Nutella Bread twists. So not grumpy.

Sometimes, for no real reason I feel grumpy towards the whole world. As if whole of humanity has err-ed and I am their only savior. I go around pretending being calm and collected, but I am seething from the inside. My responses are cold and I avert eye-gaze and keep busy in seemingly important and un-important chores. Sure, something somewhere has disturbed me, but it’s really not that big as I make it out to be.

Earlier, all the brunt of my internal conflict would fall on my dear mom. She would bear the sulking me with kindness only mothers are capable of. But since I got married, and especially since I started writing on my blog, I have been able to tone down the tantrums. Sure, I am still exceptionally silent on those occasions, but no tantrums. No crying and no saying nasty things. But it needs a constant reminder to myself to keep it up.

This time I tried to analyze what is happening and why is it getting blown up. And I realized:

  • I need to cry at-least once a month. Call it the war of the hormones, or just being a woman. So the best, and safest option for everyone around, is watching a good emotional movie. And crying. But if that does not happen, it leads to this.
  • I ought to get a reality check once in a while, or the ‘damsel-in-distress’ attitude of mine goes off the roof and I start thinking that I am the most hard-working girl of all times. Duh.
  • And strange as it sounds, I need to blog, bake and generally do my own thing once every week. If the entire week goes by without any respite from work and daily conundrum, I go crazy.

Now all these things seem manageable, but they are not, if not carefully managed. Which is what happened last week. And now I hate having spent a whole Sunday disgruntled. It wont come back. That Sunday is lost on me.

“I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled.”
― P.G. Wodehouse, The Code of the Woosters

I am glad my husband doesn’t give up on me and waits patiently for the Cancerian crab to come out its shell. Or else I am doomed.

The only flicker of hope in this god-damn-it melodrama was this beautiful Nutella bread. And that my best-friend’s husband was intrigued by it, I baked this bread twice. Once alone and once with him.

Nutella whole bread

Beauty surrounded the Daring Bakers this month as our host, Sawsan, of chef in disguise, challenged us to make beautiful, filled breads. Who knew breads could look as great as they taste? They are still intimidating to me, but I believe in Daring Bakers, and till date I have not been let down.

Although I must admit, that the first one was with 16 twists. it was more complicated but somehow it looked messy when I baked it. hence this second one, with just 8 triangles of twists. Much more manageable.

And Nutella spread in three layers of the dough disks, what’s not to like in it? And baked into a fluffy bread. I could even lick off the jar.

A piece of Nutella bread

Nutella bread twists:

What you will need:

  • 1 can (400 gm) sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 3 tsp (12 gm) instant dry yeast
  • 7 cups (1 kg) all-purpose (plain) flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • Instead of the eggwash use
    2 tbsp milk powder
    3 tbsp lukewarm water
    1tsp sugar
    1/4 tsp instant coffee
  • For the filling ½ jar (200 gm)of nutella (or similar)

Layering with nutella Twists of bread

What to do :

  1. Mix the condensed milk, yeast, oil, water, and eggs in the bowl of your mixer
  2. Add the flour one cup at a time and knead using the kneading attachment or by hand till you get a soft dough
  3. The dough will be slightly sticky due to the sweetened condensed milk, don’t worry once the dough rests it will have a wonderful consistency
  4. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and allow to rest till it doubles in size
  5. Punch down the dough and divide it into 2 parts. Wrap one part in a plastic bag and work with the other
  6. Divide the dough ball into 4 parts
  7. Roll each part into a circle at least 20 cm (8 inch) in diameter. You can use a plate or any other round item as a template if you want your layers to be identical and uniform
  8. Spread the Nutella (or similar filling) on the first layer
  9. Place the second layer on top of the first and repeat
  10. Top with the fourth layer, this time only brush it with butter.
  11. Using a knife make cuts that divide the dough circles into 8 triangles starting at the center but don’t go all the way to the outer edge. Then divide each triangle into two (2) . That gives you a total of 16 triangles. If you prefer Stay with 8 triangles.
  12. Gently lift the triangles one at a time and twist them.
  13. Brush the dough with egg wash replacement
  14. Allow to rest for 15 minutes during which you would heat your oven to very hot 500°F/240°C/gas mark 9 (rack in the middle)
  15. Bake for 5 minutes on very hot 500°F/240°C/gas mark 9, then lower the temperature to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6 and bake for 15-20 more minutes (ovens do differ greatly, so the time may differ… what you want is to bake it until the under side is golden brown).
  16. Remove from oven and let it cool.
  17. Marvel at your creation. 🙂

Notes :

  1. It might seem intimidating to do the twists, but they are easy once you get to it. And you can just lightly twist it and leave to bake. Its beautiful
  2. The egg-wash replacement recipe is a keeper. Save it.
  3. You can replace Nutella with any flavored butter. Next I will be trying it with some strawberry butter.

Slice of the Nutella bread

Strawberry Oreo Cream-cheese tart

I thrive on multi-tasking. Like most women.

In fact many a times I have observed that if I am doing just one thing at a time, I mess it up. And if I am doing multiple things, with arbitrary simulations at the same time, things go well, much to my disbelief. Of course there are stretches of time when there is deep concentration on something at hand, and then I have to disconnect, look for something else, ponder over it for a while, disconnect again and get back to the thing I was initially doing.

So typically my work space, laptop for instance is filled with at least 20 windows or as many as can fit into one screen without having to toggle frequently, and I keep on zooming in and out of each window multiple times throughout the day. And at times I have to de-clutter my working desk, clean of all the items and then begin creating a complex structure with files and papers and notes so that I can begin with a new energy.

And sometimes it is just for appearing busy and important that I keep my desk cluttered. Just to show off how complicated my work is. Which most of the times it is not.

But one thing I am sure is that the multi-tasking chip is absent in the men folk’s brain. Most of the men I have known are absolutely incapable of doing two things at a time. My husband finds it difficult to even eat when he is talking on the phone. And my dad would have a list of things to buy and just go to one shop and come back before embarking on the rest of the list, again one shop at a time.

The flip side to multi-tasking is that you over-estimate your capacity, in areas where you should concentrate fully. For example while unmolding this cheesecake, I thought I could continue talking over the phone being pressed against my ear, but to my dismay this is what happened :

smudged oreo cheesecakeWell, yeah, but most of the times it gets rewarded and I can accomplish three things in the time of two. So its well worth a shot.

strawberry cheesecake

Strawberry Oreo Cream-cheese tart

This is not a tart in the strict definition of a tart, but the crushed oreos baked with butter render a very flaky, crusty tart feeling to the base. It tastes great when coupled with the smooth rich cream cheese filling.

What you will need :

  • 28 Strawberry Oreo cookies, ground to a powder in a mixer
  • 3 tbsp regular butter
  • 1 pack / 225 gms  / 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 70 gms powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp strawberry jam/ strawberry crush
  • 1 egg
  • 70 gms fresh  cream

What to do :

  1. Grease an 8 inch springform or tart pan. Pre-heat oven to 130°C.
  2. Mix together the ground oreo cookies and melted butter and press it into the pan. Smoothen it out with your fingers and press it tightly in. Bake at 130°C for 3-4 minutes till the crust sets. Remove from oven and cool completely in the refrigerator.
  3. Whisk together the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl until smooth.
  4. Then add the egg, followed by fresh cream until it forms a smooth mixture.Add the strawberry crush and mix well.
  5. Pour this mixture over the crust in the cake pan. Tap a few times to release the bubbles.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven at 130°C for 35-40 minutes. The centre should still be a soft to touch, but the edges should be set.
  7. Cool in a refrigerator for at least an hour before slicing up. It tastes much better when cool.

slice of cheesecake

Enjoy this mouthful of goodness, sliver by sliver till there is none left 😛

Or share it with a friend while eating it, while taking pictures while writing. Multi-tasking, there you go!

Festive Funfetti Cake Pops

I have never been skinny. Neither am I fat. But I am fatter than I was before I got married and I am skinnier than sometime in the future. And although I prefer a skinnier me, I am always fatter than the skinnier myself. And sometimes between all of this skinny fatty business I am just me.

I cringe when the first thing people , or specially women, say to each other is “You look slim/ you look fat.” And if you are meeting someone after a long time, then I don’t think anybody can see anything except how marginally thinner or marginally fatter you have become. I hate it to the point that I assume it was never remarked and move on with a smile. I have done some amazing things and some not so good ones from the last time that I saw you, and I am sure you have too. Lets talk about that. Lets talk about the world, politics, kids, baking, cooking projects, books, music, anything but the thin/fat small talk.

Now I am not a supporter of carrying extra baggage on your belly, thighs and other places. It comes with a whole lot of other problems and we definitely don’t want that. We want to be fit and energetic. Exercise, eat right, and feel good. We always endeavor to get at least 3-4 hours of exercise every week. Be it walking, yoga, playing badminton, going on a hike or other stuff. And I love to discuss the nuances of a good game or an excellent brisk walk. But that’s about it.

A few weeks back I read an article on the internet about a little girl’s distress when she hears her mom being called fat all the time, when in her opinion she is the most beautiful woman. From her mother’s descriptions, she derives the meaning of the word fat to be ugly and unattractive. And it shatters her belief, because moms never lie.

My mom had gained some weight after her second pregnancy, but thankfully for me I never saw her unnecessarily fret over it. She is beautiful, very energetic and her hugs would envelop us with all the warmth ever possible. And I would keep my head on her lap and sleep, and what a comforting feeling that was is. I can’t imagine hugging a skinny mom, I need to feel her when she holds me close, I need her to “bear-hug” me.

I still have to go a long way in life. There will be pregnancy(ies), weight gain, weight loss (which hardly happens), kids, running around them, then they growing up and leaving home and us growing old. And my body and its shape and size will be altered over the course of time, like never before. But I sincerely hope, that in all this roller-coaster of life, I look at the bigger things (pun intended) always. 🙂

Yours truly,

Rutvika Charegaonkar

P.s : Of course, in my mind I am always thinking of losing those 5 kgs so that I can fit into that little back dress I got 3 years back. Oh, women!

On that skinny dipping note, hers a small little black dessert. Full of sprinkles and a pop-it-in-your-mouth demeanor.

standing cake pops

It is single-handedly capable of fulfilling your chocolate craving and festive enough to pull you out of the winter blues. If you have any. In Mumbai, we are thrilled at the temperatures dripping to 21°C!

single funfetti pop

Funfetti Chocolate Cake pops:

I adapted the chocolate cake recipe from Brown Eyed Baker Black Forest Cake. Makes about 50-60 cake pops.

What you will need :

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp rose/ vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 6-8 tbsp of cream for binding the cake pops
  • Chocolate or candy melt for the frosting
  • Sprinkles/ Funfetti to decorate

What to do :

  1. Preheat the oven 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
  2. Whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer for 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Divide batter between the two prepared pans.
  3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until thin knife inserted into center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
  4. Once completely cooled, crumble the cake completely with your hands or with a knife.
  5. Add the cream to the crumbled cake and mix well. Almost as if kneading for a few minutes.
  6. Scoop out small portions and roll them in your palm to make a round ball.
  7. Insert a toothpick or a lollypop stick in one end and refrigerate for at least half an hour so that it chills completely.
  8. Melt chocolate pieces or candy melt in a heatproof bowl in microwave or over double boiler.
  9. Gently, holding the toothpick or lollipop stick, roll the cake pop in the chocolate, tap it a few times on the bowl and sprinkle sugar sprinkles on it.
  10. Chill the ready decorated cake pops on a silicone baking mat or an oiled parchment paper for half hour.
  11. Your stunning cake pops are ready to serve.

Tips :

  1. Slightly underbake the cake, we want it to be soft and not crisp. Cut off the edges if they have become crusty.
  2. The sugar crystals/ funfetti have to be sprinkled on the cake pops when the chocolate is still liquid and not hardened, so that it can stick well.
  3. You can used any sweet flavored butter/ ganache/ frosting in place of cream for binding the cake pops. Add a spoonful at a time to achieve the right rollable consistency without making it too sticky.

cake pops on a shell

Rutvika Charegaonkar

 

Chocolate Genoise with Chocolate Mousse

Some incredible things happened last week.

One of my closest friends, Shikha, delivered a baby girl. I went to see her in just a couple of hours. Initially I was reluctant to hold such a newborn baby. But at my friend’s insistence I took her in my lap. It was one of the most amazing feelings. The first thing that occurred to my mind was ‘It is so real’. I didn’t realize I had said it out aloud till my friend said ‘Of course she is! What did you think?’. I had no idea a little baby would be so full of character. A baby who can’t yet talk, walk, sit up, or do anything on its own, it was a full individual. She had those distinct eyes, those gorgeous full of color lips, that smile on her face, her delicate little hands. It was a miracle. A miracle of life.

Till now, I always thought of babies as a group. All of them alike. But I was so wrong. Right from the minute they are born, or even before that, they are so unique. All those who came to see her tried to guess if she looked like her father or mother. She looked like both of them and still like none. She looked like herself. 🙂

Another thing which baffled me was the immense responsibility put in your hands when you are holding a baby. It is so fully dependent on you, that it is scary. Believe it or not, but the whole 30 minutes that I was holding her, I was sitting still like a statue. Lest, she would get disturbed if I move.

Incidentally, later that week, another of my closest friends, who is 5 months pregnant, had come home. As usual, we were talking about latest gossip and life hacks. And on particularly interesting subjects, the baby would kick. Not a meager flicker of a heartbeat, but like a genuine kick high-five. I had to keep my hand on my friend’s stomach for a long time, to feel the baby kick. That little whimsical darling, it is loved so much even before it is born.

And thirdly, my sister-in-law had a beautiful, beautiful baby girl. But they are far away in the US, and all we get to see is her photos and videos. But in one single day, we must have seen her video at-least 40 times. My heart aches to not be able to hold her, smell her and feel her in my arms. Such a sweetheart, I have never felt so much connection to a family member who I have not even seen yet. Those big radiant eyes looking at the camera are etched in my memory for now. 🙂

Now celebration time, we are having big family dinner today and on the weekend.

Choclate magador

This is a chocolate genoise with chocolate mousse. Specially for these wonderful babies, so that they grow up loving chocolate. Because there is none other purer love than the love of chocolate 😉

Mogador-  Chocolate Genoise with Chocolate mousse

What you will need:

Chocolate Genoise sponge:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 120 gm sugar
  • 100 gm flour
  • 20 gm unsweetened cocoa powder

Chocolate Mousse :

  • 75 gm egg yolks
  • 35 gm sugar
  • 35 ml water
  • 150 gm chocolate
  • 300 gm heavy cream
  • 100 ml water and 80 gm sugar for the imbibing syrup
  • 100 gm raspberry/strawberry jam for decoration

What to do:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.
  2. Take eggs and egg yolk in a bowl. Add sugar and whisk together till pale. Put it over double boiler over a saucepan and warm it.
  3. Once the mixture is hot to touch, take it off the double boiler and whisk continuously till it cools down completely and gets a ribbon texture when you lift it up with a spoon.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix cocoa powder and flour.
  5. Add half of these dry ingredients to the egg-sugar mixture. Fold with a spatula, start in the centre and fold out while rotating the bowl. Then add the rest half and stop once there are no streaks of flour.
  6. Grease a 8-9 inch mousse mold or a spring-form pan.
  7. Put the mixture in the mold and fill upto 4/5th of the mold.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes , till a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  9. Bring 100 ml water and 80 gm sugar to a boil in a saucepan. Then take it off heat and you may add some fruit brandy or cherry essence if you wish.
  10. Once the cake is baked, let it completely cool on a wire rack before unmolidng.
  11. Once cool, cut the cake horizontally into half with a sharp serrated knife. Place the lower half of the cake in the mold or springform pan and refrigerate till you make the mousse.
  12. For the chocolate mousse, put the 35 gm sugar and 35 ml water in saucepan and let it come to a rolling boil. then take it off heat.
  13. Take egg yolks in a bowl. Then add the sugar mixture to the egg yolks while whisking continuously. Continue till the egg yolks fluff up as they cool down.
  14. In another bowl, whisk the cream till it has soft peaks and put it in the fridge.
  15. Melt the chocolate (chopped pieces) on a double boiler or in a microwave and keep it molten.
  16. Now mix the whipped cream with the sugar and egg mixture. Fold it evenly and gently. Add 1/3rd of this mixture to the chocolate and whisk till it is completely incorporated.(# See note)
  17. The take the rest of the cream mixture and add it to the chocolate bowl. Mix gently with a whisk. The mixing has to be done very quickly, or the chocolate will seize.
  18. For the assembly, take the cake (the lower half in the mold). Imbibe the cake with the sygar syrup. Then spread a thin layer of raspberry/strawberry jam on the cake.
  19. With a slotted spoon, start adding the mousse on the cake from the outer edge. Add more mousse int he centre. Spread it from the centre towards the edge, first with a plastic scraper and then with a spatula. Smooth-en the top with a knife and then put it in the fridge to set for an hour.
  20. Decorate with cherries or pomegranate seeds and some chocolate shavings on top.

Piece of MagadorNotes :

  1. Once you add the whipped cream to the chocolate, it has to be mixed rapidly, yet gently so that the chocolate does not seize and harden. For this it is essential that the chocolate is totally molten before mixing.
  2. And by chance, if it seizes, worry not, it will still taste spectacular,
  3. If you wish you can use a plastic mousse holder inside the ringmold to be able to unmold, but it is not essential. I did not use it.
  4. For the chocolate mousse, the hot sugar syrup will cook the egg yolks, so it is very safe to consume.

Bon Apetit! And cheers to new lives.

Rutvika Charegaonkar