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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