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

 

Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMBC)

I am on cloud nine! And the cloud is of Swiss Meringue Buttercream!  Wanna have a look?WP_20160316_06_52_08_Pro(1)

This satin smooth and not overly sweet buttercream is what I coveted for the longest time but dreaded trying. Google about it and you will know! But it kept coming back to me in pictures, thoughts and dreams. I finally decided to try it and read as many recipes and notes as I could and once I was confident, I tried it for the first time and  failed miserably. But SMBC did not intimidate me. It cajoled me to do my home-work better next time. I read beyond what I already knew and decided to make a small batch this time. And this time it all came together as if it was the easiest thing in the whole world!

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This buttercream is satin smooth and holds well at room temperature. I can understand why it is used in the gourmet bakeries all over the world. Unlike the American version, it is delicately sweet. Now I do not need to scrape buttercream off my cake slice. I would rather enjoy. WP_20160316_06_53_37_Pro (2)

I would give you my two cents on making SMBC.  WEIGH YOUR INGREDIENTS AND FOLLOW 1-2-3″  Do not go by “one large egg white” or “3/4th cup of sugar”. Weigh your ingredients. If egg white is X grams, sugar should be 2X and butter should be 3X. Thats all! I mean other than the technique and all the precautions needed to make SMBC. It would be good to go through the notes before jumping to the recipe. This buttercream is my dream come true. Follow the instructions and it would be yours too!

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
(Makes a practice batch to pipe a few roses)

Ingredients:
Egg white: 30 grams
Castor sugar: 60 grams
Butter in cubes: 90 grams, at room temperature but not runny.
Vanilla extract: a few drops

1. Clean a large heat proof bowl and make sure it is grease free. Same for the beaters and spatula.
2. Add egg white and sugar to the bowl.
3. Set a bain marie with simmering water on a low-medium flame. Keep the bowl on bain marie such that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the simmering water.
4. Keep a candy thermometer ready.
5. Start whisking the egg white-sugar mix. Keep checking the temperature with the thermometer till it reads 160 F.
6. Remove the bowl carefully and start whisking with the hand beater beginning with the low speed first. Once foam forms, increase the speed to medium and then high.
7. Beat till stiff glossy peaks are formed and the bowl feels cold when touched from outside.
8. Start adding butter cube-by-cube. Do not add more butter till the previous addition is incorporated
9. The mixture will deflate and may even curdle (mine did not) but keep whipping and it will all come together into a fluffy frosting within a few minutes.
10. Add flavouring of your choice and beat once more.
11. The frosting will stay at room temperature for up to two days and for about a week under refrigeration. The frosting will not crust and needs to be whipped once before use if kept under refrigeration.

Notes:
• Make sure that the egg white is devoid of even a drop of yolk. Yolk will hinder whipping the white to its full volume. It is best to separate egg when it is cold.
• Make sure that the egg whites are heated to 160 F before taking them off heat. Salmonella is killed at this temperature, making it safer for consumption. Italian buttercream involves adding boiling sugar syrup to the egg whites but the temperature doesn’t rise to 160 F.
• Make sure that the bowl has cooled down before adding the butter else the heat will melt the butter and it will not whip to a fluffy consistency.
• Make sure that the butter is at room temperature but is a bit firm when pressed with fingers.

 

A new chase: SMBC

It feels so good to be here. Really. I don’t know where time goes! No, I wont start on my “Oh! I am so busy!!” banter. But the truth is that I am not able to post as often as I would love to. But still I do see “likes” popping up on my little blog even when I haven’t posted for days. So, I want to thank all you lovely people who keep visiting this little space of mine. I really count my blessings. So, a big Thank you!

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Though I don’t have anything to post today but let me tell you what my next post will be about. For the longest time I can remember, I have coveted Swiss Meringue Buttercream and dreamed my cakes covered in it. But I have also read how unpredictable this buttercream is. Top that with the fact that I own a hand mixer not a stand mixer. So it was quite natural that I procrastinated till a few days ago. And then I took the plunge. Two weeks back I did my first ever batch of Swiss Meringue Buttercream. And let me tell you that though it did get quite thick, satin smooth and tasted far superior to the american buttercream I swear by, it didn’t set the way it should have.I cajoled it for good four hours but SMBC has a mind of its own I am told, and that day, SMBC and I were not the best friends. But that’s alright. I am not giving up till I have SMBC  adoring an equally stunning cake and posing for me in all its glory.  It may take next attempt or  a few more but I know its totally worth the wait.

 

Luxurious Brownies

If it was not unconvincing enough to realize that the new year celebrations which happened “just a few days back” are actually gone for almost six weeks, two awesome trips and a workshop concluded before I could blink. And I have no doubts that we are sailing through February rather fast because here the most awaited birthday of the year is already over! So, it was high time I took out my virtual hammock out on the real beach I live by and indulge in these to rein time in.

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I found this recipe many years ago on this wonderful blog. The honesty with which the post was shared made me take notice of the recipe. The steps are more elaborate than most of the recipes I have tried but then I can say the same for the end result as well! A thin shiny crust dupes you till you are plunged into the chewy moist fudge. It is intensely chocolaty and is laced with the nuts of your choice. In short, it is everything a perfect brownie promises to be.

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I have made this recipe many times, and the results have been consistently fabulous. However, this time I swapped the cocoa powder with drinking chocolate ( yes, tinkering is my problem) and the results were still amazing! Technically speaking, drinking chocolate has lower cocoa content than the cocoa powder and contains added sugar as well but if you are using good quality dark chocolate (70% or more), you wont feel the difference. It also means that you can do more with your drinking chocolate!

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These are best made a day in advance as the texture and flavor matures over time and will stay up to five days under refrigeration if stored in an airtight container. However, make sure to bake a large batch if you really want these to last that long.

Luxury Brownies
(Yields 25 medium size brownies)

230g Butter, roughly cubed
310g Sugar (Granulated or Castor)
200g Whole eggs (approximately four) whisked up
230g Finely chopped Dark Chocolate  (70% or more)
140g Flour
40g Cocoa Powder (I used drinking chocolate powder)
200g of nuts of your choice (I used almonds, pistachio, walnuts, and cashews)

• Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
• Butter the baking tin. Then line the bottom & the sides with baking paper.
• Sift together the flour & the cocoa powder.
• Melt the butter completely in a large pot. Add the sugar and mix well.
In a separate mixing bowl mix the solid chocolates & eggs (make sure to mix well).
• Pour the piping hot butter-sugar mixture over the chocolates/eggs in a bowl. Mix quickly & thoroughly – make sure all the chocolates have dissolved (if you still have lumps of chocolates left, zap it at 10 second intervals in the microwave until it melts).
• Spatula in the flour & the cocoa powder. Mix until no traces of flour can be seen.
Mix in the nuts. (Make sure you leave some aside for decorating the top with).
Pour the mixture in to the prepared tin. Evenly decorate some more nuts on the top surface.
• Bake in the oven for 18 to 22 minutes. It’s cooked when the edges have gone slightly dry; the top is shiny & has cracked. The center of the brownie shouldn’t be wobbly when shook. Remember: the toothpick method won’t work on this fudgy brownie.
• Leave aside to cool. Don’t cut until they’ve reached room temperature, or even better leave it untouched for a day to rest

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Coconut banana loaf

Once I shifted to south India after my wedding, the biggest revelation to me was the varieties of banana available here and the obsession with the fruit. I never knew that it came in so many shapes, sizes and colors. And the fact that some varieties were preferred more than others actually left me flummoxed! To me, a banana had  always been just a banana. But not anymore! In last seven years I can tell a Rasthali from a Nendran and have many times left a shop without buying  if the shop didn’t have the stock of the one of my liking. So it was a natural progression that I started baking with bananas more frequently. In other words, banana and I moved from being “just friends” to a more meaningful “relationship”.

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However, it will be blasphemous if you do not say “coconut” in the same breath as “banana” if you are living in southern India. In my maternal home coconut does not enjoy the same status that banana does. There latter is eaten more unceremoniously than the former. But here, like banana, coconut is an integral part of everyday life. It is liberally used in almost every food preparation, be it sweet or savory, vegetarian or non-vegetarian, ceremonial or casual. Personally, I like the delicate flavor and the mild sweetness of the raw coconut. It also happens to be my go-to flavor for desserts. So my friends, how this banana coconut loaf came to be does not need any further write-up.WP_20151219_07_52_58_Pro

This loaf has a good amount of multi grain flour and fruits, but with my own standards for something to qualify as healthy, this one doesn’t get there. Nevertheless, its a moist, very flavorful and  delicious loaf and to call it a tea cake is an understatement unless you are feeling fancy. Easy on steps and requiring very staple ingredients from pantry, you do not really have to plan big to bake this loaf. Just a few leftover bananas and an extra coconut will do.

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Coconut banana loaf
Makes one 9X5X4 inches loaf

Ingredients

• 1 cup All purpose flour
• 3/4 cup multi grain flour
• 1 ½ tsp baking powder
• 3/4th cup sugar
• 113 grams unsalted butter, melted and cooled
• 2 large eggs
• 1 cup mashed bananas
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• ½ cup shredded coconut
• Chopped nuts of your choice

For the loaf:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9X5-inch-loaf pan.
2. In a bowl, whisk together flours, salt and baking powder
3. In another bowl, large enough to hold the batter mix the melted butter and sugar until combined. Add in eggs, mashed banana and vanilla extract.
4. Add the flour mix to the butter mix and whisk till just combined. Add in shredded coconut and nuts if using.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50-60 minutes. When done, the top would be golden brown and the tester should come out clean, but take care not to over-bake the loaf.
6. Store in an air-tight container for upto two day at room temperature or refrigerate for upto 3-4 days.

 

 

La Bête Noire

Once the hysteria subsided after I received a bigger-than-I-could-hold pack of this from my newly wed sister, a saintly calm descended upon me. Strangely, I didnt feel the urge to cut open the pack and look at it in real. “It has to be used for the right recipe, at the right time” I told myself. Baking has taught me something nothing else could- Patience. So I  browsed and read while the buttery brown packet rested right in front of my eyes. And then, I found a recipe  which promised to take me to chocolate heaven and I decided to take the Valrhona route. And the time didn’t matter. WP_20151117_14_03_39_Pro (5)A true epitome of the french perfection, La Bête Noire, or The Black Beast is the richest, most decadent, most moist and velvety, most chocolatey chocolate cake that I have come across. No flour, no leavening agent, no folding egg whites. Just sugar syrup, butter, eggs and LOADS of chocolate, in one bowl is all you need to achieve this sophistication. And while the use of Ganache can be left to individual preferences, don’t miss out on strawberries (though any tart juicy berries would do) and no, they are not just for the show. When the cake has taken you to the chocolate heaven, these berries will lend you the nirvana. You can thank me later. Camera360_2015_11_17_031026
La bête noire
(
Almost from here)
For the cake:

• 1 cup water
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, diced
• 18 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
• 6 large eggs

For the ganache:
• 1 cup heavy whipping cream
• 8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
• Lightly sweetened whipped cream
• Tart and juicy strawberries, or any other berries (optional but recommended)
For cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 10-inch-diameter springform pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment round; butter parchment. Wrap 3 layers of heavy-duty foil around outside of pan, bringing foil to top of rim. Combine 1 cup water and sugar in small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. Melt butter in large saucepan over low heat. Add chocolate and whisk until smooth. Whisk sugar syrup into chocolate; cool slightly. Add eggs to chocolate mixture and whisk until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. Place cake pan in large roasting pan. Add enough hot water to roasting pan to come halfway up sides of cake pan.
3. Bake cake until center no longer moves when pan is gently shaken, about 50 minutes. Remove from water bath; transfer to rack. Cool completely in pan.
For ganache:
4. Bring whipping cream to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until smooth. Pour over top of cake still in pan. Gently shake pan to distribute ganache evenly over top of cake. Refrigerate cake in pan until ganache is set, about 2 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.

Carrot apple banana cake

A few months ago, a conversation with my five year old went like this:
She: “Mamma! May I have cake for breakfast?”
Me: “No darling. Cakes don’t make a healthy breakfast choice.”
She: “Why do we have to eat healthy breakfast everyday?”
Me: “…(A long lecture on the benefits of eating a healthy breakfast, and how cakes are not healthy)…..”
Daughter( after a pause): “Then why do you bake unhealthy cakes all the time?”

Needless to say it surely made me frown. But with time, I have become more deft at steering my frowns towards smiles as my daughter is picking up argumentative skills. Not to be daunted, it was time to look for a cake recipe that would be healthy and not just for the namesake. So, here were my criteria:

A healthy cake should:
1. Not be slathered with buttercream or chocolate
2. Be low on fat, refined sugar and flour
3. Have some kind of fruit, vegetable and nuts in abundance
4. Have multi-grain flour in it
5. AND should appeal to the palate of a five year old

It appeared too idealistic but sometimes it pays to be stubborn. So, after going through many recipes, deciding on a few and finally tweaking a couple of them, I had my Eureka! moment.

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Don’t go by the looks. This Plain Jane really packs a punch. This is my kind of everyday cake, one that I don’t mind my little girl having for breakfast. Despite having a high ratio of multi-grain flour, it is very moist and has a tender crumb. I think it will still taste great if the ratio is  increased further; or sugar is decreased by a couple of tablespoons, or a fist full of grated coconut is added to the batter. But as of now, I am in love with this one.   “Let them have cake!” has become my answer to the mid-meal/mid-play/mid-night/any-time hunger pangs on days this cake is in my fridge.

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(Update- 9th September 2015) : It’s less than a week, and I have already made three batches of this, in different permutations and combinations. Yes, it’s that good. So, here is what I found:
1. Reducing sugar by two tablespoons makes it noticeably less sweet and while it’s healthier, kids may not fancy it, though it will make a good snack for elderly.
2. Increasing the multigrain flour: all-purpose flour ratio from 1:1 to 3:1 leads to coarser, rustic but still moist loaf, but again, my kid compared it to eating something “sandy”.
3. For the next, I substituted 1/3 cup of almond meal with grated unsweetened coconut, and it was divine. And while I was experimenting like there was no tomorrow, I ran out of banana puree but still had a cup full of grated carrots. I combined that with 1 ½ grated apple and 1/2 cup shredded coconut, and I couldn’t have offered you if you visited me the next evening, because it was all over. )

Carrot apple banana cake:
(Adapted from here and here)

Makes one 9X5.5X4 inches loaf or 14-16 muffins

2 eggs
¼ cup sunflower oil
½ cup mashed ripe bananas
1 sweet apple, grated
½ cup sugar
½ cup milk
½ tsp salt
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup multigrain flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup roasted almond meal
1 cup heaped tightly packed grated carrots

• Heat oven to 176° C. Line and grease a loaf pan or muffin tray
• In a big mixing bowl, mix eggs, mashed bananas, oil, grated apple and sugar. Add milk and mix well.
• In a separate bowl, mix flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, raisins and cinnamon powder.
• Add grated carrots to the egg mix, followed by the flour mix and roasted almond meal. Mix well.
• Fill the loaf tin or muffin tray almost to the top and bake for about 30 mins or till the tester inserted in the middle comes out clean
• If baking in a loaf pan, check after 45 mins, and every 5 mins after that.
• Cool on a rack and store well.

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.