Monday, May 31, 2010

Triumphs of a New Baker - Meetu

Meetu is a friend at work and Heads QA at Infoedge. She's been a regular visitor at my blog and has recently started baking again.....
Here's her story as a Guest Post

I had been reading multiple food blogs (mostly of Nachiketa & Deeba) for a very long time now. All the amazing pictures that these lovely bakers posted on their blogs would tempt me to start baking again. However, with work, home and a 1 ½ year old child to manage, I was finding it impossible to take out time for cooking. Then all of a sudden, one fine day after reading Nachiketa’s blog of Pineapple Upside Down Cake, I got completely motivated and off I went to the market to buy all the ingredients.

I was eagerly waiting for the weekend now to start baking this cake. On Saturday I waited for my son Ranbeer’s nap time (10 to 12 in the morning). As soon as he was put to sleep I gathered all the ingredients and started with my first baking expedition. Made the caramel for the base and placed the pineapple slices over it and remembered, Oh! I got to take pictures of the baking process. Off I went looking for my camera else Nachiketa would badger me to make it again for the pictures and took some pictures of the lovely caramelized sugar and pineapple base. Am now glad that i was badgered to take these pictures... They are such a treasure....

After the batter was done, I carefully placed the cake into the oven for baking with my finger crossed chanting ‘Oh god, please have this cake come out clean….’ Only if this cake came out clean will it give me enough encouragement to carry on with baking ………. So I waited eagerly for the cake to bake and proudly called up Nachiketa to tell her about my first venture. She gave me tips to get the cake out of the pan cleanly. And viola…………. My first venture was successful and the cake came out absolutely clean and looked gorgeous………….. I could hardly stop looking at it thinking that finally those lovely pictures were translating into reality in front of my eyes.

I waited eagerly for my huby to get back home so that we could cut the cake together. Ranbeer and hub enjoyed the cake and after this there has been no looking back.

Week after week I have been making various different cakes, pies, mousse, cookies, & muffins and sharing them with my friends. The first pineapple upside down cake & the chocolate banana walnut brownie cake (covered with chocolate ganache) went off to my mom & dad.

The chocolate blackout cake went out for my cousin sis Sonali and my neighbors’ and even Ranbeer got his fill.

Ranbeer really enjoyed eating the chocolate cake and licked up all the icing.

The zebra cake & mango mousse was shared with my office friends.

Mocha chocolate morsel cookies went off to my hubs friends house. Banoffee pie had some slight technical problem that the toffee had gotten too hard and so, me & my hub did the honors of finishing it. These few weeks of baking have given me immense joy and I hope that it continues ……………………….

Cheers to lots more Cakes n Bakes, Meetu....

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Daring Baker Bites Dust Making Croquembouche

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

My First Challenge was Steamed Chocolate Pudding & Steamed Apple n Caramel Pudding . Croquembouche as my second challenge was such a humbling experience...... I was very excited about making profiteroles and putting together a pile high mountain of them into a Croquembouche.... But as fate would have it... 2 weekends spent... Alas, no Croquembouche......

What I got was an awesome 'Crème Patissiere' which obviously was flavored with COFFEE :) and some not so great 'Pate a Choux'. It is this batter which is used for making chocolate eclairs... my absolute favorite..... I had huge dreams to taking this tower of goodness for a farewell party....

Getting ready to add the eggs and get a really runny batter.... *Wail*.....*Wail*.....*Wail*.....

The runny batter won't pipe on a baking tray... So I pulled out my muffin tray to give the runny batter some support while rising.... They rose beautifully n I was so excited.... dancing arround the house..... As soon as I pulled them out of the oven, a few collapsed and when I extracted these from the tray..... To my Horror I got HOLLOW shells of pastry... Well, they tasted very nice.... Yet, I know there has to be something wrong I was doing... What... What..... What?????? I was so disappointed....

A phone call to Deeba and I knew what went wrong...... Couldn't make my second attempt in time for this post.... But that doesn't mean I'm giving up..... Next weekend, Another try.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Lemon Cake, Lemon Tarts, Salad Sticks ~ Happy Anniversary Shikha & Sujith n Surprise for Sharad

The little babies were the surprise for Sujith, Shikha n Sharad. Sujith doesn't like chocolate[Wonder how such people exist on this planet] and Sharad is a die hard Lemon Tart fan and loves his C-H-E-E-S-E. They were coming over for tea, all I told them was there will be Lemon cake.... After eating it a few days ago for Sharad's birthday... They wanted it again.... though I'm bored of making it now but if that's what they want, that's what they'll get... I'll have my fun with the other surprise desserts......

Trying to make pastry in the sweltering heat of delhi would be committing suicide cause the butter will keep melting while pastry as we all know needs chilled everything.... So how do we get Lemon Tarts without pastry shells..... Voila... We crumb glucose biscuits, bind them with lots of butter n pop them in the oven with their tart shells......
We get perfect Tart shells... would be a tad bit sweet as i hadn't Marie biscuits at hand while cooking. Glucose biscuits tend to be on the sweeter side....

That's Siya... Sujith n Shikha's 9 month old.... She's totally adorable and has a really mischievous smile...

We had such a good time together.... :)

That's Siya with her mommy n daddy.....

She made her mommy run around the whole room to finish off 1 banana... I think she was upset cause we ate all the goodies and she got just the banana.... Loved the Bunnies on her bib...

Had made a fresh garden salad with Mangoes, Cucumber, Cheery Tomatoes, Olives and Lettuce. Dressed it with Olive Oil, Honey, Sea Salt, Parsley, Garlic and Pepper.

The Jalapeño Cheese Poppers were a first time for me.... Made balls of shredded cheese stuffed with jalapeños, spiced it with the amazing woody flavour of Nutmeg. Deep fried them with a coating of eggwash and breadcrumbs. The warm melted cheese was so sinful....

Then came the Lemon cake... Siya wanted to crumble up the whole thing and had Daksayani[My kid sister] getting surprised n possesive of the cake....

Siya also liked the cake... and wanted more of it :)

These salad sticks have me hooked.... I've been making them very often... I used Cucumber, Tomato, Olives, Iceberg Lettuce and Pineapple. The dressing had Olive Oil, Honey, Fresh Lemon, Salt, freshly ground Pepper, Parsley and loads of Garlic. I made the dressing earlier and let it marinate for sometime before tossing it. Served it in abow and make sticks for the kids........ This fresh salad makes me forget the scorching heat outside.. 40 Degrees already....I'm going to melt pretty soon....
Sending these Salad Sticks to Pia's event 'Innovative Salad Event #1'.
Ingredient of the month- Cucumber

The biscuits shells were very easy to work with. Just put in some lemon curd and pop them in the fridge.... Lemon Tarts.., ready to go....
Shikha's tart has chocolate chips as the surprise element it it cause she loves chocolate.... Quite liked the chocolate n lemony flavours...

Shikha enjoyed her tart immensely but was so stuffed that some of it had to be a take away....

The surprised look on Sharad n Sujith's faces made this so worth it..... They couldn't hide their glee and had huge grins while tucking into them.....

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Lemon Tart Fan Sharad Gets a Layered Lemon Cake

Happy Birthday Sharad....

He's friend and colleague with a huge appetite for lemon tarts.... and pretty much anything lemon... So his birthday cake could be nothing but lemon..... So here I go make Lemon cake again :)

The cake caused such a flurry at his desk with everyone flocking it that it was impossible to keep the noise down on the floor n everyone peeping to see what's happening..... very obviously Sharad had no intentions of sharing HIS Lemon cake..... poor guy ended up sharing quite a bit while saving some for his wife Richa n son who he calls Little.... he's such an adorable kid...

This calender had been my inspiration for ringing in summers n with it this lemon cake.... am just in love with these fresh bright colours.... They make the world a better place to live in....

The Lemon Cake's recipe is the one I made for Shuchi, with the added lemony flavour as I has special instructions from sharad... "Please slice the cake and put lots of the syrup in the middle aswell"... Aye.. Aye... Captain.....

So readers tell, have you had to share something yummy which you didn't want to? what did you do so save the yummy last bite and not share the goodies?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Haroun n the Sea of Stories Inspires Vibha's Hoopoe Lemon Cake

Cake is "Khattam-Shud"
Vibha is a very good friend of mine. She's started a book-club in mall rd where all the kids[mostly in school] would read a book page by page and discuss it.... I'd be hanging around.... books n kids in 1 place has me drawn as fast as a magnet :)

They began reading 'Haroun n the Sea of Stories' written by Salman Rushdie.... Pleasures of re-reading a book which I've read as a kid are infinite..... this is the 3rd time I read the book.... The first time round when my uncle gave me this book.... after the first 40 pages put it away as too confusing [guess I was too young to understand "Processes Too Complicated To Explain"], after 2 years when I went back to Mumbai... picked up again n lapped it up... It's so engrossing that it was finished in 1 night without a break..... The third now when I'm close to 'The age that I am".... not that you all are gonna get the magic number from me.... :)

Coming back to the book.... Salman Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea Stories shows a depressed professional storyteller Rashid and his adolescent son Haroun traveling to Earth's second, invisible moon, where all stories are born. They foil the poisoning of the Ocean of the Streams of Story and rescue a kidnapped Princess, get back the father's gift of gab, and see their family reunited.
Don't want to give any spoilers here, so I'll just intrigue you even more by introducing the characters[Sourced from wikipedia]..... I loved the names they have in the book along with the fantastic locations... Like Valley of K, "a sad city, the saddest of cities, a city so ruinously sad it had forgotten its name", Tunnel of I, Satellite of the Earth's, named Kahani and so on...

Haroun: The main character/central consciousness of the story. A young, curious, courageous, outspoken child. He is said to suffer throughout most of the story from a form of attention-deficit disorder, under whose influence he is unable to concentrate his attention for a longer measurement of time than eleven minutes.

Rashid: Haroun's father, also known as the Shah of Blah and the Ocean of Notions for his ability to create fascinating stories impromptu. He is a professional storyteller who is sometimes hired by corrupt politicians to persuade constituents that they should be re-elected. His attachment to his wife and to his practice of storytelling are probably his greatest psychological weaknesses; when either is lost, he becomes depressed and loses the other.
To recover the latter, he travels to Kahani by a means known as 'Rapture', by which he is able to travel inside his dreams and wake up in the world the dream has created. This method consists of consuming "moonberries, comet's tails, planet rings, [and] primordial soup". Having reached Kahani, he alerts the Guppees to the location of their Princess Batcheat and later joins their army to recapture her from the Chupwalas who have captured her.
Soraya: Rashid's wife, who tires of his imagination and leaves him for the dull and dreary Mr. Sengupta, a neighbor.

Mr. Sengupta: The dreary man who is Haroun's neighbor, and who elopes with Soraya

Miss Oneeta: Mr. Sengupta's obese, talkative, self-important, overwhelmingly emotional, generous wife, who is so disappointed in her husband after he takes Soraya and leaves the city wherein they live that she disowns him and her married name.

Plentimaw Fish: Large, sharklike Angelfish living in the waters near Gup, which is built on several islands. The name is derived from their multiplicity of mouths, through which they constantly ingest the stories conveyed by the waters. Inside their bodies, the stories are then mixed, producing new stories that join the canon of all the stories ever told. Plentimaw Fish mate for life and always travel in pairs, which then speak in rhyme.
The two Plentimaw Fish present in the story, Goopy and Bagha, travel with Haroun, Iff, Butt, and Mali (see below) to the Source of Stories, but are overwhelmed by the pollution and must stay behind the others. After the climax, they are appointed leaders of their species.

Mali: A 'Floating Gardener' composed of interwoven flowering vines and water plants that behave as a single organism. He is one of many, whose task is to prevent stories from becoming irretrievably convoluted and to cut away weeds that grow on the Ocean's surface.

Butt the Hoopoe: A machine in the form of a Hoopoe who becomes Haroun's steed in Kahani. He is revealed to possess a mechanical brain which is capable of almost all known mental feats, including telepathy. The latter is used throughout his role, producing a recurrent joke wherein his spoken lines are followed by the statement that he "spoke without moving [his] beak". This ability also appears in scenes wherein he replies to Haroun's unspoken thoughts, which sometimes move in synchronity with the narration.
He is shown to be capable of flying at impossible speeds, travelling between Earth and Kahani, and answering to any name preferred by his rider. Because he shares with Mr. Butt the idiosyncrasy of saying "but but but" at the beginning of sentences, in addition to some superficial details of appearance, he is called by the same name. At his introduction, he is described as "the bird that leads all other birds through many dangerous places to their ultimate goal".

Iff: A "water genie" from Kahani who accompanies Haroun in Kahani. Iff's task is to control Rashid's supply of imagination, which appears in the form of waters transmitted to Rashid via an invisible faucet by a means that is never revealed, but which is called a "P2C2E - Process Too Complicated To Explain".

Prince Bolo: A possible parody of the archetypal awe-inspiring hero or Prince Charming, Bolo is the fiancée of Princess Batcheat (see below) and the only person to believe that she is a beauty. Bolo is a reckless, slightly stupid, melodramatic figure who is nominally the leader of the charge to rescue the captured Batcheat from Chup

Princess Batcheat: A damsel in distress. Batcheat is the daughter of King Chattergy, ruler of Gup, and the fiancée of Prince Bolo, whose affiliations are unknown. She is somewhat foolish; romantic; reckless; and completely infatuated with Bolo, who is the only person to think her beautiful; all other characters have low opinions of her nose, teeth, and singing voice.

The Eggheads: Originally a derogative name for an enthusiast in some subject, the term here describes the technicians of Kahani, who are white-coated, completely bald, enthusiastic, cheerful, and intelligent. The Eggheads of Gup City are said to be the inventors of all "Processes Too Complicated To Explain", by which impossible feats such as Kahani's bizarre orbit, the creation of artificial happy endings for stories, and the transmission of "story water" to Earthly storytellers are easily accomplished. They are quite in awe of their superintendent, the Walrus, for his possession of a moustache.

Walrus: The superintendent of the Eggheads, distinguished from them by his possession of a small moustache which gives him his name.
General Kitab: Literally "General Book". General Kitab is the commander of the Guppee 'Library', which functions in peacetime as a system of aides and in war as an army. It consists of a multitude of Pages, each of which is a thin person clad in an oversized sheet of paper bearing part of a story.

King Chattergy: Princess Batcheat's father and Prince Bolo's father-in-law, a symbolic figure who forms the nominal head of Gup's government but has little real power.

Blabbermouth: A Women Page of the Library of Gup. Blabbermouth is a talkative, ill-tempered, contemptuous, stubborn, unscrupulous, quarrelsome girl who despises Princess Batcheat, disguises herself as a boy, and is skilled at the art of juggling, which Haroun compares to storytelling.

Mudra: Second-in-command to Khattam-Shud, who becomes disgruntled with his master's policies and defects to the Guppee side. His shadow, like the shadows of each and every person in Chup, can behave independently of himself and is therefore his sidekick.
Mudra himself is an able warrior skilled in the art of hand-to-hand combat. Mudra is nearly mute, being able only to communicate his own name and the fact that he "speaks" by means of Abhinaya, a type of sign language used in classical Indian dance.

Bezaban: Literally "without a tongue", this is the name of the ice statue located atop the Citadel of Chup, where it symbolizes Khattam-Shud's power. It is used as an object of worship by the Cult of Silence. Later, Bezaban is melted and collapses onto Khattam-Shud, killing him under its weight.

Khattam-Shud: The villain of the story, whose name means "completely finished". He represents silence, and is therefore said to be invoked at the termination of every story told. As a character, he is the "Prince of Silence and the Foe of Speech" feared by most Guppees. He is the ruler of Chup and the founder of a religion whose supreme commandment is abstinence from speech.These things are all ultimately destroyed when Haroun uses a substance called "wishwater" to turn Kahani around, so that Chup is illuminated by sunlight.

So the cake has a Black South pole with the poisoned sea of stories and the wishwater is made of lemon sauce.

This Hoopoe is my labour of love born out of Deeba's technique of making cake borders... I just had to try it... Word of caution... pl don't try this method with any intricate design till you've gotten the hang of doing it else you'll end up tearing your hair out like i did and have to re-do the whole design..... I totally enjoyed the challenge this posed... :)

The Lemon Cake's recipe is the one I made for Shuchi, This time round I marbled the cake with various colours to make the Sea of Stories...

Vibha is a total treasure. Have done cakes for her kids, Chocolate Blackout Cake for Tarini and a football cake for Karan.
So readers have you had any strong association with books and food?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

New Baker Radhika's Microwave Coffee Cake

Radhika's my friend from college.... Another one to have a chip on their baking shoulder..... She was also bitten by the baking bug and ventured where Gauri n I haven't been... Baking in a Microwave....

The cake came out very well... clean on the sides.... soft, spongy n in Radhika's words "Coffee n Rum Cake..wt Coffee Sauce Drizzlin'...purely edible!!;)"

Microwave Coffee Cake

Self rising flour/maida- 1 cup
Milk- 1/4 cup
Brown Sugar- 3/4 cup
Butter,softened- 3/4 cup
Instant coffee- 3 tablespoon
Boiling water- 1 tablespoon
Baking powder- 1 teaspoon
Eggs- 2
Vanilla essence- 2 tablespoon

[Substitutions Radhika made- Instead of vanilla essence, added 1 tablespoon of cocoa + 1/2 teaspoon of Cinnamon Powder. Also, added a splash of spiced rum, one can use any dark rum or even sherry would do]

Preheat the oven at 180 c
Grease and line an 8' round cake tin
Sift maida and Baking powder, Cocoa and Cinnamon Powder twice and keep aside.
Dissolve Instant Coffee in the water.
Cream butter and sugar till fluffy.
Add eggs 1 by 1, beating well.
Add rum and mix.
Alternatively add flour and milk to the mix, beginning and ending with flour.
Pour in greased tin and bake for 30-35 minutes
MICROWAVE- 80% for 8 minutes as per the receipe. [Radhika's variation: baked at 180 c in convection mode for 25 minutes.]

Thanks Radhika, It was just YUMMY.... I loved it.... most of my blog will tell u I love coffee flavour n this was a total treat to have, the first cake by rads...... totally awesome it was....
The rum n cinnamon was adding body to the cake while the texture was soft n spongy.....
The center needed some more cooking though.... next time.....
n all of this done in a microwave... like FANTASTIC.... :)

Saturday, May 1, 2010


This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 10; the tenth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

Have you ever had the urge to escape from the mundane realities of this world?

I've had this urge way to often...
What I do is B-A-K-E.... and yes loads of it... often till 2-3am.... It's my door to sanity.... maybe insanity...

Does anyone appreciate so much hard work... yes they do.... which is why I bake for people who I care for... or they care for me, or else you have to be on 'My List'.... What does one have to do to figure on 'My List'.... Go Figure... Please Me :)

What is more comforting than 'Cappuccino Buttermilk Muffins with Dulce de Leche', these stem from my Coffee Mania :) They are simple to make.... Grab a cup of coffee... stare out in the lawn... and wolf down these muffins.... T-H-I-S I-S E-S-C-A-P-E.
I tried them for the first time in my earlier post Cappuccino Buttermilk Muffins ~ Coffee Mania . This time round I topped it with some Dulce de Leche. Gave the muffins a more comforting feel...

These guys regularly flock my desk for goodies... Makes me very happy seeing such Piggy :) , Happy n Blissful looks on their faces.... makes all the effort worth it....

So readers tell me what's your Escape?

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.