
2. Working with the stand mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the remaining 1/2 cup heavy cream only until it holds the softest peaks. Turn the machine to high, add the cooled white chocolate all at once and continue to beat until the whipped cream holds firm peaks. Turn the whipped cream into a bowl, press a piece of plastic wrap gently against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 6 hours. (Beat the whipped cream just until it holds stiff peaks, the slightest over beating will cause it to separate)

Assemble the Cake
1. If the tops of the cake layers have crowned, use a long serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to even them. Slice each layer horizontally in half. Place one layer cut side down on a cardboard cake round or on a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper.
2. Remove the dark and white chocolate creams from the refrigerator and whisk each of them vigorously to loosen and smooth them. With a long metal icing spatula, spread enough dark chocolate cream (about 1/2 cup) over the cake layer to cover it completely. Top the cream with another cake layer, cut side up, and cover this layer with white chocolate whipped cream, making the white layer about the same thickness as the dark layer. Cover with a third layer, cut side up, and cover with another cup or so of the dark chocolate cream. (You'll have some dark chocolate cream left over - I used mine for piping happy b'day on the cake) Top with the final layer of cake, cut side down, and frost the sides and top with the remaining white chocolate whipped cream. If you'd like to decorate the top with chocolate shavings or curls, do it now.
Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

Remove the cake from the fridge about 20 minutes before serving. Use a serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to cut it.

While both the dark chocolate cream and white chocolate cream can be made ahead and kept tightly covered in the refrigerator, once assembled, the cake is best after about 3 hours in the fridge. However, it can be refrigerated overnight - just cover it loosely and keep it away from foods with strong odors.

Happy Eating!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Moist Red Velvet Cupcakes

Annie's Eats is one of my go to sites for all baking recipes and when I wanted to try a red velvet cake that is the first place I turned to. And sure enough I was not disappointed because this cake is wonderfully moist and delicious. Never having tasted red velvet before, I was curious as to what it would taste like. Well, I guess it just tastes like very good cake. I know, that is not a good answer but really if you close your eyes and eat it, you will feel like you are eating a very nice yellow cake.

The recipe is extremely simple to make and takes very little time to come together. I mixed everything in a glass bowl with a fork (yes, that's right!) and made mini cupcakes. My frosting however turned out very runny and even though I could have added more sugar to make it thicker but I didn't want to as it would have made it too sweet.

Recipe Source - Originally from Apple a Day, Via Annie's Eats

Ingredients - Makes 24 Cupcakes

For The Cake
2 1/2 Cups Cake Flour - I made my own using the ratio given below
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
1 Tsp Salt
2 Large Eggs
1 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Cup Buttermilk - I used 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice mixed with enough milk to make one cup.
2 Tbsp Liquid  Red Food Colouring
1 Tsp Vanilla Essence
1 Tsp Distilled White Vinegar
For The Frosting
226 Gms (8 oz.) Cream Cheese
5 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
2 Tsp Vanilla Essence
2 1/2 Cups Confectioners Sugar (Sifted)

Note - To make one cup of cake flour, sift 3/4 cup all purpose flour and add 2 Tbsp Cornflour (Cornstarch in U.S). Thus, 1 Cup Cake Flour = 3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour + 2 Tbsp Cornflour

1. Preheat the oven to 175 Degree C (350° F). Line cupcake pans with paper liners. Whisk the cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt and keep aside.
2. Combine the eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar in a mixing bowl and stir well to combine all ingredients. 
3. Add the dry ingredients and mix until smooth.
4. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Let cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make The Frosting
Combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in the vanilla extract. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.

Happy Eating!!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chocolate and Pecan Pie Bars

Every year as Thanksgiving and Christmas rolls in, I start seeing recipes for all the different types of pies like pumpkin, pecan, cranberry etc on the net. Coming from India, I have never tasted any of these pies and my only experience to making them is of the humble apple pie. But that doesn't stop me from drooling at all the gorgeous pictures on various blogs and this year is no different. I love nuts and think that a pecan pie would be amazing. But when I read about it one thing that I figured is that some people think that it's too sweet. Hmmm, I don't like my desserts too sweet, so when I came accross these bars that resemble the pie taste I was happy to try them.

I halved the original recipe from Brown Eyed Baker and loved them. Seriously, I think I ate half the pan by myself. Next time tough I might increase the crust ratio and reduce the chocolate chips. I also reduced the sugar and used Golden Syrup instead of corn syrup. This was sweet enough for me and a perfect little snack when the craving sets in!

Recipe Source - Given as is from Brown Eyed Baker (my changes in red)


For the Crust

1 1/2 Cups All-purpose Flour
1/2 Cup (1 stick) Butter, Softened
1/4 Cup Packed Brown Sugar

For The Filling
3 Large Eggs
3/4 Cup Corn Syrup - I used Lyle's Golden Syrup
3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar -  I used 6 Tbsp
2 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
13/4 Cups Coarsely Chopped Semisweet or Bittersweet Chocolate - I used chocolate chips
11/2 Cups Chopped Pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
2. For the crust, mix together the flour, butter and brown sugar until crumbly. Press into the baking pan and bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly brown.
3. For the filling, beat the eggs, corn syrup, sugar, butter and vanilla extract with a wire whisk. Stir in the chunks and pecans. Pour evenly over the baked crust and bake for 25-30 minutes or until set.
4. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Cool completely and cut into bars. Store in an airtight container at room temperature (or in the refrigerator if you live in a warm/humid area with no air conditioning).
Happy Eating!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Prawn Biryani

My husbands love for prawns is well documented here and it should not come as a surprise to you that we got 3 kg's of fabulous prawns from the fish market (my first trip there in two years mind you) last week. I decided to make a prawn biryani from one batch and made this quick and easy version. It is very simple to make and is a nice dish to serve to guests as well.

Recipe - From Everybunny Loves Food

Ingredients - Serves 6

1 Kg Medium Sized Prawns (Weighed with the shell)
2 Large Potatoes (Peeled and Cut in 8 Pieces each)

For the Marinade*
2 Tsp Ginger Garlic Paste
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 Tbsp Red Chili Powder
1 Tsp Coriander Seeds Powder (Dhanya Powder)
1/2 Tsp Turmeric Powder (Haldi)
Salt To Taste
1 Cup Yogurt
For the Masala
4 Cups Finely Chopped Onions
2 Cups Chopped Tomatoes
2 Green Chilies (Slit Vertically Halfway)
1/2 Cup Cooking Oil
For The Rice
6 Cups Basmati Rice
4 Cardamom Pods (Elaichi)
1 Cinnamon Stick (Dalchini)
2 Bay Leaves (Tej patta)
4 Cloves (Lavang)
Salt To Taste
For The Garnish
1/2 Cup Fried Onions (Sliced And Deep Fried)
Coriander Leaves (As Needed) (Hara dhanya)
Mint Leaves (As Needed) (Pudina)
1/4 Tsp Garam Masala Powder
1/4 Cup Milk
Food Color (Yellow, Red or Orange)
Saffron Strands (Zaffran)
1 Tbsp Ghee

*Note on ingredient quantities - The quantities given are what we prefer at home. You must taste and adjust the quantities as per your personal preferences. Add a little at a time. Taste  and add more spice, salt or lemon accordingly.
Prep Work
Wash, shell and de-vein the prawns. Clean thoroughly with water and drain. Mix all the marinate ingredients in a bowl and marinate the prawns for an hour.
Wash and soak the rice.

Make the Masala
Heat the oil in a large bottomed pot over medium high heat and fry the potatoes till done. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep aside. Add the onions  to the oil and fry till soft and brown in colour, turning the heat to low if needed to prevent burning. When the onions become brown, add the tomatoes and green chillies. Turn the heat to high again; Cook till the tomatoes are soft and oil separates. Add the marinated prawns and stir well. Cook till prawns are almost cooked. Turn off the heat.

Boil the Rice
In a separate pot, heat 6 cups of water; throw in the whole garam masalas and salt. Keep a wide colander ready in the sink to drain the rice. When the water comes to a boil, add the rice and let it cook on high, uncovered till the rice is almost done. It is very important to watch the rice closely at this point as we want it to be cooked but not completely. There should still be a bite to the grain and must not be easily squished between your fingers. Once the rice reaches this point, turn off the heat and drain the rice in the colander.

Assemble the Biryani
When the rice is boiling keep all the garnish ingredients ready near the stove. Wash and chop the coriander and mint leaves. Dissolve the saffron and food colour in the milk. We need a big bottomed and high pot for this. Place the pot on the stove, and spread half of the prawn masala in the bottom. Add half of the rice on this layer and repeat the prawn and rice layers once again.
Pour the colored milk on the rice evenly. Sprinkle the garam masala powder on the rice and place the ghee on top. Garnish with all the fried onions, coriander leaves and mint leaves.

Cover the pot with a tight lid to ensure no steam escapes from it. Keep the flame on high for a minute or two to ensure sufficient heat is generated in the pot. Turn the heat to low and keep cooking till steam starts forming on top and the rice is complete cooked. Serve hot with raita.

Happy Eating!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Checkerboard Cake - Without The Special Pans!

We had an amazing four day long weekend here in Dubai and we made good use of it by planning a trip to the water park and a fun barbecue the next day. I had so much fun playing in the water without a care in the world. As soon as winter rolls in out here everyone starts planning fun activities for the weekend because in summer it is impossible to go out in the day time. we have already had a lot of picnics and I am looking forward to more of them before winter is over. Another reason why I love the get togethers is because I am given the responsibility of bringing dessert. It's a win-win for me as I get to try out new recipes and not worry about eating it all on my own! 

For this picnic I decided to do a big four layer cake with a checkerboard pattern from inside. This was the first time I did a layer cake with frosting and I absolutely loved making it. I don't have the checkerboard pan so I googled an alternative way of doing it and found a great tutorial on Chef Doughty. It was very easy to make once I had the cakes baked and ready.

You basically need four layers with two different flavours or colours. You can use plain vanilla and just colour it with food colour to get two different colours. You then cut out rings in each layer and exchange the inner circles.

The cakes with the inner rings

Once you stack them up and cut you will get the checkerboard pattern. The only problem was that when cutting the different rings were not holding together and had to be cut separately. That didn't deter us from enjoying the cake though!
Stacked and ready to be frosted

I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe from Cupcake project and the vanilla came from a boxed mix (Sorry, pressed for time on a Friday morning!). For the frosting I used the Chocolate Whipped Cream recipe and it was really easy to ice the cake with it. I definitely recommend freezing the cakes before any cutting and assembling as the frozen cakes were a breeze to work with.

Recipe Source for Chocolate Cake - The Cupcake Project


3/4 Cup (75 Gms) Butter, Room Temperature
2 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
8 oz (Approx 200 Gms) Dark Chocolate, Melted
3 Large Eggs, Separated
2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1 3/4 Cup Milk

1. Preheat oven to 175 Degree C (350 Degree F). Grease and flour two 9 inch round pans.
2. In the large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Mix in the eggs.
3. Add the vanilla and chocolate. Mix well.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
5. Alternate adding the flour mixture and milk to the butter/sugar mixture.
6. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

To make the checkerboard cake - See the picture tutorial on Chef

1. Have ready four layers of cake with two layers each of a different colour.
2. Using two round templates and a sharp knife cut two inner circles in each layer. (See pictures above)
3. Exchange the middle layers of two different colours.
4. Place any one layer on a cardboard circle and frost the top lightly with icing. Place a second layer on this ensuring that the outermost colour is the opposite colour of the first layer.
5. Frost and repeat with remaining layers.
6. Give a crumb coat and keep in fridge for some time. Frost completely with desired icing and decorate.
Happy Eating!!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Apple and Pecan Crostata

I absolutely loved this version of the crostata as I love apples and cinnamon in any form. This was made with the remaining dough from the Custard and Fruit Crostata. I didn't follow any recipe as such but just threw in whatever I liked.



Half a batch of Crostata dough
1 Tsp Cinnamon
A Pinch of Nutmeg
1/2 Tsp Lime Juice
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
2 Large Apples (Any kind)
1/2 Cup Toasted Pecans (Roughly Chopped)

1. Preheat oven to 175 degree C (350 degree F). Keep the dough in the fridge until needed. Keep ready a large baking sheet.
2. Peel, core and slice the apples. Place them in a microwave proof plate and add to it the rest of the ingredients (except the pecans). Give a good stir with a spoon to mix and heat in the microwave for 4 minutes on high. The apples will become soft and leave a lot of liquid. Separate the liquid and add in the pecans (Alternatively you can cook them on the stove).
3. Take the dough and place between two sheets of wax paper. Roll out the dough to form an 8 inch circle, upto 5 mm in thickness. Remove the top sheet of wax paper. Using the bottom sheet, lift the dough circle and flip on the baking sheet.
4. Place the filling in the center of the circle, leaving a one and half inch gap from all sides. Fold the dough over the filling from all sides to form a temporary bowl leaving the center open (pleating the edges to form a broad rim). Place in the oven and bake for 20 - 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Happy Eating!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Dare to make a Crostata?

I just did! After missing out on the Octobers Daring Bakers challenge (too much going on at home - but the doughnuts had me going nuts!), I was all geared up to know what November brought for us. And it was something that I have always admired in the cute glass displays of bakeries. Beautifully decorated crostatas with jam, custard and fresh fruit. Yum! 

Blog-checking lines: The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

According to Simona "Crostata (tart) is an Italian dessert. The base of a crostata is pasta frolla (or pastafrolla), sweet short crust pastry (or sweet tart dough) made of flour, sugar, butter and eggs. Pasta frolla is versatile: it provides the base to make crostata with fruit preserves, pastry cream, fresh fruit, ricotta, and other ingredients, and, by itself, it makes very nice cookies."

Though I have made pies before, I have not made a crostata and was happy to try something new. While I could have gone wild with my filling ideas I chose to go the simple route and opt for a crema (pastry cream) filling and fruit topping. Because I did not have a tart pan I decided to use my mini tart pans and make four individual tarts with half of the dough. The other half was used to make a free form Apple and Pecan Crostata.

The pastry cream recipe is from Annie's Eats and makes a great home made custard. As my mom is a diabetic I used Sugar free instead of sugar in the recipe. All I can say is blech!! Somehow I was getting a chemical after taste in the cream even though none of the others could taste it. The cream by itself was good but I will never use the sugar free for desserts again.

Update - Let me clarify here that the recipe for the pastry cream is great and I was the only one who had a problem with the chemical after taste. I'm sure if I made it with regular sugar it would be fantastic. Every one in the house enjoyed the cream without any complaints :)

I used Version 1 from the recipes provided.

Recipes - Crostata di Frutta Fresca
Pastry Cream Recipe from Annie's Eats

For The Pasta Frolla (Tart Dough/Base)
1/2 Cup minus 1 Tbsp (100 Gms) Superfine Sugar Or A Scant 3/4 Cup (90 Gms) Powdered Sugar – I used artificial sweetener
1 3/4 Cup (235 Gms) Unbleached All-purpose Flour
Pinch of Salt
1 Stick (8 Tbsp/100 - 115 Gms) Cold Unsalted Butter (Cut Into Small Pieces)
Grates Zest of Half a Lemon
1 Large Egg and 1 Large Egg Yolk (Lightly Beaten)

For The Crema (Pastry Cream)
2 Cups Single Cream - I substituted with 420 ml whole milk and 4 Tbsp melted butter.
1/2 Cup Sugar - I used artificial sweetener.
A Pinch of Salt
5 Large Egg Yolks
3 Tbsp Cornflour (Called Cornstarch in U.S)
4 Tbsp (50 Gms) Cold Unsalted Butter (Cut into 4 Pieces)
1 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Essence

For Assembling
Fruits like strawberries, kiwis, raspberries (whatever you love!)
Jam (Any flavour - I used strawberry)
2 Tbsp Melted Chocolate

Making The Pasta Frolla
1. Whisk together sugar, flour and salt in a bowl.

2. Rub or cut the butter into the flour until the mixture has the consistency of coarse crumbs. You can do this in the bowl or on your work surface, using your fingertips or an implement of choice.
3. Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs into it (reserve about a teaspoon of the egg mixture for glazing purposes later on – place in the refrigerator, covered, until ready to use).
4. Add the lemon zest to your flour/butter/egg mixture.
5. Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips.
6. Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball.
7. Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours. You can refrigerate the dough overnight.

Make The Crema (While the dough is chilling)
1. Heat the single cream (in my case I combined the milk and butter), 6 tablespoons of the sugar, and the salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat until simmering, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.
2. Meanwhile, combine the egg yolks and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in a medium bowl and whisk until the sugar has begun to dissolve and the mixture is creamy, about 15 seconds.
3. Whisk in the cornflour until combined and the mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 30 seconds.
4. When the half-and-half mixture has reached a simmer, slowly add it to the egg yolk mixture to temper, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the saucepan, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula. Return the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until a few bubbles burst on the surface and the mixture is thickened and glossy, about 30 seconds. (The cream thickens very quickly so keep an eye on it)
5. Off the heat, whisk in the butter and vanilla.
6. Strain the pastry cream through a fine mesh sieve set over a medium bowl. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until cold and set, at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.

Bake The Pasta Frolla
1. Preheat the oven to 180 Degree C (350 Degree F).
2. Divide the dough in two parts and roll out on a lightly floured surface (I made four mini tarts, if making a single crostata roll out to at least 11 inches). With the help of a rolling pin roll the dough onto the pin and unroll over the base of the pan.
3. Cut a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil large enough to cover the bottom of the crust and extend out a bit over the edges of the pan.
4. You can use pie weights or dry beans to blind bake (I used uncooked rice). Place whatever weight you’re using directly on the parchment paper or aluminum foil in an even layer.
5. Place the crostata shell in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. (Lesser if making a smaller version like me)
6. Remove the weights and parchment paper and continue baking the crostata shell until the border is light golden, about 5 minutes (watch carefully to avoid over-baking, which results in a hard shell). In the absence of weight, the crust may rise in the middle: if that occurs, gently push it back down with the back of a spoon.
7. Remove from the oven and let the crostata shell cool completely before proceeding.
8. If you use a tart pan with removable bottom, release the base from the fluted tart ring, then slide the cooled crostata shell on a serving plate for filling. (Note: If you’ve used a cake pan or pie plate, use a bit of care in taking the shell out of the baking vessel.)

Assemble The Crostata
1. Spread a thin layer of the melted chocolate on the bottom of the cooled shell.
2. Spread the chilled prepared pastry cream on top.
3. Decorate the surface with fresh fruit (You can use any fruits you like - I used strawberries and kiwis).
4. Heat the jam in the microwave for 20-30 seconds, just until slightly melted and easy to stir. Using a pastry brush, paint a light layer of the jam over the fresh fruit.

The crostata must be cool, but not cold, so if you refrigerate it, take it out of the fridge half an hour before serving. This crostata is best eaten the same day it is prepared.

Watch for the Apple Recipe in the next post!
For the complete challenge recipe and directions check out the daring bakers website.
Happy Eating!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Best Cinnamon Rolls Ever

Sorry for the bad picture, but my camera broke :( Have to rely on my cellphone!!

There are many times in life when someone claims that they make the best of something or that they have eaten the best possible version of it somewhere in the world. And think I half of the times those claims don't hold true to a taste test and you and end up disappointed. However, this time I have to hand it over to the Pioneer Woman. Having already made Cinnamon rolls before, I was expecting a similar result from this recipe. But was I wrong! These rolls are melt in your mouth delicious and I am not at all surprised that she makes 7 pans at a time because my sister and I managed to finish 2 pans all by ourselves in just two days. If all you have eaten is the store bought stuff its time you whip out the yeast and create these babies. The best part about this recipe is there is no kneading of the dough. Just mix with a spoon or spatula and you are ready to roll (no pun intended!). I didn't want to make the entire recipe so I searched for a scaled down version and got it on another blog (even though I could have calculated it myself - talk about lazy!). I got three pans of seven - eight rolls each,  next time I will not roll out the dough as much. I added all the flour at once in the beginning without reading the recipe properly and had to add the baking powder and soda on their own later on. However, this didn't affect my rolls at all and I got a great rise. Because I was pressed for time I made the dough one night and the rolls the next day and the dough was a lot easier to work with. You do have to knead it with a little flour so that it is no longer sticky. In her recipe Pioneer Woman makes a lot of frosting and drowns the rolls in them. But I preferred the rolls with just a drizzle as the frosting was way too sweet for our tastes. I suggest adding a little at a time according to your sweet tooth.
P. S - For Step-by-step photos and instructions check the Pioneer Woman's Site.

Recipe Source - Originally from The Pioneer Woman, Scaled down recipe from here.

Ingredients - Aprox. 20 rolls.

For The Rolls
1 1/3 Cup Whole Milk
1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil
1/3 Cup Caster Sugar
1 1/2 Tsp Dry Yeast - I used instant yeast
2 2/3 Cups All-Purpose Flour (Maida) (+ 1/3 Cup for sprinkling)
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/3 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tsp Salt
100 Gms (1/2 Cup/1 Stick) Unsalted Butter (Melted)
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
Cinnamon Powder - As Much As You Like
For The Vanilla Frosting
2 Cups Powdered Sugar
1 Tsp Vanilla Essence
3/4 Cups Milk
2 Tbsp Brewed Coffee
1/2 Cup Roughly Chopped Pecans (Optional)
A Pinch of Salt

1. Mix the milk, vegetable oil and sugar in a saucepan. Scald the mixture (heat until just before the boiling point). Turn off heat and leave to cool 45 minutes to 1 hour. When the mixture is lukewarm to warm, but NOT hot, sprinkle in the yeast (Whichever yeast you are using). Let this sit for a minute. Transfer the mixture to a big mixing bowl and add 2 cups of all-purpose flour. Stir together and cover. Let rise for at least an hour.
2. After rising for at least an hour, add remaining 2/3 cup of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir mixture together. (At this point, you could cover the dough and put it in the fridge until you need it – overnight or even a day or two, if necessary. Just keep your eye on it and if it starts to overflow out of the pan, just punch it down).
3. When ready to prepare rolls: Sprinkle rolling surface generously with flour. Take the dough and form a rough rectangle (I added some extra flour and kneaded my dough till no longer sticky). Then roll the dough thin, maintaining a general rectangular shape. Drizzle the 100 gms melted butter over the dough. Now sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter followed by a generous sprinkling of cinnamon. (Put the cinnamon powder in a sieve and lightly tap against your hand to get an even sprinkling all over). 
4. Now, starting at the opposite end, begin rolling the dough in a neat line toward you. Keep the roll relatively tight as you go. Next, pinch the seam of the roll to seal it.
5. Generously grease three 7, 8 or 9 inch round foil, cake or pie pans. Then begin cutting the rolls approximately ¾ to 1 inch thick and laying them in the buttered pans (A bread knife or large serrated knife works best). Turn on oven and pre-heat to 190 Degrees C (375 Degrees F).
6. Let the rolls rise for 20 to 30 minutes, then bake until light golden brown, about 15 to 18 minutes.

Make The Frosting - Mix together all ingredients listed and stir well until smooth. It should be thick but pourable. Taste and adjust as needed. Generously drizzle over the warm rolls. 

Happy Eating!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mango Cheesecake

Mmmmm, Cheesecake! Creamy, tangy and sinfully delicious. I really like fruit cheesecakes more than any other flavours mostly because they are lighter (can a cheesecake be called light??) and give a subtle yet refreshing fruity taste. One of the treats on my sisters' list was this cheesecake and I was all geared up to make it since I rarely get a chance to bake cheesecakes. A big cheesecake sitting in my fridge is a big danger sign for me! After making the Oreo Cheesecake and the Brown Sugar-Apple Cheesecake, I was all geared up to try a new flavor and decided to try a mango version.

As you know I am from India, the land that is home to hundreds of varieties of the best mangoes you can get anywhere. Come summer and the markets are flooded with mangoes like the Alphonso, langda, totapuri, gutli, badami etc. Every variety has a distinct flavor and smell. Ripening mangoes smell heavenly and if you have a tree in the backyard you are done for. It is so much fun to go and pluck the unripe mango from the tree and store it in the rice bin till it is ready to eat. What is not fun is having to share one mango among five people!
Even though I am not a big fan of the fruit, I love everything made from it like pickles, chutneys, curry, ice cream and aam ras (slurp!)
I used canned mango pulp in this recipe rather than fresh ones as most of the reviewers suggested it. I also cut down the sugar and I think this amount was perfect.

Recipe Source - Adapted from Bon Appetit via Epicurious

Ingredients - Makes One 9 Inch Cheesecake

For the Crust

1 1/2 Cups Crushed Digestive Biscuits (Or Graham Cracker Crumbs)
1/4 Cup Sugar
6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) Unsalted Butter (Melted)

For The Filling
2 Cups Canned Mango Pulp**
680 Gms Cream Cheese 
1 Cup Sugar
2 Tsp Vanilla Essence
4 Large Eggs

1. Preheat oven to 165 Degree C (325 Degree F). Lightly butter a 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides. Mix the biscuit crumbs and sugar in a bowl. Add in the melted butter and stir until evenly moistened. Press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom (not sides) of prepared pan. I use the bottom of a measuring cup to press and evenly distribute the crumbs to get an even crust. Bake until crust is set, about 12 minutes. Cool completely. Maintain oven temperature.
2. Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in large bowl until smooth. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add 2 cups mango puree and beat until well blended. Beat at low speed and only till the ingredients are combined. Pour filling over crust in pan. I used a little extra pulp to create a swirled look on the top. But my cheesecake cracked and the pretty swirls were lost! :(
3. Bake cake until set and puffed and golden around edges (center may move very slightly when pan is gently shaken), about 1 hour 25 minutes. Remove and cool cake 1 hour. Refrigerate uncovered overnight. Run small knife between cake and sides of pan to loosen. Remove pan sides. Transfer cake to platter. Cut into wedges and serve.
* Tip - To powder the biscuits easily, place the biscuits in a large Ziploc bag and seal tight. Roll a rolling pin over the plastic to powder till fine.
** - The original recipe calls for fresh mangoes. If you have fresh mangoes follow the recipe on Epicurious.
Happy Eating!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Chocolate Orange Hazelnut Biscotti

I am so excited this week as my sister and niece have come over for a holiday. She has already given me a list of things she wants me to make and I have a head start on her. On Friday I made these fantastic biscotti which I found on Joy of Baking. After making the Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti, I knew that these would be great too because I love hazelnuts (Is there a nut I don't love?). And sure enough they are fantastic. I had to hide a few in the cupboard so that we don't finish all of them in a day!

I made one change to the original recipe and that was to use a dark chocolate with orange flavoring. I used a Lindt Intense Orange Bar in the biscotti and the citrus pairs beautifully with the dark chocolate. The chocolate bar is pulsed with the brown sugar into a powder so you will not get any chunks of chocolate but a complete flavor all over. If you cannot find a flavored bar I recommend adding a tablespoon of orange zest to the recipe. The final biscotti is not sweet and so I added a drizzle of melted white and milk chocolate which somehow completed the overall flavor of it.

Recipe Source - Adapted from Joy of Baking

Ingredients - Makes approx 30 Biscotti

1 Cup (150 Grams) Hazelnuts
4 Ounces (120 Grams) Orange Flavoured Dark Chocolate* (Coarsely Chopped)
1 Cup (210 Grams) Tightly Packed Light Brown sugar
1 3/4 Cups (230 Grams) All-purpose Flour
1/3 Cup (30 Grams) Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Tbsp (4 grams) Instant Espresso Powder
1Tsp (5 grams) Baking Soda
1/4 Tsp Salt
3 Large Eggs
1 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Essence

* - If you cannot find flavored chocolate use regular dark chocolate (60 - 70%) and add 2 Tbsp Fresh Orange Zest. Pulse with the sugar and chocolate.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). To toast the hazelnuts, spread on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned and the skins begin to blister and peel. Remove from oven and place the nuts in a clean dish towel. Roll up the towel and let the nuts 'steam' for 5 minutes and then briskly rub the towel (with nuts inside) to remove the skins from the nuts. Cool and then chop coarsely.
2. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degree F (150 degrees C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. In a food processor, fitted with a metal blade, place the coarsely chopped chocolate and brown sugar and process until the chocolate is very fine.
4. In a large bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda and salt.
5. In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the eggs and vanilla extract until combined (about 30 seconds). Add the chocolate/sugar mixture and the flour mixture and beat until a stiff dough forms (I didn't get a stiff dough and my mixture was very sticky), adding the hazelnuts about half way through mixing.
6. With floured hands (Use a lot of flour on your hands to avoid it sticking to your hands) divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface roll each half of dough into a log about 10 inches (25 cm) long and 2 inches (5 cm) wide. Transfer the logs to the prepared baking sheet (I directly rolled mine on the baking sheet to avoid any mess while transferring), spacing about 3 inches (7.5 cm) apart. Bake until almost firm to the touch, about 35 - 40 minutes (logs will spread during baking). Remove from the oven, place on wire rack, and let cool for 10 minutes.
7. Using a long spatula transfer the logs to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife cut the dough into slices 3/4 inch (2 cm) thick on the diagonal. Arrange the slices cut-side down on a wire rack for the oven. Bake 15 - 20 minutes until crisp and dry. (If you want a softer biscotti, reduce the baking time). Remove from oven and let cool before drizzling with chocolate.

To make the White and Milk Chocolate Drizzles, Melt the chocolates separately in the microwave in 15 second intervals or on a double boiler. Place in a piping bag and decorate the completely cooled biscotti.

Happy Eating!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tangy BBQ Chicken Pizza

Pizza!!! Aah, the universal food that is so popular among all age groups. I mean who doesn't love pizza right? What? There are some people who don't like it?Hmm, maybe they need to eat a good home made pizza with all the deliciousness piled high. It had been so long since I had made pizza at home, that when I saw this recipe at the Low Fat Chick website I decided to try it out for this months Taste and Create.

The sauce is a lovely combination of sweet and tangy and comes together so easily. Usually while making pizza sauce there is so much stirring that I often resort to the bottled stuff to save time. But this time I just had to mix the stuff and let it simmer. Yum Yum! For the toppings I added a few more things than the original recipe like tomatoes and capsicum (green bell peppers) for a little tandoori feel. For the base I used the ready pizza base that is available in the freezer section of the grocery. You can use your own home made dough, I have given the Pioneer Woman's recipe below which I have made before and is great.

Recipe Source - Slightly Adapted from The Low Fat Chick


2 (6 Inch) Pizza Base
For The Sauce
1/2 Cup Grape Vinegar
1/4 Cup And 2 Tbsp Ketchup
2 1/2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 Garlic Clove (Pressed or Finely Minced)
1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1/4 Tsp Salt
1/4 Tsp Black Pepper
1 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
For The Toppings - Quantities As Per Personal Preference
Cooked Shredded Chicken
Red Onion (Thinly Sliced)
Mozzarella Cheese (Shredded)
Diced Tomatoes
Diced Capsicum
Finely Chopped Coriander Leaves

1. Combine the ingredients for the sauce in a small saucepan. Stir till all ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by 1/3, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside to slightly cool.
2. Preheat oven to 180 Degree C (350 Degree F).
3. Place the pizza base on a baking sheet covered with foil.
4. Spread the sauce on the dough. Layer with cheese, chicken, tomatoes, capsicum, onion and little more cheese. Sprinkle some coriander and place in the oven.
5. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the crust is crisp and the cheese is melted on top.
6. Cut into slices and serve immediately.

Recipe for Homemade Pizza Base (Source - The Pioneer Woman)


1 Tsp Instant Or Active Dry Yeast
1 1/2 Cup Warm Water
4 Cups All-purpose Flour
1 Tsp Salt
1/3 Cups Olive Oil

1. Sprinkle yeast over 1 1/2 cups warm (not lukewarm) water.
2. In a mixer, combine flour and salt. With the mixer running on low speed (with paddle attachment), drizzle in olive oil until combined with flour. Next, pour in yeast/water mixture and mix until just combined.
3. Coat a separate mixing bowl with a light drizzle of olive oil, and form the dough into a ball. Toss to coat dough in olive oil, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and store in the fridge until you need it.
4. To use, lighlty flour a baking sheet or pizza stone and place dough in the middle. Strecth the dough to the corners and top as desired (Dough will be slightly sticky).

***It’s best to make the dough at least 24 hours in advance, and 3 or 4 days is even better.
***Makes 2 big crusts.

Happy Eating!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Chicken 65

Another weekend has gone by and its a brand new week at work. Friday was very hectic for me as we had guests at home and I was cooking non stop all day! I served this chicken for dinner along with mutton curry and chicken kheema with some pulav and rotis. My mutton curry didn't turn out so good but this chicken was good as always. It is a very easy recipe which I learnt from Latifs aunt. My mom used to make this a lot a few years back but somehow she 'forgot' how to make it. How can you forget a recipe??? Anyways, when I ate it again in Dubai I remembered the same taste and learnt the recipe to make at home. The ingredient quantities given below are a rough estimate. You can increase or decrease the quantities to your personal tastes.

Recipe - Serves 6


1 Kg Chicken - Small Pieces, Bone - In
1 Cup Onion (Diced In 1 Inch Pieces)
1 Cup Capsicum (Diced In 1 Inch Pieces)
3 Tbsp Butter, Divided (Salted Or Unsalted)
4 Green Chillies (Slit Vertically Halfway Through)
8-9 Curry Leaves

For the Marinade
2 Cups Thick Yogurt (Strain If Yogurt Has Too Much Water)
2 Tsp Red Chilli Powder
1 Tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste
1 Cup Tomato Ketchup
Red Food Colouring (Optional)
Salt To Taste

1. Mix all the ingredients for the marinade in a big bowl. Taste and adjust the seasonings as required. This is supposed to be a little sweet and sour. Place the chicken pieces in the marinade and keep in the fridge for an hour. After an hour, remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and keep aside. Reserve the marinade.
2. Meanwhile, melt one tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium heat and saute the onions and capsicum till translucent. Do not soften as we want them crunchy. Remove from pan and keep aside.
3. In another pot, melt the remaining two tablespoon butter over medium heat and add the curry leaves and green chillies.
4. Add the chicken marinade reserved earlier and let it cook till it changes colour. Place all the chicken pieces in the pot, stir well and lower the flame. Cover and cook till chicken is no longer pink. If gravy is required add some water and cook for five more minutes.
5. Add the sauteed onions and capsicum just before serving and garnish with coriander leaves.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Oatmeal Buttermilk Wheat Bread

We eat a lot of bread at home and by we I mean Latif (hehe). Actually that's what sustains him from morning till evening when I am at work if there are no leftovers for lunch. So it was only natural that I try my hand at baking a loaf of bread. We mostly eat wholemeal bread (I even managed to convert a white bread lover to this - yes it is Latif only) and so I wanted to try a wholemeal bread itself. There are many many recipes out there but most of them call for bread flour and I didn't want to buy a bag before experimenting with something at home.

This recipe is from Annie's Eats and is very simple and easy. It calls for rolled oats which I had never seen before (Thank you instant oats for keeping me ignorant) and so I had to search for it and found it in the organic section of the store. I halved the recipe because I only had a 8 inch loaf pan (brand new, mind you) and the original recipe yielded one very large loaf. Even with half of the recipe I got a good sized loaf perfect for the two of us. Because of central air condtioning at home it was tough to find a humid spot for the yeast to rise. I heated my oven a little and placed the bowl there. It took me 3 hours for the first rise and one hour for the second.The bread is great with a very soft center. I slightly over baked mine not knowing when to remove it exactly. Now that I have baked my first loaf I will surely try different types of bread like rolls (garlic knots anyone?) Also, how great are those bread machines which give you ready bread at the touch of a button. Would love to get one as a gift (hint hint)!

Recipe Source - Given as is from Annie's Eats, with my notes in red.


11/2 Cups Rolled Oats, Divided
1 Cup Boiling Water
1/4 Cup Room Temperature Water
2 Tbsp + 1 Tsp Agave Nectar (Or Honey), Divided - I Used Honey
2 Tsp Instant Yeast
11/2 Cups Buttermilk, At Room Temperature - I used the Milk And Vinegar Substitute
1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 1/2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
2 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
2 Tsp Salt

1. Set aside ¼ cup of the rolled oats. Place the remaining oats in a medium bowl. Cover with the boiling water, mix well, and let sit uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the soaked oats, room temperature water, 2 tablespoons of agave, yeast, buttermilk, olive oil, 2 cups of each flour, and salt. Mix briefly on low speed until ingredients are combined. Mix in the remaining ½ cup of each flour. Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed for about 10 minutes. The dough will be wet, cling to the hook, and have a satiny finish.
3. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, flattening it with your hands to release the excess air bubbles. Form the dough into a 12 x 6-inch rectangle and position it so the long side is facing you. Fold the two shorter ends onto the top so that they meet in the middle. Starting with the closest end, roll the dough away from you tightly into a log. Pinch the seam closed. (Do this well, I closed mine and it still opened up leaving a gaping slit on the top). Transfer the loaf to an oiled loaf pan, pressing it so that it reaches all the corners.
5. Mix the remaining agave nectar with ½ a teaspoon of very hot water. Brush over the top of the loaf, and
sprinkle with the reserved oats. Let rise for about 30 minutes, just until the loaf rises over the top of the pan.
6. Preheat the oven to 375 Degrees F  F. Bake the loaf for 1 hour. Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before slicing.

P.S - My sister, niece and parents are planning to come to Dubai pretty soon and I can't wait to try out so many new recipes as they are complete foodies like me! Lot's more baking for me!

Happy Eating!!