Thursday, December 25, 2014

Kerala Plum Cake / Rum/Brandy - Fruit Cake - Step by Step Recipe. Merry Christmas !


With few more years of experiences making cakes I feel I should be updating posts in my blog one at a time from now on. This Christmas cake recipe was posted in 2014 but  there's some changes that made my cake taste and look better so updating it here :) 

Christmas cake I made few years ago :) Photos looks better now and definitely the cake tastes better too so thought to update the recipe with the changes made



By the way Merry Christmas 2020 !!




Few years  back this time of the year, my Dad( Achachen ) was diagnosed with Cancer, the most unforgettable Christmas gift my family ever received and he lived for just an other month more,
from then Christmas never gave me much happiness as it used to. 
Still the feel of  Joy during Christmas is miraculous, laughter and cheers in the air is contagious, 
though this day is unforgettable in my life, I tend to forget the painful moments with the good spirit Christmas season spreads.
Fruit cake /Plum cake is  a Christmas specialty in Kerala, similar to the fruit cake the Westerners have during this time, assuming  it might  be the influence from the Europeans when they ruled.


Following my Mom's recipe passed on to her from her Mom 😍

The quantity given here makes  one 8- inch sized cake.
But there's  no specific measurement cup you will need to make this cake unlike other cakes as they say it is equal measurements of All purpose Flour + Sugar + Butter/oil + Dry fruits + Eggs (Approximately weighs same) 


Ingredients



For Batter

All Purpose Flour/ Maida - 1 and 1/2 cup
A pinch of salt.
Baking Powder - 1 and 1/2 tsp
Butter - 1 and  Oil - 1/2 cup  (Butter in Room Temperature)
White Sugar - 1 cup (Powder sugar along with the spices given below) 
Egg - 4 No's
Orange Juice and Orange Rind/ Skin grated - from 1 Orange. May use Lemmon instead of Orange too.
Mixed Fruit Jam - 1 Tbsp.
Vanilla essence - 1 Tsp

For Dry Fruits and Soaking 

Mixed Fruits - 1 and 1/2 cup (Same as Flour Qty. May add more or less per preference) 

Rum/Brandy or Wine - 2 Cups (Approx.)


Spices Needed. 
It is easier to grind the spices below with the sugar to power it so you don't need to grind these separately 

Cardamom - 2 to 4 No's
Nutmeg - 1/4 tsp
Cinnamon - 1/4 tsp
Cloves - 2 no's 
Cake Jeera/ Shahjeera - 1/2 tsp (I didn't use)
Dry Ginger Powder - 1/4 tsp (Optional) 

For Color / Caramel  - For the Dark Color

White Sugar - 1/2 cup
Water -  1/2 cup 
Cocoa Powder - 1 tbsp (Optional) 

Pre-Preparation 

* Chop dry fruits and soak them in Rum/ Brandy or Wine for at least a day. I soak these during the first week of December to make cakes few days before Christmas. 
If you are planning to make non alcoholic version, soaking dry fruits in Orange juice or grape juice would be a good option. Keep this soaked for a day in the refrigerator. Soaking makes the fruits soggy and flavorful. 



Prepare the Batter 

* For caramelizing Sugar (For color) - Heat sugar in a thick bottom pan (keep heat in medium to low as it tends to brown fast)  when it starts to melt, add 1tbsp water to it and wait to completely melt the same and turn color, tilt the pan in between to melt sugar evenly, when color is brown, pour rest of the water to it and allow to boil, then switch off the heat. Add cocoa to the caramel syrup , stir to combine and keep aside to cool. 



* Grease Pan with butter or Non stick spray. Preheat Oven to 310 F (Lower temperature is the best to bake this cake since the ingredients in this cake is dense , it needs some extra time of baking in low heat) 
 
*  Sift Flour with salt and Baking Powder. Keep aside.

* Separate the Egg whites from yolk. Beat Egg whites till light and fluffy and keep aside. 
If you want the cake to stay thick and dense and less airy then you may skip this step and beat eggs together (whole ) instead of separating it. 
I used to make it dense and thick (like the image below)  but for some reason I liked it the Bakery style -  airy cake lately for which we'll need to beat the egg whites and yolks separately. 


* Beat Butter (Room Temperature), Oil  with powdered sugar  (sugar powdered with the spices)  till well combined. Add in egg yolks one at a time and beat till the mixture looks light and fluffy.


 * Add in Vanilla essence, Orange Juice and Orange Rind.



* Mix  Jam and the soaked  dry fruits to it (May add some extra chopped nuts). 
 Slowly add in the sifted flour Mixture and caramel mixture alternately , stirring the batter in low speed if using a cake mixer. 





* Last but not the least - fold in the beaten egg white to slowly mix it into the cake batter. Do not over mix. 

* Pour the batter to the greased pan (May place a paper liner to the bottom and sides of the cake dish just in case) Pour batter to almost 3/4th of the Pan as this cake wouldn't rise much. 
Bake in preheated Oven in 310 F for 45 to 50 Minutes until a tooth pick comes out clean. 



* Keep cakes  to cool , allow the flavors to set for a few days  before you cut the same, initially it will be little more moist than the usual cake , when it sits it matures to become a nice rich fruit flavored cake. The aroma is spreads at home is Christmassy :)  



Notes :

            : May pour liquor or wine over the cake to get it soaked while it is still warm, but I usually skip this step 😐 

            : Always bake this cake in low temperature, give it the extra time to bake. 

      
Photo of a dense Christmas cake I made for 2014 Christmas. If you like the dense and thick cake ?  please do not separate the egg whites and yolk;  also avoid the oil and use Butter only instead. 

  



Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year !! 


Cheers
TN





Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Stained Glass Cookies / Butter Cookies


Holiday spirit in the air , breezing that wonderful feeling of holidays  - the feeling of December.
People have decorated their houses with as much lights as they can afford,
when ever I see those decorated houses, I am reminded of a "Bride in India" with all her ornaments and that sparkling look.
Strange comparison isn't it ? I sometimes think funny I know ;)   
Anyways its fun time, lets think funny and keep our self's happy as I see all happy people these days.


Lights and Music everywhere lifts our spirit to keep pace with the Holiday Mood,
no matter what.
One more funny thing that I notice during December is the appearance of  " Santa- Like People " every where. I mean people who look like Santa. I feel like I see everywhere that  Merry Old Man , with long white Beard. May be because I too am waiting for my Gifts from Santa this Christmas ;)


Have a special Cookie recipe for this Christmas, though not a new idea.
These cookies looks gorgeous when hung on your Christmas tree also taste yummy.
Am sure Kids would love it as its so much fun when they can eat something which is hung on the Christmas tree. Wish I was a kid too :(


Its not that hard as it seems, only thing is the cookie cutters that you need and that perfect consistency of the Butter Cookie dough which you get with the same measurement of ingredients listed here.
Do give it a try this Christmas.



Recipe for the Cookie Dough adapted from Land O Lakes.com - Butter Cookies

Ingredients 

All Purpose Flour - 2 and 1/2 cup
Butter - 1 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Egg - 1 no
Vanilla essence - 2 tsp
Orange Juice - 2 Tbsp (Approx)
Baking Powder - 3/4 tsp

For the Glass - 10 to 20 Hard Candies (Any flavor and Color, I used Butter Scotch Candies)



Method - for the dough.

* Preheat the Oven to 360 Degree F , Grease parchment paper with some Butter and place the paper to a cookie baking tray or any flat tray.

* Sift Flour and Baking powder , Keep aside.

* Combine Butter, sugar and egg , beat in medium speed till well mixed, add orange juice and Vanilla essence to it and beat again to combine well.

* Add the sifted flour to the above mixture , beet for 2 minutes, then with your hand work to combine the dough to a ball (if the dough looks dry add few tsp of orange juice to it)

* Wrap this dough in any plastic sheet and Refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes.(May keep these in the fridge for up to 2 days)

Shaping the Dough

* Place the candies in a bag , and use any hard tool or rolling pin to crush the candies and powder'em.
Keep aside.

* Roll out the dough using a rolling pin (may sprinkle some powdered sugar on the pin and on the surface) roll'em thin , about 1/4 inch thickness approx.

* Using cookie cutter , shape cookies, I used 2 star/tree shaped (one bigger and one smaller) to create some space in between to fill each space with the powdered candies. Also if planning to hang them use a straw to make a small hole on top of the cookies.




* Bake these in 360 Degree F for 5 to 12 minutes depending on the size of the cookies.Bake until the sides turn brown. Take these out of the oven, wait for 5 to 10 minutes for the cookies to cool down a bit and to set before you pick'em from the tray.

* May hang these on your Christmas tree or else store in Air tight containers, then these last long.


Or pack these and gift'em to your friends for Christmas.


Notes

           : Make sure the powdered candies are just in the space as if spread outside it tends to stick and it may make the cookies also stick to the bottom. Also after baking , do not remove the cookies from the baking tray before its cooled, as the candies need sometime (5 to 10 Minutes) to set.

            : This is a basic recipe to make butter cookies.Decorate these with any cookies writers (Icing) instead of the glass effect (Omit the candies then) they look equally good :)


Merry Christmas :)


Cheers
TN






Thursday, December 18, 2014

Theme Cakes - Minnie Mouse Cake & Soccer Field Cake



It was Soccer Man's Birthday yesterday, so made a Soccer Field cake for him.
Also wishing Team "Kerala Blasters" Good luck for the finals of Indian Super League :)


Also thought to post a Minnie Mouse cake, which I made last year for NA's Birthday.



Made this cake with the cake mix, as I had to make 4 cakes to make it look like a Chess Board inside, 2 each of Vanilla and Chocolate cakes.


 Click - YouTube Link - How to make a Chess Board Cake
 This is where I got the idea to make the same.
Hope the video would be helpful to understand how to make a Chess Board Cake , though its presented in Malayalam Language :) 


Hope you are all set for the Holidays. 
I am planning to do some "Holiday baking" this week , will be posting the same if it comes out well :) 

Cheers
TN

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cinderella and her Garden Cake


While I was a small girl, I was gifted with a  Disney Story book by my Uncle.
 I remember how I used to imagine those sparkling shoes and Gown of Cinderella.
And Cinderella became my favorite Princesses ever.
 I still have that book with me and now its NA's favorite story book too, though she knows it was her Mom's and also its old.


 It was Na's Birthday last week, she had Cinderella in her mind while planning her Birthday cake, may be because I exaggerate  about "Cinderella" more than any other princesses during her story time.
but she was still confused and couldn't decide on her birthday cake theme as "Disney" is very much successful in making the girl kids crazy for the new Disney Queen's "Elsa & Anna"
Anyways I somehow managed to convince NA about making a Cinderella themed Cake for her birthday, as it was my dream cake too from the time I started seeing themed cakes.
Told her that she'll have Cinderella, her pumpkin Carriage, Sparkling shoes and many more stuffs on her cake but by the time I finished I had nothing that I promised :(


But she was super happy with the "Cinderella" which I placed on a garden themed cake.
And named the cake "Cinderella and her Garden" glad that she forgot about the theme :)
As Kids are so innocent , hope she would continue to be the same while she grows up too,
I know all mothers would be wishing the same.


I haven't attended any cake making classes so far and got no experience making the same.
Though have seen cake making , fondant and other icing ideas in some cake centered Blogs and You-tube. Thanks to my Sister in Law who inspired me, she's a theme cake enthusiast, who makes themed cakes for her kids every year.
This is not a complete , perfect looking cake I know , still we learn with trials and errors, I think I learn something every time I do icing on a cake.
Hope I can be an expert some day :) like many cake experts whom I adore.


Here is the cake that I made for Na for her Birthday this year.

Made 2 Chocolate Cakes - Click on the link for the recipe , its better to make cakes from scratch when its a themed cake , rather than making it from the cake mix as it turns out too soft to handle and is difficult to carve or cut into desired shapes.
Cut one of the cake to a semi circle and placed it on top of the other chocolate cake, to make it look little bigger in size.


Following are Few important things that I learned :)

* Once the cake is baked, wait for it to comedown to room temperature , or else the butter or icing which we spread on it would get melted.

* Level the cake with a knife or  flip the cake up side down, as the down part is always leveled ,  making it easier to spread the frosting.

* Spread the cake with a thin coating of the icing, which they call the crumb coating, it gives more finishing to the cake.

* Made mushrooms ,some roses  and leaves with the fondant, for the garden, I had a fondant flower shaped cutter to shape some small flowers (Pink, yellow , white and blue flowers on the cake here)
 Can make these days ahead and freeze it in an air tight box, assemble it on the cake when needed.

* In this cake the "Cinderella"  is a small doll , inserted that doll in to a cup cake,covered the cup cake doll with a white fondant and gave some pleats, freezed it for 5 minutes then covered the dress with an other blue colored fondant.

Cinderella looks over weight I know,  but this is the second-round dress that I made for her,
 the first one that I made seemed 9 months pregnant. ;)


Super happy to see the Kids excited seeing the cake.
I had to take out the Cinderella Doll from a small kid's mouth as she was waiting for NA to cut the cake, though I had given her a small piece from that Doll-cup cake, she was not satisfied and tried to eat up the entire Cinderella doll :)



Cheers
TN

Monday, December 8, 2014

Crepes - A Simple Breakfast Recipe


Yesterday I woke up early than usual ;) with throat pain, looked to the sides to see my people sound asleep, though I wanted to sleep for some more time, my throat desperately wanted to sip some hot water. So got up and opened the window blinds expecting to see that beautiful dawn but saw a full Moon instead, as even our Sun is now a days lazy to rise up - the season being Winter.
Kept the blinds open as I love seeing the first appearance of light in the sky before Sunrise.
Decided to try something different for Break Fast, with all the freshness that the first ray of light brought to my mind.


Crepe's with strawberries and chocolate syrup in some Coffee Shop caught my eye last week
 and was in my - To Try -List.


Crepe's are other wise called "Pan Cake" in Kerala (My place) and sometimes called "Love Letters" its usually rolled with Sweetened Coconut fillings and served as a snack there. Not sure why we call'em Love Letters may be because it has some sweetness when opened :)



I couldn't wait for my people to wake up
nor could I wait to try these sweet attractive Crepe's and Strawberries
so I enjoyed my BF alone  ;)




Ingredients

All Purpose flour - 1 cup(Approx)
Eggs - 1 (may use 2)
Milk - 1/2 cup to 1 cup
Salt to taste
Vanilla Essence - few drops

For Filling & Topping 

Cream cheese Softened  - 1/2 cup
Super fine sugar - 3 Tbsp
Strawberries - few no's sliced
Chocolate syrup -(I used Hershey's syrup)
Powdered Sugar (optional) - to sprinkle

May Fill any Jelly that you like instead of Cream cheese & Sugar.

Method

* Beat eggs nicely then add All purpose flour , salt, Vanilla essence and milk - beat again to combine, adjust batter consistency to make it free flowing (add more milk or more flour to adjust consistency accordingly)

* Mix Cream cheese and sugar, combine nicely and keep aside.

* Heat a Pan cake Pan or any Dosa pan , rub some oil on the pan using tissue,
 Pour ladle full batter on the heated pan , tilt the pan to spread it around or else use the ladle itself to spread it around in clockwise direction

* Flip to the other side when one side is done nicely (1 to 2 minutes approx in medium to low heat ) ,  Remove from pan when both sides are nicely cooked.

* Spread a spoon full Cream filling (or any Jelly if you like)
 Fold in to quarters and place on a serving plate. Repeat to make more crepe's.

* Place some sliced Strawberries on the crepe's , drizzle chocolate syrup on top, may sprinkle some powdered sugar -  like how the experts does ;) and serve.


ENJOY !


Cheers
TN

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Kovakka - Kaya Mezhukkupurathiyathu /Tindora with Raw Plantain Stir Fry



While working as a Health Counselor, I used to give diet advice to mostly elderly people, who refuses to change their menu pattern what so ever,
The only way was to ask them, fill their plate with the Veggie side dishes, with only little of rice,
the good amount of fibrous veggies in the plate gives a stomach-full feeling then.
I haven't tried it anytime, now that I am in to it, trying hard to eat healthy, I realize how difficult it is to follow all diet rules.
I wait for the weekend to enjoy Brown rice (Matta) with some Naadan veggie's sides - our comfort food, as we decided to have no rice during the weekdays :( 
Not because rice is unhealthy but because we tend to eat more of it when compared to any bread that we otherwise have.
Kovakka (Tindora) is my favorite Vegetable, I love it when fried, since I had some Raw plantain, thought to mix it'em both as mixed vegetables always gives mixed nutrients.

Picture is not up to the mark I know ;( 
but trust me this dish tastes good.

Ingredients 

Kovakka / Tindora - 1/2 pound (slice lengthwise to thin pieces)
Raw Plantain/ Kaya - 1 medium sized (Slice length wise to thin pieces)
Green chili's - 1 or 2 no's slit 
Onion - 1 medium sliced to thin pieces 
Coconut pieces - 1/4 cup (Optional) 
Oil - 1 Tbsp 
Crushed Red chili - from 3 no's (or else use crushed chili flakes) 
Turmeric Powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt to taste
Curry leaves - 1 spring 

Method 

* Cook plantain pieces in little water with salt and a pinch of turmeric added.Cook covered till the water dries off and the pieces are well cooked. Cook Kovakka/Tindora also like wise till cooked and water fully dried.

* Heat oil in an other pan, saute sliced onion and coconut pieces(if using) till they turn golden brown, add a pinch of turmeric powder , chili flakes & Curry leaves, stir and add the cooked vegetables (Tindora & Plantain)stir to combine , cook for 3 to 5 minuted in medium heat, switch off the heat.

* Serve with Rice.


Cheers
TN

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Mushroom Butter Masala



Thought of posting some Vegas pictures here  where we had been for Vacation last week.

Facade of the Excalibur Hotel and Casino 
A stylish Image of a Castle - which is linked by a Overhead Pedestrian bridge to the neighboring 
 "New York - New York - Hotel and Casino " 

Fountains of Bellagio 
One of the Breath-taking attractions on Las Vegas Strip


A glimpse of Las Vegas Strip & one of my favorite celebrity chef "Bobby Flay"

Apart from the colors and fun, I think people go back home not wanting to think how much money they lost there, anyways it stays in Vegas  ."What Happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" is so true. ;)
Thanks to my friend for sharing these pics with me :)  


My experiments with Veg recipes started from yesterday,
Soccer Man seems unhappy , I advised him about the importance of endurance ;)
Mushrooms being my favorites, tried it in this rich, creamy,  flavorful gravy and I liked it,
would have loved it if I had added Mutter/ Peas too :(
Well most of the times we have to listen to others who share the meal with us , otherwise the curry will not get over ;)


Ingredients 

Mushroom's - 2 cups cleaned and halved (I used Button Mushrooms)
Tomatoes - 2 Large
Garlic - 1 finely chopped
Ginger - 1/2 Inch sized Piece finely chopped
Onion - 1 finely chopped
Butter - 2 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp for shallow frying Mushroom's or else may use 1 tbsp Vegetable oil.
Fresh Cream - 1 to 2 Tbsp
Cashew Nuts - 1/4 cup soaked and ground to fine paste. or else powder it first then add little water.
Salt to taste

Masala Powder 

Turmeric Powder - 1/4 tsp
Kashmiri Chili Powder - 2 tsp
Coriander Powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam Masala - 1/2 tsp
Cumin Powder - 1/4 tsp

Whole Spices 

Kasuri Methi / Dry Fenugreek Leaves - 2 Tsp
Bay Leaf - 1
Cinnamon Stick - 1 small piece
Cardamom/Ellachi - 2 No's



Method 

* Slit the skin of tomatoes lightly with a sharp knife and boil it for 5 to 7 minutes until the skin starts to loosen, once done drain , remove the skin from the tomatoes and grind to make puree. Keep aside.

* Heat 1 tbsp Butter/vegetable Oil in a pan, lightly saute mushroom's in it,do not add more oil here as mushrooms absorbs all of it,keep the shallow fried mushroom's aside.
I cooked it for just 3 minutes, if you want it well done, stir and allow the water in it to get dried,
 it shrinks though.

* In the same pan, heat butter and add the whole spices (Bay leaf, cinnamon & Cardamom) followed by ginger , garlic and finely chopped onion.Saute these in medium heat till the onions look golden brown.Add the tomato puree, cover the pan and cook till the puree/water reduces and thickens up a bit.(Stir in between and keep the lid as it tends to splatter.

* Add then the Masala powders(Turmeric Powder, Coriander Powder, Cumin Powder and Garam Masala) stir and add little water (1/2 cup) then the shallow fried mushrooms, when it starts to boil add Cashew paste.


* When the gravy thickens a bit , add Kasuri Methi - stir and add the fresh cream, switch off the heat.

* Drizzle fresh cream over or else place a cube of butter when you serve it hot.


Nutritional benefits of Mushroom's are vast, including its ability to reduce the risk of Cancer.
To enjoy its nutritional benefits, shouldn't wash them for more time in water as the C & B Vitamins in it gets washed away too, also slicing and exposing'em to air for more time is not advised.
Just a splash and cleaning it with a damp towel is enough if the mushrooms are fresh.
Slice'em just before you are all set to cook.

Cheers
TN