Fruit And Nut Biscotti

“Some Biscotti with your Cappuccino, mam?”, asked the waiter of a newly opened bakery cum cafe. “Would love to”, I replied with a confident smile, in my mind wondering… “what’s that?” This was my introduction, rather, encounter with the much loved Italian delight, right here, in the by-lanes of Mumbai 🙂
Just so you know, Biscotti is the plural form of Biscotto, as opposed to how its usually referred. It means ‘baked twice’. This crunchy and more delicious cousin of Rusk, is indeed a wonderful companion to Cappuccino and has a very long shelf life.
BiscottiIngredients:
250gm plain flour
250 gm caster sugar
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 tbsp baking powder
Fruit and Nuts as you like – hazelnuts, chopped dates, dried cherries, pistachios, etc.
I added:
50 gm whole almonds
50 gm black raisins
50 gm whole cashews
50 gm lightly chopped walnuts
Zest of 1 lemon

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line the baking trays with baking parchment.
2. Mix the flour, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl.
3. Add half the beaten eggs and mix well. Keep adding the eggs only till the dough takes shape, but isn’t too wet. You might not need all of the eggs.
4. Add the fruits, nuts, lemon zest and mix well.
5. Divide the dough into six parts. Roll each part into sausage shapes about 3cm in diameter. Place each roll at least 6 cm apart on on baking trays. This will give enough space for the cake to rise.
Tip: Dip your hands in water so the dough doesn’t stick to the hands while rolling.
6. Lightly flatten the rolls and bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until golden brown.
7.  Remove from the oven and leave for 15 minutes to cool and firm up.
8. Now reduce the temperature of the oven to 140C.
9. With a serrated knife, cut out the biscotti from the rolls at an angle into 5mm slices and lay these on the baking trays.
10. Place the trays back in the oven and bake for around 10 minutes.
11. Pull the trays out, turn the biscotti over and slide the trays back in the oven. Now cook for another 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
12. When they look ready, remove from the oven and let them cool on the cake or wire racks.
13. Store in an airtight container.

Serve your Biscotti with coffee or tea. Just make sure you make a whole lot of them, because… 😉

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Honey and Oats Biscuits

I bumped into this recipe while flipping through one of the magazines. More than the biscuits, what intrigued me is their history that dates back to World War I. The army wives sent them to their husbands who fought on the front line. The recipe was such that the biscuits didn’t spoil easily even though they journeyed the sea for days together. Interesting!
Honey and Oats BiscuitsPreparation time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 8 – 10 minutes per batch
Makes: 25 – 30 biscuits

Ingredients:
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup flour
2/3 cup castor sugar
3/4 desiccated coconut
1/3 cup honey
125 gms unsalted butter
1 tsp soda bicarb
2 tbsp hot water

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 160 deg. Line the baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
2. Place the dry ingredients – oats, flour, sugar and coconut in a bowl. Mix them all thoroughly.
3. In a separate pan heat the butter and honey and cook, stirring, on low heat until melted.
4. Combine the soda bicarb and water and add it to the butter mixture.
5. Now add the step 4 mixture to the oats and mix thoroughly.
6. Place tablespoon fulls of this mixture on the lined baking tray. Flatten them into 7 cm rounds or shapes of your choice.
7. Leave enough space in between for the biscuits to expand while baking.
8. Bake for eight to ten minutes or until deep golden.
9. Cool on the tray for five minutes and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Banana Chocochip Muffins

More than I love eating muffins, I love making them. Reason – they are the fruits of, well, totally no labor 😛
My Banana Chocochip muffins are notoriously dark, incredibly moist and ridiculously yum. Love the way the dark shiny inside peeks from the crevices. Banana gives that needed moistness and extra flavor, while the choc-chips just melt in your mouth with every bite.
Banana Chocochip MuffinsPreparation time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 15 – 20 minutes
Makes: 12 muffins

Ingredients:
3 ripe or overripe bananas
100 gms chocolate chips. Add more if you wish.
2 large or 3 small eggs
125 ml vegetable oil
100 gms granulated or castor sugar
225 gms plain flour
3 tbsps cocoa powder. sifted
1 tbsp soda bicarb
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and line the muffin tin with cases. (Bake in 2 batches if you have a 6 case tin)
2. Mash the bananas by hand. I leave little lumps. You’ll feel the difference when you eat them.
3. Add the oil.
4. Add the eggs and sugar and mix.
5. In a seperate bowl, mix the dry ingredients – flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon powder, soda bicarb.
6. Now add this mixture, beating gently, to the banana mixture.
7. Spoon the mixture into prepared muffin cases.
8. Bake for 15-20 minutes or till they rise out of their cases and the surface looks cracked.
9. Let them sit in the tin for few minutes before resting them on to the wire rack to cool.

Bundt Christmas Cake

Shape of the tin does enhance the look of the cake; so this time I chose to bake my Christmas cake in a Bundt tin. And I was totally sanguine about the crowd loving it.
It amazes me how miraculous this humble looking tin can be. The cake looks incredibly impressive, more like a work of art. And the finale of sugar dust gives the look of powdery white snow atop the golden cakey mountain. A true Christmassy feeling!
Vanilla Bundt Cake
Preparation time: 25-30 mins
Baking time: 45 – 50 mins
Serves: 10

Ingredients:
225 gms butter. softened. plus extra for greasing (oil will work too)
300 gms caster or granulated sugar
6 large eggs
350 gms plain flour
½ tsp soda bicarb
250 gms plain fat-free yoghurt
4 tsps vanilla extract
2 tbsps icing sugar (for dusting)

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Put a baking sheet or baking tray in at the same time.
2. Thoroughly butter or oil your large or regular bundt tin.
3. Cream together the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking each one in with a tablespoon of flour.
5. Fold in the rest of the flour and add the soda bicarb, yogurt and vanilla extract.
OR
Skip the steps – 3,4,5 by tipping all the ingredients except the icing sugar into the food processor and blitzing together.
6. Pour the mixture into your greased tin and spread evenly. Pat the tin a couple of times to remove any air bubbles.
7. Place the tin on the preheated baking tray in the oven and cook for 45–50 minutes until well risen and golden.
8. After 45 minutes, do the skewer test. Clean skewer means cake is done.
9. Let the tin sit for 15 minutes.
10. Then with your fingertips, gently pull away the edges of the cake from the tin and turn it topsy-turvy, holding your breath 🙂
11. The golden beauty should slide out.
12. After the cake is cool, dust it with icing sugar by passing it though a sieve… pristinely glorious!

P.S.: After the cake is completely cooled, wrap it in a cling film and you can store it in an airtight container for about 2 days.
Repeat the process and you can even freeze the cake for upto 2 months. Thaw it overnight and you are ready for the breakfast indulgence.
Cake and Coffee! Happy Days!!! 🙂

Bread And Chocolate Chips Baked Pudding

Planning to get rid of your stale loaf? Wait! Not after this recipe at least 🙂
This pud’s also a savior during those sunny, rainy or wintery days when you are overtaken by boredom and fancy dessert recipes are just not what you wanna do.
Cut, whisk, pour, bake. Easy peasy 🙂
Bread Chcoclate chips PuddingPreparation time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 50 – 60 mins
Serves: 10. Not if your guys go for seconds

Ingredients:
250 gm stale bread or loaf, roughly cut into 2 cm cubes. I ain’t that dexterous, nor patient. So I prefer tearing
100 gm chocolate chips
3 eggs
500 ml milk
135 ml cream
50 gms granulated sugar
2 tps castor sugar – for sprinkling

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease an ovenproof dish lightly with butter. Don’t worry if you forget greasing. I did 😛
2. Roughly mound the cut pieces of bread.
3. Toss in the chocolate chips so that they spread evenly among the bread cubes.
4. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream and granulated sugar.
5. Pour this thick creamy mixture evenly over the bread and leave it to soak for 15-20 minutes
6. Sprinkle the castor sugar.
7. Leave it in the oven for 50-55 mins till you see it rising and the surface looks browned.
8. Sit the pudding for 10 mins before serving.

Now gobble and go bonkers. It’s one such crazily yummy pud, no 🙂

Vanilla Chocolate-Chip Cupcakes

This was the first time I experimented with cupcakes. Call it beginner’s luck or blame it on the simple recipe, but they were awesome. One of my friends had shared it with me ages ago. All I needed were the cases, which I now finally have 😛 . Believe me you, they were shamelessly easy, menacingly gorgeous and outrageously flavorful. Flew off the plate within seconds.
Vanilla cupcakes
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Baking Time: 15 – 20 minutes
Servings: 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:
125 g self-raising flour
125 g caster sugar
125 g soft unsalted butter
2 large eggs
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsps milk
Chocolate chips to sprinkle

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 200C and line the tin with muffin cases
2. If you have a food processor, you can just tip in all the ingredients and blitz them all together till smooth. Later add milk to get a dropping consistency.
3. Second option is – in a bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Then spoon in the flour little at a time and fold.
4. Then add the vanilla extract and fold in the rest of the flour, adding the milk to get the dropping consistency as before.
5. Spoon the mixture in the 12 cases, trying to fill each case equally with your own judgement.
6. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the surface of the batter.
7. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until these little cuties are cooked and golden on top.
8. When done, take the cases out and leave them on a wire rack to cool

P.S.: If you have a bigger crowd to serve, double the quantity of each ingredient.
I slipped a piece of dark chocolate in the center of the mixture before baking. So the end result was a molten chocolate lava in every bite.
Also, I sprinkled choco chips on the top. You can play around with colorful icing.

Whether it’s about glorifying your party or a humble companion to coffee, these little beauties are sure to get your taste-buds sing a happy tune 🙂

Vanilla Strawberry Marble Cake In Cooker

“What” and “If” are two simple words which when put together can have an immensely powerful impact. “What if…”
I used to be petrified with the slightest thought of baking in a pressure cooker. What if the cooker bursts!!! I’d witnessed this horrifying incident with my aunt when I was a little kid. The cooker went woossshh and off went the rice flying to the roof leaving her burnt and my mind, bruised for life. Until last week when I finally decided to kill this fear.
I said to myself what if it doesn’t. What if I bake a real good cake. And so I did.
A simple Strawberry – Vanilla sponge was great to start off with. Doesn’t that look yummm…
Cooker Cake 2
Get Prepared With Your Cooker:
1. Use a cooker with a wider circumference and capacity of 3 – 5 litres, right enough to fit a 21 cm round bottom cake tin. Its advisable to use an aluminium cooker than a non-stick one.
2. Remove the gasket (The rubber ring inside of the cover) *****
3. Take the whistle off *****
4. Place a utensil stand inside the cooker. A stand with holes does a great job in distributing the heat evenly. Else, use a thick plate or a griddle. Intention is not to let the base of the cake tin touch the base of the cooker. It also acts as insulator and prevents the cake from burning *****
5. Do not pour water *****
We want to bake the cake and not steam it. There has to be an oven-like environment, which is why no water.
6. The cooker has to be pre-heated, the way we pre-heat the oven.
7. Close the lid and place the cooker (without gasket, without whistle, without water) first on high heat for 3 minutes and then on low for 2 minutes.

Get Prepared With Your Tin:
1. Line the inner side of the tin with butter and baking parchment.
2. When the baking parchment is in place, rub butter all over it and dust with flour.

Ingredients:
150 gms butter, plus extra for greasing
150 gms sugar
150 gms flour, plus extra for dusting
3 free range eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp strawberry essence
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbsps milk
Colour – 3-4 drops (or as required)

Method:
1. Sift the flour and baking powder.
2. Cream the butter and sugar for one minute or till light and fluffy
3. Add eggs one by one, add essence and keep beating.
4. Fold in the flour and baking powder.
5. Add milk and beat till there are no lumps.
6. Divide the mixture in two halves.
7. Add colour in one of the halves and mix.
8. Spoon the mixture inside the prepared tin, alternating the vanilla and strawberry.
9. Take a toothpick and drawn a zig-zag pattern over the surface to create a marble effect.
Alternatively, you can pour the strawberry mixture above the vanilla or vice-versa.
10. Pat the tin to remove any extra air bubbles.
11. Gently place the tin over the stand in the cooker and close the lid. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes.
12. Do the fork test, first at the sides, then at the centre. It should come out clean when done.
13. Transfer it to the wire rack to cool for 30 minutes.

Points To Remember:
1. ***** is really really important.
2. Its advisable to use a regular aluminium cooker than a non-stick one.
3. Baking more than once a month in a pressure cooker is not recommended. Regular use might lead to deterioration.
4. Works well with tutti-frutti cake and chocolate sponge.
Cooker Cake 1

P.S.: Looks stunning, doesn’t it! On the other side of fear is victory. Well, in my case, it was this incredibly gorgeous, buttery-soft delight.
Its all about having the guts to create something really special. So go on. Kill your fear. And get coo-king 🙂