Thursday, December 25, 2014

Kerala Plum Cake / Rum/Brandy - Fruit Cake - Step by Step Recipe. Merry Christmas !



Merry Christmas :)


Salt Lake city - the place where I live haven't had much snow this winter till yesterday which the people here says is kind of unnatural, and kids here had a doubt if the Santa would really come without the snow ??  as they hear stories of Santa, his helpers , snow and sledge from the time they know Christmas.
Yesterday after the Church Service and Christmas eve party late in the night, NA reminded me to place a cup of Milk and Cookies for Santa.Though all of us were tired and wanted to crash to the bed, I had to wait for NA to sleep to pack her gifts late in the night.I looked to the outside to see if Santa is somewhere there as after reading all Christmas stories for NA,  even I like to believe that Santa is real.

And it was surprising to see Snow falling.



2 years back this was the day, my Dad( Achachen ) was diagnosed with Cancer, the most unforgettable Christmas gift my family ever received and he lived for just an other month more,
from then Christmas never gave me much happiness as it used to while growing up.
Still this feel of  Joy & Peace during Christmas is miraculous, I feel that its contagious,
though this day is unforgettable in my life, I tend to forget those painful moments with the good spirit Christmas season spreads.


When I grew up, Christmas celebration would start when my Mom starts shopping for the Christmas cake and Port Wine  that she makes to gift'em to our loved ones. The whole house is filled with that nice aroma of mixed spices and fruits while the cake is being made, we named it the smell of Christmas.
Not sure how this Alcohol - Fruit cake became a Christmas specialty in Kerala, similar to the fruit cake which the Westerners make during this time, again I guess may be the European - influence when they ruled our place.
Anyways am glad that I could make it here, which reminded me of Christmas @home with my family.

This recipe is my Mom's recipe passed on to her from my Grand Mother,
(I made it with double the quantity given below.
With this measurements given below, can make 2 - 8 inch sized cake, or may make 3 - 6 inch sized cakes)

 So here's is how to make it.

Ingredients



For Batter

All Purpose Flour/ Maida - 1 and 1/2 cup
Baking Powder - 2 tsp
Butter - 1 and 1/2 cup (In Room Temperature)
White Sugar - 3/4 cup
Brown Sugar - 3/4 cup (May use White sugar only 1 and 1/2 cup, it changes the color of the cake though)
Egg - 6 No's
Orange Juice and Orange Rind/ Skin grated - from 3 Oranges (Medium sized)
Rum / Brandy / Grape Wine - 1/4 cup (Optional)
Sour Cream or Hung Curd(Thick) - 1 Tbsp
Milk - 1/4 cup
Cocoa Powder - 2 Tsp
Mixed Fruit Jam - 1/4 cup
Vanilla essence - 2 Tsp

For Dry Fruits and Soaking 

Mixed Fruits - 1 to 2 cups or little more than the flour amount.
(Nuts , Raisins, Chopped dates ,Cherries, Tutti Frutti )

Rum/Brandy or Wine - 2 Cups (Approx)

All Purpose Flour - 2 to 4 Tbsp


Spices Needed.

Cardamom - 2 to 4 No's (Powdered or Crushed)
Nutmeg - 1/4 tsp (when Powdered)
Cinnamon - 1/4 tsp (When Powdered)
Cloves - 2 no's (Powdered)
Cake Jeera/ Shahjeera - 1/2 tsp (I didn't use)
Dry Ginger Powder - 1/4 tsp (Optional)
Orange Peels - (1 or 2 Tbsp chopped - Optional , I didn't use)

For Color / Caramel 

White Sugar - 1/2 cup
Water - 1 tbsp + 1/2 cup

Pre-Preparation 

* Chop dry fruits and soak them in Rum/ Brandy or Wine for at least a day. We get already soaked fruits in any grocery stores in US , still its good to soak it again in any alcohol or Wine to make it soggy and flavorful. (I had soaked fruits last year so used them , it stays for years)


* For caramelizing Sugar (For color) - Heat sugar in a thick bottom pan (keep heat in medium to low as it tends to brown fast)  when it starts to melt, add 1tbsp water to it and wait to completely melt the same and turn color, tilt the pan in between to melt sugar evenly, when color is brown, pour 1/2 cup water to it and allow to boil, then switch off the heat and keep aside to cool to room temperature.



* On a flat surface, spread the soaked dry fruits and then sprinkle (2 to 4 tbsp )All purpose flour, use hands to mix the flour evenly , this helps to lighten the fruits and it then prevents the fruits to settle down at the bottom while baking. Keep this aside.


* Heat milk with cocoa Powder (if in microwave 60 seconds) or until lightly heated , stir and combine the cocoa powder to the milk , allow to cool.



Prepare the Batter

* Grease pan's with butter or Non stick spray. Preheat Oven to 350 Degree F.
   Sift Flour and Baking Powder , Keep aside.


* Start by beating Butter (Room Temperature) with sugar (White and Brown) till well combined. Add in egg one at a time and beat till the mixture looks light and fluffy.


 * Add in Vanilla essence and Orange Juice and Orange Rind.


* Stir in the milk - Cocoa mixture , continue beating , add then curd or Sour Cream and the caramelized sugar. Add then / Brandy or Wine to it and beet again to combine.








* Mix then the crushed or powdered spices , Jam and the prepared dry fruits to it. Slowly add in the sifted flour Mixture , beating the same in low speed or else use a spoon to combine.






* Pour the batter to the greased pan, Bake these in 350 degree preheated oven for 45 to 55 minutes (or until a tester comes out clean)


* Keep the same to cool , allow the flavors to set for a few days ( 3 to 5 days)  before you cut the same,initially it will be little more moist than the usual cake , when it sits it matures to become nice rich fruit flavors.  


Notes :

            : Mom says some people pour little champagne or wine over the cake to get soaked while its warm, but it makes it soggy and moist again hence I didn't use any, if you like it extra moist and flavorful do pour little wine or Champagne over the cake , let sit for at least a day before you cut'em.          
           : Always make these 2 to 3 days at least in advance, only then does the flavor matures to become that authentic Kerala Plum cake.


May Peace be your gift at Christmas this year.

Merry Christmas


Cheers
TN





Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Stained Glass Cookies / Butter Cookies


Holiday spirit in the air , breezing that wonderful feeling of holidays  - the feeling of December.
People have decorated their houses with as much lights as they can afford,
when ever I see those decorated houses, I am reminded of a "Bride in India" with all her ornaments and that sparkling look.
Strange comparison isn't it ? I sometimes think funny I know ;)   
Anyways its fun time, lets think funny and keep our self's happy as I see all happy people these days.


Lights and Music everywhere lifts our spirit to keep pace with the Holiday Mood,
no matter what.
One more funny thing that I notice during December is the appearance of  " Santa- Like People " every where. I mean people who look like Santa. I feel like I see everywhere that  Merry Old Man , with long white Beard. May be because I too am waiting for my Gifts from Santa this Christmas ;)


Have a special Cookie recipe for this Christmas, though not a new idea.
These cookies looks gorgeous when hung on your Christmas tree also taste yummy.
Am sure Kids would love it as its so much fun when they can eat something which is hung on the Christmas tree. Wish I was a kid too :(


Its not that hard as it seems, only thing is the cookie cutters that you need and that perfect consistency of the Butter Cookie dough which you get with the same measurement of ingredients listed here.
Do give it a try this Christmas.



Recipe for the Cookie Dough adapted from Land O Lakes.com - Butter Cookies

Ingredients 

All Purpose Flour - 2 and 1/2 cup
Butter - 1 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Egg - 1 no
Vanilla essence - 2 tsp
Orange Juice - 2 Tbsp (Approx)
Baking Powder - 3/4 tsp

For the Glass - 10 to 20 Hard Candies (Any flavor and Color, I used Butter Scotch Candies)



Method - for the dough.

* Preheat the Oven to 360 Degree F , Grease parchment paper with some Butter and place the paper to a cookie baking tray or any flat tray.

* Sift Flour and Baking powder , Keep aside.

* Combine Butter, sugar and egg , beat in medium speed till well mixed, add orange juice and Vanilla essence to it and beat again to combine well.

* Add the sifted flour to the above mixture , beet for 2 minutes, then with your hand work to combine the dough to a ball (if the dough looks dry add few tsp of orange juice to it)

* Wrap this dough in any plastic sheet and Refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes.(May keep these in the fridge for up to 2 days)

Shaping the Dough

* Place the candies in a bag , and use any hard tool or rolling pin to crush the candies and powder'em.
Keep aside.

* Roll out the dough using a rolling pin (may sprinkle some powdered sugar on the pin and on the surface) roll'em thin , about 1/4 inch thickness approx.

* Using cookie cutter , shape cookies, I used 2 star/tree shaped (one bigger and one smaller) to create some space in between to fill each space with the powdered candies. Also if planning to hang them use a straw to make a small hole on top of the cookies.




* Bake these in 360 Degree F for 5 to 12 minutes depending on the size of the cookies.Bake until the sides turn brown. Take these out of the oven, wait for 5 to 10 minutes for the cookies to cool down a bit and to set before you pick'em from the tray.

* May hang these on your Christmas tree or else store in Air tight containers, then these last long.


Or pack these and gift'em to your friends for Christmas.


Notes

           : Make sure the powdered candies are just in the space as if spread outside it tends to stick and it may make the cookies also stick to the bottom. Also after baking , do not remove the cookies from the baking tray before its cooled, as the candies need sometime (5 to 10 Minutes) to set.

            : This is a basic recipe to make butter cookies.Decorate these with any cookies writers (Icing) instead of the glass effect (Omit the candies then) they look equally good :)


Merry Christmas :)


Cheers
TN






Thursday, December 18, 2014

Theme Cakes - Minnie Mouse Cake & Soccer Field Cake



It was Soccer Man's Birthday yesterday, so made a Soccer Field cake for him.
Also wishing Team "Kerala Blasters" Good luck for the finals of Indian Super League :)


Also thought to post a Minnie Mouse cake, which I made last year for NA's Birthday.



Made this cake with the cake mix, as I had to make 4 cakes to make it look like a Chess Board inside, 2 each of Vanilla and Chocolate cakes.


 Click - YouTube Link - How to make a Chess Board Cake
 This is where I got the idea to make the same.
Hope the video would be helpful to understand how to make a Chess Board Cake , though its presented in Malayalam Language :) 


Hope you are all set for the Holidays. 
I am planning to do some "Holiday baking" this week , will be posting the same if it comes out well :) 

Cheers
TN

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cinderella and her Garden Cake


While I was a small girl, I was gifted with a  Disney Story book by my Uncle.
 I remember how I used to imagine those sparkling shoes and Gown of Cinderella.
And Cinderella became my favorite Princesses ever.
 I still have that book with me and now its NA's favorite story book too, though she knows it was her Mom's and also its old.


 It was Na's Birthday last week, she had Cinderella in her mind while planning her Birthday cake, may be because I exaggerate  about "Cinderella" more than any other princesses during her story time.
but she was still confused and couldn't decide on her birthday cake theme as "Disney" is very much successful in making the girl kids crazy for the new Disney Queen's "Elsa & Anna"
Anyways I somehow managed to convince NA about making a Cinderella themed Cake for her birthday, as it was my dream cake too from the time I started seeing themed cakes.
Told her that she'll have Cinderella, her pumpkin Carriage, Sparkling shoes and many more stuffs on her cake but by the time I finished I had nothing that I promised :(


But she was super happy with the "Cinderella" which I placed on a garden themed cake.
And named the cake "Cinderella and her Garden" glad that she forgot about the theme :)
As Kids are so innocent , hope she would continue to be the same while she grows up too,
I know all mothers would be wishing the same.


I haven't attended any cake making classes so far and got no experience making the same.
Though have seen cake making , fondant and other icing ideas in some cake centered Blogs and You-tube. Thanks to my Sister in Law who inspired me, she's a theme cake enthusiast, who makes themed cakes for her kids every year.
This is not a complete , perfect looking cake I know , still we learn with trials and errors, I think I learn something every time I do icing on a cake.
Hope I can be an expert some day :) like many cake experts whom I adore.


Here is the cake that I made for Na for her Birthday this year.

Made 2 Chocolate Cakes - Click on the link for the recipe , its better to make cakes from scratch when its a themed cake , rather than making it from the cake mix as it turns out too soft to handle and is difficult to carve or cut into desired shapes.
Cut one of the cake to a semi circle and placed it on top of the other chocolate cake, to make it look little bigger in size.


Following are Few important things that I learned :)

* Once the cake is baked, wait for it to comedown to room temperature , or else the butter or icing which we spread on it would get melted.

* Level the cake with a knife or  flip the cake up side down, as the down part is always leveled ,  making it easier to spread the frosting.

* Spread the cake with a thin coating of the icing, which they call the crumb coating, it gives more finishing to the cake.

* Made mushrooms ,some roses  and leaves with the fondant, for the garden, I had a fondant flower shaped cutter to shape some small flowers (Pink, yellow , white and blue flowers on the cake here)
 Can make these days ahead and freeze it in an air tight box, assemble it on the cake when needed.

* In this cake the "Cinderella"  is a small doll , inserted that doll in to a cup cake,covered the cup cake doll with a white fondant and gave some pleats, freezed it for 5 minutes then covered the dress with an other blue colored fondant.

Cinderella looks over weight I know,  but this is the second-round dress that I made for her,
 the first one that I made seemed 9 months pregnant. ;)


Super happy to see the Kids excited seeing the cake.
I had to take out the Cinderella Doll from a small kid's mouth as she was waiting for NA to cut the cake, though I had given her a small piece from that Doll-cup cake, she was not satisfied and tried to eat up the entire Cinderella doll :)



Cheers
TN

Monday, December 8, 2014

Crepes - A Simple Breakfast Recipe


Yesterday I woke up early than usual ;) with throat pain, looked to the sides to see my people sound asleep, though I wanted to sleep for some more time, my throat desperately wanted to sip some hot water. So got up and opened the window blinds expecting to see that beautiful dawn but saw a full Moon instead, as even our Sun is now a days lazy to rise up - the season being Winter.
Kept the blinds open as I love seeing the first appearance of light in the sky before Sunrise.
Decided to try something different for Break Fast, with all the freshness that the first ray of light brought to my mind.


Crepe's with strawberries and chocolate syrup in some Coffee Shop caught my eye last week
 and was in my - To Try -List.


Crepe's are other wise called "Pan Cake" in Kerala (My place) and sometimes called "Love Letters" its usually rolled with Sweetened Coconut fillings and served as a snack there. Not sure why we call'em Love Letters may be because it has some sweetness when opened :)



I couldn't wait for my people to wake up
nor could I wait to try these sweet attractive Crepe's and Strawberries
so I enjoyed my BF alone  ;)




Ingredients

All Purpose flour - 1 cup(Approx)
Eggs - 1 (may use 2)
Milk - 1/2 cup to 1 cup
Salt to taste
Vanilla Essence - few drops

For Filling & Topping 

Cream cheese Softened  - 1/2 cup
Super fine sugar - 3 Tbsp
Strawberries - few no's sliced
Chocolate syrup -(I used Hershey's syrup)
Powdered Sugar (optional) - to sprinkle

May Fill any Jelly that you like instead of Cream cheese & Sugar.

Method

* Beat eggs nicely then add All purpose flour , salt, Vanilla essence and milk - beat again to combine, adjust batter consistency to make it free flowing (add more milk or more flour to adjust consistency accordingly)

* Mix Cream cheese and sugar, combine nicely and keep aside.

* Heat a Pan cake Pan or any Dosa pan , rub some oil on the pan using tissue,
 Pour ladle full batter on the heated pan , tilt the pan to spread it around or else use the ladle itself to spread it around in clockwise direction

* Flip to the other side when one side is done nicely (1 to 2 minutes approx in medium to low heat ) ,  Remove from pan when both sides are nicely cooked.

* Spread a spoon full Cream filling (or any Jelly if you like)
 Fold in to quarters and place on a serving plate. Repeat to make more crepe's.

* Place some sliced Strawberries on the crepe's , drizzle chocolate syrup on top, may sprinkle some powdered sugar -  like how the experts does ;) and serve.


ENJOY !


Cheers
TN