First Baking Workshop!

Baking workshop

Yesterday was my first baking class. I taught the tart making technique and apple and orange tart to a group of friends. I was very nervous in the beginning. There were six girls and having six pairs of eyes focussed on you is daunting. I fumbled, couldn’t crack an egg neatly, spilt sugar on the counter and certainly couldn’t look at anyone. But all of them were really supportive and within a few minutes I was relaxed.

Making the tart dough and kneading it without letting the butter melt is a tricky business. But I still wanted to give all of then a feel of sablage – the French technique of pressing down the dough to make it look like sand. So we did it quickly, the Mumbai heat was unsparring, but we worked our way around. I have had no prior experience in teaching. Really, the last time I tried to teach anyone anything was my brother and he fled to the US. But I wanted to show tart making to a very hardworking and talented baker friend Rucha, and it was about time I broadened my horizons, so this class happened.

Apple tart

As I have a little toddler who is sometimes wary of strangers, I was worried that he might start hollering and I will have to leave everything and sit with him. But he was very well behaved. And looked forward to eating some cake. And this baking class wouldn’t have happened without the awesome support of my in-laws. They are pretty much the best. 🙂

Orange tart

Ok that was my little thank you speech, but thank you all so much. For showing belief that I could do it and for forgiving the little things that went awry.

This was not a paid class and it was strictly for friends who I knew outside of social media. In my own home.

But who knows if this might become a regular feature, a proper class in a proper venue. I am yet to figure that out.

Happy Baking!

Cheers.

Rutvika

P.S : Links similar to what was taught in the class –

Pear Tart

Orange Tart

Masala Chai Cake

At home all of us are such a big fan of masala chai that my 14 month old baby asks for tea after every meal. He gets his little toy cup and toy kettle and I have to pour 2-3 drops of tea into his milk. He sits and sips it slowly like his grandfather.

Chai cupcakes with basil flowers

And then I saw this cake in The Big Book of Treats by Pooja Dhingra. What a wonderful idea to incorporate masala chai flavours into cake. We have pots of lemongrass and basil in the window and use it regularly while brewing tea. So I added it to this cake and the frosting has basil seeds and flowers. Straight from the plant. It gives the cake a very refreshing taste. Something familiar and yet decadent.

Presenting The Masala Chai cake :

Chai cake

Ingredients

  • 150 gram maida
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 100 gram Amul butter – at room temperature
  • 200 gram castor sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs
  • 80 ml chai – freshly brewed without sugar and milk
  • Basil leaves and lemon grass while brewing tea

Chai cupcakes making

For the frosting :

  • 100 gram butter
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 225 gram icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Few basil (tulsi) flowers for decoration

Chai cupcake with periwinkle

What to do :

  1. Whisk the maida and baking powder together and sift it.
  2. In another bowl whisk butter and add sugar and vanilla essence.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, incorporating it well into the mixture.
  4. Add the brewed chai to the batter, mix well.
  5. Then fold in the flour mixture with a spatula.
  6. Preheat oven to 170 for 5 minutes.
  7. Line a muffin pan with paper cups. Fill it with the batter.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes till a skewer inserted in the centre comes clean.
  9. To make the frosting, cream butter and then add all the ingredients together and whisk well till it forms a smooth icing. Fill it in a piping bag with nozzle of your choice.
  10. Once the cupcakes are cooled, pipe the frosting on the cupcakes. Decorate with basil flower stems.

Crumb of chai cupcake

Notes :

  1. The same batter can also be used to make cupcakes. It yields 12 cupcakes. And two small loaves.
  2. Basil flowers are totally edible and definitely use them if you can. The regular tulsi flowers can also be used.
  3. The crumb of this cake is very soft and melts in the mouth. the trick is to use room temperature butter and eggs.
  4. It can be stored for 5 days without frosting and upto a week further in the fridge.

Basil Chai cake

Edited to add on 17 May 16′ : In a hurry to bake the cake, I added hot tea to the eggs, and part of it caramelised to sticky toffee like structure. Not very pleasant. Note – Always add cooled tea.

Honey Orange-zest Madelines

Madelines!

Oh these lovely, buttery shell shaped little cakes. Crisp on the outside and soft like sponge cake on the inside. And that adorable little bump. It makes it a pretty little unique cake.

It was our 4th or 5th class in Le Cordon Bleu and the chef demonstrated this French traditional cake from the Lorraine region in France. I was astonished. That shell shaped structure looked gorgeous. And then the bump on the other side revealing the soft part inside. The edges – browned and crisp are a delight to bite into.

Madelines with honey

Madeleines are the perfect accompaniment to the evening cup of tea or coffee. They taste best when served warm fresh out of the oven. The crispness of the crust starts to lessen as it gets stored, but biting into a fresh madeleine is a real pleasure.

The only special equipment you will need is a Scallop shell pan. I purchased mine in E.Dehillerin in Paris, but it is easily available at Amazon.in or your local bakeware shop.

The traditional version calls for browning butter and then using it. But there is a very fine line between brown butter and burnt butter. So to avoid that, we simply melt butter with orange zest and that gives it the citrusy flavour. If you wish to get the nuttiness of browned butter, brown it in a pan for a couple of minutes, let it cool down and then use it.

This recipe is based on the one we learnt at school and I have further added orange zest and honey to it.

Madelines in shell pan

Honey Orange-zest Madelines

Makes 10 Madelines

What you will need :

  • 100 gram all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 70 gram butter
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 65 grams castor sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

What to do :

  1. Sift flour and baking powder to avoid any lumps.
  2. Melt butter in a pan or in microwave with the orange zest.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the eggs and add sugar. Whisk till it becomes pale and creamy.
  4. Add the vanilla extract
  5. Fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture and then add butter and orange zest mixture. Fold it in with a spatula.
  6. Now transfer it to a disposable piping bag without any nozzle and refrigerate it for atleast 3 hours. You can even refrigerate it overnight.
  7. Before baking, pre-heat the oven to 200 C. Brush the shell pan with some melted  butter and drizzle some flour on it.
  8. Pipe molds of batter on the pan and let it bake for 10-11 minutes till it is browned not he edges and cooked in the centre. The centre should spring back when touched.

IMG_3640

 

Notes :

  1. It is essential to refrigerate the dough so that the flour hydrates and it forms that quintessential bump when baked.
  2. This can also be used as a basic recipe and honey and orange zest can be substituted with any other flavouring.

madelines with a bump

Cheers!

Rutvika

Rustic Beetroot Cake (Eggless)

I have been baking often over the last few days. Simple occasions demand simple cakes without too much frosting or decoration. Real flavours and things that can be whipped up within an hour.

My 14 month old baby boy has begun to enjoy the cake decoration part. With his tiny little fingers he helps me put chocolate chips on the cake, but most of the fruits and sprinkles end up in his stomach. And now he gets excited when he looks at the pans, or the whisk or the even the weighing scale. He knows something delicious is coming up. I let him have little pieces of cake. Since he was 12 months old, he eats everything that we eat. And I bet he is turning into a foodie.

Since we are a nation obsessed with eggless cakes, I have been trying my hand on a couple of them. Substituting ingredients in a cake which calls for an egg or two doesn’t work. The whole composition has to be changed. So here is one based on a chocolate eggless cake from The Big Book of Treats by Pooja Dhingra.

This cake uses 2 small beetroots and gives a very nice flavour to the cake. it does not use any added colour. The texture is also very soft and crumbly. Topped with whipped cream and coloured sugar crystals, it looks very rustic.

Beetroot cake

 

Rustic Eggless Beetroot Cake 

What you will need :

  • 2 small beetroots, steamed/ boiled and pureed
  • 130 gram all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 100 gram Amul butter at room temperature
  • 20 gram castor sugar
  • 30 ml warm milk
  • 150 grams condensed milk
  • 150 gram dark chocolate melted

What to do :

  1. Melt the chocolate in microwave or double boiler and let it cool.
  2. Sift together all the dry ingredients – flour+ baking powder + baking soda and keep aside.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 180C for 5 minutes.
  4. In a big bowl, whisk butter till soft and fluffy. Add the sugar and whisk.
  5. Now add the milk, condensed milk and melted chocolate and mix well.
  6. Then slowly add the pureed beetroot and incorporate well with a whisk.
  7. Now fold in the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula.
  8. Line one 6-8 inch pan with parchment paper and butter and flour the sides.
  9. Pour the batter in the prepared pan and bake at 180 C for 20-25 minutes till a skewer inserted int he centre comes out clean.
  10. I cut the cake horizontally into half to frost and stack them up.
  11. Decorate with some whipped cream and coloured castor sugar on top.

Slice of beetroot cake

Notes :

  • I steamed the beetroots (just like steaming potatoes) in a pressure cooker, removed the skin and then pulsed it in a mixer for a couple of minutes.
  • You can easily serve the cake without any frosting, it is very soft and melt-in-the mouth.

Strawberry Meringue Tart

One of the best things I learnt in Le Cordon Bleu was Tarts and Pies. I absolutely love the concept of a fruit filling in crisp, flaky crusts and topped with cream or meringue. The rolled out pastry dough can be a bit tricky and needs some practice, but this pressed-in crusts are very easy to work with. Just mix the ingredients into a dough and press in into a tart pan.

This almond pastry is baked blind to a crisp biscuit like consistency and then filled with strawberries. You can replace it with any fruit you like say apples, mangoes, canned blueberry etc. If you don’t like the meringue topping , it’s beautiful though – soft and pillowy, you can top it with whipping cream and skip the last step of baking the meringue.

This recipe has been adapted from a book called Desserts which I had picked up at a flea market, many years back.

Strawberry Meringue Tart in an almond pastry

Strawberry meringue tart

What you will need :

For the almond pastry :

  • 2/3 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup castor sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 cup (about 100 grams) finely ground and sieved almonds
  • 1 and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Filling :

  • 2 cups strawberries, sliced or chopped (about 400 grams)
  • 1/2 cup castor sugar

Meringue topping :

  • 4 egg whites
  • 2/3 cup castor sugar

Process of meringue

What to do :

  1. Lightly butter and flour a 9-inch tart and a 5 inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
  2. To prepare the pastry, combine all the ingredients in a food processor or a mixer and process to form a stiff dough.
  3. Remove it on a plate and knead a couple of times till it all comes together.
  4. Firmly press it at the bottom and sides of the tart pan. Prick it all over with a fork and let it chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  5. Pr-heat oven to 170C and bake it for 20-25 minutes until form and golden. let it cool completely.
  6. To prepare the meringue, beat the egg whites till stiff peaks form. Gently beat in castor sugar.
  7. Combine strawberries and castor sugar.
  8. Now once the tart shell is completely cooled, pile spoonfuls of meringue on the edges of the tart. Fill the centre with the strawberry mixture. Now pile the remaining meringue on the top of the strawberries.
  9. Bake for 10-15 minutes in a preheated oven at 220C for 10-15 minutes, till the crust is firm and the top of meringue is browned.

Strawberry tart full

Notes :

  • If you are worried about the egg whites staying undercooked, you can bake it for another 5 minutes, till it get firmer.
  • I have used unbalanced almonds, directly powdered in the mixture. I prefer the nuttiness of un-blanched almonds.
  • I used a 9 inch shallow tart pan and a 5 inch smaller pan because I had leftover pastry. If you have a deeper pan, it will all fit into a 9 inch pan.