Gingerbread Scones

Okay too many things are happening. Firstly, as usual I have been MIA since a couple of months. If you are curious and you want to know what I was up to – well I can’t believe I am saying this because I have my own Kitchen! I have a professional kitchen all to myself… well almost all to myself. Me and my very talented partner decided to take the plunge and start The Omakase Kitchen, which is a Japanese and Korean delivery and take away joint. So its been three months, it’s been mad, it’s been hectic but I am enjoying every minute of it. Secondly, it’s that time of the year where I go crazy. Christmas is coming! And as you guys know that it is my favorite time of the year. Thirdly it is my blog’s anniversary. Yes I just completed four years of blogging. Happy Blog Birthday to me!

Coming back to the recipe – every year I do my take on the ever popular and delicious Gingerbread. This year, I have made Gingerbread Scones. This British delicacy is perfect as your tea time snack. 

Gingerbread Scones

Makes about 10 scones

Ingredients – 

  • 225 grams All Purpose Flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 25 grams Brown Sugar
  • 2 tablespoon ginger powder
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1 teaspoon mix spice 
  • 37 grams softened butter
  • 112 grams milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions – 

  • Preheat oven to 220 C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper or silicone mat.
  • In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, ginger powder, cinnamon, mix spice and sugar.
  • Add the butter and whisk till sandy consistency. 
  • In a small bowl, whisk the egg, vanilla and milk. 
  • Leaving 1 tablespoon of the milk and egg mixture to glaze the scones later. Pour the wet mix into the dry mix in two additions. 
  • Mix until combined. The dough should be sticky and a little wet. 
  • Dust flour on a table, take the dough and flatten it with your hand till about 1/2 cm in height. Taking a 1 inch round cookie cutter, cut circles and put them on the baking tray. Repeat the process by reusing the scraps.
  • Using a pastry brush glaze the scones with egg and milk mixture.
  • Bake for 10 – 15 minutes or till golden brown at 220 C. Let them cool completely before serving. 

Notes – 

  • You can add or delete the amount of spices according to your liking. I prefer the flavor of spices on the heavier side in my dishes. So I have modified it accordingly. 
  • You can also modify the size of the scones according to your liking. 
Advertisements

Tempering Chocolate – The Easy Way

Chocolate is one of the best things in the world. I don’t know anyone who hates chocolate or simply dislikes it. People love different types of chocolate or chocolate in different forms. Chocolate gives us happiness, gives us satisfaction, gives us a happy high. I can keep raving about chocolate but what I really want to tell today – that is on the World Chocolate Day that chocolate is something that helps us through thick and thin like literally when you are upset you eat chocolate, when you are happy you eat chocolate. At least that is with me because I am an emotional eater. Leaving my disorders aside and coming back to chocolate. Chocolate is great to eat but complicated to work with. It is such a versatile ingredient but Chocolate in its pure form is very moody. Or rather it easily gets affected by things like temperature, humidity, water and more. So even if this is a widely written topic, I would like to share my experience on it, because I will be writing on how to temper chocolate in hot and humid weather and most importantly at HOME.

Storage: Firstly depending on what part of India you are in, it is going be hot and worse it is going to be humid. Mumbai is both – hot and humid. So if you want to work with chocolate at home, it is a bit challenging. I will stress on the fact that you will need an air conditioner. You do, there is no option. Mainly because when you see international websites and videos, they mention “keep chocolate at room temperature” their room temperature is 22 C and our room temperature is 30 C. So hence the complication begins. But I would strongly advise not to keep the chocolate in the refrigerator. NO. The reason simply being temperature change especially massive temperature change is not good for chocolate. And condensation after removing the chocolate from the fridge is going to make things worse. My suggestion: After opening the packet of the chocolate, wrap it with plastic wrap and store it in a cool place at (our) room temperature.

Types of Chocolate: There are two types of Chocolate – Couverture and Compound. Couverture is high quality chocolate which contains cocoa butter as its fat content. This is the chocolate to use if making chocolates, truffles or rather anything. I absolutely recommend couverture because of the quality, taste and finish. The result tempered couverture chocolate gives is this shiny chocolate with the perfect crack in it. Compound is a cheaper quality of chocolate, the fat used in the chocolate is vegetable oil and not cocoa butter. It is definitely easier to work with. But lacks the quality, taste and finish. If you are buying your chocolate for a cheap price it is probably because it is compound. I really want to stress on the fact that if you are making chocolates or using chocolate for baked goods, please buy good quality chocolate. You will realize the difference in taste, texture and quality once you start using a good quality chocolate. The brand I prefer and probably the best pastry chefs in the world swear by and which is available in India is Callebaut. I will say that the price is probably a little on the higher side but if like me and many others you prefer quality over quantity then you know Callebaut is the right choice. Always check the ingredients list on back of the packet to see what type of chocolate you are buying. If the fat content says cocoa butter it is couverture and if it says vegetable oil or any other type of fat it is compound.

Tempering:  If you see Wikipedia on tempering chocolate, ” Chocolate tempering, a method of increasing the shine and durability of chocolate couverture” Tempering chocolate is one of the vitally important things to do if you are making chocolates, truffles, bonbon, chocolate decorations or more. It is also one of the complicated techniques to do. Chocolate when made, it is made in the ideal temperature. Every type of molecule is perfectly aligned and chocolate is in its perfect form. But then comes the transporting, the storing, the buying and the getting it home part. All these changes, changes the look of the chocolate. So to get back the perfect form we need to temper it. Tempering is melting the fat crystals in the chocolate, and then rearranging it back by adding stabilized fat crystals into it. Hence stabilizing it altogether, which gets us the chocolate back in its perfect form.

Basic idea is – melt your chocolate hence melting the fat crystals, lower the temperature, add stabilized fat crystals and set it – and it is done. Now there are various ways to do it – machine, seeding, tabling, adding cocoa butter and probably more. Machine does the traditional way of melting the chocolate max at 45 C, lowering the temperature till 22 C and then increasing it till 31 C by doing so it forms the stabilized fat crystals. Machine is obviously not the choice here, nor is  seeding and tabling. Seeding and tabling is when you melt chocolate and then add already tempered chocolate which can either be from your packet or if you have a tempered chocolate because it will contain the stabilized fat crystals which will stabilize the remaining one. But as I mentioned before because of the different temperature changes that chocolate goes through from various stages from packaging and buying, even though its tempered it doesn’t remain the same. Especially in India where temperature varies from region to region. So the fool proof method of tempering is adding cocoa butter.

I use Callebaut Mycyro Butter. It is simple, it is easy and it WORKS!

Adding Cocoa Butter: Melt your chocolate by not exceeding more than 45 C for dark and 42 C for milk and white. I use the microwave by giving it 10 seconds bursts. After every ten seconds I keep giving it a good stir. Please don’t go beyond 45 C or else you will burn your chocolate. After your chocolate is melted, go to your room where air conditioner is switched on at 21 C. Keep slowly stirring the chocolate till it reaches 31 C. Do not over stir or you will crystallize the chocolate. Once the chocolate hits 31 C. Add 1% of cocoa butter of your total chocolate weight. For example if you are melting 1 kg of chocolate use 10 grams of Mycryo. Stir till it melts and is incorporated.

Do the test: Take a parchment paper or back of a spoon and dip it in the chocolate. If it sets in 5 minutes with a sheen on it. You have done it! The chocolate is tempered. Now use the chocolate as desired.

Remember always set your chocolates in an air conditioned room between 21 – 22 C. Do not set it in the refrigerator as it when stored in (our) room temperature it will soften and form condensation. When set in an air conditioned room it will stay normal when stored in (our) room temperature.

If you want to see a video tutorial: http://www.callebaut.com/en-US/chocolate-video/technique/tempering

If it works for you, then join the club. If not, don’t loose hope. Keep trying, till you get it right. I have tried all the techniques numerous times till I finally found the right one. I suggest you do the same.

Peaches & Plums Tart

I love fruits. I can literally stuff my face with fruits all day. I like to call them desserts from heaven. Taking these small tokens of deliciousness and using them to make different types of desserts is so satisfying. I love to work with seasonal fruits. Monsoon brings the arrival of Peaches, Plums, Cherries and more. So using Peaches and Plums I have made an extremely simple rustic yet soul satisfying dessert – Peaches and Plums Tart. This style of making a tart is rustic and easy. We wont be making it in a tart shell but rather with puff pastry.

Puff pastry which was this difficult thing to procure in Mumbai, is now readily available in all supermarkets at a decent cost. I always keep a pack in my freezer. If used and stored right this can last you a while. I would suggest buying a packet and keeping it in the freezer because this helps you churn out crowd pleasers in a matter of minutes. You just need a good savory or sweet filling and you are sorted.

You can also make puff pastry and store it in the freezer. The process though long and tedious is not the issue, but the issue is the weather. If you are in a hot and humid city like Mumbai. You need to make in a room with AC. Or else it will be very difficult to attain the desired results. Coming back to the tart: the best thing about this tart is that it needs no measurements, it is almost like cooking, you taste the filling, you add more ingredients accordingly. I have given an approximation of the quantity of ingredients but you can use less or more as desired.

Peaches & Plums Tart

Ingredients:

  • 3 Peaches
  • 3 – 4 Plums
  • 2 – 4 Tablespoon Honey
  • 1 egg, for egg wash
  • Puff Pastry, thawed

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180 C.
  • Cut the peaches and plums in to thin slices. Drizzle honey on it and mix. Start with one tablespoon of honey and keep checking for sweetness. Stop when you reach the desired sweetness.
  • Cut a portion of thawed puff pastry and roll it into 4 inches by 10/12 inches thin rectangle.
  • Poke holes using a fork into the pastry sheet. Then using a pastry brush, brush the egg on to the sheet.
  • Imagine a 1.5 cm border around the sheet. Leaving that much space, start placing the fruits one by one. If you have juices from the fruit left in the bowl do not throw it away.
  • Close the border onto fruits and brush the border with egg.
  • Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or till risen and brown.
  • After the tart is done, taking a brush, brush the leftover juices on the fruit.
  • Serve warm.

Notes:

  • If you are using puff pastry for the first time, I would like to point out that puff pastry is not like a pie or cookie dough where you can re-roll and use the trimmings because it is made in such a way that it forms layers of dough and butter. Re-rolling will damage the layers thus making it not rise. So cut only a portion because you will be rolling it thin. The portion you will cut will double/triple up when rolled so cut accordingly.
  • Store the remaining puff pastry wrapped in plastic wrap in the freezer. And whenever need be, you can remove, let it thaw and then use it.
  • I have used Peaches and Plum, you can use any other fruit you want. The concept is to keep it simple, rustic and tasty.
  • You can use sugar instead of honey.

Gingerbread Doughnuts

Recently I was one of the few chefs who was talked about it in the article by Mid-day regarding baking Christmas goodies. They wanted something revolving around Gingerbread and hence I told them about Gingerbread Doughnuts. While we were talking about Gingerbread, a very good question was asked and that was – What makes the dish – Gingerbread. I realized the concept was very simple – to anything if you add ginger powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and all spice. Replace the castor sugar with brown sugar to add in a little bit of nutty flavor. And oh! you have a gingerbread dessert. It is pretty simple. Honey or molasses is also added to enhance the flavor.

I absolutely love anything Gingerbread, cause I love spiced up dishes. Gingerbread somehow brings out a different taste altogether. This year, I thought lets change things a bit and not bake the regular cookies that I make and go for Gingerbread Doughnuts. They are very easy and takes a little bit of time, as I am doing yeast – leavened doughnuts. But other than that they are a perfect treat for this festive season.

img_20161203_131755

Gingerbread Doughnuts

Makes at least 2 dozen of regular size doughnuts

Ingredients –

  • 2.5 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/3 cup castor sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/3 teaspoon all spice powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups flour
  • 55 grams butter, room temperature
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Oil, for frying

Coating –

  • 1/2 cup castor sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon

Method –

  • In a stand mixer bowl – take the warm water, add 1 tablespoon of sugar and the yeast and mix until the yeast is dissolved. Keep it aside for 5 – 7 minutes.
  • Meanwhile in a bowl mix – flour, both the sugars, baking powder, salt, ginger powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and all spice.
  • When the yeast is active, it will become foamy, add the yolks, butter, and vanilla. Mix with the paddle attachment for 1 minute.
  • Keeping the speed on low, keep adding the flour with a big spoon. After adding half of the flour, shift to hook/dough attachment and add the remaining flour. Mix for 3 – 5 minutes on medium high.
  • Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 1 hour or until it doubles in size.
  • After 1 hour, knead the dough and roll it to an 1/2 inch thick height.
  • If you want small bite size pieces, cut them with 1 inch round cookie cutter. If you want the original doughnut shape – cut it with one 3 inch cookie cutter and then 1 inch cookie cutter to cut the centers. If you have a doughnut cutter, then you know what to do.
  • You can re – roll the remaining dough and cut them.
  • Let the doughnuts rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • In a frying pan, heat the oil till its 180 C. Fry the doughnuts for 30 – 45 seconds on each side or until brown.
  • After removing, let them sit for 2 minutes on tissue papers and then coat them in cinnamon sugar.
  • Serve warm.

Notes –

  • You can add / delete the amount of spices in the dough according to your taste.
  • If you don’t like too much cinnamon in your dessert avoid the coating of cinnamon sugar and just coat them in plain sugar.

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.

 

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.

img_20161125_124415

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.

 

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!

IMG_20160624_135423

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.