Christmas Star Cinnamon Bread

As I have mentioned in the previous post – I am in the holiday mood and I absolutely love baking during this time. So mixing my current obsession bread and my long lasting obsession of baking Christmas-y goodies, I have made Christmas Star Cinnamon Bread – which is a cross between cinnamon roll and bread. It looks amazing. The major reason I wanted to make this was because I love the way it looks. It looks complicated but it is extremely easy and takes very little time.

Christmas Star Cinnamon Bread

Bread

Ingredients –

  • 3 1/2 cup flour
  • 40 gms butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup castor sugar
  • 3/4 cup slightly warm milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon instant yeast

Filling –

  • 2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup castor sugar
  • 30 gms butter, softened

Method –

  • Warm 1/4 cup water in a cup, make sure it is not hot. Add a tiny pinch of sugar, and the instant yeast (instant yeast and dry active yeast are different, please check the package). Mix until yeast is dissolved and leave it aside for 10 – 15 minutes till it is foamy.
  • Using a stand mixer with dough hook attachment combine 40 gms butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla. Mix for 1 minute. Add the yeast and then the flour. Mix for 5 – 7 minutes till the dough is elastic and check the gluten development by doing the window pane test.
  • If you are kneading by hand, then mix in the same format but knead with your hand for 10 – 15 minutes.
  • Window pane test – take a small piece of dough and stretch it. It should stretch without tearing, forming a thin layer and if you see it against the light it should feel like you are looking through a fogged glass.
  • After the test, rest the dough in a bowl for 1 hour or until double in size covered with plastic wrap.
  • In a small bowl mix the cinnamon and sugar, and keep it aside.
  • After an hour, shape the dough again, weigh and divide it in to four portions.
  • Take the 1st portion, roll the dough until its thin and place it in a greased cookie sheet.
  • Brush soft butter on it and generously sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on top.
  • Roll the 2nd portion of the dough, and place it on top on the 1st. Repeat the butter and cinnamon sugar. Continue layering by rolling the 3rd and repeat butter and cinnamon sugar. Roll the 4th and place it on top.
  • Taking a plate or a big bowl, lightly place the round side on it, to indent a large round, so you can cut the excess dough and make a proper circle with a knife.
  • Taking a 1 – 2 inch cookie cutter, make a slight indent in the center but make sure you do it lightly.
  • With a knife cut equal 16 portions, starting from the outside of the indent line till the outer end, leaving the 2 inch round center as it is. Take two portions and twist them outward individually, joining them at the end.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 C. Bake for 20 minutes.
  • Melt the remaining butter of the filling and as soon as the bread is baked, brush the top lightly with butter.
  • Serve warm.

 

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Cappuccino Snickerdoodle

Its Christmas time! My obsession of baking delicious winter-y goods is on an all time high. This is my time to experiment and try all the new dishes that I have in mind. I made these cookies in October for Halloween, but I had made a huge batch and right now its frozen in my freezer. So I am ready with these delicious treats whenever I want them.

I know the last recipe was also coffee related, but I am not sorry – I love coffee and as I said before coffee in desserts is just perfect.

According to me Cappuccino Snickerdoodle is the best version of Snickerdoodle. Snickerdoodle is basically – Cinnamon cookies. As you all know cinnamon and coffee compliment each other very well. So this mingle was bound to create great flavors.

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Cappuccino Snickerdoodle

Ingredients –

  • 200 gms butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup instant coffee powder
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Method –

  • Preheat the oven to 175 C.
  • Sift flour, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a bowl.
  • In a small bowl mix 3 tablespoon of castor sugar and 3/4 tablespoon of cinnamon and keep aside.
  • Using the paddle attachment of the stand mixer / hand mixer, cream butter and the remaining castor sugar, and brown sugar till light and fluffy, for about 4 -5 minutes on medium speed.
  • Add eggs, vanilla, and instant coffee powder in the butter – sugar mixture. Mix for 1 – 2 minutes until combined.
  • Add the flour mixture. Add the vinegar. Mix until everything is combined.
  • Scoop the batter with a tablespoon on your hands and roll it into a ball. Coat them in the cinnamon sugar prepared before. Place them on a cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Bake them for 12 – 15 minutes or until brown.

Tips –

  • Make ahead  – You can wrap the batter in a plastic wrap and store it in the freezer. When needed, remove it from the freezer. Let it thaw till its soft, and continue with scooping, rolling and coating.
  • You can substitute the brown sugar with castor sugar. Though I feel the brown sugar brings in a subtle nutty flavor.

 

Why Do I Blog?

A blog (a truncation of the expression weblog)[1] is a discussion or informational site published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete entries (“posts”) typically displayed in reverse chronological order (the most recent post appears first).

– – Definition from Wikipedia.

I just received an email saying domain registration fees will be charged on my card soon. Which made me realize that in about 3 months time, my 3rd year of blogging will be complete. And it makes me wonder should I renew my membership? Why am I thinking that, is blogging a task? Does it not make me happy? The three years were so bad?

Definitely not! Initially when I started blogging, I was highly inspired by the movie Julie and Julia. I thought I would do something like what Julie did. I even wrote a few posts regarding that idea. But soon I joined the circle of restaurant reviewers and meets. Discussing food and writing about restaurants. I was getting invited to new restaurant openings, I was meeting new people. The restaurants I went to, would give us goodie bags in the end. Treat us like celebrities. I felt special. Caveat to all this treatment was to write a blog. And most of the time I didn’t want to. But I did. Though it wasn’t my best work. If you look at a blog you love, you will notice one thing and that is he/she is writing something that she loves to do.

The term blogger is very loosely used by everyone today. As there is too much confusion between microbloggers and bloggers. The game of likes and followers have led to people to an all time low. Where the last I heard,  people were having fights over copied hashtags. Meanwhile PR people are on a different level with people related who write/post about food. This post is not a rant or putting anyone down. It is just my views on the world that blogging has become.

Initially when I started, senior bloggers/journalists did not like the new set of bloggers. That is understandable. That cycle works in every industry. What is sad is that, after three years in the blogging world. Right now if you ask anyone/everyone – they do not like food bloggers at all. So the hatred that was only contained within this industry has spread to most part of the world. Ever wonder why is that?

The thing which started for the love of food, the thrill of writing and the ambition to learn something new with every new post, is all about how many views, how many followers and how many likes you have. Content is thrown out of the window. Knowledge about food or certain topic is basically pointless. Blogging is not about how many views, likes, comments or people are following you. Those stats are for the PR people to profit their pockets. A lure of a certain five star meal is leading us to do things, which are not appropriate. I am not pointing fingers, I did the same things. In fact if you look at my last ten posts you will see a brunch review. When I look back, I was too bored to write about it. I kept wondering that writing a post should be exciting and talking about something new you tried/cooked/experienced. When did it become a task for me, that too an annoying one.

It needed to stop. Because a blog is about you, what opinions you have, what you think about food that made you write at the first place. It is your food journal that you share with the world. Everyone who has a blog, is surely passionate about food. No one would go to such lengths for free food. But then again people surprise me all the time. Back to the point – my point is write what you want to write, not what certain people want you to write. Every meal doesn’t need to be sponsored. Every post doesn’t need to be about how this buffet at a five star is amazing. You can also write about the wonderful food your mom cooks, probably that was the reason you started enjoying food at the first place.

I am not here to give gyaan. My basic point is – probably I am telling this to myself more than to you is that – write something that you will enjoy writing and when you look back at your blog after 10 years, you shouldn’t be like what the hell was I thinking.

Blogging is a fantastic platform, don’t waste it on what the PR team wants you to write. Even if we are abused or demonized. Lets be honest, blogging has lead to us to have some fantastic experiences, wonderful friends and a growth which was essential. It is in some weird way a very fun community to be a part of. Let us not lower our selves for weird virtual-istic approval of followers and likes. Let the essence of blogging remain pure. I always think working with clear and honest intentions will pass the test of time, and progress will follow.

 

 

 

 

 

Espresso Cupcakes

Coffee and desserts have a long loving relationship. Who doesn’t love coffee in their desserts. Rather who doesn’t love coffee! I love coffee. And I love it more in my desserts. It gives the dish a perfect bitter note, with a hint of its wonderful aroma. We all have added coffee to our chocolate cake and the obvious tiramisu. But making coffee the hero flavor in a cake is something totally different. Also if you are craving for a caffeine kick and sugar rush at the same time, this is the path to follow.

A few suggestions –

Please use good quality coffee for perfect results.

This batch can also make a two layer 6 inch cake.

Espresso Cupcakes

Makes about 10 cupcakes.

Ingredients –

Cupcake –

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 45 grams butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon coffee

Buttercream –

  • 2 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 85 grams butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon coffee

Method –

  • Brew the coffee with milk for the batter and icing. Strain and let it come to room temperature.
  • Preheat oven to 170 C.
  • Sift the flour and baking powder.
  • In a stand mixer/hand mixer cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Strain 1/2 cup coffee and add to the mixture.  Mix until combined.
  • Add the flour and mix. Do not over mix the batter.
  • Line the cupcake pan with liners. Fill the liners 2/3 with the batter. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  • For the buttercream – In a stand mixer/hand mixer cream the sugar and butter for about 2 minutes.
  • Strain the 1/3 cup of the brewed coffee in a small bowl.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of the coffee at a time to the sugar mixture. Keep mixing after every addition. Whip until the mixture is soft but can hold stiff peaks. This should take around 5 to 7 minutes.
  • If the mixture is too soft add more sugar. If it is too stiff add more coffee.
  • Let the cupcakes cool completely before piping the buttercream.

 

Humble Apple Pie Recipe

The rains have arrived. So hence our frying pans are out and the fragrance of fresh bhajyas is wafting through our houses. We all have eaten all the yummy fritters that go with our hot masala chai. How about we do something different and go with a warm goey delicious slice of an Apple Pie. I love hot desserts in this weather. Just imagine yourself with a cup of hot tea and a slice of an apple pie, sitting by your window, watching the beautiful rain pouring down. So romantic!

Want that moment – go make this pie now!

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Apple Pie

Ingredients –

Pastry –

  • 2 cups flour
  • 150 grams salted butter, cold
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoon cold water

Filling –

  • 5 Apples, peeled and chopped into chunks
  • 3/4 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/3 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Directions –

  • Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Add pieces of cold butter. Rub the butter and flour with your hands or pastry cutter. Do not over mix, as we do not want to melt the butter.
  • Add one tablespoon of water at a time and mix till the dough forms a ball. Wrap and refrigerate for 40 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven 200 C
  • Grease a 8 inch pie pan. Remove the pastry dough from the fridge. Divide it in half.
  • Roll the dough in a 9 inch circle. Place it on the pie pan and lightly press on the edges.
  • In a large bowl, mix sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and flour. Add the apples and coat it with the mixture. Transfer the apple mixture in to the pie pan. Take smaller chunks of the butter and lay it randomly on top.
  • Roll the remaining half of the dough and cover the pie. Press the edges. Score the top lightly.
  • Bake on 200 C for 15 minutes. Then 190 C for 40 minutes or till the top is golden brown and the apples are soft inside. If top tends to burn, cover with foil.
  • Let the pie cool down for at least 1 hour before serving.

Sunday Brunch at JW Sahar, Mumbai

I was invited by JW Sahar, Mumbai, for the celebration of their 1st anniversary Sunday Brunch. As sunday brunches are to be enjoyed with friends and family. We organized a small bloggers table as the #FTBBloggersMeet FTB being Fat Toxic Bawarchi, our as in me, Mohit Chotrani and Roshan Shetty‘s Youtube venture. JW Sahar’s buffet are known to be lavish. I think they are one of those very few 5-stars which have Sushi on their buffet. Obviously I was excited. I thought it is the anniversary brunch so the expectations were high. Were the expectations met? Definitely.

As soon you enter the Cafe, first thing you see is that there are three tables filled with intricately crafted artisan desserts. Well lets just say they had me at the entry. The dessert spread is huge, but the exciting part is the innovative desserts. You will see different theme desserts on each table. One theme was based on circus, bright color chocolates, cupcakes and a huge 3 tier cake. Another one was travel theme. Where a chocolate plane is plain amazing. Third one chocolates in the shape of lips, lipsticks and gold bars. Oh wait, there was a fourth! A modern electronics theme like tablets, computers shaped desserts. As you are mesmerized by the desserts and you literally drag yourself towards your table. You move ahead and on your left you find a big tub of Alaskan Crab. And you know you are going to stuff your face with it. Somehow I moved to my table while eyeing a brushetta counter with the different toppings and breads.

After all the hi and hellos, I got to work. Now I obviously couldn’t eat everything there, cause apart from desserts, 2 seafood counters, there was a Japanese sushi and soup counter, a whole section of Italian, Thai, Mexican, Indian, add a bit of British touch with pot pies, a whole roasted chicken and pork belly. Probably a few more other things that I missed. Oh! Waffle counter and Ice cream counter. And obviously a cocktail counter. Lets just say there is something for everyone.

I am going to keep this post short and sweet, and tell you exactly what I loved. Alaskan Crab. One thing you have to eat is the Alaskan Crab. The crab was extremely tasty. Soft and silky with the melt in your mouth feel. Next was sushi. Do I need to write more after Sushi. I think not. Coming to the Pot Pie, I kind of liked the pot pie in a weird way. As you break the crust on top. You realize it is hollow from inside. The filling was very little. On the first bite. It may seem okay. But as you keep eating it, which weirdly I did. You kind of start liking it. The flavors are subtle. Though the ramekin is big and filling less. But seemed apt for a buffet.

Next we head to quail eggs. Tasted quail eggs for the first time and I must say I liked them. Different yet same than regular eggs. These tiny half fried eggs were a tasty treat. My friend aka blogger Jagurti Punjabi got this amazing tiny fish delicacy from the Thai counter. Which was so good! I have no idea what exactly it was. But it was fish in a cupcake wrapper type leaf and cooked with the same leaf. Topped with a delicious sauce.

Now comes the dessert. I feel the chocolates were the best part of the buffet. Most of them were truffles made with dark chocolate. So a bite of those heavenly chocolate with the perfect dark chocolate ganache inside is a pure treat. I liked the berry dessert and a bit of drama that was added to it. The cheesecake and berry cake were splendid.

Why would I recommend this buffet. Well firstly it has a huge spread and upon asking the manager said, that the spread is like this every Sunday, just the theme keeps changing. Secondly, the food is amazing. It is not just the variety but you have to see the type of variety that is offered. Seafood like crab, prawns, fish, mussels. Chicken, pork, and a good variety of vegetarian options also. Food is everywhere here. And you can eat as much as you want. I am already planning for my next brunch there, I advise you do the same.

Homemade Vanilla Marshmallows

Marshmallows. These little pieces of sweetness are so versatile. Drop a couple of them in your hot chocolate, flavor is enhanced. Layer graham crackers, chocolate chips and marshmallows in a pan, pop them in the oven for a bit. You have S’mores ready. Melt the marshmallows in the microwave, you have Marshmallow fluff ready. And obviously eat them just as they are and this fluffy snow pieces are just plain delicious.

So what if I say we can make marshmallows at home. Yes possible. Yes very easy. No not many ingredients. Yes you have to plan ahead. Scroll down, see the recipe and please read the pointers (very important)

Marshmallows

IMG_20160401_224733

Ingredients –

  • 4 3/4 teaspoon gelatin powder
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • tiny pinch of salt

SC Mix (sugar cornstarch mix) –

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch/cornflour

Method –

  • In a small bowl, mix gelatin and half of of the cold water. Keep it aside for the gelatin to bloom, for about 5 minutes.
  • Grease a 8 inch round/square pan, line it with plastic wrap. Lightly grease the wrap.
  • Mix icing sugar and cornstarch in a bowl. This will be called the SC mix. Dust some of it on the pan.
  • Heat the gelatin mixture in a microwave for about 30 seconds or more. Till the gelatin is melted and the mixture is hot but not boiling, so that the gelatin can activate.
  • In a stand mixer, add the warm gelatin and half of the corn syrup. Start mixing on a low speed.
  • In a saucepan, take the remaining half of the water and corn syrup, add caster sugar and tiny pinch of salt. On medium high heat let all the sugar melt. If you have a candy thermometer, bring the temperature to 120 Celsius. If you don’t have the candy thermometer bring it to a good rolling boil, the mixture should be thick and clear.
  • When the mixture reaches 120 C. Slowly and carefully pour the sugar mixture into the gelatin mixture, while the mixer is still on. Increase the speed to medium and mix it for 5 minutes.
  • Add vanilla extract.
  • Turn the speed up to high, mix for 10 – 15 minutes. Until stiff peaks like meringue are formed.
  • Pour the mixture on to the pan. Level the mixture  on top with a spatula. Dust a good amount of SC mix on top. Leave it out in room temperature for 24 hours.
  • On a tray/plate dust the SC mix. Flip the marshmallow out and dust more SC mix on top.
  • Take a knife and cut pieces. You can also just rub SC mix on the knife to avoid sticking.
  • Take the individual pieces and coat with SC mix and store in an airtight container. Overtime due to humidity the marshmallows may become sticky. Coat them in SC mix before serving.

Pointers –

  • Whipping the mixture will take any where around 15 – 20 minutes. If you have a stand mixer your workload is lessened quite a bit. If you have a hand mixer then you need someone to either pour the sugar mixture while you mix or vice versa. But continue whipping till almost stiff peaks.
  • You have to use gelatin. Some of you may have dietary concerns regarding gelatin but substituting it may and may not give the same results.
  • Sugar at 120 C will be at the soft ball stage. Which when you drop a drop of mixture in to cold water and remove it, it will turn into a soft ball.
  • The SC mixture is very important and cannot be edited.
  • Let the marshmallows rest at least for 24 hours before serving. Do not keep it in the refrigerator. You have to set it at room temperature.

Do comment below if you liked/tried/query about the recipe.