Sunday, 9 December 2018

Eggfree Semi N*kd Gingerbread Cake


Christmas and cake have always been mutually inclusive in my head, ever since I had my first bite of plum cake I suppose, twenty years and counting, not a year has passed that I haven't baked an intoxicated and sinful Christmas Cake. This however has never stopped me from making a new Christmas special recipe in addition to my all time favourite.

Winters mean a time for hot chocolates, snugly blankets, book reads on overdrive and spicing most food that hits my throat with a good dose of ginger.

I suppose its my Zoroastrian genes which make me a ginger lover. This blogs' archives are testimony to that love, seek and you shall find many a ginger recipe that I have created over the years.

This year, I prepared a gingerbread cake, frosted it with simple powdered whipping cream spiced with freshly squeezed ginger root juice and decorated it with gingerbread cookies and though I made it for the mister's birthday, it was my own way to heralding in the most wonderful time of the year.

Read on for the recipe
Yeilds: Two 5 inch layers

You will need:

Dry ingredients
All purpose flour - 1​1⁄4 cups
Baking Soda - ½ teaspoon
Ginger powder - 2 teaspoons
Cinnamon powder - ½ teaspoon
Clove powder - ​1⁄4 teaspoon
Salt - a pinch

Wet ingredients
Butter - ​1⁄4 cup (57 grams) softened
Castor sugar - ​1⁄4 cup
Molasses - ​1⁄2 cup
Apple puree - ​1⁄4 cup

Additional
Hot water - ​1⁄2 cup

Method:
In a bowl combine all the 'wet ingredients' and whisk till light and fluffy in texture.





In another bowl whisk together all the 'Dry ingredients'.


Now fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients using a spatula, in three batches, till all the flour is mixed in well.


Lastly add in hot water and combine well, this helps keep your cake moist and soft.

Pour the batter equally between two pre lined 5 inch baking tins and bake @160 degrees Celcius for 20 minutes or till a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool down completely and frost using a 50 gram packet of powdered whipping cream.

Enjoy!


Monday, 19 November 2018

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Muffins
It's no surprise that I love celebrating festivals the world over, not with their rituals but by partaking in their food preparation, what ever they may be. 

Now though my main motivation is always trying out new recipes from new regions or giving my own twists to their core ingredients. I must admit that the idea of giving Thanks pleases me immensely. After all if one sits to think of it, all of us will find at least a handful of reasons to be thankful for every morning.

Thanksgiving began as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. Similarly named festival holidays occur in Germany and Japan as well. Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States, and around the same part of the year in other places. Although Thanksgiving has historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, it has long been celebrated as a secular holiday as well.

Occurring in the heart of Fall, Pumpkins play a major role at the Thanksgiving dinner table and though Pumpkin Pie is the traditionally prepared dessert, a lot of spin offs all made with pumpkin are a major hit during this time of the year.

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Now though Indian by birth and residence, I've never used the humble pumpkin as is traditionally used in Indian households, but have used it numerous times in making continental fare.

Today's recipe is very simple to put together with readily available ingredients at home. Great for snacking on, packing in tifffin boxes or as a post lunch treat, these Vegan Pumpkin Spice Muffins made with semolina flour are moist, fragrant with warm spices and soul satisfying.

A must try this season.

You will need:

Red Pumpkin - 185 grams (1 cup)
Semolina/ Rava/ Suji - 200 grams (1 cup)
Jaggery powder - 75 grams (5 tablespoons)
Oil (any flavourless) - 4 tablespoons
Salt - a pinch
Baking powder -1/2 teaspoon
Baking soda - 1/2 teaspoon
Cinnamon powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Ginger powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Nutmeg powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Clove powder - a pinch
Vinegar (either white/ malt or ACV) - 1+1/2 tablespoon (7.5 ml)
Almonds or walnuts or pumpkin seeds or chocolate chips - 25 grams, to garnish

Method:

Clean, peel and cube the pumpkin, then pressure cook in just enough water to just about cover the top of the cubes.

Allow to cook for 3 whistles and switch off the flame.

Allow the cooker to cool down, then remove the boiled pumpkin and discard the water.



Using a bender or food processor make a smooth paste of the boiled pumpkin, salt and jaggery powder.


Mix the prepared paste along with the oil into the remaining dry ingredients except baking powder, baking soda and vinegar and allow to rest for 30 minutes to 2 hours.



Once all semolina has absorbed all the liquid well and is slightly puffed up, add in the baking soda, baking powder and vinegar and mix in well.

Add in nuts, chocolate chips or pumpkin seeds if desired.

Spoon in 2 tablespoons of the batter into standard sized muffin moulds.

Garnish with toppings of your choice.



Bake in a preheated oven @ 160°Celcius for 20 to 22 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffins comes out clean or with a few wet crumbs attached.

Enjoy hot with a snuggly blanket and a warm cuppa your fave!


Saturday, 20 October 2018

Shrewsbury Biscuits Recipe



Kayani Bakery's Shrewsbury biscuits are the most loved biscuits of India. Crispy, buttery with a beautiful texture, these biscuits are truly iconic in taste.

Baking culinary delights since 1955, Kayani Bakery-pioneers of bakery industry in India, are renowned for their legendary cookies. Shrewsbury biscuits are their most popular creation and sell like hot cakes. Freshly baked, Shrewsbury biscuits are a perfect combination of right texture and crisp buttery taste.

Being an inhabitant of the lovely erstwhile sleepy (though no longer) city, recreating these in my kitchen have been on my to do since, well... always.

A Shrewsbury cake or Shrewsbury biscuit is a classic English dessert, named after Shrewsbury, the county town of Shropshire in England. A man named Mr Palin became famous for the version he started making in 1819.

They used to be made much harder and crispier than they are now.

So for everyone who has ever had and loved these, read on for a delightfully simple recipe below.

To make 20 standard sized biscuits

You will need:

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered or superfine sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
1 small egg
1 tablespoon zest or orange or lime 
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt


Method:

Using an electric whisk cream together the sugar and butter until light and creamy (no more than 3 minutes on low speed)

Now fold in a lightly whisked egg along with the zest.


Gently fold in the flour that has been mixed with baking powder and salt in three batches, incorporate well after each addition.


Whisk once more till the mix resembles wet lumps, do not over mix.


Bring the dough together with your hands.

Divide into two, wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.


Once cool roll out into a rectangle to your desired thickness and cut out desired shapes.


Bake in a preheated oven @ 180°C for 10 minutes or until the biscuits start getting golden brown at the base.

Allow to cool on a wire rack till they reach room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container.

Enjoy!




Sunday, 9 September 2018

Malido (Parsi Style Pudding made for Religious Ceremonies)

Parsi Malido
A labour of love, a mix of ethnicities, a recipe made only for Jasans (Zoroastrian prayer ceremonies) and immune to modern twists and tweaks is - the Malido. At the onset it starts off like the churma/ choorma (a popular Haryanvi, Rajasthani, Bihari, Uttar Pradeshi and Awadhi delicacy from India of coarsely ground wheat crushed and cooked with ghee [clarified butter] and sugar.) except that the Malido uses twice as much semolina to wheat flour and is cooked in sugar syrup and finished off with a happy addition of eggs (to give it a creamy depth, the main texture of the dish being coarse). You can skip the eggs, but Parsis consider a house without eggs no less than a national calamity, so.... you get the drift.

If I had to describe what the Malido is to a non Parsi, I'd say its a mix between a choorma ladoo and suji (semolina) halwa.

Now like most of my tweaks to good ole' Parsi recipes, I once tried making the malido without frying the flat breads and mincing them to a fine powder. The result was an illegitimate offspring of a day old roti (Indian flatbread) and Ravo (Parsi style semolina milk pudding) and though palatable, was nothing close to what the Malido is supposed to be - coarse!.

So cutting back on 95% of the ghee was clearly not an option here. However downsizing it by 40% and reducing the sugar by 30% , I finally managed to create an exact replica of the Malido, my Parsi taste buds are so used to devouring since the last thirty odd years.


I must warn you here that this IS a labour of love and one does need a sizable excuse to spend half an afternoon with a multiple of kitchen occupants. (Mine was an unwell pre schooler asking for some), and a parent can't say no to a sweet face....

Malido is best enjoyed, if eaten fresh and slightly warm, along with a unique Parsi flat bread called the Papri. The salty taste of the Papri brings out the inherent flavor of the Malido. A unique Parsi sweetmeat, indeed.


Makes about 600 grams of Malido
Here's the recipe

You will need:

1/2 cup semolina (suji/ rava/ ferina/ cream of wheat)
1/4 cup atta (whole wheat flour)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup ghee (clarified butter)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 + 1/2 cup water
1+1/2 teaspoons vanilla essence
3 cardamom pods - powdered
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg powder
2 eggs - optional
1/4 cup mix of chopped almonds, cashews, charoli nuts and raisins - to garnish

Method:

In a bowl mix together the semolina and whole wheat flours with some salt, whisk well.


To this add in 1 tablespoon ghee and a little water (about 1/4 cup) to make a stiff dough.

Allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes.


Now pluck out small portions of the dough to make small sized flat discs, make them as thin as you can, they will fry faster that way.


Now heat all the remaining ghee in heavy bottomed kadhai (wok) over medium low heat.

Fry the discs in small batches until they turn a reddish golden in colour and are cooked all the way through.

Remove onto a kitchen towel and allow to cool down.


Once cool pulse the fried discs in a blender or food processor to obtain a coarse powder. (Do
not grind to a fine powder).


To make the sugar syrup boil 1/2 cup water along with the sugar until a slightly thick consistency is achieved (no need for one or two strands to form as this is a soft set pudding).


Now fry the powdered discs in the same ghee for another 5 - 7 minutes till it starts to waft a pleasant aroma.

Add in the sugar syrup and cook till the syrup just begins to be absorbed by the powder.

Switch off the heat and transfer the wok onto your kitchen counter, here allow to cool for 5 minutes.


After 5 minutes, add in two beaten eggs, incorporate into the mix and then put the wok back to LOW heat.


Cook till the eggs are absorbed in the mixture, the mixture leaves the sides of the wok and a spoon inserted in the center doesn't fall off.


Remove from the heat and add in the nutmeg and cardamom powders along with the vanilla essence.

Garnish with mixed dried fruits of your choice.

Enjoy!


Monday, 13 August 2018

Lagan nu Custard Tarts


Another dawn, another day, another way to start afresh, another prospect to live it up and another chance to refill your cup.

Its Parsi New Year in a few days folks, so its time to reflect on the year gone by, to forgive those who have erred and give second chances too. Its time to polish off the dirt of yesterday and sparkle away. A whole new year brings in fresh new opportunities to try what you put off last time, to give it all you got and to push the envelope to the edge. Its time to be nicer than you were yesterday, kinder than you have ever been and stronger for those who need you to be their strength.

Its time to try what you've been putting off and see how happy it makes you feel, its time to grow and be reborn, for what are we here for, on this plane if we don't learn something new everyday?. Follow your heart and trust that instinct, be creative and cook up a storm.

I sure did!, this recipe has been swimming in my head for the whole of the last year now, so I finally did it, I made Lagan nu Castard Tarts, I'm content now and look forward to my neurons sending me even more delicious ideas in the coming New Year.

For the uninitiated, Lagan nu Custard is a bhujelu (baked) custard that is served at a Parsi lagan (wedding) or for that matter any auspicious ceremony. Rich, decadent, indulgent and delicious this simple dessert combines all Parsi loves - eggs, cardamom, nutmeg, dry fruits and rosewater.

Now if you've been reading this space for sometime you know that I love giving my own twists to Parsi food, where else would you find Aebleskiver Bhakhra's, Dar ni Pori Puffs, Mini Eeda Chutney na Patice or Baked Khajur ni Ghari's?, so following tradition I present to you a bite sized Lagan nu Custard in Oat and Museli Tart shells!, read on for the recipe.

Makes: 8 -10 tartlets

You will need:

For the Lagan nu Custard filling
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons regular sugar
1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg powder
1 tablespoon chopped nuts (eg. almonds, pistachios, raisins and charoti)
Salt, a pinch

For the Tart shells
1/2 cup instant oats
1/2 cup museli
1 tablespoon sugar or jaggery
2 tablespoons honey OR molasses OR agave nectar
Salt, a pinch
Milk - if required.

Method:

 In a bowl crack in the egg and to it add the sugar and salt, whisk well to combine, now start to add in the milk in a thin steady trickle whisking all the while.


Once well combined add in the nuts along with the cardamom and nutmeg powders and rosewater.

Set aside.


Now for the tart shells, pulse together the sugar, oats and museli in a grinder or food processor to form a crumb like texture.


Remove into a bowl and add in melted butter and honey. Mix well to combine.


The mixture should resemble wet sand and must hold shape when pressed. In case the mix doesn't come together add in some milk a teaspoon at a time.


Grease 8 - 10 small tart moulds well with some butter.


Fill in the greased moulds with the oat and muesli mixture, work up to the sides of the mould and press down with the help of another mould to form a cavity.


Fill in the cavities with the prepared custard liquid and bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celcius (350 F) for 25 to 30 minutes.


Enjoy!


Sunday, 29 July 2018

Homemade No Knead Crusty Whole Wheat Bread


Who doesn't love warm, crusty homemade bread? This No-Knead Crusty Bread is my absolute favorite, and this riff substitutes whole wheat flour for all-purpose to create a loaf that's crusty, delicious — and extra-nutritious!

The one thing I hear from most people who have never made bread before is that it’s not worth the effort.

Let me ask ya something. Have you ever experienced a bite of fresh homemade bread? Have you ever experienced the wonderful scent that comes from deep within the kitchen while the bread is baking?

No? Well, my friends, if you’ve never made bread at home before, you don’t know what you’re missing out on and when the effort is hardly anything, I’d say the worth of making bread at home far surpasses the effort when it comes right down to it.

Now…about this bread. It’s got a chewy, crusty exterior, bready interior and it’s highly addictive. Consider yourself warned.

This, no oil whole wheat brown bread requires only about 5 minutes active prep work time and the rest is waiting on the dough and bake time.

You will need:

Whole wheat flour - 3 1/4 cups
Water - 1+1/2 cups lukewarm water
Honey - 1 teaspoon
Instant OR Active dry yeast: 3/4 tablespoons
Salt- 1/2 teaspoon
Black and white sesame seeds to sprinkle on top
Milk - 2 teaspoons
Extra wheat flour as needed

Method:

Combine the whole wheat flour and salt in a large bowl and combine with a whisk.


In a cup, mix the yeast into lukewarm water and 1 teaspoon honey and stir once.


Once the yeast starts to froth its ready to use, this will take about 20 - 30 seconds.


Add the yeast water into the flour and combine with the help of a rubber spatula.


Mix it well so that the dough forms into a rough ball.


Cover this ball with a damp kitchen towel or some cling film and allow to prove for atleast 3 hours. (Refer, A few tips on baking crusty bread) in a warm dark place (I switch on the microwave for 3 minutes, then switch it off and keep the dough in the microwave to rise (it must be switched OFF when the dough is kept in).


At the end of three hours the dough will be double in size, at this point punch off the air and lightly toss with added dry flour to give it a desired shape.



Shape the ball of dough into whatever you like—a round loaf or boule as they say in French, baguette, you name it! Let the bread dough rest for 15 minutes.

Score (Scoring is slashing the dough with a blade or a sharp knife to allow it to expand during baking. The purpose is primarily to control the direction in which the bread will expand during “oven spring.” ) the bread with a sharp knife.

Brush the tops with milk and sprinkle sesame or any other seeds of choice on top.


Preheat the oven to 230 degrees C (450 degrees F).

Place a flat bowl on the bottom rack of the oven.

Pour one cup of hot water into the flat bowl and shut the oven quickly.

Bake the bread for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top is well browned. Let the bread cool completely before slicing.

Enjoy!



What’s your favorite crusty bread? And do you have any tips for attaining the ultimate crust? Please share your thoughts in comments, below.

A few tips on baking crusty bread:

1. Shape the dough with more rather than less surface area.
A big, fat, round or oval loaf – a boule – doesn’t have as much opportunity to shine in the crisp crust department as does a thin baguette, or individual rolls. While you can certainly make a big loaf with crisp crust, the ratio of crunchy to tender will be much smaller.

So if you’re a real fan of crust (as opposed to soft interior), opt for smaller, skinnier, or flatter loaves or rolls.

2. To make crusty bread, create steam in the oven.
Some bakers like to place a sturdy pan (cast iron preferred) on the bottom shelf of the oven as it preheats, then pour 1/2 cup or so hot water into the pan as they’re loading the loaves. The result? Billows of steam trapped in the oven.

Another, easier way to re-create steam’s work is to simply spray or brush risen loaves with warm water before placing them into the hot oven.

So how, exactly, does steam create a crisp crust? Simply put, it has to do with the starch in flour. As bread bakes, its outer layer (crust) eventually reaches 180°F. At that point, the starches on the surface burst, become gel-like, and then harden in the oven’s heat to a crackly consistency. Steam hitting the bread’s surface facilitates this process.

3. Bake on a pizza stone or steel.
Many bakers find they can create a decent crisp top crust, but struggle to make their bread’s bottom crusty, as well.

The best way to brown and crisp your bread’s bottom crust – as well as enhance its rise – is to bake it on a preheated pizza stone or baking steel. The stone or steel, super-hot from your oven’s heat, delivers a jolt of that heat to the loaf, causing it to rise quickly. At the same time, the bread’s bottom, without the shield of a metal pan – which takes awhile to absorb and then transmit heat – bakes super-quickly, becoming brown and crisp.

4.To keep bread crusty, cool baked loaves in the oven.
This may sound like an oxymoron – cool bread in the oven? – but it works. Once the bread is baked, turn off the oven. Transfer the bread from pan (or stone) to a middle oven rack. Crack the oven door open a couple of inches (a folded potholder works well here), and let it cool right in the cooling oven.

How does this help keep bread crusty? As bread cools, any leftover moisture in its interior migrates to the surface. If that moisture reaches the surface and hits cool air – e.g., typical room temperature – it condenses on the loaf’s surface, making it soggy. If it hits warm air (your still-warm oven), it evaporates – leaving the crust crisp.



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Eggfree Semi N*kd Gingerbread Cake

Christmas and cake have always been mutually inclusive in my head, ever since I had my first bite of plum cake I suppose, twenty years a...