Vanilla Sponge Cake

Howdy folks! I hope everyone’s had a great Halloween. Now that Halloweens over, I figure its safe to start actively working on Christmas. And in an attempt to get a headstart, I’ve decided to post one of my favorite cake recipes. This one is a basic sponge cake recipe. Now I know, this is not a very Christmassy recipe, but I know a few people who don’t like fruit cake and actually request for a sponge cake instead. While this recipe is basic, there’s nothing basic about the end result. It uses simple ingredients and results in a really flavorful cake. While you can use this cake as a starting point for a number of cake creations and other desserts, this cake can hold its own as a tea cake too. Infact, my husband enjoys this cake so much, that when he asks me to whip one up, he justs wants it as is, no frosting or anything.

If you’re someone who wants to learn how to bake, this is a great place to start. I’ve actually filmed the recipe too and I’ve included some of my tips and tricks to help out novice bakers. I will link the video at the end of this post.

Vanilla Sponge Cake


250g butter, at room temperature
250g sugar (Use either a really fine grain or powder your sugar in a dry grinder before using)
250 all purpose flour
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract / vanilla bean paste
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat your oven to 180ºC and line the base of your cake tin and grease the base and the sides and set aside.

Separate the eggs.

Whisk the egg whites to stiff peak stage and set aside.

In a large mixing bow, beat the butter, sugar, egg yolks and vanilla till light and creamy.

Mix the flour and baking powder.

Sift the flour mix into the butter and sugar mix in 3 stages, folding the flour into the batter only until just incorporated, with each addition.

Add a couple of scoops of the stiff egg whites to the cake batter and gently mix to loosen the batter. Gently fold the rest of the egg whites into the batter till it is well incorporated.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 30 minutes or till a cake pierced through the center of the cake comes out clean.

Let the cake cool down in the cake tin. When it has reached room temperature, carefully take it out of the tin.

You can now use this cake in any recipe that calls for a vanilla sponge cake or serve it as it is.

Enjoy!!!

The Best Chocolate Brownies

Hi guys! Today’s post is a special one. It’s my favorite chocolate brownie recipe that I’m going to share with you. It’s my go to recipe for chocolate brownies and I’ve used it for years now. It yields, what I consider, the perfect Chocolate Brownie. You get a beautiful crust on the outside and a fudgy, gooey center.

It’s the perfect baking option for holidays or when you’re baking for a crowd because of its simplicity. The recipe can be doubled if you like. And when simple recipes yield such fantastic results, you know you’re on to a winner.

So I do hope you try these brownies out.

The Best Chocolate Brownies 


110g all purpose flour
185g salted butter
175g dark chocolate (either buttons, or roughly chopped bars, both would work)
175g sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
A pinch of salt
50g chocolate chips.

Melt the butter and dark chocolate in a heavy bottomed pan on low heat. Once everything has melted, take the pan off the heat and set it aside to cool.

Halfway through the cooling process, turn the oven on and preheat it to 180ºC. Line an 8 inch square baking tray with some foil and leave an overhang on the sides. The foil makes clean up so much easier and the overhang helps take the brownies out of the try very easily.

Crack one egg into a small bowl and lightly whisk it. Add it to the melted and cooled butter and chocolate mix and whisk to incorporate. Repeat this with the second egg.

Add the vanilla, salt and sugar and whisk well, making sure everything has mixed well.

Now add the flour and whisk until just combined.

Add the chocolate chips and fold it through the batter with the help of a spatula.

Pour the batter into the foil lined tray and bake for about 25-30 minutes.

Take the brownies out of the oven and let them cool completely.

You can now cut them into squares and serve. 

Pin now and try later!

Quick and Easy Treat for Easter – Chocolate Nests

I have kept my Easter prep for too late this year. I’m usually a lot more prepared than this. However, a minor accident had reduced my mobility this past week. I am on the mend but still not back to 100%. So I wanted to keep my treats quick and easy.

With that in mind I whipped up some Chocolate Nests. I love this recipe. It takes 3 ingredients and half and hour to make a batch. This is a very versatile recipe so you can make as big or small a batch, as you’d like. It is also a flexible recipe, so you can use the chocolate of your choice and mini eggs of your choosing too. So, if like me, you’ve left Easter prep for the last minute, try out this recipe. It is very popular with the little kids … and the big ones too.

Wish you and your loved ones a Happy and Holy Easter!

Chocolate Nests
Makes 8 Nests

100 grams Chocolate (I used Dark chocolate)
100 grams ready to serve Noodles
Mini Speckled Eggs

Chop up the chocolate roughly and melt using a double boiler. If you haven’t worked with a double boiler, watch the video linked below to see how you can use a simple saucepan and bowl to make one. (You can also melt the chocolate in a micowave using a microwave safe bowl and in 30 second increments.)

Toss the noodles into the chocolate and mix gently to coat the noodles in the chocolate completely.

Using a spoon and either a spatula or a butter knife, scoop out portions of the noodles onto a tray lined with baking paper. Shape to form rough circular shapes and make a little dip in the center of each nest.

Place the mini eggs in the dents created.

Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Serve.

You can watch the video recipe here –

Double Chocolate Macadamia Cookies

It has been ages since I baked a batch of cookies. There was a time when I baked almost every week. But that hasn’t happened for a while. I must say that this batch has reminded me of all the reasons why I love baking. You haven’t really eaten a good cookie until you’ve eaten one that’s homebaked. The store-bought ones pale in comparison. I do believe that since I haven’t had a home baked cookie in a while, the difference was very noticeable and it is safe to say that I will be doing a lot more baking. It’s a good thing autumn seems to be just around a corner. Putting the oven on will be some much more pleasant on cooler days.

On to these cookies. The batter is really easy to put together. And the macadamia nuts in the cookies are amazing. I used a batch that I’d bought on our last trip to the Sunshine Coast. If you’re ever there, you must visit the Nut Factory. There’s not much to look at, but they offer a range of macadamia nut snacks, ranging from the natural and the plain roasted to a beautiful dark chocolate covered Macadamia Nut for the chocolate lover in you and a Crunchy Hickory Macadamia for when you’re in the mood for something savory (This was one of my favorites and it goes really well with a cold beer.) The best part of the visit is you can sample some of the treats on offer. But I digress. So let’s get back to these cookies. I was specifically looking for a cookie recipe to showcase the gorgeous Macadamia Nuts and this recipe does just that.

Double Chocolate Macadamia Cookies
Adapted from: Crazy for Crust
Makes 20 cookies


1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 large egg
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk the cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and flour till they are all combined.

Cream the butter and sugar together.

Mix in the egg and vanilla till well incorporated.

Add the flour cocoa mix and mix until just incorporated.

Add the chocolate chips and the chopped macadamia nuts and fold into the cookie dough.

Scoop batter into equal sized portions onto the prepared baking tray and space them a couple of inches apart.

Bake for 9-12 minutes or until the cookies have just lost the glossy sheen.

Cool completely and then store in an air tight container.

Enjoy!!!

You can watch the video recipe here –

Dodol – The quick and easy way

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Goa, renowned for its beautiful beaches and people is an idyllic getaway for many. Every school holiday meant a trip to Goa to spend time with family. Along with beautiful weather and some of the most amazing produce, what I enjoy most are the traditional Goan sweets. Since moving from Bombay, these sweets are no longer within easy reach for me. So over the last few years, I’ve done the next best thing – learn to make them myself. A lot of these sweets make an appearance on the Goan Christmas platter also called Kuswar (pronounced koos-wahr). So far, I’ve had brilliant luck with quite a few and I will list them along with links to their recipes at the end of this post. I’m hoping to get a few more of them up earlier this year. So check back soon.

Today, after a long wait, I’m happy to share with you a recipe for Dodol. Dodol is almost a jelly like sweet made using Goa Jaggery, coconut and rice. Traditionally made, it is a very labor intensive recipe, but the results are so worth it. You use coconuts, freshly grated and juice extracted, the rice roasted and ground and after the jaggery is added you cook it long and slow, stirring continuously.  Unfortunately for me, I don’t have access to Goa Jaggery in Sydney. But I was told that I could use Molasses instead. So on my last grocery shop, I picked up a bottle of Molasses. I decided I was going to try a few short cuts to cut down on time involved and used rice flour and a can of coconut cream. I’m happy to report that the whole prep and cooking process that usually takes hours, took be about half an hour from start to finish. The hardest part was leaving it overnight to set. You may not need to leave it that long, but I made the dodol in the evening and it was too warm to cut into after dinner.

But when I did cut into it, it was soft and delicious, just like I remember. I would recommend refrigerating it for a while before serving. It cuts a lot easier when cold. So if you’ve been putting of making Dodol because you can’t find jaggery, go get some molasses and get making. When adding the molasses, don’t go by the color of the mix, but taste for sweetness.

Dodol


1 1/2 cup rice flour
1 can (400ml) coconut cream
350-400g molasses
3 tbsp roughly chopped cashew nuts
1 tsp ghee to grease the loaf tin and knife
Water, as needed

Grease a loaf tin with a little ghee and keep aside.

In a large pan (I use the 12″ Kitchenaid Stainless steel skillet) measure out the rice flour. Add enough water and make a batter (almost like a thick pancake batter). I use a whisk for this as it mixes the flour well without any lumps.

Pour in the coconut cream and whisk till dissolved.

Add the molasses and stir.

Now, place the mix on a medium heat and let it cook, stirring continuously.

When it starts thickening, drop the heat to low and continue stirring. I find that you may still find lumps in the mix even inspite of stirring. Use a whisk and break them up. It returns to a smooth consistency very quickly. I had to do this about 3 times.

As it thickens, it gets harder to stir. Add the chopped cashew nuts and keep stirring.

After about 20 minutes, here’s what my mix looked like.

Continue cooking till the mixture starts leaving the sides of pan and looks a little glossy. I cooked the mix down for about another 5 minutes, stirring continuously.

At this stage, you need to work quickly. Pour into the greased loaf tin and flatten it down using the back of a spoon or a spatula.

Leave to set and cool completely. Once it has cooled you can either refrigerate it for later use or demould it to serve. To demould, just place a plate, slightly larger in size than the loaf tin, on top and tip the tin over the plate. A slight shake of the tin and plate should be enough to loosen the dodol and let prop it on the plate.

Slice and serve.

Enjoy!!!

Pin now and try later.

Other Goan sweets and Kuswar –
Perad / Guava Cheese (using canned guavas)
Perad / Guava Cheese (using fresh guavas)
Kulkuls
Coconut Toffee
Milk Cream
Jujups
Baath
Marzipan

Perad or Guava Cheese … made with Canned Guavas

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Guava Cheese or Perad is a quintessential Goan sweet that makes an appearance at Christmas time. Its flavourful and lightly chewy like a Guava gummy candy.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!!

 
Christmas decorations have started going up all over the place, Christmas merchandise is in every store. And it’s probably just me, but when I see this, my mind starts to wander towards Christmas sweets (mind you that doesn’t take much). Yup, before we know it, Christmas will be upon us. I must admit, this is my absolute favorite time of the year. 
 
Let’s talk sweets now, shall we? What’s your favorite? Me, I love them all. Old school, traditional Kuswar, new age desserts and sweets, the whole lot. But of all of them I think that my favorite is the Goan Guava Cheese (almost like Guava gummies or candy, but better) known as Perad. I have previously posted a perad recipe using fresh guavas here. But here, in Sydney, I haven’t been able to get my hands on any fresh guavas, especially this time of the year. So imagine my joy when I came across this on one of my weekly grocery shops at my local Supermarket.
 
 
Ofcourse, I grabbed a couple of tins and knew that I had to try making Perad with them. (I have also used the “Koo” brand with the same great results.) I mean, I knew it wouldn’t be like using fresh guavas, but how different could it really be? So I tweaked the recipe a tiny bit and crossed my fingers while the perad cooked and set. To my delight, this was the best Perad I had ever made or eaten. So it’s safe to say from now on, while I can get my hands on these canned guavas, I’m going to stick to using it for my Perad.
 
 
 
 
Place some of the ghee on a large metal cookie sheet / baking pan and spread on the bottom and sides and keep this aside.

 

Drain the guava halves and reserve the syrup.

Scoop out the seeds and set aside.
 
Puree the halves till smooth and put the puree in a heavy bottomed vessel. Now Goan sweets are notorious for taking ages to cook, but I have found if you use a wider vessel, its cooks a lot faster because of the increased surface area. So I use a stainless steel 12″ Kitchenaid Skillet for all my sweets and it drastically reduces the cooking time.

 

Now place all the seeds, that were previously scooped out, in a strainer, add a couple of spoons of the reserved syrup from the cans and stir through the strainer to extract all the guava puree from the centres. You may need to do this a couple of times adding a tiny bit of syrup each time to extract all the guava. Add the extract to the pan and now discard the seeds.

I usually end up with about 370g pulp from the halves and about 250g from the centres. In all about 620g of guava pulp. Other recipes call for a lot more sugar, but since these are canned guavas in syrup they are sweeter than the fresh ones, so I’ve cut down on the amount of added sugar in the recipe.

Add the cloves and the sugar to the pan.

Place the pan on medium heat and stir continuously using a wooden spoon with a long handle. The guava mix tends to sputter and spit while cooking and the long handle will prevent the mix splashing on your arms. Make sure that when you stir, the spoon gets to the edges of the pan to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. If the mix sputters too much, lower the the heat and continue cooking.

When the mix thickens, extract the cloves carefully and discard. Continue cooking till it leaves the sides of the pan. Keep stirring.

Test to see if done. (Use water test – Place some icy cold water in a small bowl and drop a teaspoon of the sweet on it. If it firms up on cooling it is done. If it is still very soft or too sticky, it needs more cooking). 

When done, pour the mix into the greased pan. Using the back of a large spoon that has been greased with some ghee spread the mix to form an even slab and set aside to cool.

When it has cooled down a bit, using a knife that has been greased with some ghee, cut into cubes. You may need to grease the knife a couple of times while cutting to prevent it sticking.

When it has completely cooled, store in an air tight container. If you are making this ahead of time, or if it summer like in our part of the world, refrigerate till you are ready to use.

Enjoy!!!

 

Perad – Guava Cheese

Recipe by Trisha VazCourse: DessertCuisine: GoanDifficulty: Medium
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

30

minutes

Guava Cheese or Perad is a delicious, flavorful candy found in Goan homes

Ingredients

  • 2 cans Guava Halves, in Syrup (each can is 410g)

  • 3-4 cloves

  • 500g sugar

  • 1-2 tsps ghee / clarified butter

Directions

  • Place some of the ghee on a large metal cookie sheet / baking pan and spread on the bottom and sides and keep this aside.
  • Drain the guava halves and reserve the syrup.
  • Scoop out the seeds and set aside.
  • Puree the halves till smooth and put the puree in a heavy bottomed vessel. Now Goan sweets are notorious for taking ages to cook, but I have found if you use a wider vessel, its cooks a lot faster because of the increased surface area. So I use a stainless steel 12″ Kitchenaid Skillet for all my sweets and it drastically reduces the cooking time.
  • Now place all the seeds, that were previously scooped out, in a strainer, add a couple of spoons of the reserved syrup from the cans and stir through the strainer to extract all the guava puree from the centres. You may need to do this a couple of times adding a tiny bit of syrup each time to extract all the guava. Add the extract to the pan and now discard the seeds.
  • I usually end up with about 370g pulp from the halves and about 250g from the centres. In all about 620g of guava pulp. Other recipes call for a lot more sugar, but since these are canned guavas in syrup they are sweeter than the fresh ones, so I’ve cut down on the amount of added sugar in the recipe.
  • Add the cloves and the sugar to the pan.
  • Place the pan on medium heat and stir continuously using a wooden spoon with a long handle. The guava mix tends to sputter and spit while cooking and the long handle will prevent the mix splashing on your arms. Make sure that when you stir, the spoon gets to the edges of the pan to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. If the mix sputters too much, lower the the heat and continue cooking.
  • When the mix thickens, extract the cloves carefully and discard. Continue cooking till it leaves the sides of the pan. Keep stirring.
  • Test to see if done. (Use water test – Place some icy cold water in a small bowl and drop a teaspoon of the sweet on it. If it firms up on cooling it is done. If it is still very soft or too sticky, it needs more cooking). 
  • When done, pour the mix into the greased pan. Using the back of a large spoon that has been greased with some ghee spread the mix to form an even slab and set aside to cool.
  • When it has cooled down a bit, using a knife that has been greased with some ghee, cut into cubes. You may need to grease the knife a couple of times while cutting to prevent it sticking.
  • When it has completely cooled, store in an air tight container. If you are making this ahead of time or if it summer like in our part of the world, refrigerate till you are ready to use.

    Enjoy!!!

Recipe Video

Notes

  • Always use a heavy pan to cook this Guava Cheese. It keeps it from burning easily. If possible, use a wide pan. A wide pan, increases surface area and decreases cooking time.
  • Cooking time will vary depending on a number of factors like amount of liquid used, heat level used during cooking, size and thickness of the pan, width of the pan etc. It took me half an hour in total. Like most Goan sweets, its hard to time the cooking process. You need to go by what you see and feel. My step-by-step video will help with this.

Instant Kesar Peda – Saffron Infused Milk Fudge

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So it’s almost Diwali. Even though we don’t celebrate it, we enjoy the food that comes with it. After trying out a few sweet and savory recipes for Diwali over the last five years, I’ve come to realize that a lot of recipes are fairly quick and easy to make, compared to most of the traditional Goan sweets. That makes me happy because I know I can whip up so many treats in a jiffy. However, there are a few recipes that are time consuming and tedious when made from scratch, like a good peda. A peda, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, is a hand shaped piece of fudge made and enjoyed all over India. Now, I have made fudge before but had never tried making Pedas at home. That is, until I recently came across a recipe for an Instant version. Yup, you heard me, there is an instant version of the good old peda.

This Instant Kesar Peda requires a few basic ingredients and about half an hour of your time. That’s how easy and simple it is to make. A lot of the commercially sold pedas use food coloring and artificial flavoring, but I decided to keep mine simple. I have used actual Saffron strands in this recipe for flavor and a mild coloring too. If you want your pedas to have the ‘oh-so-popular’ color, use some yellow food color. You can choose to imprint a design on the top of the peda or use a mould to shape it and you have the option to garnish the shaped pedas with some finely slivered nuts as well. So if you still haven’t whipped up anything for Diwali, don’t let that get you down. You can still make a bunch of homemade sweets and savories for your Diwali platter in no time at all. Besides this peda recipe, I have a few fantastic recipes to help you out. You can find them at the end of the post here.
So here’s to another Indian delicacy, even though its a cheat version. I can tick this one of the my ever-growing list of recipes I want to try. 
Wish you and your family a Happy and Prosperous Diwali!!!
Instant Kesar Pedas
Recipe from: Sandhya’s Kitchen
Yields: 25 pieces

1 cup condensed milk
1 cup + 2 tsp milk powder
1/2 tsp green cardamom seeds, crushed/powdered
2 tsp ghee
A generous pinch of saffron strands
2 tsp warm milk
Extra ghee, to grease your palms while shaping the pedas
Add the saffron strands to the warm milk and set aside to infuse.
Grease a large plate with a tiny bit of ghee and set aside. 
In a wide, preferably heavy bottomed pan, heat the ghee on a medium flame till it melts.
Add the condensed milk and the milk powder to the pan and stir well, making sure you dissolve any lumps that form. Any lumps left will not give you a smooth finish.
Continue cooking the mix, stirring frequently (with a wooden or a silicon spoon) for about 8-10 minutes. You will find the mix coming together at this stage.
Add the saffron infused milk and strands and the crushed cardamom to the pan and stir well. This will cause the mix to loosen in consistency a little and that’s exactly what we want.
 Continue cooking for a few more minutes, stirring continuously and the mix will start pulling away from the sides of the pan.
At this stage carefully check to see if the mix is still sticky. I picked a tiny portion with the spoon and touched it lightly to see if it is sticky. My hands can tolerate a fair amount of heat, please exercise caution when doing this. You want to make very little contact with the mix and not dip your finger in it too deep because it is super hot at this stage. If it still feels too sticky, continue cooking for a couple minutes more. 
Once it is not sticky, take off the heat. 
Immediately turn the mix onto the greased plate and leave it to cool a little.
When it is cool enough to handle, grease your palms with a little ghee, pinch of a small portion of the mix and roll into a ball and flatten slightly. Place on a platter and leave to set. If you choose to garnish the pedas, do it at this stage just after you shape it and then set aside in a single layer to set.
Serve up and enjoy!!!
Pin now and try later –

Pumpkin Pie – baked from scratch

Almost everyone around the globe appears to be embracing the approach of fall. Falling leaves, cooler days, soups and sweaters and all things pumpkin. In my part of the world though, we are well on our way to Summer. But, since we’re so blessed with great weather and an abundance of fruit and veg all the year round, we are still getting a fair bit of pumpkin. But I think it is nearing the end of pumpkin season. I realized I had never made or tasted pumpkin pie. I know right! That, I am glad to report, has officially changed.

Over the weekend, I bought some pumpkin, made my own pumpkin puree, the filling and the pastry from scratch. Hang on, don’t run away. It sounds like a lot of work, but it really wasn’t. I roasted the pumpkin late one evening and the next day I made the pie. The pastry and the filling comes together in the food processor. The food processor was used mainly out of necessity. I’d sprained my wrist a few days ago and there was no way I could have knead the dough or mashed the pumpkin by hand. I was amazed at how easy it was. I may never go back to making shortcrust pastry any other way. I do hope you try baking a pumpkin pie from scratch this year, especially if you haven’t done so before. It is so satisfying, you’ll be glad you did.
I left the pie just as it was baked and didn’t even cover the little knife test mark, because I didn’t want to over sweeten it by adding any icing sugar on top. You could dust it with some icing sugar if you’d like. If you want to make it more indulgent, top it with some whipped cream or serve it with some ice cream if you’d like. We tried that, but loved how it tasted by itself. And trust me, it tasted even better the next day. So make it a day or two before you need it (think Thanksgiving dinner), and once it has completely cooled down, refrigerate till you are ready to serve. The pie is beautiful – the pastry is perfectly flaky and the filling spiked with warm spices is silky smooth.

How to make Pumpkin Puree at home – 

1 – 1 1/2 kilo pumpkin

You can either use small pumpkins or a wedge of a larger one, whatever you can get your hands on. I used about 1/3 of a Kent Pumpkin.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

Cut into equal sized wedges. Leave the skin on. Scoop out the insides – the seeds and the membrane.

Place the pumpkin skin side down on a roasting tray and bake for 45 minutes to an hour or till a knife pierced through the flesh of the pumpkin goes through without any resistance. (I did this while we were having dinner)

Let the pumpkin cool. (I left it to cool overnight and made the puree the next day.) Peel the pumpkin or scoop out the flesh, whatever you find easier, and place the pumpkin in a food processor and blitz till done. If it looks too dry, add a couple of spoons of water and blitz again.

What you are left with is a glorious bowl of fresh pumpkin puree.

Once you have your pumpkin puree, you can use it to make anything pumpkin you’d like – Pumpkin pie, pumpkin doughnuts, pumpkin cake / cookies, pumpkin rolls and the list goes on.

Now, let’s get on to making the Pumpkin Pie.

Pumpkin Pie 
Recipe from: Tabler Party of Two

For the pie crust
250g all purpose flour
125g cold butter, cubed
A couple of tablespoons of cold milk
(If you’re using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt. If you’re using salted butter, leave out the salt.)

Place the flour and butter in the food processor.

Pulse a few times till the butter has broken down and you’re left with a mix that looks like this.

Add a couple of spoons of cold milk to help bind the pastry and pulse a couple of times till you are left a mix that looks like this. Start with a spoon or two and add more if needed.

Place some clingfilm on your work surface (lesser clean up this way) and tip this mix on top.

Press together to form a dough. Don’t knead or overwork the dough.

Wrap it up in the same cling film and refrigerate for about half an hour.

While the dough is chilling, make the pie filling.

For the pie filling

2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
1 can evaporated milk (a 12 ounce can)
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Place all the ingredients in the food processor and blitz till everything is well incorporated and smooth.

 
Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator and roll to a disc large enough to cover a 9 inch pie dish. Line the pie dish with the dough and pour in the filling.

Cover just the edges of the pie crust loosely with foil to keep it from burning.

Bake for 50-60 minutes or till a knife pierced through the center comes out clean. Take the foil off in about the last ten minutes to let it evenly brown.

Cool and cut into wedges and serve.

Enjoy!!!

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French Strawberry Cake

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One of the best things about the onset of spring and the weather warming up, is the abundance of fresh fruit and veg in my part of the world. This year we’ve already seen an abundance of beautiful strawberries in the market. And the blueberries are close behind. I’ve only just come to realize that I haven’t baked much with fresh fruit in a very long time. So during the last grocery run, I picked up a few punnets of strawberries. Though I think the best way to enjoy them is eating them straightaway, I couldn’t turn down an opportunity to try baking with them.

After a bit of searching, I found just the sort of recipe I was looking for – a French Strawberry Cake. I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy the strawberries after baking and I’ve often found cake recipes either bland or just sweet with very little going for it in terms of flavor. Not this cake though. It was really easy to make, full of flavor and really delicious. I’d fo as far as saying it had a personality of its own. This recipe sure is a keeper. I made a few minor modifications to the recipe and was really happy with how it turned out. This would be perfect for morning or afternoon tea. It makes quite an impression in a simple, elegant way just in case you’re expecting people over. I love having such recipes on hand. 

French Strawberry Cake
Yields: A 9 inch cake
Adapted from: Foodtastic Mom
350-400 gms fresh strawberries
115g butter, at room temperature / softened 
1 cup sugar + 1 tbsp extra
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup plain, unflavored Greek Yogurt
Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
Line and grease a 9 inch round cake tin and set aside.
Hull and slice the strawberries.
Whisk the butter and 1 cup sugar till pale and fluffy.
Now add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the vanilla and beat till incorporated.
In another bowl, whisk the flour and baking powder to mix well and set aside. 
Now alternating between the two, add the flour and Greek yogurt to the mixing bowl, beating till just incorporated before adding the next. (I divide the flour into 3 parts and the Greek yogurt in 2 parts. Start with one part of the flour, next one part of the yogurt and continue till it is all added to the batter.)
Fold in the sliced strawberries, setting aside a few of the outer side slices.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin. 
Now place some of the reserved side slices of strawberry on the top of the cake and lightly press into the cake batter. (This step is optional and you could just add all the strawberries in at one time and fold into the batter. But I think this makes the cake look prettier.)
Sprinkle 1 tbsp of sugar over the top of the cake evenly.
Bake for about 30-40 minutes till a skewer pierced through the center of the cake comes out clean.
Let the cake cool in the pan itself.
When completely cool, slice and serve.
If you need any more strawberry-licious inspiration, here are some of my previous posts featuring strawberries –
Strawberry Lassi

Banana Fritters – another great way to use up over-ripe bananas

If you’re like me, you always have bananas on the kitchen counter. I personally love bananas and we always have bananas in the house. This means that every once in a while, I find myself left with a couple of bananas that are a little too ripe to eat as is. Do you? If you do, don’t fret and definitely don’t throw those bananas away. There are the perfect ingredient for these banana fritters.

I remember my mum and Nana (maternal grandmother) making us some of these fritters just in time for an after school snack. To tell you the truth, I had kind of forgotten about these fritters till my husband whipped up a batch more recently. And I absolutely loved them. They come together in minutes with literally 3 ingredients and no sugar. Now we make these fritters quite often. Sometimes, I leave a couple of bananas to get over ripe just so I can make these fritters.

In the past, we’ve made these fritters using either whole wheat flour (atta) or all purpose flour (maida). They turn out really well using either of the two. So feel free to use what you have on hand. I don’t like my sweets too sweet, so I just use the bananas to sweeten these fritters. Since they are over-ripe, they tend to be sweeter. However, if you don’t find them sweet enough, you can drizzle them with some honey or some maple syrup. You could also add some sugar/honey/maple syrup to the batter. The recipe below is the one I use without any sweetener. I think these fritters would work very well in place of pancakes for breakfast too.

Banana Fritters


2 over ripe bananas
1 egg
2-3 heaped tablespoons whole wheat flour / all purpose flour
1-2 tsp oil, for pan frying (I use olive oil. You could use any oil that you use for cooking.)

Mash the bananas till no big lumps remain.

Whisk in an egg. Whisk till the egg has incorporated with the mashed bananas well.

Lastly add 2 tablespoons of either whole wheat flour or all purpose flour.

Whisk till the flour has just about mixed in. Do not over mix. You will end up with a batter that looks like this.

Heat 1 tsp of oil in a pan over medium heat.

Pour a heaped tablespoon of batter onto the pan. Depending on the size of the pan, you can fry more than one fritter at a time.

After a minute or so, or when the bottom is golden brown (use a spatula and slightly lift one edge of the fritter to check for doneness), flip them over and cook on the other side.

At this stage if you find the batter is too delicate and hard to turn, add a spoon more of flour to the batter and whisk through. This should make it easier to flip over.

When it is golden brown on the other side too, remove from the pan.

Repeat till the rest of the batter is over, adding a little more oil to the pan between batches, as required.

Serve hot with a hot cup of tea.

Enjoy!!!
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Banana Fritters
A delicious tea-time snack and a great way to use up over ripe bananas.
Ingredients
  • 2 Over ripe bananas
  • 1 Egg
  • 2-3 heaped tbsp Whole wheat flour / all purpose flour
  • 1-2 tsp oil, for pan frying
Instructions
Mash the bananas till no big lumps remain.Whisk in an egg. Whisk till the egg has incorporated with the mashed bananas well.Lastly add 2 tablespoons of either whole wheat flour or all purpose flour.Whisk till the flour has just about mixed in. Do not over mix.Heat 1 tsp of oil in a pan over medium heat. I use olive oil. You can use whatever oil you use for cooking.Pour a heaped tablespoon of batter onto the pan. Depending on the size of the pan, you can fry more than one fritter at a time.After a minute or so, or when the bottom is golden brown (use a spatula and slightly lift one edge of the fritter to check for doneness), flip them over and cook on the other side.

At this stage if you find the batter is too delicate and hard to turn, add a spoon more of flour to the batter and whisk through. This should make it easier to flip over.When it is golden brown on the other side too, remove from the pan.Repeat till the rest of the batter is over, adding a little more oil to the pan between batches, as required.

Details

Prep time: 5 mins Cook time: 10 mins Total time: 15 mins Yield: