Crisp Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have a giant book borrowed from an aunt – The Taste of Home : Ultimate Cookie Collection, which has several hundred recipes and very useful directions to almost everything in the land of cookie making. How to store cookies, how to ship them, what if cookies spread too much while baking, what if they don’t, what to do if they are too tough/ too brown / too pale, etc etc. its a delight to read the book and experiment from there.

chocolate-chip-cookie-split

And my baby Arjun has a book where the cartoon Elmo is making cookies. So he wants to make cookies every weekend. It’s fun to bake with him (only if you ignore all the mess that he does). 😛

Crisp Chocolate Chip Cookies

What you will need :

  • 1 and half cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 150 gram butter at room temperature (approx 10 tablespoons)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 cup chocolate chips

What to do :

  1. In a bowl, stir in baking powder and baking soda in the flour and then sift it once. This ensures that the baking powder and soda get mixed evenly in the flour and it gets aerated once sieved.
  2. In another bowl, take butter at room temperature and whisk it with an electric beater. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat till it becomes light, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add lightly beaten eggs and vanilla extract and beat for another 2-3 minutes. Let it all get incorporated well.
  4. Now add the flour mixture into the butter and egg mixture and whisk till it all comes together. Do not over-mix.
  5. Remove the whisk and then fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula.
  6. Take a baking sheet and line it with parchment paper.
  7. Now with a tablespoon, drop 12 heaps on the parchment paper, spaced well about 1 inch between two heaps.
  8. Put it int he fridge to chill for at-least 15 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 170 C.
  10. After 15 minutes chill time, put the tray in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, till the top gets slightly browned and the cookies get crisp on the outside. You can also rotate the pan once in between.
  11. Keep next batch ready for baking or if you have a bigger oven, you can bake two sheets at a time.

chocolate-chip-collage

 

Notes :

  • The cookies spread out once they go in the oven. So make small heaps and space them apart.
  • If you want very crisp cookies bake for a minute longer, if you want a chewy centre, bake for a minute or two less. Also individual ovens behave differently, keep a close watch while baking cookies.
  • You can also cut the cookies with a cookie cutter when they are fresh out of the oven. Like I did with a Christmas tree cutter in the picture above.

stack-of-choco-chip-cookies

Bon Apetit!

Rutvika

Chocolate Drip Cake

I have been eyeing these drip cakes in gorgeous colors for a while on pinterest and Instagram now. Katherine Sabbath sort of invented them in 2015 and they have been a rage. They look deliciously pretty and leave people wondering how the drips were made.
Very easy. Just some runny ganache and a cold cake.

I have made it here with a classic chocolate cake, a strawberry buttercream and chocolate ganache dripping. Once you know the basics, you can play around with cake flavors and white chocolate + gel color drip. And ofcourse any variation of buttercream or meringue frosting.

Chocolate Drip Cake

drip-cake-with-flowers

What you will need :

For the sponge cake:

  • 180 gram all purpose flour
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 60 gram cocoa powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 275 gram castor sugar
  • 100 gram yoghurt
  • 40 ml warm water
  • 130 ml strong brewed hot coffee
  • 75 ml vegetable oil, I use groundnut oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the strawberry buttercream :

  • 100 gram butter, at room temperature (I use Amul)
  • 230 gram icing sugar
  • 7-8 strawberries – pureed in a mixer with a tablepoon of granulated sugar

For the chocolate drip :

  • 100 gram chopped dark chcolate
  • 200 gram Amul cream

What to do :

  1. Sift all the dry ingredients : flour + baking powder + baking soda + cocoa powder + salt and keep it aside.
  2. In another bowl whisk the eggs. Add sugar, yoghurt, warm water and mix.
  3. Add the sifted dry ingredients and brewed coffee to this mixture and fold in with a spatula till it gets completely incorporated.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 170C.
  5. Grease the sides and line the bottom of two 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper.
  6. Pour the cake batter in the cake pans and bake in the pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing.
  8. Let it cool completely on wire racks.
  9. For making strawberry buttercream, mix all ingredients with a whisk or a stand mixer.
  10. For the chocolate drip, keep the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream till it starts to bubble around the edges. Do not let it come to a boil.
  11. Pour the cream on the chocolate and cover it for 2 minutes.
  12. Whisk it till all the chocolate melts and it becomes smooth. Let it cool down.

frosting-and-drip-cake

drip-cake-all-sides

Assembly:

  1. Take a cake board or a wooden board and place one layer of the cake on it. Cover it with strawberry buttercream on the sides and top.
  2. Place another cake on top and cover all the sides and top with buttercream. Smoothen it with a spatula dipped in hot water.
  3. Put it in the refrigerator  for one hour and let it become cold.
  4. Make the chcoolate drip 20 minutes before using it on the cake. If you make it in advance and it becomes thicker when you use it, heat it in microwave for 10-2o seconds till it becomes runny again. But ensure that it is not hot when you pour it on the cake.
  5. Now remove the cooled cake from the fridge. With a spoon start pouring the ganache on the edges of the cake. It will start dripping down. Within one or two drips you will realise how much to pour at one go. Cover the entire edge of the cake with such drips.
  6. Now pour more ganche in the centre and spread it lightly with a spatula.
  7. Put it in the fridge for 5 minutes to set.
  8. You can decorate it with some sprinkles and fresh flowers.
  9. Store it in the fridge if you live in a hot and humid place like Mumbai.

Notes :

  1. You can add a teapoon of corn syrup to the ganache to get a smoother finish. But you can absolutely skip it like I did.
  2. The cake recipe is from a book called Chocolate by Cordon Bleu. The drip technique is taken from Stylesweetca.com.
  3. Yan use an eggless cake recipe from here and turn this into an eggless dessert.

chocolate-drip-cake-slice

 

Cherry Cream Cheese Pound cake

Cherry Cream Cheese Pound cake!

 

Cream Cheese pound cake with cherries

Everything about this cake sounds dreamy. It is an indulgent affair and not for the whole-wheat-carrot-cake type of a day.

Pound Cakes are heavy. With so many eggs in them they can be filling. But so delicious and creamy. And add some cream cheese in the mix, you have a delectable buttery, cheesy cake. The mild tartness of the cherries goes very well with the cake and makes it very flavourful.

Cherries are in season right now, and I must have used about 40-50 un-pitted cherries on top of the cake I love how that looks. My little baby boy Arjun helped me make the decoration and gave me one cherry at a time while I placed it on the cake. Loved doing that.

This cake serves 8, has to be sliced thinly while serving. Perhaps with a cup of coffee, like the French.

Cherry Pound cake

Cherry Cream Cheese Pound Cake

What you will need:

  • 3 cups maida – all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
  • 220 gram cream cheese, I use D’lecta
  • 2 and 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 large eggs

Cream Cheese Chocolate Frosting

  • 125 gram cream cheese, cold
  • 50 gram Amul butter
  • 300 grams icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • Fresh cherries for decoration

What to do :

  1. For the cake, sift the all purpose flour + baking powder + baking soda and keep it aside.
  2. In another bowl, whisk room temperature butter and cream cheese together, add vanilla extract.
  3. Now add granulated sugar and whisk.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking till it gets fully incorporated.
  5. Pre-heat oven to 180C.
  6. Line two 8 inch pans with a parchment paper at the bottom and butter and flour the sides.
  7. Pour the prepared batter in the pans and bake in a pre-heated oven for 25-30 minutes till a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  8. Remove from the pan and let the cakes cool completely before frosting.
  9. To make the frosting, take all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk till it comes together to form a smooth frosting.
  10. Place one cake on a plate or a wooden board, frost it lightly and then place the second cake on top. Again frost the sides lightly, scraping of any excess frosting.
  11. Put about 1/4 cup of frosting on top of the cake and spread evenly.
  12. Put the cake int he fridge for 10 minutes so that the frosting sets a bit before placing the cherries on top.

Cherry pound cake slice

Notes :

  • If you live in a hot humid place, it is better to keep the cake in the fridge. Bring it to room temperature for half hour before serving.
  • The mild cocoa flavour in the frosting helps balance the cheesy frosting.
  • The pound cake recipe is taken from Joy of Baking

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

Eggless Ginger Orange chocolate cake – #CaLbakes

Eggless ginger chocolate cake

For 5 months beginning November 2015, I am hosting a guided baking session on the Facebook foodie group called Chef At Large. The aim is to present baking recipes as simply as possible with the most commonly available ingredients, so it is easier for people to take that step into baking.

While testing recipes and documenting it so that everyone understands, I have learnt so much myself. And when people respond with pictures and feedback of something they made following this recipe, it feels quite good.

I hope I am doing justice to the initiative by offering as much as I know.

This eggless chocolate cake is for the month of November. With loads of pictures showing each step. Let me know what you think.

Eggless Ginger Orange chocolate cake

What you will need:

  1. one slab of 100 grams Amul butter, softened
  2. 20 grams of castor sugar
  3. 1/2 can of condensed milk (200 grams)
  4. 125 ml whole milk
  5. 125 all-purpose flour or maida
  6. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  7. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  8. 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (or orange zest)
  9. 2 teaspoon orange juice
  10. 150 grams dark chocolate – melted completely

What to do :

  • In a big mixing bowl, take softened (but not melted) Amul butter. Add sugar to it and whisk.
  • Then to this add the condensed milk and whole milk and whisk well. Let it form a smooth mixture.

Steps 1-3 rec 1

  • In a separate bowl, take flour +baking soda + baking powder and first mix it with a spoon to distribute baking soda and powder throughout the flour. Then sift this once through a regular kitchen sieve.
  • Melt the chopped chocolate over a double boiler or in a microwave in 30 second intervals, whisking well at each interval.

chocolate melting

  • Now, to the butter mixture add the melted chocolate and whisk well till fully incorporated.
  • Then add the grated ginger or orange zest and orange or apple juice and mix.
  • Remove the whisk. Now with a rubber spatula, fold in the dry ingredients in two batches. Always move the spatula in one direction and the bowl in the other while folding. Me being right-handed, move the spatula from right to left with the right hand and the bowl from left to right with the left hand.

mixing and folding flour

  • Now pre-heat the oven to 180 C for 10 minutes and meanwhile prepare your pan.
  • Lightly butter and line your 6-8 inch baking pan with parchment paper at the bottom as well as the sides. Alternately you can line the bottom with a parchment paper and grease and flour the sides.
  • Pour the batter in the prepared pan.

Lining a pan and filling

  • Now bake the cake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. Insert a skewer or a knife in the cake to check if it’s done.
  • Remove from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
  • Take it out and let it cool completely on a wire rack.
  • There are several ways of making 2 layers of a cake. But the one I prefer the most is this desi jugaad style. For it, all you need is a steel plate, which has a side and covers about half the height of the cake and you also need a knife with serrated edges.

Layering a cake 1

  • Once the cake is completely cool, place it in the plate and taking that as an aid, cut the cake horizontally into two. Be careful to have your knife touching the edge of the steel plate at all times so that you get an even cut.

Layering a cake 2

  • Once cut from all sides, take a cake board or a simple cardboard will do and slide it between the two layers of the cake and separate them.
  • Now use the frosting or the ganache recipe and frost the cake or decorate it as you like.

Buttercream filling

Decorate the cake with a chocolate ganache and/or buttercream.

I have used the buttercream to sandwich between the cakes and frost the sides and ganache for decoration.

Ganache decoration

This post first appeared here.

 

Those three months and Kiwi Cupcakes with frosting

Last year around this time, I got pregnant. Which means that we were busy doing the hoo-hoos and haa-haas, very enthusiastically. Since then there hasn’t been much hoo or haa, but that’s a different story. (Now I seriously wish that no kids are reading this and neither is my mom or mom-in-law.) But anyway, it is an understatement to say that life has turned upside down since last April.

A few days back I found a letter I had written to myself. Last year this time. I often write letters to myself. Kind of a diary entry, but it works as if I am looking at the issue from a third party point of view. There, in that letter, I was telling myself to take it easy. It had been three months since we were trying to get pregnant and each time I got my periods, I would be immensely depressed. It felt as if I was killing the babies each month. I know how incorrect that statement is. I know. I know. But somewhere it just felt very bad. I would frantically chart my menstrual cycle in various apps and find out the “fertile” days. And coerce my husband into having sex as a rule on those days. Not that he minded it, but I had turned into an obsessive compulsive sexter, for those days of the month. For the first 10 days of the month, I would read up on all websites advising ‘how to get pregnant’ , and then later on obsess over ‘are you pregnant’ type webpages. I would dread each day as my periods got closer and any sign on PMS would make me cry. It was a very taxing time, let me tell ya.

My mom would keep telling me that it takes time, be patient. My husband would say, our bodies are not machines, have faith, it will happen soon. But I felt very low. And it is such a situation that couldnt even be discussed with anyone outside your innermost circle. At that time. To top it, my best-friend, my closest cousin and my sister-in-law : all were pregnant! Not me. Just not me.

I laugh at the insanity of the situation now, it feels stupid to look back at that version of myself, but I still shudder when I remember how I thought the worst was going to happen to us. And I had reached that conclusion in just three little months.

Later, when we registered with the gynaecologist’s hospital for delivery, the nurse excitedly told me that in India, December January is the busiest period in the hospital as it is the best “season” to have a baby. Most couples plan it that way, to have a baby in winter. And I thought to myself – “How the hell do they do that?”. How do they know when they will get pregnant? That answer still eludes me.

But anyway. Now I am hoping that when planning for the second child, I wont be so paranoid. Or I just might be. Because I will soon reach the big 3-0 in a year and half. Sigh.

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And I still don’t bake that often, my little one keeps me on my toes all the time. But these gorgeous kiwis in the market and eventually in the fruit basket made me want to bake. Urgently. And what could be faster than cupcakes?

Kiwi cupcake closeup

Kiwi Cupcakes with Kiwi buttercream frosting

What you will need :

For the cupcakes –

  • 1/3 cup mashed kiwi – about 2 kiwis
  • 1 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup + 3 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 egg whites

For kiwi buttercream –

  • 1 kiwi, peeled and mashed
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon icing sugar
  • 1 kiwi, peeled and sliced for decoration

What to do :

  1. Pre heat oven to 180C and line a 12-muffin pan with cupcake paper liners.
  2. Remove the skin of the kiwis and mash it with a fork to make 1/3 cup mashed kiwi. Add milk and vanilla to the mashed kiwi and keep aside.
  3. Sift together flour and baking powder .
  4. In another bowl, cream butter and all the sugar till light.
  5. Add the egg and egg white to butter and incorporate well.
  6. Now alternately add flour mixture and kiwi mixture to the cream butter and eggs. Start and end with dry ingredients i.e flour.
  7. Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes till a skewer inserted in the centre of a cupcake comes out clean and the tops are golden.
  8. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and let them cool completely before frosting.
  9. To make the buttercream, cream butter till its light. Add 3-4 tablespoon of mashed kiwi, 1 tablespoon at a time. (Ensure that the mixture is creamy and not watery).
  10. Add vanilla and icing sugar and mix well.
  11. Taste and add some more kiwi or icing sugar as per taste. But add kiwi cautiously or the mixture will get watery.
  12. Decorate the cupcakes with buttercream frosting and half a slice of kiwi.

Kiwi cupcake platter

Black Forest Cake and Bed (Ar)rested!

Two months back at the bake sale, one of my friends was narrating her pregnancy experiences to me. She’d been told to take bed rest from her 8th month onwards. I listened politely, but stuff like this never happens to me. Right? Right?

And exactly 10 days later, my baby was in a hurry to come out too and I was put on total bed rest for 6 long weeks, at the least. There you go. I was thinking to myself “How did this happen to me? TO ME??”

My pregnancy was relatively easy till then and I had just bought some lovely maternity dresses and wanted to wear them and go out with my adoring husband, while lapping up all the attention. And there I was, stuck to the bed. Albeit I knew it was for a fixed time, and the alternate was a preterm baby and all complications, still, the first 3-4 days were the worst. It was as if a full speed car got stuck in the middle of a highway. Stopped. Midway.

But then, acceptance slowly seeped in. It became less difficult with each passing day. I got time to read. To pause when reading and to think. About the book or an article and about what it said. For the last several years I had been reading, but never pausing. Never taking it in. Gobbling it up, and filing it away in the reserves of the brain. Now was the time to ruminate.

To look out of the window on crisp winter mornings. To look and to stare. Think about the swaying leaves, and notice how that purple-rumped sunbird came for honey on the same flower, everyday at the same time. To listen to the various sounds omnipresent in the air. The vehicle horns, the chug-chug of a long distance train, a bus coming to a halt, children laughing, furniture being moved in the adjacent apartment, two birds chirping on the potted plant outside, a distant dog barking, first loudly and then fading away. May be it was chasing a car. Just like my mind was chasing a thought, first in a single solid story, connecting to something else, and then something next while the first stream of thought vanished.

It also gave me time to think about parenting. Analyze people around me and their parenting styles. Pick up different situations from people’s lives and imagine what I would have done in that scenario. Is it wise to read a lot of parenting books and go by the milestones prescribed? Or go by my gut, intuition and be a parent accordingly. One thing I decided for sure is that the first six months, the baby should be fully connected to me. I will have the exclusive right to feed the baby. Even after I resume work 3 months post delivery, I will hop back home as my office is close-by. I owe it to my baby to give it a healthy start. And come on, it’s a kickass feeling to be the sole provider for the baby. My best friend just accomplished this feat, so I know it is tough, but doable.

Sometimes it is essential to slow down. To take a break and let your mind wander. Let your body recuperate. Let the baby making take centre-stage while work and baking and blogging takes a back seat. I took this 6 week break for the first time since I ever remember. And may be bed rest is meant for those of us who won’t voluntarily slow down. Slow down. Pause. And get back to activity like never before. I am sure this was the calm before the storm. Before a screaming baby comes into this world and captures our attention. All of our attention.

I cant wait 🙂

Rutvika

P.S : From yesterday my bed rest has been relaxed and I can flutter around waiting for the baby to show up.

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And while baking has been suspended for the last few weeks, I had a black forest cake ready to be shared. I tweaked the original recipe and substituted it with a favourite dark chocolate cake and whipped cream and cherries on top. The whipped cream absorbs the depth of the dark chocolate and there is a medley of flavors in your mouth with some cherries. Its beautiful! And fancy, great for a celebration.

Black forest cake

Black forest Cake

What you will need :

  • 180 gm dark chocolate cut into pieces
  • 200 gm butter
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
  • 125 ml water
  • 1 and 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup corn flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 75 ml milk
  • 2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream, I use Tropolite
  • 4 tablespoon icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 can of maraschino cherries
  • Chocolate shaving for decoration

What to do :

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160C. Gease two 8 inch baking pans, and line the base with parchment paper.
  2. Mix lemon juice and milk and keep it aside.
  3. Mix instant coffee in water and let it dissolve.
  4. Melt butter and chopped chocolate in pan and remove from heat once it is melted. Keep aside to let it cool.
  5. Whisk the dry ingredients together, namely all purpose flour + Cocoa powder + baking soda + baking powder + corn flour.
  6. Then add granulated sugar and brown sugar and mix well.
  7. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and add milk and lemon mixture. Then add chocolate mixture and mix till thoroughly combined.
  8. Fold in the dry ingredients and pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes till a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  9. Remove from the pan and let it cool on a wire rack.
  10. Meanwhile, whip the cold cream till it forms soft peaks. Add the icing sugar and vanilla extract whip till it forms stiff peaks.
  11. Chop 3/4th of the maraschino cherries and reserve 1/4 cherries for decoration.
  12. For assembly of the cake, take one cake layer and spread it generously with the whipped cream on all sides. Spread it with a layer of chopped cherries. Then place the second cake layer on top. Cover it with the remaining whipped cream.
  13. Spread chocolate shavings on the cake and all sides and decorate with cream and whole cherries on top.
  14. Black forest cake is ready!

Note :

  1. You can use the cherry juice from the can as imbibing syrup to moisten the cake.
  2. This chocolate cake recipe can also be used with other buttercream icing.

IMG_2152

Upside down apple cake with caramel sauce

Two months back I had attended a workshop by Purple Foodie on cake baking and other teatime treats. Since then all required ingredients were sitting in the cupboard, waiting to be baked. What stopped me from making any cake was the lack of a ‘kitchen weighing scale’. Baking can be daunting when you read the recipes because all of the ingredients are always measured in grams! Duh!

But a few days back, a family friend got me this teeny weeny pocket scale which measures upto 200 gms for Rs. 300. And since then my baking expeditions started immediately since i had already collected all other stuff like cake baking aluminum pan, parchment paper, silicone spatula….

Baking a soft fluffy cake generally does require eggs. Although my mom makes a very delicious rawa (semolina) cake without eggs, it is quite dense as compared to a refined flour cake with eggs.

Most recipes call for unsalted butter which is very difficult to find here in India. So I use Amul butter in all my cakes and it turns out perfect, in-fact the slight salt content gives more depth to the flavors int he cake and caramel.

This upside down apple cake recipe has been adapted from Purple Foodie workshop guide. However, the apples can be replaced with any firm fruit like pears, pineapples, musk melon etc.

cake piece

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