27 April 2012

Glazed Key Lime Cake

Have you had a good lemon cake that was really lemony? I haven't and so when i bumped into this recipe i just HAD to make it. The thing is, there is a wedding coming up in December and i have some major post-pregnancy fat the size of a dirt truck tires around my waist and so i'm like slightly totally obese. For obvious reasons hubby and i have consciously been cutting down on our rice intake and also sweet treats. I do have a lot to shed..phew!!!

Thankfully i haven't been so kicked about cakes and cookies lately and so it was good. BUT today it was a different story, i craved and craved for something sweet & sour, in a really non-pregnant sort of way ;) and then i saw this and i knew i had to bite into this today or else i'd die :).

Why this cake? Because it has two things i love in it, Lemon & Honey. Back at home we get lemon the size of oranges, it is juicy, sour with a tinge of sweetness and amazing scent... sniff.. sniff.

Ukhrul District in Manipur, inhibited by the Tangkhul Nagas, celebrates Lemon Festival every year in the month of January...that is how much we north-easterners love lemon. Unfortunately, lemon do not even exist down south, all we get are these tart and small lime. I have lived in Bangalore for 5 years and now in Hyderabad and am yet to spot any lemon...so i guess it is non existent this side of the country.

 Lemon Tree in Ukhrul District. See the size? What did i tell ya...
Coming back to the cake, you should check Elise at Simply Recipes, the source, the power, the hand behind this cake recipe. She made a loaf out of this recipe but yea, me being the rebel, decided to make a bunt cake. Bunt, loaf or round, it will just be one great lemony treat.

11/2 Cup - Plain Flour
1/2 Tsp - Ground Cardamom
1 Tsp - Baking Powder
8 Tbsp - Butter (i used salted Amul butter)
1 Cup minus 1 Tbsp - White Sugar ( the limes are tart so you do need this much sugar)
1 Tbsp - Honey
2 - Eggs
1 Tbsp - Lime/Lemon Zest
1/2 Cup - Whole Milk
For the Syrup/Glaze:
1/4 Cup - Lime Juice
1/3 Cup - White Sugar
1 Tbsp - Honey

Preheat oven at 180 C, grease a bunt pan and keep aside.
Sieve the first 3 ingredients and keep aside.
Cream the butter, add sugar and honey and beat until creamy.
Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition to incorporate, the add the milk, mix and then fold in the lime zest and give it a gentle mixing using a spatula.
Add this wet mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and blend till smooth.

Pour the batter into the bunt pan, smoothen the surface of the cake and bake it in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes (baking time will differ and depend on different oven temperature) or till a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
While the cake is baking, prepare the glaze by adding all the ingredient into a sauce pan and boiling till all the sugar is dissolved. Keep aside.

Once cake is done, pock holes using a toothpick or skewer or a tip of a knife (like me :0) and spoon the syrup all over the cake, while the cake is still in the pan and hot. Then let cool for sometime, invert, cut and gobble.

To celebrate the sweet ( i have a loving and very considerate husband and a healthy son) and sour ( i am obese) in our life, this is the perfect cake. Enjoy!

20 April 2012

Bread Obsession: Easy-Peasy Sweet Buns

So it's like this...ever since i signed a peace treaty with yeast (read fresh yeast-dry yeast is yet to be conquered) ans learned to make my own bread, i have NEVER bought any bread from the bakery or the supermarket again. Did i hear a roar of applause?? Thank you! Thank you! i humbly take my bow...eh! 

I cannot emphasize enough, the sheer joy of making ones own loaf of bread or buns. It is truly therapeutic (for me), i mean...like... if i am frustrated battling my 2 year old..i make bread. Husband is too distracted watching television and go, "umm? aha? umm..", even when you have finished vending out your frustration dealing with inefficient help-at-hand (can you beat the irony?) sigh!- make that bread. I know i am crazy, but when i take out my frustration on the dough...magic happens - it makes for a good bread. Somehow the creation and recreation of this beauty  makes me smile and forget all my frustration in life. Is life treating you unfairly??? Let's make a loaf of bread or maybe a basket of buns...it is and will be an exhilarating experience. Let's get yeasty-dirty.

This is the second time i am making these buns. The first time was during the passion week, i made it exactly like the original recipe with raisins and various spices, this basket full of buns was from then. We all loved it so much so i decided to make it again yesterday, but this time i kept it plain and this morning it is over (i made around 20 buns), just a testament of how much this family is such a baddy-bready family :). 

The recipe is adapted from pioneer woman, she is one gorgeous and wacky person that needs no introduction in the world of food blogging. I love her and love all those diet-killing food she dishes up at her site. As you go about making these buns, you'll realize that it is such a bindaz-fuss-free recipe. I made it with the raisins and spices for the passion week baking but made it plain for this post, either ways it is one easy and absolutely lovely recipe. Do give it a shot if you are reading this :).

3 Cups + 1/2 Cup - Plain Flour
2 Cups - Full Cream Milk
1/2 Cup - Veg' Oil
1/2 Cup - Sugar
15 g - Fresh Yeast
1/2 Tsp - Salt
1/2 Tsp - Baking Powder (heaping)
1/2 Tsp - Baking Soda (scant)

For the Glaze:
1 Whole - Egg White
1 Tbsp - Milk

To proof the yeast, heat about 1/4 Cup of  milk for 10 minutes in the microwave, add about a teaspoon of honey and add the fresh yeast. Stir to mix and leave it aside to froth.

Sieve 3 cups of flour and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl sieve the 1/2 cup flour, baking powder and baking soda and keep aside.
Warm the remaining milk for 10-20 minutes in the microwave, add sugar and stir to dissolve sugar, add   the oil and stir to combine.

Pour the yeast as well as the milk and oil mixture over the flour and salt mixture and combine using a wooden spoon. It will be a sticky dough. Once properly combined, cover the bowl with a lid or kitchen towel and allow it to rise or double in size ( about 30 mins to 1 hour).

Once doubled in size add the remaining flour mixture to the bun dough and use your hand to combine.
Grease around 3 cookie sheets or steel plates, like me :) and keep aside.
Now pull off  dough, the size of a golf ball or bigger and roll into a ball and arrange it on the prepared tray until all the dough is used up.

Cover the dough crowded trays with a long clean towel or individual towels and allow the rise or doubling in size to happen again (20-30 mins).
Preheat your oven at 180C. Whisk the egg white and milk till combined for the glazing phase:).
Once the buns double in size, brush each buns with the egg-wash using a pastry brush and bake it in the preheated oven for 14-15 minutes.
Let cool for a bit and then attack the yummies :).

Simply simple right! Now just imagine if everything in life was this easy and nice and sweet? ummmm.. Let it rain buns in your kitchen this weekend...Cheers to a great weekend!

17 April 2012

Cocoa Brownie

Believe it or not this is the second time i made brownies. If you take a peek at my recipe index you will notice a long list of cakes and cookies but not a single brownie recipe (until now that is ;0), and i wonder why i have never attempted to bake more brownies considering i love it, especially with some vanilla ice-cream :).

I made an egg-less brownie long time back, but i gotta tell ya..it was bad ( what was i thinking????). I don't mind egg-less cakes and cookies, and they are often great tasting BUT egg-less brownie....am not venturing that road again ;). This recipe is Alton Brown's and it has been sitting in my to-do list for the longest of time and i finally made it last weekend. 

Frankly, i was a little skeptical about making brownies with cocoa powder but i told me-self ' it is Alton Brown's recipe after all, so lemme just try....ONCE' (so i thought). The brownie, to my surprise, turned out  really crisp on top but moist and irresistibly chocolaty and oh..so..good and my toddler thoroughly loved it and so did the rest of us. 

If you are a brownie kinda person, you got-to try this. I tweaked the recipe (just a-bit) to my liking and yes! this recipe is a definite keeper.

1/2 Cup - Flour
11/2 Cup - Cocoa Powder (i used Hershey's)
3/4 Cup - Cooking Butter, Melted
4 nos - Eggs
11/4 Cup - Damera Sugar ( if you prefer more sugar add 1 Cup instead of 1/4 Cup)
2 Tsp - Vanilla Extract
Salt - A pinch

Preheat oven at 150 C and grease an 8" square pan (i just used a regular round steel plate).
Sieve the flour and cocoa powder and keep aside.
In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar, then add vanilla essence and the eggs, one at a time, and blend till well combined.
Pour the wet mixture over the dry and blend till well combined.
Pour the brownie batter onto the greased baking pan and bake it for a good 30 - 35 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the middle come out clean.
Let cool completely, cut into squares, rectangles or whatever shape you want and enjoy. 

It doesn't hurt to dust some icing sugar over it or brave an extra calorie step and pipe some whipped cream on top or a simple scoop of vanilla ice cream :D.

13 April 2012

Lima Beans Curry with Smoked Beef - Cooking without Oil - A Rongmei Traditional Dish

This dish is a typical Rongmei Naga dish. Back in my hometown, in Tamenglong, we use fermented lard (gunh-nam pui) or smoked meat or fish to add extra flavor when preparing vegetable curries. What ground spices are to the people in mainland India, smoked meat or fermented lard is to us hilly folks ;)). 

Potatoes are used as the thickening agent in our style of cooking. What would this world be without the good ole' potato, i do not wanna know. If you can get your hands on new baby potatoes, nothing like it for this dish. I served it over hot rice but you can have this as a stew and enjoy it with home-made fresh bread.

The smoked beef and the organic turmeric powder (locally sourced) were lovingly parceled across by  my cousin sister residing in Shillong. It is indeed a dish packed with lots of love :D. 

As you read  how it is cooked, you will realize that this is a very simple dish to prepare and not to forget healthy. A definite comfort food when you feel a wee bit low thinking of home :D.

250 g - Lima Beans, ends trimmed and left whole
200 g - Smoked Beef, cubed
2 - Potatoes, cubed
1 - Onion, diced
1 - Whole Garlic, crushed
3 - Tomatoes, chopped
1 - Green Chilli
4 - Dried Chillies
1 Tsp - Organic Turmeric Powder
3 Tsp - Salt
500 ml - Water
Thumb sized ginger smashed
Fresh chopped coriander for garnish

Pour all the water in a cooking pot and turn on the heat to full. Add the rest of the ingredients except the lima beans and cook on high heat till the the water starts boiling, reduce heat to medium and cooked covered till the meat becomes tender (about 30-40 minutes). Make sure you stir over and over. Once the meat is tender, put the beans into the pot, stir and close lid and cook for another 10-15 minutes or till the beans are cooked. Garnish with the chopped coriander and serve it with hot rice and dried fish chutney. 


10 April 2012

Bread Obsession - Braided Bread

Easter Sunday was one super busy day. I spent the whole morning cooking and baking, exhausting BUT it was real fun. We had a friend over for dinner and so it was a mad rush in the morning getting dinner also ready along with lunch but all the effort was worth it as we were able to enjoy a lovely and relaxed evening. I'll soon   share the recipe of the mutton stew my hubby made for dinner, it was soooooo good with fresh bread. I'm not a big mutton fan but that stew was awesome.

Back to my bread obsession. Like i said earlier, i was determined to crack the bread making code before Passion Week and so since my dear friend Naro Lee told me that the recipe she gave me was an absolute success i gave it a go. My heart and spirit sank to the deepest bottom of the ocean when it turned hard as stone and uncooked inside. I was devastated. Then on re-investigating the steps i realized that my yeast did not froth and so my dough did not double in size and also i did not knead my dough long enough.

This time round i used fresh yeast that my MIL picked up for me from the bakery in out area. I actually wanted dry yeast but somehow she ended up getting me fresh yeast. The original recipe called for Active Dry Yeast and so please feel free to use that.

1 + 2/3 Cups - Plain flour, plus extra for dusting

1/2 Tsp - Salt
2 Tbsp - Milk Powder, i used Nestle Everyday Dairy Whitener
1 ½ Tbsp - White Sugar
1 Tsp - Active Dry Yeast  or 5 g - Fresh Yeast
1 Tsp - Honey
3/4 Cup - Lukewarm Water
2 Tbsp - Vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing

For Egg Wash:
1 - Egg Yolk
1/2 Tbsp - Milk
1/2 Tbsp - Sugar
Oats or Sesame seeds to sprinkle on top

Heat 1/4 cup of water in the microwave for 10 seconds, add a teaspoon of honey, stir and then add the yeast. Stir again to mix the yeast with the water and leave it  for few minutes till it start to froth.

Sieve the flour, salt, and milk powder in a bowl, make a well in the middle and add the frothy-yeasty mixture  plus the remaining water and vegetable oil. Using a wooden spoon stir till the dough comes together and comes off from the side of the bowl.

Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface and knead it till smooth and stretchy, about 10 minutes (if dough breaks when you pull you need to knead it for longer).  

Oil a bowl and keep aside.Shape the dough and put the dough into the oiled bowl and cover it with a lid or a towel and let it double in size, for about 1 hour.

One doubled, punch the dough down, turn it out into a lightly floured surface and knead for about 1 or 2 minutes. Then divide the dough into 3 equal balls, shape it into ropes of about 10-12 inches long. Now pinch the ropes together on one side and then braid the dough. Pinch the other end also together and tuck it underneath.

Oil a baking tray, i used a regular steel plate, and gently place the braided bread onto the tray, cover with a towel and let rise again for another 30 minutes or till doubled in size.

Preheat oven at 180 degree C if using microwave-oven or 200 degree C if using regular oven.

Whisk the egg yolk with the milk and sugar until combined. Using a pastry brush apply the egg wash over the top of the loaf. Sprinkle whatever topping you wanna use, in this loaf i used oats.

Bake in the loaf for 15-16 minutes in a microwave-oven and 25-30 minutes in a regular oven. You know it's done when loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

Transfer the loaf into a rack or place it over a tea towel to cool for sometime. 


4 April 2012

Passion Week Baking!!

I'm over come by excitement as i type this post :D. My bread-making fixation has finally paid off and i can now officially bake a pro-pa, light and soft and sweet and cannot resist another bite Bread & Buns. How exciting!

Set me-self a target, that i have to overcome this handicap this week. Why you ask? This week is extra special for me as a believer in Jesus Christ. Good Friday signify the great sacrifice Jesus paid to secure my Salvation and Easter Sunday signify the promise of Resurrection and so this week is of immense importance for me and every believer in Christ.

Hot Cross Buns and Easter Eggs are synonymous with the Passion Week as turkey is with Thanksgiving. And so i was ever determined to crack this hurdle because i wanted to bake breads and buns and share with family, friends and neighbors.   

Finally! after many an attempt, and many a failed attempt, and many a time of dumping of rock-solid half cooked-inedible finished products in the bin with a heavy & sinking heart, FINALLY! the bread came out ALIVE & KICKING! (not literally, not the bread but my heart, definitely :)).

I'm sharing just the proof of my handiwork for now :D but will post the recipe in my next post. Wish you all a very blessed week. Happy Easter! God's best this week and always!