Tuesday, April 3, 2018

How To Zest Citrus Fruits,Tools & Tips

Using orange, lemon or lime zest in your desserts and bakes gives them that zesty kick and aromawhich can't really be compared! Once you get hooked to this, you will not even want to touch synthetic essence with a 10 foot pole! Here are a few tips for zesting citrus fruit, tools you can use. 

I absolutely love using zest, orange zest in particular. It is not rocket science of course, but it may help to remember a couple of things when you zest citrus fruits. Zest is the outer colored part of citrus fruits. The natural oils in the skin gives that amazingly fresh aroma. 

Lemons have this thicker skin which gives you a generous lot of zest. Use lemons if you can find them as these limes can be stingy. You could also try using sweet limes. I like using Malta variety oranges as the skin is thicker. Of course as much as possible, try to use whatever is recommended or complements the recipe.

Remember to use really fresh fruits for the best aroma. The sad looking one from the bottom of the fridge will not work for sure. Try to use organic oranges, unsprayed ones as we will be using the skin here.  It is important to wash these well and wipe them dry.  Wash with warm water, in case you suspect the fruit is waxed.

Watch the video How To Zest Citrus Fruits

The best and my favorite tool for this is my microplane zester. Gives finely grated zest, with minimal effort,really fast! I would hate if I had to spend unnecessary time and effort for the simple task. You can order this online here in India or in the USA if someone can carry it for you.(usually much lower in price in the USA, be sure to compare)

If your recipe needs you to use both juice and the zest, zest the orange first and then squeeze the juice. If you do it the other way, it will be more pain than pleasure!

So we hold the zester at an angle and go back and forth, try not to use too much pressure as you do this.We need to scrape out just the colored part, not the white bitter pith here. Keep rotating the fruit as you go.

As much as possible, Try to grate it directly above the batter or eggs, where ever you want to use the zest. If you touch this with your hands, you may lose some of the oils here. You will hands will smell gorgeous though! If you grate directly without measuring with a spoon, you would  just have to take an educated guess. Use more rather than less,doesn't really hurt!Always use grated zest immediately. 

I like to whisk the zest with a small whisk into a small part of liquid in the recipe so that it is evenly distributed. A clump of it would taste terrible. 

If you do not have a zester, you can take a really sharp peeler or knife and peel out only the colored part. Then grind it with some sugar in the smallest jar of your processor till the zest is really fine. Remember, this sugar must be part of the recipe ingredients. 

Then we have these other kinds of citrus zesters. One which gives fine zest is good as otherwise you may get strands of it in your mouth unless you strain the batter. Not always pleasant. 

Then this is something you could use to grate out thin longish zest, appropriate for using as a garnish or your cakes and desserts. Check these out here and here. Do note these strands dry in minutes, so best limited to blog and Instagram purposes!

I am not sure if a regular box type cheese grater would work well, it would be difficult to use, the zest not as fine, plus you may injure your fingers. 

Then you could also make your citrus zest powder. I came across powdered lemon zest in Rose Beranbaum's Baking Bible. Take super fine sugar and rub into the zest. Spread it on a plate in a thin layer. and let it feels dry to the touch Let it dry at room temperature for about 12 hours. 
Grind it using a mortar and pestle, strain it using a fine meshed strainer, grind and powder again. Store airtight, you can freeze this airtight for 2 months. She suggests using this as a garnish.

Once you start using freshly grated zest, you will never look at oranges or the peel to be precise, the same way again!

Please note:*This post contains affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and buy through the link, I will earn a tiny commission on the same. I recommend products which I have used and found good.You will be paying the same price as mentioned on the website, there will not be any variation here. This commission will help me with me costs of running the blog and channel. Your support will be greatly appreciated. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

10 Great Baking Books I Own, More I Wish For!

Baking books from well known authors are something you must absolutely own if you are 
seriously interested in baking. You can, of course, find thousands of recipes on the internet, 
but having these books on your shelf and baking from them is something else. Here are a few books I own and some on my wish list, hope it helps you get an idea and start your collection. You will cherish these books for years. You can get these online here in India or from the USA if someone can carry them for you. (Depends on where you live and the prices too) am giving links to buying in both countries below.

Do watch the video here for some stunning photographs from some of the books.

I am often asked to suggest books for beginners in baking. Am not really aware of books  specifically meant for beginners. Most books mostly have both easy and involved recipes.
Most of the books will have recipes using eggs,I haven't really bought any books on eggless baking, so it would be hard to tell.

Let me start with one of my all time favorite books. 

1.The Cake Bible By Rose Levy Beranbaum. As the name suggests, the book is a whole lot of 
cake recipes, from pound cakes, sponge cakes, showcase cakes, special occasion cakes 
and even wedding cakes (all with eggs). There are recipes for cake icings or frostings, different types of 
buttercreams and ganache, recipes for making your own fondant, marzipan and other 
embellishments. There are also fruit preserves, purees you can use.

There is a special section for professionals, baking, storing and transporting wedding cakes.You can find extensive tips on cake decoration. Detailed information on baking Ingredients, baking equipment and a lot of science behind cakes if you want to get into it, this book is 
truly a bible. Each recipe has serving suggestions, storage and serving instructions, and 
pointers for success  This book is a must for every home baker, especially if you aspire to 
bake commercially. 

Buy in India*
Buy in the USA*

2. Chewy gooey crispy crunchy melt in the mouth cookies by Alice Medrich. 

An amazing 
and extensive collection of  cookie recipes with different textures from chewy, gooey, crispy ,crunchy, melt in the mouth kinds as the title suggests. This book goes beyond the 
ubiquitous chocolate chip cookies and butter cookies. Delicate tuiles, biscotti, macaroons, 
brownies, cookies with puff pastry and filo pastry and so much more.  With this book, you 
will never really run of out a new recipe for cookies.

Buy in India *
Buy in the USA*

3.Baking With Julia

This book is based on the very popular PBS series hosted by Julia Child,the author is Dorie Greenspan. The recipes in this book are from 27 well known bakers and chefs.The book has some basic but super versatile recipes such as puff pastry, pie crusts, 
brioche, choux pastry,Danish pastry and such. If you learn these building blocks as they call, you can do a whole lot. There are breads,, morning pastries, cakes, pastries and stunning desserts. You can follow recipes as they are or try putting together different components. That is the fun of baking at home!   

Buy in India
Buy in the USA*

4.Ready for dessert 

One of my favorite favorite authors, there can never be a dull moment with David Lebovitz, the American author who lives in Paris. He has a great sense of humor,it is always entertaining to read his blog and books. Most importantly, his recipes work so 
well for me! Baking , desserts, custards, cookies and candies, basic sauces and preserves, ice creams, sorbets and lots more in this book. 

Buy in India*
Buy in the USA*

5. Chocolate holidays :'

 We can never get enough of chocolate can we? Not surprisingly, 
there are books for chocolate based recipes exclusively. This book by Alice Medrich has 
recipes categorized according to seasons summer, winter, spring and fall and occasions  If 
you love chocolate, here is a good one to start with. Her recipes gives detailed instructions which are easy to follow.  

Buy in USA*
Buy in India*

6.Baking Bible 

This again is by Rose Beranbaum.  If you want a book which covers a good 
range of categories cakes, cookies, breads, pies and tarts, cheesecakes, cookies and candy this is a great book to start with. Each section has Rose’s golden rules for baking, special tips and 
troubleshooting. The recipes again are extremely detailed with explanations at various stepsThe kind of research and dedication which goes into Rose's books always gives me the goosebumps! You will always learn a lot from Rose,keep referring her books, definitely worth buying.

Buy in India*
Buy in the USA*

7.King Arthur flour Whole grain baking book : 

You must have come across their website 
and blog . They also retail a lot of products like flours, ingredients, kitchen tools, baking pans and stuff. They also have a helpline (yes!)for bakers. Though all recipes are not 100% whole grain, All recipes in this book 
contain whole grains such as wheat, barley, oats. Every day baking like pancakes, muffins, cupcakes, a whole lot of breads, pizzas, puff pastry, Danish pastry, puddings etc . The book is packed with useful information, illustrations and tips, extremely educative. I love this book!

Buy in India*
Buy in the USA.*  

8.The Bread Bible: 

A book dedicated to breads, the author none other than Rose Beranbaum. It starts with an 
extensive and extremely informative chapter on Essential steps to baking breads with lots of illustrations. Then there quick breads, muffins, biscuits,sourdough breads, flat breads and so much more!

Buy in the USA*
Buy in India*

9. Rose's Christmas Cookies

Christmas is synonymous with cookies and Rose gives us this collection of them for the season (and all year round too).I just got this book ( luckily at a good price, hey today its even less!)  and the recipes seem to be simpler than her usual involved ones. Of course I am not going to wait until Christmas to bake some cookies which have been calling out to me!

Buy in  India*
Buy in the USA*

10. Baking Chez Moi Dorie Greenspan   

Having lived in France for nearly 20 years, Dorie shares recipes from all over France with us in this book. Written in her trademark style, she keeps reassuring that you are doing it right! 

Buy in India*
Buy in the USA*

Here are a few on my wish list

11. Baking - From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Buy in India*

Buy in USA*

12. Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Beranbaum

Buy in India*

Buy In USA*

13. Rose's Heavenly Cakes by Rose Beranbaum

Buy in India*

Buy in the USA*

14. The Bread Bakers's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart 
Buy in India*
Buy in the USA*

15. Room For Dessert by David Lebovitz
Buy in India*

16. Ripe For Dessert by David Lebovitz

Buy in India*
Buy in the USA*

17. Bittersweet by Alice Medrich

Buy in India*
Buy in the USA*

18. The Great Book of Chocolate by David Lebovitz

Buy in India*
Buy in the USA*

Phew! And there actually are a few more!

There is no dearth of recipes on the internet, but books are books and they are for a lifetime.Do start collecting your books, have fun baking!

Please note:*This post contains affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and buy through the link, I will earn a tiny commission on the same. I recommend products and things which I have used and found good.You will be paying the same price as mentioned on the website, there won't be an extra cost here. This commission will help me bear costs of running the blog and channel. Your support will be greatly appreciated!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Smooth As Silk Chocolate Pudding. Eggless,No Bake!

Smooth as silk ,uber chocolaty, super easy and quick, make ahead, no bake! Phew! Forgive me for all that drama, but how else do I get your attention? Summer has officially started and its not exactly enjoyable to be in the hot kitchen for long periods of time. Those scheduled and unscheduled power cuts,mess up all plans of baking. But of course, it only means more of no bake stuff and desserts like this one. Chilled desserts? Yes please!

Puddings can be easily made to serve 2 or 4 or 40. It usually be made ahead and chilled, they can be made with eggs and without. This one here is without eggs, nevertheless very rich and indulgent. Chocolate puddings can again be with just cocoa (not if I can't avoid) or cocoa and chocolate or only chocolate. Clearly, the last kind is my first choice and preference.

Everyone must have a recipe for chocolate pudding in their repertoire. Since I do not have a heirloom recipe handed down to me and I was not happy with a couple of recipes I tried, I had to kind of come up with my own. We loved this pudding - super smooth, indulgent and satisfying. Be warned - this recipe below is only for serious chocolate lovers!

Take this recipe as a guide and tweak it to your taste altering the amount of cornflour, chocolate and sugar. Add a dash of coffee/orange zest/brandy perhaps? Do come back and let me know what you did. 

I usually have tetra packs of whole milk and cream at home, chocolate of course. So this becomes a sort of store cupboard dessert that can be put together any time.

Watch me make it. Have you subscribed yet?

(to serve 6, double the recipe if you wish)

Whole milk,cold (3.5% fat) - 1 cup / 240 ml 
Cornstarch/Cornflour - 1 tablespoon
Cream ( I use Amul 25%) 6 tablespoons / 90 ml
Instant coffee - 1/2 teaspoon(optional)
Salt - a tiny pinch
Sugar - 1 - 2 tablespoons
Dark chocolate - 150 grams, very finely chopped
Soft unsalted butter - 1 tablespoon
Pure vanilla extract


  • Take about 1/4 cup of the cold milk from the recipe in a small bowl. Whisk in the cornstarch, ensuring no lumps.
  • Transfer to a heavy saucepan, add in the rest of the milk.
  • Add the cream, sugar, salt and coffee if using. Whisk well to combine.
  • Heat on low heat for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture is slightly thick. The mixture will leave a track on the back of a spoon.
  • Take off the heat. Immediately whisk in the chopped chocolate followed by the butter so they melt completely.
  • Add the vanilla. Strain the mixture, helps get rid of any lumps or bits of chocolate.
  • Pour the mixture into small dessert glasses. Press clingfilm on the surface of the pudding or a 'skin' will form.
  • Refrigerate for at least 4 hours,overnight is best. The pudding will thicken further as it cools.  These can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 days. 
  • Just before serving, top with some fresh berries(photogenic) or chilled whipped cream(yum!)

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