Tuesday, December 30, 2008

French Yule Log - Another Daring Bakers Challenging Challenge!!

This is my second Daring Bakers challenge and this challenge was indeed a challenging one. This challenge has taught me a lot of things. Thanks to Lis of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice for being the first to host Daring Bakers Challenge. We get to make lovely bake every month:)

This month's challenge was brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux.
They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand.

Thank you Hilda and Marion for such a great challenge.

In France you can buy two kinds of Yule log, either the Genoise and Buttercream type, or what is more commonly purchased which is a frozen Yule Log very reminiscent of an ice cream cake, only often it’s not made of ice cream but rather frozen mousse of some sort. In French this is called an entremets which is sometimes loosely translated in English as simply a cream dessert. This also means that this recipe is not holiday-specific, it is also just a scrumptious dessert recipe.

Step by step pictures at the end of the post:)

THIS MONTH'S CHALLENGE RULE is to make a French Yule Log that has 6 elements and WE MUST MAKE ALL 6 of these elements for the log:
1) Dacquoise Biscuit
2) Mousse
3) Ganache Insert
4) Praline (Crisp) Insert
5) Creme Brulee Insert
6) Icing
The assembly will essentially be a Dacquoise Biscuit at the bottom, and the inserts inter-layered with mousse, with an icing finish.
That’s about it for rules.

FRENCH YULE LOG OR ENTREMETS RECIPE by Flore of Florilège Gourmand

There are variations for each element and these are the one's which i've opted and executed.

Element #1 Dacquoise Biscuit (Almond and Coconut Cake)

Preparation time: 10 mins + 15 mins for baking

Equipment: 2 mixing bowls, hand or stand mixer with whisk attachment, spatula, baking pan such as a 10”x15” jelly-roll pan, parchment paper

Note: You can use the Dacquoise for the bottom of your Yule Log only, or as bottom and top layers, or if using a Yule log mold (half-pipe) to line your entire mold with the biscuit. Take care to spread the Dacquoise accordingly. Try to bake the Dacquoise the same day you assemble the log to keep it as moist as possible.

1/4 cup of almond meal plus 2/3 cup shredded coconut(I've used dessicated coconut)
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
2Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 medium egg whites
4 Tbsp granulated sugar

1. Finely mix the almond meal, shredded coconut and the confectioner's sugar. (If you have a mixer, you can use it by pulsing the ingredients together for no longer than 30 seconds).
2. Sift the flour into the mix.
3. Beat the eggs whites, gradually adding the granulated sugar until stiff.
4. Pour the almond meal and coconut mixture into the egg whites and blend delicately with a spatula.
5. Grease a piece of parchment paper and line your baking pan with it.
6. Spread the batter on a piece of parchment paper to an area slightly larger than your desired shape (circle, long strip etc...) and to a height of 1/3 inches (8mm).
7. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for approximately 15 minutes (depends on your oven), until golden.
8. Let cool and cut to the desired shape.

Element #2 Vanilla Mousse

Preparation time: 20 mins

Equipment: stand or hand mixer with whisk attachment, thermometer, double boiler or equivalent, spatula

2/3 cup heavy cream (35% fat content)
2/3 cup whole milk
1 vanilla bean
4 medium-sized egg yolks
6 Tbsp granulated sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch, sifted
2 tsp powdered gelatin or 2 sheets gelatin
1 cup whipping cream (35% fat content)

Make a pastry cream:
1. Pour the milk and 2/3 cup cream into a saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean halves into milk and put the vanilla bean in as well.
2. Heat to boiling, then turn the heat off, cover and let infuse for at least 30 minutes. Then remove the vanilla bean.
3. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until white, thick and fluffy.
4. Add the cornstarch, beating carefully to ensure that there are no lumps. While whisking vigorously, pour some of the milk into the yolk mixture to temper it.
5. Put infused milk back on the stove on medium heat. Pour yolk mixture back into the milk while whisking vigorously. Keep whisking vigorously until mixture thickens considerably.
6. As soon as the mixture starts to boil, leave on for only 2 more minutes. (The recipe says you should remove the vanilla bean at this time but in the interest of no one getting burned, that can be done after you take the pastry cream off the stove.)
7. Once removed from the heat, cover the pastry cream by putting plastic film directly on the surface of the cream (this prevents it from forming a thick and unappetizing skin as it cools). Let cool at room temperature.
8. Soften the gelatin in cold water and melt in a small saucepan with 1 tsp of water OR melt in the microwave for 1 second (do not boil). Whisking vigorously, pour the cooled pastry cream over it.
9. Whip the 1 cup whipping cream until stiff and add gradually to the pastry cream (DO NOT WHISK). Blend delicately with a spatula (DO NOT WHISK).

Element #3 Cinnamon- Milk Ganache Insert

Preparation time: 10mins

Equipment: pan, whisk. If you have plunging mixer (a vertical hand mixer used to make soups and other liquids), it comes in handy.

Note: Because the ganache hardens as it cools, you should make it right before you intend to use it to facilitate piping it onto the log during assembly. Please be careful when caramelizing the sugar and then adding the cream. It may splatter and boil.

4 Tbsp granulated sugar
2/3 cup + 1 Tbsp heavy cream
A pinch of cinnamon
75g milk chocolate, finely chopped
90g dark chocolate, finely chopped
3Tbsp + 1/2tsp unsalted butter softened

1. Make a caramel: Using the dry method, melt the sugar by spreading it in an even layer in a small saucepan with high sides. Heat over medium-high heat, watching it carefully as the sugar begins to melt. Never stir the mixture. As the sugar starts to melt, swirl the pan occasionally to allow the sugar to melt evenly. Cook to dark amber color (for most of you that means darker than last month’s challenge).
2. Heat the cream with the cinnamon (use the quantity of cinnamon you want to infuse the cream, a pinch is the smallest amount suggested) until boiling. Pour cream into the caramel and stir thoroughly. Be very careful as it may splatter and boil.
3. Pour the hot caramel-milk mixture over the milk and dark chocolate. Wait 30 seconds and stir until smooth.
4. Add the softened butter and whip hard and fast (if you have a plunging mixer use it). The chocolate should be smooth and shiny.

Element #4 Coconut Crisp Insert

Preparation time: 10 mins

Equipment: Small saucepan, Double boiler (or one small saucepan in another), wax paper, rolling pin (or I use an empty bottle of olive oil).

100g white chocolate
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1 2/3 Tbsp unsalted butter
60g Rice krispies or Corn flakes or Special K

1. Spread the coconut on a baking tray and bake for 5-10 minutes at 375°F (190°C) to toast (a different temperature might work better for you with your own oven).
2. Melt the white chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Stir until smooth and add the toasted coconut.
3. Add the coarsely crushed lace crepes. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate. Spread between two sheets of wax paper to a size slightly larger than your desired shape. Refrigerate until hard.

Element #5 Vanilla Crème Brulée Insert

Preparation time: 15mins + 1hr infusing + 1hr baking

Equipment: Small saucepan, mixing bowl, baking mold, wax paper

Note: The vanilla crème brulée can be flavored differently by simply replacing the vanilla with something else e.g. cardamom, lavender, etc...

1/2 cup heavy cream (35% fat content)
½ cup whole milk
4 medium-sized egg yolks
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean

1. Heat the milk, cream, and scraped vanilla bean to just boiling. Remove from the stove and let the vanilla infuse for about 1 hour.
2. Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks (but do not beat until white).
3. Pour the vanilla-infused milk over the sugar/yolk mixture. Mix well.
4. Wipe with a very wet cloth and then cover your baking mold (whatever shape is going to fit on the inside of your Yule log/cake) with parchment paper. Pour the cream into the mold and bake at 210°F (100°C) for about 1 hour or until firm on the edges and slightly wobbly in the center.

You can bake it without a water bath since it is going to go inside the log (the aesthetics of it won't matter as much since it will be covered with other things)....BUT I would recommend a water bath for the following reasons:
- you will get a much nicer mouth feel when it is done
- you will be able to control its baking point and desired consistency much better
- it bakes for such a long time that I fear it will get overdone without a water bath
Now...since it is baked in a pan and it is sometimes difficult to find another large pan to set it in for a water bath, even a small amount of water in your water bath will help the heat be distributed evenly in the baking process. Even as little as 1 inch will help.
5. Let cool and put in the freezer for at least 1 hour to firm up and facilitate the final assembly.

Element #6 Dark Chocolate Icing

Preparation time: 25 mins (10mins if you don’t count softening the gelatin)

Equipment: Small bowl, small saucepan

Note: Because the icing gelifies quickly, you should make it at the last minute.
For other gelatin equivalencies or gelatin to agar-agar equivalencies, look at the notes for the mousse component.

½ Tbsp powdered gelatin or 2 sheets gelatin
¼ cup heavy cream (35 % fat content)
5 Tbsp granulated sugar
¼ cup water
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Soften the gelatin in cold water for 15 minutes.
2. Boil the rest of the ingredients and cook an additional 3 minutes after boiling.
3. Add gelatin to the chocolate mixture. Mix well.
4. Let cool while checking the texture regularly. As soon as the mixture is smooth and coats a spoon well (it is starting to gelify), use immediately.

How To Assemble your French Yule Log

1) Line your mold or pan, whatever its shape, with parchment paper.
2) Cut the Dacquoise into a shape fitting your mold and set it in there.
3) Pipe one third of the Mousse component on the Dacquoise.
4) Take the Creme Brulee Insert out of the freezer at the last minute and set on top of the mousse. Press down gently to slightly ensconce it in the mousse.
5) Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
6) Cut the Coconut Crisp Insert to a size slightly smaller than your mold so that it can be surrounded by mousse. Lay it on top of the mousse you just piped into the mold.
7) Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
8) Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
9) Pipe the Ganache Insert onto the frozen mousse leaving a slight eidge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the Dacquoise on top.
10)Close with the last strip of Dacquoise.
Freeze until the next day.


Unmold the cake/log/whatever and set on a wire rack over a shallow pan.

Cover the cake with the icing. Let set. Return to the freezer.

You may decorate your cake however you wish. The decorations can be set in the icing after it sets but before you return the cake to the freezer or you may attach them on top using extra ganache or leftover mousse, etc...

Transfer to the refrigerator no longer than ½ hour before serving.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Brinjal Tomato Gratin

A gratin with a combination of brinjal, tomato and cheese can never be bad. This gratin can be served warm or at room temperature.


3 - 4 tbsp Olive oil
2 Cloves of Garlic, crushed
2 Big Brinjals
100 gm Mozzarella, Cut into thin layers
200gm Tomato puree
50 gms Grated Parmesan Cheese


Take 2 tbsp of oil in a large pan and fry the crushed garlic for about 30 seconds.

Cut the brinjal in lengthwise into 1cm thick layers. Fry these layers in the same pan with the garlic. Fry each side for about 3 to 4 minutes. Use rest of the oil and fry all the pieces.

Take the brinjal layers out of the pan and using a kitchen tissue,drain off the excess oil.

In a deep casserole or gratin dish, arrange one layer of brinjal followed by a layer of mozzarella and a part of tomato puree. Follow the layers till all the brinjal and cheese gets over. Top the upper layer with the tomato puree.

Sprinkle the parmesan on top and bake a 200 deg C for 30 minutes.

Serve hot or cold..


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Plum Galette

The simplest most rustic tarts are baked free form, without a tart pan. Called Galettes in France. Its called a Galette because its flat, open-faced and free form-- the crust is rolled into a circle, the filling is piled in the center, and the edges of the crust are turned in and ruffled over the filling. The cornmeal in this wonderfully buttery dough gives it a bit of crunch, it makes it crisp enough to stand up to soft and syrupy fillings and sturdy enough to be rolled to extreme thinness. This galette can be served either warm or at room temperature.

I was wanting to bake a galette from a very long time. And finally i made it. This galette can be served as a wonderfully sophisticated dessert. I'll assure you, it wont disappoint you or your guests.
Choose tart plums for a less-sweet galette, or very ripe plums for a sugary result. The filling used in this recipe is very dry and perfect because of the flour and ground almond used in it. Ground Almond gives a very distinct flavour to the filling. The filling is so simple and so much tasty. So here is the recipe..

Makes 1 Small Galette. Serves 2.

You'll need..


1/4 recipe Galette Dough, chilled

(You can use 1/2 recipe of the galette dough and double the quantities of the filling for a bigger galette)

For the Plum filling
4 Plums, halved, deseeded and cut into several thin slices
4 tbsp Ground Almond
2 tbsp All purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar

Few Sliced Almonds
1 tsp Sugar

For Brushing
1 egg
1 tbsp milk

Here you start; Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 deg F (200 deg C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Rolling the dough; Take one quarter of the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it into a 9 inch circle. Since the dough is soft, you'll need to lift it now and then and toss some more flour under it and over the top. Roll up the dough around your rolling pin and transfer it to the prepared baking sheet.

Filling; Mix in all the ingredients for the filling. Spread the filling over the dough leaving an inch border.

Fold the uncovered border of dough up over the filling, allowing the dough to pleat as you lift it up and work your way around the galette.
Combine the ingredients for brushing. Dip a pastry brush in the egg and milk mixture and giv the edge of the crust a light coating and then sprinkle the sliced almonds and sugar.

Baking the Galette; Bake the galette for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and crisp. Transfer the baking heet to a cooling rack and let the galette rest on the sheet for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, cutting the tart with a pizza wheel or a sharp knife.

Storing; The galette is best eaten the day it is made.

Galette Dough

The cornmeal in this dough makes the galette a crisp, crunchy and sturdy enough to be rolled to extreme thinness. You can use this dough to line tart pan, but it s particularly well suited to rustic tarts called galette- flat, free form tarts whose edges are folded over the filling like ruffled top of a drawstring purse.
The dough is made quickly either by hand or in a food processor and produces enough for two galettes.

Adapted from Baking with Julia

Makes enough for two 8-inch galettes


3 tbsp sour cream (or yogurt or buttermilk)
1/3 cup (approximately) ice water
1 cup All purpose flour
1/4 cup Cornmeal
1 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
7 tbsps cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 to 8 pieces

TO MAKE THIS DOUGH BY HAND, stir the sour cream and 1/3 cup ice water together in a small bowl and set aside. Pour the flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt in a large bowl and stir with a fork to mix. Drop the butter pieces into the bowl, tossing them just once or twice just to coat them with flour. With a pastry blender or using two knifes, work the butter into the flour, aiming for pieces of butter that range in size from bread crumbs to small peas. The smaller pieces will make the dough tender, the larger ones will make it flaky.
Sprinkle the cold sour mixture over the dough, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork to evenly distribute it. After you've added all of your sour cream, the dough should be moist enough to stick together when pressed; if its not, add additional cold water, 1 teaspoon at a time. With your hands gather the curds of dough together. (You'll have a soft, malleable dough, the kind you might want to overwork.)

Chilling the dough; Turn the dough out of the bowl and divide it in half. I made 4 parts so that i could try 4 different galettes. Press each piece of dough into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

TO MAKE THE DOUGH IN A FOOD PROCESSOR, stir the sour cream and 1/3 cup ice water together in a small bowl; set aside. Put the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade; pulse to combine. Drop the butter pieces into the bowl and pulse 8 to 10 times, or until the mixture is speckled with pieces of butter that vary in size from bread crumbs to peas. With the machine running, add the sour cream mixture and process just until the dough forms soft, moist curds.

Chilling the dough Remove the dough from the processor, divide it in half and press wach half into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for atleast 2 hours.

Storing; The dough can be kept in a refrigerator for a day or two, or it can be wrapped airtight and frozen for a month. Thaw, still wrapped, in a refrigerator. It is convenient to roll the dough into rounds, place parchment between each round, and freeze them wrapped in plastic; this way, you'll need only about 20 minutes to defrost a round of dough at room temperature before it can be filled, folded into a galette, and baked.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Pain au chocolat

Pain au chocolat is a French pastry, consisting of a cuboid-shaped piece of yeast-leavened laminated dough similar to puff pastry, containing strips of chocoate.
Its light, flaky and sweety inside. It can be served as a great appetizer or as a great party starter.


450 gm All purpose flour
1/2 tsp Salt
6 gm Dry yeast
30 gm Vegetable Margarine
1 Egg, lightly beaten
225 ml Lukewarm water
180 gm Soft unsalted butter
1 Egg, to brush
100 gm Chocolate, broken into 12 pieces
Powdered Sugar, to sprinkle


1) Grease a baking sheet with butter.

2) Sieve all purpose flour and salt. Add in the yeast and mix well. Add in the egg and water and work well till you get a well defined, easy to handle soft pliable dough.

3) Roll the dough into a big rectangle of 38cm x 20cm. Apply butter in bits to the 2/3rd portion of the dough.

4) Keeping the wider side in front of you, fold the unbuttered portion over the middle portion and the other end over the first folded portion. Roll lightly over the folds using a rolling pin so that the folds stick together. Now rotate the dough to 90 deg so that the wider side is again in front of you. Now roll again and make the folds again but this time, its without butter. Wrap the dough in a plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

6) Now follow the 3rd and 4th steps again till all the butter is used up. And repeat keeping the dough in the refrigerator every time you fold. After all your butter is used up, roll the dough twice again folding it and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. More and more times you roll, fold and freeze, more beautifully the rolls are going to get their layers.

7) Roll the dough into a rectangle and divide the roll into half using a knife or a pizza cutter. Cut each half into 6 rectangles and brush egg over them.

8) Place a piece of chocolate over one end of the rectangle and roll it. Press the end with your fingers and place them on the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in a warm place for about 40 minutes.

9) Preheat oven to 220 deg C. Brush the rolls with the egg and bake for 20 - 25 minutes.

Cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar before you serve.

Storing It is best served the day it is made.

Few basic recipes..

These are few basic recipes that could come in handy anytime in kitchen..

GHEE( Clarified butter)

1. 500 gm Unsalted butter
2. 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds(methi)

1. Melt the butter in a sauce pan on a very low flame. Bring it boil.
2. Stir occasionally. Cook till a solid residue separates from the formed ghee approximately 30 minutes.
3. You can see the butter changing its colour to yellow. At this point add few fenugreek seeds.
4. Take the pan off the heat and let it cool.
5. Strain it into a glass jar using a strainer or a muslin cloth.
6. Store it in clean dry jar. There is no need to refrigerate.


Makes 4 cups

400 gm cream
4 to 5 tbsp powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla essence

1. Chill the cream for at least 2 hours as the cream has to be very cold for whipping
2. Put it into a bowl and beat it with an electric beater or a whisk until it doubles in volume and forms soft peaks. Do not over beat as it can
separate the butter from the cream.
3. Carefully fold in the sugar and vanilla essence.
4. Serve with any dessert or use as a garnish.



As sour cream is not available in India, this recipe
is suggested as a substitute.

200 gm fresh cream
1 to 2 tbsp thick curds
2 pinches salt

1. Beat the cream until thick.
2. Add the curds and salt and mix well.



Sugar - 1 cup
Butter 6 Tbsp
Heavy whipping cream - 1/2 cup

1. Take a heavy ,thick bottomed saucepan. Heat sugar on high till it melts completely and starts getting brown. Dont let it burn. immediately add the butter to the pan. Whisk until the butter has melted.
2. Once the butter has melted, take the pan off the heat. Count to three, then slowly add the cream to the pan and continue to whisk to incorporate.
3.Whisk until caramel sauce is smooth. Let cool in the pan for a couple minutes, then pour into a glass jar and let sit to cool to room temperature.You can store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.



1. 1 cup Rice
2. 2 1/2 cup Water

Pot method

1.Put the rice and water into the saucepan and bring it to a boil on a high heat.
2.When small bubbles are seen on top, reduce the heat to medium.
3.When most(not all) of the water is evoporated and when rice is seen on top, switch off the heat and cover the pan with a lid and leave it for 15 minutes.
4.Rice is done.

Microwave method

1. Mix the water and rice in a microwave safe bowl and keep it on high power for 15 minutes.
2. Rice will be done.



1. First, wash the potato under running water . Then pat it dry with a paper towel.
2. Make four holes in the potato, with the tip of a sharp knife or a fork. This is important, as it allows the steam to escape. Otherwise the potato may explode when you cook it.
3. Then place the potato on a microwave-safe dish.
4. One big potato takes about 7 minutes to cook. 2 will take about 11 minutes. You need to just let it sit for a couple of minutes, for it to actually finish cooking.



100 gms. garlic ,peeled
100 gms. ginger, peeled
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. oil

Method; Heat oil, add Garlic and Ginger, cover and shut off flame.
Allow temperature to come down to warm.
Add salt and pound in a mortar and pestle till a coarse paste is got Or use a small wet grinder, but do not use water.
Store in clean airtight glass bottle.



500 gms tamarind
20 gms. salt
1 tbsp. oil
2 cups hot water

Method; Clean and soak tamarind in 1 cup hot water. Take care to remove any seeds that may be in tamarind.
Boil in same water after 20 minutes.Cool and blend in mixie till smooth.Add remaining water, mix well.
Pass through a sieve, removing any fibres, etc.
Heat oil in deep heavy pan.Add tamarind paste, bring to a boil.Add salt, cook till a thick coating consistency is got.
Cool completely, stirring in between, fill into clean sterile jar.




1 liter milk
60 ml cultured buttermilk

Method; To make homemade quark you will need 2 days. But the actual work time is approx. 10 minutes. This recipe is for about 250 g / 8 oz quark. You can easily double or triple the recipe to make more quark. (for 1 kg / 2 lb., use 4 liters/1 Gallon of milk and 240 ml / 8 oz cultured buttermilk). The texture of the quark depends on how long you drain the quark. The quark is getting drier the longer it drains. You can make the quark smooth again by adding whey or milk. It is important that all utensils you are using are very clean.
Pour the milk (best if used 2% or higher) in a big plastic bowl with lid. Add 60 ml / 2 oz cultured buttermilk and stir well. Cover the milk mixture and let it stand at room temperature (22C / 72F) for 48 hours. You will get best results if you don't move the bowl. After 48 hours you've got soured milk (which you can also use). Place the covered bowl on a baking tray lined with a dishtowel. Put the baking tray in the middle rung of the oven. Set the temperature to 30-35 C / 86-95 F and heat the soured milk for about 120 minutes. Now you can see that the whey splits from the quark. The whey has a yellowish-green color. Put the cheesecloth in a strainer and the strainer in a bowl. Fill in the quark using a slotted spoon, tie the cheesecloth and hang the quark in a cool place to drain. You can keep the whey for a healthy drink. It's very healthy and good for the intestinal flora. Enjoy the whey plain or mix in some fruits (like a smoothie), veggies or green tea, just be creative. Store the quark and whey for approx. 5-7 days in the refrigerator. It depends on how cool the room temperature was when the quark was drained. The cooler the better.



200ml whipping cream
200ml sour cream

Method; It is very simple to prepare Creme Fraiche at home in your own kitchen. In a container/bowl (approx. 500ml (18 oz)) combine the sour cream and the heavy cream. Mix well with a wire whisk. Let stand uncovered at room temperature for 12 hours. Then cover the container/bowl with a lid and refrigerate. You can keep the Creme Fraiche in the refrigerator for a few days.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Semolina Bread

Golden semolina flour gives this bread a warm, sunny color, a tender crumb and a nutty taste. Semolina loaves are often associated with Italian baking-perhaps because semolina flour is milled from durum wheat, the flour used to make pasta. I've just given a twist to the bread by spreading a layer of cinnamon and brown sugar into the bread. Even the plain loaf tastes good as well..

Adapted from Baking with Julia and altered by me.

Makes 1 loaf


1 Cup warm water (about 110 deg F)
1 tsp Active dry yeast
1 tsp Sugar
1 Cup All-purpose flour

Pour the warm water into a medium bowl and whisk in the yeast and the sugar. When the yeast has dissolved and is creamy, about 5 minutes, stir in the flour.

Rise; Cover the bowl and let it rest at room temperature until the sponge doubles in volume, about 2 hours.


The sponge (above)
1/2 to 3/4 Cup All purpose flour
3/4 Cup Semolina flour
1 tsp Salt
1 tbsp Olive oil


Grease a loaf pan with little butter and keep side.

Take the sponge in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the all purpose flour and rest of the ingredients and work with your hands till the dough forms a ball. If the dough doesn't come together in a ball, add another 1/4 cup of all purpose flour, mixing a tablespoon at a time. Take the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes.

First rise; Turn the dough into an oiled bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest at room temperature until it doubles in volume.
In this cold weather you can use the oven method to give the dough a rise. Just switch on the oven to max for 2 minutes and switch it off. Now take a bowl of boiling water and place it in the bottom rack of the oven. Now place the bowl with the dough in the middle rack and close the oven. let it stand for about and hour or so.. you can see that the dough would have raised beautifully.

Shaping and second rise; Deflate the dough and turn it on to a floured surface. Flatten it with your palms and pat the dough into a rough oval shape and then roll it from one long side to the other, to form a plump loaf. Tuck the ends under and transfer it into the prepared loaf pan and allow it to rest until it doubles in bulk again, about 2 hours.

Baking the bread; Preheat the oven to 400 deg F( 200 deg C).

Bake for about 35 mintes, until deeply golden. Transfer the bread to a rack and cool completely before cutting.

Variation; To create the sweet layer in between, just mix in 1/4 Cup of brown sugar and a tsp of Cinnamon and chopped nuts if you prefer. Spread a tbsp of softened butter before rolling the dough in for the second rise and spread the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Then follow the given steps.

Storing; The bread can be kept at room temperature for a day; cover it loosely with plastic wrap. For longer storage, wrap it airtight and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

My First Daring Bakers Challenge!! - Caramel Cake

When i was passing by other foodie blogs, i stumbled across the Daring Bakers. Daring Bakers is an online growing bunch of foodie bloggers who every month look forward for a challenge and present their challenges on the same day in their respective food blogs. Lis of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice were the two who first hosted Daring Bakers Challenge. Here you'll get to see the same recipe presented in thousands of innovative ways. Its so much fun..

About this months November challenge, all the credit goes to the leading lady Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater with her signature recipe "Caramel cake" and the hosts Dolores of "Culinary Curiosity", Alex of "Blondie and Brownie" and Jenny of "Foray into Food".

This is my first "Daring Bakers" challenge and i'm so much excited. First time when i heard about this month's challenge, Caramel Cake, i thought ok, i've done this before but this time it'll be entirely a different recipe. But i loved caramel cake and was just waiting to find some occasion to bake the cake. My parents had come to visit us from India and i decided to bake this cake before they leave. The cake came very soft and spongy but the frosting was a little more sweet. So i had to add a little salt for the frosting to reduce the sweetness.

So here is the recipe..


10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature


Preheat oven to 350F

Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.

Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

Sift flour and baking powder.

Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.

Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.

Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.


2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)

In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.

Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.


12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste

Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.

Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.
To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light.

I used chocolate pieces to decorate the sides and caramel sauce to top on it.

Ingredients for Caramel sauce:

Sugar - 1 cup
Butter 6 Tbsp
Heavy whipping cream - 1/2 cup


1) Take a heavy ,thick bottomed saucepan. Heat sugar on high till it melts completely and starts getting brown. Dont let it burn. immediately add the butter to the pan. Whisk until the butter has melted.

2)Once the butter has melted, take the pan off the heat. Count to three, then slowly add the cream to the pan and continue to whisk to incorporate.

3)Whisk until caramel sauce is smooth. Let cool in the pan for a couple minutes, then pour into a glass jar and let sit to cool to room temperature.You can store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

OR Have a look at this video..

I enjoyed making this cake and now waiting for the next challenge..:)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Spring onion Rotti

Rotti is a kannada term used in south India for an unleavened flat bread. This bread is made by taking a handful of the dough on a flat skillet and flattening it using your fingers(Ref fig.). This bread is usually prepared as a brekfast in south India.

Here is the recipe..

1 bunch of spring onions, chopped
1/2 cup carrot, grated
1 1/2 cup rice flour
1 or 2 Green chilli, Chopped (as per your taste)
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1/2 cup Fresh coconut, grated
few springs of coriander
Salt to taste

Mix all the ingredients with water to form a very soft dough. The dough needs to be thick enough to flatten and not very thinny and watery.

Keep a cup of water beside to dip your fingers in while flattening the dough. This helps in spreading the dough evenly.

you can flatten it very thin if you want a crispy rotti and a little thick for a soft rotti. After you've flattened, make a small hole in the center with your index finger.

Now pour little oil all over the rotti, around the edges, in the center and every where. Now close a lid on top and let it cook on medium to high heat, till the base has turned golden brown.

Serve hot with Coconut chutney.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Panchamel Khichadi

Khichadi is basically a South Asian rice dish which is prepared with a combination of lentils and rice. This Khichadi, that is "Panchamel" is a combination of "Panch" meaning "five" lentils and rice. This dish is time saver, light and very nutritious. It's a great dish for people who are into diet and who also love food. You just need to spend 15 minutes in preparation and 15 minutes in cooking.

Here you go..


1 1/2 cups long grained rice
2 tbsp split red lentil (masoor dal)
2 tbsp split bengal gram (chana dal)
2 tbsp split yellow lentil (yellow moong dal)
2 tbsp red gram dhal (toor dal)

1/2 onion, cut into cubes
1/2 cup cabbage, cut into big pieces
3/4 cup cauliflower, cut into florets
1 potato (medium sized), peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 cup green peas
1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped

Seasoning and spices-
2 Tbsp Ghee or Oil
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1 tsp finely chopped Garlic
1 tsp grated Ginger
1 tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp Sugar
salt to taste


Clean wash and soak the rice and dals for approx. 15 minutes. Drain and keep aside.

Heat the ghee in a pressure cooker and add the cumin seeds.

When the seeds crackle, add the garlic and ginger and saute for 1 minutes.

Add the onions and saute till the onions turn traslucent.

Add the cabbage, cauliflower, potatoes and peas and saute for some time.

Add the chilli powder, turmeric powder and coriander powder and stir again.

Add the tomatoes and saute for some more time.

Add the rice and dals, 3 1/2 cups of hot water, salt and sugar and pressure cook for 2 whistles.

Allow the steam to escape before opening.

Serve hot.

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