Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mallows and Milanos

I'm not a huge fan of marshmallows. So when I saw this challenge from the Daring Bakers, making mallows or marshmallows on cookies dipped in chocolate, I was kinda sorta skeptical. But I've always loved the Pepperidge Farm Milanos, and I was excited I was going to be making those at home. Frankly, I never thought I'd see the day when I was making either of these at home!!

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

Mallows (Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies)
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website

Serves: about 2 dozen cookies

3 cups (375grams/13.23oz) all purpose flour
1/2 cup (112.5grams/3.97oz) white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter
3 eggs, whisked together
Homemade marshmallows, recipe follows
Chocolate glaze, recipe follows

In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the dry ingredients. On low speed, add the butter and mix until sandy. Add the eggs and mix until combine. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with clingfilm or parchment and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.

When ready to bake, grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicon mat. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Use a 1 to 1 1/2 inches cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.

Pipe a “kiss” of marshmallow onto each cookie. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicon mat. One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.

Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm, about 1 to 2 hours.

Note: if you don’t want to make your own marshmallows, you can cut a large marshmallow in half and place on the cookie base. Heat in a preheated 350-degree oven to slump the marshmallow slightly, it will expand and brown a little. Let cool, then proceed with the chocolate dipping.

Homemade marshmallows:
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup

3/4 cup (168.76 grams/5.95oz) sugar
1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
2 egg whites , room temperature
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar, bring to a boil until “soft-ball” stage, or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve.

Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix. Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites. Add the vanilla and continue whipping until stiff. Transfer to a pastry bag.

Chocolate glaze:
• 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
• 2 ounces cocoa butter or vegetable oil

Melt the 2 ingredients together in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water.

My Notes:

For the cookies, like my Bakewell pastry, even after chilling overnight, the dough was definitely not of rolling consistency. I had to roll small portions into balls and flatten them onto the prepared cookie sheet. It still tasted great though.

I didn't have semisweet chocolate, so I used half regular chocolate and half unsweetened. I liked the marshmallows, they were really a great chewy texture and set beautifully. I just wish I had piped a little more on each cookie, but I kept it to a kiss as the recipe suggested.

To get to the soft ball stage when making the marshmallows, I used this link at Science of Candy as my guide.

I had to chill the cookies in the refrigerator after 2 hours of letting it rest outside because of the intense heat and humidity in Chennai, the chocolate was still very soft. It set up nicely in the refrigerator after about a 1/2 hour.

Now, onto my favorite, the Milanos!

Milan Cookies

Everything came out exactly as I remembered the Milanos. The cookies were fantastic. It's a keeper recipe. The only change I'm going to make next time is to reduce or omit the orange zest from the chocolate filling - it was just a little too intense for me.

Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website
Serves: about 3 dozen cookies

12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups (312.5 grams/ 11.02 oz) powdered sugar
7/8 cup egg whites (from about 6 eggs)
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lemon extract
1 1/2 cups (187.5grams/ 6.61 oz) all purpose flour
Cookie filling, recipe follows

Cookie filling:
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 orange, zested

In a mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter and the sugar. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla and lemon extracts. Add the flour and mix until just well mixed.

With a small (1/4-inch) plain tip, pipe 1-inch sections of batter onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, spacing them 2 inches apart as they spread. I used a Ziploc bag with the tip cut off, and hence the cookies were a bit uneven.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan.

While waiting for the cookies to cool, in a small saucepan over medium flame, scald cream. Pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl, whisk to melt chocolate, add zest and blend well. Set aside to cool (the mixture will thicken as it cools).

Spread a thin amount of the filling onto the flat side of a cookie while the filling is still soft and press the flat side of a second cookie on top. Repeat with the remainder of the cookies. Mine were all different shapes and sizes.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Parmesan Walnut Bread

The first oven I bought was a little OTG (Oven Toaster Griller). It came with a booklet of recipes to be made in the free pan that came with it. I loved the OTG and tried almost all the recipes in that booklet! Surprisingly, every single one was a keeper. The first one was banana bread, that we loved. And I was hooked. Quick breads are fast, delicious and extremely versatile.

This is a wonderful quick bread that I came across at Mary's blog, One Perfect Bite. She's made three wonderful variations. I varied her walnut bread a little to include some freshly grated Parmesan. It was super quick and full of flavor.

Parmesan Walnut Bread
(Recipe adapted from One Perfect Bite)

2 1/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
2/3 cup Milk
1 large egg
3/4 cup Sugar
1 1/2 cups Walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated

Preheat oven to 160 deg C. Grease and flour a loaf pan.

Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the milk and egg. Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Stir in walnuts and parmesan. Pour into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes. Increase the temperature to 180 deg C and continue baking for a further 15 minutes.

Mary recommends letting it rest for 15 minutes and then allowing it to age 24 hours before serving. I did the first 15 minutes. And then another 15 minutes! There was no way I could wait for 24 hours to eat anything that smells as good as this bread!

Other quick breads on this blog: Banana Bread, Chocolate Banana Bread and Mango Bread.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Dal with Fenugreek Leaves

The first time I had perfect dal was when I met my husband. The two dishes in his repertoire are dal and chicken curry. Since I'm vegetarian, I can only believe that the chicken curry is good. The dal, though, is sheer genius. Filled with protein, lentils are a sure delight for vegetarians.

I found this dal in a cookbook I bought recently, Pure and Simple: Homemade Indian Vegetarian Cuisine by Vidhu Mittal. The book is amazing. Every single recipe is simple and uses ingredients that are usually available in most Indian homes.

Dal with Fenugreek Leaves
(Recipe adapted from Pure & Simple by Vidhu Mittal)

1/4 cup split Green Gram, washed and soaked for 1/2 hour
1/2 cup Bengal Gram, washed and soaked for 1/2 hour
1/2 cup Red Gram (Masoor Dal), washed and drained
2 Tomatoes, cut into cubes
A pinch of Turmeric Powder
1-2 Green Chillies, chopped
1/4 tsp Dry Mango Powder (Amchur)
1/4 tsp Garam Masala Powder
1 cup Fenugreen Leaves, chopped and cooked
2 tbsp Cilantro Leaves, chopped
Salt, to taste

1 tbsp Ghee (clarified butter) or Vegetable Oil
1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
Red Chilli Powder, to taste
A pinch of Asafoetida

In a pressure cooker or large saucepan, cook all the soaked lentils with the water, salt and turmeric powder. Once cooked and lentils are soft, let simmer for a few minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, green chillies, mango powder and garam masala and bring to a boil. Drop in the cooked fenugreek and cook for a minute. Remove from the stove.

Heat the ghee or oil for the tempering. Add all the ingredients and let cook for a minute. Pour the contents onto the cooked dal. Stir. Serve hot with rice or rotis.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Chocolate Orange Drizzle Loaf Cake

Another winner from Sweet and Simple Bakes! Doesn't just the name of it make you drool? If any of you are amateur bakers, and would like to try out some no-fail recipes, you simply have to come on over and join Maria and Rosie and all the rest of us at Sweet and Simple Bakes. Every single one of their bakes so far (over a year's worth of bakes) have been completely amazing!

In this bake, you first make a simple loaf cake with some orange zest for flavoring. Then you make tiny holes and drizzle orange syrup onto the cake and let it drip down into the cake...mmm!!! Then, if that's not enough to send you racing over to the kitchen, you add a topping of melted chocolate and sprinkles - yes, you simply have to add sprinkles, so that's not optional, though the recipe says it is. So I'm telling you, make this the next time you have company, and you're guaranteed to awe.

(Sorry about the bad photos, but I took these with my phone's camera because my regular one suddenly stopped working as we cut into it!)

Chocolate Orange Drizzle Loaf Cake
(recipe from Sweet and Simple Bakes)

For The cake
175g (6 oz) softened butter
175g (6 oz) caster (super fine) sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
175g (6 oz) self-raising flour, sifted
2 tbsp milk

For The Orange Syrup
Juice of 1 orange
100g (4 oz) granulated sugar

For The Topping

50g (2 oz) dark chocolate or milk chocolate – your choice
Sprinkles of choice (optional)

You will need a 900g (2 lb) loaf tin – greased with a little butter and lined with greaseproof paper or non-stick baking paper.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.

In a mixing bowl, add the butter and sugar and beat together until light and fluffy in appearance. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well until fully incorporated. Add the orange zest, flour and milk and fold in gently with a spatula or large metal spoon. Turn into the prepared tin (I used a loaf pan that was a little big, so it came out pretty flat looking), smooth the top of the mixture and bake in the oven on middle shelf 35 -45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin. When cool make little holes in the cake with a skewer, (this is important for pouring the syrup onto the cake to ensure the syrup soaks in fully.)

For The Orange Syrup

Put the orange juice and granulated sugar into a pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil for a couple of minutes. Pour over the top of the cake. When all the juice has soaked in, carefully remove the cake from the tin.

For The Topping

Melt the chocolate by placing a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Once the chocolate has melted, pour over the top of the cake. Either smooth the top over with a spatula or make a little pattern with the prongs of a fork. Add sprinkles if desired, leave chocolate to set before cutting into the cake.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Gingerbread Cookies

My nephew came over yesterday all excited to make gingerbread cookies. He had his own recipe from a book, but that required a 2 hour wait for the dough in the refrigerator. I quickly checked online to find an easier recipe.

And came across one of the most lovely blogs I have seen. Exclusively Food, a blog by Amanda and Debbie, has great recipes and beautiful photographs. Their gingerbread people are incredibly cute, and thankfully my nephew loved them too.

So armed with their recipe, I had 3 kids making gingerbread cookies. They came out absolutely delicious! We didn't quite get to make people as I don't have great cookie cutters, but we made several different shapes. Our artistic talents were also slightly lacking. And most of the cookies were eaten before we could even get to the icing stage!

Gingerbread Cookies
(adapted from Exclusively Food)

2 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
140 g Butter, softened
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 large Egg, divided into yolk and white
1 tsp Cinnamon Powder
1 tsp Nutmeg Powder
3 tsp Ginger (I used ginger paste)
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 cup Golden Syrup

Stir together in a bowl, the flour, baking soda and spices.

In another large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar together. Add the egg yolk and golden syrup and beat together until combined. Slowly add in the flour mixture until just combined.

Preheat oven to 180 deg C. And line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Divide the dough into halves. Roll out one half between two sheets of baking paper or parchment paper. Transfer to the freezer. Repeat for the other half. Let the dough freeze for about 15-20 minutes. This is essential - its really difficult to work with the soft dough before freezing.

Remove from the freezer and cut desired shapes. Transfer to the baking sheet carefully and bake for 10 minutes until firm. Let cool for 5 minutes and transfer to a wire rack.

While the cookies are baking, whisk together the icing:


1 1/3 cup Icing Sugar
1 Egg White (the one you saved from the yolk above)

Combine very well until a pale white. Add food coloring if you'd like. Decorate the cookies (I used Ziploc bags with a tiny bit of the edge cut off to pipe the icing onto the cookies) after they have cooled a bit from the oven. And let the icing set completely (of course, we didn't wait at all!).

They were fantastic. Thanks so much for a keeper recipe!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Adai is a form of south Indian crepe, sort of like a dosa, but made with a larger proportion of lentils, and hence far healthier than dosas. Dosas also need to ferment, while adais can be made as soon as the batter is mixed together.


2 cup Raw Rice
1 cup Channa Dal (split Chick Peas)
1 cup Urad Dal (split Black Gram)
1 cup Toor Dal (Pigeon Peas)
6 Dried Red Chillies

Salt, to taste
Chilli Powder, to taste
A pinch of Asoefetida
2-3 Curry Leaves, chopped fine

Soak the rice, dals and red chillies for 4-5 hours. Drain the water from the soaking mixture, and grind to a coarse texture.

Add the salt, chilli powder, asoefetida and curry leaves to the batter.

Heat a flat pan (such as a dosa pan or an omelette pan). When hot, spread a ladle-ful of the batter onto the pan in a circular motion.

When one side is golden brown, flip over carefully and let cook for a further two minutes.

Serve warm with chutney or jaggery/ palm sugar/ brown sugar.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Lemon Curd Muffins

Sigh. I have a feeling that the bakes from Sweet and Simple Bakes is going to make me gain 10 pounds!

I think this has got to be one of my most favorite bakes so far. Not only were we to make muffins with a to-die-for lemon curd filling, I also got to make my own lemon curd. And I must say, the lemon curd was just... UNBELIEVABLE!! I couldn't stop tasting it and was seriously considering making a second batch!

Lemon Curd
(recipe from S & SB)

55 g/ 22 oz Butter
8 oz Sugar
2 Lemons
2 Eggs, lightly beaten

Grate the rinds of the lemon and squeeze out the juice.

Set up a double boiler with a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water. Add the butter and sugar to the glass bowl. Keep stirring until the butter is melted.

Add the rind and the juice and continue stirring for a minute. Now stir in the eggs and stir constantly for 30 minutes, until a spoon drawn through the lemon curd lets you see the bottom of the glass bowl.

Pour into a sterilized jar. It will keep up to a month (sadly I don't have any left!).

Now onto the luscious muffins :)

Lemon Curd Muffins
(Recipe from S & SB)

7 oz Self-Raising Flour
3 1/2 oz Golden Caster Sugar (I used regular caster sugar)
1 large Egg
3 fl oz Oil
5 fl oz Milk
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
12 tsp Lemon Curd

For the Glaze/ Coating:
4 tbsp Lemon Curd
2 oz Caster Sugar

Preheat the oven to 190 deg C.

For the muffins, mix together all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar) in one bowl and the wet ingredients (except the lemon curd) in another. Slowly add the wet to the dry ingredients until combined.

Line a muffin pan. Put a teaspoon of the batter into the lined muffin pan. Top with one teaspoon of lemon curd. Now add the rest of the batter.

Bake for 15-20 minutes.

While it is baking, melt the lemon curd for the glaze over the stove top or in the microwave. Spread on the muffins when they come out of the oven and sprinkle with the caster sugar.

Oh goodness they were so delicious!!! And the inside was gooey and just perfect - a lovely combination of tart and sweet!

Thanks, Maria and Rosie for another amazing bake! And for sharing your treasured recipes with us!

Thursday, May 21, 2009


As the second bread in our Bread Bakers Apprentice Challenge, we were to tackle a Greek Celebration Bread, Artos. There are several variations of the basic bread. One of them is Christopsomos, a beautiful, decorative bread full of lovely flavors! For the recipe, please see Google Books.

We start with a poolish of water, flour and yeast. Allow it to rest overnight for a few hours at room temperature and then in the refrigerator. It will be all lovely and bubbly the next day.

Then add the rest of the flour, butter and lovely spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves), yeast, oil, honey and eggs. I left out the allspice because I couldn't find them in the store, and instead increased the quantity of cinnamon (because I just love cinnamon!).

This is the basic Artos bread. To make the variation, add dried fruit (cranberries/dates/figs/cherries), walnuts and raisins. I used dried chopped dates, walnuts and golden raisins. Be sure to include these in the final stages of kneading the dough before the bulk fermentation.

Allow the dough to double in size (about 90 minutes).

After the bulk ferment, divide the dough into 1/3rds and 2/3 rds. Wrap up the smaller portion and put it away in the refrigerator. The larger portion is shaped into a boule, then lightly oiled and allowed to proof at room temperature for about an hour.

When you are ready to bake the bread, take out the smaller piece and divide into half. Roll each half into a rope. Cross the ropes on top of the boule and let the ends hang down. Split each end and roll up to form a fun decorative pattern. If you're having trouble making the ends stick to the boule, apply a little bit of water.

Bake at 350 deg F for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan for even baking, and bake another 20-25 minutes. While the bread is baking, make a glaze of water, sugar, honey and lemon extract (I left this out because I didn't have it).

Brush the glaze onto the bread after you take it out of the oven and sprinkle generously with sesame seeds.

The bread was absolutely delicious. I made it on Mother's Day and my mother loved it. The crumb is soft and filled with the deliciousness of raisins, walnuts and dates.

The crust is sweet and sticky with the glaze and the sesame seeds.

I'll definitely be making this bread again!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Baked "Fries"

This is one the simplest recipes ever. I make this very often as a side at home and everyone constantly asks me for the recipe. I have a friend who requests this every time we have her over for dinner!

It is also very versatile. Use any fresh herbs that you enjoy. Make it spicy, if you'd like. Use different kinds of oil to see how they adapt - it's totally up to you. But the concept is the same. Here, I used fresh rosemary and olive oil with a touch of crushed red pepper.

Baked "Fries"

3-4 medium Potatoes, cut into wedges or thinner for fries (I used red-skinned, but any kind works fine)
2 tsp Olive Oil (you could also try coconut oil/ sunflower oil/ truffle oil/ garlic-infused oil)
2 sprigs fresh Rosemary, chopped (or basil/ cilantro/ garlic or a combination of dried herbs)
Crushed Red Pepper, or chilli powder (optional), to taste
Salt, to taste

Preheat the oven to 180 deg C.

Toss the potatoes with the olive oil, rosemary, crushed red pepper and salt. Place in a baking tray, as far as possible, in a single layer.

Bake for 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Halfway through, use a wooden spatula and stir the potatoes around the pan and return to the oven.

Serve warm.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ricotta Gnocchi

I LOVED my first Daring Cooks challenge. The gnocchi was light and fresh and full of flavor. And, I have to say it was much simpler than I thought it would be. I've made potato gnocchi before which was also delicious, but this was far better! Also, far richer, but hey, once in a while, this is a great indulgence.

I couldn't find fresh ricotta, so used store-bought. Next time, I think I'll try it with paneer. Maybe it might even work with non-fat paneer? Hmm.

Ricotta Gnocchi
(recipe from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook)

2 cups fresh Ricotta
2 large cold Eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp Butter, melted
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
1/4 tsp Salt
All-Purpose Flour for rolling the gnocchi

Tie the ricotta in a muslin cloth and strain it overnight. It took me the night and the entire next day to finally strain all the water out of the ricotta. I resorted to placing a heavy weight on the muslin cloth, which really helped.

Place the drained ricotta in a bowl and mash slightly with the back of a spoon to make it smooth. Add the beaten eggs and mix thoroughly. Add melted butter, cheese and salt and combine to get a smooth and fluffy mixture. Add any flavorings you'd like, though try to keep it simple since you don't want to weigh down the cheese. I kept it simple without any additions.

Make a bed of all-purpose flour about a 1/4" thick on a baking sheet or tray. Also put a saucepan of water, heavily salted, on the stove and let it begin to simmer.

Take about 2-3 tsps of the mixture and gently push it out onto the bed of flour. With the spoon or the tip of your finger roll the cheese over the flour, so most parts of it get coated with a thin film of flour. Gently pick up the cheese and cradle it in both hands and move it from one hand to another being careful not to squeeze too tight or the gnocchi won't be light. Try to get the gnocchi into an oval shape.

Gently lower the gnocchi into the simmering water. It will sink and then rise to the top. Let it cook for about 3-5 minutes. If the gnocchi falls apart, there was too much water in the ricotta - add one egg white to the mixture and beat it in - that should hold it together.

If it doesn't fall apart (mine didn't), then great. Go ahead and make the rest of the cheese into gnocchi and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let it rest in the refrigerator for an hour and firm up.

Bring the water back up to a simmer and slip 3-4 gnocchi into the water at a time and cook for 3-5 minutes (as in the test done earlier). Remove with a slotted spoon.

Serve warm with your choice of sauce. I really wanted to do pesto, but was afraid it might be too heavy. So I just drizzled with a little bit of olive oil and grated some fresh Parmesan on top with some black pepper.

I don't think there's any doubt I'll make this again. It was simple and delicious and a sure crowd-pleaser. Thanks to Ivonne and Lisa for a wonderful first challenge and I'm excited to be part of the Daring Cooks!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Beetroot Rasam

One of my favorite blogs is Lisa's Kitchen. Her recipes are simple, vegetarian and always delicious - right up my alley! When her blog was chosen for last month's Tried & Tasted, I bookmarked this recipe, but life got in the way and though I made the rasam, I didn't get a chance to write or post about it.

Rasam and rice is my all-time favorite comfort food. It is a south Indian dish made with lentils, pepper and spices, and usually gets its tartness from tomatoes (unlike sambar, which tends to use more tamarind). It is a fluid soup-like dish that is traditionally served with rice, but a lot of people drink it as soup as well. The Anglo-Indian version of Rasam is the famous soup, Mulligatawny (which is actually a combination of the Tamil words milagu (pepper) and thani (water)).

There are many different variations of rasam. My favorite is the tomato, but other popular ones are lemon rasam and pepper rasam (pepper rasam does wonders in clearing up sinuses!). But I think I might have a new favorite!

The beetroot rasam was so delicious, though, that I simply had to post it - even though the event is over. The taste was light and full of flavor and the color is just brilliant! She got the recipe from Chandra Padmanabhan's Dakshin, which is one of my favorite cookbooks, and the only one I had through all my years living away from home.

I'm not posting the recipe here, but I do hope you'll visit Lisa's blog and try this out.

Other rasams on this blog: Mysore Rasam.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Vanilla Cupcakes

If you haven't heard of Sweet and Simple Bakes, do check it out. Maria and Rosie have started a baking blog for amateur bakers about a year ago. I've tried to take part in almost all their bakes, and they've all been amazing.

This month's bake was no different. I tried them this afternoon and they were all gone in about 2 hours. My daughter and her friends thought they were awesome and literally couldn't stop eating them!

Vanilla Cupcakes
(recipe from Sweet and Simple Bakes)

Supposed to make 12, but I got about 9

6 oz Self-Raising Flour
6 oz Butter, softened
6 oz Caster Sugar
3 large Eggs
2 tbsp Milk
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

For the Buttercream Icing:
5 oz Butter, softened
11 oz Icing Sugar
1 tbsp Milk
1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract

Preheat the oven to 180 deg C.

Mix together the flour, baking powder and caster sugar. Add the butter, eggs, milk and vanilla. Beat until well combined. Spoon the mixture into paper-case lined muffin pans. Bake for about 20 minutes. Leave to cool for 5 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile make the buttercream. Beat the butter until soft. Add the icing sugar and combine. Add the vanilla and milk and beat well until light and fluffy. You could add food coloring too if you'd like colorful cupcakes.

Spread the buttercream onto the cupcakes. Decorate as you wish. I used Gems (an Indian equivalent of M&Ms).

Thanks, Maria and Rosie. This is something I've already made 3 times this month, and will definitely make again!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I wanted to make the German style pretzel with a crunchy exterior and a soft crumb. I think that comes from the water bath you put the formed dough in before you put it in the oven, and crank the oven temperature really high.

Here's my version of the German pretzels. The last time I used baking soda in the water bath, but this time I used brown sugar and I think that made a big difference. What is your trick for getting a crunchy, hard crust?


3 cups All-Purpose Flour
3/4 tsp Instant Dry Yeast
1 tbsp Sugar
1 tsp Salt
1 cup Warm Milk
4 tbsp Brown Sugar (for the water bath)

Mix all the ingredients together. Knead for about 8-10 minutes or until smooth and silky.

Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with a muslin cloth. Let the dough rise for about an hour. Gently deflate and divide into 6 parts.

Bring a quart of water to a rolling boil with the brown sugar. And preheat the oven to 200 deg C.

Roll each part into a long rope (try to get it to about 22" to 24"). Holding each end, twist the two portions of the rope and the fold it back down. Watch this video for shaping instructions.

Gently lift each pretzel with a spatula and lower into the water. Keep it in the water by pushing down on it with the spatula. Let it boil for about 20 seconds per side. You can boil 2-3 pretzels at a time.

Transfer the pretzels to a lightly oiled baking tray. Sprinkle with Kosher salt. Place in the preheated oven for about 10-12 minutes or until a dark golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm with mustard.

This is for Susan @ Wild Yeast for YeastSpotting.

Other pretzels in this blog: Jalapeno Pretzels.