My plain Jane birthday cake: Coffee orangette

I may come come up with fancy cakes at home, but I am a firm believer that a birthday cake must be made at home.  I think I get that belief from my grandmother.  She was the first one I saw baking in my family. She would make the simplest and loveliest cakes at home. For birthdays, she would deck them up with  some gems and tutti-frutti. None of her cakes ever had icing or ganache or any frosting- yet they were the yummiest. Happy memories of summer vacations spent devouring her bakes.

February brought with it erratic weather , the child’s landmark 6 months and the husband’s birthday. Determined to bake his bake at home, I foraged through innumerable ideas and recipes on the internet. My search stopped at this. Simple yet impressive, the combination of coffee and citrus appealed to me. This is the 3rd or 4th recipe I’ve tried from Saee’s blog and I am delighted to inform you that they’ve all given me good results. Thank you!

You must hop over to her blog for the original recipe. I made some minor changes because I didn’t have all the ingredients at hand and at 10 PM its hard to rush out to shop. What I’ve changed, I’ve marked out in italics.

Coffee and Orangette cake

Ingredients:
For the orangettes:

  • Peels of one orange. – I had to use a kinnu, didnt have oranges at home. 
  • 1 cup of sugar – I used 1/2 C sugar.
  • 1 cup of water
  • Water for blanching
  • 50 gms. dark chocolate- I had to use milk chocolate since I had only that. I would recommend dark chocolate- goes better with the orange.

For the cake:

  • 2 eggs
  • 200 gms. flour
  • 120 gms. sugar
  • Juice of half an orange- I used the juice of one whole kinnu
  • 100 gms. butter
  • 50 mls. coffee decoction- I used Bru instant coffee- about 1.5 tbsp mixed with a little water.
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2-3 orangettes- I used mined chopped finely to mix with the batter. 

For the ganache:

  • 50 gms dark chocolate- Again, I was stuck with milk chocolate 😦
  • 2 tbsps. cream- I used Amul cream.

Method:

To make orangette:

  1. Peel the orange/Kinnu and remove the fibrous white bits. That’s the bitter part. 
  2. Cut the peel into strips, about ¼ centimeters in breadth. I blanched them first and then cut them to the size I wanted. I think it works well both ways.
  3. Blanch the strips of peel in water.
  4. Add the sugar to the water and boil to make a syrup. Add the blanched orangette and cook till translucent.
  5. Strain and dry on parchment for 4-5 hours.  I didn’t have time so I drained them well and used them immediately. I highly recommend allowing them to dry and set. Mine were too limp and resultant I had to chop them up. The missing orangette strips impacted the final look of the cake. 
  6.  To dip the orangette strips in chocolate, melt the chocolate  and dip strips halfway. Cool and allow to set.

To make the cake:

  1. Sieve together flour and baking powder.
  2. Mix eggs, butter and sugar with a beater.Add the orange juice and coffee and blend.
  3. Add the flour and the chopped orangettes. Mix lightly.
  4.  Pour batter into a lined tin and bake at 170 – 180 degrees centigrade for about 40 minutes
  5. Remove from pan and when cool.

To decorate the cake:

  1. Make ganache by mixing cholcolate and cream and heating in a microwave or double boiler.
  2. Pipe this cooled chocolate mix in a patter of your choice.
  3. End by placing the chocolate dipped orangette strips.

Here is what my cake looked like.  The original one by Saee is far prettier.


 This is a delicious cake. Its got a lovely texture ( the butter plays a role) and the orange marries well with the coffee. This ones going to be made again soon!

 

 

Quick dessert: Chocolatey cake and ice -cream

Hot Delhi summers make you crave ice-creams. And when you’ve eaten too many ice-creams you need easy-to-do combinations that go with ice-creams. Here is mine- a chocolatey cake with nutella and chocolate chip topping served with vanilla ice cream.

I’ve used my basic cake recipe and increased the cocoa content substantially. I then tried my hand at a bit of cake decoration. Nutella and white chocolate chips were brought into use.  For a first time attempt at cake decoration(if you can call it that at all). I was quite pleased. I was more pleased with the taste of the cake and the accompanying ice cream. 20150614_214916[1]

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Tutti-frutti cake

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Never a fan of tutti-frutti, not even as a child, I still wanted to make a small tutti frutti cake yesterday. Browsing through the internet, I found that there is no standard/commonly used/popular recipe. Everyone seemed to have made their own version. So I did exactly that. The results were good and I share them with you here.

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 100 gms maida
  • 100 gms sugar( I used brown sugar)
  • 100 gms butte/ cream ( I used fresh cream)
  • 1 tsp baking power
  • 1/2 C tutti frutti
  • 1/4 C raisins
  • few crushed cashews
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1-2 tbs milk

Method:

  • Sift flour and baking powder.
  • Beat eggs till fluffy.  Add the sugar (powdered is better) and when well incorporated add the butter/cream and vanilla essence.
  • Fold in the maida- baking powder. If you find the batter is too thick, add 1-2 tbsp milk.
  • Throw in the tutti-frutti and raisins.
  • Pour into a greased tin. Decorate with cashew on top and bake at 180Deg.C for 20 mins. or till done.

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The cake was light and the brown sugar added a lovely layer of flavour. If you prefer a richer cake  (tutti frutti cake is better when rich), use butter in place of cream. Also a dash of rum may add to the flavour.

Rum Balls

A recent disaster forced me to think of ways to salvage my not-so-great chocolate cake. The cake itself wasn’t terrible- but I had to cut off its top and sides to frost it.  The frosting was a disaster and I was left with a too-sweet-to-eat cake and a heap of left over crumbly cake sides.

I remembered eating rum balls once long ago. Basically cake infused with a bit of rum, some chocolate and lots of nuts. The perfect rescue route!

After reading several recipes on the internet, I came up with this one.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 C of crumbled chocolate cake
  • 1/3 C of chopped  nuts( walnut and raisin)
  • 2-3 tbsp melted chocolate (Morde chocolate mixed with Amul Cream)
  • 2-3 tbsp rum (Old Monk)
  • desiccated coconut (optional for coating)

Method

  • Crumble the cake left-over with your fingers.
  • Melt chocolate in a double boiler. To get a smooth consistency, add some  Amul cream. I used about 30 gms of chocolate and 2 tbsp of cream. You can moderate this- basically the consistency should be slightly on the thicker side so that it binds well with the crumbled cake.
  • Chop the walnuts and raisins.
  • In a bowl, mix the crumbled cake,chopped walnuts and raisins and pour in the melted chocolate and rum.
  •  Divide the “dough” into equal parts and rolls into balls.
  • In a plate place some desiccated coconut and roll the balls in it. I ran out of coconut so the balls were left plain.
  • Refrigerate for a 10-15 mins to set.

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I got  8 balls (2” each) which was good enough for us. You can multiply  the ingredients to  make a large quantity of  rum balls.  Pardon the picture quality. It was a long day, made longer by the cake disaster!

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Chocolate frosted banana cake squares

Inspiration strikes at unexpected times.

We were sitting through a long official meeting in one of the hotels in Gurgaon last week. The meeting stretched on and on.  I was secretly praying for a break- a hot cup of tea and a little something to eat was much needed.

When a break was finally announced, we headed towards the tea stall.  The variety of tea was limited  but they made up for the limited option with lovely munchies.  There were a variety of cookies, sandwiches and neat squares of frosted cake. The cake caught my eye. They were evenly shaped squares of banana bread with chocolate frosting and a almond atop each square for decoration. They looked lovely.  The image registered in my head and I was keen to create my own version of it.

And that’s what I did last night.  I used my old banana bread recipe and tweaked it to create this!

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The original recipe is reproduced here for easy reference. Since this was an experiment for me, I halved the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe bananas (roughly mashed)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2C Maida
  • 1 ½ C powdered sugar
  • ½ C butter (softened but not totally melted)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ¼ t salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder or cardamom powder
  • ¼ C of dry fruits/nuts of your choice
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • a few tablespoons of milk(optional)

Method:

  • Sift the maida, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cinnamon/elaichi powder thrice and keep aside.
  • Beat the eggs till light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and beat for 3-4 minutes more. Then add the butter and beat the mixture some more.
  • Add the mashed bananas and vanilla essence and beat for a minute or two to ensure even mixing.
  • Cut and fold the maida mixture(prepared in point 1) along with the dry fruits/nuts.
  • Bake at 180-190 Deg. C for 35-40 minutes( or till a toothpick comes out clean.)

On halving the recipe I got a rectangle tin of 6” x 4”. On cooling I cut it into 8 (almost) equal squares. I also removed the top crust and the sides to allow for easy frosting.

For the chocolate frosting I worked mostly by approximation.- mainly because I don’t have a kitchen scale. The last time I had made frosting of any types was many, many years ago so it was as good as starting afresh. I worked based on a memory of a chocolate frosting recipe I had once read- miraculously it worked well for me!

Ingredients for chocolate frosting

  • 40 gms of chocolate (I used selburn which is easily available in Delhi)
  • 2 tbsp of fresh cream
  • 2-3 tsp of milk
  • 8 halves of walnut

Method:

 

  • Cut the slab of chocolate into small pieces.
  • In a double boiler, melt the chocolate till its soft and liquid-y
  • To improve consistency so that you can pour it over the banana cake squares, add the cream and milk.  Stir well.
  • I faced some trouble with my consistency, so its a good idea to try and frost one of the waste crust pieces to see how the frosting flows.  You can add more chocolate or cream as you see fit. Im my case I added too much milk and then had to add more chocolate. The basic idea is to get a smooth, pouring consistency.
  • Once the chocolate is ready, place the cooled banana cake squares on a plate. Using a spoon, pour the chocolate over the squares- allow some to drip down the sides. Place a walnut half on top of the squares.
  • Place in a fridge for a short while to allow chocolate to set.

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I took these  squares to office and though they were over in a jiffy, I realised the warm Delhi weather is not too kind to the frosting. By mid morning, the frosting was soft to touch but  it didn’t become runny and flow down. Depending on the weather, you can consider placing it in the fridge for a few minutes before serving.  I also felt that I should have reduced the sugar content since there was a sweet frosting. For half the recipe, instead of 3/4 C I could have worked with 1/2 C. Others didnt mind, but I felt it was on the sweeter side.

Carrot cake

With winter hitting Mumbai,  the markets are stocked with healthy looking, red carrots. The Dilli wali gajar comes to the city  only during the winter season. For the rest of the year we are expected to make do with the orange coloured, bland tasting hybrid that lends itself beautifully to Chinese cooking  but has limited(if any) use  in dessert making.   

I have had this carrot cake recipe bookmarked  for a long, long time. Since  over a year to be precise. The Dilliwali gajars begged me to turn them into a cake this weekend and here are the results-

 

I basically followed Homey’s recipe but made some minor changes. For the sake of convenience, I am mentioning her recipe here. Changes made by me are italicized.

Ingredients:

  • 1 and half cup APF/ maida
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shredded carrot- 1 large grated carrot was sufficed
  • 1 cup raisins – this was reduced to ½ C
  • 1/2 cup walnuts – chopped and lightly roasted
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 deg.C.
  • Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and keep aside
  • In another bowl combine oil, sugar, eggs, brown sugar, honey and vanilla with an electric mixer. Add the shredded carrot and mix.
  • Then add the flour mixture to the other ingredients and mix until just combined.
  • Then add the raisins and walnuts and mix well by hand.
  • Pour batter into two 8 inch loaf pans. I have a rather tall loaf pan so I managed with one.  Bake for approx 45-60 minutes till a toothpick comes out clean.

Carrot cake has a lot going for it. A- its carrot.  So its healthy. Even if you match up with quantity of carrot with equal or higher quantities of sugar and maida and fat. 😛  B- It has a distinct taste,very different from the regular vanilla/chocolate pound cakes. C- if you live in Bombay you can make it only for two months or so. That fact by itself should up the value of carrot cake manifold.

We’ve been making carrot cake at home for many years now. Essentially our recipe is similar to Homey’s but her’s  is superior on a few accounts. She uses honey and brown sugar along with regular white sugar and that makes a significant difference in the taste. Its amazing how much difference to the overall taste sugar can make.  I think this is the trick that makes this recipe special- using a combination of sugars. Besides adding to the flavour it also makes the top crust more crisp.  Homey  uses baking powder and baking soda while we only use baking powder. May be that makes a difference too, but I am not sure.  I am still to figure out why some recipes call for only b.p. and others for b.p. and baking soda. Besides acting as leavening agents, there must be some functions that they perform individually.  If you have that figured out, let me know please!

 I have always had carrot cake flavoured with cinnamon so I cant quite image it without. You could add any other spice that you like. If you powder the sugars together, combining the ingredients will be easier and faster.

This recipe is a real keeper.  You should try it before the carrots go out of season!

Note to Homey- Thanks so much for the great recipe!!  It was such a hit, I had only 4 slices left to click. Compared to your three, I think I survived better on the picture-taking front. I owe you big time for this recipe.We all loved it(extended family included!) ! 🙂

 

Devil’s food cake

I got bored of Nita Mehta so I moved to Sanjeev Kapoor. (Homecooked, do you hear me? :P) Its amazing how both their books are called Bakes and Cakes. I tried out the Devil’s food cake a few weeks back and it turned out really well- spongy, soft, with a good dose of chocholate. The cake was great but the pictures I took weren’t.  The cake was hot out of the oven and I was too tempted to resist taking a bite, thoughts of taking  a picture completely forgotten. I also had to cut it into pieces to take it to my aunt’s to serve as dessert so the pictures were taken almost as an afterthought.

The cake was well appreciated by all in the family  and most of it was polished off after dinner that night.  Testimony to the powers of chocolate, I think!

devil's cake

Ingredients

  • 11/2 C maida/all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp soda bicarb.
  • 60 gms butter
  • 1C powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 60 gms cooking chocolate
  • 1/2C milk
  • ½ tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Method:

  • Pre heat oven at 180deg.C and grease a 9 inch baking tin
  • Sift flour with b.p, soda bi carb,salt and keep aside.
  • Cream butter with sugar till light and fluffy. Add one egg at a time, continue beating. Melt the chocolate in 1/2 C of boiling water. I did this on a double boiler. You can use any cooking chocolate you have handy-I used Selbourne. Cool slightly. Stir into the egg mixture.
  • Fold in the flour mixture, milk, lemon juice and vanilla essence toll well blended. Adding the lemon juice will cause the milk to curdle but dont bother about it. In the end it all mixes well and produces a great cake!
  • Pour into a prepared tin and bake for 25-30 mins.

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