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.

Matters that weigh on my mind – Post 8

Desperate for some ideas on what to post, I went to the NaBloPoMo website to see today’s prompt.

‘What decision is currently weighing on your mind?’

The only decision that is weighing on my mind is, ‘What do I post today?’ And this prompt is of no help whatsoever!

Do you know what I have been doing, while weighing such weighty matters on my mind? I have been drooling at this delicious olive oil cake. Believe me, it is totally droolworthy. I know. I’ve tasted it 🙂

I haven’t been baking as much as I used to. Given that I end up gobbling up most of what I bake, I decided to lay off. Spring and summer here, are full of parties. Birthdays and general get-togethers, holidays, you name it. I think the weather makes us all chirpy and excited and it also means a lot of eating. So in-between parties, I try not to over-eat or over indulge.

Some months back, I had come across this cake, and baked it for a get-together at a friend’s place. It was a huge hit. A friend of mine, who had never baked before asked me to teach her to bake this cake. I did, and she baked it for some other friends of hers. Another friend tried it last week and loved it.

And daughter loves it too. She has been asking me to bake it. I have been staying away from baking it just because we have too many sweets at home. Today, I chanced upon it again. I so want to bake it, but am trying not to. Very hard. Will let you know if I do/or don’t. But in case you are interested, do follow the link and try it out. It is gorgeous, melt in the mouth delicious!

And if you do bake it, can I have a teeny-weeny slice? Pretty please?

The search for the perfect chewy cookie recipe…

.. has not ended yet, but it sure does throw up some delicious results.

On our weekly shopping trips, if husband happens to be with me, he gets pulled magically to the bakery section loaded with delicious, chewy American cookies. While I lust after the delicious cream cakes and cheesecakes, husband can’t have enough of cookies.   He loves them.  And I would love nothing more than be able to bake them at home. And you guys know how much I love to bake 🙂

So I have been searching, and searching, but have never been able to replicate them to make them as delicious and chewy as the ones in the store. After much searching and researching, I decided to try this recipe. Well, they did not turn out as chewy as I would have liked, but I cannot complain because both husband and daughter loved it. And I have enough to share, so they go with us to the dance class this evening 🙂 See, my clever ways of ensuring that they don’t end up on my hips 😉

The cookie dough – I added white and dark chocolate chips – instead of just dark chocolate chips as mentioned in the recipe. I thought it looks prettier that way.

And here they are ready to go into the oven

And finally out of the oven! Don’t they look lovely?

So who’s joining me for tea?

The recipe – is from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.
  4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

The only thing I did differently was to add both white and dark chocolate chips.

Not so much of a disaster after all!

Remember yesterday’s post about my baking disaster? Well, turns out, it was not a disaster after all.

My cinnamon rolls don’t look great – but they do taste quite all right. At least daugher liked it. I would have loved it to be a little softer and fluffy. I do think that it has to do with the fact that the recipe used water and oil, instead of milk and butter – me and my crazy ideas of healthy eating. As if there is anything healthy about eating cinnamon rolls at all 🙂 But then, that’s me.

So here are the fruits of my efforts. After Bikram’s comment about my baking getting affected because I did not publish pictures, I did not want to take a chance 🙂

This was the first experimental batch.

And then the next, when I gained confidence..

I had ambitiously, planned on making mini cinnamon rolls. Had I thought of the effort involved in shaping little rolls? Apparently not. So finally, I dumped the left over dough into a loaf pan, and this is how is turned out.

I cut it this morning, fingers crossed, hoping against hope that it would be alright, and here’ s how it looked. Cinnamon bread anybody?

And it tasted yum, toasted! After imagining that all that effort was down the drain, I can’t tell you how glad I am that it worked! I still have no idea why it did not double in size, but it rose nicely in the oven.. Next time, I think I am going to experiment with another recipe, and will test the yeast, and the water before starting it. And yes, will use a much smaller quantity as well!

Come join me for tea..

and help yourself to some banana bread 🙂

Don’t worry – it is a low fat one and I am so delighted with it that I have even had a slice for breakfast 🙂 I am normally, never modify cake recipes unless others who have made the cake suggest modifications. This time, however, I took a chance and experiemented. You see, I was keeping away from baking after all the holiday weight I had put on. Yesterday however, in order to keep Poohi entertained, I made a rather rash promise that we would bake a cake – and she ensured that I did not break my promise- try as I might. So if I had to bake, I decided to bake something low-fat and guilt-free( or atleast less guilty).  And here is the recipe in case any of you are interested. I got the recipe from here, but made the following modifications.

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 large over-ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup plain fat-free yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spoon flour gently into measuring cups and level with a knife. Stir flour, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl. Put aside. Place sugar and butter in a large bowl and beat at low speed with a mixer until well blended. Add one egg at a time and blend well after each one. Add in mashed banana, yogurt and vanilla extract, beat until blended. Add flour mixture and blend until just moist. Do not over-mix. Spray an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Pour batter into pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes (until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean). Remove from pan after 10 minutes or so and cool on a wire rack.

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.

I go crazy for..

Cakes.. One of my favourite scents is the smell of something baking in the oven.. I just love that smell.. as far long back as I remember.. Talk about feel good, comfort food and baked cakes come right at the top!  I, once,  followed the smell on a busy street in Bangalore to discover a wonderful little bakery!

Today, I am itching to bake.. I am dying to get my hands on the ingredients and whisk, stir and pour and then smell(yum!) the baking cake.. I think I love the process of baking just as much, if not more than the actual eating 🙂 Can’t think of anything more satisfying that seeing the cake rise, filling your home with that wonderful, wonderful smell!! I hate going out smelling of food 😦 I just hate it – but I guess the smell of baking is an exception! If somebody ever came out with a perfume like that – I am sure to buy it, but probably, I might be the only buyer 😦 I actually go to the home section of most stores and look at cake tins – to see if anything new has come in – that I absolutely have to buy!

The one thing I am yet to try is baking bread. And I am so going to try that soon.. I am quite sure that once I start – I might never stop 🙂

I’ve been stalking cake recipe sites all day today,there are so many of them, out there, tempting me with those lovely pictures!  I am just dying to bake – the only thing stopping me is that I have put on 5 kgs in the last 6 weeks or so 😦 Baking is so, not a great idea – not even the low fat ones 😦  No, cakes are so not an option..