Chocolate cake

BM# 100: Week 4, Day 1
Theme : Pick an alphabet

For the third week of blogging for BM #100, I have chosen the alphabet ‘C’ and so you will find three posts, all starting with C. The first one is a chocolate cake. Though I make a lot of cakes, I don’t share the recipes often here in the blog. The reason is that I don’t deviate from my tried and tested recipes for cakes. When it comes to chocolate cakes, I always go with the Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate cake. Its the same recipe that you find in the back of their Cocoa powder box. Almost all other chocolate cake recipes that you find online are variations of this one. I like it a lot and stopped looking for another recipe longtime back. So anytime I make a chocolate cake, its only the outside design that’s different. The recipe is always the same and its already recorded in the blog. That’s the reason why I don’t feature the new cakes here in the blog.

Though the Hershey’s cake gives excellent results, I find it to be very soft. It’s not a problem for a cake with simple decoration, like just frosting with whipped cream or buttercream. But I wanted to make a fondant cake that’s supposed to carry a topper. In fact I had two such cakes to make, one with farm animals theme and another with Safari theme. I went with the Hershey’s cake for Safari theme but decided to try a different recipe for the farm theme cake. I didn’t have any problems with the Hershey’s cake, it held the topper just fine. But I still decided to try another recipe to see if I can find a sturdier cake.

The recipe here is from the book Erin Bakes Cake. Its one of the best baking books I have come across. The book gives a lot of ideas for flavor variations, about tweaking a base recipe to get different flavors. I have the library copy with me, but I think I will be buying my own copy soon. This cake was sturdier than the Hershey’s cake, but it wasn’t dense. You can make three 8″ cakes if you are using 2″ deep pans. The recipe for the buttercream can be found here.

For the animal toppers, I have used a mix of gum paste and fondant. The farm animals are sitting on a 1″ tall cake base. The base itself can be taken out before cutting into the cake. So its a good way to save the toppers. It has a long shelf life and so you can display it in a covered glass cabinet. I looked at YouTube Videos for making the animals and made them a week ahead so that they can dry completely.

Recipe Source: Erin Bakes Cake 

Makes three 8″ cakes in 8″X2″ pans

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks/227 gms), softened
  • 2 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 cups flour

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Grease and line three 8″ pans.
  2. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, beat the butter for a minute or two. Add both the sugars, baking soda and salt. Beat this mixture until its fluffy and creamy. Stop and scrape the sides down in between so that everything mixes uniformly.
  3. Add the eggs (one at a time) beat it in until its mixed well.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the cocoa powder with warm water so that there aren’t any dry lumps. Add the milk and whisk to combine everything.
  5. Stop the mixer and add half of the flour to the butter-egg mixture. Mix it lightly with a rubber spatula. Now beat it in low speed so that flour doesn’t fly everywhere.
  6. Once you stop seeing flour streaks, add half of the milk mixture. Beat it in. Alternate between the flour mix and the milk mix once more.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between three pans. Bake in the middle rack for about 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes free of crumbs. Take out of the oven, let the cake cool in the pan itself for at least 10-15 minutes. Remove from the pan, cover with two rounds of cling wrap and return to the pan until its time for filling and frosting.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#100

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Falood

BM# 100: Week 3, Day 3
Theme : Let’s have a toast!

Falooda was a regular dessert I used to order in India. With its many layers, it always looked like a complicated recipe to me. So for a long time, I didn’t even look up the recipe. I had decided it in my mind that this is too difficult to make it at home.

It took me sometime to realize that every single layer of this dessert is easy to make. But it does require some shopping to be done. As long as you get basil seeds (Sold as Tukmaria seeds or sabja seeds in Indian stores), falooda sev (thin strands specially made for falooda) and rose syrup, you are good to do. If you really think about it, it’s nothing but glorified rose milk. Top it with ice cream or kulfi of your choice, it’s a great dessert or an icy cold drink for summer.

Some recipes add strawberry jello also as another layer. But it’s optional. It adds another stunning color to the dish, though.

Read on for the recipe.

Makes 1

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons soaked basil seeds
  • 2 tablespoons cooked falooda sev
  • 1 tablespoon rose syrup, readymade
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 scoop of malai kulfi or ice cream

Method:

  1. Soak 1 teaspoon Basil seeds in 2-3 tablespoons of water. Set aside for 30 minutes.
  2. Cook falooda sev per package instructions. Let it cool and set aside.
  3. At the time of assembling, add a tablespoon of rose syrup to a glass. Add a spoon or two of the now puffed up basil seeds. Add about 2 tablespoons of sev and then add a glass of milk.
  4. Top it with ice cream or kulfi. Using a spoon, mix and drink.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#100

Strawberry shrikhand

BM# 100: Week 2, Day 3
Theme : 3 
ingredient Dishes

For Day 3, here is another yogurt based recipe. Strawberry Flavored shrikhand. We had been to a friend’s place for dinner recently. They served us a very generous thali, but it was the shrikhand – puri combination that all of us relished a lot. Surprisingly, my husband who is not a fan of anything sweet, loved it as well.

I decided to make it at home as it’s been ages since I prepared it. I have made plain shrikhand and mango shrikhand before, so this time I decided to make strawberry flavored one. I followed Usha’s recipe here and with just three ingredients to make this fantastic dish, it was perfect for this week’s theme. I love how Usha’s pictures have highlighted the pale pink color of shrikhand, not an easy task to accomplish.

Both my husband and son loved this. I would suggest tasting the shrikhand and making some adjustments while preparing it as the sourness of yogurt and sweetness of strawberries vary vastly. So use this recipe as a guide and tweak it to your taste.

Serves : 3

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups hung yogurt /Greek yogurt
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup of strawberry purée

Method:

  1. If using regular yogurt, it needs to be drained well to remove excess water. Layer a clean cotton cloth over a fine mesh strainer. Place the strainer over a large bowl. Pour yogurt into the lined strainer and refrigerate overnight covered with a plate or plastic wrap. An Easier way is to use Greek yogurt.
  2. Purée strawberries to get about a cup of purée. Once the yogurt has drained, add it to a bowl. Add the sugar and the fruit purée in 2-3 batches to the drained yogurt. Mix well using a hand blender or a whisk. Taste test and add more sugar if needed. Refrigerate until the time of serving. If you prefer, you can mix in some chopped strawberries as well. Serve garnished with strawberries or chopped nuts.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#100

Instant Pot Carrot Halwa

BM# 100: Week 2, Day 1
Theme : 3
ingredient Dishes

My attention span is short and my laziness quotient is gigantic. So when I started blogging, I looked at it as my latest craze. I was sure that I would loose my interest soon, so I took as a one year project with complete commitment and the plan was to keep the bragging rights for the rest of my life.

And that was 8 years back! (Everything I have written in that first post of mine holds true to this day, unfortunately. I am still an unpredictable cook!)

I can’t believe that I am blogging even now, but I know for sure that if not for Valli’s Blogging Marathon, I would have quit a long long time back. Group blogging makes me a little more committed. This close knit group means a lot more to me than just motivation to keep blogging. May 2019 is the 100th edition of Blogging marathon and I am so glad to be a part of this group and this particular edition.

Coming to the theme this week, its 3 ingredient dishes. So for Day 1, it’s carrot halwa recipe toned down to its bare bones. This recipe is from the book The Essential Indian Instant Pot cookbook. This would work perfectly well with regular pressure cooker too. I made this for a small get together yesterday. My friends brought some dishes too and the meal was a heavenly one!

So let’s get to the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups grated carrots (about 12 carrots)
  • 1/2 cup low fat milk
  • 1 14oz condensed milk can

Optional:

  • 2 tablespoons ghee or butter
  • a teaspoon of cardamom
  • a handful of raisins

Method:

  1. Grate the carrots to get about 6 cups. I used my mini food processor for this.
  2. Combine the carrots with the milk and ghee(if using) and pressure cook in Manual setting for 8 minutes. Quick release the pressure once done.
  3. Take the lid off and add the condensed milk along with the cardamom and raisins, if using. Change program to Sauté and cook stirring in between until most of the liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes or so.
  4. Serve sprinkled with nuts if preferred.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#100