Thursday, July 23, 2015

Bread...yet again | Baking


Another weekend, another bread loaf !! I think i'll never get tired of telling you how much I love to bake breads and how versatile a dough it is !! Before you think I'm a broken record.....let's move on...



So this time it is a 30% whole wheat flour  (atta) and the rest is maida (all purpose flour). You will see every time you change the proportions of the flour your dough behaves differently. A simple basic loaf that goes well with curries or even as a grilled sandwich.






Ingredients

1 cup Whole Wheat Flour

2.25 cups All Purpose Flour

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 tsp Dry Active Yeast

2 tsp Sugar

1 tsp Salt

1.5 cups Lukewarm Water



Directions


1. Activate the yeast in half a cup of lukewarm water.
2. In the meantime, mix both the flours, salt and olive oil together.
3. Now add the yeast and mix it well into the flour mixture. It should look crumbly, like a bread crumbs mix. You essentially need to rub the yeast into the flour with your fingers.
4. Now add the water gradually and knead it into a soft springy dough.
5. Set the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot. 

6. Allow the dough to rise for about 1 hour or until it has doubled.
7. When ready to shape the dough, set it on a very lightly floured work surface and form it into the desired shape. I wanted to make it round ! Transfer onto the dusted baking tray.
8. Cut a cross onto the loaf. Sprinkle some poppy seeds and let it rest for 30 minutes.
15 minutes before your dough is ready to go into the oven, preheat the oven on 220 degree centigrade and once preheated place the loaf tin into the oven. Bake at 220 degree centigrade for about 20 minutes.
9. Once the bread is golden brown on the top remove from the oven and transfer the loaf on to wire racks until it is completely cool.
10. Slice and serve as it is or toasted or make a sandwich !!!

Happy B(re)aking Bread !!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Nankhatai | Baking | Childhood Memories



Nankhatai - the Indian Cookie which most of us, living in this part of the world have grown up on !!
I have some amazing memories of enjoying nankhatais with my grandfather. In our house he was the one who was so so fond of these lovely cookies, and had introduced me to them. White crumbly texture, the richness of the cardamom flavour and the aroma of desi ghee (clarified butter)...oh they make for the perfect cookie!! 



Have tried my hands, a couple of times at making nankhatais, but I was never satisfied. Either it was too sweet or the texture was not crumbly enough !! Finally I've found the perfect recipe for the Nankhatai. They look as good as they taste, exactly they way they used to when I was a little kid !
The recipe is courtesy Aromatic Essence.





Nankhatais are shortbread biscuits popular both in India as well as Pakistan. 
On searching the net, Wiki tell me, Nankhatai is believed to have originated in Surat in the 16th century, the time when Dutch and Indians were the important spice traders. A Dutch couple set up a bakery in Surat to meet the needs of local Dutch residents. When the Dutch left India, they handed over the bakery to an Iranian. The locals disliked the bakery biscuits and to save his business he started selling dried bread at low prices. It became so popular that he started drying the bread before selling it. With time, his experimentation with bread ultimately gave birth to Nankhatai.




Nankhatai




Ingredients

2 cups All purpose flour

1 cup Semolina (Sooji)

½ cup Chickpea flour (Besan)

1 cup Clarified butter (Ghee)

1 ½ cup powdered Sugar

Elaichi (cardamom) powder to garnish


Direction

1. In a mixing bowl, mix all purpose flour, semolina, chickpea flour and sugar together.

2. Add ghee, little at a time, to the dry mixture and try to knead the dough. Do not overwork with it otherwise the nankhatais will not be flaky. You need to bring the flour together like we do for the pastry dough. Knead just enough to bring it together.

3. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.

4. Line 2 to 3 baking sheets with butter paper.

5. Make small flat balls and place on baking sheet. Using a knife, cut a cross in the middle of each, press some cardamom powder. Rest the cookies in the refrigerator for another 15-20 minutes. In the meanwhile preheat the oven to 180 degree C for 10 minutes.

5. Bake at 180°C for 15-20 minutes (depending on the oven)


6. Completely cool on a wire rack and then store in an airtight container.



Happy baking !!


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Butterscotch Ice cream 'n' Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel | Happy Birthday My Precious One !!


It's that time of the year yet again..... :-)
KJ's Birthday.....special to me in more than one ways.....Not only that it's my best friend, my husband, my partner in love-n-life's birthday but also because his birthday means a new cake I bake !!
KJ loves to push my boundaries; always getting me out of my comfort zone and throwing in a challenge. He knows I'll never say never for his birthday cake !!



It was a quiet weekend with a modern version of a shakespearean play, followed by dinner. I spent the morning baking the cake for him and we spent a lot of time together watching movies at home. For company we had some thunder and rain !! A perfect setting for a weekend birthday.



So coming back to the cake, this was a first for me....an ice cream cake. A couple of years back KJ baked an ice cream cake for my birthday and now it was my turn !!
Yes he did a cake which I had still not dared to. In the humidity of July, I must confess it is not the easiest thing to handle. After every 5 minutes of work and handling the cake had to be sent back to the freezer or else the ice cream would start melting. And equally difficult was the whipped cream frosting with salted caramel sauce for flavour; but nevertheless I loved every bit of it !! It's always fun to experiment. Here I was not only experimenting with the technique but also combining new flavours.



Butterscotch Ice Cream and Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce




Ingredients

1 l tub / brick of Butterscotch 
Ice cream

1 packet of Oreo Cookies

2 tbsps Butter

Salted Caramel Sauce (Recipe at the end of the post)
300 ml of Whipping Cream


For the Chocolate Cake:

1 cup Flour

1 cup Powdered Sugar

1/2 cup Cocoa Powder

1/2 tsp Baking Powder

A pinch of Soda Bicarbonate

3/4 cup Oil

4 Eggs

1 tsp Vanilla Essence



Directions

1. Grease and dust a 8-9" diameter round cake mould. Preferably a springform or a loose bottom mould. (I used a springform) 

2. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa powder together.

3. Separate the eggs.

4. Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt till stiff peaks are formed. 

5. Now add the powdered sugar in batches and keep whisking the eggs till they get a sheen to them. (Do not add the sugar in one go, we do not want the aeration to go flat) 

6. Add the essence to the egg yolks, mix and gradually add them to the egg whites. Whisk well.

7. Now add the oil to the eggs and whisk for 30 seconds.

8. Fold in the flour mix gently (do not use the hand mixer)

9. Transfer to the mould and bake for 35 minutes at 180 degree C.

10. Remove from the mould and transfer on the wire rack and let it cool completely.

11. Once the cake cools down completely, slice it horizontally to get two parts. These are your two layers of the cake.



Assembly of the cake:

1. Crush the Oreo Cookies coarsely. Mix in the butter and layer the cake mould with it. Press it in and set in the freezer for 45 minutes. (Use the same cake mould, you used to bake the cake in).

2. Once the base has set completely, brush a layer of Salted Caramel Sauce. Put it back in the freezer for 20 minutes.

3. Now take half of the ice cream and spread it on top of the caramel sauce. Place one half of the cake. Press it down. Now add the remaining ice cream on top of the cake layer. Smoothen it with a palette knife. Place the second half of the cake. Press it down and put it in the freezer for atleast 3 hours or overnight. I left it in the freezer overnight.

4. Whip the cream well. Till soft peaks are formed. Add 2 tablespoons of the Salted Caramel sauce and whip some more. If you are using Amul cream for the frosting, remove the water content from the cream. If using non dairy cream whip it well. For amul cream or any other dairy cream please add 1/2 cup of icing sugar as well. Whip it on an ice bath. Whipping up Amul Cream is difficult in humid summer months.

5. Once the cake has set completely, remove from the freezer. Cover with whipping cream. Place it back in the freezer.

6. After 30 minutes, again neaten the frosting and place it back in the freezer.

7. For decoration dribble some salted caramel sauce.

8. Chill it again. Serve chilled. Store in the freezer.






Recipe for the Salted Caramel Sauce



Ingredients

2 cups of Sugar
200 ml of Cream
10 tbsps of Unsalted Butter
1 tsp Sea Salt

Directions

1. Place the sugar in a pan. Put it on high flame. Once the sugar starts melting, keep an eye on your caramel. 
2. As soon as the caramel turns amber, add the butter. The caramel could bubble at this stage. Be careful. 
3. Once the butter melts in completely, remove from the flame and add the cream. Mix well. Now again the caramel would bubble, so be careful.
4. Add the sea salt.

5. Once it cools down completely, store in an airtight jar. It stays happy in the fridge for about a month.


Yes this is indeed a tad tedious, but trust me it's worth all the effort !! Nothing like a chilled frozen dessert on a summer afternoon !!





Happy Baking !!


Friday, July 10, 2015

Homemade Yoghurt | How to series | Kitchen Hacks

Well yes, most of you who would see this post first would wonder what happened to me ?? Especially friends in India. Yoghurt is an intrinsic part of every Indian Household. It is something we take for granted here in India. We have all grown up seeing our mothers setting yoghurt every night for probably as long as I can remember !! Then why am I talking about it here ??



Life is so truly a learning...each and every day. Just recently I learned a new and sure shot way of setting curd. Something I had never known. This especially works well when the weather is cold and the curd refuses to set properly.
The chilli does the trick here.


You will need:

Warm milk to set the yoghurt.
Add the starter - 1 tsp of yoghurt. Mix well.
Drop in a whole green chilli.
Cover and set in a warm place like your oven / microwave.

I also cover my yoghurt dish with a thick cotton blanket.

The curd should be set in about 4 hours time, depending on the weather conditions.







Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Arabian Date and Walnut Cake


Baking a cake is always special and baking it for someone's birthday is only icing on the cake !! :-)
It was my uncle's birthday and I wanted to do a different cake though non icing. This cake is a hands down winner so full of flavour !!



I'm sure you'll wonder that most of my cakes are baked in the bundt mould. Well, when I'm baking a cake for someone's birthday the round is common and kinda boring. Bundt makes the cake look really interesting. There is no hard and fast rule for the mould. You can use any shape you like.




Arabian Date and Walnut Cake



Ingredients


1 ¾ cups Plain Flour

125g Butter

1 cup Sugar

2 Eggs

1 cup chopped, stoned Dates

½ cup chopped Walnuts

¾ cup hot strong Coffee

½ tsp Baking Soda (soda bicarbonate)

½ tsp Salt (omit salt if using salted butter)

1 ½ tsp Baking Powder

1 tsp Vanilla Essence


Icing Sugar for dusting




Directions

1. Dust a ring mould or a bundt mould.

2. Preheat the oven to 180 degree C for 10 minutes.

3.Pour hot coffee over the dates and walnuts and allow it to cool.

4. Sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda together.

5. Cream the butter and sugar and then add one egg at a time. Beat well.

6.Mix the dry ingredients into the butter-sugar-egg mixture.

7. Lastly mix in the date and nut mixture and the vanilla essence.

8. Pour into the prepared mould and bake for 50-60 minutes at 180 degree C.

9. Let it cool down. Demould and dust with icing sugar.

10. Serve.



Happy Baking !!