15 Jul 2012

Plum and Peach Crisp

I find the monsoon weather a little puzzling. The moment I think that the heat is really oppressing and I need to make a dessert that is served cold, the weather takes a turn, there is a storm and I find myself wistfully thinking of something that is warm and comforting. In this season that has its own twists and turns, I thought of the apple pear crisp I had made a while ago and how it could be served both hot and cold. It could be eaten warm, out of the oven or even chilled the next day! Ah! Now that had so many possibilities. I remembered the lovely stone fruits that we get this season and thought I would replicate that using my favourite fruits – peaches and plums. Really, there is nothing in the world that beats a delicious crisp with a crumbly crust, and some fragrant fruit paired with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. 
I do not like my crisps and crumbles to be too sweet so I drastically cut down on the sugar. As the plums are quite tangy, I used less sugar and allowed the vanilla ice cream to provide the sweet edge. If you do not intend to serve this with ice cream, I suggest doubling the quantity of sugar with the fruit.
I made a really thick topping as I like a deep crust. You can use half the crust mix to line the bottom of the pan, put in the filling and use the remaining half of the crust as a topping.

I also like the fruit to retain its shape and texture and thus, I keep my baking time to a minimum – just enough so that the topping gets nice and golden and the fruit juices start bubbling along the sides of the dish.
Feel free to swap the fruits – mango and bananas would be a great combination as well!

Plum and Peach Crisp
Inspired by Dorie Greenspan
Serves 6 – 8
For the filling:
4 medium size peaches, peeled and chopped
8 plums, peeled and chopped
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp flour
For the topping:
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
¾ cup oats
A large pinch of cinnamon
A large pinch of ground cloves
115 gms/ 8 tbsp of butter (if using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt)
1.       Preheat the oven to 350C or 180F.
2.       To make the crisp, add all the ingredients except the butter in a large bowl and sift it with your fingers to blend them. Melt the butter and add it to the mix. Use your hands to moisten all the ingredients thoroughly.
3.       For the filling, toss all the ingredients together.
4.       Pour the filling into a 8 inch baking dish. Scatter the crisp topping over the filling evenly.
5.       Slide the pan in the oven and bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until the topping is golden and the fruit juices are bubbling up all around the edges.
6.       Let it cool and serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.

6 Jul 2012

Chocolate Mango Banana Loaf

I call this my exotic tropical cake. It is dark, and the bits of mango in it remind me of a little bit of sunshine. It has the perfect texture, not too moist, not too dry. It’s  perfect for tea time, to be shared with friends on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
I found this recipe on Joy the Baker’s blog. This is one blog I would recommend to everyone! Her recipes are simple and reading her blog is like chatting with your best friend on the phone.
I tweaked her recipe a little by adding some cocoa powder and chocolate chips to the batter. This oomphed it up and added some glamor to the loaf.

The method is effortless though I do find chopping mangoes to be quite tiresome. When my grandma cuts one, its perfect, all the pieces are the same size. Somehow I can never achieve that and I’m glad that this loaf does not require perfection. I’m glad that I don’t have to waste fruit, trying to get the same size and shape (what always happens when I try and make cakes look pretty). Its only about enjoying your favourite fruit albeit a bit messily. Although I would suggest that the mangoes you use should be firm so that you don’t lose their texture when folding it in the batter. Also, the softer the bananas, the easier it is to mash them.
Go ahead and try it out before the mango season gets over. You know you want to!

Vegan Mango Banana Bread
adapted from Joy the Baker
makes one 9×5-inch loaf
3 medium or 2 large ripe bananas
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoon  vanilla extract
11/2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ripe mango, sliced into chunks
A handful of chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.
In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas well. Add the sugar, oil, and vanilla extract, and whisk briskly to incorporate.
Sift in the flour, cocoa, baking soda, spices, and salt. Use a wooden spoon to mix until the wet and dry ingredients are just combined.  Fold in mango chunks and chocolate chips.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes. The top should be lightly browned and a knife inserted through the center should come out clean, or with just a few crumbs.
Remove from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes before transferring out of a pan and onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Banana bread will last, wrapped at room temperature, for up to 5 days… but you wont want to wait!!