Thursday, December 1, 2011

Wilton Cake Decorating Class - Day 1 and 2 - Review

Image Courtesy -
 I finally got to attend my first cake decorating class and it was great! I had a great time and learnt a lot of new tricks which really helped me decorate my cake.

I wanted to do this post because I wanted to write about the class that is held here in Dubai. So I will give a play by play on what it is and what it contains...

The classes are offered by Tavola at Century Plaza in Jumeirah. I am presently doing Course 1, which costs AED 750 for four classes which are spread over 4 Saturdays. They have classes on weekdays too for those who are free on those days.

One the first day we were asked to bring a pencil and note pad. Our instructor is very nice and friendly. We were given a Wilton Student Kit (free of cost) which included a lot of stuff like essential tips, couplers, a spatula, parchment, practice board and sheets, icing bags etc.

The instructor showed us how to make butter cream with the Wilton recipe (super sweet made with Crisco!!) and also how to level and torte a cake. She then showed us how to crumb coat and ice the cake. She used the icer tip which is really cool and gives a great even coverage. We then learnt how to transfer a pattern on the cake using piping gel and decorate it. We practiced a few stars with our piping bags on cookies and just like that our three hours were up.
We were asked to bring a lot of stuff for the next class including a cake, icing etc. As soon as the class got over there was a mad scramble with people buying a whole lot of stuff. Most of the women want to do all the four classes so they purchased the big Wilton set which costs AED 500 approx. Since I am not planning on doing those courses I just picked a few things like the cake leveler (I am never letting you go my new best friend!!), icer tip and turn table. Tavola is a bit expensive so it’s better to search for these products elsewhere. I get my disposable icing bags really cheap at Daiso. Or if you have anyone coming from the U.S you can get it from there.

Day two came very quickly and we were all ready with our cakes and icing. The instructor checked our icing consistencies and if it was not right we were asked to add more sugar to it. I was the only one who had bought extra sugar to class and I handed it around. In the end I didn’t have enough for myself and had to work with a thin butter cream (picture my sad face here).

We leveled our cakes; crumb coated them and iced them. Since my icing was too soft I could not use the piping gel to transfer my design and had to draw it free hand. I somehow winged it and got the cupcake design (which was supposed to be a fish and I had made the colors accordingly but then had to change them to the cupcake colors and one of them turned super ugly! Long story!).

All in all, I learned a lot and am waiting for day three where we will be working on cupcakes.

I think this is a nice class to learn decorating essentials. I don’t like butter cream at all and I don’t think a cake can be iced this well with whipped cream frosting. So I will have to learn to work with it. Let’s see how it goes.

Class Details
What - Wilton Method Course 1 - Decorating Basics
Where - Tavola at Century Plaza (Not in Mercato) in Jumeirah.
When - Four Saturdays, 9:30 am - 12:30 pm. Also available on week days.
How much - AED 750 (includes Student Course Kit). Cost will go up by the time you buy a lot of other things.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

I celebrated yet another birthday last week and everybody asked me what cake did I bake for myself. When I said "Pumpkin Cake" they were all stumped. You see, in India Pumpkin is always used in savory dishes. Moreover we rarely use the orange pumpkin as it is not widely available. I have seen so many recipes for pumpkin pies, muffins, cakes etc and I was really tempted to try the pie. I searched for the canned stuff but it is not available anywhere over here in Dubai. One day however, I went to a supermarket where I rarely shop and what do I see? A can of pumpkin puree! I immediately grabbed it and headed home with grand plans of baking a pie. Sadly, there are no pie eaters in my house and I decided to chuck the idea. But when I came across this cake, I knew I had found the perfect recipe.

This cake is fantastic. But the frosting? It’s to die for! It may even be my favorite frosting from now on. It is light, creamy, not too sweet and does not have that buttery taste which I hate.

I highly recommend this cake if you want to try something new. I reduced the recipe by 25% as I had just less than 2 Cups of puree. The picture is of half the cake only as I have frozen the other half.

Ingredients - Makes one 7 inch four layer cake. (Reduced Recipe)

For the Cake
2 1/4 Cups All Purpose Flour (Spooned and Leveled)
3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
A Pinch of Salt 
3/4 Tbsp Ground Cinnamon
1 1/2 Tbsp Ground Ginger
1 1/2 Tbsp Freshly Ground Nutmeg
3/4 Cup Golden Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed
1 1/2 Cups Canned Pumpkin Puree
4 Large Eggs, At Room Temperature
3/4 Cup + 3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
For The Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting - Yields enough to frost a 8" or 9" double layer cake. 
453 Grams (16oz) Full Fat Cream Cheese, Softened But Still Cool
1 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar
1 Cup Cold Heavy Cream (Use The Ultra Heavy 40%+ Cream If You Can Find It)
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Essence
Bake The Cake
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line two 7 inch round cake pans with parchment paper.
2. Place the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in a large bowl and mix well with a whisk. Keep aside.
3. In another bowl, mix the brown sugar with 1/2 Cup of the pumpkin puree, ensuring there are no lumps. Add the remaining puree and oil. Mix well and add the eggs, stirring after each addition. 
4. Add the dry ingredients in batches, mixing well after each addition.
5. Pour equally into the prepared pans and place in the oven on a lower middle rack. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes until done or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
6. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Unmold and cool completely before frosting.

Make The Frosting
1. Sift the powdered sugar and add the cream cheese to the bowl of your mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat them thoroughly until fluffy and completely smooth/lump free.
2. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream to nearly stiff peaks, then add the whipped cream into the cheese mixture, scrape down the sides of your bowl and quickly and briefly beat to combine. Do not over beat.

Frost The Cake
1. Slice each cake horizontally to get a total of four layers.
2. Place one layer on a cake board or plate and place a dollop of frosting. Spread evenly without reaching the sides. Repeat with all layers.
3. Cover completely with remaining frosting, Decorate as desired.

Happy Eating!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Key Lime Pie

After making a fabulous Apple Pie last week, I wanted to try my hand at some more varieties of pie. I checked Joy of Baking and the Key Lime Pie just jumped at me. Of course I had never eaten one before and didn’t even know what it was. But the description was enough to reel me in. I tried to search for Key limes but could not get them anywhere so I substituted for the Persian limes (and now I at least know the difference between a lime and a lemon)

I must say that I did not love this pie but I surely liked it. It was a bit too tart for me and I think cutting back a little on the lime juice would be perfect. I did add more sugar to the whipped cream than the recipe called for and this was to balance the tartness a little. Because we rarely use lemon in desserts in India I am not a fan of them. But if you a like a combination of tart and sweet this is definitely a good recipe. It is smooth, creamy and the crust is amazing.

Recipe Source - Given as is from Joy Of Baking with my comments in red.

Ingredients - Makes 1 - 9 inch (23 cm) pie

For the Crust
1 1/4 Cup (125 Grams) Graham Cracker Crumbs (I used Crushed Digestive Biscuits)
2 Tbsp(30 grams) Granulated White Sugar
5 - 6 Tbsp (70 - 85 Grams) Unsalted Butter, Melted
For The Filling
3 Large Egg Yolks, Room Temperature
One 14 - Ounce (390 Grams) Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/2 Cup (120 ml) Key Lime Juice (I used Regular Limes) ( I would reduce this to 1/4 Cup as I don't like anything too tart)
2 Tsp Grated Lime Zest (Outer Skin)
For The Topping
1 cup (240 ml) Cold Heavy Whipping Cream (Double Cream) (35-40% Butterfat Content)
2 Tbsp (30 grams) Granulated White Sugar (I used 4 Tbsp)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Butter or lightly spray with a non stick vegetable spray, a 9 inch (23 cm) pie or tart pan.  

Make The Crust
1. Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake for about 10 minutes or until set and lightly browned. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool while you make the filling

Make The Filling
1. In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks until pale and fluffy (2-3 minutes).
2. Gradually add the condensed milk and beat until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes). Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat in the lime juice and zest. 
3. Pour the filling over the crust and bake for about 10 - 15 minutes, or until the filling is set. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once it has completely cooled, cover and refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Make The Topping
1. Once the filling has chilled, in the bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the whipping cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. Either pipe (I used a Wilton 1M star tip) or place mounds of whipping cream on top of the filling. Can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days.
Happy Eating!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Daring Bakers - October 2011 - Povitica!!!

I have been so lost lately. Its been a long time since I actually did something productive (except at work mind you) and after skipping so many daring bakers challenges I really wanted to get up and do something. So that is exactly what I did the moment I saw the challenge go up on the first of the month. Yup, that's right, I was one of the first ones to complete the challenge (after Audax of course) and I had a great time making this.

Povitica (pronounced po-va-teet-sa) is traditional Eastern European dessert bread that is traditionally served during the holiday season. This was really a big challenge for me as it was a completely new type of bread and the dough was sooo tough to work with. The problem was that  the gluten was not rested enough and so the dough was not stretching out. Wish I had known that before I started making it! Anyways, I did get good results and had an amazing loaf of sweet bread, The filling is fantastic. I actually ate toasted slices of the bread for breakfast each day! Yum! I would definitely make this again and even try savoury fillings as some of the other daring bakers.

The recipe is a long one with at least 30 steps but it is not difficult. The only challenging part is rolling out the dough which should not be a problem if your dough is rested. I made only a quarter of the recipe and this is enough for one loaf.

Blog-checking lines: The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!

Recipe here...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Apple Pie

I baked my very first apple pie when I was 17 years old. I had not been bitten by the baking bug back then (say that fast 5 times!) but it was my sister who was into it a lot. It was she who taught me how to macerate apples and knead a nice dough for the pastry. Ever since my first bite, Apple pie has been my all time favorite dessert.

Of all the times that I have made this I have never used an actual recipe or measurements until now. I would just throw together the ingredients and take it from there. This time I decided to use the recipe from Joy of Baking and see if my pie was good or not. And I am pleased to say that my pie is as good (if not better) than this one right here. It is everything I love; cinnamoney, flakey, sweet... This recipe is definitely a keeper!

Every time I bake a pie I remember one of my sisters who would never eat the filling but only the crust! I would bake the scraps of the dough separately just to make her happy. Oh what good times!

Recipe Source - Given as is from Joy of Baking, with my changes in red

Ingredients - Makes one 9 inch (23 cm) pie

For The Pie Crust
2 1/2 Cups (350 grams) All-purpose flour
1 Tsp Salt
2 Tbsp (30 grams) Granulated White Sugar
1 Cup (226 grams) Unsalted Butter, Chilled, And Cut Into 1 Inch (2.5 Cm) Pieces
1/4 to 1/2 Cup (60 - 120 ml) Ice Water
For The Apple Filling
2 1/2 Pounds (1.1 Kg) Apples (About 6 Large), Peeled, Cored, And Sliced 1/4 Inch Thick (About 8 Cups (2 L)) - I chopped my apples instead of slicing them.
1/4 Cup (50 Grams) Granulated White Sugar
1/4 Cup (55 grams) Light Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/4 Tsp Ground Nutmeg (Optional) - Omitted
1/4 Tsp Salt
2 Tbsp (28 grams) Unsalted Butter
1 1/2 Tbsp (15 grams) Cornstarch (Corn Flour)

Make the Pie Crust
1. In a food processor, place the flour, salt, and sugar and process until combined. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal (about 15 seconds).
2. Pour 1/4 cup (60 ml) water in a slow, steady stream, through the feed tube until the dough just holds together when pinched. If necessary, add more water. Do not process more than 30 seconds.
3. Turn the dough onto your work surface and gather into a ball. Divide the dough in half, flattening each half into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about one hour before using. This will chill the butter and relax the gluten in the flour. 
4. After the dough has chilled sufficiently, remove one portion of the dough from the fridge and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry into a 12 inch (30 cm) circle. (To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards).)
5.  Fold the dough in half and gently transfer to a 9 inch (23 cm) pie pan ( I used a 10 inch pan). Brush off any excess flour and trim the edges of the pastry to fit the pie pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. 
6. Then remove the second round of pastry and roll it into a 12 inch (30 cm) circle. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator.  I made a lattice top instead
Make the Apple Filling
1. In a large bowl combine the sliced apples with the sugars, lemon juice, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to three hours. Then, place the apples and their juices in a strainer that is placed over a large bowl (to capture the juices). Let the apples drain for about 15-30 minutes or until you have about 1/2 cup (120 ml) of juice.
2.  Spray a 4 cup (960 ml) heatproof measuring cup with a nonstick vegetable spray, and then pour in the collected juices and the 2 tablespoons (28 grams) of unsalted butter. Place in the microwave and boil the liquid, on high, about 5 to 7 minutes or until the liquid has reduced to about 1/3 cup (80 ml) and is syrupy and lightly caramelized.  (Alternatively, you could place the juices and butter in a small saucepan and boil over medium high heat on the stove.)  - I used the stove top method.
3. Meanwhile, remove the top pastry crust from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes so it has time to soften.
4. Transfer the drained apples slices to a large bowl and mix them with the cornstarch (corn flour). 
5. Then pour the reduced syrup over the apples and toss to combine.
6. Pour the apples and their syrup into the chilled pie crust. Moisten the edges of the pie shell with a little water and then place the top crust over the apples. Tuck any excess pastry under the bottom crust and then crimp the edges using your fingers or a fork. Using a sharp knife, make five- 2-inch (5 cm) slits from the center of the pie out towards the edge of the pie to allow the steam to escape. Cover the pie with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill the pastry while you preheat the oven. - I cut the rolled dough into strips and made the lattice top at this point.
7. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Place the oven rack at the lowest level and place a baking stone or baking sheet on the rack before preheating the oven. Place a piece of aluminum foil on the stone (or pan) to catch any apple juices. Set the pie on the stone or pan and bake for about 45 to 55 minutes or until the juices start to bubble through the slits and the apples feel tender (not mushy) when a toothpick or sharp knife is inserted through one of the slits. Make sure to cover the edges of the pie with a foil ring to prevent over browning after about 30 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 3-4 hours before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or softly whipped cream. Store at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.

Happy Eating!!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Celebrating with Caramel Apple Shooters!!

We had a dinner party this weekend to celebrate a long awaited event. What, you ask? Well, hubby has just graduated from college!!! I am so proud of him and was bursting with joy when his results were announced. To celebrate the occasion we invited a few of his closest friends for dinner and I cooked up the usual Indian fare. I wanted to try something new for dessert and when I saw these shooters on the Half Baked blog I knew I wanted to try them as I love fall flavors. It is basically a cinnamon swirl cake with a layer of caramelized apples and cinnamon cream cheese frosting. It is a rich dessert and can be served in small portions. I did not have shot glasses so I made them in a little bigger size. This can also be made as a layer cake (yum!) I used a box mix to save up on time as I had a lot of stuff to do.

Recipe Source - Half Baked (I made a few changes which are given below)

For Cinnamon Swirl Cake
1 White Box Mix (And other ingredients asked for on the box) or any White Cake recipe
1 Tbsp Cinnamon Powder

For the Caramelized Apples
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Water
2 Cups Chopped Apples
1 Tsp Cinnamon
A Pinch of Salt

For the Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing
1 Package (200 Gms) Cream Cheese (At Room Temperature)
1 Stick Butter (At Room Temperature)
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 Tsp Vanilla Essence

Make The Cake
Mix the batter for the white cake according to package directions. Remove 1/2 Cup of batter in a cup and mix the cinnamon powder to it. Pour the white batter in a jelly roll pan and add dollops of the cinnamon batter. Swirl lightly with a toothpick and bake till done.

Make The Caramelized Apples
Place all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir lightly till the sugar melts, then reduce the flame to low. Cook the apples till softened.

Make The Icing
Beat all ingredients with a mixer until light and fluffy.  Fill a piping bag fitted with large round tip.

Assemble The Dessert
You can use any type of glass or bowl.
1. Add a dollop of the icing on the bottom.
2. Using a round cookie cutter cut a circle from the cake (same size as the glass or bowl). Add the circle on the icing.
3. Add a tablespoon of the cooked apples.
4. Add another circle of cake and top with a layer of icing.
5. Drizzle a little of the liquid from the caramelized apples.
6. Serve at room temperature. Store in the refrigerator.
Happy Eating!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Cherry Poke Cake

A poke cake? What? Yeah, that's the same reaction I had when I read the name. I had never heard of a poke cake and was intrigued by the name. But when I read the recipe I realized what it meant. All you do is bake a cake and poke holes in it. Then you fill those holes with liquid jelly! This is a really easy and quick dessert. I made this for my mothers birthday and also on Eid. You can use any flavour of Jelly but I think A tangy flavour works best to balance the sweetness of the cake and the cream.

Recipe Source - Adapted from Betty


1 13X9 inch Baked Cake (White, Vanilla or Yellow works best; use a box mix for ease)
2 packets Cherry Jelly/Jell-o (Strawberry, Raspberry etc also works fine)
2 Cups Boiling Water
1 Cup Pitted and Chopped Cherries (Fresh)
2 Cups Whipping Cream

1. Place your cake in a tray or baking dish (you can keep it in the same dish that it was baked in). Make sure its cool.
2. Stir the jelly in boiling water, stirring for 2 minutes to completely dissolve gelatin. Poke cake every inch with tines of meat fork or table knife. Keep aside 1/2 Cup and pour remaining cherry mixture slowly over cake, allowing mixture to fill holes in cake. Cool completely, about 1 hour longer.
3. Whip the cream till you get soft peaks. Spread the chopped cherries on the cake and spread the whipped cream covering the top completely.
3. Drop the remaining cherry jelly using a small teaspoon on the cake (at one inch intervals) and pull using a toothpick to create a swirly pattern.
4. Place in fridge covered with plastic wrap for one hour. Serve cold.

Happy Eating!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Daring Bakers July 2011 - Mango Fraisier

Blog Checking Lines - Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes was our July Daring Bakers’ host and she challenged us to make Fresh Frasiers inspired by recipes written by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson in the beautiful cookbook Tartine.

I love making new desserts and that is one of the main reasons that I joined Daring Bakers. This Fraisier for example is something I would have never made or eaten if not for this challenge. I originally wanted to make the classic version with strawberries but since strawberries are not native to this place they are very expensive and even after paying so much I will never get plump, ripe strawberries. So I decided to go with  mangoes and I can say that it was a great pairing. Though I must say that Alphonso Mangoes would be simply stunning in this dessert. I am very picky when eating mangoes and eat only a few varieties. For this cake I used a Pakistani variety and it was a little too sweet for me. Next time I will surely use Alphonso or something similar.

It was great fun making the chiffon cake and everything went smoothly. I got a perfect cake even though I baked it in a regular 9 inch cake pan. I couldn't find the bottom of my spring form pan and was scared that the cake would not turn out well. To support the sides of the cake pan I attached my spring form ring to the upper edge of my cake pan. That gave good height to the pan and the cake rose very well.

I must confess here that I was not very happy with the whole process of making the pastry cream. It was too long and in the end it didn't even taste like pastry cream but more like whipped cream (very delicious though!). I am not sure if it is supposed to taste like that or not. Next time I will try another simpler recipe.

The whole thing took me about 4 hours to complete from start to finish, though each component can be made separately and stored in the fridge for assembly later on.

I decided not to use the almond paste layer as the fruit, cake and cream were already too sweet. I added some cocoa powder and grated dark chocolate to balance the sweetness in the dessert. Latif loved the dessert and gobbled an entire piece in seconds!


For The Basic Chiffon Cake
1 cup + 2 tablespoons (155 gm) All-purpose Flour
1 Tsp (4 gm) Baking Powder
3/4 Cups (170 Gms) Sugar
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
3 Large Egg Yolks
1/4 Cup + 1 tablespoon Water
1 Tsp (5 ml) Vanilla Essence
3/4 Tsp Grated Lemon Zest
5 Large Egg Whites
1/4 Tsp Cream of Tarter

For the Simple Syrup
1/3 cup Sugar
1/3 cup Water

For The Pastry Cream Filling
1 Cup Whole Milk 
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Essence 
1/8 Tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Cornflour (Cornstarch in U.S)
1/4 Cup Sugar
1 Large Egg
2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
3/4 Tsp Gelatin
1/2 Tbsp Water
1 Cup Heavy Cream

Make the Chiffon Cake
1. Preheat the oven to moderate 325°F (160°C/gas mark 3).
2. Line the bottom of an 9-inch spring form pan with parchment paper. Do not grease the sides of the pan. (I used a regular cake pan and attached the spring form ring to it)
3. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. Add in all but 3 tablespoons (45 ml.) of sugar, and all of the salt. Stir to combine.
4. In a small bowl combine the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla and lemon zest. Whisk thoroughly.
5. Combine with the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly for about one minute, or until very smooth.
6. Put the egg whites into a stand mixer, and beat on medium speed using a whisk attachment on a medium speed, until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat on a medium speed until the whites hold soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining sugar and beat on a medium-high speed until the whites hold firm and form shiny peaks.
7. Using a grease free rubber spatula, scoop about ⅓ of the whites into the yolk mixture and fold in gently. Gently fold in the remaining whites just until combined.
8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
9. Removed the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack.
10. To unmold, run a knife around the sides to loosen the cake from the pan and remove the spring form sides. Invert the cake and peel off the parchment paper. Refrigerate for up to four days.

Make The Simple Syrup 
1. Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan.
2. Bring the mixture to a boil and let the sugar dissolve. Stirring is not necessary, but will not harm the syrup.
3. Remove the syrup from the heat and cool slightly.
4. Transfer syrup to a lidded container or jar that can be stored in the refrigerator. Simple syrup can be stored for up to one month.

Make the Pastry Cream
1. Pour the milk, vanilla, and salt into a heavy sauce pan. Place over medium-high heat and scald, bringing it to a near boiling point. Stir occasionally.
2. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer add the cornstarch and sugar. Whisk to combine
3. Add the eggs to the sugar and cornstarch and whisk until smooth.
4. When the milk is ready, gently and slowly while the stand mixer is whisking, pour the heated milk down the side of the bowl into the egg mixture.
5. Pour the mixture back into the warm pot and continue to cook over a medium heat until the custard is thick, just about to boil and coats the back of a spoon.
6. Remove from heat and pass through a fine mesh sieve into a large mixing bowl. Allow to cool for ten minutes stirring occasionally.
7. Cut the butter into four pieces and whisk into the pastry cream a piece at a time until smooth.
8. Cover the cream with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap onto the top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Chill in the refrigerator for up to five days.
9. In a small dish, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand for a few minutes to soften.
10. Put two inches (55 mm) of water into a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat.
11. Measure 1/4 cup (2 oz/60 ml) of the chilled pastry cream into a small stainless steel bowl that will sit across the sauce pan with the simmering water, without touching the water.
12. Heat the cream until it is 120 F (48.8 C). Add the gelatin and whisk until smooth. Remove from the water bath, and whisk the remaining cold pastry cream in to incorporate in two batches.
13. In a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream until it holds medium-stiff peaks. Immediately fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream with a rubber spatula.

For Fraisier Assembly
1 Baked 9 inch Chiffon Cake
1 Recipe Pastry Cream Filling
1/3 Cup Simple Syrup
4 Large Alphonso Mangoes (Peeled and Sliced - 1/2 inch thick and 4 inch long)
Cocoa Powder For Dusting
Chocolate Curls for Decoration

1. Line the sides of a 9-inch spring form pan with plastic wrap. Do not line the bottom of the pan.
2. Cut the cake in half horizontally to form two layers.
3. Fit the bottom layer into the prepared spring form pan. Moisten the layer evenly with the simple syrup. When the cake has absorbed enough syrup to resemble a squishy sponge, you have enough.
4. Arrange the mango slices around the sides of the cake pan.
5. Place 1 Cup of cream in the center and using an offset spatula push it against the mangoes in the side and spread a thin layer across the top of the cake.
6. Chop the remaining mango pieces (reserve few for decoration) (use all the flesh from the seed) and spread it on the cream. Cover the mangoes entirely with the all but 1/4 Cup of the pastry cream.
7. Place the second cake layer on top and moisten with the simple syrup.
8. Spread the remaining 1/4 Cup of pastry cream on the top of the cake and lightly dust with cocoa powder. Decorate with chocolate curls and mango slices as desired.
9. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
10. To serve release the sides of the spring form pan and peel away the plastic wrap.
11. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Happy Eating!! 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Caramel Banana Cake

I watched the final Harry Potter movie yesterday (The movie was playing from Tuesday in the UAE) and it's like the end of an era. I am a big fan of the books and have read each book at least 10 times (No, I am not kidding). I just love the way the books are written and every time you read it you feel like you are reading something new. Whenever I was bored at home I used to pick a book read it in one sitting. When any of the movies came out I would always come back from the theatre and read that part just to compare the book with the script. No matter how good the movie is, it can never compare to the actual story in the book. I feel people who have not read the book and have only watched the movie are missing out on so many details .

Sadly yesterday I didn't come home and open the last part to read as all my books are back home in India. But what I came home to was the amazing smell of freshly baked banana cake. I had some ripe bananas (as usual) in the fruit basket and needed to make a cake.  I would have gone with my favorite recipe but I didn't have enough butter in the house and searched for a new recipe. I had seen this on I am Baker and decided to give it a go. This is a very moist cake full of flavor.  However, I will still make the other recipe next time (the streusal topping makes me go weak in the knees!)

I did not make the caramel sauce and used the nestle caramel topping instead. I started making the cake at 7 and didn't realize that it needs one full hour to bake. After it went into the oven at 7:45 pm I had to leave for the movie at 8:15. I panicked and didn't know what to do as I could not leave my gas oven on and also did not have any timer.  Hubby said "you either sacrifice the cake or the movie". I almost cried but then saw my microwave. Ting!!  Removed the cake from the gas oven and put it in the microwave on convection at 155 Celsius for 40 minutes and left the house with a big prayer. Tada!! I came home to a perfectly baked cake.

Recipe Source - The Kitchn via I am Baker

Ingredients (Makes 1 nine inch round cake, this is half of the original recipe)

6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup (6 Tbsp) White Sugar
1/2 Cup (6 Tbsp) Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
1 1/2 Cups All purpose Flour
3/4 Tsp Baking Soda
1/4 Tsp Salt
3/4 Cup Milk 
3/4 Cup Mashed Bananas
1/2 Cup Roughly Chopped Walnuts
3/4 Cup Caramel Sauce (I used Nestle Caramel Topping)
1. Preheat oven to 165 degree C (325 degree F). Grease one 9 inch round pan.
2. Place the flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and whisk together. Keep aside.
3. Mix the milk with the mashed bananas in a separate bowl.
4. Beat the butter and sugars in a bowl until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well.
5. Add the dry ingredients alternating with the milk mixture in three parts, mixing until just combined.
6. Add the walnuts and mix.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Pour the caramel sauce in the middle and swirl around with a knife.
8. Place in oven and bake for 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Happy Eating!!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Bake Me Some Baklava

O.K. I know I have been missing for a long time from here but I do have some pretty good excuses. An operation, a house move, some house guests and an additional role at work have all kept me very, very busy the past few months. But now that I am recovered (almost) and settled in my new home (again, almost!) I have decided to pay more attention to my blog. This is a fantastic new dish that I tried, which is also the last thing that I baked in my old house (I love you my old kitchen, you will always be my first love!)

Erica of Erica’s Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker’s June challenge. Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make Baklava.

After missing the last two daring bakers challenges I was determined to at least attempt this one. I must say that I absolutely LOVE baklava. And I have eaten my fair share of it here in the middle east. Give me a box and I can polish it off entirely by myself (I have been known to have self control issues). So I was really excited to try making it myself. Because I could not stand on my feet for long after my operation, I knew rolling and kneading copious amounts of dough was out of the question. So I had to resort to store bought phyllo. Boy oh Boy! Did the dough give me a tough time! This was the first time I ever made Baklava or handled the store bought dough. The sheets just would not separate easily and I almost had a patchwork of sheets in my baking tray. But the end result was well worth the time and energy spent on it.

Most of this baklava was eaten by Latifs friends and one of them said that it was irresistible! Ah , music to a bakers ears! Before making the baklava I watched Alton Browns video from the Good Eats show and I I fell in love with that guy. He is so funny and explains so many things about the dish. As I did not make the phyllo from scratch I mixed and matched the given challenge recipe with Alton Browns recipe.

Check the Daring Bakers Website for the recipe and don't miss the great video of Alton Brown making baklava.
Switched On Baklava Part I
Switched On Baklava Part II

Happy Eating!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Rainbow Baby Shower

The Rainbow Banner with the Mommy-to-be's name

I am so excited to share this party with you guys as this was my first ever party as a host.  I wanted to throw a baby shower for my cousin and since it is not something common in India I was a bit skeptical about asking her. But when I did she immediately agreed as she was really bored!! So I started planning and searching the Internet for inspiration and I found tonnes of it! I decided to go with a rainbow theme as it was easy to incorporate and there were so many rainbow parties on the net to get ideas from.

I wanted to try making a dessert table as it is something of a rage now and decided with some simple stuff like cake and cookies. I made the ruffle for the table using crepe paper and two sided tape based on an idea on the Hip Hooray blog.

I did all the baking at home and made all the decorations also at home. There was a lot of labor involved but in the end it was all worth it.

I made a rainbow cake using fruits which I had seen on I am Baker. I went with a box mix since I didn't have the time to search for a good recipe and try it out. I loved the concept and it was a hit with everyone except for the fact that the icing melted and the colors were see through!! I will post separately about the cake.

For the cupcakes I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe and divided the batter in two parts. With one I baked 12 cupcakes and with the other I baked a 9 inch round cake to be made into cake pops. The cupcakes were topped with chocolate ganache and they were absolutely amazing.

I made sugar cookies again and while I had a great idea in mind it didn't translate very well on the cookies. I used a glaze icing instead of royal because royal icing tastes so YUCK. My piping skills are hardly anything to brag about so I left the heart cookies bare which was a very good idea. They were really delicious and I packed them up in individual treat bags that I had on hand.

To make the cake pops I crumbled the entire cake and mixed half a can of chocolate frosting (again store bought to save time). I rolled them into 24 balls and dipped in white chocolate. I tried a new product this time called Dr. Oetkers Cake Covering and it is a good product for the price. Good quality white chocolate is just too expensive and too thick to get the results you want. So I am happy with this stuff. After dipping them in the chocolate I sprinkled crumbled cake on it which I took from each layer of the rainbow cake. So, I had four pops of each color of the rainbow. Unfortunately the heat got to my pops when I was transporting them to the venue (in an upright position), the coating melted and they fell off the sticks and lost their lovely looks.

Of course I was smart enough to NOT take photos of them the night before when I made them. After reaching her place I placed all of them upside down (hence the upside down rainbow) on a tray and put them in the fridge. They came out in one piece again but the coloring and looks were all gone :(

Fruit Kabobs - These were a hit with the children and I wish we had made more of them. We forgot the orange fruit (LOL!) but the idea was to create a rainbow on each stick.

Snacks - Since it was teatime we ordered snacks from outside. We got delicious Ragda Patties, Vegetable Grilled Sandwiches and Samosas with tea.

Games - We played two games - Guess the Baby Food and Guess the Chocolate in the Diaper. They were both super fun for me as I was watching every ones reactions to the faux poo!!

Favors - I picked up cute little favor bags from Tavola and we added candles and kisses for the women and chocolates for the kids in each bag. I made the rainbow printable and printed it out on card stock.

I also made the printables for the cake pops, place cards, bottle wrappers etc. If you would like the printables, please email me.
For the cupcakes I used free printables that I got from They have a lovely set for a rainbow birthday party which can be found here.
All in all, it was a great party (if I may say so myself!) and I really enjoyed planning it. I am eagerly waiting for Latif to finish his graduation and then I'll throw him a big graduation party!!

Happy Eating!!