Monday, May 28, 2012

Barbie Doll Cake

Aditi, my friend, Priyanka's little Princess was celebrating her 6th birthday. She requested a Barbie Doll Cake. I had to fulfill that request because it is every little girl's dream to have a Barbie cake once.
I had so much fun baking and making this cake, but it required soooooo much work! I was exhausted by the time I finished this cake.
I started out with two 8" chocolate cakes and I baked one dome shaped cake in a pyrex bowl. I realized that Ms. Barbie was way taller than the three cakes stacked up. So, I had to bake one more cake. I stacked three 8" cakes and topped them with the dome cake. Cut a hole in the center aligning all the cakes and frosted them with Vanilla Cream Cheese frosting. I then piped tiny rosettes on all over the dress. Ms. Barbie was wrapped in saran wrap and slid down the hole.
She turned extremely gorgeous and elegant! She surely had a lot of heads turning.



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Monday, April 30, 2012

Matki Cake

My friend, Sunita, is an enthusiastic baker with an amazing sense of humor. Her daughter, Snehal loves Lord Krishna. For her eighth birthday, Snehal or Chikki as she is fondly called asked for a Krishna Cake!

Sunita, like me, does not like to use fondant or any other unhealthy ingredients in the cake. So, though she received a lot of suggestions from friends to use fondant, edible paper, symbolic things, etc. she tossed all of them. Fondant because it is healthy and it tastes bad, edible paper because then again we would cut the Lord's image and eat it. Moreover, she was going to bake the cake with eggs so she did not want the Lord to rest on it. Personally, even I am against photo image cakes because it would be really disturbing to cut my child's image and eat it. I wouldn't mind a sports team or toy logo or a princess picture... but never something that I love and value!

Well, coming back to the cake. Sunita did not want to make a cake of symbolic things like a peacock feather or flute because it requires lot of precision and perfection. She did not want to bake
"something" that looks like a peacock feather or flute.
She wracked her mind for a few days when suddenly she had her aha moment! She decided to bake a Matki Cake which is definitely symbolic and as far as the shape was taken care of the rest would be manageable.

She baked two 8" cakes for the body of the matki, one cake in her pyrex bowl for  the lower dome and a small cake for the top of the matki.
She assembled the cake with the whipped cream frosting sandwiched between the layers. The cake was frosted with whipped cream frosting also. She beat some frosting slightly more to give it the home made butter look that Lord Krishna loves and topped the cake with that.

Sunita's hubby found an image of Krishna on line which he laminated and glued on a skewer. The skewer was inserted in the cake which made it look the cutest cake in the world - Lord Krishna offering home made makkhan from the pot! Using this technique,  though Lord Krishna's image was used, it was neither touching the cake nor was it cut. The problem was solved!

It was a very sweet result of Sunita's hard work and effort that only a Mom can put in for a child.




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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Monster Truck Cake

My nephew, Punit, turns three today. I still remember the day he was born. I naturally felt him to be an extension of myself. Everyone was overjoyed and excited. My Dad even got a little teary eyed.

This year for his birthday, I decided to do something more than what we do every year. I baked a cake for him and because he loves cars and trucks I decided to make him a Monster Truck Cake. I tried to create a the scene using what I has at home. I wanted to see the joy on Punit's face so I FaceTimed with my brother. Punit's eyes lit up on seeing the cake. I think this was the best use of technology. He blew from India and Ishaan blew the candle here. He thought he actually blew the candle. We sang the birthday song for him and he sang along with us. He even opened his mouth to eat the cake. It was all so cute. Like Shiv says, 'With FaceTime we are together, but not together.'

Getting back to the cake...I first started with two 8" eggless Chocolate cakes. Sandwiched chocolate ganache, whipped cream and strawberries (my family loves this combo) between the two cakes and frosted the whole sandwich with chocolate ganache. I then piped some grass and borders with green and yellow frosting.

The next day I ran graham crackers in a food processor and spread the crumbs on the top to create the arena.

I gave my boys' monster trucks and cars a good wash. I used graham crackers to form the ramp and path on which the cars sat so though the cars were washed, they were not touching the cake.

The cake came out very cute! Punit was extremely overjoyed on seeing the cake.


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Friday, April 6, 2012

Farm Cake

Remember the Puppy Cake I baked for my friend's daughter, Gauri? That was a surprise for her on her actual birthday. Her party was today at Monkey Joe's. Now because Gauri loves animals, I baked her a Farm Cake.

I baked two 8" eggless chocolate cakes. I spread some chocolate ganache, whipped cream and sliced strawberries on the first layer. Placed the second layer on top and covered the whole cake with chocolate ganache.

I let the flavors marry overnight. The next day I colored some buttercream frosting with green color and frosted the top of the cake using grass tip to cover the top with grass.




I then piped tiny yellow flowers on the grass.


I piped the fence around the cake with whipped cream.


Placed the animals on the top.

I printed out a barn image on regular paper and glued it on construction paper. I attached a toothpick on the picture with some tape and wrote the message on the picture.

Everyone at the party loved the cake. It was extremely moist and delicious!




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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Puppy Cake

Today is my friend, Anchal's daughter's birthday. The little Princess, Gauri, turns six today. Though I use the term Princess over here she is so not into Princesses and Fairies. She is TOTALLY into animals....Animals of all shapes, sizes, habitats. Her favorite of all is Puppy. I see her melt every time she pets a stranger's dog at the park.

I have known Gauri since she was 18 months new. She has grown sweeter every year. I have seen her blossom into this cute little girl who loves to have meaningful conversations with me. Her little eyes light up when she tells me a story from the park or something simple like her little brother wants to come over to my house to play.

Gauri loves to play with my boys! She has fun playing rough. She loves the outdoors and I often hear her giggling playing tag or skating with my boys.

For her birthday, she specifically wanted an animal cake. I gave her all sorts of choices with Princesses and Fairies, but she was clear. In her sweet little voice she said, "Aunty, I like princesses, but I love animals. Can I have an animal cake?"

There I was trying to bake a cute animal cake without the use of fondant or gum paste. I know she has a soft corner for puppies. So ... a Puppy Cake it was for Miss Gauri Mishra!

Gauri.. this one is for you! On your Sixth birthday we pray to God that He showers all his loveliest blessings on you! May you succeed in all the fields of life and make your Parents proud.

For the Puppy Cake you will need:
1. Two 8" cakes
2. Frosting of your choice. I used Chocolate butter cream with cream cheese frosting
3. M n M's for the eyes and mouth
4. Twizzlers for the collar and tongue.

 I started with two 8" eggless chocolate cakes.

Take the first cake and cut it in half like so

Using some frosting, glue the pieces together to form a semi circle.


Now take the second cake and cut it in half. Cut one half into quarters.



Align the curves of the quarters with the semi circle formed with the first cake. Glue them to the semi circle with some frosting. These become the hind legs of the puppy.

Carve a semi circle from the other half. I used a small bowl as a guide. (Please ignore the blurry picture.)


Cut the remaining rainbow into four equal parts. These become the snout, tail and ears of the puppy and the semi circle becomes the face.
Attach the pieces with some frosting


There... Gauri's little friend is beginning to take shape. I could see the puppy, but my boys thought it was an elephant cake first.
I tried to pipe some fur using the grass tip. It looked really cute and I was on a roll when suddenly I realized that the puppy started shedding its fur on the sides. I was disappointed. Why does this happen to me always? Also, the buttercream frosting was melting because of my body heat so that made matters worse.
I finally decided to slather the frosting on the puppy and give it some spikes.

I used brown m n m's for the eyes and mouth and twizzler for the collar and tongue.







Overall, the cake turned out very cute! Gauri and all her friends loved it!

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Colorful Cake

On the occasion of Holi, I thought of baking something fun and colorful. I wanted to bake a rainbow cake, but since I don't like using artificial colors, I thought of doing something lighter. Also, I have read that food color changes the taste of the food. Since this was the first time I using food color, I just used a few drops to give it a hint of color.
This is something I wanted to try so I did. Now, it's behind me.
I used a basic vanilla cake recipe and divided it into four bowls. Added a few drops of Wilton's gel color and gave it a gentle stir making sure that  I do not over beat the batter. Since I have only two 8" cake pans, I baked two at a time. Each batch was baked about 9 minutes. By the time I was done baking and preparing dinner, I was ready to call it a day.  I asked my boys if they would eat the cake without the icing.... and my spoiled brats refused! They were willing to wait a day or two till I ice the cake.
So, I wrapped each layer in plastic wrap and froze it until I was ready.
When I was finally in a better cooking mood, I prepared vanilla cream cheese icing and I was ready to finish this cake.
I just let the layers thaw for a few minutes and spread thinned out Strawberry jelly and the icing between the layers and the outside also. I was too lazy to do a crumb coat and a final coat so I just let the crumbs show.






Happy Holi!!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Baked Mango Semolina Halwa

My friend, Anchal, shared some very good news with me yesterday over the phone. It was something that her little heart has desired for all the years that I have known her. Because it was a very big thing for her, I did not want to congratulate her with just a hug. It was a special moment that called for something sweet.

I decided to bake her a Mango cake. Since the recipe called for semolina (sooji),  I wasn't too sure if the texture will be cakey or halwaey (if there is a word like that). I was a little nervous because this was the first time I was baking something sweet with sooji. I have baked savory delicacies in the past, but never anything sweet. I was constantly peeping through the oven window making sure it was going in the right direction.

Well, here it goes...



You will need:
1. Sooji/semolina         1 cup(I had the coarse kind at home so I used that. You do not need to roast it)
2. Mango pulp              1 cup (I used the ready made kind from the Indian store)
3. Sugar                        1/2 cup
4. Butter (melted)         1/2 stick / 4 tablespoons
5. Baking powder         1 teaspoon
6. Vanilla essence         1 teaspoon.
You can add cardamom powder and nuts to give it an Indian flavor.

The procedure is very simple. You do not need any fancy shmancy gadgets. Just a bowl and a spoon.

Preheat the oven at 375 degrees F. Grease a 9 inch baking pan.

Gently mix the semonlina, sugar, butter, baking powder and vanilla essence in a bowl. When every think is well incorporated, add the mango pulp and mix.

Let this stand for 10 minutes. If the batter is very thin, let it sit for 20 minutes.

Pour in the baking tray and bake for 30 - 35 minutes. Insert a toothpick to check if the cake is done. Do not over bake this cake, or else you will lose the bright yellow colored top. It will turn brown.

Let it cool and cut in any desired shape. I sliced half as a pie and the remaining half into small pieces.




The halwa/cake was delicious. It tasted good both warm and cold. It had a strong mango flavor. I think the sugar could be reduced because the mango pulp is already sweetened. But then, I don't have a sweet tooth to begin with.

Anchal and her family loved it! That's what matters in the end because this cake was for them.

Once again, Congratulations Mishras! Here's wishing you both much more happiness and success!
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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Eggless Chocolate Cake

Remember, in this post I had mentioned about the Chocolate cake that I had baked for the kids at the party? This is what it looked like. 






It was an eggless cake, the recipe of which was loosely adapted from here. I baked two 8"inch cakes and sliced each horizontally into two layers and filled freshly whipped cream, chocolate ganache and fresh strawberries (cubed) between the layers.

Even this cake was extremely moist and delicious like  the Eggless Pineapple Cake. It was devoured by one and all at the party. Both Viren and I did not get a chance to taste it, but the expressions on the kids' faces said it all. Everyone was enjoying it so much and I was receiving so many compliments from my lovely friends that it did not occur to me that I should taste it too. I was so much in the moment. It was unbelievable to me that it was my first attempt and it had turned out so well. My boys were very proud that their Mom had made something that was liked so much by their friends.

The party was on Saturday and the Friday before that all I did was baked all evening. I first baked the sponge for the pineapple cake. Then came the chocolate cake. It was beautifully iced, except I made one mistake. I did not slice each cake. I just put the filling on one cake and topped it with the other and iced it.


I was a little skeptical about it and then when Viren came home he confirmed it. We both thought that the cake will over power the filling. So, I baked one more cake and made it a four layer cake instead of two. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the four layers. You can see what two layers looked like.




This was the first Chocolate cake that I had iced so I was in love with it.



Saturday, February 11, 2012

Eggless Pineapple Cake

My friend, Anchal, had hosted a potluck dinner to celebrate our friends Priyanka and Pradeep's wedding anniversary. I chose to bake my Eggless Pineapple Cake that Priyanka loves. The first time she tasted the cake, she said that she is not a cake person, but devoured this one. So, I thought why not bake it for her on her special day? Then it struck to me that a Pineapple cake might not go too well with kids so I decided to make a Chocolate Cake which I will write about in another post.

Meanwhile, enjoy some clicks of the first cake I baked for a gathering. I was extremely proud of myself, so were my kids and hubby. The cake was amazingly moist and tasted delicious!

It reminded me of Biba Aunty, our bestest neighbor in India and my Mom's very good friend. My Mom did bake cakes, but never frosted them. So, at that time Biba Aunty was a Master Chef to me. She was the first one to introduce me to homemade whipped cream frosting. At that point in time I was not at all tempted to give it a shot because all I remember from Mom and her discussions was that it was a tedious process. She manually whisked the cream over a bowl of ice. I whisked it with my electric beaters and was exhausted.... I can imagine her pain. Thank you Biba Aunty for always fulfilling our requests with a smile! This one is for you!

The cake was my basic Eggless Sponge Cake. It was a two layered cake filled with freshly whipped cream and pineapple tit bits. I then iced the cake with whipped cream and decorated it with pineapple rings and raspberries. I love the contrast of the yellow pineapple rings and red raspberries on the white icing.






Linking to Healthy Diet Event.
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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Oranges!

I have an over load of oranges at home because Shiv wanted the 'cuties' and Ishaan wanted the navel oranges. My fruit basket was over flowing with other fruits so I had to come up with a better way of storing all the oranges. I kept them in my candle holders which makes such a lovely center piece for my dining table. I wish I had some greenery to add to the hurricanes.






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Friday, January 20, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ishaan is a big cookie monster! If there is a box of chocolate chip cookies from Costco, he can polish it off in a matter of two days. His love for chocolate chip cookies made me look high and low for a recipe that is easy enough for a novice baker like me and requires minimum ingredients. The main reason being I did not like the long list of nasty ingredients in store bought cookies. My stomach hurt when I saw him gobbling down the so called cookie that contained few ingredients that I could recognize or carry in my pantry, and more chemicals.

Finally, after an extended search I found one recipe that I really liked. It appealed to me right away.

Recipe adapted from: Annies-eats

Ingredients:
1. APF: 2 cups plus 2 Tbsps
2.Baking soda: 1/2 Tsp.
3. Salt: 1/2 Tsp (less if you use salted butter)
4. Unsalted butter: 12 Tbsps (melted and cooled down until warm. Do not rush this step. Make sure that the butter has cooled down or else your cookies will spread and be more pancake like.)
5. Brown Sugar: 1 cup packed
6. Sugar: 1/2 cup
7. Egg: 1 large plus 1 yolk
8. Vanilla extract: 2 Tsps
9. Chocolate Chip cookies: 1 cup (The original recipe calls for 1& 1/2 cups)

All you do is:
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. I was out of parchment paper so I greased the cookie sheets with oil.

2. Whisk dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
3. Mix the sugars and set aside. 
4. Add the melted butter and beat with hand or electric mixer until combined. Add vanilla extract, egg and egg yolk and beat again. Add the dry ingredients and beat on low speed until combined. Add the chocolate chips to this and mix. 

5. Roll a small ball and place on a cookie sheet leaving some space between the cookie balls. Bake reversing the cookie sheets half way through baking for 16 -18 mins until the cookies are light brown in color and the edges have hardened. The original recipe calls for 11-14 mins, but mine took longer.


6. Cool cookies on the sheet until able to lift and then let it cool on a cooling rack. We did not have to wait for that. The boys attacked them as soon as they were cool enough to hold.


 The best quality of the recipe is that it is very forgiving.
1.The first time I made these, I mixed the sugars with the dry ingredients instead of butter. I also forgot to add the extra 2 tbsps. of flour.
2.The second time I made these, I added the chocolate chips in the dry ingredients before getting the dough together.
3.I never stock unsalted butter in my home except when I have to make ghee. So, though the recipe calls for unsalted butter, I have used salted butter and reduced the quantity of salt.

Both times the cookies came out excellent. In fact, when I asked Shiv how it was, he said, "AMAZING in upper case." I thought that was very cute. My cookie monster of course devours these!! Hubby thinks they are a little buttery, but hey its butter that holds the dough together... if I decrease it, the cookies will be dry and crumbly.

So what  are you waiting for? Go ahead and enjoy these warm cookies fresh out of the oven with a glass of milk. mm mm mmmmm!
This dough freezes very well also. I rolled small balls and froze them in a muffin pan. Once they were frozen, I stored them in a freezer safe container. I have noticed that the baking time increases to 22-23 minutes for frozen dough.


Linking to Vegetarian Tastebuds.
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