Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Special Egg less/Egg Free Cup Cakes and some Ghost Stories

Well Hello!
Happy Halloween!
We may not be celebrating Halloween here in Ranchi,India...but the excitement in blogosphere is palpable.So...
Every blogger worth their salt is doing Pumpkin-is that to say that I am not worth my salt...maybe ...but I am definitely worth the tons of sugar, I ensure that people around me consume!
Did I stop at- doing pumpkin??Let me continue, before I ramble off again.
Pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin pies and pumpkin cookies...
I get the fact that pumpkins are highly nutritious and fibrous and all that jazz...
But there are other things which are
Like Chocolate and butter!
Sweet child loves the gruesome...eye popping out on the cupcake ...eyeballs popping out anywhere will make himhappy!
Whats better?
There were no takers for pumpkin in my neighbourhood, and frankly , our pumpkins are not as pretty as those that grow on the other side of the world.
But the thing that fascinates sweet child ,besides the candy and  the sugar rush , are the ghost stories and the scary stories.
That and some interesting Monster cupcakes, for monstrous appetites.

Growing boys...and in their company, one little girl ensures that her share doesn't get consumed by their voracious appetites.
The cupcakes accompanied some storytelling...sweet child has been fed these stories since he was tiny. Loved them then and loves them today too...
Macabre tales of blood oozing down the freshly painted walls of a newly built house...because the owner had  been cursed by a magician.
My favourite, the story of how a Pathan was bitten by a werewolf and then he bit and killed an Englishman, and many piles of human bones were found in the village butcher's home.
The story of a soldier, who returned from the war front to find his village wiped out by the plague, and he outwitted a witch (called a chudail  in Hindi) by escaping in the carcass of a venerable cow...
Then one of a ghost wielding a lantern guiding a train ,and forcing it to stop just where the railroad track was broken...
I know these are not as scary as the Amity ville horror story or the paranormal activity series,but at least you an sleep in your own room after these little stories.
One about a face less boy who was crying in the forests of Simla...
I have more...
And some of these came from a much beloved book...
Do you have a favourite scary story??Why don't you sit with these adorable cuppies , your favourite person and a book like this...
What can be better than that??The company of your favourite people is better than butter! I did not say chocolate!

This is the same recipe as the one I used for the birthday cake for Mahika. We made these cup cakes half chocolate and half vanilla. And used Butter Cream frosting in many colours and sprinkle.
We don't have access to marshmallow or licorice or cute looking candy in Ranchi, but we get by!
The kids were happy and there was Halloween, albeit Desi style!
Try them, and enjoy the spirit.

for the

Halloween Special Egg less/Egg Free Cup Cakes...

you need

One recipe Egg free/Egg less sponge cake 
Half recipe Butter Cream Frosting
2 tbsp cocoa powder
Lots of food colour, sprinkles , piping bags and nozzles
And time!!

The basic cake, I can recite like a rhyme

1 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 cup yogurt
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda/baking soda

Oven on at 180C/350F and line your muffin pan.
Follow the directions and make the batter for the Egg free/Egg less sponge cake . Place half in another bowl.
Blend the cocoa with 2 tbsp hot water and mix  into the lesser half of the batter.
Place one spoon vanilla batter and then one spoon  chocolate batter into the muffin cups. You can swirl them around with a toothpick to get a marble effect or just leave them to their own devices.
In the oven for 15 minutes and they are done.
We got 14 cup cakes.

Leave them to cool.
Get the Butter Cream Frosting ready.
Divide into 4 -5 bowls and tint with different colours.
We used Blue, purple, brown and white.
Grass tip nozzle and blue frosting for the Cookie Monster.
With eyes and a cheeky smile
And then we tried to make gravestones...but our markers were too they Rested in peace!
Yes, that baby was intrigued...
The entire exercise was to have a lot of fun, gossip and swap stories...and the children enjoyed themselves!
I have a tale to tell too!
I remember, many years ago...I was young and gullible...
Two cousins and I,draped in white bed sheets with small torches in our mouths made screechy noises and moans out side an older cousins bed room door in the middle of the night.She was in her first year of med school and had been creeping us out with her tales of her seemingly frightening trysts with the cadavers...
We were swaying in the dark, moonless night ...hoping to hear her run out  screeching like a banshee , only nothing happened. And then suddenly there was a ghost behind us...
The ghost lifted its veils...and much to our disgust...Ramia di was grinning from ear to ear!
That was probably the scared-est I have ever felt...
But the cupcakes and the frosting combination was yummm!!!!
The cakes had the texture of a cake with eggs, and they were soft and smelt nice.
Try them, you don't need Halloween...
Any day will do!
Just bake and attack!!

Its all about having fun and cake and eating it too!
Hope you had a lovely snuggle up to your favourite person and tell some scary tales...

So what are you baking today???

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Mille Feuille with Crème Pâtissière- Daring Bakers Challenge October 2012

Blog-checking lines:
Our October 2012 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Suz of Serenely Full. Suz challenged us to not only tackle buttery and flaky puff pastry, but then take it step further and create a sinfully delicious Mille Feuille dessert with it!

Fancy Schmancy...
Gateau de Mille Feuille ...The cake of a thousand layers...
A cake is it???
The minute it starts raining becomes haute cuisine. Yes,I know my french,studied it for four years...what I still retain is the modus operandi to make it seem Fancy...
I can still read and understand spoken french ,only if the speaker condescends and attempts to speak to me as if speaking to a little child.
But my accent and cuss words vocabulary can never fail me!
That ,I retain!
This fabulously buttery and vanilla-"ey" and creamy concoction is what was set as the daring bakers challenge for this month.
The minute I saw the challenge ,I knew ,I wanted to do it ,like yesterday...
I love puff pastry,that butter melting and the aromas just wafting all around my kitchen...warmth just oozing from the baking tray.
The puff pastry does not need any accompaniment.
A few sprinkles of seeds ...poppy maybe and we are done.
The Gateau de Mille Feuille is just for the challenge.
The rest of the puff pastry we will use to make chicken vol -au- vents and some desi Bakerkhani.I have made vol- au -vents  with mushroom , but chicken beckons...
Any ways the french class mate from Alliance Francaise de Delhi(no,I do know my spellings, but do not know how to get the accents on blogger template) Vipul Rikhi is coming out with his first book in English called the 2012 Nights. I'm a reader alright, but for me what makes sense is crime,crimes of passion, money ,espionage, bombs, wars and the like.
But because this is written by Vipul, I am definitely going to buy the book.
Serenaded by Scheherazade ,Arabian Nights style.
Back to the Gateau de Mille Feuille or Napolean.According to Wiki...(गातो द   मील फै )
It was earlier called gâteau de mille-feuilles (English: cake of a thousand sheets), referring to the many layers of pastry. Using traditional puff pastry, made with six folds of three layers, it has 729 layers; with some modern recipes it may have as many as 2,048.
The variant name of Napoleon appears to come from napolitain, the French adjective for the Italian city of Naples, but altered by association with the name of Emperor Napoleon I of France. The Larousse Gastronomique does not mention the Napoléon, although a gateau napolitain is listed, with a note that while the cake itself is not often seen, small biscuits known as fonds napolitains are still made, decorated with butter cream or conserves.

The traditional mille-feuille is filled with a vanilla pastry cream (crème pâtissière) and is also known as a Napoleon (thought to refer to Naples in Italy rather than the diminutive French emperor), a custard slice or a vanilla slice. It’s often topped with royal icing and distinctive chocolate squiggles, and is popular the world over.

I made the puff pastry and a creme patisserie-only this time I followed the directions from the daring bakers.
Thick ,slurpy and glossy cream piped into small rosettes...just like the ones I saw on Masterchef Australia.
The royal icing would have made the Mille Feuille too sweet...the contrast of the salty puff pastry and the vanilla flavoured sweet creme patissiere...awesome!
Fancy indeed.All the stuff came from my pantry ...just took a tremendous amount of hard work.
The best bit is the photograph.
Now I can figure out how  changes in aperture speed change the pictures...

Lets get down to the making of the puff pastry and the vanilla cream.You can go egg free/egg less...but the egg makes a difference.

for the 

Mille Feuille Daring Bakers Challenge October 


you need

Puff Pastry

1 3/4 cup plain flour
1 tsp salt
55 gms or 1/4 cup chilled butter diced
ice cold water to knead the dough
egg white to glaze

Le Beurrage

1 cup or 200 gms butter at room temperature
3 1/2 tbsp plain flour

Crème Pâtissière

2 cups Milk
4 eggs 
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup cornflour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 cup or 55 gm butter
100 gms whipped cream dairy/non dairy

Long drawn process, that requires a tremendous amount of effort.I only hope I have expended the same number of calories in the making of the Mille Feuille that I have eaten...
Well, one lives in hope.
Sin, is a different matter altogether!

Start with the beurrage(In french-butter is beurre -बर्र ).Whisk the soft butter and the flour till well blended.
Place it on a piece of cling film -all mixed.
And shape into a  5 inch square and pop into the fridge to chill.I froze it.
Play safe.

The flour and the diced butter and salt(if you are using salted amul butter-use only 1/2 tsp salt).
Mix the butter into the flour like bread crumbs.
Slowly adding the cold water, knead into a firm but not hard dough. Let it rest 5-10 minutes.
Sprinkle some flour on the worktop and roll out the dough into a 15 cm square.Well, almost.
By now the beurrage should be hard enough.And square!
Place it on the dough and wrap the dough around the beurrage like an envelope.

Next step...
You can chill the dough now or roll and then chill. Don't attempt this in the middle of the summer or you will be repairing it in front of the AC.

Lightly pat the dough with your rolling pin...I banged it a bit, to help the beurrage to spread evenly.
Roll out to a rectangle and then fold.
Divide the dough into three parts mentally, fold first part over the center and the second part over the folded part.
Wrap in film.The beurrage may begin to leak, don't worry...slip the leaking butter back in.That is why the beurrage needs to be set properly.
In the fridge for 30 minutes.
Out, Roll into one more rectangle, this time along the breadth, fold and wrap and chill.
Repeat the process until you have done 6 rolls and folds in all.
That is 3 or 4 folds times 243 folds.
The math!

You can stow this till the pastry cream is cold enough to use.

I did half the recipe of the cream.I have savoury plans for the puff pastry.
Set 1 1/2 cups of the milk to boil along with the sugar.
In another bowl, blend the remaining milk,the cornflour(I used Brown and Polson custard powder-thus the yellow colour-no cornflour at home) and  the eggs and egg yolks.

You can save the whites for the royal icing.Find the recipe here.
When the eggs and corn flour are blended, pour some of the boiling milk into the mix , whisking all the time. I use my hand blender.Once the mix is emulsified-a minute or so...pour the entire stuff back into the simmering milk, whisking all the time.
In about 3-4 minutes the custard thickens.Keep whisking till the raw taste disappears.Remove from the stove top.
Whisk to cool the the custard and pour into a bowl.Place a piece of film on the custard,so that there is no skin on the custard. Chill.
Ready to use the next day.
Cut out 1/4 of the puff pastry and place on a flour dusted work top.Layers...
A little force and guide the dough to  a rectangle 1/8th an inch thick.I did 1/4th the first time, too thick.So you can do midway.Roll as thick as a parantha bread.
Gently though, or all the beurrage will pop out.Keep the shape and keep the faith.
Cut out the edges, 3 pieces of puff pastry per serving, equal size.A ruler will help.
Oven should be heating at 200C/400F.
Place the pieces of pastry onto the tray and prick with a fork.
Brush with the egg white and pop into the oven for 25 minutes.

Baking butter and flour and the sizzle will tie you to the oven...the aromas...the aromas...

When done, remove to a wire rack.
Be careful, most of it may disappear before you douse it with the pastry 6 pieces.
I had to hide them...

Now the cream.
I found the custard a bit too thick, so I whipped the custard and whipped in some cream.
You can reduce the amount of corn flour and skip the cream.Whip to a glossy pipe -able consistency and set aside.
Piping bag, cream in...
First layer...
Little rosettes...

Second layer...
more rosettes...
wow ...precarious..the camera was still charging..
Come on- don't do a jealous -like the Leaning Tower of Pisa act...
third layer...
More rosettes...
A prayer...and the camera...
Aperture...manual settings...shutter speed...
Got it!!!

I could not find the cocoa in my monologue...I dusted icing sugar, which was obviously not visible over a white plate...
But so worth the effort none the less.
The recipe was Moroccan, I read!
So is this around the world in 80 recipes???

Another month ,another fear busted!
A labour of love...
I am never asking my friendly neighbourhood baker for puff pastry again.

What about you???

So what are you baking today???

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Egg Less Chocolate Sponge Cake Happy Birthday Mahika

This little blogger is back.
Seriously suffering from the lazy blogger syndrome , I have wanted to blog and have stared at the blogger template with my mind wandering...but my fingers JUST weren't moving!
Almost like they were just taking a break.Protesting because of finger fatigue.
Actually,the brain totally comprehends.
Wonder if it is because of the constant racket caused the loud speakers blaring the music in honour of Maa Durga , she is the reason we celebrate Navratri.
In that case it should be ear fatigue,right?But the fingers still don't comply.
It has taken me another two days...
After many requests and a profile photo change....
At last the colourful cake has a direction.
The days of fasting are over , now we feast.
And tell you how to go about baking an egg free cake the nth time over.
And to tell you that this is a different cake.
Yeah..I know...different!
This cake did not need a sugar syrup to make it moist.
It was so moist.A cake that does not taste like a desi mithai...actually tastes of cake, and you cant tell it is made of oil...Sweet child's discerning palette rejects oil cakes...that is the reason for all the butter cream frosting.
And so easy.
New friends in town, one with a son who is allergic to egg. More than religious sentiments, the health factor is of  greater as far as we can help it...egg less it will be.
This is my mums old ,old recipe,turns out that this recipe is from Nita Mehta.Quite similar to my recipe from the Egg free/Egg less Tiramisu.
I have no idea if this is the same or modified, or the same as the original.
But I do know that the result ,added to the butter cream frosting( which some kids were trying to lick off before the birthday girl got to the cake)was AwESoME!!
If I may say so myself.
There were NO leftovers...very few second helpings, and a sullen sweet child.Only because he did not get a slice of cake before the other kids....
And then sweet sister complains about the tantrums baby Sanskriti throws....

for the

Egg Less Chocolate Sponge Cake Happy Birthday Mahika...

you need

1 1/2 cups plain flour(less 2 tbsp )
1 cup  yogurt preferably fresh
1/2 cup refined vegetable oil
3/4 cups sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
Grease and flour an 8 inch/9 inch tin.
Sift the flour,cocoa powder and salt at least twice.
Mix the yogurt/fresh curds to the sugar and blend with a whisk till no trace of the sugar granules remain.
To this add in the baking powder and the bicarbonate of soda/baking soda.Mix and set aside 3 minutes till it froths.
Bubbles ,  like so...
To the bubbling yogurt ,add the vanilla and the oil.
A spoon full at a time ,fold in the flour mix.
Pour into the tin and into the oven. This is the "after"pic!
10 minutes,and run the knife around the cake and invert onto a wire rack.Let the cake cool.
After a few hours the frosting...
One recipe Butter cream frosting.
My butter cream recipe is here.
Never fail.
One part butter ,three parts sifted icing sugar and some hot milk and essence...Whip and colour as desired.
I placed 4 strips of film...the cake looks neater, post frosting.Simply peel the strips /pull them out.
Cake sliced in half.
A fourth of the butter cream tinted a hot honour of little girls.Since I was not brushing the cake with any syrup, I added a couple of spoons of milk to this pink butter cream
Slather on and spread.
Top on.
Three portions of butter cream tinted blue, pink and green.
Pipped in starlets at random...
The centre is a grass tip nozzle ...
With fondant flowers and silver sprinkles...
And so are the ladies...
A small token for the birthday girl...may your path be lined with beautiful flowers, may you have a wonderfully colourful and happy life.
God bless you Mahika!

So what are you baking today???

After some photography lessons from Vibhuti Kanitkar...and a Red Velvet Cake with Curd Cheese and cream frosting...I'm charged!!
The cake has been with the curd cheese frosting made here, and we are tempted to try a Blue Velvet cake...
till then...
Bake your cake and eat it too!

Until the next

Until the next


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