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Friday, June 26, 2015

Mango Loaf Cake for it is Summer !

It's that time of the year when all desi people (myself included) go crazy for one pulpy fruit . Make that the king of fruits. The not so humble mango. If mango was a product it wouldn't even need to market itself..the lucky one !! Though mango is best consumed raw , one feels compelled to try other options ..that only if one has any mangoes left at all. Give my daughter a mango any day over a proper meal . There is something so inherently cute about finding mango smeared all over a kids face...here I go again on a tangent !
Coming back to edible mango variations, how about baking it in the form of a loaf cake ? Seasonal fruits are my weakness and if you have been following my blog , you know that I never shy away from baking them in new avatars. Why should the king of all fruits be left behind? The king did not disappoint in it's new avatar judging by how quickly it disappeared from it's serving tray . There are already demands for a repeat bake which proves that this recipe is a keeper . 

Ingredients -
Makes 2 loaves 

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour 
3 cups mango pulp (fresh or from a tin)
3 eggs
1 cup oil
1 cup sugar 
2 tsp cinnamon powder
2 tsp lime juice 
2 tsp baking soda 
1/2 tsp salt

Note: I omitted the sugar altogether which was fine for my taste but  would recommend adding  1/2 cup at the very  least .

Method -
Pre heat the oven to 325 degrees F and  grease as well as flour two loaf pans.
Sift all the dry ingredients - flour,salt,baking soda and cinnamon powder.
In a separate bowl , with the help of a hand mixer , blend the eggs, sugar and oil well for atleast 2 minutes.

Now add this to the dry ingredients batter along with the lemon juice and mango pulp.
Fold it all in with the help of a spatula .
Pour the batter into the loaf pans and bake for a 40 -45 minutes or till a tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean .

Cool on a wire rack  , cut into smaller pieces and enjoy this heavenly delight !

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Eggless Dates Cake and Special Occasions

I have never shied away from saying that I love trying different flavors in cakes rather than overly decorating them. Covering a cake in multiple layers of frosting may increase the "wow" factor but somehow doesn't appeal to me. I would much prefer to consume calories laden with flavour rather than trying to find flavours within layers of buttercream . Though cake decorating did fascinate with me for sometime but after many buttercream flowers later , a good cake for me is pure flavor and not spoonfull of sugary cream or even fondant for that matter. Last year tropical flavors were on my lust list and were incorporated into many bakes and for this year it seems as if exotic flavors have caught my fancy.

Baking an eggless date cake has been on  my bucket list for the past few months. But as in life , there is a time for everything seems true for baking as well. Other bakes kept on getting preference and the box of dates kept to itself in the pantry. Not that it did not give me forlorn glances !! I tried to pacify it by nibbling on a date or two every time I visited the pantry but that actually made it more morose . It seemed it was begging me to make it into something more deserving of it's stature. Finally it's prayers were answered when feeling particularly charitable on my special day , I gave it a new avatar - an eggless date cake.

Notes : The original recipe comes from here . Few liberties were taken by me . can't help it ! Instead of 18 dates as in the original recipe, Increased them to 24 . Sugar was decreased from 3/4 cup to 1/2 cup. You must have guessed the reason behind it..more natural flavor and less artificial one. The sugar I did use was brown sugar  and did not pack it tightly. The cake was still deliciously sweet and perfect for my taste buds. If you have more of a sweet tooth, do increase the amount of sugar by all means.

Ingredients -
24 dates ( pitted )
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup oil
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda

Method
Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease/flour a springform baking pan .
In a pan , bring the dates and milk to a boil and let cool for 20 minutes.
Now add the sugar to this mixture(dates and milk ) and give it a quick run in the blender to make a paste.

Take the paste out and add the oil to it.
Meanwhile , in a separate bowl , sift the flour along with the baking soda.
Now add the flour mixture to the date paste one spoonful at a time and mix well.
Transfer the batter into the greased pan and bake for 30 -35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Cool and release cake carefully.
Enjoy in square cut form or pie slices of your choice,

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Cottage Cheese Cookies and Gourmet Recipes !

It has been quite a while since I shared a cookie recipe with you guys. May be it is the weather thing. The cooler it is, the more we crave them or maybe it is just the holiday spirit that inspires  us to bake and exchange them with our loved ones.. Anyways, I was thinking along similar lines and decided to try a new cookie recipe for my blog even though the sweltering heat was doing it's best to make me stay away from the oven. By "new" I really meant something unique not the usual run of the mill chocolate or peanut butter cookies. 

My quest for the same took me to the local library where while searching through the  aisles of cookbooks, I was fortunate enough to come across the "Gourmet Cookie Book" covering best recipes from 1941 to 2009. I quickly grabbed it before another poor soul on a similar quest like mine could claim  for their own. I literally rushed back home and  started flipping through the various recipe pages . The one recipe that really caught my attention was the cottage cheese cookies from July,1962. Cottage cheese in cookies..my attention was definitely piqued and the result was this blog post.
As the book so eloquently states "Cottage cheese in cookies might sound strange but it is much like Ricotta, lending a subtle tang that mellows a sugar cookie into something nuanced and very lovely" ..Believe me when I say that the above mentioned words are so true. The cookies turned out perfect with such a great "cakey" texture and taste that it was hard to resist eating just one. Truly , they are such great tasting cookies that you will without a doubt bake them more than once and might even gift some to a good neighbour like I did. 

Note : I used store bought cottage cheese and though it had very little water , did not drain it.

Ingredients 

1/2 cup  butter ( 1 stick at room temperature)
1/4 cup cottage cheese (do not drain the water )
1 cup sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method -
Pre Heat the oven to 375 degrees F and gently grease two cookie sheets.
 With the help of a hand mixer, cream the butter and cottage cheese in a large bowl.
To this bowl, now add the sugar , vanilla extract and egg . Blend in well.
Time to add the sifted all purpose flour along with the salt and baking soda.
Mix them all well with the help of a spatula so that it gets dough like consistency .
With the help of a spoon or ice  cream scooper, place small balls of the dough on the cookie sheet. This will ensure even sized cookies.
Bake at 375 degrees F for 10 -15 minutes .
Let cool and enjoy plain or with a beverage of your choice.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Kids bake - Easy Eggless Chocolate Pudding

Two interesting things to report. The kids are home for the summer vacation and mommy dearest is having a "baking block" . Change that to "was having " since my daughter has rescued me from that predicament. It all started with a visit to the local library. We as a family pride ourselves on being voracious readers and as such on the very first day of the summer vacation ,headed to our favorite retreat aka the library to stock up our arsenal of books. While I was busy searching for vintage baking books to help with my bakers block, daughter dearest picked up a new mystery series on the recommendation of the librararian. God bless her for doing so because not only did it pique my daughter's interest but also had a recipe for the easiest chocolate pudding at the end . 
An eggless dessert which even the kids could make ..what could be better? A quick check in the closets and pantry assured us that we had the required ingredients at hand . No quick trip to the grocery story which I really detest. No preheating the oven which I don't detest but let's admit, we all sometimes want quick desserts so this being made in a microwave didn't bother me that much .My kids took turns stirring and whisking it . If you are getting a picture of well behaved kids , be rest assured ..they did bicker and quarrel while making this and even while waiting for it be cooled . Who gets seconds was also a topic for great debate in our house. 

So, if you are looking for some fun activities to do with the kids this summer vacation , why not try making this dessert with them. I personally believe that the kitchen is great learning space and getting the kids involved in the cooking process makes them more aware of what goes in their food leading to healthier choices and greater awareness. This particular dessert takes very little and thus an apt choice for kids who are just starting their cooking journey. Make it even more fun by providing them sprinkles or powdered sugar for decorating the pudding cups. 

Ingredients -
1/4 cup corn starch
1/4 cocoa powder ( I used Hershey's)
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/4 cup milk
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method
Take a microwave safe bowl and mix the cornstarch, cocoa and sugar in it. Make sure that the bowl is big as the pudding will bubble .

Now, add the milk. Stir it a bit. Don't worry of it is still lumpy.

Heat it in the microwave for 2 minutes. Use oven mitts to take it out and stir it with a wisk.

Keep it back in the microwave for another two minutes. carefully take it out with oven mitts and stir with a whisk. It should have hot chocolate like consistency.

It goes back again in the microwave for 2 minutes. The bowl will be hot so using the oven mitts take it out.
Give it a good stir using a whisk making sure there are no lumps.

Now, add the vanilla and butter. Stir it well to blend them all in and have a thicker consistency.

Pour into small cups and let cool. Cover them to prevent skin forming on the top. 

Keep them in the refrigerator and enjoy when cooled !

Recipe source : The Sasquatch escape by Suzanne Selfors