Gulab Jamun

Gulab Jamun is the quintessential Indian sweet that compliments all festivals and all occasions. It is available year round and I have not met a single person till date who will say no to a gulab jamun. Surprisingly, it is really simple to make at home and takes an amazingly small amount of time too.

Ingredients – makes 20

1 cup milk powder

1/4 cup maida

1 tsp baking soda

2 tbsp melted butter

1/4 cup milk

1 1/2 cup sugar

1 1/4 cup water

1 tsp cardamom powder

A handful of chopped nuts (optional)

20 raisins/misri/anardana (optional)

Oil/ghee for frying

Gulab Jamun

Sieve milk powder and maida to remove any lumps. Mix baking soda.

Add the melted butter and mix to get a crumbly mixture.

Slowly add milk, a tablespoon at a time, to get a really sticky dough.

Cover and let the dough rest for 10-15 mins.

Once the dough is rested, it won’t be sticky. Make 20 balls and insert a raisin/misri/anardana in the middle. This will ensure the centre is not hard and will also present a wonderful surprise. You can also make a small thumbprint with haldi(turmeric powder) to get a yellow centre.

Once the balls are made, heat the sugar with cardamom and water to boiling. Let simmer for 5 mins till sugar is completely dissolved to get sugar syrup. Take it off the heat.

Heat the oil/ghee. It should be 1 inch in depth in the kadhai or frying pan. Gently fry the balls at a very low heat to get a lovely golden colour.

Let the balls rest for a couple of mins and then soak them in the sugar syrup for atleast 20 mins. The balls will actually double in size at this stage.

Sprinkle with chopped nuts before serving.

 

 

 

Cherry Tart

It is a second winter in London and the elusive sun was reminding me of lovely summer tarts so I dug out some morello cherries from deep down in the freezer and whipped up a cherry frangipani tart (used up my almond meal too).

Cherry Frangipani Tart

Pie crust – Ingredients

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup butter

1 tbsp sugar

Cut butter into small cubes and mix with the flour to get a crumbly mix. Add sugar and gently try to bring the dough together. Add a few tablespoons of cold water if needed. Cover and refrigerate the dough for 30 mins.

Roll out the dough into a circle. Grease the tart pan and line it with the dough.

Place a square of parchment paper on the pan and pour rice or kidney beans on it to blind bake the pie crust to prevent puffing up. Bake for 20 mins at 180C. Remove the parchment paper and bake for another 5 mins to get  a nice golden crust.

Keep aside to cool.

Filling – Ingredients

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup almond meal

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 egg

2 cups morello cherries

1 tbsp flour

Beat the egg and cream it with butter and sugar. Add the flour and essence. Mix in the almond meal.

Spread on the pie crust.

Line the filling with cherries. You can use any other fruit you like but the cherries are a perfect balance of sour with the sweetness of frangipani filling.

Bake for 20-25 mins. Let cool completely before cutting and serving.

Bag Cake

This is my first fondant work. The cake is baked in a round tin and then cut in the middle. The two pieces are stood with their backs against each other and stuck with buttercream icing. After an initial crumb coating, the fondant is directly placed on the cake.

The white fondant is cut individually for front, back and top by tracing the cake outline on a kitchen towel. Detailing is done with the pink fondant. The flower is made with fondant itself. The individual pieces of fondant are stuck using water.

The cake is a vanilla cake with layered rainbow colours.

Recipe for vanilla cake:

1 ½ cups flour
¾ cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup milk
½ cup oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence

Recipe for buttercream icing:

1/2 cup butter

1 cup icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

2-3 tsp milk

Rainbow Cake

Have fun with kids or surprise everyone with a rainbow cake. Simply make a basic vanilla cake mixture and divide it into 7 parts. Add food colouring for VIBGYOR – Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange and Red to each part. There is no need to get seven different colours. The primary colours, blue, yellow and red can be used to make the rest of the shades. However, you need to use a lot of food colouring to get bright vibrant shades.

Once the seven batters are prepared, grease the cake tin. Drop violet cake batter in the middle. This will form the base of the cake. Drop indigo cake batter on top in the middle and continue till you have dropped the red one. The cake batter will move slowly on its own to fill the cake tin. You can also start from red and go to violet.

Bake the cake as per instructions and let cool completely before cutting and see everyone’s jaws drop and eyes light up!

Valentine’s Day Sweets – Chocolate covered Strawberries

The ultimate Valentine’s day sweets are chocolate covered strawberries. The ingredients are few and the equipment required is little  but the romance quotient is very high.

Ingredients

1 pack  ripe strawberries

100 gm milk chocolate

50 gm while chocolate

Chocolate covered Strawberries

Melt the milk chocolate in the microwave by heating for 20 sec and stirring and repeating 2-3 times.

Dip the strawberries in the chocolate and lay down on a plate or parchment paper.

Refrigerate till set, around 30-45 mins.

Melt white chocolate in the microwave as for milk chocolate.

Dip a fork or spoon in the white chocolate and swirl it on the strawberries. Freeze again till set.

Tip: Chocolate nibs or bars can be used. If using bars, break it into small pieces before melting. Chocolate can also be melted in bain marie. If using microwave, be careful not to burn it. Even the most careful of chefs are susceptible. You can also decorate the strawberries with crushed roasted peanuts or coarsely ground pistachio nuts or leave them as is.

Decorating Sugar Cookies

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

It was great fun making cookies and decorating them. This was the first time I made the cookies and the icing and used ziplock bags as piping bags. I am writing down the recipes below. Hope they come in use in future.

Ingredients – Sugar Cookie / Basic Cookie Dough

3/4 cup butter

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream the sugar and butter together. Make sure the butter is at room temperature. Do not over mix. This is to avoid too much air being incorporated in the mixture.

Add the egg and vanilla extract.

Slowly add cupfuls of the flour till it is incorporated completely. The cookie dough should be smooth. If it is crumbly, add 2-3 teaspoons of water. The dough should just come together and not get gooey.

Divide the dough into three parts. Wrap in parchment paper or cling film and refrigerate for atleast 30 mins.

Take out one portion of the dough at a time. Roll it out in between a large piece of folded parchment paper or on a lightly floured work surface. Keep the thickness even and upto 5 mm. Cut out desired shapes with cookie cutters or with a sharp knife.

Carefully place the cut outs on a baking try and refrigerate for 30 mins. This will avoid the cookie from spreading while baking. It is best to refrigerate the cookies after cutting them instead of refrigerating the dough for a long period of time as this will give best results.

Heat the oven to 180C and bake the cookie for 8-10 mins till the edges are lightly browned. Rotate the cookie sheet half way to ensure even baking of all cookies. If you have cookies of separate sizes, it would be best to bake similar cookies together to ensure even baking .

Let the cookies cool on the baking tray completely before removing. Store in an airtight container for upto 1 month.

Decorated Sugar Cookies

Ingredients – Royal icing 

1 1/2 cups icing sugar

3 tsp lemon juice

5 tsp cornstarch

5-6 tsp milk

Food colouring (optional)

Mix icing sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch.

Add milk by teaspoonfuls at a time till you get the right consistency. Add more icing sugar to thicken and more milk to thin it.

To add different colours, divide the icing into separate bowls and then add colours. If the colours are water based, it would be best to add more icing sugar to get the consistency right. Also, it is preferable to use dry colours with royal icing to get desired colour as water based colours tend to become lighter.

You can either use piping bags or use ziplock bags or make bags out of parchment paper also. If you don’t have piping nozzles, you can just snip of a teeny-tiny bit at the end of the ziplock bag/parchment paper bag.

Keep the icing covered with wet towels to avoid drying up. If the tip of the bag gets clogged, unclog with toothpick.

Decorate the sugar cookies as you please. Once done, let the cookies dry up completely before storing. They will store well in a air tight container for upto a month.

Banana Muffins

One of the recipes where overripe bananas can be utilized in is muffins. It is quite simple and makes for a good breakfast or after dinner snack.

Makes 12 mini muffins of 6 large ones

Ingredients

2 ripe bananas

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup oil

1 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla essence

1/4 cup raspberry jam or any other jam (optional)

1/4 cup sunflower and pumpkin seeds (optional)

Banana Muffins with Raspberry Jam filling and Topped with Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds

Peel and chop the bananas and whisk them till they are completely mashed. Add sugar, oil and the egg and whisk till combined.

Now add the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and vanilla essence and mix well. Mix in half the sunflower and pumpkin seeds as well.

Pre-heat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray with paper cups.

Pour batter into the cups till they are half full. Gently drop 1 tsp jam in the middle of each cup. Cover with the rest of the batter till the cups are 3/4th full. Sprinkle the rest of the pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

Bake at 180C for 20-25 mins. Cool completely before serving.