Monday 27 May 2013

The Princess cake-Quadruple Chocolate delight

'Every Girl is a Princess to her Father and mother'

The Princess cake or rather The Swedish Prinsesstårta cake couldn't have been challenged at a better time by Korena, our host for this months Daring Baker's. 24th of May was our darling daughter Vaanya's second birthday and this cake was destined to be made for the grand day. Very frankly, one look onto the components and assembly of this cake scares you a lot but this cake is a lot simpler and is an amazing experience to remember for a long time. 
This cake was originally created in the 1930's by a Swedish home economics teacher named Jenny Åkerström, who taught the three Swedish princesses of the time. This was called the Princess cake as it was loved by them a lot. Originally it has layers of light sponge cake, raspberry jam, and vanilla custard/pastry cream, topped with a mound of fluffy whipped cream, covered in green marzipan, and garnished with a marzipan rose.
As this cake was meant for my daughter's(My princess's)birthday I was in no mood to experiment with the flavours. Therefore Chocolate it was for me!! And I love the way Korena called it a Quadruple Chocolate delight!!
Here is the Princess and her cake!

This certainly was not an easy cake to make in terms of the number of components, so I decided to start it all a day before. The assembly took place on the final day, which took me a lot of time because of the unbearable heat and humidity in our part of the world. Plus I was dealing with very heat vulnerable stuff like whipped cream and custard which kept melting away. The homemade marzipan was the worst to handle, it kept breaking and the more I rolled the more stickier it got and the more icing sugar it required!! Not to mention it did not turn out as smooth as the bought one. 
All these problems were washed up in one instance when the cake was brought out for cutting. The collective Wow's by my family made me feel so proud of the attempt. The cake was cut and I rushed to take a pic and while I did so, with my guests waiting very patiently, all the cream and custard melted away!!! So no pretty pics to show you all. The cake was collectively declared a Winner and the best cake I have ever made! Phew! The marzipan was too sweet and heavy for them to handle and it all got collected  on the sides of the plate but the cake was literally polished off with everyone asking for another helping.

My melting layers
Chocolate sponge: I followed my tried and tested chocolate cake recipe 

  • 2 cups sugar(powdered)
  • 1 3/4 cups refined flour
  • 3/4 cups cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 cup boiling water
Preheat oven to 180 degree Celsius. Grease and line a 9" round baking tin.
Take a bowl and mix sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla essence. Mix well so all the ingredients are well incorporated. Stir in boiling water (do not worry about lumps) The batter will be quite thin. 
Pour the batter in the prepared tin.
Bake for 40 mins or till a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Cool the cake on a rack.

Chocolate Ganache:

  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cream 
Bring cream to a boil and pour on the chopped chocolate. Whisk well so that it mixes well and keep aside.

Chocolate Custard:

Ingredients :
  • 4 tbsp of Vanilla custard powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 3 tbsp Sugar(or to taste)
Add milk and cream to a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Add sugar and let it dissolve. 
Take custard powder in a bowl and add little cold milk/water to make a paste.
Add this in a stream to the boiling milk and cream mixture. Stir well and let it thicken.
If required add more custard powder, dissolved in cold milk/water.
Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Refrigerate till further use.

Chocolate whipped cream:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup chopped chocolate, chopped
Boil cream in a saucepan. Add this to the bowl of chopped chocolate, stir well. 
Allow to cool to room temperature.
Refrigerate for further use(at least 2 hours) 


  • 100 gms ground almonds
  • 200 gms icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup(I substituted with liquid glucose
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice or water
If using whole almonds, blanch them in boiling water for a minute and strain them. Rub off their skin and dry them in a kitchen towel. Dry heat them on low flmae very carefully to remove any moisture. Allow to cool and make a fine powder with little sugar in a mixer.
Place ground almonds and icing sugar in a bowl and combine them. Add liquid glucose and lemon juice and knead to a smooth ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate till used.

Whip the heavy cream to stiff peaks. Refrigerate till required.
Slice the chocolate cake in three layers and set aside the middle layer for the dome.
Place one layer of cake on a cake board(I used the lid of my plastic container and wrapped it with aluminium foil) 
Spread the chocolate ganache on it (If it has thickened a lot, warm in the microwave for 10-15 secs)
Put in the freezer for 5-10 mins to set.
Spread half of the chocolate custard.
Freeze again for 10-15 mins for it to set.
Place another layer of the cake and spread the remaining chocolate custard on it.
Freeze again till set.(Notice I required a lot of freezing because of the extreme heat and humidity)
Reserve half a cup of the whipped cream and pile the rest into a mound on top of the custard layer.
Shape it in a dome.
Place the final layer of cake on top of the whipped cream. Do not press on top of the cake. Refrigerate for 10-15 mins.
Spread the remaining cream onto the entire cake and the sides. Refrigerate again till required.
Mix some brown food colouring to a large part of the marzipan, reserving little for the decorations.
Dust your work surface with some icing sugar and roll out the brown marzipan enough to cover the entire cake. With the help of a rolling pin, gently cover the cake with the marzipan. Trim excess. Refrigerate the cake.
Make three portions with the remaining marzipan and add red, yellow and orange food colours. Roll out the yello marzipan and with a knife shape a Tiara. Make small balls with the orange marzipan and put as gems on the tiara. Roll out some pink marzipan and cut a heart shape and put in the center of the tiara. 
Roll out pink and orange marzipans and cut round shape for the polka dots and put on the cake.
Roll out some yellow marzipan and cut out a banner. Write message on it with a toothpick dipped in food colour.
Make small balls from the leftover pink, yellow and orange marzipans and put them around the cake at the botttom. 

The lone survivor Piece of the cake
The Tiara for the little Princess
 Happy Princess cake eating

Sunday 26 May 2013

Khubani ka meetha/Apricot Fool

Khubani/Qubani ka meetha is an authentic and very traditional Hyderabadi desert recipe. Made of dried apricots, it is served especially during weddings. Khubani/Qubani is an urdu word which means 'Apricot' and Meetha translates to 'Sweet'. This desert  involves boiling apricots with syrup until they assume the consistency of a thick soup or compote. The dessert is then topped with blanched almonds or apricot kernels, and is traditionally garnished with malai (thick cream from Buffalo milk), and also with custard or ice cream.This recipe was challenged to the SNC north group by Roha of Hyderabadi cuisine
I decided to try this classic desert with custard and name it an Apricot Fool.
A fool is one of the quickest, easiest, and most awesomely named desserts that we know. Dating as far as the sixteenth century, a Fool is a classic English dessert and is believed to earn the name from a French word 'fouler' which means 'to mash' or 'to press'. A fruit fool begins by making a puree from fresh, dried or frozen fruit. Traditionally a  fool is a delicious mixture of lightly sweetened and pureed fruit with sweet custard. Modern recipes skip the custard and use whipped cream.


  • 1/2 cup (75-80 gms) dried Apricots/Khubani
  • 2-3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 clove
  • 1 green cardamom
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp vanilla custard powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp sugar (for making the custard)

Wash and soak dried apricots overnight. 
Remove and reserve the liquid for later use(It will have a lovely golden brown tinge)
De-seed and remove the apricot kernel.
Remove the nut inside the seed with the help of a nut cracker or with a pestle. You will find a small almond shaped nut inside which you may blanch in boiling water to remove the skin or keep some just as it is for decoration.
Take a non stick saucepan over medium heat, add the reserved liquid(used for soaking) and the apricots. Allow to boil.
Add clove and slightly crushed cardamom and let it simmer for 10-15 mins.
Add sugar and stir. Mash the apricots and cook till the mixture becomes thick and mushy. This is the apricot compote.
Allow to cool.
Meanwhile, make vanilla custard. Boil milk and add sugar. Take a small bowl and dissolve custard powder with a little cold milk/water. Add this to the boiling milk and stir well. Allow to Cool.


Take a bowl/glass and make desired layers of the apricot compote and vanilla custard. 
Garnish with some chopped apricot nut and whole nuts(with skin).

  • Be careful while adding sugar as it may vary with the variety of apricots used or with individual taste.
  • You may serve the Khubani/apricot compote with whipped cream, ice cream or even thick cream/malai.
  • You may garnish with some almonds and pista.

Happy Khubani Fool Eating

Thursday 16 May 2013

New York Style Pizza-from scratch

'Ideas are like pizza dough, made to be tossed around.'
Anna Quindlen

When we were kids, Pizza and Burgers was such an exotic food item. I remember in Kolkata, there was a joint called Corner Cafe that used to sell the first burgers and we as kids thought of it as a big style statement to stand and eat those humongous pieces, along with a sip of Coca Cola, of course!! These American food items was introduced in our vocabulary by the famous Archies comic books and I would wonder how a Hot Dog or Pizza would taste like. 
Here in India, we love to adapt everything(literally)to suit our culture. And so when the Pizza and burger made an entry here, we twisted and turned and changed the recipe to suit our taste buds. (Ditto with the chinese food). Burgers here was available in its Veggie Avataar than the original Beef/Pork ones and the Pizza was nothing like how it looked in Archies!!
Today, is a little different story though, Big Foodie names have arrived with the biggest bang. Now you can very easily get the best Pizza with a range of toppings and can also choose from the variety of crust options.
This months Baking Partners challenge is the New York Style Pizza, which as I learnt is a thin crusted pizza, hand tossed and made from High-gluten Bread flour. I Indianized the recipe(just like how we do everything!!) and substituted bread flour with All purpose flour. I halved the recipe and so could not create the authentic 18" pizza. 

Recipe   suggested by Archana of Tangy Minds adapted from Serious Eats

Ingredients:I halved the recipe to get 4 medium sized Pizzas
  • 2 1/4 cup All purpose flour
  • 3/4 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 4-5 medium sized Tomatoes
  • 1 onion, sliced finely
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 8-10 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Salt to taste 


Combine flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a bowl. Add olive oil and mix. Knead by adding little water at a time(about 1 cup) to a smooth ball. Transfer dough to lightly floured surface and knead till it passes the Window Pane test
Cover with a damp muslin cloth and let it rise in a well oiled bowl in a warm place for an hour or place in a zip-lock bag and put in the refrigerator for 1-5 days. If refrigerated, take out 2 hours before baking and allow to rise for 1 hour.

Meanwhile prepare the sauce.
Puree the tomatoes in a blender or grate in a grater. 
Combine butter and oil in a pan over medium heat and add garlic and sliced onions. Cook for a few minutes and add tomato puree, sugar and oregano. Bring to a boil and let it simmer till thickens. Add salt as required. Allow to cool. Can be refrigerated for upto 2 weeks.

Preheat oven to 200 degree Celsius.
Divide dough into 4 balls. Roll each ball to a 5-6"circle, leaving the outer edge a little higher.
Prick with a fork all over.

Transfer to the baking pan and spread 1/4 of the sauce evenly. Add the toppings of your choice. I added capsicum slices, paneer cubes and sweet corn.
Sprinkle grated mozarella cheese over it and bake for 15-20 mins or till the cheese on top melts and browns.
Prepare the remaining Pizza in the same manner.

My pizzas about to go in the oven, showing here one with the toppings and another covered with cheese
And here they are, already digged in !!
Pizza Making and Baking is an amazing experience and is a must try for home bakers. 

Happy Pizza Eating

Monday 13 May 2013

Torcettini di Saint Vincent-Yeasted cookies

Crash down!!!
That is what happened to my External Hard disk, a few days back. In one split second I lost all my precious stuff, mainly my daughter Vaanya's pictures and videos. I had very diligently stored all the wonderful memories of her growing up days from the very first month. In fact, I had made separatete folders for each month which stored all her pictures and videos. Imagine losing all that, one fine day. I could do nothing but curse myself for not creating a back up. 
The other thing which I lost, were all the pictures taken to be put on the blog, including today's post. Thankfully I had put up these 2 pictures on our Facebook group from where I could retrieve them.
We tried our best to retrieve some data from the hard disk for a couple of days and eventually went to the concerned company's service center where we were told that the hard disk is beyond any repair. All my hard work in attempting to store Vaanya's amazing growing up days went straight into the drain. We were so heart broken, but found some solace in the fact that we can retrieve some pics and videos from Facebook where I have been regularly posting, thanks to my Mother-in-law.
The baking challenge for last month's We Knead to Bake was these sugar crusted Twisted cookies from Valle d' Aosta, a small mountainous region in North-Western Italy. Since I had lost my pics and was waiting and hoping to retrieve, this post comes a few days late.
The recipe is adapted from Nick Malgieri’s A Baker's Tour

Ingredients: I halved the recipe
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 tsp Instant yeast
  • 3/4 cup All purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder(for the chocolate ones)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest & orange zest
  • 20 gm unsalted butter, cold and cut in small pieces
  • 4-5 tbsp sugar for rolling the cookies
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and keep aside.
Take a bowl and mix flour and salt. Add butter pieces and mix till the mixture looks powdery.
Take 2 bowls and in each, put half of the flour-butter mixture. 
To one, add lemon zest and half of the yeast mixture and mix till it comes together as a ball.
To the other, add cocoa powder, orange zest or 1/4 tsp instant coffee powder and the remaining yeast mixture. Mix well till it forms a ball.
Place both the dough balls in separate well oiled bowls, turning to coat it well. 
Cover with a damp muslin cloth and let it rise for an hour. The dough should look puffy in an hour and the inside, after pinching, should resemble a bit like honeycomb. 
Press down the dough and deflate, wrap in a clingfilm and refrigerate for 1 hr or upto 24 hrs(for later use)
Take both the dough out and roll in 3'' square shape, separately. Cut each into 2 strips of equal width and cut each strip into 3. Finally you will have 6 pieces of white dough and 6 pieces of brown dough. 
Roll 3 pieces of white and 3 pieces of brown dough to a pencil thick rope. Sprinkle sugar on your work surface and roll the rope on it so that the sugar coats the dough. Make a loop with the dough crossing it over at the end. These will yield the traditional and chocolate variants.
I experimented further to get a half&half by attaching half of each coloured dough and a marble effect by mixing the dough and then rolling it.
Place on a baking sheet and leave for 20 mins. 
Bake at 160 degree Celsius for 25 mins or till golden brown.

The cookies stay best on the same day after which they might get a bit chewy. 
All in all, it was a very different bake with yeast in cookies!!
Check out what the others members have created here 

Happy Cookie eating

Wednesday 1 May 2013

Surprise Chocolate Heart Cake for First Kolkata Blogger's meet!

The only thing that should surprise us is that there are still some things that can surprise us.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld

All of us love surprises. At least the good ones.
When I was in school, it was a norm to surprise each other with little handmade personalized stuff, you know, the kind of things girl's do. Birthdays, in fact, is the most perfect occasion to surprise. Vishal has many a times surprised me with the most gorgeous bunch of flowers, sweet handwritten cards and delicious fingerlicking food. Therefore, it is no secret that I love getting and giving Surprises!
Sayantani, surprised me a month back by adding me to Kolkata Food Bloggers page on FB. I have always wanted to know like minded people in my city and was wondering if there are any. I was completely surprised and bowled over, knowing such famous bloggers admist them. A meet was decided and we all jointly agreed on the 28 of April. Not knowing what else to gift them, the Mad Baker in me, decided to bake this Surprise Chocolate heart cake which has been lying in my 'Must try' list for some time. A surprise cake to surprise fellow bloggers sounded so right.
Vishal helped me by looking after our daughter Vaanya, while I was rustling up this cake on the 'D' day. The cake takes that extra time as it is baked twice making you to do the entire process two times. I chose on a tried and tested 'no butter' cake recipe that I have adapted from Suma Rowjee's blog Cakes and Bakes. The cake always turns out soft and has just that right amount of sweetness.
I was pretty surprised myself with the end result as this was a first time bake. The sweet little pretty chocolate heart was right there in the middle of my cake surprising me to ends. The extra time I spent baking and then wrapping up these beauties made me late for the much awaited meet. But I guess the surprised faces paid off for all the hard work. Felt truly elated to bake this for my fellow buddies. 
It was an afternoon well spent knowing and meeting such amazing bloggers. We had a whale of time and plan another meet very soon, catching up with all those who could not this time. I have linked their names to their famous blogs for you to check out their amazing food. 
Meet the Foodies!!


Chocolate hearts

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp sugar, powdered(Do not skip the 2 tbsp, they make the cake just sweet)
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil 
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Prepare the loaf tin by greasing and lining with butter paper.
Since my loaf tin was bigger in size than my requirement, I made a false wall with foil paper and stuffed lightly crushed foil paper in the leftover space to make the cake size smaller. 

Sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder,baking powder and baking soda in a bowl.
Whisk together yogurt, oil and egg in another bowl.
Fold in this wet mixture into the flour mixture.  Mix well.
Pour into prepared pan.
Bake  for 30 mins or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack.

Once your cake is cool enough to handle, remove the dome of the cake (level it)and cut into 8 slices.

Now, with the help of a cookie cutter, cut shapes out of the slices.(I used a heart cookie cutter, you may try with other shapes like a star) 

Grease and line the same loaf tin again.
Stack the hearts in the middle of the tin, a little tilted to rest.

Now prepare the white cake batter
White cake batter

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar(powdered) 
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1/2 cup+2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence  
Procedure :
Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl.
Whisk together yogurt, oil, vanilla essence and egg in another bowl. 
Fold in this wet mixture into the flour mixture. Mix well.
Pour into prepared tin over the chocolate hearts. 
Bake  for 30-35 mins or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. 
Cool on a wire rack and remove from tin

White cake batter poured over the chocolate hearts
The cake after baking
Level the cake with the help of a knife.

Cut equal sized slices from the cake, serve and surprise.

  • You may use any other cake recipe to make this Surprise cake.
  • Try the same effect with a different shaped cookie cutter.
  • Try different colours for a more dramatic look, like making the hearts red for a perfect Valentine treat.

I wrapped them in plastic covers and tied the ends with a red ribbon to gift all my wonderful fellow food bloggers. Vishal wrote down little thoughtful tags for them in his beautiful handwriting.

The Gang (Pic courtsey: a passerby clicking through Sarani's camera and Editing courtsey :Arundhuti) Your's truly in Green:)

Happy Surprising 


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