Black Forest-y cake

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This was a cake, that really took the cake! Reason? My son baked it.

From scratch.

I was the assistant. I was bringing him things, cleaning up after he left, greasing the pans, heating the oven…taking care of all the side jobs while the master chef was sieving, measuring, mixing, and making the cake.

It indeed felt proud to have a kid of 7 showing so much of interest in baking :-).

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This cake is from Sapana of Cooking with Sapana for her baby shower. It’s based on her version of black forest cake. I realized only half way through that I was short on cherries and other required stuff.

So in a nut shell, this is a chocolate cake with whipped cream frosting and decorated with grated chocolate and cherries and plum. I don’t think that’s too far from the local bakery’s definition of black forest cake :D.

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Assembling the cake:

  • One chocolate cake (cake of your choice would do)
  • Whipped cream
  • Syrup : 1 cup water + 1 cup sugar boiled until the sugar melts. Use once it’s cooled down OR  1 cup apple juice + 1/4 cup powdered sugar mixed in
  • Chocolate shavings
  • Cherry compote for the filling ( I didn’t make this, but definitely the next time)
  • Cherries / plum for decoration

Method:

  1. Help your kid bake the cake :-). Once the cake is baked, press down dome very softly with a clean kitchen towel. Let it cool in the pan for ten minutes.
  2. After that, take out the cake from the pan and let it cool completely on a wire rack.
  3. Beat the whipped cream until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until needed.
  4. Once the cake is cooled, transfer it to a cake board or a plate and put it in a turn table.
  5. Carefully cut it into two, first turning the cake and marking with a knife from the sides and then slowly cutting through. Check this video on how to cut a cake using knife.
  6. Place the top layer into a separate plate.Brush away the crumbs on both pieces.
  7. Sprinkle some cooled sugar syrup on the lower cake layer, the one on the cake board. You can use your hands for sprinkling.
  8. Now fill the cake with whipped cream and keep the top layer on top of the filling. If the top layer has a dome, you either trim it off or keep the top layer upside down, so that the dome sits on top of the bottom layer’s filling. You can try this only if the dome is not too big.
  9. Sprinkle the sugar syrup on the top layer as well.
  10. Now, bring the whipped cream from the fridge and frost the sides and top of the cake. It doesn’t have to be perfect since the top and the sides can be covered with chocolate shavings or even crumbled cake pieces. If you had cut the dome, you can crumble it and coat the sides.
  11. Once the cake is covered with fresh cream, pipe designs in the border using whipped cream in a piping bag.
  12. Fill the middle and sides with chocolate shavings or crumbled cake pieces. Decorate with cherries.
  13. Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.

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Simple Chocolate Cake

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At a time when I should ideally be packing as we are shifting soon, I find that I am baking a lot more than I usually do. One birthday cake order led to another and this was the second one.

I have done only a handful of orders till now. But I am learning that the more I do, the more I love this. The baking part, the decorating part, the clicking part…everything. It unwinds me like nothing else does.

More than anything, it stops me from gulping down the cake. Yeah, I am THAT bad. There is too much love for anything sweet.

Now I wish I had started taking orders earlier itself…sigh..

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This cake has eggs and was a real soft cake. I didn’t even consider adding syrup to moisten the cake. I was worried the cake will break if I do that! It’s taken from the ever-reliable Joy of Baking site. Its the Simple Chocolate Cake recipe from there.

Ingredients:

Dry ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar (400 gms)
  • 1 3/4 cups plain flour (~250 gms)
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder (75 gms)
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/5 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Wet ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup warm water + 1 tsp instant coffee powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla essence

Method:

  1. Gather your ingredients and heat the oven to 180C. Grease and line two 9 inch pans with parchment paper. I wanted a tier cake, so I used a 9″ and a 6″ pan.
  2. In a big bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients together (flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda, salt).
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs first. Then add the milk, oil, vanilla and weak coffee.
  4. Mix the dry ingredients and the wet together using a spoon or whisk. Its better to do this in 2-3 shots. The batter will be very thin.
  5. Divide the batter between the greased and lined pans.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer comes free of crumbs when inserted in the middle of the cake.
  7. Once its baked fully, take off the oven and let it rest on a wire rack for 10 minutes in the pan itself. Slowly and carefully, remove the cake from the pan and let it cool completely in a wire rack, about 3 hours. At this stage, it can be cling wrapped and stored in the freezer for a later date. I always bake a day before and freeze the cakes.
  8. Once the cake is fully cooled, you can use this easy chocolate icing recipe to frost it. Final decoration for this cake was using ganache, sprinkles and gems.

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Baby Shower for Sapana

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I am joining my Blogging Marathon friends for a virtual baby shower for a BM blogger buddy, Sapana.

Sapana is expecting a new addition to her family and we all decided to throw her a surprise party online from various corners of the world.

The plan was to select a recipe from her space and cook, click and present it back to Sapana to enjoy.

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I wanted a cake… cakes are the best way to celebrate any occasion. This is my version of her Black Forest recipe. Mine doesn’t quite qualify as black forest, since I was not able to get cherries for the cake on time :D.

I didn’t bother much since it was made with love and good intentions, though definitely short on cherries :D!!

The best part about the cake is that my son made the cake. I took care of the decoration (for which he sulked for sometime, but later he decided he wasn’t interested anyway!), but the cake was made from scratch by kiddo. That makes it all the more special :-)

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Since that feeling of a complete replication of the recipe was not there, I made one more cake from her space. An eggless fruit cake, this time. This one had mixed fruits and (almost) everything that the recipe called. So it indeed is a fruit cake :-).

I will be putting a separate post for the recipes. Scroll down for more pictures and join me in wishing Sapana a whole world of happiness as she is getting ready for her big day :-).

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Click the linky tool to see who else is participating.

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Mixed Bean Vegetable Chili

Originally posted on My Kitchen Trials:

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My brother is in Bangalore and we are in Chennai. Visits are common since it’s just 6 hours of travel. Many a times I have packed sleeveless t-shirts for my son then find out that its shivering cold (for us, at least) in Bangalore.

Being used to Chennai’s tropical hot weather, cool weather is not something we are used to. So now a days the standard practice is to call my SIL and ask for the weather status there.

Whatever she says, I pack all the full sleeve or half sleeve t-shirts and pants. And if its past October, I carry the jacket too. Just in case, you know!

So for someone who is used to Summer all through the year, presenting Winter foods is something funny. Yet, here I am, with another winter recipe – Vegetable Chili. This pairs very well with basmati rice.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page to find out…

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Moru Curry/ Moru Kachiyathu

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Life is going to change big in a few days. And yet,here I am : in my space, letting out the tension and turning a blind eye to the amount of work in front of me.

Yes, a major life style change is coming ahead.

And No, I am not pregnant. Though at times I am tempted to say yes when I look at my football sized tummy, just to hide my embarrassment.

It’s two years since we moved into our new apartment and now we packing and moving off again. This time to another country. Packing, moving, unpacking and settling down again. When you are still recovering from the previous move.

More than packing, what worries me is choosing. Choosing what to take, what to leave behind, what to give and whom to give.  It just makes me want to curl up and lie down. And not think about it.

But then, that’s hardly an option. So it’s going to be a bit busy from now on. With all the choosing and packing and moving, of course!

Cooking is going to be minimal and comfort foods are going to feature more. Like this moru curry, which is easy to prepare and makes life comfortable in a way only food can!

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Recipe Source: My friend Swapna. 

There is a slightly different recipe here in this post as well.

Ingredients:

  • Pearl Onions            :       6-8 or 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • Green chillies          :        2-3, chopped
  • Ginger garlic paste :      1 tsp
  • Water                           :      1/4-1/2 cup
  • Turmeric powder   :     1/2 tsp
  • Fenugreek powder :     1/2 tsp (optional)
  • Salt
  • Yogurt/Curd            :     2 cups
  • Oil                                 :      2 tsp, preferably coconut oil
  • Mustard seeds         :      1 tsp
  • Curry leaves             :       one sprig

Method:

IMG_3164Break the curd by whisking or with a ladle. Mix until its a loose homogeneous liquid without adding any water.
IMG_3166In a pan, heat oil. Add mustard seeds and curry leaves. Once mustard seeds splutter, add the chopped onions and chopped chillies. Once the onion turns pink, add the ginger garlic paste and saute for half a minute.

IMG_3169Add quarter cup water to bring down the kadai’s heat. Add the turmeric powder, methi powder (fenugreek powder), salt. Mix.

IMG_3171Add the whisked curd. Since the water reduced the kadai heat a bit, the curd will not curdle. But still, don’t take chances and keep stirring.

IMG_4406Once its all mixed and the yogurt is cooked, do a taste test and adjust the seasoning. Keep stirring and turn off the heat when it starts to boil on the sides.IMG_4411Take off the heat immediately and transfer to a container. If you let it sit in the hot kadai, the curd might curdle. That won’t affect the taste, but it doesn’t look aesthetically good.

In case the moru curry gets curdled despite all the efforts, take off the heat immediately and add some fresh curd and mix well. It works at times, though not always.

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Potato, Potato!

Originally posted on My Kitchen Trials:

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My memory is really bad. Really, really bad! If I am trying a recipe from the internet, I come and check the recipe at least 20 times while making it.

Reminds me of how I used to make rasam, when I was in college. It was the same recipe and I would make it 5 times a week. One would assume that after making the same thing again and again, I would have gotten a hang of it. But no, I used to ask my grandma the recipe at every single stage. ‘The water is boiling, what should I do next?’ , ‘How many spoons of rasam powder should I add?’, ‘Can I add the curry leaves now?’. Same questions every single day. After sometime, grandma started answering me before I even ask the question!

This is a recipe from my old neighbour and it was so simple that I didn’t bother noting…

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Simple Chocolate Buttercream Recipe : Step by Step pictures

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There was an order for an egg less chocolate cake for a sweet girl who was turning nine. Given that my artistic skills are quite pathetic, I was wondering how to decorate the cake. A dark brown chocolate cake with an equally dark chocolate butter cream is not that easy to decorate!

I spent two whole days browsing the net, looking for a pattern that I could use. Chocolate butter cream tastes awesome, but it leaves a dark and dull looking cake if not dressed up and presented nicely.

I was out the whole morning and that meant less time for thinking about decoration. I had almost decided on the easy ‘kitkat cake’. The thing that stopped me was that I couldn’t get enough kitkat for this cake.So I picked up some random items that could go into the cake : some cherries, Cadbury’s Gems (similar to M&M), gift chocolates from Amul etc.

And finally with a bit of sprinkles and the birthday message on top (yes, you are right : that’s a straw!) and I was as happy as the birthday girl :-).

You can check out this post for the eggless cake and for the mocha syrup as well. Scroll down for the butter cream recipe.

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Source: Maria’s menu 

Enough for covering a 6″ cake

Ingredients:

  • 100 gm butter, softened (1 stick of butter)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder (1/3 cup for deeper chocolate flavour)
  • 2 – 2.5 cups icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup hot water (more or less)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

 Method: 

IMG_3916 In a bowl, add the softened butter and cocoa powder. I wanted a lighter shade, so took only 2 tbsp. You can go upto 1/3rd cup for a deeper colour and more chocolate-y buttercream.

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Mix with a smooth until no chunk of butter remain, adding a tablespoon or two of hot water for this. IMG_3924

Sieve the icing sugar and add it to the mix. Start with 2 cups and add another half cup, if required.
IMG_3926 Mix again, adding a tbsp or two of hot water, until you get a smooth and shiny butter cream. You can add more sugar after a taste test.

I doubled this amount for the cake in the post (Two 6″ cakes)

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Toadstool Cake

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My son’s first birthday was celebrated in a very simple manner. There were no invitees, no celebration, no party and no, not even a cake. The day was special, but I didn’t want to crowd the day with unknown faces for my son.

A friend was invited for lunch, that’s all. Her call came an hour before lunch saying that she and my husband would be coming home with a cake. And I, in turn, rushed to the nearby houses and called all the kids there to come over for cake cutting.

Soon, the cake and the kids were there and we had so much of fun. Nothing was planned, but those kids were his closest friends at that point of time. They were all older than him by 4-5 years at least. They made the kiddo’s day special by doing some silly acrobatic stuff for him and how he laughed!!

And how happy I was :-)!

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It’s no wonder I am late catching up with some milestones of this virtual space of mine as well. The cake was made to celebrate two occasions. One to mark my son’s ‘all rounder’ performance and his promotion to third standard. Another to mark three years of ‘My Kitchen Trials’.

All this happened in April, in between the Indian Food Odyssey.

I forgot to celebrate three hundred posts here, but before I could make up my mind about celebrating, I have already reached at the 400th post. So, well, this cake is for that as well.

I started the blog as a strict one-year project. End of the year, I decided to extend for another year. And now its three years completed and  I am looking at 5 now.

I would never have reached here, if not for the support of fellow bloggers, especially my Blogging Marathon friends.

And You : who is right now reading this post. Thank you :-).

The cake here is a hot milk cake, covered with fondant and decorated using small fondant cutters.

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Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

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There are times when you sit and ponder over a hundred things that you can do nothing about. There is this non-stop worry about kids, parents, spouse, house and so many other things.

I worry about the water pressure in the bath room shower, plumbing spindle in the kitchen, DG automatic switching problems when the power goes off, the car that has gone for servicing, the cost of living, the kid answering me back, my parenting skills, my driving skills and the builder asking for extra money.

Lots of worries?? Yes…but these are the ones I won’t trade.

For these are minor worries in the larger scale of life. These are stuff that can be attended to : with time or money. And I thank God that my worries are limited to the water spindle in the kitchen or how the cake turns out when its taken out of the oven.

It’s stressful at times, but on the whole, it’s a blessed life indeed.

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The best way to relax when you ‘worry limit’ reaches a point is to just pick that cocoa powder up and get baking! Like this pudding cake, for example.

This can be baked in 6 individual ramekins as well. You need to add about 2 tbsp of cocoa-sugar topping and 3 tbsp of coffee for each ramekin. Baking time should be reduced to about 20 minutes.

Recipe Source: The Family Baking Book, by America’s Test Kitchen

Ingredients:

For the topping:**

  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (I didn’t have any, so I used white regular sugar itself)
  • 1.5 cups water + 2 tsp instant coffee powder for coffee

** I found the cake to be a bit too sweet, so I would suggest cutting down a bit on the sugar – May be 1/4 cup each.

For the cake:

  • 60 gms chocolate, cut into small bits
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 85 gms butter (6 tbsp), cut into smaller pieces
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg yolk (I skipped this)

Method: 

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Gather the ingredients first.

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Chop the chocolate into bits, microwave it with 1/3rd cocoa powder and butter for 30 seconds intervals until melted and smooth. Keep aside to cool down.

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Whisk the flour and baking powder. Keep aside.

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Keep the topping ready : mix 1/3 cup cocoa powder with 1/3 cup white granulated sugar and 1/3 cup brown sugar.

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In a big bowl, add the milk, remaining 2/3 cup white granulated sugar, vanilla essence and egg yolk. Whisk well until its all mixed.

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Add the microwaved (now cool) chocolate mix to this. Whisk until everything is incorporated.

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Add the flour-baking powder mix in 2-3 batches, mixing until just combined.

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Pour the batter into a well-greased pan.

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Add the cocoa powder + sugar mix on top.

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Prepare the coffee mix – heat 2 tsp instant coffee powder with 1.5 cups water.

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Pour this weak coffee on top of the levelled sugar layer.

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Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the edges have come off the sides.

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Let the cake cool for at least half an hour before serving. Serve with some home-made ice cream.

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Whole wheat banana bread recipe

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This post goes to Home Bakers Guild as part of Blogger Tuesday.

Hi all,

I was here last week with an egg less chocolate cake and a story about my baking journey. I am back again this week with a banana bread recipe and some more stories. Thanks for having me here again for the Blogger Tuesday.

It’s been almost five years since I started baking and to this day, my interest (and my weakness) remains the same. Cakes. Coming to think of it, the only reason I started baking was to eat more cake. And some brownies too.

I am getting friendly with the yeast guy only now as bread has never been a temptation. Main reason was failures from the past, but with the instant yeast that my husband got from abroad, the story is different now. Soft and spongy breads come out of my oven now, but still I remain faithful to my cakes.

I love baking cakes, I love decorating it. But the problem is not that. It’s eating it.

My man hates everything sweet and my kid hates food in general. So when a cake is left around, my sweet tooth is becomes more assertive than my common sense and I end up paying for my indulgence ‘inch by inch’. Literally!

That’s where the guild helped me. It gave me this idea of baking the cake and NOT eating it. It gave me the idea that I could take orders! That way, I can meet my love of baking and decorating, but won’t have any other choice than to part with the cake when the customer comes calling for it.

I haven’t gotten around working on the idea yet, but yet it’s firmly planted, thanks to this group. I love the immense talent here and I can spend a whole day looking at each and every creation.

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Coming to the recipe here, I wanted an easy to do recipe and this banana bread fits the bill perfectly. I bake it frequently.

The first picture is an egg less version. The second one(blue background) has eggs and is almost fully whole wheat flour. I prefer the one with eggs (I always prefer egg in bakes). There was some left over melted chocolate which I swirled onto the top of the first bread.

You can refer the notes to check out the variations.

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Recipe adapted from: Food.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 large bananas)
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  •  2 eggs (you can skip this and add milk later to the batter if it’s not wet enough)
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup flour (can replace this with whole wheat itself)
  • 1 cup sugar (can be reduced to 3/4 cup)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a loaf pan.
  2. Mix/blend the bananas, oil, eggs,vanilla and yogurt together.
  3. Whisk the dry ingredients – whole wheat flour(atta), plain flour(maida), baking soda in a mixing bowl.
  4. Combine the dry and wet ingredients gently until no lumps remain. Don’t over mix the batter.
  5. Stir in the chopped nuts, if using.
  6. Transfer to the pan and bake for about 60-70 minutes. Take it out from the oven once a skewer comes out free of crumbs when inserted in the middle.

Notes:

  • Flour can be plain flour alone or whole wheat flour fully or a combination of two.
  • You can increase the sugar to 1.5 cups for a sweeter version or reduce it to 3/4 cup.
  • You can replace the fat with applesauce (yet to try that though, but I read somewhere you can do this) or melted butter.
  • The liquid can be milk, buttermilk or yogurt.
  • You can add the eggs or skip them totally. In the latter case, if the batter is dry, add a bit of liquid. 
  • You can add melted chocolate, peanut butter, berries, tutti frutti, chocolate chips, nuts to this and bake. 

banana bread

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