Remember the cake I mentioned here. Well, I made it! *Jumping around the room in joy*

Now that was the easy part. Keeping myself from sampling it – that is far more difficult. We are having friends over for dinner, and I have to somehow restrain myself from cutting into it 🙂 I did lick clean the ‘Tres Leche’ mixture. Yum!!!  I am feeling too lazy to take a picture right now. I will update the post if I do take pics.

While I was preparing ahead for tomorrow’s dinner, I realized how much my style of hosting dinners have changed. A few years ago, pre-Poohi and while working, to be precise, planning dinner was so different. We never had the time to do even the basic grocery shopping in advance. All shopping would be done on Saturday morning, lugged home, and the actually cooking would start only by 3 or 4 in the evening. Some how, cooking, cleaning, sorting out everything would be done and completed by the time our guests arrived. Most of them were in similar phases of life, and would be perfectly at ease with our offerings. I would not even think of making desserts – that was one luxury I never had. Store bought desserts were the only option.

These days on the other hand, I plan in advance(does not mean that I do not remember things last minute). Today for instance I ran out out oil – I barely have enough to make do for tomorrow. But still, a fair amount of things do get planned and sorted in advance. Not just the food, the decor, flowers, candles etc etc etc all get a looking into…

As I do all this, I can only shake my head and wonder – how much have I changed, Five years ago, I would have dismissed it as impossible, if someone told me that I would be like this. Much less be writing a post about it 🙂 Who had time to blog in those days!

Some things however, are still the same. I still hunt for recipes on the internet, I still go a l still love having people over, and I still agonize over my food – I am always worried that something is not quite right with my cooking 🙂 , I still try to read something in the middle of all the mayhem 🙂

Some things, as they never change!

PS: Post written was written yesterday – I just never got around to posting it!

Trans-Continental Baking Experiment – A Chocolate Mud Cake

A mere two or so years ago, I was the sort of person, who would have looked down her nose at even the concept of ‘meeting people online’. I could not understand how people could make friends with people they met online.

Even when I started blogging, I had no idea that there is a blogging community and that you would interact with others – to say that I was completely clueless would be the biggest understatement. Which is why this is even more amazing for me. One, to meet so many wonderful people on the internet, who you can so identify with, with similar ideas and two, to collaborate with 5 women across the world in a baking experiment, of all the possible things.

It all started with Goofy Mumma(GM) sent a bunch of us (‘A’ , Monika, Trish and me) an email asking for a chocolate mud cake recipe. I don’t bake too many chocolate cakes, so I was of little help. ‘A’ sent across the most delicious sounding recipe from here.  GM tried it and had a few questions and doubts. A flurry of emails went back and forth.  ‘A’ went through the effort of making 2 cakes, following slightly different methods and came out with the most gorgeous(and I am sure,  delicious) cakes. Not just that, she recorded everything she did. And that prompted Monika, myself and Trish to give it a try and GM to give it a second try.

The first time I tried it, I totally forgot to check whether I had enough dark chocolate and realised just as I was making it, that I had run out of dark chocolate. Thankfully, I found a huge slab of white chocolate in my pantry. I also added 50 gms  of cocoa, by replacing it instead of 50 gms of the self-raising flour. I had a really runny mixture and it took me ages to get the cake done. I had also made the mistake of buying a pan of the wrong size.  I had wanted to pick up a 9 inch pan, but ended up with an 8 inch one instead, stupid me! So I had enough batter for an 8 inch cake as well as 16 cupcakes. I was literally praying that it does not become a disaster. I am normally very, very particular about following cake recipes exactly. While I play around with other recipes, baking, I feel, is quite an exact science and I am loath to use approximations or substitutions. So having made so many changes, I was quite apprehensive about the result.

My worry only added, when at the end of 45 minutes(the time mentioned in the recipe, the batter was still liquid in the oven. Finally after 2 hours, and a lot of poking and prodding, the cake was done, albeit with a bunch of cracks.

Not a pretty cake at all. The cupcakes turned out beautifully, not a single crack and they were ready in 45 minutes time – they were just gorgeous, and I forgot to take pictures. In my defense, I had a busy day, I was having friends over for dinner, and had a lot on my mind. Well, as they say, looks are deceptive. The cake was the most divine tasting cake ever! It was moist and absolutely delicious! My friends took home the leftovers. I kept aside some for Poohi which disappeared the very next day. The cupcakes went to work with husband and were never seen again.

Inspired by the gorgeous results that the others had with the recipe, I was tempted to give it one more shot. This time, I was determined to follow the recipe properly and follow all the tips and suggestions that everybody else had added after their own experience with the cake.  So I went and bought myself a stash of dark chocolate and set about it all over again. You know, when I plan to do something right, I almost definitely make some really dumb mistake. This time, I ended up pouring the chocolate mixture into the flour, instead of the eggs. In my defense, both the bowls were next to each other. I know, it is a lame defense. Then on, I followed everything, and hoped that this time, my cake turns out pretty.

This is how it turned out. Not as bad as the previous time, but still with some cracks.

So to take the attention away from the sad cracks, I just inverted it and dusted it with icing sugar. The dusting was not done very well, though.

A slice of chocolate mud cake anyone?

The most amazing part of this experiment was that feeling of being part of a group, knowing that someone, even if on the other corner of the world, was there to talk to, to ask for suggestions.. The sort of tips and information that just flowed in those emails was absolutely wonderful! We discovered things which we took for granted was new information for somebody else, and learnt some really cool tips from the others.. It was such a collaborative effort. The joy at seeing my friends’ gorgeous cakes was more than seeing my own.  I would refresh my inbox every time I could, just in case, you know 🙂 Girls, thank you so much for all that! GM, A BIG thanks for starting it all off.

To see the other gorgeous, yummilicious cakes, hop over to ‘A’s, GM’s, Monika’s and Trish’s. And if any of you are in the vicinity here, please drop over, I have my last attempt stowed away in the freezer 🙂

When in despair…

When in despair, I bake. Regular readers of mine know about my craze love of baking.

Well, we had a rather hectic weekend, with some friends who came over today for lunch. Now, I am the sort of person, who can manage calling people for dinner – because it gives me plenty of time to cook – but when it comes to lunch, I go crazy – no way can I cook and put together a decent meal by lunch time. So I had to resort to what my friend L, does. Cook a day in advance.

So I dedicated Saturday to cooking and only cooking. Only to end up stepping out for grocery shopping and getting back totally exhausted. So cooking, officially started only at 4:00 pm.  Once I had a few pots bubbling, sizzling on the hob, I decided to get a start on the cake. Now, I had this brand new Bundt cake pan, which I absolutely had to try out. And baking is something I always do when we have someone over. These are the few times that I get to bake and force it down someone else’s throat – apart from hubby’s and daughter’s – so I don’t let such opportunities go 🙂

So once I had finalised on the cake I was baking, based on the size of the pan I had, I started measuring out ingredients while at the same time, trying to ensure that none of the bubbling sizzling pots turn into burn out pots.  I had never tried out Bundt cakes before, so was quite excited, plus I was making a struesel coffee cake – and I love cakes with struesel topping. Who am I kidding – I love all cakes 🙂

So after I had all the whisking and the mixing done, while ensuring that none of the dishes got burnt, just as I was about to pour the batter, I realized that the batter was way too thin. On re-checking the recipe, turns out that it called for 4 cups of flour and I had most certainly not added 4 cups.. Now, I had no idea how many cups I had added, but with a few mental calculations and the memory of how full the packet of flour had been, I came to the conclusion,  that I must have added just one cup of flour. So bravely, added 3 cups, mixed a bit more and hoping for the best – was about to tip it all in, when I realised that the batter was most certainly more than what the tin could hold.  I nearly collapsed then. Now, I know that I am successful at baking – ONLY because I follow the recipe to the dot – make no changes at all. Here, I already had made a few changes – replaced sour cream with fat free yoghurt, in an effort to keep the calories in control, replaced walnuts with pecans simply because we like it more and had added 3 cups of flour, assuming that I added just one. And now it just won’t fit! Clearly, I had got the size of the pan wrong – or I had added too much of something.

Praying hard and hoping that it was the former, I baked them in 2 pans. I have never prayed so fervently, ever! And lo and behold, this is how it turned out 🙂 Delicious, even if I say so myself :)It tasted better than it looks, which is more than what I can say for the food that I cook 🙂 Hubby helped himself  to the cake, last night while it was hot and declared that he was falling in love with cakes  and now, that was a compliment from somebody who does not even like cakes 🙂

DSC04155

On another note, as a lot of you are aware, I have been job hunting.. To say that I have been unsuccessful so far, would be an understatement. Now, I don’t even find jobs that I can think of applying to. When I started off, a lot of recruitment agents called, most of them wanting to know if I am willing to relocate.. now even those have stopped – but today, as I was searching – the word ‘bakery’ caught my eyes.. Some advert for a job in a bakery had crept in somehow.. is that some kind of clue? Do you think I should switch from IT to baking ?

PS : Crafty, I saw your message when I was all sad and was waiting to see how the cake turned out – hoping against hope that it would be edible. Your hugs certainly helped 🙂 Thank you!!!!!

Edited to add the recipe. Tara, as per your request 🙂

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and baking soda together and set aside. In a separate small bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon, and nuts. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and 2 cups white sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, sour cream, and vanilla extract. Add flour mixture and beat until well combined.
  3. Pour half of batter into Bundt pan. Sprinkle half of the nut mixture on top of batter in pan. Add remaining batter, and sprinkle with the last of the nut mixture.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.

This was the original recipe – picked up from allrecipes.

The changes I made were

1. Used margarine instead of butter

2. Replaced sour cream with low fat yoghurt

3. Used one cup of white sugar and one cup brown sugar instead of 2 cups of white. And made the struesel sprinkling with brown sugar entirely. These were based on the comments at the website. And it tasted awesome 🙂 So if any of you do try it – please do let me know how it went.

The most difficult job I’ve ever had..

is trying to plan my daughter’s 3rd birthday party… Last year we got away with taking her to the London aquarium – she was delighted and was least interested in having a party! The year before that, on her first birthday, it was more for us than her, actually. And so much easier to organise.. I can’t believe it that I managed to do it all – while working too.. This year. however she knows everything  about a party! She has her own list of demands.

She wants a ‘Happy Birthday to me’ party:) And wants to be a ‘pincence'( her version of ‘Princess’) and just to be ensure that we do not feel left out – she’s told us ‘Amma pincence and Daddy pincence!’ She still thinks that Daddy is a girl too.. No matter how many times I tell her, she still goes, ‘Good Girl, Daddy’ and now Daddy is a ‘pincence’ too 🙂   So now she wants a pink pincence cake and lots of bloons(Balloons) and Party tooters and chocolates’ . Thats all! Nothing much!

Well, Amma has been extremely lazy, was lost in her blogging world, oblivious to the fact that daughter’s birthday is less than 3 weeks away! So, in complete panic, I did what I do best, log on, where I got waylaid commenting and reading your posts – when I remembered – Oh no! I have another agenda for today!

So have now started the search for a venue.. I found some great places where they take care of everything, including party invites, all we have to do is turn up with the cake, which too by the way, they would be happy to provide – at an additional cost of,course! As if I would assume otherwise! So what is the problem? Just this – all these great places are all booked! sob sob 😦

 Here were some sample conversations with some of the venue managers..

Me, ‘Hi, I was looking to book a birthday party for my daughter – on the xxth.’

She, Oh, I’m so sorry Ms X, but we are totally booked on that day.., would you be willing to shift your party by a coupe of weeks? I might have something then’

Me, ‘ Oh, No, thank you very much for your time’

Or alternative scenario

Phone Ringing… No answer.. please leave your message after the beep!

So now, its very clear that I am very late 😦 Let me see, surely there must be something available!! I have left loads of Voice Messages and emailed every Tom, Dick and Harry! Please please pray for me!

I have done a few useful things though,

– Have found a bunch of party food suppliers:)

-Have found party paraphernalia suppliers (what paraphernalia, you might ask , well, you’ll be surprised to see the amount of stuff that goes in! Parties certainly have become very very sophisticated these days, apparently,you need pinatas, party favours, themed cutlery, and not to forget the most important thing – the cake!! Of course, a lot of websites have loads of advice how an organic, homemade cake is the best – but thats one headache I’d rather not take up..For one, I’m lazy, two, Its going to be very difficult to keep in intact till the party starts!

So please, please pray for me – that I actually find a party venue!! And any advice is welcome:) And no, I really don’t fancy holding it at home 🙂