Sunday, November 30, 2014

Happy News :)

A big Hi to all of you :)

This space has been eerily silent for a long long time now.The longest break I ever took!Not without a reason of course,but before that let me thank all of you for keeping this space alive through searches,comments,e-mails and even helping each other out during my absence-I can't thank you enough,really!

Now coming to the 'happy' part of it-Ajay and me have been blessed with a baby boy on October 14th.It has been a long due happiness and we are enjoying every second of it.He is just so precious :)

I am not sure when I can get back to blogging but I can assure you,I WILL be back and hopefully soon.Thanks a bunch again,from the bottom of my heart!

Happy Holidays :)


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Onion,Bell pepper & Paneer Schiacciata

When I started baking cakes a few years back,one thing which I couldn't help myself from doing was peeping into the oven every now and then.To see if the cake was rising well,browning well or sometimes overflowing from the pan(yes,it has happened to me!)But as time passed,I stopped doing that,checking only once or twice to see if the oven was indeed switched on or the heat is right.
Onion,Bell Pepper & Paneer Schiacciata
Same thing with bread baking.Though I have to say,it still amazes me to see the bread dough rising in room temperature first and then in the oven.Somehow makes me feel content thinking I have finally started baking 'edible' breads consistently,lol.Bread baking is indeed therapeutic and addictive.More so when the recipes are simple,no complicated steps to follow and foolproof.

Schiacciata[pronounced Skiah-cha-tah]is an Italian flatbread containing four basic ingredients - Flour,Yeast,Water and Olive oil.It means crushed or flattened in Italian and is the name for flatbread in Tuscany.The filling can be of your choice-sweet or savory,or none at all.I chose a basic filling with onions,tomatoes,bell pepper and paneer[cottage cheese].I added spices as I fancied throughout the cooking process and the filling turned out to be slightly Kadai Paneer-ish.A good mix of Italian and Indian cuisines I must say ;)
Onion,Bell Pepper & Paneer Schiacciata
Onion,Bell Pepper & Paneer Schiacciata
Recipe source - Citron & Vanille ; Baked as part of Fondbites,Bakealong


Instant dry yeast/ Active dry yeast – 2 teaspoons
Water – 100 ml to 150 ml, adjust
Sugar – 1 tablespoon
Salt – 1/2 teaspoon
All-purpose flour – 250 gms, extra for dusting
Olive oil – 30 ml, extra for basting
Milk – 3 tablespoons, for brushing

For the filling

Oil - 1 tbsp.
Jeera/Cumin - 1/4 tsp
Onion - 1,sliced into chunks
Ginger garlic paste - 1/4 tsp
Tomato - 1,pureed
Red chilly powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1/2 tsp
Haldi/turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Garam masala - 1/3 tsp
Bell pepper/Green Capsicum - 1/2 cup,chopped into chunks
Paneer/Cottage cheese - 100gms
Kasoori Methi - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste


Take 1/4 cup of water and heat it up to lukewarm. Lukewarm in simple terms to work in home is to put one of your finger into the warm water and count till 5. If the 5th count is the final moment of bearing that heat, then you are good to go. Hotter than that will kill your yeast, colder than that will not kick start your yeast to react.
Onion,Bell Pepper & Paneer Schiacciata
To the luke warm water, add sugar and yeast and mix it well. Set it aside and do not disturb for 5 to 10 minutes until it will start to bubble up and become frothy. Those using instant yeast could skip this step and add the yeast to the flour along with sugar, salt and oil and start adding lukewarm water and begin making  your dough.I use instant yeast but still follow this step just to check if the yeast is active.
Onion,Bell Pepper & Paneer Schiacciata
In a large bowl add flour and salt and mix well. Add oil and use your fingertips to combine oil and flour mixture. Make a well in the center and pour the yeast mixture into the well. Add remaining water from the measurement little by little until the dough becomes soft and sticky. Not too wet and not dry and hard. It is hard to tell  the exact water measurement,  because moisture that is needed differs due to various causes. The key here is to add between 100 ml to 150 ml in total and get a sticky soft dough.
Onion,Bell Pepper & Paneer Schiacciata
Transfer the dough onto your counter top that is cleaned well.Ideally for gluten to form at this stage, the dough gets a stretch and fold kneading. So stretch the dough extending your hands to maximum possible extent, then fold the dough and bring it back, repeat. If its sticky, sprinkle very little flour and do the stretch and knead process. If it is not soft, sprinkle some water and repeat kneading. It is this stretch and knead that makes the dough smooth and silky and helps in gluten formation.  So stretch and fold, stretch and fold for 10 minutes.
If your dough wont become shiny in 10 minutes knead for a little longer. Idea is to get a shiny smooth surfaced dough.
Onion,Bell Pepper & Paneer Schiacciata
Once the dough kneading is done, use a bowl to cover the dough and let it for proving for about 30 to 45 minutes until the dough becomes double in volume.

Meanwhile,make the filling
You can either keep the filling plain-layering onion,tomato and herbs directly on the flattened dough or use a cooked filling to sandwich the schiacciata.
Onion,Bell Pepper & Paneer Schiacciata
In a pan add oil and splutter jeera.Saute the onions for 2-3 minutes till it starts slightly changing colour.Add the ginger garlic paste and tomato puree and cook for another 2-3 minutes on low flame.
Onion,Bell Pepper & Paneer Schiacciata
Add red chilly powder,coriander powder,haldi powder and garam masala.Cook for 1-2 minutes on a low flame taking care not to burn the spices.
Onion,Bell Pepper & Paneer Schiacciata
Now mix in salt to taste,chopped bell pepper and paneer and give a good mix.
Onion,Bell Pepper & Paneer Schiacciata
Add kasoori methi,mix well and switch off the flame.Let it cool completely.

Onion,Bell Pepper & Paneer Schiacciata
Knock or punch it down is the term used. Yes, use your fist to punch the dough, here we are releasing the air that's collected in the proved dough. Knock down throughout and combine the dough, give it slight kneading and now you are ready to go.
I decided to make 2 medium sized schiacciatas, so I divided the dough into 4 pieces. You can also make one big and you can divide into 2. Slightly flour your counter, take one portion of dough, roughly flatten it and roll it with your rolling pin to round shape about quarter of an inch thickness.
Onion,Bell Pepper & Paneer Schiacciata
Transfer the rolled dough to your baking tray that has been lined with parchment paper or silicon mat. Spread over the prepared filling.
Now take another portion of the dough and again flour your counter and roll it to round of a size little bigger than your first. Brush the sides of the first dough with milk and place the second rolled dough over the first. Seal the sides with your fingers first and use a fork to mark lines and seal it completely. Now use the fork to poke holes on top. This is done to let vapour release out during baking, so your sides wont split open. Let this prove again for 10 to 15 minutes to just increase a little in size. This stage is second proving and this is when 90% of the size of your yeasted dish will take up. Baking only cooks them, most of the rising bit happens outside of oven.
Now brush the top with milk using a pastry brush,or dab ever so slightly with your fingers.
Bake in pre-heated oven at 200 degrees, for 17 to 20 minutes until the top turns golden brown.
Once the schiacciata is out of the oven, immediately brush oil all over. Now you can be a little less gentle. This is called basting of oil and that helps keep it soft once cooled down. Once basting is done and you are able to bear the heat, remove from the baking tray to a cooling rack else the bottom will soak up moisture. You are ready to slice and eat while its warm.
Onion,Bell Pepper & Paneer Schiacciata
You can store in refrigerator for a day or 2 and could re heat it before serving.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes with Coffee Buttercream

Knock..knock..anybody home?Lol,wishful thinking by me since I abandoned this space a while back and didn't peep in for the longest time.In fact,the longest gap ever since I started writing this blog in 2008.The blog's birthday went unnoticed,so did my better half's birthday cake and our anniversary cake.Well,what was supposed to be a small break got stretched into 4 long months and I have absolutely no excuses for the silence,rest assured all's well:)

Thanks to every single one of you who wrote in to ask me if anything was wrong and have I stopped blogging,gasp!
Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes
I haven't been baking much too,just the usual favorites when the baking bug strikes me bad.So just like the blog,the oven's been getting a long due rest as well.Not anymore,when blogging has resumed how can baking be left behind?I have a huge list of bookmarked recipes which would all find their way into the blog soon.I thought I'll start with something chocolate,what else!

The cupcakes are named Ultimate Chocolate cupcakes and I agree completely.Rich,dark,with a good dose of cocoa powder along with coffee,this cupcakes would make any chocolate lover go weak in their knees.The cupcakes taste great on their own but some coffee buttercream would make it more appealing.Since I made the cupcakes and frosting on a day the heat touched almost 44C,the frosting just wouldn't hold together,hence I've just dabbed it on top,you can try using different nozzles and make it look pretty! Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes with Coffee Buttercream
Recipe Source - Add a Pinch ;Baked as part of Fondbites,Bake Along


All-purpose flour – 1 cup
Granulated white sugar – 1 cup;I pulsed the sugar in my small mixie jar for about 2 seconds,just to break down the sugar crystals,it is an optional step though
Cocoa powder – 1/2 cup
Baking powder – 1 teaspoon
Baking soda – 1/2 teaspoon
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Milk – 1/2 cup
Cooking oil – 1/4 cup
Egg – 1
Vanilla Extract – 1/2 teaspoon
Boiling strong black coffee – 1/2 cup - Mix a tsp of Instant coffee powder and 1/2 cup boiling water


Pre-heat oven to 175 degree C. Line a 12 muffin tray with paper liners.
Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes
Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder,
Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes
baking soda and salt.
Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes
Once sifted add sugar and whisk the dry ingredients.
Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes
Into another bowl add egg, milk, oil and vanilla extract. Whisk it well until well blended.
Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry flour mixture and whisk it well until combined. You can use your electric beater for this.
Now add boiling black coffee and first beat slowly until it has incorporated well. Now increase the speed and beat for 2 to 3 minutes on medium high to incorporate air into the batter.
Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes
Spoon the batter into the paper lined muffin trays and bake in pre-heated oven at 175 Degree C, for 20 to 25 minutes until the cupcakes have well risen and a tooth pick inserted into the center of one cupcake comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from the muffin tray once bearable to touch and let cool on wire rack until it comes down to room temperature.

Coffee Buttercream
Top thick film formed on boiled and cooled milk/Cream – 1 1/2 tablespoons
Icing sugar – 1 cup, sifted thrice
Butter – 1/2 cup, at room temperature
Instant coffee powder – 3/4 teaspoons
Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes For the buttercream: In a bowl take the cream and whisk well. Add icing sugar little at a time and whisk well until it is combined. Beat for a minute or so on medium speed. Now add the butter and instant coffee powder and beat until the butter has incorporated evenly and the buttercream has lightened and airy. This process will take 2 to 3 minutes on medium high speed. Buttercream is now ready to be frosted.

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes
Use a nozzle of your choice and pipe the frosting on top of the cupcake or just dab a tbsp of frosting on top and spread using a spatula.Dust the top with some cocoa powder.

The recipe is very similar(almost same)as the popular Hershey's Perfect Chocolate Cake,but uses half the recipe.Makes 12 cupcakes.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sunflower Cake Tutorial | Cake Decorating Tutorial

Sunflower Cake Tutorial
I've been baking for a while now and quite happy with the way my bakes come out of the oven.For a long time I believed (or made myself believe!)that taste is what matters,not the looks.As long as the cake/cupcake or any other bake tasted amazing,it didn't matter one bit if it was decorated or left plain.After all,frosting simply meant extra sugar and we could do very well without that right?

All this changed for me when I got a few birthday cake orders from my friends for their kids.They didn't want a fancy cake alright but when I was asked to bake for someone else,I wasn't too happy with the product I was giving them.That too for their birthdays!I decided that I have to learn cake decorating,at least for times when I was baking for others.
Sunflower Cake Tutorial
I've always felt I was not someone who'd you call 'artistic'.I can follow directions but cannot do something creative on my own.Cake decorating gave me a good start,I realized I loved making patterns(even if imperfect!)and soon got addicted to it.I was content when my cakes started looking good as well.A big thanks to Subhashini who gave me a good start and keeps giving me directions when I'm stuck :)
Sunflower Cake Tutorial Here I present you a super simple cake decorating technique.Using a good vanilla cake(or any flavour of your choice)as the base,some buttercream and 2 leaf tips you can create a stunning Sunflower Cake for your loved ones.Don't tell them it is so easy to make ;)
Sunflower Cake Tutorial
Sunflower Cake Tutorial

Things you need

One 8' round cake - I used my favorite cake recipe(without Nutella)
One batch Whipped Buttercream
1/3 cup Dark chocolate ganache OR any filling of your choice
Leaf tip - 68 (Ateco)for the sides
Leaf tip - 352(Ateco)for the top
Edible gel colour - Lemon Yellow,Golden Yellow,Leaf Green(Wilton)
Disposable icing bags - 2

How to proceed

Bake and cool your cake completely.If possible cover in cling wrap and refrigerate overnight.Chilled cakes are easier to torte and crumb coat.
Sunflower Cake Tutorial
Divide the buttercream into two parts(I always keep about 1/3 cup icing aside before coloring just to be safe).Colour one part yellow and one part green.
Sunflower Cake Tutorial
To colour the icing-dip a toothpick into your desired colour and swirl into the icing.Use a new toothpick for colouring it second time-do not use the same toothpick-blend well using a spatula and keep adding colour till you get the desired shade.
Sunflower Cake Tutorial
Place the two leaf nozzles in two disposable icing bags by snipping the end of the bag and placing the nozzle in it.I use the glass method to fill my icing bag.
Sunflower Cake Tutorial
Use a big plastic glass and place your icing bag in it.Fill about little more than half of the bag with buttercream.Twist the bag closed and remove air bubbles if any by squeezing some of the icing by the tip into the bowl.
You can leave the cake plain(without filling)or torte the cake into two even pieces horizontally.Sandwich the cake with ganache and do a simple crumb coat.
Sunflower Cake Tutorial
Crumb coating is done by using a very thin layer of icing on the cake and is done to seal in any crumbs.Apply about 1/4 cup of icing on the cake and smooth the icing as best as you can.I didn't do a very good job as I thought anyway the cake is going to be covered,don't be like me :)
Sunflower Cake Tutorial
Start from the outside of the cake-Hold the bag at a 45D angle with the point of the triangle of the tip facing upwards and squeeze out one petal.Make sure the tip of the petal stands upright.
Sunflower Cake Tutorial
Pipe another one close to it and follow this method till you finish one full round.
Sunflower Cake Tutorial
Start piping petals inside and keep filling the whole cake with this method.
Sunflower Cake Tutorial
When you are about 3/4 done,mark a small round in the middle of the cake,using a bottle cap or a cookie cutter.Fill the round with chocolate chips and some Oreo crumbs.
Sunflower Cake Tutorial
Continue piping round the center till you are done.

Now the sides
Sunflower Cake Tutorial
Hold the green coloured piping bag and do a shell-motion by piping one leaf and starting the next one at the tip of the first leaf.
Sunflower Cake Tutorial
Finish the sides of the cake by piping this way.

Sunflower Cake Tutorial I have tried my level best to explain it in a simple manner.Still if you have any doubts,please let me know in the comments section.Also let me know if you'd like more tutorials like these.All ideas are welcome :)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Fudgy Nutella Brownies

Fudgy Nutella Brownies
Yesterday was World Nutella day and I had planned to post this to combine my friends' birthday as well as WND.Things got busy and the post got delayed.But better late than never eh?Well,no time is a bad time to post something as delicious,gooey and fudgy as these brownies,I mean do you really need an excuse to whip these up?

I am not one of those people to enjoy Nutella straight from the jar(Yes I know!)but I love to mix it up in my baked goodies.This cake of course tops the list and these rolls come second.Combining it in a brownie would just make it to the top of my list and it did.Gooey brownies with a swirl of Nutella can never go wrong.These do not score well in the looks department but taste awesome.I contemplated a while before posting these as I wasn't very happy with the pictures,but a good recipe has to be shared,right;)?
Fudgy Nutella Brownies
Only change I would suggest is to use fine granular sugar.The recipe says it's ok if the batter is a bit granular but I felt some of the sugar crystals didn't melt evenly and it was a task getting these buggers out of the pan even though I lined the pan with foil.Maybe one single pulse in your mixer would break the sugar crystals a little,which would work out perfect while mixing.
Fudgy Nutella Brownies
Fudgy Nutella Brownies
Recipe source - Averie Cooks
Makes 18-24 thinner and small brownies in a 9 by 13 inch pan or 12 generous brownies in a 9 by 9 inch pan


Semi sweet chocolate -6 oz/170 gms
Butter - 150 gms
Instant coffee powder - 1 tbsp
Granulated sugar - 1 1/2 cups
Brown Sugar - 1/2 cup
Eggs - 3
Vanilla - 1 1/2 tsp
All purpose flour/maida - 1 cup
Nutella - 1/2 to 2/3 cup


Preheat oven to 170C.Grease and line a 9 by 9 inch square pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
Fudgy Nutella Brownies
Microwave chocolate and butter in a big bowl for 1 minute on high.The butter would melt completely and the chocolate would still hold its shape.Stir well using a wooden spoon and the chocolate would also melt in the heat.Stir in the coffee powder.
Fudgy Nutella Brownies
Stir in both sugars,mix well.Add eggs one by one and then the vanilla.
Fudgy Nutella Brownies
The batter would be a but granular but it's okay.Stir in the flour.Mix only till combined and no specks of flour remain.Pour into the prepared pan.
Fudgy Nutella Brownies
Add Nutella to the top of the mixture and either leave it as it is or do a zig zag pattern on top.
Bake for 25-28 minutes or until edges pull away from the pan and the top and center is just set.Keep these gooey and do not overbake,these will firm up as they cool.
Fudgy Nutella Brownies
Allow to cool completely before slicing and serving.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How to make Whipped Buttercream | Easy Frosting Recipes

Before I ventured into a cake decorating craze,I knew of only a few frostings.I kept going back to the basic ABC aka American Buttercream or a simple chocolate ganache.Though I liked the ease at which ABC could be made and the consistency as well,I was not entirely happy with the texture.Despite using fine icing sugar,sifting it a couple of times,I could taste the grainy feeling in my mouth after having a slice of cake.
Whipped Buttercream
My frosting 'guru',as I'd like to call her,directed me to this recipe by Veena's Art of Cakes.It is called a 'whipped buttercream' and uses a unique method of beating together icing sugar and cream and then adding butter at the final stage.I was intrigued at this amazing method and decided to try it out.However,the original recipe uses meringue powder as an added ingredient.

I was a bit apprehensive to try it out initially.But believe me,you absolutely cannot taste it in the final product.I believe it is added for that shiny texture in the buttercream which looks nice when you are piping flowers and the like.Once,I had to make an eggless cake for someone and couldn't use the meringue powder.I went ahead without the meringue powder and thankfully,it turned out as good without it.Ever since I've been making it eggless :)
Whipped Buttercream I have used this buttercream for frosting as well as filling.Though I'd suggest a different filling for a contrast in taste,however it is up to you.This recipe makes enough to frost an 8' round cake but that too depends on what decorating tip you are using.Rosette tip needs double as much whereas a star nozzle might require less.

Whipped Buttercream
Recipe source - Veena's Art of Cakes


Icing sugar - 4 cups,sifted
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Meringue powder - 1 tbsp (optional)
Fresh cream - 1/4 cup
Unsalted butter - 1 cup/200gms at room temperature
Vanilla extract - 1 tsp


Whipped Buttercream In the bowl of your electrical mixer,add approximately 1/3 of the icing sugar,salt and meringue powder(if you are using).Stir to combine.
Whipped Buttercream Now switch the mixer on low and slowly add in 1/2 of the cream.Let the mixer run on medium for about 5 minutes.The mixture will become light and sticky giving your buttercream a velvety texture later.Don't make haste with this step.Let it cream well.
Whipped Buttercream After 5 minutes start adding the rest of the sugar slowly.Continue to mix on medium.If the mixture appears too dry add a tbsp or two more cream.Be careful with the quantity,add cream only if the mix appears too dry.I stop when no flecks of sugar remain.Even if the mix is lumpy,it's fine.
Whipped Buttercream After about 3 minutes,start adding the butter into small batches making sure it is well incorporated.Add the vanilla.
Whipped Buttercream Once all the butter is in run the mixer on high for about 3-5 minutes or more until you have a creamy velvety texture and the buttercream does not taste grainy.
When you taste it,you should have a smooth velvety texture in your mouth with no trace of any sugar grain.

Variations - You can flavor the buttercream with your choice of extracts.Strawberry,Almond,Pineapple and so on.For a chocolate version,add cocoa powder along with the icing sugar.A couple of spoons of Nutella would taste great as well.
IMG_5783 Here's a cake I decorated using whipped buttercream.I used two different leaf tips for the top as well as the sides.I posted a query on the facebook page regarding a step by step for this one and thanks to all of you for the tremendous response.I will be putting up the tutorial shortly.
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