24 Jan 2012

Kinnow Orange Cinnamon Cake

What is it about Sunday afternoons that makes them so magical? Is it that on cold winter days you can lie on the couch with a comforter and take a nap? Or it is that perfect time of the day after you have had a heavy Sunday brunch and its not yet evening so you don’t have to think about work on Monday? Oh, you have felt it too? I knew I was in good company. 

If you like Sunday afternoons as much as I do, you will find that you love this cake. And that it will not be too much effort for you to make this on a Saturday so you can eat it on Sunday. I must confess that I made this cake only to use up some ingredients I had in the refrigerator. I’m so glad I was not too lazy and did make it. This cake will provide oomph to your Sunday. Have it at tea time with a cup of cocoa and I promise that your Monday morning blues will just vanish into thin air.

So what do you do when you try to bake a cake using only the ingredients that are there at home without a trip to the market? This was quite a new experience for me. I changed around the recipe so much that I was quite expecting that the cake wouldn’t rise at all. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it rose, looked very pretty and gave off a very fresh fragrance. I say fragrance because I could use the smell as a perfume. I really could. The sweet cinnamon offsets the citrus of the orange and this results in a clean bright scent.
Don’t wait. Make it today with the largest juiciest oranges as packed with flavor as you can find.

Kinnow Orange Cinnamon Cake
Adapted loosely from Bon Appetempt
Serves 8 – 10

Oranges and glaze
3 really large kinnow oranges
Juice of 1 lime
1 cup sugar
1/4th teaspoon salt

115 gms/ 8 tablespoons butter
¾ th cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp orange / vanilla essence

Preheat the oven to 375 F or 190 C. Grease and dust a 9 inch light colored aluminum round pan.
Grate the zest of an orange and reserve it for the cake. Juice it – you should have ½ cup of orange juice. Slice the remaining 2 oranges (along with the rinds) into ¼ inch round segments.
Combine the orange juice, orange slices, lime juice, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a slow simmer over low heat. Cook for 6 – 8 mins. The centers of the oranges will become translucent and tender. Carefully scoop out the orange rounds and place them on a plate. They should not break. Keep aside.
Keep cooking and stirring the syrup for around 12 – 15 mins until it thickens a bit. Remove from flame and set aside. This is the glaze.

For the cake, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add and beat the eggs one by one. Add the reserved orange zest. Stir in the essence. Sift the flour and baking powder together. Add the flour mixture little by little, to the batter and mix until incorporated.
Pour the batter into the pan. Arrange the orange slices on top of the batter in one layer. Bake for 15 mins.
Reduce the temperature to 350 F or 175 C and bake for 35 – 40 mins until the cake is golden brown and baked through. The sides of the cake should be springing away from the pan and a toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean.
Cool the cake on a wire rack until warm.
Poke holes all over the cake with a toothpick. Brush the glaze on top with a pastry brush. The cake will absorb some of it.
Allow the cake to cool and then unmold.

17 Jan 2012

Orange Coulis

This post is about comfort food. I’m sure all of us have this one particular kind of food that we love, something that reminds us of home, a childhood recipe or cooking that takes us back to the good old times. The recipe that I want to share is one of those that instantly takes me back to the times when I developed a fondness for cooking. Come winter and orange coulis, or sauce as we called it, was made very often. All of us loved it and I clearly remember hovering around my mother in the kitchen whenever she used to make this. I would be fascinated with how the sauce thickens upon cooling and she would get exasperated with all my questions. Even with all the watching, coulis is not something that I have always been very comfortable with and it has been my new year’s resolution to learn how to make this well. This time around I got all the instructions and made this with great trepidation. It turned out so well that I felt that I must share it with you.

Eat this with plain vanilla ice cream or have it like I do – sandwiched with your favorite chocolate sponge cake and vanilla ice cream.

Orange Coulis
Makes ¾ th cup

1 cup orange juice
2 level teaspoons cornflour or cornstarch
2 teaspoons sugar
Juice of ½ lime
A few drops of orange essence

For the orange peel to add in the sauce
Orange peel with the pith removed, cut into thin ¼ inch slices
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons sugar

  1. To sweeten the orange peel, put all the ingredients in a bowl and heat it (keep stirring all the while) over a low flame for 5 minutes until the sugar solution thickens and the peel softens.
  2. In a saucepan, put the orange juice, cornflour and sugar and heat it over a low flame. Keep stirring this for 7 – 8 minutes until the sauce thickens a little bit.
  3. Take it off the heat and add the lime juice and orange essence. Add the orange peel and let the sauce cool.
  4. Enjoy it with a bowl of vanilla ice cream.

10 Jan 2012

Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar

Somehow, whenever the strawberry season arrives (that, in India, is winter) I feel a sense of growing excitement. It usually starts around November when roadside hawkers lug around boxes of half ripe, tasteless strawberries and culminates at the end of December – early January, when they are at their best – ripe and bright red. I remember them being the height of luxury in fruits and being a rare treat during my childhood. It is seldom that you get sweet luscious strawberries in India even now.

I prefer strawberries in simple desserts. For instance, strawberries and ice cream or strawberries and whipped cream are my favorites. In fact, one of my favorite memories from Bangalore is going to Corner House or The Edge for strawberries and cream at night with a whole gang from the PG where I stayed. None of the strawberries in a rich chocolate cake for me please.

This dessert is one of the fanciest sounding ones and definitely the easiest. The balsamic vinegar and black pepper intensifies the flavor of the strawberries and I for one love this cold dessert even in the middle of winter. 

Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar and Black Pepper

200 gms fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
A pinch of ground black pepper

Slice the strawberries in half. Combine strawberries, sugar, vinegar and pepper in a large bowl. Chill for a few hours or overnight before serving. 

7 Jan 2012

Happy 2012

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year, dear readers. I hope it is filled with love, peace and wonderful things to eat!

2011 has been great – I completed my masters, returned home and started this blog! I have read more about food these past few months than I have my entire life. I have invested in a few great foodie books and gained inspiration from the success (and failures!) of the greatest chefs in the world. From this I understood that failure does not mean that I am no good at something. It just means that I need to try again. I have become more technology savvy. I have learnt a little bit about food styling and become interested in photography.

Here are some of my food resolutions for 2012:

  1. Improve my photography.
  2. Make my own extracts - vanilla extract!.
  3. Use my springform pan to make a cheesecake.
  4. Find a good recipe for the perfect pie dough.
  5. Bake an elaborate birthday cake - made so many!.
  6. Get over my revulsion for eggplant  - aubergine and bell pepper foccacia.
  7. Make marmalade.
  8. Start making breads - aubergine and bell pepper foccacia.
  9. Have a month where I make only hazelnut cookies/cakes/other delicious things - hazelnut sables, chocolate hazelnut torte, homemade nutella.
  10. Grow a few herbs.
  11. Bake something sweet with pumpkin.
  12. Read a new food book each month (see pinterest for the books i want to read).
  13. Bake an olive oil cake - kinnow orange cinnamon cake, french yogurt cake.
  14. Learn how to make good coulis - orange coulis.
 What are your food goals?