Banana foster cake

Banana Foster Cake

Every year my sister and I buy shirts for our father’s birthday. Every year he asks us “Why do you waste money on this?” It is his way of saying “Aawww”.   Every year we make a big deal of surprising him. We steal out of the house and when he asks us where we’re going, we explain in elaborate detail where we’re going to buy what for whom while usually we’d say “out” or “shopping”. He knows we’re going to buy him shirts. He has even noticed that we have taken one of his shirts for size reference. He doesn’t show. He plays along. Once we’re back he asks much like Hasini “I know you have bought me shirts. I know.” We act like he is crazy. It is a surprise. Next day we give him the shirts. He says he had known all along. He wears it and finds it is too tight or too large. We go back to the store with him and exchange. This is the birthday ritual.   Another recent addition to the ritual is the cake I bake for him. I bake him a birthday cake, usually a simple, hearty old-school cake without frosting, glaze etc. He refuses to be photographed cutting the cake, scolds us for singing “Happy birthday” and generally fusses around. This year I made banana foster cake. The recipe is from foodnetwork. It is simple, easy and a treat for banana lovers. I love that you brush the cake with rum when it is still warm. It adds a lovely depth of flavour. The caramel and sliced bananas that you line the bottom of the pan with becomes the top once baked and inverted – a lovely molten, crimson top. The cake itself is soft with a beautiful crumb. This is a beautiful cake to bake as a dessert for a party. I wouldn’t make this much ahead of time though as the caramel-banana top tends to discolour a bit when chilled. It still tastes yummy. It just doesn’t look as glamorous.   Enjoy!  
Cheese crackers

Cheese Crackers

The elastic on the socks is long gone. The socks no longer hug the little calves. They are loose and dangly. The canvas shoes are frayed in places. The brown covers on the books are tattered. I try to convince Hasini “It doesn’t matter. It is just a few weeks more” to get out of wrapping those books again in brown paper.  I throw in images of the imminent holidays, long days of playing, colouring and cartoons. She acquiesces distractedly. I cannot believe that an entire school year has passed. I cannot believe I managed to drop Yuvan exactly 5 minutes….  after the bell, every day of the school year. Hmm. It takes a lot of precision, a lifetime of alarm-abuse (snooze forever) and a supportive family. I could not have made it without the support of my family. My mother who’d shove breakfast into my mouth while I combed my hair getting ready for college, my maamiyaar who cooks when I sleep in, Jagan who sleep-competes with me and Yuvi who if I wake up early, wails, tracks me down to the kitchen/bathroom and drags me back into bed. My dad was the lone crusader. In school/college, he’d pour mugs of cold water over my sleeping head. I remember being enraged at the rude, cold awakening, grabbing a towel to wipe my face, turning over the pillow and going back to sleep, in revenge. Ha. I started out the school year vowing not to buy cookies and cream biscuits and bread loaves. I was going to home-make all of them with quality ingredients, with love and care. By end of the year, I am the single largest Oreo buyer in my neighbourhood store. I stock a miniature version of the store’s cookie shelf at home. I unthinkingly pull out a cookie packet and fill up snack boxes in the morning. Yes, me the food blogger. I am very human. There were little periods in between when I’d take time in between making dosai and rasam to bake some cashew cookies or cheese crackers that I could have with my morning lemon and honey, that I could pack for the kids snack boxes. These periods were few and far between. These cheese crackers are for the cheese lovers. It is easy, quick and totally fool-proof. Just dump everything in a mixer to make a dough, roll out, cut, bake and...

Cashew Cookies

We have a guest over one evening. I offer to make dosai for tiffen. She says “No no no, don’t bother”. I go on into the kitchen to make the dosai. Hasini follows me inside asking loudly “Why are you making tiffen, when she says No?” I can’t help smiling. She doesn’t get polite-speak, my girl. I didn’t too for a very long time. I worry about her. Her friend in school had told Hasini to stop jabbering, that she was not in the mood.   I asked Hasini “Why do you continue to talk to her if she is rude to you?” Hasini simply says “She is my friend”. How will I protect my little cream-bun? After Rajini in “Thalapathi”, Hasini. She wouldn’t show you the dance steps she learnt in her bharatnatyam class if you ask. But she’d dance while climbing the stairs, while sharpening the pencil, when she’s talking to me in the kitchen knocking over the bournvita on the counter. And we are always fighting about something. We can’t agree on lunch or snacks or TV channel or school bag or story book or jatti. I thought it must be my fault. According to an article I read, I am authoritative, uninvolved, docile, stifling, lenient and rude. I decided to take a few small steps. I am going to let her choose her “Frozen” exam board and not try to steer her to the subtler tiny flowers printed one I liked. I am going to wait till she loses her entire stash of pencils before I lose it. I am going to have to make her an eraser-holder-gripper-tracer to use during homework time.  I am going to try doing pranayama before starting homework. I am going to give her a menu card to let her decide what she wants for lunch, breakfast and dinner the next day. She cannot have podi idli every day. She can choose one item only once per week. I am going to list oothappam 3 times, sandwich 4 times and not list sambar at all. I promise to pack bourbon biscuits if she chooses them over my cashew cookies. I will not try to sell her my cookies so I can say “my kids took these scrumptious cookies to school too” on my blog. I loved these cashew cookies though. These cashew cookies are reminiscent of Kaju katlis – but in...
Chocolate truffle cake

Chocolate truffle cake

The inspiration behind this beautiful cake is Jagan. The reason for this beautiful cake is my sister. The creator of this beautiful recipe is not me. Must be a genius at bbcgoodfood who came up with this recipe. Where (Why) do I come in? The maker of this beautiful cake is me. The one who made this cake from start to finish, the one who peeled the parchment paper off an un-chilled super-moist cake before transferring to cake board and paid hell, the one who made indigenous crème fraiche substituting a substitute for a substitute, the one who forgot to add in the said indigenous crème fraiche and then swirled it in the cake pans.  Still, this cake was stunning, in-spite of all the madness. I write this to tell you what not to do in making this gorgeous cake, and to tell you that even the hand-mixer wielding, Amul fresh cream using, birthday baker like you and me can make this cake. And you will be known ever after as the one who makes the best chocolate truffle cake. Recently at a coffee shop, Jagan asked me why I’ve never made Chocolate truffle cake like the one they have there. Why? I didn’t know. So I set out to make one. My sister’s birthday was the right occasion for a Chocolate truffle cake because it was the one coming up next. Then I found this recipe. I figured you couldn’t go wrong with 800 grams of chocolate plus cocoa and more than a pound of butter. I immediately decided this was the recipe I was going to go with. This is my best chocolate cake so far and it is going to be my new most favourite chocolate cake to make for a long time to come. It turned out absolutely fantastic – rich, fudgy-moist and so so chocolatey interlaced with velvety chocolate frosting and finished off with a luscious smooth chocolate ganache. Oh My! Perfection!  Make this for Valentine’s day, for a birthday or for a celebration. It is a special occassion cake.  

Best chocolate frosting ever

Ok, I don’t like American buttercream. Who does anyway? There are those who say they love American buttercream. I can’t understand them. I don’t suppose they’ll understand my cheese cube with lemon & honey routine or why I like to dip vadai into payasam. Does that gross you out? You don’t understand what you’re missing. American buttercream is way too sweet and never smooth enough for me. I have been on the lookout for smooth, silky, not too sweet frosting recipes forever. Just like I’ve always been on the lookout for a good tailor, just like my mother is perpetually on the lookout for a good house-help. This chocolate frosting is bang on. It is smooth, velvety, just sweet enough and gorgeous on just about anything. I will take the extra effort, cook the milk, sugar and cocoa down to a pudding, strain it even, melt the chocolate, chill everything up and wait till everything chills before beating them together, all for this beauty. The most difficult part for me is waiting while these components chill. It is slow and excruciating. But once chilled, it thickens up nicely and pipes like a dream. It is best to take small portions of this frosting in the piping bag at any time while putting the rest into the refrigerator while you work to keep the frosting nice and chill. Prep time: 45 minsCooking time: 10 minsMakes: enough to frost 15 cupcakes Ingredients Good quality dark Chocolate – 80 gm (I used Bourneville)Milk – 1 cup (230 gm)Maida/All purpose flour – 1/3 cup (43 gm)Cocoa powder – 3 tbspGranulated white sugar – 2/3 cup (134 gm)Salt – pinchUnsalted Butter – ½ cup (113 gm) Method 1.       Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Remove from heat, stir till the chocolate is nice and smooth. Chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. 2.       In a saucepan, combine cocoa, maida and salt and whisk well. To this add milk slowly whisking till all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Add sugar to the saucepan and place on stove. Cook on low heat whisking constantly. The mixture will thicken slowly to a thick pudding consistency. Remove from heat and strain through a sieve. Press with the back of a spoon to force the mixture through. Chill this mixture for 15 minutes. 3.       Take room temperature butter in a large bowl and beat for a minute until soft and...

Peanut butter cake with peanut butter frosting, chocolate ganache and peanut chikki sprinkles

The day I decide to chuck the packed lunch from home, in the mood for a nice fat sub, go straight up and order my favourite sub for once without looking at “The sub of the day” without dillydallying, the group behind me is arguing in great detail about the best deal – “sub of the day as salad + this – that is better than sub of the day + that. You save 10 bucks da machaan”. I didn’t need that. Is that a message? I didn’t need that. I order mine with extra cheese and then add a toastie as well. There, take that! I made this cake for Jagan’s birthday last month. I was just a few weeks into my so called “no-dessert, keep your hands off the extra biryani” diet, I’d eat leftover vegetables or a carrot or some fruit before going hungry to bed and almost getting used to it. Then I made this cake. After everybody had had their slice after cutting the cake, after sharing with friends and family, I still had more than one quarter of the cake plus the trimmed pieces of the cake dome plus some of that over-the-top swiss meringue peanut butter frosting. I didn’t need that. What is one to do? For my nightly supper I substituted the carrot with a super-thin slice of the moist, peanut butter cake. When I was finished with the cake in said manner, I cut up pieces of the trimmed cake and dipped it in the super smooth, luscious peanut butter frosting and ate that up too. I licked the last of the peanut butter frosting. Circumstances… Aah. Circumstances can make even the most determined woman lick peanut butter frosting. What chance do I have? I am not even as determined. This is a special occasion cake I’ll be making several times. It is peanut butter bliss, from the moist, tender, peanut buttery cake to the luscious, smooth swiss meringue peanut butter frosting, a lovely bittersweet chocolate ganache to cut all the peanuttiness and a golden crown of crunchy peanut chikki shards to finish it off. By the way, I am terribly proud of my crushed peanut chikki sprinkles. So easy, so cheap, DIY and looks and tastes wow.Make this cake for a special occasion. Enjoy! Prep time: 15 mins (cake) + 30 mins (frosting) + 10 mins (ganache)Baking time: 30 minsServes:...

Easy Homemade Milk Bread – Hokkaido | Tangzhong way

I see the dough has risen beautifully and I call out to Yuvi to show him. He waits for me to finish gushing. He politely peers in when I show him the bowl. He then says ‘Yes, yes. Nice’ and runs off to where he left off with his hot wheels race. He has been there, seen that – well risen dough gives me a high, perfectly separate perfectly cooked grains of rice makes me smile all day, flaky pastry makes me sing, well balanced curry soothes me, burnt vegetables make me swear, dinner parties leave me sleepless and anxious until they’re over, dry cake makes me yell and failed biryani breaks my soul. He gets me, my son. He plays it well. I recently switched over to instant dry yeast and it has cut down my insanity by 50%, almost. Before instant dry yeast, I used the little pellet type dry yeast that I had to first proof and it rarely ever did. I’d stir in more sugar, peer real close, swear, peek in again, yell at anyone around, search frantically for another packet, ask Jagan to run to the Nilgiris for some “bloody working yeast” and generally act like an ass. Not anymore. Thanks instant dry yeast! When I spotted the instant dry yeast pack on Amma Naana’s shelves for the first time, a happy peppy montage of beautiful golden crusted bread, pillowy soft bakery style buns, pizza crusts, rolls and baguettes ran through my mind like the dream sequence in movies. I wanted to try an easy, foolproof basic bread recipe because of said insanity. So I looked to my blogging marathon friends who are baking up a storm the whole of this month. I was spoilt for choice but I finally chose this Hokkaido milk bread from Priya’s blog – “I camp in my kitchen”. I have to tell you, it really is a foolproof recipe and really simple to make. The bread turned out great with a gorgeous soft crumb and lovely golden crust. I’ll be making this bread many more times. I might add more sugar the next time as we like our milk bread a little on the sweeter side. I wouldn’t change anything else. This is a great first bread recipe to try for madcaps and for normal people too. Give it a go.   Prep Time: 20 minsBaking Time: 1 hourRising...

Easiest Parmesan Biscuits

5 signs I am getting older, acting older I gravitate to the easiest recipes (like these amazing Parmesan biscuits), the quickest recipes, the one pot ones, the pressure cooker ones. The baklavas, the opera cakes, adhirasams remain on the to-try list. I stop opening forwarded messages. I have no respectable profile pictures to update. I lose faith in the ‘like’ system and I have absolutely zero interest in selfies. A cookbook and amrutanjan (pain balm) are always under my pillow. I haven’t read a book without ingredient lists and cooking techniques in ages. I start telling myself that cakes ought to look like cakes and not so life like. I catch myself thinking – Instead of a barbie cake, why not a simple rosette cake and an actual barbie? Instead of a whiskey bottle cake, why not an undecorated rustic tiramisu loaded with rum? All this may have something to do with the fact that I am as good at cake decorating as at making small talk (no good) and gaping at the unbelievably stunning cakes on Home Baker’s guild and reality finally checking in. I order hot coffee at coffee shops and never cold coffee anymore. Invariably I have a headache too. I need a hot coffee and preferably an aspirin as well. When my friends suggest going out for New Year’s eve I say “None of these loud new year bashes. Somewhere quiet, away from the crowd and preferably early evening so that I can get back home for dinner”. I’ve got more than 5 here. I must be getting older than I think. But these Parmesan biscuits are easier than you think. These Parmesan biscuits just melt in the mouth and it is hard to believe they’re so easy.  They’re perfect as a snack or as party nibbles. What made them easier than the original recipe was that I forgot the eggs that had to be added. Another sign there. I made eggless Parmesan biscuits thanks to my absent mindedness. They were harder to cut out into proper shapes as you can see. I made rustic roundish biscuits by pinching a marble sized ball of dough and then simple flattening it out with my hands and pressing down with the back of a fork for some pattern.  I loved the biscuits. Hasini loved them. Yuvi loved them. My dad loved them. 4 of us agreed on it....

A couple of birthdays, a colossal cake pop failure and a fantastic Black forest cake

Aadi madness is past (thank god!) and a couple of birthdays too. It was my birthday a week ago (thank Facebook! for the birthday reminders) and Yuvi’s the next day and like a good new-age momma I planned his cake, birthday favors for his class-mates and a small party at home. As if Yuvi would have minded giving his class-mates an alpenliebe instead. He couldn’t care less. In fact he was pissed off he had to go to school on his birthday. He wasn’t thrilled that he’d be sharing sweets with his friends and that they’d sing “Happy Birthday” for him. Turns out he was right after all – they did not sing “Happy Birthday” for him. I could not believe this! And his teacher had dropped a favour bag inside Yuvi’s bag too! Staying at home would have been a much nicer treat and he would have appreciated the break. I need to listen more to my 3 year old. My birthday is no longer my birthday. It is the day before my son’s birthday and every year I spend my birthday elbow deep in flour and butter trying to make a decent birthday cake for Yuvi. This time around I planned a black forest cake for him and thankfully it turned out absolutely fabulous.I picked the recipefrom sailusfood.  Black forest cake is easier than you might think but it has multiple components and it takes time but it works well. Baking the cake is the easiest part. Bake and chill the cakes while you go about readying the rest. Use good quality tinned cherries. This is absolutely crucial. Prepare the cherry syrup and ready the cherries. Whip the cream and grate up some chocolate and you’re ready to assemble the master piece. Tropolite whipping cream worked perfect. Add in sugar and vanilla to the whipping cream and freeze the entire whipping cream set-up along with bowl and beaters for the fastest results. The bigger story of the day was the colossal cake pop failure and second time in a row for me. I had planned to make cake pops for Yuvi’s classmates. I planned well in advance, made two loaves of banana bread and froze them. I then processed them in my food processor, mixed in the frosting and shaped them into balls. I even measured out each cake ball to make sure they were all uniformly sized....

Happy Birthday Jagan! Here’s the chocolate cake you missed

Red beet Chocolate cake with a silky chocolate frosting In Facebook fashion, I am wishing Jagan (my husband) a very, very happy birthday on my blog much to everybody’s “teeth gritting” and “eye-rolling”. I know. To my defence, he’s not sitting next to me and I haven’t asked him to share this post on FB and ‘like’ it. He’s far away in US of A and will miss out my yearly birthday-gift goof up – he is always amused, worried or perplexed by my gifts but never pleased with them. I once sent him for a surprise Spa Treatment on his birthday and he counts it among his most awkward, embarrassing moments to date. I have a knack with these birthday gifts. He’ll also miss my home-made birthday cake which I have a feeling he’s quite happy about. He’ll miss his birthday special menu at home – Dosai, Dosai and Dosai. And he’ll most definitely miss Hasini and Yuvi’s birthday song. I hope being featured on my million-readership blog makes him feel special. And somebody please go tell him to read this post. He doesn’t read my blog (can you believe that!) that often. I didn’t make this absolutely spectacular chocolate cake today. Are you mad? Today is Monday, day 1 of another work week after a crazy weekend and I just about managed to pack a lazy mom’s laziest lunch option of jam sandwiches and banganapalli mangoes for Hasini’s lunch. I made this cake a week back (another blogger thing I forgot to mention in my “Top things bloggers do” post, we’re preemptive). This chocolate cake is the best chocolate cake I’ve made so far and one of the best I’ve eaten. It is moist, just sweet enough and with the lovely creamy chocolate frosting, it is absolutely decadent. The secret ingredient in this absolutely gorgeous chocolate cake that makes it so moist and delicious is red beets/beetroot in it. No typos there. The cake has cooked, pureed beetroot in it. The cake and the frosting are both from Maida Heatter’s cake book.  I cannot tell you how hard it was for me to put the beetroot in this cake. Everytime I readied the beetroots, boxed them and put them in the fridge so that I could pull out and do the rest later (I rarely ever do the full thing – prepping, baking cake, frosting in one shot),...

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