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 !!

Lemon Pound (Bundt) Cake

One cake which never leaves my cake dish, this is my anytime ‘go-to’ cake. When nothing else seems right just bake this. Everyone loves it. They love the way it looks and love the way it tastes.
Serve it with ice cream and you have a perfect dessert or serve it as it is with tea.
I love it first thing in the morning with my cuppa coffee. The perfect balance of caffeine and zesty sweetness. 



To tell you honestly I love the way it looks and love it so much that I don’t ever feel like cutting it.Cutting the first piece is always heart breaking.
I think the Bundt moulds make the most beautiful moulds for non icing cakes. Usually a little more expensive than other cake moulds but sure the investment.



So coming back to the cake, this is super moist cake with a fresh punch of zesty lemon.
A pound cake which is classically made in the shape of a  loaf has been transformed into a bundt shape. ( The loaf shape is always last on my priority for the cake)

A Bundt cake is essentially the type of mould, inspired by a traditional European fruit cake known as Gugelhupf, but Bundt cakes are not generally associated with any single recipe. So I chose the lemon pound cake recipe here.
I’ve dusted my cake with some castor sugar, you could also dribble some lemon glaze on it.

Lemon Pound (Bundt) Cake:

Ingredients:

3 cups All-purpose Flour
1 tbsp Baking Powder
¾ tsp Salt
3 cups Sugar
1 cup Unsalted Butter at room temperature
½ cup Shortening, room temperature ( I did not use any shortening, instead I used another 1/2 cup of butter)
5 large Eggs
1 cup Whole Milk
6 tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Lemon, zested

Direction:
1. Preheat oven to 350F or 180 C
2. Butter and dust one large Bundt pan.
3. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into medium bowl.  Set aside.
4. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time, beating until well blended after each one.
5. Add dry ingredients in three additions to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Mix in lemon juice and zest.

6. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 55 minutes.  Cool cakes in pans for 15 minutes.  Turn cakes out onto racks and cool completely.

7. Dust with some castor sugar.

Happy Baking !!


Earl Grey-n-Lemon Cup Cakes

“Tea fixes everything !!”


Drinking Tea is such an integral part of our lives, especially in India from the cutting chai to special malai chai or the winter favourite masala tea. Tea is such a barrier breaker…. people love their cuppa chai across all ages, and across the social canvas. Tea doesn’t know colour, caste, creed, social status, age or gender. 
From socialising to fixing headaches, tea works everytime. 🙂

While I get all fussy with my tea at home / office,  I like the whole ritual of tea serving…..in a kettle with tea cosy, separate milk and sugar (and I can get snooty about my blends …. favourite being the Earl Grey and English Breakfast blended together),  however on the other hand I love the road side tea stall masala chai with rusks or suji toasts !! Perfect for a winter morning. 





So taking tea consumption to a different level I recently tried tea in my baking – Earl Grey-n-Lemon Cup Cakes. Using tea in food is the new global trend, though my mother has been using tea to improve the colour and add a little flavour to her infamous punjabi chhole (chickpeas) which the whole family (read extended family as well) cannot stop raving about.



So coming back to the cup cakes, the Earl Grey leaves and lemon is a delicate balance of flavours. The bergamot oil which is infused in the earl grey leaves  beautifully compliments the lemon rind.

Earl Grey-n-Lemon Cup Cakes – Recipe

Adapted from: Joythebaker
Yields: 12 even sized cupcakes + 1 small cupcake




Ingredients

For the cupcakes:
¼ cup (56 g) butter, softened
1 cup (120 g) flour
¾ cup (150 g) caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
3 tbs Earl Grey tea (about 9 tea bags)
1 cup (240 ml) milk, at room temperature
1 egg, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the honey icing:

1 ½ cups icing sugar
1 tbs honey
5 tbs double cream (I used Amul Fresh Cream straight from the refrigerator)


Directions
1. Pre-heat the oven to 175 deg C and line a cupcake tray with liners.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, tea leaves and zest with your fingers to help the zest release the fragrance – about 2 minutes. 
3. Then, use a hand mixer (or a stand mixer – although you don’t need any vigorous beating) for a few minutes till the mixture is sandy and damp.
4. In a measuring jug, add the milk, egg and vanilla extract. Whisk quickly with a fork and add to the dry ingredients. Using a wooden spoon, mix lightly till everything is combined.
5. Pour about ¾ of the way into cupcake liners and bake for 15 – 20 minutes till cupcakes test done.
6. For the icing, whip the cream till soft peaks form, add the icing sugar and honey. whisk a little more. Put the mixture in an icing cone and swirl out.
7. Serve.
Happy Baking !!


Cinnamon Rolls to mark the end of 2012

The last post for the last day of this year.
A roller coaster year that this has been, it’s had its Ups and Downs and Happiness and Sorrows….Its cold and warmth…Its surprises and disappointments….. overall an eventful year !!
A year of realisations and learnings…..a year of growing up……a little more !! A year of promises kept and promises broken….
A year in a lifetime and year of a life well lived……
So what better way to celebrate life lived in this year, than with a batch of warm freshly baked Cinnamon Rolls.

A perfect tea-time enhancer, these aromatic cinnamon rolls fill the atmosphere with their sweet, spicy aroma bringing smiles to anyone’s face.

I’ve been putting baking these rolls on a back-burner for a while..another one of those dishes that intimidate me, but finally I mustered all my courage yet again and dug deep into my flour sacks to bake this aromatic yeasty dough !!

Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients
1 cup warm milk (45 degrees C)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup butter, melted
4 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup white sugar
2 ½ teaspoons dry active yeast
1 cup brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
¼ cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Directions

1. Place flour, yeast, salt and white sugar into your mixer or bowl. Mix together.
2. Add milk, eggs and butter to mixture and mix until combined. If you are using a regular bowl, remove the dough from the bowl and knead it on a floured surface for 5 minutes. 
3. Place dough under a large bowl and let it rise for about 20 minutes, or until it has doubled in size.
4. While dough is rising, in a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
5. On a floured surface, roll dough into a 16×21 inch rectangle.
6. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls.
7. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking pan.
8. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
9. Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. 
10. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, ¼ cup butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract and salt.
11. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.

Happy Baking !!!

Cheese ‘n’ Chives Scones – The Daring Baker’s January 2012 Challenge !!

What better way to start your New Year baking challenges than baking scones. The quick but tricky savory perfect Evening Tea accompaniment. Though my scones were ready on time, the post got delayed by a day….but better late than never !!
So many times I’ve come across Scone recipes in my baking books but somehow they always took the back burner and I never had the chance to try my hand on these wonderful light puffy cookies !!??? Bread !!??? Well I’d say a distant cousin of the dinner roll…..only easier, more versatile !!
Though traditionally they are a great pair with your cuppa chai but I think they’ll do great even with soups on a cold winter evening !! Wow !!

They are simple and quick…..once you get the hang of it…it will always be your savior when you have unexpected guests !! Total time taken was 25 minutes (including baking time).

I’m glad that Daring Bakers’ once again motivated me to break my baking mind blocks and move away from cakes to newer territories.

Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host…. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (aka biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchen !!

The original scone was round and flat, usually the size of a medium size plate. It was made with unleavened oats and baked on a griddle (or girdle, in Scots), then cut into triangle-like quadrants for serving. Today, many would call the large round cake a bannock, and call the quadrants scones
When baking powder became available to the masses, scones began to be the oven-baked, well-leavened items we know today. Modern scones are widely available in British and Irish bakeries, grocery stores, and supermarkets.  

The baking of scones at home is often closely tied to heritage baking. They tend to be made from family recipes rather than recipe books, since it is often a family member who holds the “best” and most-treasured recipe.




Cheese ‘n’ Chives Scones
Servings: about eight 2-inch (5 cm) scones or five 3-inch (7½ cm) scones
Recipe can be doubled
Ingredients:
1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 tsp (10 ml) (10 gm) (⅓ oz) fresh baking powder
½ tsp of Baking Soda
½ tsp Sifted Mustard Powder
¼ tsp sifted Cayenne Pepper
½ cup (60 g) grated cheddar cheese
2 tbsps Finely chopped Chives

¼ tsp (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) salt
2 tbsps (30 gm/1 oz) frozen grated butter (or a combination of lard and butter)
Approximately ½ cup (120 ml) cold milk
Optional 1 tbsp milk, for glazing the tops of the scones
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to very hot 475°F/240°C/gas mark 9.
2. Triple sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. (If your room temperature is very hot refrigerate the sifted ingredients until cold.) Addthe sifted baking soda, mustard powder, cayenne peppers and chives.
3. Rub the frozen grated butter (or combination of fats) into the dry ingredients until it resembles very coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces if you want flaky scones or until it resembles coarse beach sand if you want tender scones.
4. Add nearly all of the liquid at once into the rubbed-in flour/fat mixture and mix until it just forms a sticky dough (add the remaining liquid if needed). The wetter the dough the lighter the scones (biscuits) will be!
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, lightly flour the top of the dough. To achieve an even homogeneous crumb to your scones knead very gently about 4 or 5 times (do not press too firmly) the dough until it is smooth. To achieve a layered effect in your scones knead very gently once (do not press too firmly) then fold and turn the kneaded dough about 3 or 4 times until the dough has formed a smooth texture. (Use a floured plastic scraper to help you knead and/or fold and turn the dough if you wish.)
6. Pat or roll out the dough into a 6 inch by 4 inch rectangle by about ¾ inch thick (15¼ cm by 10 cm by 2 cm thick). Using a well-floured 2-inch (5 cm) scone cutter (biscuit cutter), stamp out without twisting six 2-inch (5 cm) rounds, gently reform the scraps into another ¾ inch (2 cm) layer and cut two more scones (these two scones will not raise as well as the others since the extra handling will slightly toughen the dough). Or use a well-floured sharp knife to form squares or wedges as you desire.
7. Place the rounds just touching on a baking dish if you wish to have soft-sided scones or place the rounds spaced widely apart on the baking dish if you wish to have crisp-sided scones. Glaze the tops with milk if you want a golden colour on your scones or lightly flour if you want a more traditional look to your scones.
8. Bake in the preheated very hot oven for about 10 minutes (check at 8 minutes since home ovens at these high temperatures are very unreliable) until the scones are well risen and are lightly coloured on the tops. The scones are ready when the sides are set.
9. Immediately place onto cooling rack to stop the cooking process, serve while still warm.
You could serve them with a cream cheese dip or butter or any relish of your choice !!
Happy Baking !!