Saturday, September 29, 2018

Cucumber cake with Gin icing

I Love September! It marks the baking calendar for me. And till March I'll be indulging in one luscious birthday bake after another! Mum's birthday falls in September, and I love adding an element of booze in her cakes. A rather generous element if I may add 😜 
In past years, there has been a very potent Chocolate Rum Cake, and a milder Beer Chocolate Cake. This year was a departure. I had been eyeing Kate Hackworthy's rather intriguing Cucumber and lemon Cake. It looked so pretty and refreshing. And of course, it came with a tempting Gin frosting. That cinched it for me! We had a bottle of Bombay Sapphire just begging to be used. It would be the perfect complement. My folks were less convinced! 
But I was going to convert them for sure. This recipe was popular and there had to be a reason.It was fairly easy to make. So that was definitely reason number one! It looked delicate and pretty. So reason number two. The frosting! Oh soooo good!! That was reason three, four and five! Then, the first bite! A refreshing summer party in my mouth! Reasons? Do we need anymore?! 
To those who are curious whether the cucumber taste carries through, I would say... Yes. It does. But not in a weird way. With the gin frosting and that light lemon aftertaste, the cucumber still remains the star. But the marriage of flavors is just fantastic. And may I add, addictive! Very addictive! I kept slicing thin corners to ward off temptation. Then, kept going back for more. The non believers were all converts. I can definitely see myself making this cake again and again. Coz it tastes brilliant even minus the frosting. So, if you need a wow factor for your next do, this is just the thing to try!

nutty about food 


Cucumber                   200 gm
Lemon                         1, zest and juice
Butter                          150 gm
Granulated sugar         150 gm 
Vanilla essence            2 teaspoons
Flour                            200 gm
Eggs                             2
Baking powder            2 teaspoons

Icing:   Gin                  4 tablespoons
             Icing sugar      200 gm
            Butter               75 gm

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Wash the cucumber. Leave the skin on and slice vertically. Scrape out the seeds and puree. Add the lemon juice. Beat the butter, sugar, zest and vanilla till light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating really well after each addition. Sift the baking powder and flour together. Now, alternating between the dry ingredients and the cucumber puree, add a little at a time to the batter. Mix well after each addition. So basically, add some flour, then mix. Add some cucumber, then mix. Continue till all combined. Pour into a greased tin and bake for 40 minutes. When done, allow the cake to cool completely. For the icing, just beat all the ingredients till smooth and fluffy. Refrigerate till the cake is ready to be frosted. Slice the cooled cake horizontally. Sandwich the layers with the icing. Swirl the rest of the icing on the top. And your Cucumber cake is ready!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Stuffed Karela

Karela or the bitter gourd is not a veggie that turns up often on search engines. I haven't found too many people enthused by the idea of having karela for lunch. And the few who do, have it mainly for the health benefits it has to offer. Not for love of the vegetable. 
I genuinely do love karela. This puzzles as well as aggravates Mum. She absolutely abhors Karela. But love for her only child forces her to dish it up week after week! But there is only one way she deigns to consume it. Stuffed and deep fried. Health benefits be damned!
My grandmum makes this amazing bitter gourd curry with coconut and garlic. But nothing will induce mum to eat that. This recipe was handed to her by one of their neighbours. So for years these were referred to as Chandel Aunty Karelas!
These aren't as bitter as the other recipes. And the tangy, spicy filling is really quite addictive. Throw in a handful of french fries on top, and even kids will have a go!


Bitter Gourd                 6
Onions                          2
Ginger garlic paste        2 teaspoon
Garam Masala              1/2 teaspoon
Pepper powder              1/2 teaspoon
Dry Mango powder      1 teaspoon
Coriander powder         1 teaspoon
Salt                                to taste
Turmeric powder          1/2 teaspoon
Chickpea flour              2 tablespoons

Scrape the ridges of the karela. Slit it vertically and discard the seeds. Rub a little salt and turmeric inside and out. Leave in the sun for an hour. In the meantime, prepare the masala. Grate the onions, add salt and leave for 20 minutes. Squeeze the onions well to drain out all the water. In the drained onions, add all the rest of the ingredients, except the chickpea flour. Wash the karelas well and pat dry them with a kitchen towel. Fill the prepared masala into the cavity of the gourd. Now prepare a thick paste with the chickpea flour (besan), a little salt and water. Use this paste to seal the edges of the stuffed karelas. Heat oil in a wok and lower the karelas sealed side down. Cook on medium heat. You can choose to deep fry these. Or shallow fry them covered , turning them frequently to ensure they are well browned on all sides. Enjoy with some rice and plain yellow dal!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Beer Chocolate Cake

I've been experimenting with beer in my cooking and baking for a while now. I don't drink much of it coz it leaves me sleepy and bloated, but I do love the mild bitterness and depth it adds to food. Before I started the marathon experiments, I had only a layman's knowledge of beer. Pop a can or pull a draught at the microbrewery and really all beer was the same! Right? Wrong!! 
I actually got talking to a brewmaster and was boggled at all the subtleties and methods that differentiate each brew. Roasting, hopping, brewing, maturing... they all combine in limitless combos to bring the perfect aaahhh to your sip! 
When I baked my Beer Bread, I was completely clueless and just reached into the fridge for a Bud. But this time round I was better educated, and now that I understood the flavour profiles, i was confident of pairing the right beer with the right ingredients. 
This particular cake uses the English Brown Ale. The dark colour boosts the chocolate tones. And the roasted nutty malts carry an undertone of chocolate that just enhances the taste of the cake to an altogether different level. 
The best part about adding beer to your bakes is the texture. This cake in particular has a gorgeous moist crumb that makes you just reach for slice after slice. If you think I exaggerate, just bake a batch and try for yourself! 
Now I wish this was an original recipe, however, my inspiration comes from The Beeroness. I tweaked a few ingredients around. Added some and subtracted a little. After all, what's life without a little twist?!

Eggs                         1
Butter                       1/2 cup
Granulated sugar     1 cup
Muscovado sugar    1/2 cup
Vanilla essence        1/2 teaspoon
Ginger powder        1 teaspoon
Beer                         3/4 cup
Oil                           1/4 cup
Flour                       1 1/2 cups
Cocoa Powder        3/4 cup
Baking soda           1/2 teaspoon
Salt                         1/2 teaspoon

Pre heat the oven to 180 C. Sift all the dry ingredients together. Beat the butter and the two sugars till pale and fluffy. Add the egg and the essence. And beat well. Gently stir in the beer and oil till combined. Do not beat or the beer will get too flat. Now fold in the dry ingredients a little at a time. Gently mixing till all is just combined. Pour into a well greased cake dish. Bake for 60 minutes. Let cool a little before cutting in!