Monday, April 30, 2012

ONE - BOWL DOUBLE CHOCOLATE BROWNIES

Double Chocolate Brownies

Last Thursday was a stressful day for me. I never get stressed that easily but when I do, I go crazy! I had to get out that stupid feeling and what else can bring my mood back other than Baking! I decided I shall bake something chocolate-y, something soft, something sweet and something yum. Didn't that sound like I should be baking a brownie? :-)
So Chocolate Brownies, it was!

Double Chocolate Brownies

I've had this recipe with me for a while now and every time I looked at it , I postponed the idea. That day seemed to be perfect to make them because I wanted something really good and at the same time I didn't want my sink to be filled with vessels. So I set out to make a batch of one bowl brownies.
While I put a saucepan half filled with water to a simmer,I pulled out my digital weighing scale and measured out the chocolate and butter into a stainless steel bowl.Then I let them melt over the simmering water.I usually go for the fast track option of melting them in the microwave oven but this time I wanted things to go slow, so that I can calm down. It did the magic. There's something so magical in seeing the chocolate and butter melt together and become one.

Double Chocolate Brownies

The rest of the process was just a breeze. I added  the ingredients one by one making sure I don't overdo the beating because I don't like my brownies to be cake-like. I never cared for all that maybe 4-5 years back but now, I prefer my brownies to be soft bellied, almost fudgy in the centre. I also cannot imagine eating an overbaked brownie which ends up being nothing but a dried piece of chocolate something.

Double Chocolate Brownies

While the oven was preheating, I poured the luscious brownie batter into the lined baking tin and using an offset spatula, I smoothed out the top. I thought twice of sprinkling some nuts over it but then chose not to. I placed them gently into the oven and set the timer for 25 mins. While the brownies were baking, I set to clean up the kicthen and by the time I was done,they were done too! The next step is the worst part of baking brownies...letting them cool completely before cutting into them. If you don't do that, you will be ruining the texture of these good heavenly little things.

Double Chocolate BrowniesDOUBLE CHOCOLATE BROWNIES
Recipe source: Joy of Baking
Makes 16 pieces

Ingredients:
150g semi sweet chocolate
1 stick butter
1 c sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
3 eggs
3/4 c flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Method: Preheat the oven to 350 F/ 180C and line an 8 inch square baking tin.
In a large stainless steel bowl, melt chocolate and butter together. Add sugar + cocoa powder and whisk together. Add in the eggs one by one and whisk till they are just mixed. Fold in flour + salt . Add the vanilla and give it one final whisk. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 25 -30 mins or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out with a few moist crumbs.Remove from the oven & let it cool in the pan completely. Cut into 16 squares and enjoy!


Double Chocolate Brownies

As soon as the brownies were cooled and cut into pieces, I packed half of it for the freezer so that I could use them up when Jobin's cousins would visit us in Summer. The other half was used up by the two of us and our friends. But the fate for those frozen brownies was something else...we had a friend over for dinner last night and before we wore our jackets to head out for the musical Mamma Mia!, we munched on those yummy goodness! And before I knew it, I was packing up the remaining for him to take home :-)

Now that our freezer is empty, my brains are working on what to bake next!

Friday, April 27, 2012

AMMACHI'S ACHAPPAM & a tin full of fond memories

Achappam

If only you could see me now! I cannot tell you how happy I am to have made this traditional snack at home. I am very excited because I've heard a lot of people saying that it's a palaharam/ traditional snack which is hard to find success in it's first attempt. I must say, I proved them all wrong. This was my very first attempt and I haven't stood next to anyone trying to learn it. All I had was my Grandmother's 'achu' / brass mould + self confidence + an age old recipe.

Achappam

I vaguely remember Mamma frying the Achappams in her big old kitchen but I very very clearly remember eating them.The clearest of them all was when Mamma bought a huge tin full of her special Achappams to our house. That evening Babitha, my childhood friend came over to play and Amma gave her some Achappam to eat. She always had a big appetite (I hope she doesn't have the time to read this !) and would eat them very soon. Then, she would ask for more! I was a single child for 8.5 years so I didn't like the idea of sharing , a lot. I did share a share of those Achappams but when she asked for more, I clearly remember being disturbed :-)Anyway, the Achappams are long gone now but we are still thick pals.

Achappam

Unfortunaltely none of us got hold of Mamma's recipe instead Amma has her twin sister, Daisy's mother-in-laws recipe.All of us fondly call her 'Ammachi'...to be specific...Kothamangalathile Ammachi. I remember eating Ammachi's achappams during our 1000 stop overs and sleep overs in Daisy Mummy's house. It used to be very thin, crisp, tender and yummy! I could easily eat a truck load of those because my stomach could never get filled with this light weight palaharam.

Achappam

One evening, without any specific reasons, I felt like eating Achappams. So I went ahead and soaked my Mamma's acchu in oil, overnight.The next morning, I dialed Amma and got hold of that precious family recipe for this awesome palaharam. I am so glad I tried these because I can now proudly say, I can make Ammachi's Achappams at home! :-)

AchappamAMMACHI'S ACHAPPAM
Recipe source: Kothamagalathile Ammachi
Makes 100 achappams

Ingredients
4 c fresh rice flour*
1 c maida/flour
2 c coconut milk, medium thick
6 eggs, beaten
2 tsp black sesame seeds/cumin seeds
Salt to taste
Powdered sugar for dusting
Oil for deep frying

Method: In a large bowl, mix rice flour, maida & coconut milk together. It will be quite thick like Idli batter. Leave it aside for 2 hours. After 2 hours, add beaten eggs , seeds & salt. Mix well.Keep aside.

Heat about 4-5 inches of oil in a sauce pan on medium-high and while doing so, immerse the mould into it. Let it heat up along with the oil. To check if the oil is heated enough, add a drop of the batter into it and if it sizzle up right away, it's ready. Take the mould out of the hot oil and dip just 3/4 th of it into the batter, lift it up and then dip it into the oil. Hold it for a count of 5 and the shake the mould gently to release the achappam. If you are finding it a little difficult, use a skewer/thin knife to help it release. It will go smooth from the second one onwards. Fry till golden. You may or maynot have to adjust the heat depending on the colour of your fried goodies.

Drain on paper towels and when cooled, dust with powdered sugar.Munch away!

* I used Sona Masoori rice. I soaked 3c of rice in tap water for 1 hour,rinsed, spread it over a paper towel and let it dry for 45 mins. Then I powdered it very very fine in my mixie and it was sieved once before using. DO NOT use store bought roasted rice flour.
* A lot of recipes use sugar in the batter but we don't since we don't like the Achappams to turn dark.

Achu

Believe in yourself, be it in the kicthen or anywhere and you are bound to find success. That's all I did when I tried this out. When I was measuring and getting the things ready for it, I felt there was someone looking over my shoulders to make sure I was doing it right. I bet it was Mamma, my paternal grandmother. She was an interesting character,who lived to eat and cooked the most amazing Chinese food! Appan still complaints that Amma's fried rice is no where close to Mamma's even though Amma learnt it from her :-)

So go ahead and oil your Achappam mould right away and make these for your family or for yourself and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

BANANA - BUTTERMILK & OAT MUFFINS

Buttermilk Banana & Oat Muffins

We just got back from Las Vegas late last night . We walked and ate so much that I think everything found a balance by the end of the day. Everything was so tempting, especially the crepes they sold at the Caesers Palace! I gorged on their Nutella Crepes with some real good Vanilla Bean ice cream. We got a chance to eat some yummy gelato from Venetian too! All in all, it was a full filled trip.

Banana Oat Muffins

As the plane tickets were booked and hotels reservations made, my brains were working on what to take with us to eat,during our journey. I am surprised that I am thinking this way because I am usually game for anything from hotels/cafe's the minute we leave our home. I just cannot eat healthy when I'm outside. Fries, in all forms beckon me and I know I will succumb to that temptation very easily. I don't even need a dip!

Banana Oat Muffins

Another thing that I have noticed here is that, the more we I eat junk from outside, the fuller and fatter we I become.It doesn't take that long, a few days of eating outside will do that magic to us me. For some reason, when I did the same back in India, that magic never had a chance on me. It could be because I was much more active then. I used to walk quite a lot on the way to college and back. Now, all what I do is sit on the couch and either blog/chat/ stitch/talk over the phone  and yes,once in a while I cook/bake for us to survive !

Banana Oat Muffins

Now getting back to these incredibly moist delicious muffins,they were baked, packed along with my clothes and we were off to Vegas for the weekend. I have used buttermilk instead of milk in the recipe since I know they make the baked goods tender and light. We enjoyed these for lunch on the last day. It was really good plus when you think of what's in it, you will not feel guilty of eating another one!

Oat muffins
BANANA BUTTERMILK & OAT MUFFINS
Recipe source : Honey & Jam
Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:
1 c flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c sugar
1 c oatmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c butter milk /regular plain milk
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 c vegetable oil
1 c mashed bananas

Method: Preheat oven to 400 F and line your 12 cup muffin pan.

In a small bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together. In a large bowl, whisk the wet ingredients together. Fold the dry into the wet gently and stop as you as you see the last bit of flour disapppear. Do not overmix.Pour 1/4 c of batter into each muffin cup and bake for 18 mins till the tops are golden brown and the centre done. Cool in tin for 5 mins and then leave them to cool completely on a wire rack. Enjoy!

Banana Oat Muffins

Try these muffins straight out of the oven or have it warm. It's very good!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

APPLE & VANILLA FRANGIPANE TART

Vanilla - Apple Frangipane Tart 3

I have no words to tell you how much I love this dessert! This is just beyond awesome! A few ingredients when mixed together and baked can create such a wonderful smelling delicious soft dessert. Plus, it includes fruits too! You can make it with apples, pears, peaches, apricots, nectrarines, plums etc. I am not sure whether the tropical fruits would go well with it but there's no harm in trying for sure :-)

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We had a small get together at home on Friday.I made some appetizer and a dessert. As I was planning what to bake for dessert, I knew 2 things for sure. I will be making use of those apples sitting in the fridge and those apples will be made use in the form of a tart. Phew! You see, it's a big achievement for me to decide on what to do ahead of time because being a Gemini is not that easy ;-) Oh! That reminds me...there are birthdays coming up! :-)

Vanilla - Apple Frangipane Tart

So tart it is. Now what tart? Should I go for a shortcrust pastry base or should I go for a puff pastry base? The latter sounded very exciting because I already had a sheet of puff pastry in the fridge. Wait a minute! I have to blog about what I am making so no, I am not going to use that readymade puff pastry sheet now :-)
Alrite, I shall stick with the shortcrust pastry then. Hmm, now what kind of filling should it be? Custard? Frangipane? Fruit compote?

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After raking my brains, for whatever reason it maybe, I decided to go with a Frangipane filling. I remember baking a Bakewell Tart not so long ago and I really loved it. I have a soft spot for things made with jam. Not too much but a hint is perfect. I've baked quite a lot of things with a jam filling in my life and they are all here, on the blog. Jam Tarts are my forever favourites! I think I'll take a of it box with me when I die, just in case I get bored out there!

Vanilla - Apple Frangipane Tart 3VANILLA & APPLE FRANGIPANE TART
Serves 6

Ingredients
For the pastry:
175 g flour/maida
50 g oatmeal, powdered fine
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, very cold
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp ice cold water

Method: Preheat the oven to 350 F and get the tart tin ready. I used a rectangular shaped one. You can also use a circular shaped tin but you may have to double the filling recipe.

In a bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together. Using the biggest holes on your box grater, grate the cold butter into the flour and rub it into the flour with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the beaten yolks + vanilla and quickly mix it into the flour.Keep mixing while dribbling in the cold water, only adding enough just to bring the dough together. It will be slightly sticky. Form into a disc and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 30 mins. Roll it out on a lightly floured surface and line your tart tin. Freeze it for 20 mins while you get the filling ready.

For the Frangipane
70 g unsalted butter, softened
70g almond meal /almond powder
1 egg
2 tbsp flour
1 vanilla bean, scraped out / 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Method: Cream butter and sugar for a minute. Add the egg and beat for another 30 seconds. Add the vanilla,almond flour and plain flour and beat well on high for a minute. Pour into the tart tin and spread it with an offset spatula.

Arrange apples, maybe 2-3 over it as shown or as desired and bake the tart for 25-30 mins or until the frangipane has puffed up and is golden brown in colour.


I urge you all to try this dessert right away and eat it warm. I had a tub of ice cream, Dulce De Leche & Vanilla and it was just too perfect along with this awesome apple dessert.If you have been around here for a while, you will know that I wasn't a fan of baked apple goodies until I baked that Apple & Cardamom Cake. This is better than that! Can you imagine?? No? Bake some and see for yourself ;-)

Monday, April 16, 2012

EGGLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE with ALMOND PRALINE TOPPING

Eggless Chocolate Praline Cake

So this must be the 100th time I'm talking about our Chicago trip. As you all know by now, we celebrated Easter in Chicago with Jobin's cousin and family.It was good fun.We both ate so much yummy homemade goodness for every single meal! It was like a seafood festival for me! There was seafood in every possible dish...I'm talking about the Malayali curries like Chemmenum Mangayum,Chomanna Meen Curry,Ayila Varuthathu,Chemmen Olathiyathu etc. The Easter lunch was a potluck so there was an enormous spread of Kallappam, Kappa Biriyani,Mutton Curry,Thorans, Mezhukkupuratti's, Rice, Puddings etc. I ate continously from the time I woke up till I went to sleep. Burp!

Eggless Cake Slice 2

We left early morning on Saturday and took this cake with us as a surprise for his cousin who was celebrating his b'day that day. When we reached there, I got plenty of time to make the puddings for the Easter lunch that I had signed up before. Jobin helped me with the prep work as we were expecting around 40 guests. I made the Chocolate Biscuit Pudding and Cold Frost Pudding. Then after all that, we set out the cake and candles and waited for the birthday boy who had gone hiking with his cousins.

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When they came back, he was in for a surprise because it's been 2 years since he cut a cake at home as he was away in other countries for his studies. The cake was a big hit and no one even felt that it lacked eggs or was made eggless. So I didn't bother telling anyone, except for the next day when an Aunty asked me for the recipe :-)

Eggless slice 3

I have made this cake before and it was enjoyed by all who ate it. The almond praline topping is a quick fix of mine whenever I need a topping for a cake or a pudding. I love the crunch it gives the soft cake beneath it. It hardly takes anytime to make but the effect it has on your palate is worth enjoying! Amma uses praline a lot for decorating puddings and also in her Praline Vanilla Sponge Gateau.

IMG_5408EGGLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE with ALMOND PRALINE TOPPING
Recipe for the cake: Anushruti
Recipe for praline: Amma

Ingredients:
For the cake
1 1/2 c flour
1/4 c cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
4 tbsp sugar
1 tin condensed milk
150g butter, melted
1 tbsp vanilla
1 c water

Method: Preheat the oven to 300F/ 150C and prepare an 8 inch cake tin.
In a large bowl,mix the dry ingredients together. Add the melted butter and other wet ingredients to it and beat on high till there are no lumps, about 1 minute. Do not overbeat. Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for 25 -30 mins.Cool in tin for 5 mins and then invert onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

For the praline recipe, refer here

Assembly: Place the cake on a serving plate and cover it with a Chocolate Ganache (half qty). Sprinkle the praline over the cake and cover the sides too, if you like. Decorate the top  with rosettes/ stars using whipped cream. If you like, you can make some Lacy Oatmeal Cookies and pile them up in the centre.


Eggless Cake full

This cake was loved by all irrespective of age & gender ;-) It has a nice texture with a delicate crumb. No one would ever guess it's eggless unless you mention it to them. This cake can be layered or used as whole, like how I did here. I am sure I will be using this cake again! If you want, you can bake them into cupcakes but keep an eye on the timing when you do so. It is delicious on it's own or you can dress it up with some icing and serve alongside with some real good vanilla ice cream. If you want to get adventurous, go drizzle some caramel sauce too!

Friday, April 13, 2012

{ VEGAN } AVOCADO CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES with AVOCADO FROSTING

Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes

I was supposed to remember that I was supposed to send some cupcakes with Jobin to work on Thursday, as he had signed up to bring a dessert for a potluck. He said he wanted something small that he could carry along with him on his way to office. Last time, I baked him these yummy Vanilla Cupcakes with Glossy Chocolate Frosting. This time he suggested Madeleines and I agreed to it 100% because I love baking those dainty things.

Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes 1

So after our trip,he casually reminded me on Wednesday that I should be getting the dessert ready for him on Thursday morning. That's when the reality struck me. There were no eggs, no butter and hardly any milk left in the fridge. Now, Target (a supermarket) is like a 10 mins walk through the skyway but I didn't think about it, rather chose not to :-) I told him that we can go shopping once he is back from work and I can make the batter and leave it the fridge which would give me those nice Madeleines with a fat belly.
Later, when I was alone at home, I realised that it's better if I could bake something and get it ready by evening than wait till the next morning because I know what a sleepyhead I am.

Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes

So when we went grocery shopping with our cousins in Chicago, our veggie bags got mixed up and I realised it only after we got back home to Minneapolis. I saw a bag filled with Avocados along with some bananas. I didn't know what I was going to do with it because I am not an Avocado lover. Forget about loving it, I don't like it at all. I don't like fruits which are tasteless in it's raw form. Anyhow, I put it along with my other veggies into the fridge thinking I shall do something with it,someday.

Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes 4

And I did do something with it, not very long after that! :-) Since I was butterless & eggless I thought of using Avocado because I have heard about how buttery that fruit is. We call it butter fruit in Kerala. So I went online and searched for some recipes and I was rewarded with this simple chocolate cupcake recipe and a super duper easy chocolate frosting recipe with Avocados! I decided to go ahead with it , so I called him up and told him my plans of switching from Madeleins to Cupcakes. Jobin lets me make the decision when it comes to food, so this time it was no different :-)

Avocado Chocolate CupcakeVEGAN AVOCADO CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES
Recipe source: Joy the Baker Cookbook
Makes 14 cupcakes

Ingredients:
1 1/2 c flour
1/4 c cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 Avocado, mashed up
1 c sugar
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp vinegar
1 c water

Method: Preheat the oven to 350F/180C and line a muffin tin .
In a bowl,mix flour, cocoa, baking powder & baking soda together. In a large bowl, mix avocado,sugar,oil, vanilla,vinegar & water.Add the dry to the wet and fold it using a spatula until the batter is mixed well. Pour out 1/4 c of batter into each muffin cup and bake for 18-20 mins or until done. Let it cool.

Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes 6VEGAN AVOCADO CHOCOLATE FROSTING
Recipe source: not quite Betty Crocker

Ingredients:
1/4 c cocoa
1/2 avocado
75 g sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Method: Blend all the ingredients together in a mixie/food processor until creamy and smooth. Decorate the cooled cupcakes with the frosting.

I used an offset spatula and just smeared the frosting over each cupcake. If you want to pipe it, I would suggest that you double the recipe.Also, you can flavour the frosting with espresso,orange extract, peppermint extract etc.


Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes 3

So he knew the cupcakes had avocados in it. When he got back from work, he found me frosting the cupcakes so I asked him if he wanted to taste test one. He obliged, like always and took a bite of it. He nodded in agreement when I asked him if they were good. After chewing down one half of the cupcake, he asked me what's the frosting made of...a question I was waiting all this while to answer. When I told him it had just avocados, cocoa & sugar, he was definately surprised! I don't think he thought I would go that far with that fruit :-)

This frosting kind of sets and loses it's sticky property so this is perfect to pack and send it to wherever you want!The cupcakes were super moist and the frosting was rich and creamy.No one would guess it has what it has :-)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

LACY OATMEAL COOKIES

Oatmeal Lace Tuiles

This cookie is addictive!! You just cannot stop at one. If you think Potato chips are addictive, try one of these...I'm talking from my experience :-) Do I sound like a grandmother now? I baked these cookies to take with us to Chicago, to share with our family there. It was the first time I was baking something so thin, so light and so brittle. I don't think I would have handled anything so carefully other than my wedding bouquet in my entire life!

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Everytime I feel like trying out something new,I first go through my navy blue recipe diary and if I don't get an inspiration, I turn towards the internet for answers. This time, it was no different. I knew I wanted to try out some new cookie, something which wasn't heavy or chunky but something light yet new. I've seen these kind of recipes many times before but never thought of trying it. I always wondered if I would get it right because these are so fragile and you need to really monitor the baking time and temperature.

Oatmeal Lace Cookies

Having baked quite a lot of finicky things successfully, I decided to go ahead with what I saw. I always had a thing for very delicate objects. It could be a well embroidered handkerchief or a tablecloth. If I see such stuff, I look at it, turn them over, look how they have knotted the stitches behind because the Grandmother in me wakes up then :-)

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These cookies were no different. I felt it was a piece of art. I don't know if you can feel it just by looking at the photographs but when you bake one, hold it in your hands and look at the sky through it, you will see how lacy and thin it is. It's beautiful. It's super crunchy at the egdes, slightly chewy in the centre and toffee-ish to taste. The original recipe called for an egg but when I made the cookie batter, I used an extra one to get it to the loose consistency the recipe called for.

Oatmeal Lace Cookies
LACY OATMEAL COOKIES
Recipe source : Merely Marie
Yield about 50 cookies

Ingredients:
1 c oatmeal
1/4 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 c sugar
1/2 c butter,softened
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method: Preheat the oven to 325 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper/silicone mat.( I am not sure if butter paper sprayed with oil would work here as a substitute for parchment. )
Cream butter and sugar for a minute . Add eggs and vanilla and beat again till blended. Tip in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.It will be a slightly loose batter. Pour 1 teaspoon of the batter at a time onto the baking sheet atleast 2 inches apart from each other and bake till the edges turn golden brown, about 9-10 minutes. Remove the sheet from the oven and peel the cookies carefully. You can shape them as tuiles,rolls or leave it as is. It will harden as it cools so work very quickly.

It is loaded with oatmeal but when I tasted it, I felt it tasted like coconut cookies. Jobin didn't agree to it but later, after pestering him and all who ate those cookies, they said even they felt so...maybe because of the chewy texture of the oatmeal. These cookies can be used for decorating cakes,placed on top of ice creams/ sorbet etc.It can also be rolled, filled with sweetend cream and served as dessert. When you do so, make sure you serve it immediately or else the cookies will get soggy from the cream.

Friday, April 6, 2012

HOT CROSS BUNS & I.N.R.I. Appam

Hot Cross Buns & Indri Appam

It's only a few months ago did I realise that people ate Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday. I thought it was for Maundy Thursday as we break bread at church and at home. I am not a big fan of the traditional unleavened passover bread I.N.R.I. appam/ Indriappam, we Catholics make in our homes (in Kerala) on Maundy Thursday. I was proved wrong when I tasted the Indriappams they served in our Cathedral in Kannur.

Hot Cross Buns

It was really good, filled with grated coconut.Till that year, Amma used to buy hot cross buns from the local bakery and serve it with Pesaha Paal. She didn't want Indriappam to be wasted as no one would like to eat it the next day even though we drink Pesaha Paal like Payasam till it's over. But this year, Jobin asked me if I could make a small Indriappam just for the two of us.

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Of course, I obliged but the thought of not having buns with the Pesaha Paal haunted me. Big deal! I'll make both! I remember seeing a recipe on Pioneer Woman's website a few years ago and thought of making that one because whatever I've tried so far from her blog never failed me. I'm not the one who fears yeast because I was never made to fear one! Amma bakes with yeast like there's no tomorrow and everytime I was there next to her she used to chant the mantra,'Make sure you use yeast which is still fresh. Always check for the expiration date'.

Hot Cross Buns

Those little mantras made me venture into baking with yeast without even me realising it. It was only after I started food blogging did I realise that many fear or feared yeast at one point in their lives. When people write to me about how I go ahead with recipes and come out with success, I tell them my mantra,'Do not fear the ingredients, they can sense it!' Atleast that's what I have been doing. If I see a recipe I want to try, I just try it. I never think about the what if's, but how's etc. Why waste your precious time pondering over such petty issues? ;-)

Hot Cross Buns

So the silky soft  dough was made and then sprinkled with spiced sugar, raisins and rolled into small buns. They were left to rise and that's exactly when he called and told me he's on his way home. He reached home while the buns were baking and when I was in the Cinnamon haven! I was never a fan of Cinnamon and it worsened after moving to the United States. Now, after living here for sometime and eating the best possible Cinnamon Rolls from Tobies, I'm in love with Cinnamon.

Hot Cross BunsHOT CROSS BUNS
Makes 20 buns

Ingredients:
For the buns
2 c milk
1/2 c oil
1/2 c sugar
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
4 c + 1/2 c flour/ maida
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
1/2 c raisins
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Glaze
1/2 egg white
Splash of milk

Frosting
1/2 egg white
5-6 tbsp powdered sugar
Splash of milk

Method: In a big pot, scald the milk along with oil and sugar. Leave it aside for 30 mins. Add yeast, 4 cups of flour and mix well. Cover it with a tea towel and let it rise for 30 mins. Add the remaining 1/2 c flour, baking soda, baking powder & salt. Mix well and dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Pat it out lightly with your finger.Mix the sugar with the ground spices and sprinkle 1/3rd of it over the dough.Sprinkle some raisins over it. Fold the dough from 4 sides so that the raisins and sugar is inside the fold. Repeat the process twice more till the raisins are over. You may not use all of the spiced sugar. Pull out small balls of dough and roll them into small buns. Place them on a lightly greased baking/cookie sheet and let rise, covered with a tea towel for 1 hour. Brush them with a glaze made using egg white beaten with milk.

Pre-heat the oven to 400F and bake the buns for 18-20 mins or until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Once cooled, frost them with egg white beaten with powdered sugar & thinned with milk if needed. It should be a thick frosting so that it doesn't drip away from the buns.

Indriappam & Pesaha PaalI.N.R.I / INDRI APPAM
My own recipe
Makes a 6 inch round appam

Ingredients:
2 tbsp urad dal
3/4 c grated coconut
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1 large pearl onion/chummanulli
1/2 a clove of garlic (if big), 1 clove (if small)
1 c fine rice flour ( Idiyappam/Pathiri/Appam flour)
1 1/4 c water

Method: Soak urad dal in 1/2 c water for an hour. Grind it to a smooth paste with a teaspoon or two of water. Grind the coconut, cumin, pearl onion and garlic to a smooth paste using very little water.Bring 1 1/4 c water to a rolling boil and add the rice flour to it. Switch off the heat & stir well to mix. Add the ground coconut & urad dal to it and mix well. The batter should be of an Idli batter consistency. Pour into a greased tin, place a cross with the palm,cover with foil and steam for 25-30 mins on medium high heat.


Hot Cross Buns

There's something so therapeutic about baking breads at home. I think it's the pleasure of seeing the dough rise in bulk while proving and rising again while baking. What do you think? On the contrary, the Indriappam doesn't even rise an inch higher from the batter level :-) Jobin loved the Pesaha paal and Indriappam so did I. How can you not enjoy it when the other person dips the appam into the paal and takes every bite saying 'The paal and appam is delicious!? :-)

We will be celebrating Easter in Chicago this year, with family. I am super excited about the trip and meeting all of them. My oven has been busy baking a lot this week, most of which is for the family in Chicago and some for the road as we are driving down. It's been a while since we did a road trip and I'm always hungry once the tires start to roll :-)
Tell me, how are you all celebrating this weekend? Any plans?

These Hot Cross Buns are Yeastspotted!

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