Sunday, August 9, 2020

Orange Almond Syrup Bundt Cakes

I can never get enough of oranges! Orange zest is a wonder I discovered as part of my baking journey. The aroma is heady, the flavor it imparts just can't match any essence or oil. If only I grew oranges in a pot, that's one of the things I have always wanted to do. Just as well, or I would go crazy thinking about all the things I could use the zest in! Candied orange peel was another revelation. So if you are planning to soak your fruits for Christmas you absolutely must make our own candied orange peel, you will never buy it from a store again!

I recently baked these flavorful, buttery syrup cakes made with ground almonds and lots of orange zest. They turned out amazing, though I would have enjoyed them better with less butter. I halved the recipe and baked 6 of these cakes in my favorite Nordicware heritage bundt pan. I prefer to bake small cakes if I have to brush syrup as they absorb it better and more evenly.

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Orange and Almond Syrup Cakes. By Yotam Ottolenghi, from David Lebovitz's blog

  • Unsalted butter - 200 grams, at room temperature
  • Caster sugar - 300 grams plus more for the syrup.
  • Fresh oranges - 4
  • Ground almonds - 240 grams ( I used ready almond meal)
  • Free-range eggs, beaten - 4
  • Maida - 110 grams
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • Chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate (optional)
For the syrup 
Orange juice - 180 ml
Sugar - 80 grams
Dark chocolate, chopped, 100 grams (optional)

  • Mise en place.
  • Lightly grease and line the bottom and sides of a 9'' spring form tin with baking parchment. I have used my bundt pan, each cup holds 150ml liquid. If using a bundt pan, spray well with baking spray, ensure every nook and cranny is greased well. A silicone brush helps do a good job of this.
  • Preheat oven to 180C.
  • Whisk together the almond meal, flour and salt, set aside.
  • In a large bowl, take the butter and sugar. Zest the oranges directly on this. Reserve the juice for the syrup.
  • Beat the butter, sugar and zest until well combined. Do not beat too much as you do not want to incorporate too much air into the mixture.
  • Add half the ground almonds and fold it into the butter mixture
  • Add in the eggs one by one, scrape the sides of the bowl as you go.
  • Fold in the remaining almond mixture and the chocolate chips if using.
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared tin, level it. I have filled them half in the bundt pan.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes for 9'' round tin, 15-18 minutes for the bundt pan. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out a little moist. Please note, the baking time may vary depending on your oven.
  • Towards the end of the baking time, heat the orange juice and sugar in a saucepan, you need the sugar to dissolve completely.
  • Once the cakes come out of the oven, place the tin on a cooling rack. Poke holes in the cake and brush the syrup generously all over.
  • Let the cakes cool completely in the pan.
  • Run a knife around the cake and invert it on the cooling rack. Brush any remaining syrup on the bottom of the cake.
  • You can pour some ganache or melted chocolate over the cake, it tastes divine. You don't have to do this if you have already added chocolate chips in the batter.
  • Serve immediately with some vanilla ice cream for an awesome dessert! 

Try this cake for a special occasion, enjoy baking!


Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Garlic and Chili Focaccia

It's amazing that bread is made with the same four basic ingredients - yeast, flour, water and salt, but there are a hundred of ways of baking it. The results vary with different methods used and impress you every now and then!

This one was made with a batter that's impossible to knead as it is soupy, you actually pour the batter into the tin. The bread is surprisingly light and moist. The taste of the bread was great with just the flavor of extra virgin olive oil which I had used to grease the pan.  I usually prefer toasting my bread but this one baked in a cast iron pan, was perfect straight out of the pan!

This recipe for Rosemary Focaccia  is from Rose Levy Beranbaum's book, The Bread Bible. One notable thing about this recipe is the dough consistency and the way it is 'kneaded' using a stand mixer. Of course there are plenty of high hydration recipes for foccaccia and ciabattas, but they mostly involve the stretch and fold method and a longer rise. But this one is simply kneaded for 20 minutes in the stand mixer and it is amazing to see how the batter goes from soupy to melted mozzarella kind of stage! (will post the pictures and videos soon )I don't think you can work with this kind of dough as effortlessly and as efficiently without a sturdy hand mixer. I use a Kitchen Aid 5 quart one . If you have a stand mixer, do give this a try! 

If you are new to baking, try my online classes for beginners. For more details, click here!

Rosemary Foccacia (adapted from The Bread Bible by Rose Beranbaum)

 Maida 390 grams
Instant yeast 3/8 teaspoon
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons water / 442 grams , at room temperature
1.5 teaspoon salt ( the original recipe uses 3/4 teaspoon in the dough plus more as topping) 
3/4 tsp sugar
Extra virgin olive oil 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons (divided use)
Fresh rosemary 2 teaspoons
Sea salt - 1/4 teaspoon

  • In the bowl of the stand mixer, using the paddle attachment on low speed, combine the flour and the yeast. 
  • With the mixer running, gradually add in the water, mix just until the dough comes together. It will be very soupy now.
  • Increase the speed to medium (#4 KitchenAid) and beat until the dough turns into a smooth, shiny ball , this may take about 20 minutes. (the stand mixer is sturdy enough to go on for this duration!) In fact, I was engrossed in writing something and forgot to turn off the mixer, so this step was more than 25 minutes for me.
  • Add the sugar and salt and beat until well incorporated, about 3 minutes.
  • Using an oiled spatula, scrape the dough into a well greased dough rising container. The dough now will look like melted mozzarella indeed as Rose says!
  • Cover and let rise for about 4 hours or at least until double. Mine took 1.5 hours to double. 
  • Grease a sheet pan ( ideally 12x17 inches) very generously with around 2 tablespoons of the oil. This is super super important or your bread will stick to the pan (like mine in the pic below) I used one 12x14 pan and another small cast iron pan.
  • Pour the dough into the sheet pan. Grease your hands well and spread the dough as thin as possible without tearing it. If the dough resists, let it relax for 10 minutes and spread it again. Try to maintain the bubbles in the dough as much as possible.
  • Cover the pan with a large box . Let the dough rise until it doubles, about 1-1.5 hours. 
  • Preheat the oven to 250C 1 hour before baking. 
  • Once it doubles, drizzle the remaining oil on the dough. Oil your fingers and dimple the dough deeply. Sprinkle the salt and rosemary (if using) on top. I used some garlic and chopped fresh red chilies.
  • Bake around 20 minutes or until the top is a deep golden color. The baking time may vary depending on your oven. Be careful not to burn the bread as it is spread thin and the oven is super hot.
  • Remove from the oven and drizzle more olive oil on top and serve immediately! 

Enjoy the delicious, crisp bread with a moist and chewy crumb! The remaining bread in the cast iron pan (picture below) had an even more beautiful crust, it was amazing! 

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Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Online class Announcement - Baking for Beginners.

Have you always wanted to learn baking but not sure where to start? Did your baking experiments from Googled recipes fail to deliver?
No worries, my online sessions are designed to help you discover the joy of baking right!

Am happy to announce, I will be doing the sessions The Beginner's First Steps on 10th and 11th July, Friday and Saturday. The introductory fee, as promised, is Rs.500 for both the sessions put together.  You will be saving Rs.750 as the regular fee will be Rs.1,250 from August!

The details of the interactive sessions in English are as follows. Fee, Rs.500 for both sessions included.

Session 1 - Introduction to baking. Friday, July 10th, 4 PM - 5.30 PM
  • Ovens - an overview, your options.
  • Tins, tools and ingredients - the beginners set
This session will help you gather your basic baking set up - super important to get started!

Session 2 - Delicious, Easy Recipes. Saturday 11th July. 4.00 PM to 5.30 PM
  • General recipe tips - things you absolutely should know
  • Eggless Chocolate Cake (pre-recorded)
  • Eggless Chocolate Chip cookies (pre-recorded)
  • An interactive & no-holds barred session of clearing all questions and doubts (share your experiences and get ready to succeed!)
You will learn how to read a recipe, how to prepare for it and then bake. Learn how attention to small details will make a big difference to your baking!

  • Your basic baking set up 
  • Basics of baking to help you start the right way and get fabulous results
  • A confident you ready to try more recipes
  • Recipes from session and all handy information in printable format via email.
  • Plus - A surprise bonus recipe
  • Product recommendations and helpful links
  • Email support for the next 1 month to help you bake and learn
  • The session recording will be shared with you so that you can watch it again any number of times!

Prior registration compulsory.

To book your slot, pay here.

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Please email me once you pay.
If you do not live in India, request for a Paypal option.

I really want you to make the best of this, register now !

Please also share this with friends who may be interested in baking.