Saturday, August 19, 2017

Gulab Jamun Cake

Traditional Indian Mithai and Cake? Doesn't sound quite right does it?! To most it seems incredulous that one carry marry the flavours of the Indian dessert palate with that of the European ones. But having successfully attempted the hugely popular Mawa Cake, I knew not only was it possible, but it was absolutely divine! A warm homecoming with the heady aroma of baking. 
Now those who have read my very first post, know that baking for my grandfather can be quite a challenge. But I hadn't been around for his birthday in a long time, and I really wanted to bake him something special. 
My news feed of late had been flooded with stories of Rasmalai Cake. While I personally don't enjoy rasmalai, it did give me an idea. I knew I had to make a cake that had its roots in the familiar. It really was a no brainer then. No dessert is ever as popular as the Gulab Jamun, and I knew I had to attempt yet another G-jam makeover.

I started my research and realized there had been a few attempts at recreating the magic, but nothing I looked at really hit the note. I read on and picked the brain of another Baking Diva I know. Also, Monster Munchkin would want to be part of the process, so I needed something simple yet drool worthy! This recipe seemed about right. But it needed a little more to make it truly festive and celebratory. I played with a few suggestions that would complement and not overpower the actual cake. And most importantly not push it to the realm of the too-sweet-for-seconds shelf. 
To be honest, I had my reservations even when I put the finishing touches. What if it was a total disaster? It seemed perfect on paper. The cake was light and baked to perfection. The frosting was not just a mouthful of oversweet fluff, and very consciously incorporated the only mithai my munchkin deigns to eat.  But what if my instincts were a little off! Heart in mouth, I carted it to my grandparents' place. Sure, it looked good. But aah! The all important taste test was still waiting. 
The first forkful, and my grandfather declared it a success! And it had nothin to do with the fact that his granddaughter and great grandson had baked it. For once, even my worst critic (Me!), had to nod in agreement. This was one for the kitchen heirlooms. A dessert that was going to grace my table many more times in the future!


Gulab Jamun Mix             3/4 cup
Whole Wheat Flour          3/4 cup
Sugar                                 3/4 cup
Milk                                  1 cup, warm
Vinegar                             1 tablespoon
Baking Powder                 1/2 teaspoon
Baking Soda                     1/4 teaspoon
Oil                                     1/4 cup
Salt                                    a pinch
Green Cardamoms            6

Kalakand                          200 gm
Almonds                           8
Cream Cheese                  180 gm
Gulab Jamuns                   8 small

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Mix the vinegar in the milk and keep aside for 15 minutes. Powder the sugar with the cardamoms. Sift all the dry ingredients together and give it a twirl with a wire whisk or spoon. Make a well in the center and add the rest of the cake ingredients. Whisk it well by hand or electric whisk till well blended. Bake in a greased 8 inch round pan for 35 minutes. Let it cool completely.
Upturn the cake onto a plate and slice horizontally in the middle. Liberally soak the two halves with the syrup from the gulab jamuns. Keep aside for 10 minutes. Lightly beat the cream cheese with a fork till fluffy. Spread a thin layer over the soaked halves. On the lower half, arrange sliced gulab jamuns to cover the entire area. I sliced my gulab jamuns into three parts, but it depends on the size if the jamuns. Now place the top half of the cake over this layer. The two halves reconciled, it was time for the final touch. Run the Kalakand in the mixer till smooth and mix into the remaining cream cheese. Generously swirl over your cake, letting your inner artist run free. Slice the almonds into chunky flakes and drop all over the frosted cake. 
I refrigerated the cake overnight and then brought it to room temperature before serving. But if your will power is being tested, you can dig in right away!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Almond Cheese Spread

We shook off the snow and tumbled into the house. We were cold and hungry. And you know what's my comfort food on a cold, snowy day? Hot, buttered toast! Nothing can make me feel as good. So aunty put the griddle on and liberally coated it with butter, placing two slices of bread to crispen to that beautiful gold. 
When she flipped it over to the other side, I thought we were almost done. But, nope! She had an ace up her sleeve. She dolloped on some cheese spread and let it just melt into the crisping toast. Dotted with ketchup. And then judging my impatience correctly, let me wolf it down straight from the pan.
I waited for the salty, slightly plastic cheesiness of store bought spread to hit my tastebuds. But instead was surprised by subtle flavours so generously complimenting the creamy goodness that could only come with homemade love!
It was so good, I wolfed down six toasts before my foodie brain could form the words, " May I have the recipe, please?"
That was 12 years ago, and I still slather this spread with the same reverent wonder. For me it has the same joy as my grandma's home made white butter. Another dairy addition to my toast I can't get enough of!
Another good thing about this cheese spread is that it sneakily incorporates the wholesome nutrients that  growing tots may screechingly run from. But ever know a kid to turn down cheese and toast? Nope! So say hello to our hidden superfood friends- Almonds and Garlic. Even Keto Hubby gave the spread a big thumbs up! It was just the thing he needed to jazz his Keto Bread :)
So I'll go steal a spoonful from the jar, while you go whip up your own batch of yummy health.

Cheese           200 gm (grated)
Cream            1/2 cup
Milk               1 cup
Almonds        20
Vinegar          1 tsp
Sugar             1 tsp
Red Chillies   5
Garlic             5
Pepper           1/4 tsp

Soak the almonds and red chillies for half an hour. De-seed the red chillies. Remove the skin from the almonds and discard the water. Run the almonds, chillies and garlic in the mixie to make a coarse paste. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend till smooth. Refrigerate and use within a week.

I used fresh cream (malai) skimmed off the top of our milk. You can use packaged cream as well. 
Since the chillies are soaked and de-seeded, they are not spicy and are mild enough for kids. You can however reduce the chillies if you like.
For the Keto version replace the sugar with Stevia.