It's X'mas again......


It's X'mas time again....and I love it......The tree was up in the first week of Dec itself since my kids were toooo excited to decorate it......The crib and the stars are yet to be done and hopefully it would be done before we leave for our holidays on Friday......
 
This year is special when it comes to baking----baked four plum cakes to gift my family members (I had plans of baking more but the erratic power shutdown in my area spoiled everything, so in the end had to be satisfied with four)........We even have homemade grape wines this time (all the credit for that goes to JJ).....but no plans of gifting those.....*winks*.....(the recipe and snaps of the homemade wine would be up after I come back from my holidays)......
 
 
Those are the 4 cakes, specially wrapped and waiting for Santa to collect and deliver to my loved ones back at home.......*smiles*........The detailed photos of the cake would be uploaded later...Until then
 
 
 
&
 
 
Here are the pictures of the cake.....
 
 
 
 
 

Happy to you!!!


My first born, my little prince turned 5 today......Like I said before.....kids grow up soooo fast that you don't realise it until their next birthday...*smiles*.......
 
Few weeks back I asked my son as to what cake he wants for his fifth birthday.....and there he goes with a list of cakes-----car cake, teddy bear cake, mickey mouse cake, giraffe cake, butterfly cake, flower cake, deer cake, blah blah blah (thanks to TLC's cake shows, as he gets all these cake ideas from those)......Finally, he said he needed a cake with the number 5 and he specifically wanted a chocolate cake with blue icing (blue being his favorite color)!! Now starts my search for a blue color.....But this time I was lucky enough to find it in a departmental store and so grabbed all the bottles of different colors that was there (as these are very rare commodities and you get them once in a blue moon at my place).......
 
Now with the color ready, I was in search for a chocolate cake...Though I have many recipes for a chocolate cake, I needed one with exact quantities to make a big rectangular cake....Otherwise, I would have to make two cakes (a round and a square) and cut them into the shape of 5, which I felt was quite tedious....My search ended when I received the book "Cake" by Rachel Allen (thanks to Flipkart)......I love Rachel Allen's show on TLC and I wouldn't miss any of her telecast.......I zeored in her Chocolate number Cake with Coloured Buttercream Icing from the book.....
 
With everything ready and fingers crossed, I baked the cake just a day before the big day......I was totally tensed when I started trimming the cake to form the number 5......But then I took a deep breathe and just did it.....*phew*......Though I had messed up a bit while trimming, the frostings came to my rescue....*smiles*.....Anyways after a half day's work, here it is my first number cake for my little client...*winks*......

 
 
Chocolate Cake with Blue Buttercream Icing
Recipe Source: Rachel Allen's Cake
 
For the Cake
 
Ingredients:
Butter, softened - 400gms
Caster Sugar - 400 gms
Eggs - 7
Plain flour - 400 gms
Baking powder - 4 tsp
Cocoa powder - 2-4 tbsp
 
Method:
  •  Preheat oven to 180 C. Butter a cake tin and line the base and sides with parchment paper.
  • Creeam butter until soft in a large bowl using a hand-mixer.
  • Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  • Whisk the eggs together in a bowl for few seconds and then gradually add them to the creamed butter mixture, beating all the time.
  • Sift in the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder and fold in gently until mixed.
  • Tip the batter into the preared pan and bake in the oven for 35-45mins (depending on the size of the tin) or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 mins, then loosen the edges with a small sharp knife. Place a large wire rack upside down on the top of the cake and carefully turn over.
  • Remove the tin and the parchment paper and leave to cool completely on the wire rack.
  • When the cake has cooled, transfer to a chopping board. Draw a template of the number or letter on a piece of paper and cut this out. Place on top of the cake and using a sharp knife cut around the templates.

 
 
For the Buttercream Icing

Ingredients:
Butter, softened - 200 gms
Icing sugar, sifted - 450gms
Milk or heavy cream - 50 ml
Vanilla extract - 1 tsp
Blue colour - Few drops

Method:
  • Cream the butter an sugar together in a large bowl until fluffy and light.
  • Continuing to beat, gradually add the cream or milk witht the vanilla extract and food colouring, adding just enough to achieve the desired shade.



For the Chocolate Swirls

Ingredients:
Milk chocolate or Dark chocolate broken into pieces - 100 gms

Method:
  • Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water. Leave just until melted, stirring from time to time.
  • Remove from the heat and place next to the cake.
  • Dip a teaspoon or dessert spoon into the chocolate and drizzle on swirls on the top of the cake.


Moral of the tale: Never ask kids for ideas on their birthday cake!! *phew*......But all the effort taken is worth once you see the glee on their face.......*smiles*



 

Chocolate Cupcakes


Well....I had never intended to bake a cupcake....Never at this time of the year when I am soooo busy baking cakes for Christmas.....But had to bake it for my little one *smiles*....She had some activity at her play school where she was supposed to bring cupcakes.....I thought of buying some...but the "baker mummy" in me didn't allow....and so I baked these simple Chocolate Cupcakes for my little one and her friends......
 
 
 
 
Ingredients:
Recipe Adapted from: Chocolate by Parragon Books

Unsalted butter, softened - 100 gm
Castor sugar - 1/2 cup
Eggs, lightly beaten - 2
Milk/water - 2-4 tbsp
Chocolate chips - 1/3 cup
Self-raising white flour - 1 1/2 cups
Cocoa powder - 1/4 cup


Method:
  • Preheat the oven to 200 C. Line a muffin pan with paper cases.
  • Sift the flour and cocoa. Reserve.
  • Beat butter and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy.
  • Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition.
  • Add milk or water.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips.
  • Next, add the sifted flour and cocoa and fold into the mixture. {Add water/milk accordingly to loosen the batter}.
  • Spoon the batter into the paper cases and smooth the tops.
  • Bake the cupcakes in the preheated oven for about 20-30 mins or until well risen and springy to touch.
  • Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.






 

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Finally, the Red Wine Chocolate Cake.....This cake recipe was in my mind for sooo long and I wanted to bake it the very next minute I got the recipe, but somehow it got delayed due to some or other reasons....."Better late than never" and I am glad I baked it....I would say this was the best cake that I had ever baked and taste-wise--it was the best!! *smiles*...


I had a bottle of homemade wine which my Papa had given me for last Christmas (to soak the fruits for the Christmas cake)….The wine was a bit sweeter and so I used it for this cake…..The wine gave a rich flavour to the chocolate cake…In short, the cake was too delicious and it got even more better the next day, when all the flavors of the cake matured….


Ingredients:
Recipe Source: The Pastry Affair

Butter - 1/2 cup (softened)
Light brown sugar - 3/4 cup
Granulated sugar - 1/3 cup
Egg, large - 1
Red wine - 1 cup
Vanilla essence - 1 tsp
All-purpose flour - 1 1/4 cups
Cornstarch - 3 tbsp
Cocoa powder - 3/4 cup
Baking soda - 1/4 tsp
Baking powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp


Method:
  • Pre-heat oven to 165 C. Grease a bundt form pan or a loaf pan.
  • Sieve together flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Reserve.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla essence and beat until smooth. Beat in the red wine.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wine mixture slowly, mixing until just incorporated.
  • Pour batter into the baking pan and bake for 50-60 mins.
  • Allow to cool for 10 mins in the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.
  • Transfer to a cake plate and dust some icing sugar and serve.
Notes:
  • The original recipe uses 1/4 cup plain yoghurt also. Since I didn't have yoghurt, I used 1 cup of red wine instead.
  • The red wine I used is homemade and it was quite sweet. So, I skipped the granulated sugar. Taste your wine before adding the sugars.
  • For those who don't prefer wine, you could use buttermilk instead.
  • Lastly, though the cake uses wine, it can be equally consumed by kids too. (No probs with my kids...*winks*)



 
 

Banana Cake with Chocolate Glaze

I wanted to bake a banana cake badly the other day, and so searched for one and found out this recipe from Nigella’s site.....What I liked about the recipe was it used rum instead of milk and essence....And I love cakes made of liquor; be it brandy or rum or even wine.....Well, stories apart.....On to the recipe....I have made few alterations to the original recipe......
 
 
Ingredients:
Recipe Adapted from: Nigella Lawson
 
Butter - 100gm
Castor sugar - 175 gm
Salt- 1/4 tsp
Eggs - 2 (at room temp)
Lemon zest -1 (grated)
Rum - 3-4 tbsp
Ripe bananas - 3 (mashed)
Lemon juice - 1 tbsp
Flour - 250 gm
Baking powder - 2 tsp
 
Method:
  • Sift flour and baking powder together and keep aside.
  • Butter a baking tin and it line with a parchment paper.
  • Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl.
  • Add the eggs and beat until the mixture become light and fluffy.
  • Add the grated lemon zest and rum.
  • Next, add the mashed bananas and lemon juice. Once the bananas are mixed in, the mixture looks curdled. {Don't worry! Nigella's assurance}.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the above mixture and combine.
  • Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 75 mins in a preheated oven at 180 C.
  • Once baked, remove and cool completely before frosting with the chocolate glaze.
 
 
Chocolate Glaze
 
Ingredients:
Recipe Source: Pastry Affair
 
Semi-sweet chocolate - 2 cups
Butter - 100gm
 
Method:
  • In a double boiler, melt the semi-sweet chocolate and butter together, stirring until smooth. The glaze will thicken slightly.
  • Remove from heat, allow it cool slightly and frost the cake before the glaze hardens. {If the glaze hardens, melt it again via a double boiler}
 
 
 

 
 

Shahi Zafarani Sharbat

These days the climate has changed and its getting more cooler with occassional rains. Though we were not directly affected by "Nilam", its effect was felt in our place too. It was quite windy and pouring yesterday....Now, who can say no to a warm drink with some hot snacks on such days??Well, not me anyways!! I was going through last month’s Good Food India magazine, when I came across this warm sharbat by Shayma Saadat. The moment I read about it, I knew this would be the perfect drink for the day…..By the way, Shayma Saadat is from Pakistan and she is the author of the award-winning heritage food blog- The Spice Spoon….Hop on her blog to find out more Pakistani recipes...
 
 
Ingredients:
Recipe Source: Good Food India, October 2012

Saffron strands - 1/2 tsp, crushed in a pestle and mortar
Whole milk - 1 ltr + 3 tbsp
Heavy whipping cream - 300 ml
Cardamom - 6 pods, deseeded
Sugar/Honey - 2-3tbsp
Cardamom powder - 1 tsp
Pistachios, unsalted - crushed, for garnish

Method:
  • Crush saffron threads in a pestle and mortar and transfer it to a glass. Add 3 tbsp milk to it.
  • Beat the cream in a chilled bowl with a whisk or an electric beater just until it holds a loose peak. Store in the refrigerator until the sharbat is ready to serve.
  • Place milk in a saucepan on medium-low heat. Add cardamom seeds and bring to a simmer.
  • Pour the milk through a sieve into a glass vessel and discard the cardamom seeds.
  • While the milk is still warm (it should not be very hot), add saffron milk, sugar and cardamom powder. Stir well.
  • Transfer to serving glasses and add a dollop of cream.
  • Sprinkle with crushed pistachios before serving.


Notes:
  • You could serve the sharbat either warm or chill.
  • Use fresh saffron strands. Moreover, if you need a deep yellow color, use more saffron strands. (The original recipe uses 1 tsp of saffron strand).
  • The original recipe uses honey instead of sugar.


 

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Katharine Hepburn Brownies


Finally.....after a month, I'm back into my baking mode....*smiles*.....These holidays can do magic to your life---they can refreshen us and they can make us lethargic too!!Well, for me it was the last one....continuous holidays (first was my son's term break and then came the Dussera and Pooja hols) made me lazzzier.....Come next week and it's time for Diwali holidays...oh oh oh.....and a month later it's Christmas hols.....
 
Well...I don't blame the holidays for my laziness...there are other reasons too that made me stay away from baking and the most important was the frequent power failure....We had to face 8-10hrs of power-cut in the last month....Not that the situaton has changed, but it has improved...thanks to the Rain Gods.....
 
Now, once in baking mode, I decided to bake a brownie.....This time I didn't have to search for recipes, since I had this in my mind.....


Ingredients:
Recipe Source: Baking-From My Home to Yours
 
All-purpose flour - 1/4 cup
Ground cinnamon - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Butter - 100gms
Cocoa powder - 1/2 cup
Instant coffee powder - 2 tsps
Eggs, at room temp - 2
Castor sugar - 1 cup
Vanilla essence - 1 tsp
Walnuts, chopped - 1/2 cup
Chocolate, chopped - 115 gms

 
 Method:
  • Preheat the oven to 325 F/160 C.
  • Butter a square baking pan and line the bottom with a parchment paper. Butter the paper and dust it with flour.
  • Sieve the flour, cinnamon and salt together and keep aside.
  • Put the butter in a saucepan and place it over low heat.
  • When the butter starts to melt, sift the cocoa over it and add the instant coffee powder.
  • Continue to cook, stirring, until the butter is melted and the coffee and cocoa are blended well.
  • Remove from heat and let it cool completely. Transfer the contents to a large bowl.
  • Using a whisk or rubber spatula, beat the eggs into the bowl one at a time.
  • Stir in the sugar and vanilla, followed by the dry ingredients, nuts and chopped chocolate. {Don't beat the batter too vigorously as it would add air to the batter.}
  • Scrape the batter into the baking pan.
  • Bake for 30-45mins. Once done, the brownie will be gooey but the top will have a dry papery crust.
  • Let the brownies cool for at least 30 mins.
  • Turn the brownies onto a rack and peel away the paper. Cool completely before cutting the brownie.

 

 

 


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Marble & Fruit Cake Verrine



This is a special post.....Cakes & Tales turns one this month! So, "Happy Birthday to Cakes & Tales".......And, this is my half-century post!! I can't believe I posted 50 posts....phew!! A lazy person like me needs a hell lot of motivation for baking, shooting and posting….So thanks to all who supported and encouraged me - my family (esp my kiddos), friends, followers (though, there aren't many) and to all my anonymous visitors….Looking forward for your support (in the form of comments, suggestions) in the future.....

In this 50th post, I would like to thank one special person - Shn of Kitchen Mishmash as she was my inspiration to blogging…..Her blog is one which I started following initially and admire it a lot….I have tried many of her recipes and all were a big hit! Especially her Kuttanadan Duck Roast!!!Man…that recipe is simply the best!!! I had made that for a small family get-together and everybody loved it….So in my family, it’s known as “C-mol’s Duck Roast”…But, definitely all credits to Shn…..Thank You Shn for inspiring me with your blog…..


The school is closing next week and we (me & kids) are taking a short-break…but I am already in a holiday-mood now!! So, to celebrate this milestone, I created a simple dessert of my own…Na, na...I would rather say ‘made up’ a dessert of my own….So here’s a toast to Cakes & Tales and to it’s readers!!!



Ingredients:
Recipe Source: My Own

Mascarpone Cheese - 200 gm
Amul Cream - 200 ml
Rum/Brandy - 1-2 tbsp
Icing Sugar - 2-3 tbsp
Fruit Cake & Marble Cake - 2 slices each

Method:
  • Slice the cakes (depending on the shape of the dish used) and place it on the bottom of the dish. 
  • Put the mascarpone cheese and cream in a bowl and using an electric beater, beat together until smooth. Sift the icing sugar into the mixture and beat again until well mixed.
  • Pour the rum/brandy and mix well with a spatula.
  • Pour the frosting on the top of the cake and chill.
  • Before serving, decorate with grated chocolate. 

Notes: 1. Since I used a square dish for the dessert, the cakes were sliced vertically.
2. You could use vanilla essence or instant coffee instead of rum/brandy.
3. Since I had fruit cake and marble cake (bakery-brought), I used both for making the dessert. You can used simple chocolate cake or brownies.





 

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Dish it out hosted by Foodomania






Apple MilkShake

What would you do if you have excess fruits at home?? No, no…let me put the question in another way…What will you do if your hubby gets tonnes of fruits and nobody at home, including hubby dear, touch them??? Now it’s our duty to finish those off somehow…So, we start digging for recipes or innovate something of our own!! This milkshake is one such innovation….
Had few Ooty apples at home and these have a low shelf-life…So had to finish it off asap….Made this milkshake one evening for the kids and it was delicious…..The taste of cardamom in the milkshake added more flavour….



Again a milkshake in a wine glass!! Well, you know who's idea it is....*smiles*


Ingredients:
Recipe Source: My Own

Apples - 4
Cardamom - 3 pods
Sugar - 4 tsp (depending on your taste)
Milk - 1 cup

Method:
  • Peel the apples and cut it into cubes.
  • Add the chilled milk, apples, cardamoms and sugar in a blender and blend until smooth and frothy.
  • Transfer to a serving glass and serve immediately. 
Notes: I used Ooty apples, which are quite small in size.







 

A B'day Cake



Yes! My little girl turns 2 today....*smiles*...Can't forget the day, when the doc told me "It's a girl"...To be frank, I was actually shocked!!!I expected a boy again....But now, I am happy having my little princess since her love and affection towards me is totally different from my boy's....*smiles*.....Oh Oh!! time surely flies, especially with kids...they grow up so fast that you don't even seem to notice it, until their next b'day.....*winks*

Now, for her birthday, I wanted to bake a cake...I had planned it months before and was searching for a cake recipe...I zeroed in the Red Velvet Cake with Mascarpone Cheese Cream Frosting...I stocked up with all the necessary ingredients for the Red Velvet Cake except for one small and the most important item - the red color!! I searched every department stores and bakeries in my place for a red color, but in vain!! So, I had to think about something else and that's when I happened to see Nigella's Kitchen on TLC (re-telecast) and she had prepared this cake and it was quite tempting (Nigella surely know how to play with words and sometimes you fall for it too, like me for this cake)....I got the recipe for the cake from her website and was all prepared for baking it....

So here it is


Devil's Food Cake 
for 
My Little Angel


Though the name sounds strange, the cake was truly "Heavenly"......The cake was so soft and delicious; the frosting was just luscious (as Nigella says)...The cake with the frosting was truly 'chocolatey' and it was the best chocolate cake I ever had......I would call this cake "A Rich Chocolate Cake".....A perfect cake to bake for any celebrations except for its name *winks*....




I have made few alterations here and there, so the below ingredients and method are what I used and followed for baking the cake. For the original version, you could visit the link mentioned below.


Ingredients:
Recipe Adapted from: www.nigella.com

For Cake:
Cocoa powder, sifted - 50 gm
Brown sugar - 100 gm
Boiling water - 250 ml
Unsalted butter, soft - 125 gm
Caster sugar - 150 gm
Plain flour - 225 gm
Baking powder - 1/2 tsp
Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
Vanilla essence - 2 tsp
Eggs - 2

For Frosting:
Water - 125 ml
Brown sugar - 30 gm
Unsalted butter - 175 gm
Dark chocolate, finely grated - 500 gm


Method:

For the Cake:
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Line the bottom of a baking tin with parchment paper and butter the sides.
  • Put cocoa and brown sugar into a bowl and pour in the boiling water. Whisk to mix and keep aside.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda together and set aside.
  • Cream butter and caster sugar together in a big bowl, beating well until pale and fluffy.
  • Add vanilla essence into the creamed butter and sugar, mixing all the while. Add in 1 egg, quickly followed by a scoopful of flour mixture, then the second egg.
  • Keep mixing and incorporate the rest of the dried ingredients for the cake.
  • Finally mix and fold in the cocoa mixture, scraping its bowl well with a spatula.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared tin and put in the oven for about 55-60 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  • Take the tin out and leave it on a wire rack for 5–10 minutes, before turning the cake out to cool.
For the Frosting:
  • Put water, brown sugar and butter in a pan over a low heat to melt.
  • When this mixture begins to bubble, take the pan off the heat and add the chopped chocolate, swirling the pan so that all the chocolate melts with heat. Leave for a minute before whisking. It will take time for the frosting to become smooth and glossy.
  • Put the frosting in the fridge for a while before frosting the cake.
  • Once the cake is cooled completely, place the cake on a cake stand or plate and spread the frosting over the top and sides, swirling with a spatula. 





 
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