Chocolate Cake: Once more.

What is the idea of beauty? You may get answers infused with poetic descriptions to those with bland philosophical tinge. So, it truly is in the eye of beholder. Someone may term a rustic bread loaf with crack on top and interiors poking through as “beautiful” while others may snipe at the most invisible bubble in otherwise perfectly crafted fondant cake. And though one may play with the camera and light and angle and lenses to make a most ordinary bowl of oatmeal porridge look like the most delicious dish on this planet, it actually remains what it is: A bowl of plain oatmeal porridge. So, I just don’t get this whole humdrum of “beautifying food”. I tried joining the brigade to see if I had too rigid an opinion but that didn’t do any good and I reverted to my “cake alone” photos. To me personally, a clear picture of the food showing its color and texture in natural light is far more appealing than one styled with a hundred props and what not. Former exudes honesty and latter kind of deceit. But not many concur with my opinion and it is absolutely fine with me. We all are entitled to our opinions and live in harmony.

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For the same reason, I love reading Deb Perelman’s blog smittenkitchen.com. There are many other blogs but hers has what I found lacking in most others- the easiness, the honesty, and the confidence it gives the reader that “it might be difficult, but you can totally do it”. And I guess last year I came across this lovely article by her and the full article may be read here because it is such an interesting read. Therein, I found these golden lines which I always believed in and I quote, “I’m not interested in food styling: I like taking pictures that show the details of the food as it actually looks. When you see a photo of an overly styled dish that you’re supposed to cook at home, you’re going to be disappointed when your food doesn’t look like that. I can’t relate to stunning, gaudily lit photos of perfectly plated dishes arranged on an old, wooden barn table with frost-hued linen and wildflowers—that’s not my life, and it has nothing to do with the way I actually cook. My goal is to encourage people—their dish will probably look something like my pictures. I try to have good, natural lighting, and that’s about it. If people see that, then hopefully they’ll feel confident enough to try it.

Those lines, whenever I read them, feel like a comforting pat on my back. Every time I struggle to take “good” photographs of my cake and they whisper in my ears to better concentrate on baking good cakes than making them look “good” with props. And as long as the cake speaks for itself, I refuse to place a flower and a ribbon next to it with dew dangling down a leaf in the backdrop.

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You see here a chocolate cake slathered in meringue buttercream with ganache dripping over. The piped flowers and shells are dusted with edible glitter and it was to celebrate a petit princess turning four. You can make it with any of the chocolate cake recipes, the only meringue recipe and ganache recipe on this blog, fill the layers with buttercream and chocolate chips or compote or anything you fancy . But if you insist on knowing which one I used for this one, just leave a message and I shall update 🙂

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Eggless Rainbow Cake

People who don’t eat eggs still have birthdays to celebrate and in no way should their birthday cakes be any less rich or flavored just for an egg. No, I am not undermining eggs, because I bake with them throughout the year. All I am saying is that baking without them is not a big deal.IMG_20170807_180736
Each basic ingredient (other than sugar) in baking has a specific scientific role. Butter and yolk of egg provide fats and emulsifying properties, flour provides structure, egg white are the natural leavening agents and baking powder and baking soda too are IMG_20170806_162145leavening agents and latter does some balancing act too when you are using something acidic like cocoa powder. If you look at it, you can substitute anything as long as you are not fiddling with the science of baking (which is majorly chemistry).IMG_20170807_181046
Every time I need to bake without eggs, I search hard for promising recipes. This time I was directed to go either the condensed milk route or to completely vegan cakes route. While I have trod the former last time, I didn’t want to go on an uphill route the latter offered since there were no other dietary restrictions. But still I took the vegan cake route and tweaked it a little to get the best eggless vanilla cake.
So, here is the eggless vanilla cake recipe with its chemistry all balanced and that will amaze you with its fluff and flavor. Whether dietary restrictions or lack of eggs, if you want to/have to bake a vanilla cake without eggs, this is your best bet!

Eggless Vanilla Cake:
(Yields one 8 inch round cake; or 2 8 inch sheet cakes. I divided the batter in two pans to get two sheet cakes so that I didn’t have to slice the layers before filling)

• 1 cup full fat milk + 2 tbsp white vinegar
• 110 grams unsalted butter, softened
• scant 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
• 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
• 1 ½ tsp baking powder
• ½ tsp baking soda
• ¼ tsp salt

Bake the cake:
• Preheat oven to 176 °C and grease and line an 8 inches round cake pan.
• Mix milk and vinegar in a cup and let set to curdle.
• Add softened butter to a large mixing bowl and cream with a mixer. Then add sugar and vanilla and beat until combined and fluffy – about 2 minutes.
• Sift dry ingredients together and keep aside.
• Mix in the creamed butter sugar mixture alternating with the curdled milk. Blend until well incorporated and no large lumps remain. Mix in colors if using.
• Pour the batter into the pan. Don’t fill the pan more than 3/4th full.
• Bake on a center rack for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The cake will have a very, very slight golden brown color.
• Let cool completely on a cooling rack.

Rich vanilla buttercream:
200 grams unsalted butter
2 teaspoon of vanilla essence
4 cups of icing sugar
3-4 tablespoons of fresh cream

• Sift the icing sugar and reserve. It is always good to use fresh icing sugar.
• Whip the butter till it is light and fluffy, for about 2-3 minute
• Start adding the icing sugar in small batches and keep whipping till it is incorporated. Add essence and whip well once again.
• Start adding the cream, one table spoon at a time, and whip it well before adding further. Once the desired consistency is reached, whip well for a minute or two before frosting the cake.

Assemble:

Get VIBGYOR sequence right with violet at the bottom. Infuse each layer with sugar syrup before slathering with buttercream. Repeat and stack the layers. Do a thin crumb coat with the frosting and decorate as desired.

 

 

 

 

Fondant Cake: Chocolate Cake

I AM NOT a fan of fondant. But, then many others are and I think that is because they don’t know what it is like to work with fondant in a coastal city where temperature never touches below 35 degree C. But that’s beyond the point. The point is that some people DO like fondant and when I was requested to create a car themed fondant cake for a boy’s first birthday party, this is what I could do. The children went bonkers over the cars and cheerfully gobbled the fondant figurines in no time, like they always do. And that’s precisely the reason I agree to do fondant cake time and again even though I assert it every time, I am not a fan of fondant.

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Buche de Noel with Salted Caramel Ganache

For years, every December, I dreamt of baking Buche de Noel as “The Cake” for the last week of festivities but always ended up baking our scrumptious traditional cake. However, this year I told myself that it would either be Buche or Nothing for Christmas. Since a cake-less Christmas is no-Christmas, and I didn’t want to wait for another 365 days to dive deep in the revelry, it was more of an ultimatum to yours truly than anyone else. And as self-flogging works sometimes, this Christmas Buche de Noel finally saw light of the day (or Star of David) in my kitchen.

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Buche de Noel or Yule Log is the cake traditionally  eaten during Christmas and New Year in France. I was very fascinated by the whole concept till I read that it was nothing but a jelly roll decorated like a log and that was a dampener. Who eats a simpleton like jelly roll on a festival like Christmas! But as I soon found out, Buche is as simple (or sophisticated) as you care it to be, and I started searching for all kinds of fillings ranging from mincemeat to eggnog and what not. I eventually settled for the salted caramel ganache, and it proved that my decision making was still intact despite the air heavy with all kind of good liquors.

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Baking this log had an emotional string too since the sister is settled in France now. My heart aches for her on most of the days, especially during festivities. As I whipped the chocolate genoise sponge, filled and frosted it, I imagined being in the same festival bubble with her (which she burst by cooking famous Indian sweet “Gulab Jamuns” instead to mark the occasion and her French family and friends loved them!)

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Food brings people together, bridges the distance and nurtures bonds. It also pushes you to tread unknown territories and surprises you in most amazing ways. I hope it does the same to you in 2017! Bonne Anne and Bon Appetite!

Buche de Noel
(Adapted minimally from here)
Baking a genoise based Buche de Noel comes with a few words of caution which must be paid heed to. The trickiest part is to roll the genoise, which should be done when it is still hot. Make sure to dust the kitchen towel heavily with the icing sugar before you turn the genoise on it, else it will stick to the cake. Though my log didn’t suffer any cracks, but I read that in case yours does, fret not, as they can be easily covered up in the frosting.

Ingredients

Chocolate Genoise:
• 6 egg yolks
• 1/2 cup white sugar
• 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 6 egg whites
• 1/4 cup white sugar
• 1/3  cup melted blueberry jam (for filling the cake during assembly)

Salted Caramel Ganache:
• 75 grams dark chocolate
• 75 grams milk chocolate
• 100 gram sugar
• 200 ml low fat cream
• 2 tablespoon butter
• Generous pinch of fine salt like Fleur de Sel

• Preheat oven to 190 degrees C. Line a 10×15 inch jellyroll pan with parchment paper.
• In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar until thick and pale, about 9 minutes. Blend in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, and salt.
• In large glass bowl, using clean beaters, whip egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, and beat until whites form stiff peaks. Immediately fold the yolk mixture into the whites. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
• Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the cake springs back when lightly touched.
• Dust a clean dishtowel with confectioners’ sugar. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and turn the warm cake out onto the towel. Remove and discard parchment paper. Starting at the short edge of the cake, roll the cake up with the towel. Cool for 30 minutes.

For salted caramel ganache:
• Break both chocolates in a medium bowl
• Place sugar in a heavy bottom pan and heat over low-medium heat swirling intermittently till sugar turns to caramel.
• Carefully add cream to the caramel as it will splatter a lot and keep mixing till it turns to a homogenous mixture.
• Place a sieve over the broken chocolate and pour caramel mixture through the sieve.
• Add the butter and salt and mix gently till you get a smooth and shiny mixture.

Assembling the Buche:
• Unroll the cake, and spread the jam filling to within 1 inch of the edge. Top with the salted caramel ganache.
• Roll the cake up with the filling inside. Place seam side down onto a serving plate, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
• Pour the remaining ganache and refrigerate the cake for another 30 minutes.
• Make bark pattern using a fork, sprinkle some icing sugar to resemble snow and decorate with marzipan or meringue mushrooms. I cheated and did with fondant, but kids loved them the same.

 

White Chocolate Freezer Cake with a Sticky Brownie Base

I am a stickler for cake baking books. Of course there are books to be grabbed with closed eyes when they are written by Rose Levy Beranbaum or Dorie Greenspan or David Lebovitz. And there are books without any author names on cover and are compilations of a few cake recipes from many sources.  I buy a few of those too keeping my fingers crossed. The reason my baking spree is negligible  when compared to my buying spree is the number of recipes which vie to be tried first until I do “inky-pinky-ponky” and choose one. And last time, this one won.wp_20161206_15_54_02_pro-2Meet White Chocolate Freezer Cake with Sticky Brownie Base. This recipe is from one such book, titled “desserts” from “Easy everyday” series I bought more than four years ago. The cake was love at first sight and the title sounds so sophisticated but surprisingly is quite easy to bake. In fact here, its the fridge and oven that do all the job. But of course you need not tell this as you smile when the cake grabs eyeballs and people complement you on your “hard-work”wp_20161206_15_57_26_pro-2This double delight combines sticky brownie with home made ice cream topping and can be (read: should be) made ahead. The ice-cream topping as per the book should be as thick as the cake but I adjusted the amount for our liking and topped with a thinner ice-cream layer and it was heavenly. You may use any brownie recipe of your choice and pour this home-made ice-cream mixture on top and leave to set. I have tried different nuts for the brownie base but you may throw in whatever you have on hand including roasted peanuts. Customize this cake your way. Either way you are going to love it!wp_20161206_15_56_43_pro-2wp_20161206_16_05_04_pro-2

White Chocolate Freezer Cake with a Sticky Brownie Base
(Adapted from this book)

Yields one 8 inches cake

For the brownie Base
50 g unsalted butter plus extra for greasing the cake tin.
75 g Castor sugar
40 g dark Muscovado sugar
50 g Plain chocolate
2 teaspoons Golden syrup (I used honey)
75 g chopped walnuts (or any nuts of your choice)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla extract
25 g Plain flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking powder
1- 8 inch springform cake tin

For the White Chocolate ice-cream topping
300 g Good quality white Chocolate
300 ml Double Cream (I used one with 25% fat)
400 g Vanilla Custard

To decorate
Cocoa Powder and 50g melted Plain Chocolate

Brownie base:
• Preheat the oven to 180 °C and lightly grease the cake tin.
• In a thick bottom pan set over a low heat mix together the dark chocolate, butter, sugar and golden syrup till it is homogeneously melted.
• Remove from the heat and stir in the walnuts or nuts of choice and leave to cool.
• In a bowl whisk the egg with the vanilla extract and add to the cooled chocolate mixture.
• Sift in the flour and the baking powder and stir to combine the mixture.
• Pour into the cake tin and bake for 15-20 minutes until the outside is crisp and the cake has begun to shrink from the side of the tin but the center is still soft.
• Leave to cool.

White chocolate ice-cream topping
• Break up the white chocolate and place in a bowl over simmering water. Mix gently till the chocolate melts. Take off the heat.
• In another bowl whip the cream until it holds shape. Mix in the vanilla custard and then slowly add the melted chocolate.
• Pour over the cooled brownie base and tilt around to level the topping.
• If you wish to decorate, drop small blobs of melted chocolate and draw a cocktail stick through to make the teardrop shape
• Freeze for a minimum 4 hours or until firm.
• Take it out of the freezer 1/2 hour before you want to serve it but keep refrigerated.
• Dust with Cocoa powder just before you serve it.

Apple Sharlotka (Russian apple cake)

A dessert reputed to be a cake-torte-pie-all-in-one needs a grand introduction but then, you should not be biased by the number of steps or the list of ingredients. And you should not be flabbergasted when you don’t find butter/oil/milk/buttermilk/cream listed under the ingredients even after scrutinizing the recipe five times. And lastly when I tell you that you can bake it ahead of time because it only gets better the next day and it just takes a dusting of icing sugar for decoration, I have an inkling that from this word onward, I am talking to myself.

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In case you chose to stay to know more, let me tell you this light and fluffy Russian sponge cake is raised on a heap of thinly sliced apples. The cake per se is mildly sweet and complemented well by the slight tartness of the apple chunks, which also ooze out the right amount of juices to moisten the cake.  The whiff of nutmeg and cinnamon in this cake is the perfect prelude to the up coming festive season. This cake is also the closest you will come to an apple pie on a weeknight sans all that hard work. And if I need one reason to bake this cake again, this would be it.

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Apple Sharlotka (The Russian Apple Cake)
(Yields one 8 or 9 inch cake)

6 large eggs, at room temp
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ spoon nutmeg powder
¼ spoon cinnamon powder
5 large apples (I used green apples)
Powdered sugar to dust the finished cake
• Preheat the oven to 170 °C. Grease an 8 or 9 inch springform cake pan and line with the parchment sheet.
• Peel and cut the apples into small chunks. Squirt the juice of one lemon and toss apple chunks well. Arrange the apple chunks in the springform pan and keep aside.
• Using hand beater beat eggs with the sugar for about 10-12 minutes on medium-high speed till the mixture falls in thick ribbon form. Whisk in vanilla extract.
• Mix flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg powders. Mix it gently into the egg mixture in three increments using spatula without deflating the mixture too much.
• Pour the batter over the arranged apples and let the batter seep in the empty spaces. You may gently move the pan to help the batter spread faster.
• Bake in the pre heated oven for 50-60 minutes till the tester comes out clean. Cool it for about 15 minutes before releasing the cake from pan.
• Once cooled, sprinkle the confectioner’s sugar on top.

Chocolate beetroot cake

The world needs peace. Really.  Oppugnant characters need to come together, we need to stop taking sides and make peace. Somewhere I believe it involves bringing Chocolate and beetroots together and I did my bit. We need to be inclusive.

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I have always tried to love beetroots. Loving them for their color came naturally but somehow they never tickled my taste buds. I still keep buying them and incorporate them in meals quite regularly but have never seen a smiling face the day they are on table. However, this cake changed it all.

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This cake started as a red velvet cake. However, the amount of the cocoa was way too much even for the ferocious beet red to show up. So, it ended up as the softest, moistest, and deeply chocolaty chocolate cake with that right punch which no one would believe comes from beet root. It also proved that its not going to be the last cake I have baked with beets. But this cake wont give you the ticket to hop onto the “eating healthy” bandwagon because c’mon! lets not kid ourselves. A beetroot shared by two people over a span of three days (with that amount of cocoa)  doesnt even come close.

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Its a very easy cake to bake, the only extra step is roasting beets in oven for slightly more than an hour and grinding that into a puree. From there its as easy as it can be. The mild sweetness calls for a good quality ganache if you really want to dress it up for an occasion. or just dust it with plain icing sugar on a regular day. Go and hunt for that languishing beetroot. It deserves a place in the oven, instead of fridge.

Chocolate Beetroot cake
(Yields one 8 inches round cake)

Ingredients:
1 medium beetroot, around 150 grams
½ cup neutral oil (I used sunflower)
¼ cup milk
2 tablespoon plain yogurt
½ tsp white vinegar
2 eggs
¾ cup flour
½ cup dark cocoa powder
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt

1. Preheat the oven to 176 degrees Celsius . wash, dry and wrap whole beetroot in an aluminium foil and roast for about an hour or till a knife easily cuts through. Cool, peel and puree. This can done upto a day in advance
2. Whisk together all of the dry ingredients and set aside.
3. Blend the wet ingredients including the puree until uniform.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir until combined.
5. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick in the center of the center comes out clean. Cool before icing.

Chocolate ganache:

200 ml light cream
200 gram good quality chocolate (not bitter or dark)
25 gram butter
A pinch of salt

1. Chop chocolate in a heatproof bowl and keep aside
2. Heat cream in a thick bottomed pan over medium low heat till bubbles start appearing over the edges.
3. Turn off the flame and pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolates. Top with butter. Cover and keep aside for 5-7 minutes
4. Whisk well and add in the salt. Cool before spreading

 

Almond cake with butterscotch buttercream

 

The year end baking spree saw heavenly dose of chocolate, fruits and alcohol in my bakes, and that resulted in many happy faces around.  A week into the New Year there was an opportunity for another cake. And suddenly I didn’t want to bake with any of the above! I wanted a new ingredient to bake with, something that would be a fitting contrast to all things chocolate and alcohol. I almost decided on baking with potatoes, but in the end almonds took the cake, quite literally.

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Almonds are a beautiful ingredient to bake with. I love them for the mild flavor and rich texture they impart. At the same time, they pair very well, be it with chocolate, strawberries, honey, oranges, cherries or just anything one can think of. If almonds were humans, they would be the best people around.

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This almond cake was baked purely on experimental basis and it didn’t let me down. This beautiful golden cake is very moist and fluffy at the same time. It is speckled with tiny brown dots and infused with sweet almond flavor. I paired it with butterscotch granules and butterscotch flavored buttercream. And those tiny confetti sprinkles? You don’t fight them when you have a “soon-going-to-be-six years” old at home, you just let them be.

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Almond Cake with butterscotch buttercream:
(Yields One 9-inch round, 2-inch tall cake, or 16 cupcakes)

¾ cup cake flour
1/3 cup almond flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
115 grams unsalted butter at room temperature
200 grams brown sugar
1 teaspoons almond extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
240 ml buttermilk, well-mixed

• Preheat oven to 350° F (176°C). Butter a 9-inches round cake pan and line with buttered parchment paper.
• Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix in almond flour.
• In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, (around 3-4 minutes) then beat in almond extract.
• Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition.
• At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled).
• Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated. It is always good to mix in the last batch with a rubber spatula.
• Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles.
• Bake until golden and the cake tester poked in center of the cake comes out clean, (around 35 to 40 minutes).
• Cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes, and then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment.
• Cool completely before frosting.

Rich butterscotch buttercream:

1 cup unsalted butter
3 teaspoon of butterscotch essence
4 cups of icing sugar
3-4 tablespoons of fresh cream

• Sift the icing sugar and reserve. It is always good to use fresh icing sugar/
• Whip the butter till its light and fluffy, for about 2-3 minute
• Start adding the icing sugar in small batches and keep whipping till it is incorporated all. Add essence and whip well once again.
• Start adding the cream, one table spoon at a time, and whip it well before adding further. Once the desired consistency is reached, add in the color and whip well before frosting the cake.

 

 

 

 

Christmas Fruit Cake

Festivals always arrive a few days before “the” date. They can be felt in the air, smelled in home kitchens, heard in excited conversations of the children and elders alike, seen in the markets and just everywhere. The patient wait and the preparations for the celebrations, days in advance, make revelry even more special.  So, in our home Christmas  festivities almost always arrives in October, when I soak fruits in alcohol for this traditional Christmas Fruit Cake.

Camera360_2015_12_24_042809-001This cake is different from a regular fruit cake as it has a good amount of caramel in it. Caramel gives it a typical deep brown color as well as the toffee flavor which amalgamates beautifully with the alcohol and fruits, and at the same time keeps the cake moist. I prefer to bake my cake at least one week in advance and let the flavors mature with regular feeding of rum. The alcohol not only keeps the cake moist, it increases its shelf-life as well.

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Though I have been baking this cake for as long as I can remember, this year I baked two cakes. One is what you see here, and the other one using the same recipe, with brown sugar replacing the regular sugar and rum replacing the caramel altogether. That cake is still maturing and it will be another couple of days before I can update you on that one. Till then, here is the traditional Christmas Fruit Cake in all its goodness. Merry Christmas!

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(Update 28.12.2015- So, we finally had the rum cake and we did miss caramel in it. This cake was light brown in color unlike one with caramel, and more on sweeter side. It lacked the toffee-rum flavor which I feel is the very soul of the Christmas cake. So, I don’t think I am going to replace caramel with anything as for now! )

Christmas Fruit Cake
(Yields two 8 inches square cakes)

Ingredients

For the fruit mix:
• 500g chopped mixed dry fruits
• 1/4th cup rum/brandy
• 1/4th cup orange juice
• Zest from the peel of one orange
• Juice from one lemon
• 1 tbsp vanilla extract
• 1/4th tsp powdered cloves
• ½ tsp powdered cinnamon
• ½ tsp powdered nutmeg

For the caramel:
• 1 ½ cup sugar
• ¾ cup hot water
• 1 tsp instant coffee powder

For the cake:
• 500 grams alcohol soaked mixed fruit
• 2 cups plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour
• 200 gms unsalted butter, room temperature
• ¾ cup sugar
• 4 eggs
• caramel syrup
• 1 ½ tsp baking powder
• ½ tsp salt
• 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

To make the fruit mix:

• In a non-reactive bowl, place all the ingredients listed under the “fruit mix” and stir well.
• Cover with a fitting lid and keep under refrigeration for 3 days or more. I soak my fruits 3 months in advance
• Mix thoroughly every 3rd day and feed more alcohol as and when needed.

To make the caramel:
• Place sugar in a heavy bottomed pan. Keep the pan on medium-slow flame and let the sugar melt.
• Once sugar begins to melt, rotate the pan to swirl the sugar till it completely melts. Don’t fret if the sugar crystallizes, just keep stirring and it will melt to become caramel.
• Let the caramel reach deep amber color, at which point turn off the flame. Very carefully, slowly add the hot water into the pot and keep stirring. It’s a good idea to wear baking gloves at this time as the caramel will splatter A LOT. Keep mixing the caramel till it settles and dissolve a teaspoon of instant coffee powder to it. Reserve.

To make the cake:
• Heat the oven to 150° C. Grease two 8X8 inches square pans and line thrice with parchment paper. This step is very important since the cake bakes for a long time and not lining with enough parchment layers will result in hardening of the edges. Grease parchment paper as well.
• Toss the soaked mixed fruit in flour well in a large bowl so that the fruit is completely coated. Add the salt and baking powder and mix well. Keep aside.
• Beat the butter and sugar with electric blender till fluffy, about 2 minutes. Then add the eggs and beat well again
• Add the caramel syrup and vanilla extract and beat again till well incorporated. The mixture may appear curdled.
• Add the flour coated mixed fruit mixture to the butter mix and stir well.
• Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for about an hour. The cake, when done, will be dark golden brown on top and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake will turn out clean.
• Turn off the oven and let the cake cool. Once cooled, poke several holes into the cake and feed it with rum. Cover the cake in multiple layers of parchment paper and let the cake sit on room temperature for about a week. Feed rum at least twice while the cake is maturing.

Extra notes:
1. Do not pack the cake directly with aluminium foil as the juices of the cake may react with the metal. Its better to cover in the parchment paper and clean wrap and store at room temperature.
2. Though it is better to mature the cake for at least a week, a minimum of two days is much desired.

Eggless Vanilla Cake with Rich Vanilla Buttercream

When I thought that I knew American buttercream like the back of my hand, this happened:

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You see those tiny bubbles in the buttercream? I don’t like them there. Its true that this buttercream still pipes well, tastes divine and is devoured by kids and grown ups alike,  but truth be told, I was a bit disappointed when they appeared. But more than success, its failure that makes us strive to learn further. It urges us to find ways we wouldn’t have otherwise known. So, it was back to reading about bubbles in buttercream. There are many reasons bubbles are formed in the buttercream and I would love to compile them in another post. There is nothing wrong with the buttercream recipe. Its just the technique, a point that I have missed. I would update as soon as I find out.

As for this cake, its an eggless vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream. I bake with eggs all the time, so this one made me push the envelope and the result was a moist cake bursting with vanilla flavor. Dress it up with buttercream or chocolate ganache and sandwich with cream and fruits for celebrations. Or sprinkle it with tutti-fruity if you aren’t feeling too fancy. Either way, this cake will make you happy, and that’s what a good cake is supposed to do.

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Eggless vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream frosting
(I made 2.5 times of the recipe to make a two tier cake)

1.5 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
½ cup water
½ cup oil
¾ cup fine sugar
5 tbsp yogurt/curd
1 tbsp white vinegar
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
• Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line an 7 inches pan.
• Sift the cake flour with the baking powder. Add a pinch of salt to the sifted flour.
• Add the sugar to the oil and mix well and keep aside.
• Whisk the yogurt till smooth. Add 1 tbsp vinegar. Then add baking soda into the yogurt and stir.
• Now pour the oil-sugar mixture, ½ cup water and the frothing yogurt-vinegar-baking soda into the sieved flour. Add vanilla extract.
• Fold quickly to make a lump free batter, Avoid over-mixing.
• Pour the batter in the prepared pan. Tap the pan a number of times to release the trapped air bubbles.
• Bake at 180 degrees C for 30-35 minutes or till a tooth pick inserted in the cake comes out clean.
• If the cake starts browning too quickly, cover the top with an aluminium foil tent.
• Once baked, let the cake cool at room temperature before frosting.
• The cake can be baked a day before and frosted the next day.

Rich Vanilla Buttercream
(I made 1.5 times of this recipe to fill and frost the two tier cake)
1 cup unsalted butter
3 teaspoon of pure vanilla essence
4 cups of icing sugar
3-4 tablespoons of fresh cream

• Whip the butter till its light and fluffy, for about 2-3 minutes
• Carefully sift the icing sugar over it. It helps to remove any lumps and gives a better texture to the buttercream. It is also important to use fresh icing sugar as it really builds the taste.
• Start adding the cream, one table spoon at a time, and whip it well before adding further. Once the desired consistency is reached, add in the color and whip well before frosting the cake.