My Blog Turned 1! So I Baked A Mango Saffron Custard Cake.

It has been an entire MONTH since I posted. I know. Quite awful indeed. This little blogasaurus turned one on the first of June, and I should have baked a cake and posted then, but I was suffering from malaise, as Blair Waldorf would say dramatically. I actually had a very bad bout of viral fever, which I caught from my mother and passed on to my one-year-old son, and all of us were very ill-disposed for a good week.

The reason was an unhealthy number of weddings we had to attend in the latter part of May. 9 different soirees to attend, in the form of luncheons, cocktail parties, dinners, intimate family affairs and yes, the wedding ceremonies itself. The thought of dressing up and spending so much time with friends and family was very appealing at first, but by the third day I wanted to hide under my saree and not make conversation.

As a result of excessive merrymaking and high temperatures, I naturally fell behind when it came to work and spent the last 2 weeks playing catch up. And now, I am finally back on track and in good health, and I have time to bake and cook again.

I discovered the blog Eat Little Bird a while back and have been smitten since. I chanced upon the blog when I was looking for a great yellow cake recipe. I was sick of my vanilla cakes looking kind of Tilda Swinton-ish. You know, kind of like pale meringue. (I love Tilda the actress, by the way. No one could have played the White Witch better!) I saw my friend Deepthi’s post about adding custard powder to get a perfect sponge cake, and further googling brought me to this wonderful Rhubarb Custard Tea Cake at Eat Little Bird.

Since I believe in adding a little spin to every cake recipe I find, I chose to substitute the rhubarb with…MANGO!!

Yes, it is mango season here in the tropics, and boy am I loving it! Mangoes for breakfast, mangoes at tea time and mangoes with cream and honey for dessert after dinner. Lord a-missy me, I do believe I could eat mangoes all day. (I watched Gone With The Wind TWICE on my laptop when I was ill. Just feelin’ some Southern comfort, that’s all it be. You can gag now if you need to.)

Anyway, if you visit the original recipe and look at the pictures, you will see how beautiful the rhubarb stalks look- a beautiful contrast of yellow and magenta. Since my cake would run the danger of looking rather jaundice-y with the combined yellowness of the batter and the mangoes, I sprinkled a few strands of saffron for a visual breather. And also because saffron has such an indulgent, calming fragrance.  It just makes any sweet treat a  little more luxurious ūüôā

This cake was rather crumbly, perhaps it was because I got too much air in the batter- I am still figuring out kitchen physics, so maybe it became crumbly because of a completely different reason. Either way, this is an extremely pleasant cake and the custard in the middle makes it that much more fun. I was happy to note that the custard came out of the oven just like in the original…” firm upon slicing, yet with still enough wobble to provide a contrasting texture to the cake.”

The tartness from the mango was a happy variation from the plain vanilla custard cake.

MANGO SAFFRON CUSTARD CAKE (Adapted from Eat, Little Bird’s Rhubarb Custard Tea Cake.)

INGREDIENTS

For the cake:

  • 200 grams butter
  • 1/2 cup castor sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup vanilla custard powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 large mango (I used alphonso) sliced lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon saffron strands, to sprinkle over the top
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter, for brushing over the top
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, to sprinkle over the top

For the custard:

  • 2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder
  • 1/4 cup castor sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
METHOD
  • Pre-heat oven to 180 C
  • First, get your custard on. Whisk together the custard powder and sugar in a saucepan. Then, place it on the stove, add in the milk and allow to boil, while stirring continuously.
  • As soon as the custard thickens and starts bubbling, pull it off the heat and add the butter. (Please do pull it off the heat immediately. With my first batch of custard, I was so engrossed in staring at the bubbles that it got too thick and coagulated and formed lumps and was basically rendered useless.)
  • Cover and allow custard to cool.
  • Next, start on the cake. Cream the butter and sugar together until it is fluffy.
  • Then, add in one egg at a time, and 1/4 cup flour so that the batter begins to come together.
  • Next, add the remaining flour, plus the custard powder and the baking powder. You will get a pretty thick batter, but do not worry, that is how it is supposed to be.
  • Grease the bottom and sides of your baking dish and spread half the batter evenly at the bottom.
  • Top this with a layer of the cooled custard, followed by another layer of the cake batter. Make sure the second layer of cake batter covers the custard evenly and all around the edges.
  • Arrange the mango slices on top, pressing them into the batter slightly.
  • Sprinkle the saffron over the top.
  • Brush the top with the melted butter and sprinkle the extra sugar as well.
  • Bake at 180C for about 1 hr and 20 minutes.

The batter will be quite thick- almost like icing

This is the first batch of custard which I didn’t pull off the heat soon enough- you can see how it coagulated!

Cake batter, followed by the custard, followed by another even layer of cake batter…

…topped with mango slices and saffron!

I followed Thanh’s recipe almost down to the wire, measurements and all, the only difference being I used 1 large alphonso mango, cut into slices, instead of rhubarb stalks.

The only thing I was unhappy about? The fact that I didn’t have a deeper 8-inch baking dish! I ended up distributing the batter and mango between two not-so-deep 6-inch baking dishes. Had I baked one large cake, the layers would have been more prominent, that’s all. Also, since I was using a smaller baking dish, I needed to keep it in the oven for about 55 minutes.

The custard was just the right consistency between the crumbly cake layers

And it was all yellow. C’mon, we all liked Coldplay at some point, right?

Here’s to another year of cooking and blogging; baking and making new friends!

Mango

Eggless Jaggery and Sesame Cake

I have been wanting to take another shot at another eggless cake for a while now.      My housekeeper is a pure vegetarian, and whenever I bake, she takes stuff back home for her kids (they eat eggs and meat) but she never gets to eat some herself. So I was looking for a simple recipe that would give me a chance to share some cake with with her.

Then I discovered Poornima and her delicious blog, and found the most wonderful eggless cake recipe. What’s better, it called for wheat flour and jaggery! Jaggery is kind of like molasses, except that it is lighter brown, rather golden syrupy in colour. Basically, sugarcane juice is boiled down for hours and hours till you get a viscous liquid and when this hardens, you get jaggery. (Source.) Jaggery is used widely in Indian cuisine, and in Kerala, where I come from, it is used to make¬†all kinds of sweets and payasam.¬†I’ll put up a detailed post on payasam later. Rather strapped for time now.

Anyway, I tweaked the recipe by adding some black sesame seeds to it…Ellunda or jaggery-sesame balls, which are eaten in every corner of Kerala, taste pretty great, so I figured that the combo would work in cake too. Lemon and poppy seed in the West, jaggery and sesame in Kerala!

The wheat flour and jaggery lent quite a nice colour to it. Just look at how gluteny the batter looks!! (If you are on a gluten-free diet, please run.)

EGGLESS SESAME AND JAGGERY CAKE (Adapted From Poornima’s Tasty Treats.)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup wheat flour ( I used Ashirwad atta)
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup black sesame seeds
  • 1 cup jaggery, grated
  • 1 cup milk (I used lukewarm milk)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

METHOD

  • Preheat oven to 180 C and grease a baking dish or loaf pan and keep aside.
  • Sieve together the wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl.
  • Add in the black sesame seeds and swish them around.
  • Add the grated jaggery and mix gently.
  • Add the milk, oil and vanilla extract and mix well with a spatula or wooden spoon.
  • Pour batter into a greased baking dish or loaf pan and bake for 30-40 minutes at 180 C or until a toothpick or knife inserted comes out clean.

I was skeptical because the last time I tried something eggless it was less than perfect, but this cake was a winner. My husband ate one-fourth of the loaf as soon as he got back from work and he is  not too big on sweet stuff.

It’s got a great consistency- not too crumbly, not too chewy, a little sticky…and the colour!! Oh it is beautiful. It’s because of the jaggery no doubt. And the sesame seeds just make it more fun!

So now I am off to celebrate my son’s first birthday. When he turns 2, I will be seeking the advice of Ameena, who sure knows how to throw a phancy birthday party.

Have a nice weekend everyone!

An Accidental Pomegranate Upside-Down Cake

I wrote earlier this week about how I had a sudden sugar craving and just had to have some cake, stat. And I wanted something quick and something moist and buttery.

So I did something very bad, calorically. I added butter, sugar, ICING SUGAR¬†and full-fat cream to the batter. Quite a bit of it, too. I wanted a moist pillowy sugary cake and I’d be damned if I wasn’t going to get one. I knew that icing sugar and butter combined to make something¬†soft and rich and delightful, and I wanted to see what would happen if I added some to cake batter.

I also wanted to bake something I had not baked before, for the sake of posting.

So I thought- now is a good time to use up some of the pomegranate I have lying in my fridge! I didn’t really look for a pomegranate cake recipe; I just made things up as I went along and added the pomegranate to the batter. How difficult could it be?

I made my batter and put it to bake; and then I started worrying that the copious amounts of cream and butter I used, might make my cake fall. But I prayed that the baking powder and eggs would bring some extra ammo and let everything rise.

And rise it did.

Except- my pomegranate arils sank to the bottom. (Dear readers, do you know how to avoid this? When I baked a chocolate chip cake previously, I was met with a similar problem.)

And they bled. (Which was expected.)

But they also turned blue!

Well, a purplish blue.

Oh, who am I kidding, that’s the same colour as a bruise on an injured arm.

But I can vouch for one thing- this cake is moist and buttery and soft and delicious. Even with blue pomegranate!

BUTTERY VANILLA-POMEGRANATE CAKE

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons icing sugar (you can leave this out if you wish. No pressure.)
  • 1/3 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate arils (yes, the translucent ruby-coloured little things are called arils! I was going to call them kernels but decided to check.)

METHOD

  • Pre-heat your oven to 180 C
  • Combine the flour, white sugar, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl and keep aside.
  • Lightly whisk egg, cream and vanilla extract together in a small bowl and keep aside.
  • Beat the butter into the dry ingredients, a third at a time, until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs.
  • Add the egg-vanilla-cream mixture and continue beating.
  • Add in the 3 tablespoons of icing sugar and beat some more, till the batter¬†becomes light and kind of fluffy.¬†Do not overbeat. You want¬†slightly fluffy, not meringue fluffy.
  • Fold in your your pomegranate.
  • Pour into greased loaf pan or baking dish and bake at 180 C for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife inserted comes out clean.

So this cake is really an accidental pomegranate upside-down cake, because the arils sank to the bottom when I did not intend for them too. But who cares? Not like the search engines can sue me. Or can they?