Velvety Cocoa Cake with Ganache

When in doubt always bake a chocolate cake. I don’t know who said this, but it is one of the most useful pieces of advice I have heard.

This velvety cocoa cake was baked for my dad’s 61st birthday. A soft and delicate cake it comes alive with each bite of ganache melting in your mouth. Its a simple recipe inspired from Martha Stewart.

Velvety cocoa cake

Velvety cocoa cake slice

Velvety Cocoa Cake with Ganache

What you will need:

  • 2 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour (maida)
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 170 gram butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cup buttermilk

What to do:

  1. In a bowl, mix together flour + cocoa powder + baking soda. Then sift it with a sieve and keep aside.
  2. In another bigger bowl, whisk the butter with both the sugars until it is smooth and creamy. I generally use an electric mixer, but a whisk will also work.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, while whisking so as to make it a smooth batter.
  4. Add the vanilla extract and mix.
  5. Now to this butter mixture, add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately. Fold it in with a spatula. Always start and end with the dry ingredients.
  6. Prepare two 9 inch round baking pans. Line the bottom with parchment paper and generously butter the sides.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 160 C and bake the cakes for 25-30 minutes, till a skewer inserted in the centre of the pan comes out clean.
  8. Once the cakes are baked, run a butter knife through the sides of the cake to release it from the pan.
  9. Turn it over to a wire mesh and let it cool completely before frosting with ganache.
  10. For ganache recipe , see here.

TIPS:

  • To make a tiered cake, I bake this recipe in three 9 inch pans, so as to do 3 layers of ganache filling. But two layers also work fine.
  • After adding flour, always gently fold in with a spatula, refrain from using a whisk. It gives softer feel to the cake.

Cocoa Cake with pineapple

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.

Australian Lamingtons and Separation Anxiety

I am not sure how much three-month old babies understand, but like all moms, I think my baby is super smart. Yeah, let me tell you why I think so:

  1. After my first day of work, baby boy protested my absence by crying. Yes, crying in my hands and then stopping once in the arms of his grandmother. And he continued to look at me and cry in a complaining tone ‘How did you leave me and go? How am I supposed to know when you will come back?!” And so on. It continued for five minutes (which is very long when a baby is crying), and then I scooped him up, held him close and whispered in his ears till he calmed down. Luckily for me, he soon forgot all about it and started giving his toothless smiles.

  2. Next day : He knows that I am all dressed up and will go to office after feeding him. So while he is nursing, he tightly clutches my kurta with his little fingers, and starts wailing as soon as I position him for burping. My otherwise cooperative boy, is throwing tantrums now. I start feeding him again and he just wants to suckle, while not hungry. To stop me from going to work. I go, nevertheless, but with a delay.

  3. Everyday now, once I dress up and get ready to go to work and then when I start nursing him, he cries. He may have associated my deodorant smell to me going to office. It feels surreal, but that’s the only nursing time when he is crying. It does break my heart and I took a leave one day, but he will have to get used to it. So the next day, I braced myself and went to work.

He is a man of discipline, my little boy. Exactly at 9.30 at night, he gets cranky. Only till the time that we take him to his bedroom. Then I start the daily nightly ritual of some massage, changing his clothes etc and he enjoys it. But he has to be taken to the bedroom at 9.30 or else he cries as if I haven’t fed him in ages. He has a set routine and detects any change in it. And detests it. I won’t be surprised if he soon starts making baby to-do lists in little planners with a tiny pen. (How incredibly proud that would make me of him, don’t even ask.)

No, but seriously, baby boy Ar. has definitely noticed that I disappear for most part of the day. He may not know what to make of it, and so he gets cranky. Even when he is extremely fond of his ajji. And my mom thinks he has also lost some weight. But you know she is an advocate of “baby-needs-mom-a-lot-and-then-some-more” and so she may be over-reacting. But baby boy is crankier than before. I admit that.

Strangely, when I was growing up, I was convinced that I would be a stay at home mum for at least first 5 years when my kid(s) is small. I have no idea what that notion was based on, but as time flew by and I actually got married and had a kid, the need to work and have a life beyond home and the baby has become immense. I am sure Ar. will soon get used to it, we will find our new normal, but for now, we have some separation anxiety.

Sometimes when my mom and mom-in-law say that he is very fond of his mother, I think they are saying it to make me feel better. Or perhaps to encourage me to form a closer bond between me and the baby. But may be what they are saying is true. And he does recognise and prefer his mother over the others. It’s a double-edged sword though. How guilty it makes me feel to goto the market or even to go for an exercise walk after already being out of the house most day for work. But certain things need to be done. This is life.

But one thing is for sure. When I am at home, I am at the mercy of his smiles, gurgles and coos.

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For a long time I wanted to make these Australian finger cakes called Lamingtons. They are basically cubes of yellow cake dipped in chocolate frosting and coated with coconut. When I saw this recipe of HomeBakersGuild, I knew I had to make them. I am very fond of fresh coconut and hence used fresh coconut to coat my lamingtons. It made the cake very soft and juicy, if I may say so. And the pastel color looks super cute.

Lamingtons 2

Pastel Lamingtons

What you will need :

For the simple cake :

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour / maida
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 and 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs

For white chocolate icing and decoration:

  • 170 gm white chocolate, chopped
  • 3 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 and 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • few drops of food color
  • 3 grated fresh coconut

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line a 20 cm cake pan with parchment paper.
  2. Sift flour and baking powder and keep it ready.
  3. In another bowl, beat butter and sugar till light and fluffy with a hand blender.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time and incorporate.
  5. Add milk and vanilla extract and blend well.
  6. Now fold in the flour and baking powder mixture, one cup at a time.
  7. Pour in prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, till a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  8. Let it cool, then trim off the browned edges and cut the cake into squares.
  9. Make the chocolate icing by heating chopped chocolate, butter, milk in  saucepan till they melt.
  10. Take it off the heat and icing sugar.
  11. Add food color as desired.
  12. Roll the cake cubes in the chocolate, one at a time and then in desiccated coconut. Sprinkle with some strawberry jam for decoration.

Notes :

  • The browned part of the cake tastes extremely delicious, eat it up straight away.
  • The icing can get a bit sticky while rolling the cake. You can even hold it with a fork and pour the icing over it.
  • If you roll it in dry desiccated coconut , the cubes will be drier and easier to handle. But I prefer the crunch of fresh coconut.

Lamingtons

Barbie Cake / Doll Cake

Family Connection

Ever since I was a child, I have been lucky to have a fairly large family who met very often. My dad the eldest in his generation, has atleast a dozen cousins who are all very close to each other and loved to bunk up at our house every possible time. For six years I was the only child before my brother was born and everyone doted on me. I remember, even later, countless instances when all of us would go for picnics, movies, dinners and all. And then there were weddings, which were a big deal considering the number of members from our immediate family was never less than 150. Of course, I recollect times when only adults would be going for a hike or to watch a movie , and I used to cry so much when I had to stay back home, but overall, I remember having a great time with all of them.

Now, all of them are married, a lot of them have kids of varying ages. Me being the eldest, the onus is on me to keep all the cousins together and provide a platform for everyone to meet, which my parents have been providing for years.

Families have a way of making you feel warm inside, make you feel connected. There are always some common threads, common behavioral patterns which you can trace to at least one uncle or aunt or even a grand-uncle/aunt. It is funny, because sometimes those two people haven’t even spent considerable time with each other, but they exhibit exactly the same eating habits, the same way of folding legs when seated or a peculiar facial expression. And all of us can be traced back to one couple, three generations earlier. Each one of us is a part of them, and they are in parts of us. This knowledge makes me feel rooted. Stable.

When I was in Paris last November-December, a lot of my friends in Cordon Bleu had to go meet their extended families for Christmas and they dreaded it. I was surprised, but it is understandable. All of them live multi-cultural, multi-national lives. Spending different years of life in different parts of the world, perhaps they never got to bond with their families. On the other hand, most of us are born in Mumbai and will die in Mumbai. Sure we travel faraway on holidays, for education etc., but in the end, we come back to our roots. Most of us. And we prefer it that way.

When I got married, my husband and I were thinking of going to the US for further studies with a possibility of settling there. I was in love, just married and ready to do anything, so hadn’t thought too much about migrating to another country.But plans changed and we decided to stay in India. When I look back I realise how insanely home-sick I would have been. I need people around me, a lot of them and often. I need the familiarity your family offers and not once every Christmas, but at least once every two months. Luckily, the entire extended family on my husband’s side is equally awesome, and I am glad that my kids will grow up with the same fun and euphoria with their cousins and doting uncles, aunts and grandparents.

Touchwood.

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And I had my eyes on this Barbie Doll cake for a long time now. I researched all the various methods – with mold, without mold, with fondant, buttercream, and whipping cream, Barbie with legs, without legs and a dozen other related things. Prima-facie it looked like a lot of work, but when I got down to it, it took not more than 4 hours from start to finish.

It was my nine-year old cousin sister’s birthday and all of us had our regular bi-monthly get-together. What better day than this to make this Strawberry pink Barbie cake!

Barbie cake

My cousin loved it and all of them stayed glued near the cake, waiting for a go-ahead to cut it and devour.

I made this one without a mold and used whipping cream for the gown. This underlying cake is really easy to make and this recipe is a keeper.

Barbie Doll Cake

What you will need :

  • 1 cup softened room temperature butter
  • 2 cups caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup hot milk
  • 2 and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon Strawberry essence
  • 2 drops red food color
  • a pinch of salt is using unsalted butter

For icing :

  • 500 ml whipping cream (I use Tropolite)
  • 4 teaspoon icing sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon strawberry essence
  • 2-3 drops of red food color

What to do :

Cake

  1. Pre-heat oven to 170C.
  2. Cream butter with an electric beater or a whisk till pale and light. Add sugar and beat till creamy.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, till fully incorporated.
  4. Add the milk, strawberry essence and red food color and beat well.
  5. Combine the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder and baking soda in another bowl, sift it once and keep it ready.
  6. Then with a spatula, fold in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, half a cup at a time, till there are no more streaks of flour.
  7. Now you can either use three 18-20 cm diameter round cake pans and then cut the excess of two cakes to make it a dome, or use three pans of decreasing diameter. I had floral aluminum pans 20, 18 and 15 cm each and I used them.
  8. Line the bottom of the pans with a parchment paper and butter the sides.
  9. Carefully fill the pans with the batter till 1/2 or 1/3 full, smoothen the top with a spatula and put it to bake at 170C for 20-25 minutes, till a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  10. Once baked, let the cakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then unmold them and let them cool completely on a wire rack.

Icing

  1. To make the icing, whip the cold cream till soft peaks, then add the sugar and beat till it forms hard peaks. Add the strawberry essence and red food color and whisk till fully incorporated.

Assembly

  1. Once cakes have fully cooled, cut the dome if any with a serrated knife, so that you have three layers of flat cakes.
  2. Take a cardboard cake board, spread some icing in the centre and place the biggest cake on it, so that it does not leave the board while icing. Take a few strips of parchment paper and place it securely between the cake and the cake board, so that any icing which gets dropped does not soil the cake board.
  3. Give a crumb coat to the cake, which is basically a thin layer of icing to seal the crumbs in, so that they do not interfere with the rest of the icing on the layers.
  4. Repeat the same procedure with the other two layers.
  5. Keep the cake in the fridge for 15-20 minutes for the crumb coat to settle.
  6. Meanwhile check the height of the three layers of cakes and accordingly you can put the entire legs of the barbie in the centre of the cake, or remove the legs. I had only 10 cms of cake layers, hence I removed the legs and made a hole in the top-most cake layer with an apple corer (or a simple knife) and place the top half of the barbie in the cake, covered till waist. (Remember to remove the clothes of the barbie and to tie up the hair with a saran wrap on top).
  7. Then give a generous layering of icing to the entire cake and smoothen the icing for it to resemble an upturned bowl. Add/reduce icing wherever necessary.
  8. With a piping bag and a nozzle of choice, pipe the decoration of the barbie gown on the cake. Be careful to cover it entirely.
  9. Then place the barbie on top of the cake in the already prepared slot and with the smallest star nozzle, pipe a dress on the body of the barbie.
  10. Remove the parchment paper in the bottom, give finishing touches to the barbie and you doll cake is ready!
Barbie cake crumb coat

Covering the layers in a crumb coat

Inserting the barbie

Making an indent in the centre for the barbie

Barbie cake assembly

Covering the cake with cream and decoration

In a few simple steps, your Barbie Doll cake is ready! 🙂

Note :

  1. You can double the cake recipe and make taller cakes, to fit in the entire Barbie with the legs.
  2. The color and flavoring of the cake and cream can be changed to whatever you like.

Doll Cake

Chocolaty Chocolate Cake

There must rarely be anyone who doesn’t like chocolate cake. And everyone has a perfect chocolate cake recipe to go to every now and then. I think i found mine this time. I had to make two versions of it, increasing the egg content to get a moist crumb. The egg white of an additional egg did the trick.

My twelve-year-old cousin came over to help me bake the cake for another cousin’s birthday party and oh boy, we had a blast. Dipping our fingers in the chocolate ganache (icing) and testing for that perfect ‘chocolaty taste’ . I personally think, chocolate tastes better off the fingers .. What say?

Oven fresh moist cake topped with deep and dark chocolate. This is what Sunday mornings should be.

chcolate cake piece

Now the amount of chocolate ganache icicng can be varied based on personal taste, but its always good to make a little more, which can be used on ice creams later on.

For the chocolate cake you will need :

125g flour (maida)
30g cornflour/cornstarch
40g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

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