Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Desi Chai Cupcakes and Shark Tank !

Rack your brains as much as you want but chances are extremely slim to none that you will find a connection between chai cupcakes and shark tank or even chai and sharks alone for that matter. The above statement will hold true before reading the blog post of course. Once, you have acquainted yourself with the text that  follows, the mystery will be  solved or in simpler terms , you might see the connection that prompted me to name the title so . You see, I long to keep interesting titles for my blog posts and when this unusual one came along in my brain , I simply couldn't ignore it . The thought that it may pique the reader's interest and this generate more curiosity for the blog post also prompted my naming it such. The mention of a genial beverage based cupcakes with a gritty business reality show is enough to raise eyebrows but here is the story behind it .
You see, tomorrow is the last day of school for my 4th grader. But instead of watching  movies or playing games as is the norm during the days leading to the summer vacation , their class is holding a "Shark Tank" type  business show where you the students will be pitching their products to the teachers and hoping to secure a loan.Daughter dearest and her friend's business is a "cupcakery" (no surprises there ).As such, the product they will be presenting to the sharks for approval has be to delicious, out of this world cupcakes. That is where the chai parts come. Everyone appreciates the advantage of a unique product in business , hence ditching the chocolate route , decided to got for the desi chai route for some exotic scoring.
The chai scene has really exploded internationally . The word itself has gained widespread popularity with hardly a soul unaware of it's meaning. It had become the new exotic beverage of choice and all major coffee shops proudly display in on their daily offerings board. As it happens with any new edible product that catches people's fancy, this one got multiple makeovers too . From cookies to shortbread and even to sandwiches , it had been fully embraced by the baking community . Yours truly was no exception and chai cake has found it's way into this blog post . But with these cupcakes, I have tried things a little differently . Gone is the condensed  milk and the addition is the chai frosting . So, without further ado, here is the recipe for the same.

Chai milk Infusion
6 oz whole milk
2-3 cardamom pods
2-3 cloves
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tablespoon heaped tea leaves

1 stick butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup self rising flour  (Recipe for self rising flour-1 cup flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder,1/4 tsp                                         salt)
3 eggs
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
2 tbsp chai milk infusion

2 sticks butter
2 cups sugar
4 tbsp chai milk infusion

Pre Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a muffin tray with cupcake liners.
In a saucepan over medium heat , take the whole milk and to it add cardamoms,cloves and the  fennel seeds.
Now add the tea leaves, stir and wait for the mixture to boil .
Once it starts boiling , remove  from flame, cover it with a lid and let it steep for 5 minutes.
Then, sieve it into another container and let it cool.
In a bowl , take the unsalted butter and sieve over it all the dry ingredients like flour,soda,sugar and cinnamon powder.
Next, comes the eggs and whisk it all for about 1 minute.
Time to add the chai tea infusion and whisk it for another 1 minute.
Pour the batter into the cupcakes liners  and bake for about 20-25 minutes
Remove from oven and let cool .
For the frosting , whisk the butter for about 5 minutes till it is really pale.
Now add the icing sugar in stages while continuing to beat.
When the sugar is mixed in , add 4 tbsp of  chai infusion for the flavor.
Mix it well and pour the icing into a piping bag and decorate the top of the cupcakes.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Orange Upside Down Cake and New Year Vibes !

We are two months and four days past the New Year but still can't help making a reference to it  as  I proudly proclaim this particular blog post to be my first one of 2017. No mean feat considering the fact that  writing baking blog posts has  taken a backseat lately . But, hey another year has  dawned and I for one  intent to fully embrace the positive spirits that New Year brings . Sincerely wishing  that  maybe this year will be different from last year in the fact that  I might surprise you guys with ample quantity of new blog posts though the strict definition of "ample" in this case might be debatable. Whatever number of blog posts I end up writing this year , lets give it a good solid start with this particular one which is for an sticky  upside down orange cake. It is my way of paying culinary homage to the current citrus season.
So, grab your cloth grocery bags and make the trip to your nearest food store or farmer's market to stock up on these seasonal delights . In my case, it is our neighborhood H-Mart  which opened recently and carries a huge variety of greens at not too bad prices. My visit to this Korean food store was prompted by my excitement while visiting "exotic" food stores. I can spend many a happy hour exploring  the aisles for exotic and foreign ingredients in the hope that they might inspire my next bake . Did not get sufficiently inspired this time so another visit is in order but the visit was not entirely unproductive as  I did manage to get some juicy oranges for my upside down cake.

Coming to the actual preparation of this particular bake, like any upside down cake, you need a sticky base at the bottom where you place the fruit batter that will rise in sufficient amount when placed on top of the fruit and result in a good even bake in the oven.Normally, we make a brown sugar-butter base like in pineapple upside cake but here we will be going for candied orange slices which we will be making ourselves.For the batter, we will also incorporate some almond meal along with all purpose flour and the baking temperature will be reduced to 325 degrees fahrenheit.You could beat the egg whites separately for the rise but I am not feeling too much inclined towards that method. I will beat my eggs whole though I might add some orange essence.


Sticky Orange Topping
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
2 oranges thinly sliced

The Cake
4 eggs
1 cup castor sugar
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup almond meal
6 oz butter
2 tsp baking powder

For the topping -

Take a saucepan and to it add  water,sugar and vanilla .
Place it on medium heat .(You may add some cinnamon and star anise to it for flavor)
Keep on stirring over medium heat   until all the sugar has dissolved. 
Now add the orange slices and let them simmer for 15 minutes until soft.
Remove from heat and keep aside to cool.

For the Cake -

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare the cake pan by greasing and coating it with flour.
In a bowl. place the  eggs, sugar and vanilla .Whisk them with the help of an electric mixer till they become pale and become triple in volume.
Now sift the flour over the egg mixture and fold in .
Next is the turn of  melted butter and almond meal to be  folded in the mixture.
In a greased cake pan,  place the orange slices at the bottom.

Over the oranges, pour the cake mixture and level it with  a spatula.
Bake for 40-45 minutes till a needle inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Cool and serve it along with your favorite beverage.

Note : The blog post was written some time in March but posted in May . We understand that the year is not new anymore but the author would still like to believe so .

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Smiley Face Brownies!!! :)

  So, brownies. Haven't done them in a while. Last brownies I remember finding themselves on the blog were the Black Bean Brownies way back in May of 2015. Now , that is a long time to go without brownies. Seriously !! Well actually, I didn't even  bake the brownies then. Last I checked, my mom did. That's right. I'm not the famous Harveen Roy. I'm her daughter, Yagyesha Roy with some good old fashioned chocolate brownies.Since they are my first bake, I am going ahead and giving them a fancy name - "Smiley Face Brownies."
Why this name, you ask ? The picture should give a clue. Well, there was more text on the surface of the brownies which you will come to know later but the smiley got lucky as it got to be the one which got photographed and thus found itself  on the pages on this blog.

Okay, now that we've got that out of the way, let's talk about brownies! When somebody says brownies, what comes into your mind? The All-American fudgy ones, with the crust breaking apart? Or perhaps the ones stacked on top of one another, soft and warm to the touch, fudgy and decadent to taste? Whatever your definition of brownies is, you'll get the brownies of your dreams when you bake these( provided you measure the ingredients accurately and follow the recipe instructions precisely. (Except minus the fudgy part, because these are more cakelike.) My brother declared them to even better than mean feat considering how good of a baker she is and also because  if you have an elder brother you know how stingy they are with compliments.

So these days I haven't been going on a shopping spree, but on a brownie one.( I hate shopping.) I've already baked brownies twice before, but that was using a mix. But it was also on 2 consecutive days. Then I took a break. For one day.(No one can never get enough brownies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) My brother was going to D.C. for 3 days as part of his NJHS team , and his teachers told them to bring small snacks along for the journey , (Well brownies aren't small snacks, but I had to make them. They were just going to have to deal with it.) so I made brownies from scratch.  We didn't have any mixes left and Mom wasn't about to go get me another one especially when she kept reminding me that all ingredients to make them were available in our pantry.From scratch it was then   So, I followed one of her  recipes and accomplished my first from scratch bake. I decorated the top with a "Have a great trip" message with a smiley at the end . 

1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 eggs
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder

1. Preheat the oven to 350℉ and prepare your baking tray (grease and flour it ).
2. Take a saucepan and melt the butter on the stovetop..
3. Remove from the stovetop  and mix in vanilla extract, eggs, and sugar
4. Then slowly beat in the salt, cocoa powder, baking powder, and flour . 
5. Transfer the  batter into the prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes.
6. Cool them on a wire rack , cut into individual slices and enjoy with your friends.
(Making smiley faces on them is entirely optional :-)).
Baked by : Yagyesha Roy

Friday, October 14, 2016

Pumpkin Bread and Retro Fashion Show

My love for books has always found a place here in my baking blog. If you have been following me  , you probably know that I almost always bake for my monthly book club meeting  and thus the mention of the current read finds it way in my blog posts. Like always, I am looking forward to the Halloween themed cake for my next horror genre inspired book club meeting but for now , let's focus on another of my pursuits -taking part in a retro fashion show for Durga Pujo celebrations. I can't claim participating in fashion shows as a hobby pursuit or passionate inclination but after forty , one tends to be adventurous and with some real positive encouragement from friends , one tends to find oneself wearing high heels and walking down the stage .
Our retro fashion show was a tribute to Bangla cinema and as such we had to focus on some dancing too . That difficult task was accomplished by taking lessons from more experienced friends in the few practice sessions we had . When it came my turn to host one of those session, I decided that we all deserved some rich pumpkin bread for all the hard work we were putting in . It's official pumpkin season , why then think of  something else. I have baked  eggless healthy pumpkin bread earlier but this time , my mood was more along the lines of baking a traditional comfort food one , something to warm the soul as well as the body in this chilly October weather .It did it's job perfectly -tasting decadently rich and making us relaxed enough to chat without worrying about time on a week night .
So, next time you guys have girl friends over for fashion show practice or book club meeting , do give this recipe a try . Your friends will love you after eating it . To up the "oomph" factor of this bread, you could also add 1 cup chocolate chips along with the nuts. I left that out cause I had already made some pumpkin chocolate muffins last year  and as such wasn't particularly inclined to them . Another variation to the recipe which you guys can do is to add some pumpkin pie spice . Do remember to leave out the nutmeg powder then . Whether you decide to bake it exactly same or go for variation , would love to hear back from you . Enjoy the wonderful hues of the season and keep baking.

Ingredients -

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin
1/3 cup water
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2  tsp baking soda
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts

Method -
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease as well as flour a loaf pan.

In a large bowl , mix all the wet ingredients - eggs, oil , water, sugar , pumpkin and water.

While stirring , add the dry ingredients - flour, baking soda , baking powder , salt ,nutmeg and vanilla.
Now, gently mix in the walnuts with the help of a spatula.
Transfer the mixture uniformly in the loaf pan with the help of a spoon. Sprinkle some coarse sugar on the top if so desired.
Bake for about  an hour (40-60 mins) until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean .

Remove from the oven , cool on a wire wire and cut into individual slices when done.
Serve with a beverage of your choice and enjoy.

Here are link to my other pumpkin recipes-
Pumpkin Donuts
Pumpkin Chocolate Muffins
Pumpkin Ginger Scones
Eggless Healthy Pumpkin Bread

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Cherry Coffee Cake with Streusel Topping for German Themed Book Club Pick !

Gentle Readers of my blog might  be familiar with the fact that yours truly runs a local book club . We meet once a month , discuss the chosen book a "little" and gorge on  super yummy food a "lot". The latter is due to the fact that all members are such talented cooks as well as being ardent book lovers. Though , we might not admit it outright but the call of the food at the meeting is more than the lure of our current read . Well, to be fair , we all love books without question but I guess we are even bigger foodies. As luck would have it , our members come from diverse parts of India so our book club food boasts of having the finest culinary treats  from each region .Yes, we are blessed that way . Tempted to join our book club ? I hope you read the part where I mentioned that it was "local".So, unless you reside somewhere in the Research Triangle Area , the chances of joining it are negligible . I would strongly encourage you to start your own and fervently pray that the members are united by the love of food as well as books.

The above pic is from (I  think you must have guessed by now) our meeting where I  decided to make cherry coffee cake with streusel topping in keeping with the German theme of  our current read "the Book Thief ". For those unfamiliar with streusel , let me enlighten you . The word itself means "to sprinkle" and refers to the crumb topping , the kind you see even in the pictured cake.The topping is made by mixing soft butter, sugar and butter with a hint of cinnamon and is strewn on top of the cake or any rich pastry product. Though it is called cherry coffee cake, the coffee is missing from the ingredient list . Coffee cake is a general term for a cake served along with tea /coffee and having a streusel topping. The streusel might be in form of a swirl and the cake itself might have a filling of fruit and nuts.I decided to do away with the nuts because I was filling them with cherry fruit which in my opinion tastes divine on its own. The fruit filling came in form of a can which can be purchased from the super market as pie filling.

Ingredients :
2 cups flour divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon,divided
1/2 cup butter divided into tablespoons
1 cup sugar divided
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup cream
1 (21 ounces) can cherry pie filling
1 teaspoon water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
In a bowl, sift the dry ingredients ( 1 3/4 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon) and set aside.
In another bowl, mix 5 tablespoons butter, 3/4 cup sugar, until creamy, with the help of an electric mixer on high speed.
Now blend in the eggs one at a time along with the vanilla.
With the help of a spatula, fold in the flour mixture alternating with the cream until well combined.
Transfer the batter into the greased pan making a well for the cherries. Now carefully spoon the cherry filling over the batter.
Keep it baking in the oven for about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, we'll move on to making the streusel. 
In a bowl combine the remaining 1/2 cup flour, sugar, butter, and cinnamon until it has a crumbly texture. 
After the 40 minutes take the cake pan out of the oven and sprinkle the streusel on top.

Bake for another 20 minutes and check for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the middle of the cake and checking if it comes out clean.
Enjoy it hot preferably in the company of loved ones or friends.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Eggless Avacado Cake and Healthy Indulgences !

Nothing can be more indulging than devouring decadently rich  chocolate cake !! Everyone deserves a good (maybe oversized ) portion of the above mentioned indulgence Feeling guilty  is almost expected afterwards but what  if we could do  away with it altogether? I mean what if we could eat the cake and show the guilt the exit door . Yes, it is possible..if you bake yourself an eggless butter-less decadent avacado chocolate cake. Avacado in a cake ,you say ? Where do you think the rich decadence  come from ? Addition of the avacado make the texture like carrot cake making it a prime candidate for being a healthy treat .
Healthy is what I had in mind while deciding on a cake recipe to bake on the occasion of my father-in-law's 85th birthday . This eggless butter-less fit the bill perfectly . It won many compliments and no one could believe that avacado was one of the ingredients !! Even hubby dearest who also happens to be my most fierce critic gave it a literal "Thumbs Up" !! You guys can imagine my delight !! This recipe is a keeper and for this reason alone I am updating it on the blog with an alacrity that I haven't displayed in recent months. 

The original inspiration comes from here but I was reluctant to make two 9 inch ones (two much of a good thing ?) so look the liberty of modifying the recipe ..essentially halving it . The results was scrumptious nevertheless . If you are in a mood for overindulgence, follow the original recipe otherwise this one should do the trick. Make sure the avacado is mashed smoothly , the flour is aerated properly and the oven temperature is just right . The sugar quantity can also be lowered to eliminate the guilt factor altogther so please decrease the quantity at your own discretion . 

Ingredients - 
1 1/2 all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp oil
1/2 avacado , mashed to smooth paste
1 cup water
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sugar

Method -
Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C . Grease a cake pan and flour it with cocoa powder.
Take a  bowl and whisk the dry ingredients - flour, cocoa powder , baking powder , baking soda and salt.
In another bowl , whisk the wet ingredients -oil, mashed avacado , water , vinegar and vanilla.
Once properly mixed , add the sugar .
Now, add the this mixture to the flour mixture and mix well .
Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake for about 30 minutes.
Take out of the oven , let cool for 10 minutes and then cut into desired shape.
Enjoy with a beverage of your choice.