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Archive for the ‘Dessert’ Category

Cake Bake in Portugal

11 Nov

Our Wedding Anniversary Cake 2014

As you can see from my previous posts that I am writing about our recent Portugal trip and food experiences. Its been quite few years in a row, that we plan our vacation during September, as  our wedding and my daughters Bday anniversaries fall on the same week in Sep. Apart from site seeing & relaxing, we are curious to try out new food around the places we visit. But I had not tried to make an anniversary cake by myself. Baking and decorating a cake is such a fun activity, that I didn’t want to miss this time for our family occasion.

This year, I decided that I should wet my hands in making a cake at any cost. Nothing should stop me in baking and decorating a cake – how ever the outcome may be :)… 2 weeks of Vacation, 4 total days of drive, and if I had to bake a cake and decorate with the idea I had in mind, I will end up spending the whole time in kitchen. So planning,planning, planning….The idea was to make a Flower basket cake and I planned to make all the flowers and basket ahead. One week before our Vacation, I started making flowers and basket and made them to dry well. All flowers were handcrafted and few of them were created using flower cutters.

Everyday for a week, after winding up our day around 8pm, Riya and I start our favorite sugar modelling and it will go until 11pm and sometimes 12. She likes to help me in making flowers as it was a Summer  holiday time for her. Sometimes, a ball of sugarpaste is what she needed to play and  to make her favorite figurine to give me as  a present in the evening.

Lots of trial needed atleast for making Roses. Other sugar flowers can be made easily with flower cutters. For this basket, I tried home made sugarpaste. Other parts are made from SatinIce sugarpaste and Wilton fondant.  You will also need few modelling tools to start with a simple cake. Once your interest grows, you can easily notice that your collection for cake accessories are also growing along :). Yes, I had to pack two cartons of my accessories and Cake figurines and flowers and that explains.

My Mom and me were chatting the other day before the vacation and was discussing about this… she just told me a comment, why not relaxing in Holiday and doing this after returning  home. Vacation for me is do what you like to do…even if it is hard work, at the end of the day you should feel happy..

Modelling is Ok. What about the cake? The cake tins and dry  ingredients needed for the cake are packed. I had to do a little shopping there to buy Butter and perishable ingredients. My curiosity wanted to check the cake section and see if there is any special ingredients that they use. There was big section of self raising cake flour (pre made cake flour with baking powder and baking soda) which is not very prominent here.  Ok lets pick that and try a cake with this flour..(Had a second thought in mind..if my bake didn’t turn out good, had a plan to buy premade regional cakes and decorate it with my homemade sugar flowers.) Not a bad idea hmmm..

The next Challenge was gas oven at the vacation home..Did take sometime to switch it on and there was no control to regulate the heat, but atleast happy that it had an on/off switch. Whats next, try some new flavor of cake..Until one day before had no idea what flavor to go for..But as I planned the cake to be served for our breakfast, so lets try coffee cake.

Coffee cake with its natural coffee flavor(no additional flavors)

Ingredients :

  1. Self Raising flour – 1 and half cup
  2. Sugar 3/4 cup
  3. Egg -3
  4. Coffee- 2Tbs(mixed in 20ml of warm water)
  5. Milk – 100ml
  6. Butter – 125gm

Method:

1. Beat Butter and sugar until soft.

2. Add egg one by one and incorporate to the mix.

3. Add flour and coffee,milk  alternating  each and mix until they are combined to a  smooth mixture.

4. Bake it for approx 1/2 an hour in an preheated oven.

Once it is cooled…I layered the cake and applied dark Chocolate Ganache like here and stuffed the cake into basket. Finally filled with sugar decorated flowers.

The Coffee cake was delicious and reminded of CoffeBite chocolate which we used to have during my school days. And the flowers on top was refreshing for our eye and no one dare to try that beautiful flowers. Those Rose flowers are smiling now in my living room.

This was our Wedding Anniversary cake..Next post will be Riya’s Birthday cake…

Yellow flower made by Riya

Flower Basket Cake

 
 

Destination Portugal! & Pastel de Nata (Portugese Egg Custard Tarts)

16 Sep
Yuhu!!…very happy to visit Portugal once again this year… Sweet memories of our last trip inspired us to make it again. We decided to go by car, as we love the beautiful landscapes when we cross borders of Germany, France, Spain and Portugal. One way drive from our place(from south west of Germany) to Algarve region in Portugal is 2500kms. My hubby was very enthusiastic to drive the whole stretch and we especially like the contour variations that nature provides us with, especially in Spain and Portugal.

No traffic and less vehicles in Highways starting from Spain
As the journey is also part of our vacation, we wanted to enjoy every part of it. This was our Itenary- our home ->SanSebastian> Algarve(Our destination in Portugal)->Barcelona->home. we took sleep over break in intermediate destinations. SanSebastian is a cute destination, which we accidentally discovered in our last trip. It is a beautiful city along the sea coast (north of Spain). Barcelona is our ever favorite destination and we never miss an opportunity to visit Barcelona, where we stayed on our way back home.

Beautiful Mountain Landscapes and Olive trees everywhere…

Now coming to the landscapes and trees, the coniferous spiky trees  slowly disappearing and short varieties of shrub trees and olive trees everywhere until your eyes can reach . Mountains were green in France and slowly when you move down to Spain, the mountains where rocky and gets dry . Further down south, one can see Orange trees and lemon, olive trees and grape wines everywhere in Portugal. Figs,palm trees and eucalyptus are not to miss.
Fresh oranges from farm, sold on the road side, getting reminded of my home country, India. It was juicy and perfect to enjoy on a hot day. Mangoes were delicious and sweet.
Orange trees in Portugal

Oleander, Hibiscus, bougainvillea in different colors and varieties seems to be in most of the houses and in public gardens. During spring there are different kinds of flowers.
During September, the average temp has been ~28deg and it gets hot when you have to drive facing the sun. We badly needed an chilled lemonade or an watermelon juice. We got some lemon drink on the highway shop to chill down a bit.
One half of Algarve has beaches with rocky cliffs, other half of Algarve has dessert like beaches( olhau, Tavira). Every 1 km approximately you will find a new beach.
Chimney in every house is an essential exterior design

Pastel de Nata
This is a thin flaky pastry filled with egg custard flavored with cinnamon and Vanilla. One cannot miss this little cutie pie if you are in Portugal. Any bakery / pastry shop and even MCDonald’s has it in its Menu. Try this simple to make pastry and you will fall in love with it.
To have a perfect tart it has to have crispy and flaky outer layer, delicious and mild flavored egg custard. For the perfect looks, Pastel de Nata should be a little browned on top .
Ingredients:
  1. Pastry sheet – 1 (approx 40*20cm)
  2. Egg – 2(only the yellow)
  3. Milk -300 ml(Full fat milk)
  4. Sugar – 5 Tbs
  5. cinnamon powder – 1/2 tsp
  6. Corn starch – 2 Tbs
  7. Vanilla essence – few drops

Method:

1. Sprinkle 1/4 of Cinnamon powder on the pastry sheet and try to roll it to a long roll. ( I do this to get a thick layer of pastry rounds ,as my pastry sheet which was thin)

2. Cut this rolls in to 12 equal parts.

3. Take each one of these parts and keep them,  facing one of the cut part touching the board . Roll them to a small circle ,so that it fits in to the muffin molds.

4. Place the rolled circle pastry to the tins and adjust them to fit to the sides of the mold using your finger.

Egg Custard preparation Method:

1. Add 250 ml milk to the pan and heat it until it begins to boil.

2. In another bowl add egg yellow, sugar, corn starch and remaining 50ml milk and beat it well, so that there is no lumps.

3. Now slowly add this egg mixture to the milk and keep stirring.

4. When you notice the mixture gets thickening, switch of the stove and add 1/4 of cinnamon and Vanilla essence.

5. Allow the egg custard to cool and fill this mixture to the prepared pastry sheets in the tin.

6. Bake it for 15 min in at 180 deg in a preheated oven and another 10 min with the same temp in grill mode to achieve the dark color on top.

 

Happy New Year 2014 / Special cakes of 2013

30 Dec

It’s been quite some time since I blogged. How have you all been? ..  New year is on its way and I wish all my friends and viewers a very happy new year 2014.

In this post, I would like to share pictures of celebration cakes, which we enjoyed and  experimented in 2013. I do say experiment, as I tried out some new cakes. Riya’s contribution is there in all of these cakes. Especially, her Birthday cake was planned and designed by her with a little help from me. The specification given to me was a, 2 stack chocolate cake with Marshmallow toppings with Dolphin and sea animals figurines. Actually, she opted to do this cake as her Birthday present and we did the baking and decoration from scratch the whole day. I can see the love and passion in her for cooking already. The previous day of her birthday is our wedding anniversary and I planned to make Carrot cinnamon cake, which came out too good. With  Lots of shredded carrot , mild sweetness and bit of cinnamon flavoring, it was just perfect for the occasion.

Carrot & Butter cream iced cake( Wedding Anniversary cake)

Riya’s Dolphin and Aquarium cake.

Chocolate cupcake and lemon buttercream icing  for Riya’s school friends.

We celebrated Kesav’s Birthday with a special cake. I tried Japanese cotton soft sponge cheese cake this time. It tastes and feels just like its name – super soft and melt in mouth. This time one thing  was sure that  I didn’t wanted to be in the kitchen on the special day baking without having time to spend in other activities.

So, I planned and prepared the cake couple of days before. Prepared jelly with readymade jello mix.  After baking and feeling the texture of the cake, I immediately felt like trying it out. It was super soft and super delicious. The first two cakes we enjoyed even before the birthday.

Again, I  had to bake the same cake but it was fun and I could experiment and make slight changes and adjust proportions.

Japanese  cotton soft sponge cake with jelly fruit topping for Kesav’s Birthday.

Japanese cotton soft sponge cake.

Riya made these mini square cakes, decorated wonderfully and presented this beautiful jelly fruit cake to her dad.

Mini square cake’s specially made for her Dada by Riya.

 
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Posted in Cake, Dessert

 

Mango Payasam (a divine taste…)

26 Jun

If  it is a traditional Indian dessert, then Payasam is number one in the list. It is also called as Kheer or Firni  in northern part of India. In South India Payasam is made during festivals and occasions. This is one of the simplest Indian dessert. Milk is the main ingredient and other ingredients that can be added up like rice, sago, vermicelli or lentils together with sugar or Jaggery. Cardamom is a spice  flavoring  finally added to give a wonderful aroma.  The Cooking method is very simple. To make simple Payasam, slow boil the milk until it gets thick and condensed. Then add cooked rice and sugar and finally the flavoring. Usual topings are fried dry fruits and nuts. It can be served as warm or chilled.

Payasam can be compared to rice pudding from other countries.Payasam can be like thin to thick soup consistency. I personally tried most of the Indian  Payasam’s, Firni’s and Kheer. I have tried MilchReis which is a german dessert made with milk and rice and cinamon flavor. This has very thick consistency and they use special rice called milch rice and it is slightly chewey.   Lot of Asian, European, African countries have the Rice Pudding dessert in their cuisine with slight variation. You can check this in Wiki.

This Mango Payasam is a variation from the traditional Payasam. Slow boiling of milk can be avoided by using condensed milk or creamed milk or milk maid.  The taste of the dish also depends upon the taste of the Mango.  I have used store bought Alphonso Mango pulp and it has a standard taste. Here is the recipe and ingredients….

Ingredients:

  1. Mango Pulp – 1 cup
  2. Milk – 3 cups
  3. Codensed Milk – 1 cup( substitute can be Creamed milk or milk maid)
  4. Sugar – 3/4 cup
  5. Sago – 1/4 cup
  6. Vermicelli – 1/4 cup
  7. fried mixed dry fruits and nuts – 1/4 cup
  8. some mango pieces for garnishing.

Method:

1. Add enough water to sago pearls in to a bowl and cook in a medium flame. Change water in between if needed.(while cooking the liquid becomes starchy)

2. Cook until the sago pearls are transparent.

3. Add milk and condensed milk to the pot and cook until the milk boils. Now add the vermicelli and cook until 3/4th done. Now add the sago and sugar and let

it stay for 5 min in a low flame and switch of the flame.

4. Let the Payasam rest for about 20 min to cool down. Now add the Mango pulp and mix it. Addition of cardamom is not necessary as it has already mango flavor.

4.  Garnish the Payasam with dried fruits and nuts.  Add any chopped mango pieces on top. Serve it chilled.

I tried Mango Payasam with rice but this one with Sago and Vermicelli is the best. While i am posting this recipe now, it has been tried several times at home and included in my standard recipe.I shared with some of my friends and they liked it. Hope you like it!.

 
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Posted in Dessert

 

Yummy Baklava and my 100th post…

20 Jan


I am very happy to post this sweet as my 100th post.  One of the sweets, which I have underestimated by its simple ingredients and preparation method, until I tasted it first time. A Colleague of mine, who is from Turkey, had brought some authentic Baklava’s to office.  As I tasted, I felt the crispy sweet & buttery layered sheets with the richness of crunchy nuts(Walnuts). I could not stop going for the next one. Since then, I have been trying to find out the filo pastry sheets from German supermarkets and couldn’t find on. So, I  tried to make it with ready made Puff pastry and with Spring roll pastry, but it was not anywhere near to the original taste.

After a long time, I was lucky to find it in one of the Turkish market from the next city. I also got some good quality of de-skinned Pistachios, which is one of the key ingredient for the overall taste.

The Procedure for making it is very simple. Apply melted butter on every layer of sheets and lay the coarse crushed nuts in between one of the bottom layers. Bake it until golden brown and finish it by pouring with sugar or Honey sirup afterwards.

We enjoyed making it with 24 layers and Riya helped me in buttering the layers.

Ingredients:

  1. Filo Pastry sheets – 1 pkt ( I used 450 gms, approx 60*60 of 12 sheets)
  2. Butter – 250 gms
  3. Sugar – 2 cups
  4. Lemon juice- few drops
  5. Almonds – blanched, dry and chopped finely
  6. Pistachios-blanched , dry and chopped or coarsely ground
  7. Flavoring – any flavoring of your choice (optional)

Method:

1. First make the Sugar sirup. Add Sugar with a cup of water and boil for 15-20 mins. Add few drops of lemon juice.

2. While sugar sirup is getting ready, prepare the tray for baking baklava sheets. Lay the sheets in a tray such that it fits in all the sides of the tray. I had 12 long sheets which i had cut it  and used as 24 sheets, which was fitting my tray and as well. 12 sheet layered Baklava was anyway was too thin.

3. Melt the Butter. Just as it melts in to liquid, switch off the heat. Butter the tray, lay the first sheet, butter it, lay the second sheet and butter it, and continue until 8 layers and now fill in the nuts.

4. Nuts filling should be sweet, so add either couple of spoons of sugar sirup or sugar to the nuts. (Nuts and sugar can be ground together and used for garnishing) and fill in top of 8th layer. One can choose in which layer to add the filling. I have chosen 8th layer as the sweet will have good stability to hold the nuts. I used Pistachios for half of the layer and Almonds for other half.

5. Continue layering and applying butter till you reach the last sheet.

6. Before putting the tray in oven, use a sharp knife to cut the layered sheets into small pieces. Smaller shapes lets sugar syrup to soak-in nicely at step 8.

7. Preheat the oven for 170C and bake it for 30-35 mins at 150C in the middle rack of oven. You could see the Bakalava pieces dance with melting butter and turn light  brown on the top.

8. Remove from oven and pour the sugar sirup all over while the baked baklava is hot. The Sugar sirup can be medium hot while pouring.

9. Leave for it for few hours to let the Baklava’s to absorb the sugar sirup. Serve it in a plate with ground nuts on top.

 
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Posted in Dessert, Sweet