June 20, 2013 § 1 Comment
Last month I baked pretty much only lemon cakes. I had been wanting to try Nigella Lawson’s lemon-syrup loaf cake from How To Be A Domestic Goddess for a while, and when the World Baking Day challenge finally gave me a chance to try a lemony cake. But I didn’t stop with that.
I tried 3 different kinds in total.
First, Carmela’s lemon loaf cake with syrup poured over.
Second, a loaf cake spiked with vanilla bean and lime zest.
And third, Donna Hay’s lemon yogurt cake.
I baked Carmela’s lemon loaf cake with syrup twice more; once when we had company and another time to send to family. Even though it does take more effort (you need to melt the butter and allow it to cool; then while the cake is baking you need to make the lemony sugar syrup,) it is worth it because the syrup ensures that the cake stays moist for longer. And once that lemon syrup gets into the cake, you get this really delicious sticky-crumbly crumb.
Donna Hay’s lemon-yogurt cake I did not attempt again; even though it is the simplest of the three, being a one-bowl affair. It’s tasty, no doubt- but since it uses vegetable oil and not butter, I could not taste that richness that comes only from butter.
But there was one which I made over and over again; for family, friends, tea, for when we had company over and even just for myself. The vanilla bean and lime/lemon zest loaf. I used nimbus (limes) the first time around, and used Meyer lemons for some other attempts. For the other two cakes, I followed specific lemon cake recipes. For this one, I tweaked a vanilla cake recipe and added lemon/lime zest and juice to it. It was not a lemon cake to begin with. But I love it because it produces a fluffy, moist which does not need syrup to keep it moist and ever-so-slightly damp. And the speckled vanilla seeds just add a touch of pretty.
So whether you have Meyer lemons, regular lemons or good old desi nimbus, I encourage you to try this
June 18, 2013 § 2 Comments
Well I have been easing back a little since my birthday post. The monsoon has arrived. And I am enjoying it by being incredibly cliched: sitting by the window, drinking chamomile tea and reading.
But the weather calls for it. Since there is no 6 feet of snow followed by a white Christmas with eggnog to speak of in Bombay, we must wring the monsoon for all it’s worth and do as much as we can with the change in weather. That’s all you get in the tropics: hot, hotter and rain. Oh yeah, and lots of bananas year-round.
About those books.
It took me a while to get through Black Milk, since I was reading other stuff between. But it is a very interesting read. Not really a self-help book or life coaching guide- but a lot of insight on womanhood, motherhood and the choices women make, particularly as writers. The nice part is how Elif Shafak weaves in biographical anecdotes about famous women writers- like Jane Austen, Sylvia Plath, and Ayn Rand, to name a few- as well as the women behind some literary greats, like Sophia Tosltoy and Zelda Fitzgerald.
Ratio is a gem of a book recommended by a family friend and foodie- and I am so, so glad I picked it up! It really takes you behind the fundamentals of cooking: how to combine ingredients the right way, scientifically, to get the desired result. I’m still on the baking chapters and I can’t wait to try some the techniques out!
Chef’s Story I chanced upon at my nearest Crossword bookstore and it was priced at such a steal that I HAD to buy it. Quick profiles of some of the greatest and most-loved chefs in the world (read Lidia Bastianich, Anthony Bourdain, Cat Cora, Bobby Flay, Marcus Samuelsson…I could go on!) and what inspires them to do what they do. Really inspiring stories.
And Lean In I have just begun- and though I had misconceptions about the book initially, I have to say I was wrong. It’s quite inspiring, and it will make you look at some aspects of your life and nod in agreement. I have been nodding for a little over 2 chapters now, so there is still more to go.
So that is my June Bookshelf! But I have to give you some kitchen updates as well, because if I didn’t it would just be wrong. Here is something I made recently, after I saw it on Thanh’s blog. Of course, she makes it look as gorgeous as it tastes! Anjum Anand’s cadamom-scented chicken curry.
I also visited this artisan bakery called The Baker’s Dozen in Worli. Oh, such beautiful bread! I tried their olive focaccia and challah and enjoyed both. They also have the cutest descriptions for each variety of bread, complete with a little picture of the flag of it’s country of origin.
And while I was in Worli, I did a cliched monsoon thing and clicked a picture of Worli Sea Face on a cloudy monsoon day.
How have you been spending the monsoon? And for my friends who are in places where there is no monsoon, how have you been enjoying the weather?
June 4, 2013 § 17 Comments
Yes, it has been two whole years since I started documenting my love of food on this blog.
When this blog began, my son was just 2 months old and I used to find time to blog at night, between his bedtime and his 2 am wakeup call for a nappy change or feed.
Now, I write when he naps or when he is in school. And sometimes when he is playing by himself in his playroom- and if I get up to do something, I hope to God he does not press publish or delete the page in its entirety.
In these two years, my son has grown, little by little; the blog has grown, little by little; but I can safely say that my confidence in the kitchen, especially baking, has grown immensely. And my love for everything butter, sugar and flour has grown ten-fold. This new-found love of baking…it’s not even that first date kind of fizziness that seems fleeting. I really do love the whole process of baking. Measuring out ingredients and placing them in order; taking out the mixer and the whisk and spatula from the cupboard; pausing to take a quick picture before the cake is popped in the oven. I even like the wait while the cake is in the oven. I like how the smell of vanilla and chocolate silently weaves its way out of the kitchen and into the living room.
Obviously, to celebrate turning 2, I had to bake.
I initially thought I’d make Nigella’s chocolate cherry cupcakes; but I realized I didn’t have cherry preserves or the time to step out and buy a jar. So I toyed around and came up with a chocolate cake with a brownie-like quality to it, and placed some cherries on top for a birthday effect. This cake is moist and buttery enough to stand on it’s own sans frosting; but if you want to dress it up with butttercream or rich chocolate ganache or slather it with some cherry preserves, be my guest. I just went home-style and finished with powdered sugar.
The basic cake recipe is simple enough; just cream the butter and sugar, add the eggs and combine the dry ingredients and milk. The melted chocolate added at the end helps give that brownie-like consistency and the thin crunchy chocolate skin on top.
CHOCOLATE BROWNIE CAKE
- 200 g castor sugar
- 100 g butter
- 2 eggs
- 120 g flour
- 10 g cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup milk
- 40 g of the best dark chocolate you can find
- Preheat oven to 180 C.
- Melt your chocolate in a bowl using the double boiler method and set aside to cool a bit.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder in a bowl and set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.
- Next, add the eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition.
- Now it’s time to add the flour mixture and the milk. Add the flour and milk alternately, whisking after each addition, and be sure to start and end with flour.
- Once everything is combined, fold in the melted (and now cooled) chocolate.
- Pour into a greased baking dish and bake at 180 C for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Here are some things I learnt in the past year while baking:
♥ Measuring out ingredients beforehand is the only way to bake well and bake without fuss.
♥ Using an electronic scale makes life much easier.
♥ A spoonful of cream goes a long way in making buttercream frosting even more delicious!
♥ Eggless baking can yield some pretty fantastic results- and you do not always have to use condensed milk, either.
♥ Folding in the flour gently and treating your batter with love will always give you a beautiful fluffy cake.
This year was a little ping-pongy in terms of posting. There were some months where I made myself scarce and did not find the time, inclination or inspiration to create anything. But I realized something else- you can’t just sit around waiting for a eureka moment. You keep yourself engaged and you will find things that inspire you and give you the urge to create and share.
Another thing I realized is that the blogging community is filled with wonderful people who are encouraging and supportive and fun. I am lucky to have befriended some really amazing women who share their food, travels, family life and other everyday experiences- and I look forward to coming here each day, to find out what everyone is up to and to see what’s going on in their lives and their kitchens.
In the year ahead, I hope to make more blogger friends, share more with the ones I have made, and hopefully meet some of you in person too!!