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.