Archive | September, 2013

Sponge Cake – With dry fruits + Some baking tips :D

26 Sep

So I did bake that sponge cake a few weeks ago and wanted to try making one again to see if it was a fluke that it came out that well. The second attempt was quite cool too. The only extra thing that I did here was to chop a number of nuts and dry fruits and add them to the cake.

The key is to add them as early as possible so you can mix them with the cake batter much more easily. So for example, after you add yoghurt and the sugar and it’s just liquid, it’s a good idea to add a large amount of your dry fruits at this point and mix them well. Add the remaining bits at various stages and mix vigorously each time so they’re all blended well with the batter. Don’t just sprinkle them on the top, they may get burnt. (Mom says they will get burnt so that’s probably true)

A few other tips:

– Add things bit by bit. Mix after each bit. It prevents spilling and cleaning the mess up.

– Stir slowly initially but once it’s clear that things won’t splash out, increase the pace of stirring.

– It’s important to have the right amount of sugar. Don’t scrimp on that else the cake doesn’t taste good.

– The moment the fork or toothpick comes out clean, switch the oven off. Test as frequently as you can within the 30 minutes of baking time.

– If there’s too much heat or the vessel is too small, the cake breaks up. I think so anyway…coz this one started cracking at the top and since all the ingredients were the same (apart from the dry fruits) and the quantities were the same..I think it’s the heat..but I’m not sure.

More later 🙂

Veg Fried Rice

18 Sep

My first attempt at Chinese cooking then :). I’ve always loved fried rice and veg manchurian and I used to eat it a lot when I went out in Mumbai. So I decided to try and make it last Sunday.

a) Cook rice as usual in the pressure cooker. The only difference this time is that the rice grains need to be a little separate and not all mashed up or soft. So add a little less water than usual, it still needs to be fully cooked mind you, just a little drier than usual.

b) Cut half a carrot, a few french beans and a few cabbage leaves into small pieces. Cook those too in a pressure cooker to soften them a little. Again, switch the cooker off a little before usual, you want your veggies to be a little raw for fried rice.

c) Cut 1/4 to 1/2 a normal red/pink onion and a few spring/green onions into small pieces. The amount of spring/green onion you use should be a little more than the normal onion. Cut a few celery sticks into small pieces. Try and keep the size of the pieces similar for all the vegetables that you use.

d) Fry the onion and the celery pieces for a little while. I cooked the celery sticks a little too, in the pressure cooker but that might not be needed as you do want that slight rawness in your vegetables.

e) Take a spoon of Soya sauce, a spoon of chilly sauce, half a spoon of vinegar and a spoon of tomato sauce and mix them all together separately. The measurements are all approximate. Soya sauce will make the rice darker, vinegar more sour and chilly more spicy. Adjust the quantities depending on how you like your food.

f) Add all the other veggies to the onion and mix well. Add the rice and mix well. Now add the sauce and mix well. Add salt to the rice and mix well. Let it all cook for a little while on a low flame; maybe 10 minutes or so. That’s all I left it on for; because remember – the veggies are already cooked.

g) Serve with more sauce, or chips or with Manchurian gravy if you know how to make it :). Enjoy.

Sponge Cake

9 Sep

So this recipe is all all Mom who got this after looking at multiple other sites to find the simplest possible way for me to bake a cake. I just followed it word for word. It’s not something too original though, so credit is due to all the sites that Mom referred. But it came out really really well, one of the best cakes that I’d ever made. Er it was also the first cake I made ;). So here goes:

NOTE: Make sure you use the same cup/bowl throughout for mixing the ingredients together. The size does matter. Also note that the cake will rise inside the oven, so use a big enough vessel, so the cake doesn’t fall out and spoil your recipe.

a) Take a small cup. Fill the cup with curd; yes curd..since we’re not going to use eggs. Empty it into the cake bowl.

b) Take 3/4th cup of powdered sugar. Mix it with the curd. Mix really well, so the mixture is very smooth. You shouldn’t see lumps of sugar in the curd. If you do, it’s not smooth enough and you need to mix more.

c) Add 1 and a quarter table spoons of baking powder and half a table spoon of baking soda. Mix well again.

d) Take 1/2 a cup of oil. No you do NOT need butter :). Mix it with the existing mixture. Mix really really well again. The oil should not stand and shine on top of the mixture. While mixing the oil will splash a little and leak out of the bowl, so use a big enough bowl and wear an apron or dirty clothes while cooking 🙂

e) Once the mixture is smooth again, take one and a half cups of cake flour/maida/all purpose baking flour (I used this). Add the flour little by little, mixing it each time. If you add all of it too soon, the flour will thicken the mixture too soon and it’ll become hard to stir..and probably also fall out of the bowl. It’s powder after all and very light.

f) The mixture at the end should be quite thick and have a light brown colour, although this is probably dependent on the color of the flour that you’re using.

g) Preheat the oven to 390 degrees fahrenheit for 10 minutes. Then keep the cake mixture in a baking tray and put the tray into the oven.

h) After 10 minutes reduce the temperature to 356 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook for around 30 minutes.

i) After around 25 minutes poke the cake with a toothpick and see if it comes out clean with no cake bits sticking to it. If it does, your cake is done. Switch the oven off and let it stay inside for around 10 – 15 minutes.

j) Take the cake out. Cut it into small pieces and start eating 🙂

PAC [Beans and Lentils :)]

9 Sep

So this one is actually a typical South Indian recipe. I tend to call it PAC at home; it’s a short form for the Tamil version, pronounced as Perr-ooppoo-archa-karrrmadu. That just means ground lentils mixed with veggies. You know why I call it PAC though. So here’s how you make it.

a) Take some Chana Dal (lentils). Soak it in water for around 45 minutes to 1 hour.. Take it out and drain the water.

b) Grind the lentils into a rough paste in a mixer, just so the lentils aren’t whole or even half pieces any more.

c) Cut some French beans into small pieces. Cook the french beans and the ground paste in a pressure cooker for around 10-15 minutes. This is to soften it up a little and its something I universally do, it reduces the time it takes to cook and consumes less oil too.

d) Keep the paste in the fridge so it dries up. I tend to keep it overnight ideally but any time will do..as long as the water’s drained off and the paste is dry and crumbles if you break it up with your hands.

e) Take the dried paste and crush all the pieces into smaller pieces so the size of all the pieces is more or less even. You don’t need to do this and can directly fry the paste, but it’ll take much longer and you’ll have to use quite a bit of oil to prevent it from sticking to the frying pan.

f) Once the paste is broken up into a number of small pieces, take the amount you need and put it into a separate vessel. Take an equal amount of french beans and put it into the same vessel. Mix both well. The quantity doesn’t matter too much…you can out more beans or more paste…depending on what you like more; I just tend to put equal amounts.

g) Fry a little mustard, cumin, salt and turmeric and add the beans and lentil paste to it. You can grind some red chillies and add it to this if you’d like it a little spicy. Add any other dry powder to it to give it a taste that you would like but it’s not needed.

h) Fry it on a low flame, by the way, with just enough oil to ensure that the mustard and cumin splutter. Since everything is already cooked, you do not need to fry it for too long. Once everything is mixed, take it off the flame and serve with rice, rotis or bread.