Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Date and Walnut Loaf

S does it time and again coming up with good baked goodies rather effortlessly.  All I can recall was her leafing through a book for a recipe.  And the next thing I know is a delicious looking loaf sitting on a cooling rack.  I am totally impressed.

The recipe is from the book - Traditional Family Cakes - a collection of recipes with no- nonsense recipes.  A tip for a good date and walnut loaf as given in the book is the use of  fragrant tea to soak the dates like Earl Grey or a good quality English tea - PG Tips was used here.  Soaking of dates in hot tea till softened gives it a nice moist and crumbly texture.

Besides, if you note the minimal amount of sugar, butter and flour used - you can afford to reach for a second or possibly a third slice without any guilt.

            (This pic courtesy - DR )

Ingredients :- Serves 8 (* I would think 8  poor eaters) - safely say about 4- 5 if you have a sweet tooth like mine.

Dates - 100 gms - stoned and chopped
Soda bi carb - 1/2 tsp
Lemon Rind - 1/2 lemon finely grated
Hot tea - 100 ml
Unsalted butter - 40 gms + extra for greasing
Muscavado sugar - light - 70gms ( brown sugar was used)
Egg - 1 small
Self raising flour - 125 gms
Walnuts - 25 gms - chopped
Walnut halves - to decorate - a few

Place dates, bicarb of soda and lemon rind in a bowl and add the hot tea.  Leave to soak for 10 mins till softened.

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Then add the egg and beat further. Stir the date mixture into the egg-butter-sugar mixture.

Preheat the oven to 180 C

Fold in the flour using a large metal spoon.

Then the walnuts.

Line the loaf tin with parchment paper - ( tip from Jamie Oliver - cut the paper as per the tin.  Hold under a tap till wet.  Squeeze out all the water .  And then open out paper - you will find it pliable and can easily line your tin - grease it )

Spoon mixture into prepared tin.  Smooth the surface.  Top with walnut halves.

Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until risen, firm and golden brown.

Cool for 10 minutes in the tin and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy ! 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Honey Oat Bread

I never thought one could make/bake Honey Oat Bread at home.  This was always my choice of bread at  a Subway outlet, and I thought of it as an exotic variety that had some special technique in its preparation till  I chanced upon the recipe at Maria's Menu .  It also led me to the original source at Bakingdom .  Both are great sites and worth browsing post by post .

Recipe - ( for one 9 x 5 " loaf )

All purpose flour - 3 cups - 380 gms + 2 tbsp
Oats - 3/4 cup - used quick cooking - but the other kind is ok too
Instant dry yeast - 7 g - 2 1/4 tsp
Salt - 1 1/2 tsp
Milk - 1 cup - 250 ml
Warm water - 1/4 cup
Unsalted butter - 2 tbsp
Honey - 1/4 cup  + 1 1/2 tbsp

Combine flour, oats, yeast and salt in a large bowl
In a small bowl take the milk, warm it make sure it does not boil - add butter - it should melt . Stir it in.  And then the warm water and honey

Pour the milk mixture into the bowl with the flour mixture.
I made the dough with my hand - remember the dough will be sticky at first, so flour your hands and work it well and patiently, adding little flour if necessary.  After 5 minutes the tough should be smooth and elastic.  If it gets too dry sprinkle a little water

Place in a lightly oiled bowl .  Cover and allow it to rise till it is double in size.  Should take an hour or also another half hour.

Prepare the loaf tin - line it with parchment paper

Now lightly flour a clean, dry work surface.  Place the risen dough on it.
Using your fingers, press dough to a 9 x 12 inch rectangle
Tightly roll the dough and tuck the ends as needed to make the loaf to 9 x 5 - the seam should be down as you place it in the loaf tin.

Cover with a clean towel and allow it to rise once again till is doubled.  Which should take another hours time

Preheat oven to 180C

Warm 2 tbsp of honey and brush generously onto the surface of the loaf.  Sprinkle the oats on top.

Place another empty loaf tin at the bottom rack.
Boil two cups of water and put in the empty loaf tin on the bottom rack

Place the loaf tin with the dough on a rack above the one with water and  bake for about 40 - 50 minutes till the loaf turns a golden brown

( In my oven , could be 'cos it is fan assisted - this happened a lot earlier about 35 minutes - so keep checking )

Allow to cool completely before slicing.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Blueberry Muffin with Streusel topping

Little N loves blueberries. And no one wants to deprive her of them.  But recently A got more than she could possibly consume and I got into action .  The last time I made blueberry muffins was with chocolate chips. I was looking for something different and after looking at various recipes settled down to making muffins again. Muffins with a streusel topping.  This site -Whisk Affair has amazing pictures and the product looked very good.  I was not particularly taken in by what I read about the streusel topping;  It just seemed like sugar and fat and what would it do to the muffin ?  I was all wrong.  It does make a whole lot of difference... bake it and see for yourself.  Btw - streusel I am told in german means something scattered or sprinkled - very apt.

As usual the pics are a bit of a let down.  But don't go by them.  They were delicious.

Recipe for 12 muffins

All purpose flour - 1 cup
Baking powder - 3/4 tsp
Baking soda - 1/8 tsp
Unsalted butter - 58 gms
Sugar - 1/2 cup
Eggs - 1
Vanilla extract - 1/2 tsp
Yogurt - 1/2 cup
Blueberries - 1 cup

Streusel topping :

Sugar - 2 tbsp
All purpose flour - 1 tbsp
Olive oil or butter - 1 tsp

Get the Streusel ready - mix all the ingredients and keep aside.

Preheat oven to 180C
Line muffin tin with liners
Mix flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a bowl
In another bowl, add sugar and bowl and whisk till light and fluffy
Add the egg and mix again followed by the yogurt and vanilla

Now add the flour and whisk till just combined.  Fold in the berries
Pour batter in the prepared muffin try upto 1/3 the level
Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly on the muffins
Bake for 20-25 mins till tooth pick comes out clean
Remove from oven.  Cool a further 5 mins in the pan and then remove and cool thoroughly

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

K has been asking me to make these cookies for some time now.  It is a recipe on the Betty Crocker website and is extremely simple to make.  You may never want to buy oatmeal cookies again. 

I made half the quantity of the recipe that follows and I should have got 21 cookies but I got about 16 of them.  So it could vary according to the size of the cookie.


Brown Sugar (packed) - 1 1/2 cups
Butter -softened - 1 cup
Vanilla essence - 1 tsp
Egg -1
Quick cooking oats - 2 cups
All purpose flour - 1 1/2 cups
Baking soda - 1 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Semi sweet chocolate chips - 1 cup
( Optional - chopped nuts - 1 cup)

Preheat oven to 180 C
Whisk the sugar and butter till well blended
Add the vanilla and the egg and continue whisking till light and fluffy
Stir in oats, flour, baking soda and salt
Followed by the choco chips ( and nuts if you are adding)

( The dough was rather solid, and I added a bit of milk to loosen it a bit but K tells me it was not necessary )

Onto an ungreased baking sheet, drop spoonfuls of dough about 2 inches apart
( I did this without the spoons - kind of shaped them into balls and flattened them a bit )

Bake 10 to 12 mins until golden brown.
Cool slightly and then remove them from the sheet on to a cooling rack

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Apricot Couronne

There were sun dried apricots at home that no one wanted to eat.  And so I searched for recipes with apricots and it led me to Paul Hollywood's Apricot Couronne.  Having watched The Great British Bake Off , he is a big favourite of mine and have tried his Eight strand plaited loaf earlier on.

 The recipe seemed interesting.  I thought I had all the ingredients.  I should have checked. I normally do that, but this time I had no doubts.  I did not do my mise-en-place and started off very enthusiastically.  Mixed the dough and then discovered that I did not have the walnuts ! I was short on the apricots too. It was too late, and so I continued by just substituting it with what I thought was right.  I also should have checked some other sites on the procedure. Well, all in all - I did not stick to the original recipe, but the final product was good !

Couronne in Frech refers to the crown.  And this loaf is shaped like a crown.  It also has a lovely filling.

Reproducing the recipe as it appears on BBC Food Recipes and the changes I made.

Ingredients:For the dough
  • Strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting - 250gms
  • Salt 5gms
  • Instant yeast -7gms
  •  Unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing - 50g ( without realising I used salted butter ! )
  •  milk 105ml 
  • Egg - 1 slightly beaten
For the filling
  • Unsalted butter, softened - 90gms
  • Light muscovado sugar - 70g ( Used demerara sugar)
  • Ready-to-eat dried apricots, chopped and soaked in orange juice - 120gms ( I had about 100 gms)
  •  Plain flour - 35gms
  • Raisins - 60gms
  • Chopped walnuts - 65gms ( I used almonds - I ran out of walnuts !)
  • Orange  zest only - 1 
To finish
  • Apricot jam - 50 gms ( I omitted this )
  • Icing sugar 200gms
  • Flaked almonds - 25gms Did not do this either


  1. Place flour into a large mixing bowl and add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the butter, milk and egg and mix to combine, using your hands. Continue to mix until you’ve picked up all the flour from the sides of the bowl. Use the dough to clean the inside of the bowl and keep going until you have a soft dough.
  2. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and begin to knead. Keep kneading for 10-12 minutes. Work through the initial wet stage until the dough starts to form a soft, smooth skin.
  3. When the dough feels smooth and silky, put it into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave to rise for one hour, or until doubled in size.
  4. While the dough is rising, make the filling. Beat the butter and muscovado sugar together until smooth. Drain the apricots and add to the butter mixture along with the flour, raisins, walnuts and orange zest. Mix to combine.
  5. Line a baking tray with baking parchment or silicone paper.
  6. Turn the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface. Taking care not to knock the air out of it, roll out the dough into a rectangle, approximately 33x25cm/13x10in. Turn the dough 90 degrees if necessary, so you have a long edge facing you. Spread the apricot mixture evenly over the dough. Roll up the dough tightly (like a Swiss roll). Roll it slightly to seal, then cut it in half lengthways (you can leave one end joined to help you twist the dough and form the circular crown).
  7. Twist the two dough lengths together to make a rope, then join the ends of the rope to form a circular ‘crown’. Transfer to the baking tray. ( What you need to do is actually like braiding with the two cut portions )
  8. Put the tray inside a clean plastic bag and leave to prove for 30-45mins, or until the dough springs back quickly if you prod it lightly with your finger. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
  9. Bake the couronne for 25-35 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown. Set aside to cool on a wire rack.
  10. Gently heat the apricot jam with a splash of water, then sieve it and brush it over the warm loaf to glaze. Mix the icing sugar with enough water to make a thin icing, drizzle over the loaf and sprinkle with the flaked almonds. Leave to cool before serving ( I did not do the jam glaze.  Only the drizzle of icing sugar.  No almonds either )
                                         ( I will replace this picture once I make it again)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Spiced Carrot and Lentil Soup

S made this wholesome soup.  It was delicious.  And we had homemade focaccia ( the Hairy Bikers recipe) and it was a complete meal.

The soup is from BBC Food Recipes.  Here goes -

Ingredients: ( Serves 4)

Cumin seeds ( jeera) - 2 tsp
Chili flakes - to taste
Olive oil - 2 tbsp ( any other refined oil will do too)
Carrot - 6 - coarsely grated
Split red lentils ( Masoor dal) 140 gms
Vegetable stock - 1 litre - or use a ready to use cube
Milk - 125 ml
Yogurt to garnish or if you don't mind the extra calories - cream works even better)
Salt to taste and pepper too

Heat a  pan and dry roast the cumin and chili flakes
( the jeera jumps around in the pan is when you stop)
Keep aside half the roasted cumin
Add oil, carrot, lentil, stock and milk
Bring to boil
Simmer till the lentils are cooked

Whiz with a stick blender or any blender will do - till smooth
Season to taste - you can also add some pepper
Garnish with yogurt or cream
And top with the roasted cumin that was kept aside

Serve with any kind of bread.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce

A Donna Hay's Recipe - very nice, very simple.  I used dates that were mildly sweet and the topping with toffee sauce was perfect with the pudding.

Ingredients: ( Serves 6 )

Chopped Pitted Dates - 210 gms
Boiling Water - 250 ml - 1 cup
Soda bi carb (baking soda) - 1 teaspoon
Butter (chopped) - 100 gms
Brown sugar - 135 gms
Eggs - 2 nos
Self Raising Flour - 150 gms

Toffee Sauce ( I made just a third of this so make accordingly)
Butter - chopped - 150 gms
Single pouring cream - 250 ml
Brown sugar - 265 gms

Double cream - if you wish to put a dollop on the pudding

Place pitted dates, water and soda bicarb in a bowl - allow to stand for 5 minutes
I processed it to make an even mixture
Add butter and sugar and process till well combined

Now add eggs and flour and mix till just combined

Preheat the oven to 180C
Grease and line a 26cm x 16 cm square tin with non stick baking paper

Pour in the tin
Bake for 30-35 minutes till cooked - test with a skewer

Cool in tin for 10 minutes.
Cut in squares.

While it is cooling -  make the toffee sauce
Place butter, cream, sugar in saucepan over medium heat
Still till butter has melted
Bring to boil, cook for 5 minutes or till it thickens slightly.
Spoon over the squares
Put a dollop of cream (optional ) but it is really tasty when you do

* ( the above pic is when the toffee sauce has cooled down.  A few seconds in the microwave and the toffee sauce melts a bit... so have it the way you want it .. )

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Konkani Cuisine - Valval

Another of R mai's recipes.   Almost like the Kerala Stew.  A variety of vegetables in coconut milk and lightly seasoned.  Traditionally had with rice, but here I had it with Rava Dosa and I must tell you it was a great combination.  I just think, Valval can be had with anything you fancy.  Try it

( No specific measurements )

Veggies like - potato, sweet potato, pumpkin white or yellow, kovai, tender cashew, alsanda beans, ridge gourd......
Cut into even pieces lengthwise 
Cook till just tender in some water adding salt and a couple of slit green chilies

Either make fresh coconut milk by grinding coconut and water and extracting the milk or use ready to use - like I did ( makes life simpler)

Add this to the cooked veggies.
( If you find the mixture too watery you can thicken it any flour)

Season with mustard, cumin seeds and curry leaves.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Cinnamon-Raisin Bread

At the onset I must confess this was meant to be a Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread, but the swirls were just so faint that I dropped it (the swirl) from the title :-)   The  original recipe modified slightly is from The Kitchn.  I wonder where I went wrong with the swirls, since I religiously followed the recipe.  Perhaps it had to do with the rolling. PS - the swirls were there at the centre of the loaf, last picture added today 30 March , the swirls are more prominent when toasted - But that it not going to stop me from making this bread again 'cos it is a good tasting loaf of bread.

How to prepare a loaf tin -
Grease the tin bottom and sides with a thin coating of a flavourless oil - use a kitchen paper to ensure a thin film of oil.  Sprinkle the flour that is being used for the bread evenly all over the tin.  Then tap and tilt the tin to remove excess flour.   Put in the prepared dough to bake and when done, tilt the tin and the loaf will pop out easily 

Ingredients: for one loaf
Raisins - 1/2 cup
Warm water - 1/2 cup
Active Dry Yeast - 7 gms
Milk - whole or skim - 1/2 cup
Unsalted melted butter - 1/8 cup - 1 oz
Salt - 1 tsp
All purpose flour ( I used white bread flour) - 2 3/4 cup

Filling -
Granulated white sugar - 1/2 cup
Cinnamon powder - 3/4 tbsp

Egg wash - 1 large egg beaten with 2 tsp warm water

Plump the raisins for about 10 minutes in hot water.  Drain and set aside

Take a bowl add the warm water - (you can use the water that you soaked the raisins in, just make sure that it is not hot - but needs to be warm)
Sprinkle yeast over the top.  Give it a few minutes and then stir gently to dissolve the yeast in the water
Add in the milk ( warm), melted butter and salt into the water.
Followed by the flour and stir to form a shaggy dough.
Knead in mixer or by hand as I did for about 8-10 minutes to form a smooth but slightly tacky dough.
If it is sticky half way through the kneading ( as it states in the original recipe - sticky as in bubble gum) - add a little more flour
The dough is ready when it forms a ball without sagging and springs back when poked

Mix the raisins in a bit of flour to absorb the moisture and add these to the dough and knead till they are evenly distributed.
If kneading by hand, turn dough onto a work surface, make into an oval, sprinkle half the raisins over the top and fold.  Pat into an oval again and add the remaining and fold again.  Knead for a few minutes.

Return dough to the bowl.  Cover and keep in a warm place and allow to rise till it has doubled in bulk, which may take about an hour.

Meanwhile prepare the filling by combining the sugar and the cinnamon powder.

Combine the egg and water in a small bowl.  This is optional but helps in ensuring that when you roll the loaf later it binds it together and the layers do not separate when you slice the bread.

After the dough has doubled, roll it on a counter.  It should be slightly less wide than the baking pan and rolled as long as possible.  The thinner the better.  If the dough shrinks back, rest it for a few minutes.

Brush the entire surface of the dough with egg wash leaving about two inches clear at the top.  Sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar.  Starting at the end towards you, roll up the dough.  At the top, pinch the seam closed. Transfer to the prepared loaf tin seam side down

Let the loaf rise until mounded over the top of the pan ( takes about half hour to 40 mins)

Halfway, preheat the oven to 190C.
Brush the top of the loaf with egg wash and bake for about 40-45 mins until golden brown and gives a hollow sound when tapped.

Remove loaf from pan and allow to cool completely ( can take a couple of hours) before you slice it

Toast and have it with a pat of butter.  Enjoy !

The swirls -

Monday, March 24, 2014

Coffee & Walnut Cake

This was a super cake that S made... and she made it seem so effortless.   I could have eaten the whole cake by myself !  A hint of coffee, crunch of walnut ....delicious.  While this sandwich cake needed to be baked in two separate cake tins, S made it in one tin and then sliced it into halves and put the frosting.

( Recipe from Traditonal Family Cakes - Book )

Serves 8

Unsalted butter - 175 gms plus extra for greasing
Light muscovado sugar - 175 gms ( used demerara sugar)
Eggs - 3 large beaten
Strong black coffee - 3 tbsp
Self raising flour - 175 gms
Baking powder - 1 1/2 tsp
Walnut pieces - 115 gms
Walnut halves to decorate -f ew

Frosting - ( used about 2/3 recipe of frosting)
Unsalted butter - 115 gms
Icing sugar - 200 gms
Strong coffee - 1 tbsp
Vanilla extract - 1.2 tsp

Grease and line tow 8" cake tins or like S did - one tin only

Beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
Gradually add the eggs beating well after each addition
Beat in the coffee

Preheat the oven 180 C

Sift the flour and baking powder into mixture
Fold in lightly and evenly with a metal spoon
Fold in walnut pieces
Divide mixture into two tins ( if you are using two tins)

Smooth the services
Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 mins if using two tins or it may be close to 40 mins for a single tin
Bake till golden brown and springy to touch

Turn on to rack to cool

For the frosting - beat together the butter, icing sugar, coffee and vanilla extract, mixing until smooth and creamy

Once the cake has cooled use half of frosting mixture to sandwich cakes together ( or in between), spread the remaining on top of cake and swirl with palette knife.

Decorate with walnut halves.


Related Posts with Thumbnails