Monday, March 29, 2010

Eggless Chocolate Cake

Chocolate - the mere name lightens up most people's faces. Some miss out on eating chocolate cakes because most chocolate cakes have eggs in them. Here's a moist and delightful chocolate cake recipe without eggs which I got from here.

Since there is no oven at my disposal right now, I went to my mum's sister's place. It was fun baking the cake with Nandini Pachi. She has baked several delicious cakes, and I got some good tips from her.

To frost the cake, I used this recipe. As Hershey's calls it, it definitely is the "Perfectly Chocolate" chocolate frosting. Btw, I have even tried the Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" chocolate cake recipe a few months back, so if you want to try a cake with eggs, just go here.

Coming back to the eggless cake, here's the recipe:

NOTE : You can easily halve the recipe if you are looking for an 8" or 9"cake.

3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp cocoa powder
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 tbsp vanilla 
2 tbsp white vinegar (or freshly squeezed lemon juice)
3/4 cup oil
One chocolate bar (for the chocolate shavings)

Blend together the wet ingredients - water, vanilla, vinegar, oil. 

Add sugar and blend till sugar dissolves.

Sift together, the dry ingredients - flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt.

Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

Line a 9" by 13" pan with parchment paper, or grease it well. (I used a 10" by 11").  You can also use two 8" round pans.

Bake at 350F (180C) for 40 minutes or until fork inserted comes out clean.

If you plan to frost the cake, cut the cake vertically into half, spread some sugar syrup on the top of one half (spreading sugar syrup is optional. It gives you a softer cake).

Spread the frosting on it, place the other half upside down on the first, spread sugar syrup on top and frost the cake all over. And after your are completely done, lick the spatula. It's understandable.

[If you are using two 8" round cakes, then spread sugar syrup and frosting on one, place the other cake on top of it and frost all over].

Chocolate frosting:
1/2 cup butter (I used the 100g pack)
2/3 cup Hershey's cocoa (I used cadbury's)
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Melt butter. Add cocoa power, sugar, vanilla. Add milk little by little and blend well. Keep scraping the sides to make sure all the ingredients blend in well.

Make sure you don't add too much milk, the frosting will become runny and you will not be able to spread it easily. 

Chocolate Shavings:
Take a block of chocolate (I used semi sweet cooking chocolate at room temperature). Place a parchment paper (or any paper for that matter) on the table, under the chocolate. With a peeler, scrape the chocolate, starting from the edges, and let the curls fall on the paper. 

Decorate the cake with the chocolate shavings.

Update : I baked this cake for my son's birthday party. I made two cakes of two layers each (yes, I made four cakes totally, I was just scared we would run out of cakes!) and made four batches of the same icing. I also used semi-sweet chocolate curls along with milk chocolate curls. Here is the picture of the main cake. The other cake was in the fridge as a standby.

Friday, March 26, 2010

My First Bread

Ater baking a few cakes, I thought, why not bake bread?! I turned to and decided to try her Cumin Bread.

I modified the recipe slightly. Here's the recipe:

To 1 cup warm water, add 1 tbsp unsalted butter (room temperature), 1/2 tsp sugar, 2 tsp olive oil and 2 and 1/4 tsp (1 packet) of active dry yeast.

Set aside for 10 minutes till yeast turns frothy.

Add 1 tsp roasted cumin seeds, 1 tsp salt, 1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, 1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour. [ The original recipe calls for 2 cups all purpose flour and 1 cup wheat flour].

Knead really well, adding a little water if necessary. Cover and set aside in a vessel greased with oil, for 2 hours. The dough will almost double in size.

Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangular shape.

Starting along one side, roll up the dough into a loaf, pinching the seams to hold the loaf together.

 Roll over so that the seams are at the bottom. Apply olive oil around the loaf, cover and set aside for an hour. The loaf will increase in size.

Make slits on top.

Bake at 500 F for half an hour. Shilpa suggests adding butter after 15 mts and baking for another 15mts. I skipped the butter and the bread did not turn all that brown. But I have no complaints!

The bread turned out very tasty. Like Shilpa calls it, 'crusty on the outside, soft on the inside'.

Sending the entry to The YeastSpotting event.

On another note, MD was nice enough to shower the Sunshine Blog award on apycooking.

I would like to pass this award to all the new food bloggers, who started their blog in 2010, adding more sunshine to the blogworld! If you are one of them, please accept this award.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Poached Egg Curry

Both my husband and I love egg curry. Over the years, I've been making egg curry the usual way - boil the eggs, cool, peel, halve and place it in the curry. However I recently discovered the poaching method, and thought of giving it a try.
We liked this better than the usual method. The eggs are cooked in the curry, that way they absorb the curry better and are more flavourful. Also, you save time, since you are just breaking the eggs directly into the curry.

The recipe I used was the usual one I make egg curry with. Here it is:

4 eggs
1 large onion
1" piece cinnamon
2 cloves
2 cardomom
1 bay leaf
1 and 1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tomato
1 tsp chilly powder (or to taste)
1 tsp garam masala powder
1/2 tsp jeera powder
1/2 tsp corriander powder
1 pinch turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Corriander leaves.

Heat oil. Add cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and bay leaf and roast for sometime. Add finely chopped onions and fry till they turn brownish. Add ginger garlic paste and  the powders and fry for a couple of minutes. Add finely chopped tomato and fry till completely cooked, about 5 minutes. Add 1 and 1/2 cups water and bring the curry to a boil.
Break one egg and let it fall into the curry. Do not mix. Break another egg and let it fall next to the first egg. Repeat with the rest of the eggs. Do not mix.

Add salt. Do not mix :).Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and check if you need to add more water. Cover and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.

You can mix the curry once the eggs are completely cooked. Garnish with corriander leaves.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Guest Post - Mexican Bean Soup with an Italian Twist

 My aunt Jyothi Prabhu is an excellent cook who loves trying out new dishes. I requested her to do a guest post for me. Over to Jyothi Akka:

I am always fascinated by Tarla Dalal not just because she has popularised our Indian Vegetarian cuisine, but for the simplicity and ease which every recipe of hers portrays. She makes one  feel that cooking is the most refined and experimental of all forms of art.

After trying the  recipes from her book ‘Cooking with 1 teaspoon of oil’ which is a collection of low calorie Indian recipes, I confidently could venture into buying ‘ Mexican Cooking ‘ another book of hers which I treasure .

 Of all the worldwide cuisine, I think Mexican suits our Indian taste buds very comfortably since there is so much similarity of ingredients being used .

This soup is the output of her recipe with a small change which I made.To make it more filling and a one-pot-meal, I added  pasta to it , also red /orange capsicum for crunchiness & green chilli for that extra zing. It was a breezy winter day and one can imagine what magic this hot soup made to  our souls . It was a memorable family dinner to cherish!

 Here goes the recipe :

1 cup Red kidney beans (Rajma)
2 onions, chopped
4 tomatoes ,chopped ( or pureed)
3 garlic cloves, chopped fine
½ tsp chilli powder
1 green chilli
½ cup red and orange bell peppers chopped
2 tbsp oil
1 cup cooked pasta ( I used rotini)
½ tsp any italian herbs(optional) (I used oregano and rosemary)
 1 tsp lemon juice
Salt to taste

For serving
Sliced green onions
Chopped coriander leaves
Tabasco sauce(optional)

Wash beans and soak overnight. Next day, pressure cook it. Reserve the water in which it is cooked, it gives the silkiness to the soup.

In a pan/kadai heat oil and fry onions for a min . Add garlic , green chilli and capsicum and stir fry briefly. Add chilli powder and salt and fry again for 10-15seconds.
Add tomatoes and cooked beans along with its liquid and boil on medium flame for 10 to 12 mts or until tomatoes are cooked till mushy. Now add the pasta and lemon juice. Rub the herbs between your palms and add it to the soup.
Serve piping hot garnished with the ingredients mentioned .

(note : for thickness ¼ cup rajma can be pureed and added at the end or corn flour paste will also do)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Stuffed Bell Peppers/ Capsicum

I love the different colours of capsicum. Green, yellow, red, orange - so beautiful, so vibrant!

I was in a mood to create something delicious out of the peppers and thought of baking them with some tasty stuffing.

I saw some recipes with tofu and rice. I wasn't too keen on rice in my peppers, but tofu sounded great! My mother in law makes stuffed okra with besan, so I thought of combining tofu and besan. And here's the recipe:


4 to 5 bell peppers (capsicum)
1 large onion
1/4 cup besan (bengal gram flour)
1/4 cup peanuts
1 tomato
3 to 4 garlic pods
1" ginger
1 and 1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp jeera (cumin) powder
1 tsp corriander powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 packet tofu (16 oz)
Salt to taste
A few strands of corriander leaves

Method :

Heat oil. Saute finely chopped onion till they turn translucent. Add besan and roast till the raw smell goes off. Add roasted and skinned peanuts. Add finely chopped ginger and garlic (You could substitute with 2 tsp ginger garlic paste). Fry for sometime. Add all the spice powders, finely chopped tomato and roast for a couple of minutes. Add mashed tofu, salt and corriander leaves. Mix well. Remove from flame.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Slice the peppers vertically, scoop out the seeds.

Drizzle the groove of each half with some oil. Fill and press the stuffing into the grooves so that it goes all the way in. If you want to spice things up, you could sprinkle red chilli flakes on top.

Place (stuffed side up) on a greased oven safe pan. (I used greased aluminium foil on the pan). Bake for 35 to 45 mts till peppers become soft. The red and yellow peppers cook faster and get slightly charred - which makes them tastier.

My favourite is the red capsicum. I used to think it was the hottest. But it is sweet in taste and when you bite into the stuffed red capsicum, you want to eat yet another!

Sending this post to Bake Off and Tasty Tofu Treats.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Happy Ugadi!

Wishing you all a Happy Ugadi and a Prosperous New Year!

I will be travelling to India tomorrow. And I'm so excited!! I have lots of recipes in my draft and I'm sure I will get lots more in India!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Keerla Sukke

We recently had Keerla Sukke at a friend's place, with Cheppi Kheeri. I loved the combination! Luckily I had some turmeric leaves in the freezer so I decided to make, what else, Keerla Sukke and Cheppi Kheeri!

Keerlu is bamboo shoots in konkani language. Cheppi Kheeri is another delicacy made with rice and coconut milk. Konkani food is rich in coconut - grated, dry roasted, coconut milk, paste, and what have you!

Traditionally, jaggery is used in the dish which I excluded since my husband and I prefer it this way.

1 and 1/2 cup chopped bamboo shoots
3/4 cup grated coconut
1 marble sized tamarind
1 tsp oil
3 to 4 red chillies
1 tsp urad dal
1 tsp corriander seeds
3/4 tsp mustard seeds
6 to 7 curry leaves
Salt to taste

I used canned bamboo shoots (Chaokoh) from the Ranch Market. Make sure you wash the bamboo shoots thoroughly. Chop them finely. (And do excuse my picture. I should have chopped better - was running out of time). In a deep bottomed vessel, take some water and boil the bamboo shoots. 

Meanwhile, heat oil and roast urad dal and corriander seeds.  Add red chillies and roast for some more time. Remove from flame and blend with coconut, tamarind and salt, adding water little by little. Don't add too much water - you don't want it to be too watery.
Pour the above mixture on the boiling bamboo shoots. Stir for sometime and allow to boil, till all the water is absorbed and the dish appears dry. Season with mustard seeds and curry leaves. And relish with Cheppi Kheeri and pickle :).

Zebra Cake

When I first saw the zebra cake I was intrigued. How in the world did they get the dark stripes in between the lighter ones? Google answered my questions, as usual. It took me to Farida's blog where, with great precision, she has given a step by step explanation of how the stripes fall next to each other.

Here's the recipe :

Ingredients :

4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup oil
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbs baking powder
2 tbs dark cocoa powder *
Cooking spray

Method :

Liberally grease a 9" round cake pan. I used cooking spray.

In a large bowl, beat 4 eggs one by one. Add sugar and whisk until the mixture is creamy.

Add vanilla, oil and milk and continue whisking until well blended.

Sift flour (I used maida) and  baking powder and combine in a separate bowl. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture, little by little and blend as you add. If you add all at once and blend, the flour will fly all over. You don't want the additional work of cleaning the mess! Make sure you scrape the sides of the bowl so that the mixture is evenly blended.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Divide the batter equally into two containers. To one, add 2 tbs of *cocoa powder and mix well. Farida cleary mentions that you should avoid using natural unsweetened cocoa - for two reasons, one, it is bitter and two, the stripes will be pale as compared to the darker stripes you'd want. I used Ghiradelli Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa. Next time I will probably try some other dutch processed cocoa powder to get a deeper shade. Btw, I tasted both the unsweetend cocoa and the sweetened, and the unsweetened is definitely bitter, so the sweetened is surely better :).

So now you have one portion of batter for the dark stripes and another for the cream stripes. Take two ladles that hold abt 3 to 4 tbsps of batter. Pour one ladleful of dark batter into the middle of the 9" pan. Pour a ladleful of cream batter right on top of the dark batter. What the second batter does is, it pushes the first batter and lays on top of it, such that the first batter spreads in the pan. You don't have to spread the batter manually. Alternate with the dark and cream batter like so:

I was holding the camera with my left hand and pouring the batter with my right, so as I was pouring I had to make sure the camera was focussing well. And I took a lot of pictures. So that was quite an adventure! Next time, the cameras will be off. I definitely want to do a better job with the stripes!

Now very carefully place the pan into the oven. Make sure you don't tilt it as you place it.

Bake for 40 to 45 mts, or until a fork inserted comes out clean.

I did not want to top it with any icing, since the stripes themselves are a treat to the eyes.
Since this is eaten straight out of the oven, I'm sending this post to the Bake -Off event organised my Champa.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Basket Weave Cake

My friend Michelle turns 30 today. I wanted to do something special for her, so baked her a b'day cake.

I was always fascinated by the basket weave cake. Since I'm a novice at cake decorating, I did not really think I could do one. But as I was deciding what cake to bake for Michelle, I thought, why not a basket weave!
So I checked youtube and found a few videos on basket weave. Check out this one.

After some research, I found tip 47 works best. I used the tip for both the vertical and horizontal lines, unlike in the video where it was used only for the horizontal.

The recipe I used for the cake can be found here. I used 1 and 3/4 cup sugar instead of 2, specially because of the sweet buttercream icing that would go around it. I also skipped the almond extract, as I did not have any in hand.

As I was blending the eggs into the creamy mixture of butter and sugar, I suddenly thought of making the cake pink in colour. After all, the cake was for a girl and her hubby was planning to get pink balloons anyway, so why not match it?
So I added a few drops of pink food colour while blending. And the result was not too bad!

I got the buttercream icing recipe from the Wilton's website. I did not want the icing to be too sweet. So I started with 3 cups and added sugar little by little till it reached the desired sweetness.

 The first two sets of lines didn't come out too clean, I consoled myself that I was doing it for the first time and shouldn't really let that dampen my spirits (and boy, was I high on it!) . But once I got the hang of it, it turned out much easier. I guess I need more practice for both the rope border and the weave, but I was quite satisfied with what I did :). 

I enjoyed the entire process of baking and decorating the cake, specially 'weaving' the basket. And my friend just loved it!
Happy B'day Mich!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Tres Leches Cake - Heaven on a Plate

I did not know what it was called the first time I had it. I was at a b'day party and  a huge piece of cake sat in front of me waiting to be eaten. I almost swore that I would have just a tiny little piece. And thank God that I only almost swore, because OMG, I just bit into super-tasty, ultra moist goodness with sweetened milk syrup oozing out of it leaving a delightful, lingering after taste that made me wonder if I tasted heaven.
I complimented the host on the amazing find. And then I forgot about it.

Until... I had it again, at another party. So I tasted heaven, again! And that's when I decided, I had to make this cake at home!

Tres Leches is the name - stands for 'three milk'. It's a Mexican dessert, with three forms of milk working hand in hand to give you a a perfect balance of sponginess and sogginess. I googled for the recipe, and out of all the different ones I found, I chose this one.

Ingredients :
For the cake
1 1/2  cups  all purpose flour or  maida
1 1/2  teaspoons  baking powder

1/2  cup  unsalted butter, softened
1  cup  sugar
5  eggs
1/2   tsp  vanilla essense

The 3 milks
1  cup milk
1  can condensed milk (14 oz)
1  can evaporated milk (12 oz)

1 1/2  cups  whipping cream
1/4  cup  sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essense

Method (refer the pictures below for notes) :

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9"X13" baking dish.

Combine flour and baking powder and keep aside.
In a large bowl, with an electric hand mixer, beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add eggs one at a time and beat. Add vanilla and beat further. To this add the flour mixture little by little and beat at a low speed till it mixes well. Pour into baking pan.

Bake for 30 mts or until fork inserted comes out clean.

Combine the 3 milks in a large mug. Poke the cake with a fork several times and pour the milk all over the cake. Refrigerate.

Whip  cream, sugar  and vanilla on medium for 5 to 7 minutes. (don't overwhip). Top the cake. Decorate with cherries (optional).

 The butter-sugar-eggs are working their magic.

Here's the cake ready to be poked. A hundred times!

Poke poke poke. Keep on poking. You want the magical concoction to seep right into the cake till it cries out of intoxication!

And the syrups get ready for their selfless mission of filling the sponge with all the goodness.

Don't worry, it's a sponge. It will absorb all the liquid. The best bet is to refrigerate it for a few hours. And when you take it out, you will not see any trace of the liquid on the surface. Also, the middle of the cake absorbs a lot more than the sides and will be soggier, so feel free to scrape off a little bit of the sides (which can serve as a yummy snack while topping the cake). And if given a choice, go for the middle pieces :D.

Here's the cream getting whipped.

And here's the the Tres Leches cake, all dressed up and decked with Maraschino cherries and rouged with pink whipped cream. Now, isn't that a pretty lass?

Update : I feel fresh strawberries make a tastier adornment. So just chop some strawberries and decorate the cake with it. You can actually cut the cake into smaller portions and top each one with a strawberry. And don't worry if you can't. The cake tastes great on it's own.


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