Domestic Disaster – Cherry Clafoutis

If I were to write about all my domestic disasters, it would fill a book. Seriously.

I must be one of the most disaster prone person when it comes to cooking. The other day, I made some thing called Achari Biryani. The less said the better about it. Husband and I had to eat because we had nothing else to eat.
People like me, certainly, should not be left loose in the kitchen!

I’d been planning to try baking a cherry clafoutis in Sangeeta’s blog. It looked so delicious, that I saved up some cherries from my last box of cherries. I had planned to bake it over the weekend when husband was here, but after the biryani fiasco, I decided to give my kitchen a break.

This morning, I decided that I just had to give it a try. So I opened up Sangeeta’s recipe and realised with a sinking heart that it needed Sago flour. Now, to get hold of that, I would have to go all the way to an Indian store in Birmingham. Not happening. So I googled around and found another, rather simple recipe. I halved the recipe further because it was just daughter and me today, and she hardly eats. So basically it would be just me putting it all away.

So off I went, prepared the cherries. I didn’t have kirsch, so used a little vanilla essence.

I went about the rest of the recipe and started pouring it in, when I realized that I had forgotten to mix in the beurre noisette. So I had to tip out the whole batter back into the mixing bowl and mix it up again with the beurre noisette.
Oh yes, the pan, I had prepared already was too small for the batter, so I had to quickly prepare a small bowl.

Finally, everything was sorted, Daughter’s dinner was sorted, while the clafoutis baked in the oven. Perfect. It would come out just in time for dessert. I checked on it after 30-35 mins as mentioned on the recipe, and was surprised to see that the middle was still completely liquid. I let it bake some more. Checked again after 10 mins, no change. That was weird! That was when it struck me. While I halved all the ingredients, somehow I had forgotten to halve the milk and the cream. No wonder it was all liquid!

I let it stay in the oven for some more time and then took it out. It would burn I left it in there any longer. Daughter couldn’t have it for her dessert, it was bedtime for her already. I tried it, the taste wasn’t bad all. It was like a baked custard with cherries in it. Quite tasty, actually, but certainly not the clafoutis I was aiming at:(

And if you are wondering how it looked, here you go!

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If you fancy a taste, drop by, there’s plenty to go around:)

As if I didn’t have enough on my plate…

…I go and add some more.

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Nutella cupcakes for two, rustled up in minutes, which is very, very scary. The temptation to make this often is difficult to resist:) The frosting was a little too much for the two of us. I would be halving it next time. Actually, the next time I’m just going to slather nutella on the cupcakes instead:)

PS: Decoration by daughter, she had a field day. Putting all the decoration I has on the cupcakes.

How a Vada Pav turned into Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bites

Some things happen unplanned. I had been browsing when I chanced upon this recipe for baked vada pav. Now vada pavs and me have a long history.

A funny history given that I have never eaten one. I’ve had the aloo bonda that is the stuffing. But never the complete vada pav. I’ve seen in plenty of places here, it have never ended up picking it up. Probably, because the thought of eating completely fried things suddenly invokes that health conscious me. Who, by the way disappears very quickly when I chance upon fried things like chips or murrukus. The fact remains that I’ve always found a reason to not try it out. It was too early in that airport cafe, or I did not want to pile on more weight just before a sea-side trip, or it did not look filling enough for lunch. You know, the works.

And yet, it has never stopped me from craving for it. So when I saw this recipe, I had to try it. It seemed perfect. So I took the basic bread roll recipe from here and started off. I had planned to make a small batch, but scaling down ingredients seemed more tricky than making the whole bread. So I set off. It was late by the time the bread was ready to go into the oven. I made two sample vada pavs and popped the rest of the dough into the refrigerator.

The vada pavs turned out well. My domestic help loved it too. I did not take any pictures though. I still had loads of dough. My initial plan was to make more vada pavs, but somehow, the plan changed. I did not feel too excited about making loads of vada-pavs.

I had made this cinnamon-sugar pull apart bread when Swaram came over. I had some pictures somewhere, but I feel too lazy to go dig them up. It was a trial and did not turn out exactly how I wanted it to. So I wanted to give it another shot.

By the time I could carve out time to get down to it, it was already late. Feeling rather lazy(I can see laziness becoming a theme for me these days), I decided to try something easier. Instead of rolling out the dough, I made little balls, rolled it in a light brown sugar and cinnamon mixture and placed it in a loaf pan. Like this. I dotted it with some butter – just because.

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Popped it into the oven, when it had risen to double, it took about 20 minutes. And this is how it turned out. Soft fluffy bites of bread covered in a light coating of cinnamon sugar. Yum! And tasted just perfect for our tastes. Not too sweet, and perfect with that cup of coffee 🙂
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Banana Cinnamon Bun Coffee Cake

Some things just call out your name. Sometimes it’s books that you can’t stop talking about, or clothes, that you just have to buy. And sometimes, it is all about recipes that you have to try out. You can actually imagine the way it would taste, the way it would smell, and you can’t rest, unless you’ve given it a try.

I cam across a recipe like this yesterday. It just called out to me. Banana Cinnamon Bun Coffee Cake. While I love baking breads, it gets difficult to fit it in my schedule. Especially these days when the moment daughter is out of the door, I have loads of work that I have to do. This recipe called for yeast, but not as much waiting time. And that made all the difference. Plus the flavours – banana and cinnamon – perfect combination of flavours. The recipe called for nutmeg, which I did not have at home, and was too lazy to buy, so I just made it without, and it’s absolutely perfect! The aroma flooded the kitchen while it was being baked, and what a gorgeous, gorgeous combination it was!

And yes, I had another reason to bake this cake. I hadn’t baked for ages, absolutely ages, you see. This recipe called for a 9 inch pan, of which I had a brand new one, sitting unused since it was bought over a year ago. What better excuse to use it, yes?

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The recipe calls for the cake to cook for 30 minutes before cutting it. That, I have to say was the most difficult part. Daughter would not let me wait. She had to get a slice of it as soon as possible. She’s taken a slice to school. I normally do not pack cakes or biscuits for snack time. I try to keep it as healthy as possible. But today, she just so wanted it, that I could not say a ‘no’ 🙂

So here’s the recipe that I followed. I made a few(very few changes), amd a few mistakes.

Ingredients

For the Dough
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tsp active dry or rapid rise yeast
1/4 cup warm milk (100-110F; low fat is fine)
2 medium bananas mashed up
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg

For the filling
3 tbsp butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 170 C.
Lightly grease and flour a 9 inch pan. I did not have parchment paper, so just greased and floured it.
In a mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients
Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk and wait for it to froth.
Once the yeast is foamy, add the yeast, mashed bananas, eggs, vanilla and the oil to the flour mixture and combine well until smooth.
Pour the dough into the prepared pan, and let it rest for 15 minutes.
In the meanwhile, mix the ingredients for the topping, with a fork, until it is a crumbly mixture.
Sprinkle the mixture on top of the dough, and run a spatula or a fork to distribute it through.
Let the dough rise for about 20 minutes. (I let it rise for longer, I had to run out for an errand, and it rose for almost 40 minutes, and I think that made all the topping sink)
Bake for around 30 minutes, until golden brown at the edges and the top springs back when lightly pressed.

Let it cool for about 30 minutes, which I tell you, is the most difficult part. If you can’t wait, just dig in, as soon as it is cool enough to cut 🙂 It still tastes great 🙂 And next time, I might try adding some pecans to the topping.

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On a roll!

That’s what I’ve been. On a roll of baking disasters, that is! See, this is the problem, when I start, I can’t stop, even if I mess it all up.

After the chocolate-orange marble cake that did not quite turn out the way it was supposed to, yesterday I went and messed up some pull apart mushroom rolls.

This time the ingredients were all fine, everything seemed perfect. It rose beautifully in the oven, and smelt just gorgeous! Daughter and I couldn’t wait to get our hands on them.

Until the time came to get them off the baking tray. I had evidently forgotten to grease it. The rolls stuck on, refusing to let go of that darn tray!

Not being one to give up, I managed to prise them out, one by one. Some lost their shape, some gave up and broke in half, and some clung on for dear life. Some looked like this, just before daughter popped them into her mouth.

The only saving grace was that they were delicious! So what if they were broken or had the stuffing pouring out of them 🙂

Content scraping, Tests posts and Random Nothings

Yesterday, Shail alerted us to this site which seems to be pulling content from a lot of our blogs. Off the top of my head, Deeps‘, Obssessive Mom, Ani’s Nest, Adventures in Mommyland, Smita’s Books Life N More are listed out there. Please do go check to see if your blogs have turned up there! I think as we post, they pull it out and post it there. And from what I can see, older posts are not listed, so it’s worth it to try posting to check if your blog turns up there. My older post is no longer available there.

Initially when I checked mine, I could see my whole post there. Towards the end of the day, it was only the link to my post. So this is a test post to check what happens. And anybody who reads all this text on any site other than – https://wordsndreamz.wordpress.com, should know that the site has scraped my content.

If any of you know what can be done to counter content scraping of this level, please do let me know! Requests to the site admins seem to come to nothing.

In the random nothings part of the post, I ended up baking yesterday, finally 🙂 A chocolate-orange marble cake, but it is another story that nothing, in the cake baking process went as per schedule. My electronic scales stopped working – maybe the battery needs changing(I haven’t gotten down to doing that yet), I missed out some parts of the recipe, which saw me substituting cocoa for melted chocolate, forgot to add yogurt and added it in the end. And finally instead of grated orange rind, I popped in two tablespoons of marmalade. I was running out of time, so desperate measures had to be resorted to. To add to it all, it was slightly burnt, as I had to leave it in the oven and run to pick up daughter. Daughter loved it despite all that went wrong 🙂 So I take solace in the fact that she loved it – that’s all that matters 🙂 And maybe give it another try – properly 🙂

Again, please do go and check to see if you can find your post on Haaram.com. And if any of you know what can be done to stop them from picking up our posts and reposting them on their site, do let us know.

Edited to add : I just checked Haaram.com. My post is out there, but with no description. I have no idea how that changed, but I am really glad that the whole post is not visible there.

Deeps, Your reblog is visible too, but again with no description, unlike how it was yesterday.

Uma -I can see your post there as well! With no description. I can’t help wonder if they have finally changed settings?

Be careful what you wish for(2)

Is something I come to realize again and again.

You see, I have been telling friends how I used to wake up to birds chirping, in Leeds, while here, I have the melodious tones of horns honking to wake me up(and keep me awake, sometimes). So fate decided to take away my compliants. Now I get to hear baby pigeons in a nest somewhere, but they just can’t stop chirping! I wonder if there are multiple nests there – I can’t see it , it’s somewhere hidden away… I feel sorry for the poor mum and dad pigeons. Actually not so much. If they are the ones who break off my saplings, well, they deserve it. I just wish their nest was at another floor!

And remember how I find Americanisms everywhere these days? I found some more. Our good old ‘zed’ has become ‘zee’ and Maths has become ‘Math’. Zee I can still accept. Math, somehow, feels incomplete to me! I know, I sound crazy, but it still feels foreign to me 🙂

In other news, I am having a ball doing container gardening. I’m so tempted to plant more/buy more planters. The only reason, I have been holding back is the uncertainty of our situation. How I would love to buy some colourful planters, and some hanging ones, to add to my balcony. Hoping hard that things turn clear, and I can go to town with my gardening 🙂

Can someone inspire me to bake again? Although my heart jumps in excitement at the idea of baking, for some reason, I don’t seem to be able to get down to it. Anybody up for a baking challenge?

Baking Experiment – Cookies and Cream Cheesecake

At the end of some days, you feel totally satisfied. Happy. Today is one such day. A day when I am entirely exhausted, but which was also amazingly productive. Productive, as in, I managed to pack in quite a bit.

We had planned a play date with one of daughter’s friends’ from school. Yesterday, we discussed and decided to meet at our place for lunch, let the children play for a bit, and then go to watch ‘Mirror Mirror’. I had another friend coming over in the evening after we got back as well. So I decided to bake a cheesecake – which has been on my  ‘to-do’ list for ages. I try to bake only when I have company, can’t really afford to eat it all up by myself, can I?

I had come across this Cookies and Cream Cheesecake on one of my food blog hops. Food bloggers, I tell you – they single-handedly contribute to more that 75% of my weight gain. How on earth can one resist trying out the delicious things they put up? Even worse when the recipes seem so easy and oh so delicious! I’ve loved cheesecakes, for like forever! And this recipe seemed made for me!  Ever since I had seen the recipe, I have, been dreaming about it. I had even picked up a massive pack of Oreos from Costco. It was a cake waiting to be made. What better time that when you have guinea pigs over 🙂

And here is how it turned out!

Not the greatest looker, but I only have myself to blame for it. Not the kind of picture that any self-respecting food blogger would showcase -but then, I am no food blogger, am I? Just a blogger who also likes to write about food 🙂

I tried to follow the recipe perfectly, but got distracted somewhere and ended up with an extra 1 oz of cream. The cream I used was reduced fat single cream, and I think, the batter was too runny. Then I ended up whipping it a bit too much resulting in bubbles. I did not cop on to the fact the bubbles need to burst, by tapping the pan, or physically bursting it with a pin – until it was already in the oven. So the surface was not as smooth and lovely as I would have liked.

To add to it all, I took the cake out of the oven, instead of letting it cool slowly in the oven – I realized too late that would make it crack – a small crack, but a crack never-the-less.

That was about the looks, now for the taste – it was perfect! We all loved it, and as proof of the pudding, all I have left is one tiny wedge which I saved for husband to taste. I did not even get to take more pictures of the sliced cake. I suspect he would love it too -just his taste in cheesecakes. The perfect combination of crust and cream – yum!

Next time, I plan to follow the instructions better, hopefully.  I have to make it again very soon. Daughter wants me to make it for her birthday, which is just around the corner. She couldn’t have enough of it!

So do you have a cheesecake story? Any tips for me? Anything else to make it even better?

Baking disasters of all sorts..

I’ve been having a bad baking week.

One Monday, I was in the full mood to bake. But I did not want to bake a cake, so settled on an easy focaccia instead. It was easy – and everything went as per plan except that I think the temperature was a little too high – for my oven, and the top browned while the bottom was not completely cooked, so I had to turn it over, in an effort to get it sorted. It did turn out fine in the end, but it is a little annoying things don’t turn out as perfectly as you expect. Especially when the aroma filled the house, and it made me totally drool! Only to realize that it is not perfectly cooked! Next time I have to try this with a lower temperature setting. It was tasty, esp with olive oil and a little salt. But it was not perfect, so I was  disappointed.

Edited to add: The recipe is from here. It is very easy and simple -just that I will bake it at a lower temperature, and maybe add the cheese on the top midway. I might even skip the cheese the next time..

And then we had a baking session with friends lined up – which I had to cancel when Poohi fell ill. So so so disappointing!

Yesterday, to make up for it, I decided to bake a whole wheat chocolate banana bread. It felt like a great recipe, with only 1 tbsp of oil! What brilliance. But then when I am in the mood to spoil a recipe – I can do it – very well. I replaced buttermilk with yogurt and then realized as I was spooning the mixture into the pan, that the batter felt too thick. Too lazy to do anything about it, I let it bake as is. Thankfully, it was not too bad. It is quite delicious, and we have already polished off a few slices- guilt-free. Low fat, you see 🙂 I even had a slice for breakfast.

It would have looked prettier if I were able to smooth the batter better 😦 But it wasn’t too bad – infact it was great to eat!

Next time I might bake them as muffins. With some nuts thrown in.. I should stop talking now, before I end up baking some more and eating it all up (:

Edited to add: Recipe from here

The Basic Cookie/Biscuit Recipe

CR asked me to share the recipe of the cookies that I put up yesterday. That made me realize that it has been ages since I put up recipes here. Also, I realized today as I prepared some snacks for my friend and her kids who came over this afternoon that I seem to have forgetten some tried and tested recipes, so much so that I haven’t made some of my favourite dishes for almost 2 years now! Now that needs to be remedied, doesn’t it?

So remedying happened. I baked a pineapple upside down cake today, and it is almost over 🙂 *Picture me with a wide grin, showing off the crumbs*  Nothing makes me happier than if my food is polished off, because it hardly ever happens to me 😦 I always, always have extra. Especially when I have guests over. Husband claims that I cook for an army – and then force him to eat it till it gets over. So when everything gets polished off, I can’t help but beam with happiness 🙂 Of course, it might just mean that I cooked just enough, but then we don’t want to face that possible fact, do we 🙂

Let me tell you about the cookie recipe before I ramble on and on. On Sunday, Poohi wanted to bake heart shaped cookies, to ‘celebrate’ Valentine’s day before Husband went away on work. It was Sunday evening, and I wanted a fuss free, with minimal ingredients, an easy to make cookie recipe. So I began searching the internet. Although I have to admit, that if I went with the first recipe I landed with, I might have still managed to make it in the same time that I finally made them(the added search time certainly adds to it, doesn’t it?), but that did not cross my mind then. You see, I spend a lot of time reading the comments too. A recipe without comments, I don’t normally try – I don’t want to be the first one taking a risk, you see. Also the comments give you a fair idea about how effective the recipe is. Another thing I have realized while doing my research is how much my personal baking style has changed. Earlier I used to go by the recipe completely. I remember watching a Nigella Lawson programme on TV, where she mentioned that baking is a very exact science – and I totally took it to heart. Now however, I seem to have figured out what I can play around with, and what I can’t. So if I don’t have a particular ingredient, I find a substitute, or might even omit it, if I feel that it will not hamper the final results.

So finally I settled on this recipe from allrecipes.co.uk. Simple, with just three ingredients and the comments sounded like people had given it a shot and were happy. CR, I’m sure you will agree that it is simple enough 🙂

I stuck to the recipe, apart from minor variations(thanks to running out of essential ingredients).

  • 225g butter, softened(I used about 200 gms)
  • 110g caster sugar(I used about 90 gms)
  • 275g plain flour

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/Gas mark 4

2. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy and pale.

3. Sift in the flour and bring the mixture together to form a dough.

Roll out the dough and cut out the shapes, if using cookie cutters. For the teddy bear cookies, shape the dough into the shapes, stick them together(the dough holds quite well), stick a ice cream stick into it, or just leave them  as is. Daughter wanted to make some teapot ones, and star shaped ones, but I did not have the time(or the patience, if I am honest), so we shelved those to the next time 🙂

Apparently we could add different flavours by different substitutions. The website lists out the possible variations – and they certainly look interesting. The only variation I tried was adding some salt to see if I can replicate the sweet and salty cookies from husband’s childhood memories. And that worked. Next time, I plan to try the same recipe with wholemeal flour to see it works as well.

With the half term on, I seem to be cooking a lot more ‘interesting’ recipes. Leaving you with what we feasted on today 🙂 The picture of the cake did not come out well – I took it in a hurry, and by the time I realized how bad the pictures were, I only had crumbs left 😦

If anybody is interested in the cake recipe, I followed the recipe from here. I had to use soft, dark brown sugar instead of light brown sugar in the toppings, because I realized too late that I did not have have light brown sugar. This gave my cake a darker, more caramelized look and flavour – which was still delicious! I also added about 4 tablespoons of pineapple juice instead of the two mentioned in the recipe. Other wise I followed the recipe completely.