Luscious Lemon Cake

Luscious Lemon Cake

This is my second successful attempt at making an eggless cake. This inspiration came from here. I have made just a few modifications. In my 9′ square pan it did not rise a whole lot (about an inch) but the syrup did soak through very nicely. It also got a really nice crunchy edge because of the sugar, which crust/end lovers will absolutely go for.

You have to make sure that you have all your dry ingredients well stirred so that the baking soda is evenly distributed so the cake rises evenly.

I took this to work for a colleagues birthday and he cut the cake into small bite sized pieces. Everyone was really nice and just took one first which really just was a one bite size. Then they all quickly went back for seconds. The best part was folks taking a couple of pieces home with them.

 Ingredients

For the cake

  • 1.5 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • zest of two whole large lemons
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

For the frosting

  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon milk (to thin the frosting)

For decorating

  • zest of one lemon

Method

Butter a 9 inch square pan and line it with parchment paper. Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Sift the flour, baking soda, salt together in a bowl. Use a whisk to stir it to make sure you have distributed your baking soda evenly. Rub the sugar into the lemon zest and then add it to the dry mix. Stir again.

Mix the wet ingredients together and pour over dry ingredients. Whisk with a balloon whisk until it is all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and put it in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Remove it from the oven and let it cool in the pan for about 10 minutes on a wire rack.

Start the syrup. Put the lemon juice and granulated sugar in a pot and bring to a boil while stirring to make sure the syrup has dissolved. Cook it just for a minute longer to thicken just a slight bit (you do not want the syrup to be too thick,

it should flow). Set aside to cool.

Once the cake has cooled for 10 minutes. Take it out onto your serving tray. Poke holes with a toothpick all over the cake and then slowly spoon the syrup over the cake. This may take a few goes as the syrup gets absorbed. You do not need to use all your syrup. Let the cake cool completely.

For the frosting

Mix the lemon juice with the confectioners sugar with a whisk.  Once it is as incorporated as you can get it add the milk to get to a pouring consistency. (Taste and see if you would like it sweeter and add more sugar). Pour over the completely cooled cake and spread with a spatula. Sprinkle the remaining zest over the cake. The cake tastes good both warm and cold.

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Intensely Chocolate Cake, Raspberry frosting

strawberry-cake

Here is a cake I have been making recently. I started with inspiration from here. I normally do not use shortening and for the first time used it in the cake and it was really delightful. I then tried making it a few more times and have managed to get the shortening out and added butter. I also went just for regular cocoa as I have friends who are chocoholics but like the milky variety better. Kara’s cake is absolutely delightful and if you do like dark chocolate – it is absolutely YUMMM!

I have made the icing a couple of different ways including one that uses raspberry jam so feel free to be creative. I made this cake for a bake sale and it was the highest bid cake and went for $80. It was shared in the office and got a lot of compliments. I hope you enjoy it as much as they did.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, large
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup boiling water

For the frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 packet freeze dried raspberries
  • 3 cups icing (confectioners) sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon milk (optional, for smoother texture)

Method

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two 8inch cake tins with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper.

Cream butter and sugar for about 3 minutes on low in your kitchen-aid mixer, scrape down the sides if your beater blade does not have a scraper. Add the oil and turn the mixer on again until incorporated about 1 minute. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat until incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and beat to combine.

Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine and break up any lumps. Add half the dry mixture to the batter and on low to combine. Add the buttermilk and beat again to combine. Add the remaining dry mixture and beat to combine.

With the mixer on low, add the boiling water very slowly and gently down the side. This will help your thick batter thin out and avoid the forming of lumps. If your beater blade does not have a scraper make sure you scrape down the sides a couple of times. Let the mixer run on slow for about 3-4 minutes. Your batter will be fairly liquid.

Divide the batter evenly between the tins and bake in the oven for 33-35 minutes, or until a toothpick poked into the center of each cake comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack and let it cool for about 10-15 minutes before taking it out of the tin and letting it cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting

Beat cream cheese until soft. Add the butter and beat until the mixture is fluffy. This may take about 5-7 minutes.

Meanwhile, crush the freeze dried raspberries either in the food processor or using a rolling pin. If you use a rolling pin you may not get a fine powder, but that is fine as you will gets bursts of raspberries when you eat the cake. Pour the crushed raspberries into a bowl and sift the icing sugar into it. Use a whisk to blend.

Add the vanilla extract to the butter/cream cheese mix. Beat for about 30 seconds. Then add half the icing sugar mix and beat to blend. Then add the remaining icing sugar and salt and beat till incorporated. If your mixture is too thick you can add a teaspoon to the mixture and beat.

To assemble

Level the cakes. Brush a little sugar syrup (optional) on the cut side of the cake. Top with 1/4 of the frosting. Place the second cake on top of the frosting and brush with sugar syrup (optional). Frost the top and sides of the cake. Decorate with fresh raspberries. Place in the refrigerator for the frosting to firm up. Keep the cake out at room temperature for about 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

 


Chocolate Oreo Layer Cake

Chocolate Oreo Cake

I was invited to a very dear 11 year old boy’s birthday party. I offered to bake the cake and his mum was delighted to let me do it. His favorite ingredient is chocolate and so I decided to bake a chocolate cake with Oreo’s in it. That was the biggest surprise when the cake was cut – ‘Oh goodness – does it have Oreo’s inside? ‘. I have made an Oreo cookie birthday cake before and used more of a chocolate cake batter but I wanted this one to be lighter. I looked up one of my favorite chef personalities Ina Garten and this is a take on her Double-Chocolate layer cake.

I do not always have buttermilk in the fridge so I keep powdered buttermilk on hand and make it as needed.

I will say it was a hit. The birthday boy loved it and had two pieces. Then when I was taking the cake plate with me. He asked his mum ‘Do I get to keep the cake?’ Cutest thing ever!. I got a huge compliment from my mum. She said ‘Its your best cake ever!’

I am sorry that I do not have the times that I did to make the cake and frostings – but overall prep time should not be more than 20 minutes for the cake and 15 for each of the icings.

Ingredients

For the cake

1 3/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs (room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup hot coffee (1 1/2 tablespoon of instant Nestle coffee)

1 package double stuffed Oreos

For the filling

Oreo cookies crushed
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the frosting

1/2 cup unsalted butter + 2 tablespoons, room temperature
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup milk or heavy cream

1 cup milk chocolate chips or good quality milk chocolate
Oreo cookies to decorate

Method

For the cake

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter two 8 inch by 2 inch round cake pans and line them with parchment paper. Butter the paper.

Whisk dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, sea salt) in a stand mixer. Whisk the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla (I use the electric whisk). Add this to the dry mixture and whisk until just incorporated.

With tongs dip 12 Oreo cookies in the hot coffee to soften just a bit and set aside. Add the hot coffee and whisk to incorporate. The batter will be very liquid. Pour the batter equally into the prepared pans. Distribute 6 Oreos per pan and make sure they are submerged.

Bake the cakes for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean. Take the cakes out and let them cool on a wire rack for about 30 minutes. Run a knife around the edge, remove them from the pan and let them cool completely on a wire rack.

For the Filling

Reserve 8-9 Oreo cookies and set aside. Crush the remaining in a food processor or seal in a plastic bag and run a rolling pin over them till they are finely crushed.

Cream butter in a stand mixer using the paddle attachment. If your paddle attachment does not have a scraper, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl at least twice. Add confectioners sugar a half cup at a time beating well between each addition. Add the crushed Oreo cookies, vanilla and milk and beat. The filling should be fairly thick but spreadable. If it is too firm add a teaspoon of milk to reach spreading consistency.

For the frosting

Microwave the chocolate with the 2 tablespoons of butter for 20 seconds. Then go for two to three 5 second bursts making sure the butter has melted. Stir the butter chocolate mixture making sure that all the chocolate has melted and let it cool. If the chocolate has not melted microwave again in short 5 second bursts stirring between each burst.

Cream the 1/2 cup of butter in a stand mixer using the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the cocoa powder, vanilla extract, half the sugar and half the milk/cream and beat until incorporated. Add the remaining sugar and milk and beat again until incorporated. Add the cooled melted chocolate and beat until incorporated. Again if you feel the icing is not going to spread at this time add a little more milk/cream.

To assemble

Place one cooled cake flat side down on your cake plate. Place strips of parchment   under the edges of the cake. This will help you have a clean cake stand at the end. Spread your filling on the top of the cake in an even layer.

Place the second cake – flat side (parchment side) up on top of the filling. Press down gently to get an even top. Using an offset spatula scrape off any filling that has squeezed out.

Pour your frosting over the top of the cake and using a clean offset spatula push it gently towards the edges and let it drip over. Then using your offset spatula turn your cake plate slowly and using your offset spatula make an even edge. Gently pull out the pieces of parchment paper and you have neat edges!.

Now split the remaining Oreo cookies and scrape off the filling. Use the Oreo halfs to decorate the cake.

Refrigerate the cake for about an hour. Take it out of the fridge for about 15 minutes before you serve it.

 

 

 


Meyer Lemon Squares – Brulee’d

 

Have you had Meyer Lemons? If not, run out and get them! They are amazing. They have the most delicate lemon flavor without being overly tart. We did not have Meyer Lemons growing up and I first tasted them when I came to the US. Now if you are thinking – wait a minute he writes about every fruit and loves it – then you are sort of right. I write about the fruits I love. There are some like the Guava that I do not like. I did not like it when I was growing up and refused to eat it. As an adult I tried it again and still have not developed a taste for it. In the future my taste buds may decide differently but for now ‘C’est la vie’.

I spend a lot of time (relatively speaking) on reading cooking books, magazines and blogs. The creativity is simply amazing out there in every facet of life. I love the fact that there are so many people who are constantly trying new things. For me being in the kitchen and baking/cooking is fantastic therapy. A lot of people think that baking is challenging. It can be a little daunting because you have to get the measurements right (and have a few of the right tools) but you can do it!. Start with this recipe, follow it to the T or make it your own!

I made this for a dinner we had at a friends house. It was a pot luck dinner and it was simple but so delightful. I will say it is best to have these on the day they are made as the brulee cracks really well. If you do keep it in the refrigerator you will have to brulee another round of sugar on top. I really liked using my torch for this one.  You can certainly try doing the brulee in the oven, but only if you have done it before.

Ingredients

Recipe adapted from here

Prep time: Cooking Time:

For the crust:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
For the filling:
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup fresh meyer lemon juice (about 4 meyer lemons)
  • Zest of the meyer lemons used
  • 2/3 cup  all-purpose flour
To Brulee
  • Demerara sugar

Method

For the crust
Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan. Line with parchment paper in two rectangular overlapping strips. This will allow you to lift the entire tart out easily.
Using the scraper attachment (or paddle attachment) of your mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the flour and salt and stir until incorporated.
Press this into the baking pan. I use my measuring cup to help flatten it down. Make sure you get it all the way to the sides. Put it in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
Pop it into the oven and bake until the crust begins to turn a golden brown (15 – 20 minutes). Take it out of the oven and let it cool completely on a wire rack.
For the filling

Whisk all the ingredients for the filling until well blended. Pour into the pan with the cooled crust and bake for 25-30 minutes. Start checking at 25 minutes to make sure the middle has set. To do this jiggle the pan and make sure the center barely moves. This means that it has set as it will continue to firm up after you take it out of the oven.
Let this cool completely and then use the parchment overhangs to lift it out of the pan.

To brûlée

Sprinkle the sugar in an even coating over the top. Ignite your torch and move slowly from left to right as the sugar begins to melt and then caramelize. Cut and serve.
If you are not going to eat all of them that day. You can just brulee the portion you are going to serve.

 


Coconut Cake with Passion Fruit Icing

Coconut Cake + Passionfruit ice cream

 

I love birthdays especially since I get to bake something. Its not all about me, really. Its about finding out what the person likes and then coming up with something for them. Well Lorne loves anything coconut (which I incidentally love as well). So I looked through all my recipes and online to see what was there with coconut and then one other ingredient. I found it – ‘Passion fruit’.

Now that’s a whole other story. If you have been on my blog before you know I love Passion Fruit. Ever since I first had it in Hawaii, I went bonkers. When I returned from Hawaii, I even bought a couple of bottles of concentrate back. Well I found Passion Fruit pulp in the farmers market – and yes they even carry Passion Fruits ever so often. I use the frozen pulp which is a little tart and does not have the beautiful looking seeds that I think scream – Passion Fruit. I found a variety of passion fruit that grows down south, I nearly bought it till I found they are pretty aggressive so I depend only on what I get at the market.

The decision was to make a coconut cake and frost it with a passion fruit icing. The initial idea was to make a curd and split the cakes and fill it with passion fruit curd. Well time on Thursday got a little better of me (sorry Lorne) and I decided to take the easy way out. This recipe is based off a recipe in an Australian magazine ‘Taste’. The cake was super moist and the passion fruit icing was the perfect touch of sweetness and tartness.

I hope you make it and enjoy it as much as we all did.

Ingredients

for the cake

  • 175g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup yoghurt

for the Icing

  • 5 tablespoons passion fruit pulp
  • 1 1/4 cup icing (powdered) sugar mixture, sifted
  • 125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut toasted

Method

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line and grease and line a 9 inch cake pan. I have a silicone pan and do not grease it.

In a food processor blend all the ingredients except the shredded coconut until well mixed. Pour the mix into a large bowl and then add the shredded coconut and stir to combine. Pour this into your prepared pan. Bake for 40-43 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Take the cake out of the pan and let it cool completely before icing.

For the icing

Cream the butter until smooth. Add the icing (powdered) sugar and passion fruit and continue to beat until it is smooth. Add the toasted coconut and stir.

Put the cake on your platter and pour the icing over and spread it.

 

 


Cauliflower Kofta Curry

Cauliflower Koftas

Cauliflower Koftas

So what is a Kofta one might ask, for those non South Asians it is generally some form of ground meat shaped into a ball, that is cooked and then simmered in a sauce. The vegetarian version generally uses potatoes as the binding agent and another vegetable or cheese stuffed into the center. I have made a variety of Kofta’s – paneer (indian cheese) and raisins being popular centers for them. I came across this recipe using cauliflower and since I love cauliflower I thought I would give it a go with a few modifications. And I have a cauliflower paratha recipe that follows.

Ingredients

For the Kofta
1 1/2 cups cauliflower, grated
2 medium white potatoes, boiled and mashed
1 medium sweet potato, boiled and mashed
3 tbsp. quinoa flour (or oats flour)
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp chaat masala
1/4 tsp black Pepper powder
A pinch of Baking powder
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
1/2 tsp kastoori methi
1/2 tsp salt
Coconut Oil (or Olive oil) for frying

For the Gravy
3 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 inch piece of ginger finely chopped
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
salt
4 tbsp. chopped coriander leaves
1 cup milk
1/4 cup cream
3 tbsp. quinoa flour
1/2 cup water
Coconut oil (or olive oil) for frying

Method

For the Kofta’s

Skin the potatoes and boil them in water for about a half hour on high or until a knife goes through them easily. Pour out the water and let them come to cool in the pot. Put them through a potato ricer or mash them with an implement of your choice.

Heat a pan on medium low heat (more low than medium) and toast the grated cauliflower, stirring occasionally. You want to get the moisture out of the cauliflower. This should take about 5-7 minutes. The cauliflower should not brown.

Mix the all the Kofta ingredients together and form into 1 inch balls. You want to make sure your Kofta’s are more firm and not soft or they may disintegrate. Heat a little oil in the pan (medium high) and once its hot add the Kofta’s in the pan and fry turning the balls once they have formed a skin about a minute. Once they are done take them out onto a plate and set aside. Repeat with the remaining Kofta’s.

For the gravy

Heat a pan on medium high heat and add the oil. Once the oil is hot add the cumin seeds and let them sputter for 30-40 seconds until a little brown and they have released their fragrance. Add the ginger (carefully) and stir for 20 seconds. Then add the red chilli powder, garam masala, coriander powder, turmeric and stir for another minute. Add the tomato paste and fry stirring for about 2-3 minutes or until the oil separates.

Add the salt, water and stir to incorporate. Add the quinoa, cilantro and kasturi methi and stir. Add the milk and heavy cream and let the sauce simmer for about 5-10 minutes. If your sauce is too thick you can thin it by either adding water or more milk.

Add your Kofta’s to your sauce and enjoy them with Roti’s/Paratha’s or rice.


Bread Rolls/Pav

 

I love bread and growing up in Bombay (Mumbai) we used to get a variety of bread rolls for breakfast. There were a couple of types one being Kadak Pav (Hard bread) and my favorite just called Pav. The reason I was not a fan of the Kadak Pav is that it had a really hard outer crust. The insides were really super but I just did not appreciate chomping into that hard crust. The only times I did eat it was when I was not feeling well and would dunk a liberally buttered one into Tea.

Some of the ways I would eat Pav for breakfast was with a little butter and then some sugar sprinkled over. At other meals I would love to dunk it in whatever curry we had as it would soak it all up.

Pav’s are also eaten with one of the very popular street foods call ‘Pav bhaji’ – literally translating to Bread vegetable. The vegetable portion of it is a mixture of veggies (tomatoes, onions, cauliflower, peas …) cooked down to a thick gravy. The cooking down is totally dependent on the cook. The Pav is toasted with butter and served alongside to what I consider an amazing dish.

After trying multiple recipes on the net, here is one that I have come up with that works for me. There were 4 batches of this made over Christmas along with the bhaji for our 2nd dinner.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon active-dry yeast
1 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg, room temperature
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 + 1 tablespoon melted butter
Method
Stir yeast and sugar into warm water and let it sit for 5-7 minutes till frothy.
Warm milk to tepid and then whisk in the egg, vegetable oil, salt and one tablespoon of the melted butter.
Pour both above liquid mixtures into a mixing bowl and then add the flour. Knead until it all comes together. I use my kitchen aid on slow at first and then for about 8 minutes. The dough will be smooth and slightly tacky. Put the dough in a well oiled bowl and cover. Set it in a warm place to rise until doubled in size about 1 hour.
Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper.
Dust your counter top with a little flour. Turn out the dough and form it into a rectangle. Cut 12 equal parts out of it using your dough cutter. Roll each into a tight ball and place in the prepared pan. When all the balls have been rolled, cover the pan and let the dough balls rise for 30-40 minutes or until doubled in size.
Pre-heat your oven to 375F.
When the dough balls have risen brush them with the remaining butter and put the pan in the oven. Bake the rolls until the tops become golden about 15-18 minutes. Once they are done remove pan and let it sit on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing the rolls and letting them rest on a wire rack until cool.
The rolls will stay out on the counter wrapped for about 3 days and then another 3 in the fridge. They are delicious toasted with a little butter.