Tag Archives: baked

Mawa Cakelets (a tea cake recipe)

Mawa cakelets

It’s a fascinating thing about memories. How even the most insignificant and ordinary part of our daily lives, gets etched on our minds. And all without a trace, till one fine day, something, by mere remote association makes you travel back in time, reminding fondly of the days gone by.

It was late in the evening and I had just finished making Gajar ka halwa (carrot pudding). As I cleaned the kitchen counter, I quickly put away all the leftover ingredients in the fridge – a bit of mawa (milk solids) and some condensed milk. Too tired to even think of anything else, I resigned from my kitchen duties for the day. The following day, I was back in action to prepare our meals. I opened the fridge to get some things out. Another look and I made a mental note to use these leftovers.

Mawa milk solids

Mawa/Khoya/ Milk solids

Leftovers…yes, strangely something like leftovers took me back in time. Grandmom grew up during the hard times. Probably, that’s why it was so very important to not throw away things that could be reused. Something she had learnt, something she taught us as well. Leftover food would get a new avatar the next day so that we would find it interesting enough to eat it again.

I find no shame in being frugal. It’s not like we cannot afford to go and buy a whole lot of stuff to cook whatever we want, whenever we want. It means we should respect the value for things and not be callous about it.

Mawa cakelets

Don’t waste, I told myself, like my grandmom would tell me. But these ingredients would probably only be used for desserts and having made one just the previous night, I wasn’t too keen. What can I use mawa for?! Not that I did not already know, Mawa holds its royal kingship in most Indian desserts. But I wasn’t in a mood of anything really sweet. A little search online and I saw… Mawa cakes! Why didn’t I think of mawa cakes before! As a kid I had eaten plenty of mawa cupcakes. Subtly sweet, with the slightest lingering of cardamom that are perfect for tea time. While most recipes use sugar, I intended to use the leftover condensed milk instead. If you have some leftover condensed milk and want something light, here is the recipe for the Mawa cakelets.

Mawa cakelets

Mawa Cakelets
(The quantities mentioned in this recipe makes around 8-10 regular sized cupcakes)

Ingredients:

Mawa 100 gms
Condensed milk 120 gms
Egg 1 medium
Butter 50 gms

Flour/Maida 160 gms
Cardamom powder 1/2 tsp
Baking powder 1 tsp

Milk 6-7 tbsp

Almonds, slivered for garnish

Method:

  • Preheat the oven at 175 degrees C for 10 mins.
  • In a bowl, take mawa, condensed milk, egg and butter. Whisk till smooth and runny.
  • In another bowl mix the dry ingredients together. Flour, cardamom powder and baking powder.
  • Add half the dry ingredients to the smooth and runny batter and fold in till well combined.
  • Add in the milk and mix well to incorporate. Fold in the remaining flour mix.
  • Add the batter to a lined cake tin, top with slivered almonds and bake for 25-30 mins (time mentioned is for cakelets and for cupcakes, a loaf may take a while longer)
  • To test the doneness, insert a skewer or a clean knife. If it comes out clean, its ready.

Note: The cake, although baked will look white. For a golden hue on top, increase the temperature and bake on top rack with top side heat for 3-5 mins. Condensed milk gives a slightly dense texture like a blondie. Because it is subtly sweet, it may not come through with the first bite itself, but the second bite onwards you will be assured of its sweetness.

Baking a Potato Bread

Potato Bread

Baking bread requires heart. Baking bread requires muscle. Baking bread teaches you patience. Baking bread teaches you to have faith and surrender to the unknown. And that’s what I learnt by baking bread.

When it comes to baking, I have always lingered around the safer side of cakes and cookies. They never let me down. I did venture out with some advanced patisserie stuff that didn’t go quite right. But the zeal to learn something new still exists and to take it a notch higher in 2015, I wanted to try out breads.

I checked out some recipes I wanted to try from a book that has been resting on my shelf for the last 2 years! *sigh* The Bread Baker’s Apprentice was a birthday present that my friend Manisha had gifted me. Maybe she believed in my baking abilities more than I did. Thank you Manisha 🙂

As a flipped a few pages, again like some unseen universal magnetic force was drawing me towards looking for a simple recipe. Of course the book says ‘Mastering the art of Extraordinary Bread’ and I don’t know why I was even searching for a simple recipe, in the book of extraordinary bread.

So I gave in to a recipe that intrigued me most, because it uses mashed potatoes. Yes, you read that right, potatoes! The book mentions, the potato starch softens the dough giving the bread a pleasing tenderness, and I vouch for it. This was also the first time I used a pre-ferment (Biga).

Biga

Biga

Throughout the entire process I had my doubts, Was the flour enough? Have I added more water? Will the dough rise? But I took a leap of faith and stuck to the recipe (only reducing the quantity by half) keeping my fingers crossed and hoping everything would turn out just right. And boy did I bake some extraordinary bread! And just like that I started believing that baking a good bread at home is possible.

This bread has a hard crust (more like a kadak paav) and is soft and pillowy on the inside. It is perfect for soups and dishes that have some gravy.

Here I have put down the recipe that I used, which is same as mentioned in the book, the only change being that the quantity has been reduced by half and I skipped adding optional ingredients -rosemary and garlic. The below recipe will provide around 10-12 buns.

proofing

Proofing the dough for the Potato Bread

Biga/ Preferment (I made this the previous day and used a part of it to bake the bread. You can store the remaining in the freezer for about 3 months)
Flour 1 ¼ cup
Instant yeast ¼ tsp
Water ½ cup

• Stir the flour and yeast and keep adding water till the dough comes together.
• Sprinkle flour on the counter and knead for 4-6 minutes.
• Lightly coat the dough with oil and let it rest in a bowl at room temperature for 2 hours.
• Remove the dough from the bowl, knead it lightly and place it back in the bowl covering with cling film.
• Store it in the fridge if using it the next day or just wrap it in cling and store in the freezer.

Second proofing after shaping the dough.

Second proofing after shaping the dough.

Potato Bread:
Biga 100 gms
Flour 1 ½ cup
Salt ¾ tsp
Black pepper ¼ tsp
Instant Yeast 20 gms
Mashed Potatoes ½ cup
Olive oil 1 tbsp
Water ½ cup
Flour for dusting
Olive oil for brushing on top

• Remove the Biga from the fridge (an hour before you start mixing the dough for the bread) and divide it into small pieces. Let it thaw at room temperature.
• Stir together the flour, salt, pepper, and yeast.
• Add the biga pieces, mashed potatoes, oil and water and start kneading the dough till it comes together. On kneading the dough might get a bit sticky, and that’s ok unless its very liquidy sticky then add more flour.
• Sprinkle flour on the counter and start kneading. You might have to keep sprinkling flour on the surface as the dough keeps getting sticky on kneading. But just sprinkle enough so that it avoids sticking but do not add too much of flour. You will have to keep kneading the dough for 10-15 minutes.
• Lightly oil a bowl and keep the dough in it. Cover the bowl with cling film. Set aside at room temperature for 2 hours.
• Remove the dough, knock it a bit. Divide the dough into smaller portions and shape them into balls.
• Place them on a lined baking tray and set aside for 2 hours. Mist the dough and lightly cover with a cloth.
• The dough should double in size.
• Preheat oven to 200 degrees C and bake for 35-40 minutes. Rotate the tray after the first 20 minutes for even baking.
• Once done, allow to cool to room temperature (for atleast 20 minutes). The buns should make a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom.
• Tastes best when consumed immediately.

Notes:
• You can use leftover mashed potatoes
• Optional ingredients – add 1 tbsp rosemary and 2 tbsps chopped garlic to the mashed potatoes.
• I stuffed some herbed cheese in a portion of the dough and it tasted just as good. Perfect for a snack in itself.

7 Tips for a Perfect Pavlova

After watching all those MasterChef series, I too wished to be a part of such cook-offs. The thrill of using your creativity and cooking knowledge to wow the judges, and all that in a limited time frame is just too exciting. As a culinary enthusiast, I love taking up a cooking challenge to learn something new. I found a perfect opportunity when Beacon Holidays organized the #TasteNewZealand cook off challenge.

me

The challenge: To cook a New Zealand dish with atleast one of these ingredients – Lamb chops, Lamb mince and Kiwis. As soon as I read about the challenge, my baking instincts took over and I decided to bake a Kiwi Pavlova.

me in the kitchen

Now I have made pavlova just twice and although a fairly simple dessert to whip up, the trick lies in getting the meringue right. So here is the recipe I used and a few tips to help you bake a perfect pavlova.

kiwis

Serves 4-5 people
Prep time: 15-20 mins
Baking time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

2 eggs
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tbsp cornflour
1 cup whipping cream/double cream
2 ripe kiwis
2 tbsp white chocolate ganache (optional)
milk chocolate for piping (optional)

Method:

1. Separate the eggs whites from the yolks and whip on high speed.
2. When soft peaks form, add sugar 1 tbsp at a time.
3. Once stiff peaks form, add vanilla essence, cornflour and vinegar. Fold in till combined.
4. Spread out on a lined baking tray. Bake at 140 degrees C for an 55-60 mins.
5. Allow to cool completely. Almost an hour.
6. Whip the cream till soft peaks are formed, add in white chocolate ganache, and half a kiwi, finely chopped – almost mashed to puree. (for the ganache, chop a tbsp white chocolate and add a tsp of really hot milk, stir till it melts completely)
7. Spread this mix on the cooled pavlova. Top it with kiwi slices and pipe on some milk chocolate.

Image credit: Shanti Padukone Image credit: Shanti Padukone

7 Tips for a Perfect Pavlova:

1. Egg whites…and just eggs whites! Not even a dot of yolk. Start with a clean bowl and separate the egg white one at a time. I use a different bowl to separate the eggs whites from the yolk and then transfer the egg whites one at a time. This is a very very crucial step because if you don’t get this right, the egg whites won’t whip up to the desired consistency.

2. Consistency: Stiff Peaks. Whip the egg whites with an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer on high speed. Initially, it will just froth up and you will be able to see bubbles and the runny liquid. Be patient, give it some time. After about 5-10 minutes, it will start getting white and gradually soft peak will form. Soft peaks is when the hand mixer moves you can see it leaving a trail of its movement. Start adding the sugar when you see the soft peaks. Once all the sugar has been added, the meringue will look glossy. Keep whipping it till stiff peaks are formed. Stiff peaks: when you lift the hand mixer out a stiff peak will be formed at the tip.

Another famous test is holding the bowl inverted above your head. When you tilt the bowl, if the meringue slides, its not ready yet.

3. Once it has baked, allow it to cool in the oven itself, keeping the over door slightly ajar. After a while you can keep it out to rest, but allow it to cool completely. Even though the surface seems cold, the inside takes a while to cool. It is important to let it cool completely else the whipped cream that you are going to top it with, will melt completely.

4. For mini pavlovas, when you hold it and gently knock on the base, will sound hollow. For a larger pavlova you might not be able to test with this method, but an hour in the oven should be just right for the pavlova to bake completely.

5. Avoid trying to transfer it while it is hot. It will fall apart into pieces. After its cold, you can gently lift it or just slide the parchment itself on the serving plate. Because of the weight of the cream and fruits, it is best to put on the toppings after you have transferred it to the serving plate.

6. Crack are normal. A proper pavlova will have cracks so don’t worry. You can cover it with whipped and fresh fruits.

7. Bake the pavlova in advance, top it with whipped cream and fruits just before serving.

Here is my prize from the cook off, a bottle of New Zealand wine, Sauvignon Blanc 🙂 Thank you Beacon Holidays!

wine bottle

You can view the entire photo album of the cook off here – http://tinyurl.com/ounzxy2

Learning from Pinterest…I baked a White Chocolate Mud Cake

When something new starts, I am curious. I wouldn’t really say quickly but I do get on to the bandwagon.
With Pinterest I wasn’t really sure. I didn’t know what it was all about or how it would help me but I signed up anyways.

pinterest

Obviously, the food & drink category was my go-to place. Checking out the lovely pictures that make you drool, Stumbling from one blog to another, getting inspired enough to go to the kitchen and cook something. I started bookmarking ( or rather pinning) recipes I wanted to try. And one of them was the White Chocolate Mud Cake.

white choco mud cake

“Melts in your mouth” was the description. Surely, that was enough to get my attention. Now, I must tell you that I have tried many recipes that I’ve got online. But many a times it doesn’t quite turn out the way they portray it.

DSC03918

I had never baked a cake with white chocolate before. So I felt it’s worth a try. And I’m glad I tried. It truly lives up to its description. My family and friends loved it.

DSC03924

I think it should be called – The Cake that Everyone Loves.
White Chocolate Mud Cake Recipe source
I’ve saved all the recipes I’ve tried and worked well, this one is the latest addition.

DSC03925

Filled Strawberry Cupcakes, Boston Cream Style

Have you had Boston Cream Cupcakes? Well, I have never but I quite like the idea. Cupcakes filled with vanilla pudding. Some day I’m going to try them.

Strawberries

For the time being, I had some Strawberries with me and had this urge to bake some cupcakes.

cupcake

So I just made Strawberry Cupcakes with strawberry butter cream. I used fresh Strawberries…no artificial colours, no artificial flavouring agents!

Cupcaked filled with fresh strawberries

I cut out the crown of the baked vanilla cupcakes. Scooped out cake from the center to make a small well. Filled the well like hole with finely chopped strawberries.

cupcake with strawberry

Put the crown back on and piped the butter cream frosting on top.

cupcakes

And…there you go! 🙂

Strawberry cupcakes