Thursday, April 13, 2017

Dates and Chocolate Chip Cake with Chocolate Frosting

I bookmark quite a few recipes on a daily basis.But then there are those recipes which capture my attention straightaway.This,my friends,is one such recipe.I saw this recipe in one of my favorite magazines (for recipes) Vanitha.Somehow I couldn't bake it the first time I saw the recipe and as always after a while I forgot it completely.
I have this yearly tradition of collecting all the recipe pages from Vanitha and getting it bound by hardcover.My collection is getting huge by the year and those books occupy a prime position,on my bedside table.So as I was browsing through it few nights back,I saw this recipe and believe me when I say this,I had the urge to bake it right away.Better sense and lack of ingredients prevailed and I slept on it.
Next day,I purchased all the required ingredients and waited for the li'l one to nap so that I could start baking it.By the time the cake was inside the oven and I was getting ingredients for the icing ready,he got up.It is a joy,however,to have him as company while I bake.He is fascinated by all the mixing and folding and waiting in anticipation for the goodie from the oven!

Coming back to the cake,it is a simple cake batter with the addition of Dates topped with a chocolate-chip streusel and a chocolate butter icing.It does seem like too much going on but that itself was what made me try it.Worry not,the cake serves a crowd so you do not have to feel guilty about all the calories in it.Perfect for a potluck or during family get-togethers.

Dates and Chocolate Chip Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients

Dates - 1 cup,finely chopped
Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
Boiling water - 1 1/4 cup
Maida/Flour - 1 3/4 cup
Sugar - 1/2 cup
Brown sugar - 1/2 cup
Baking soda - 1 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Sunflower oil - 1/3 cup
Eggs -2
Vanilla extract - 1 tsp

For the Streusel topping

Chocolate chips - 1/2 cup
Brown sugar - 1/4 cup
Flour- 1/4 cup
Butter - 2 tbsp

For the Chocolate Frosting

Butter - 75 gms / 1/3 cup
Milk chocolate - 100 gms,melted
Icing sugar - 2 cups
Vanilla extract - 1 tsp
Milk - 2 tbsp

Method

Preheat oven to 175C.Butter and flour a 11/9 inch rectangular cake pan.
Mix together Dates,baking soda and boiling water in a pan and let it rest while you gather other ingredients(about 5 minutes).
In another bowl,mix together flour,sugars,baking soda,salt,oil,eggs and vanilla.Mix it well-it would be crumbly.
Add the softened dates mixture into the bowl and mix well till you get a smooth,lump-free batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking tin.
Mix ingredients for the streusel topping and sprinkle it evenly on top of the cake batter.
Bake the cake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
While the cake is baking,prepare the frosting.
Mix together softened butter,melted chocolate and icing sugar mixing in the milk and vanilla.
Once the cake is just warm to the touch apply the frosting evenly on top of the cake.Let the frosting set for a while.You could refrigerate the cake for about 30 minutes and then cut to get neat,even slices.

Step by Step Pictorial

Preheat oven to 175C.
Butter and flour a 11/9 inch rectangular cake pan.
Mix together Dates,baking soda and boiling water in a pan and let it rest while you gather other ingredients(about 5 minutes).
In another bowl,mix together flour,sugars,baking soda,salt,
oil,eggs and vanilla.Mix it well-it would be crumbly.
Add the softened dates mixture into the bowl and mix well till you get a smooth,lump-free batter.Pour the batter into the prepared baking tin.
Mix ingredients for the streusel topping and sprinkle it evenly on top of the cake batter.
Bake the cake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
While the cake is baking,prepare the frosting.
Mix together softened butter,melted chocolate and icing sugar mixing in the milk and vanilla.
Once the cake is just warm to the touch apply the frosting evenly on top of the cake.Let the frosting set for a while.You could refrigerate the cake for about 30 minutes and then cut to get neat,even slices.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Sambar Sadam | South Indian Sambar Rice

When I first heard about Sambar Sadam,I thought it was just rice mixed with sambar.How wrong I was! It is anything but that.Having got introduced to the dish after coming to Chennai,I did not actually taste it myself for a long long time for the same reason.I mean,just sambar mixed with rice,why were people raving about it is what I felt like.

During our train trips,Ajay used to get Curd rice and Sambar rice from Saravana Bhavan and used to relish it while I stuck to my staple Chapathi.Once when I just couldn't understand what the hoopla was,I decided to try it myself.One spoon and,though I hated to admit it,I was sold.A wonderful mix of flavors combined with the goodness of vegetables,rice and dal this was one wholesome meal in itself.
It took a longer time for me to actually try this dish at home.Just like my earlier assumption,I made sambar sadam using my go-to sambar powder and it was not the outcome I was expecting for.Once,during my casual conversation with Selvi,my house help,she offered to make it for me.It was one of the best Sambar sadam I'd tasted,even better than those I'd had at the restaurants.The best part was,it was so easy to make.No complicated ingredients and made in a pressure cooker,how cool was that!

Since then,this is my go-to dish whenever I'm feeling too lazy to cook(which is quite often,I may add)Paired with a small bowl of curd rice(a must!)some poriyal(optional)and some chips(again,a must!)this meal looks like you took a lot of effort.Delicious,wholesome and oh-so satisfying.
Sambar Sadam

Ingredients(quantity serves 4)

Raw rice - 1/2 cup
Toor dal - 1/4 cup
Tamarind - small gooseberry sized
Small onions/shallots - 10-12,halved
Tomato - 1,chopped
Beans - 6-8,sliced 
Pumpkin - about half cup,chopped
Carrot - 1 big,chopped
Capsicum - about half cup,chopped
Oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Red chilly powder - 2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Haldi powder - 1/4 tsp
Coriander leaves for garnish
Ghee - 3 -4 tsp

Method

Wash the rice and dal well and soak in enough water for about half an hour.
Soak the tamarind in warm water.
In a pressure pan add oil and splutter mustard seeds.Add onions,curry leaves and saute for a minute.
Add the tomato and mix well and add the spice powders - red chilly,coriander and haldi.
Now add the vegetables and the soaked rice and dal(drain before adding),salt to taste and give a good mix.
Squeeze the tamarind and pour in the pulp.Add about 5 times water(1:5 rice to water ratio) check the seasonings and salt by tasting the water.
Close the cooker with the lid and cook on high for 1 whistle.Simmer and cook for about 15 minutes.
Once the pressure settles down,open the cooker and check whether everything is cooked well.{Do not worry if it is watery,it solidifies on cooling.If you feel it is dry,you can add some hot water and adjust the consistency}
Add capsicum,coriander leaves and ghee and let it cook on the smallest flame for about 5 minutes.Switch off the flame and keep it closed for the flavors to infuse.Serve warm.

Step by step Pictorial

Wash the rice and dal well and soak in enough water for about half an hour.
Soak the tamarind in warm water.
In a pressure pan add oil and splutter mustard seeds.Add onions,curry leaves and saute for a minute.
Add the tomato and mix well and add the spice powders - red chilly,coriander and haldi.
Now add the vegetables and the soaked rice and dal(drain before adding),salt to taste and give a good mix.
Squeeze the tamarind and pour in the pulp.Add about 5 times water(1:5 rice to water ratio) check the seasonings and salt by tasting the water.
Close the cooker with the lid and cook on high for 1 whistle.Simmer and cook for about 15 minutes.
Once the pressure settles down,open the cooker and check whether everything is cooked well.{Do not worry if it is watery,it solidifies on cooling.If you feel it is dry,you can add some hot water and adjust the consistency}
Add capsicum,coriander leaves and ghee and let it cook on the smallest flame for about 5 minutes.Switch off the flame and keep it closed for the flavors to infuse.Serve warm.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Swedish Cinnamon Buns | Kanelbullar

There was a time when I was not very friendly with Yeast.I yearned to bake breads,buns and sweet rolls but the fear of yeast made me apprehensive to try anything bread based.Believe me when I tell you,good quality yeast,a simple recipe and loads of confidence is all you need for bread baking.Once I started trusting my instincts I've been quite successful in baking breads.Though I do have quite a few bread/rolls recipes here,I've not been baking anything new.
So when I saw these Kanelbullar recipe on Gayathri's place,I knew I had to try it out asap.I am a Cinnamon roll fanatic,if you can call me that.I refrain from making Cinnamon rolls because I fear I'd eat them all!It's been a while since I baked it so this recipe looked like a good enough reason for me to bake it soon.

Kanelbullar or Cinnamon buns as they are commonly known are the Swedish version of the American Cinnamon rolls.Though they are similar in many ways,the Swedish version is more about the spices(cardamom and cinnamon)than about the icings or the fillings(dry fruits,raisins).Either ways,these are delicious,rich and perfect with a cup of tea.

Swedish Cinnamon Buns | Kanelbullar

Ingredients (makes about 8 regular sized buns)

For the dough

Maida / All Purpose Flour - 1 1/2 cups
Sugar - 2 tbsp
Cardamom Powder - 1/2 tsp
Instant Yeast - 1 1/4 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Warm Milk - 1/2 cup
Butter - 2 tbsp

For The Filling

Butter - 1 1/2 tbsp
Sugar - 1/4 cup
Cinnamon - 1/2 tbsp

Method

In a bowl mix together flour, salt, sugar, cardamom powder and instant yeast.
Add the milk and butter and make a soft dough.
Transfer to counter and knead for 10 minutes until smooth, soft and elastic.
Place inside a well oiled bowl, cover with cling film and set aside until double in volume.
Take it back to the counter and roll the dough into a thin rectangle.
Mix together butter, cinnamon and sugar for the filling.
Apply it evenly on the rolled out rectangle.
Fold it twice as if folding a letter.
Roll it again into a thin rectangle.
With the help of a cutter, cut it into 8 equal stripes cutting it along the longer side.
Twist each stripe and shape it into a roll. Refer video on how to shape.
Arrange on a greased baking tray and cover. Set aside for 25 - 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Apply a milk wash to the rolls and bake them for 15 - 20 minutes.
Remove from oven, allow them to cool.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

Step by Step Pictorial


In a bowl mix together flour, salt, sugar, cardamom powder and instant yeast.
Add the milk and butter and make a soft dough.
Transfer to counter and knead for 10 minutes until smooth, soft and elastic.
Place inside a well oiled bowl, cover with cling film and set aside until double in volume.
Mix together butter, cinnamon and sugar for the filling.

Take the risen dough back to the counter and roll it into a thin rectangle.Apply the filling evenly on the rolled out rectangle.

Fold it twice as if folding a letter.
Roll it again into a thin rectangle.With the help of a cutter, cut it into 8 equal stripes cutting it along the longer side.
Twist each stripe and shape it into a roll.
Arrange on a greased baking tray and cover. Set aside for 25 - 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Apply a milk wash to the rolls and bake them for 15 - 20 minutes.
Remove from oven, allow them to cool.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

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