Is it November already?!

And just like that we are in the month of November!

We’re officially a month away from Christmas and it’s getting real cold and dark now. And that can only mean one thing. Its time to get my bake on!

Here are a few things I baked in the past week.

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Schwarzwalder Torte

Or just Black Forest gateau¬†to you and me! ūüôā Back home in my hometown in India, this cake is by far the most popular and quite literally flies off the shelves for birthdays, Christmases and what have you. I have been fed quite a few Black forest cakes (far too many to remember!) in my time and quite naturally wanted to master it when I took up baking after getting married and moving to the UK. So what followed was a barrage of BFCs everytime a cake was needed and I ended up putting off hubby and myself of it for a few years. Last week I was looking at some old photographs on my laptop and realized that I hadn’t made the cake in almost 4 or so years! So I decided to bake it on a whim last week and gosh¬†did it turn out well!

I even got sonny boy to help…

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The cake isn’t hard to bake or assemble in any way. What’s important however is that you need a really soft and good chocolate sponge cake as a base for it. Your gateau will only be as good as your sponge base, so if you’ve got practice baking decent fatless chocolate sponges, you’ll have no trouble getting this cake right. I went with my trusty chocolate chiffon cake recipe as always and baked it in a 9inch tin. From here on, it’s just a matter of sandwiching the layers of cake with tinned or fresh cherries and freshly whipped cream. Now you can splash a bit of Kirsch (cherry brandy) on to the layers if it is solely for adults. Or you can just use a simple sugar syrup in its place which will work just fine. I skipped both in an attempt to tone down the calories; plus I was really lazy that day! I also didn’t bother covering up the sides with whipped cream, well cause I didn’t enough left to do that. It still tasted wonderful. Considering that no where in the cake I had used butter and just decorated with cherries and unsweetened cream, this cake is actually not that bad as a diet breaker. It is far less calorific and tastes lighter¬†than most other cakes. Here’s the instruction for the assembly¬†I followed aside from my usual recipe for the chocolate chiffon cake

Apple and Bread Pudding

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This is a first. Owing to my dislike for butter and cheese I had never previously attempted a bread and butter pudding in my kitchen. I was forced into finding a recipe¬†to use up a loaf of stale bread I had knocking around and ended up stumbling upon this recipe on the internet. I altered the recipe considerably in the end and didn’t use any butter at all. To my surprise it turned out very well. Here’s my take on the recipe

Ingredients

  • 6 to 10 slices of stale bread
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Handful of raisins
  • 2 to 3 cups of apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons of oil (or use butter)

Method

  1. Toss together torn/cubed bread, sliced apples and raisin in a bit of oil or melted butter and transfer to the baking dish
  2. In another mix, mix together the egg, sugar, cinnamon, milk and vanilla. Pour over the bread and apples in the baking dish.
  3. Bake in a preheated oven at 175 C for about 45 minutes or until brown.


That is all from the baking department for now. On to something more exciting.

Homemade Playdough!

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It would seem that I’ve arrived on the homemade playdough scene a bit¬†too late! On googling, I was hit million and one ways to make playdough and it all seemed a bit too much for me! Clearly all the homemaking mamas in the world think it’s a big hit with their kids and have gone on to make tonnes of tonnes of this stuff. I nearly decided against making a playdough but thought I’d try a small quantity for starters.

The recipe for the dough is in the collage/picture I have put up above. Or if you, like me, think this is all a bit too much and want to go for an even simpler recipe. Just mix any flour with water, knead and hand it to your child! I remember playing with ‘chapathi‘ dough every time my mum would make it for dinner, as a little girl back in India. I’d make cute little cups and dishes with lids, paint it and let it harden in the sun. So there’s no reason for you to buy another tub of expensive playdoh from the shops again.

Here’s a small selection of interesting playdough recipes I’ve come across so far

I made my batch of playdough in orange and pink and sonny boy had a lot of fun playing with it.

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What have you been upto recently in the kitchen or with the kids? Let me know if there’s anything interesting I could possibly try out too. In the meantime, enjoy the last two months of the year. My family and I will be moving to a another house hopefully, so¬†I have a busy November ahead of me. See you on the other side.

Sharmila

To new beginnings…

This marks the beginning of an exciting season in my life! I am officially a self-employed baker!

IMG_2228There, after years and years of just playing with the idea of baking and selling my cakes, I finally decided to take the leap. I took my first order roughly about a week ago when a dear friend I know asked me to bake a few cupcakes to sell at her church. Only recently, I had invited her and the family over for dinner for my son’s 3 birthday in September and she was too kind in her praise for the car themed birthday cake and cupcakes I had made for the occasion. I’d told her that I’d be happy to bake anything simple if she ever needed it.

So when she approached me to make some cupcakes for a fund-raiser at her church, I leapt at the offer and made some really nice soft-as-cotton-wool vanilla cupcakes with an equally lovely light-as-air chocolate icing. The cupcakes had turned out better than I had hoped and I was rather pleased with it. In fact, I can still picture the look on the lady’s face as she told me how professional the cakes looked when I delivered it to her and it made me beam with pride. I’m going to etch that moment in my mind for posterity in case I ever begin to doubt myself and my baking abilities again. You see, every time the thought about starting a cupcake business crossed my mind in the past, thoughts of fear and doubt would shut it down. This was the real reason it took me this long to get started on my baking business. Despite many friends and family encouraging me and prodding me to advertise my skills locally, I tended to brush them aside and played myself down. I’d reasoned in mind that my cakes won’t somehow be as good as the others or that nobody would really buy from little ol’ me. Well, I’ve proved myself wrong!

IMG_2317Funnily enough, on the Sunday that I set off to handover the cakes after attending church, I had affirmations and encouragements from a number of sources saying how good the cakes look and that I have a business in the making. I even remember rummaging through my cupboard for a bag to put my cupcake boxes in and hurriedly pulled out one that seemed big enough but hadn’t bothered to look at what it said on the side. It was only when I grabbed the bag later on my way out the door that I realised it said ‘Selling Like Hotcakes’ on the front! I nearly fell down laughing! (See picture above) On the way down in the lift, I had two neighbours walk in on a different floor and say to me as the first thing how tempting and polished the cakes in my bag looked and asked me for a sample! Two others complimented me similarly seeing the boxes of cakes in the car as they walked past us in the car park after the church service! It was all beginning to sound a little crazy to me after that!

I began to wonder if God had planted all these folks on that day to be there at the right time and place, just so they could speak words of encouragement into my life. Words that I badly needed to hear. To give me a nudge, perhaps. I think He did. I thought to myself that I’d be a fool not to give this a try, after all the prompting and affirmations I’d recieved that day. So after what started out as a favour for a friend, this is me, giving my dream a try. Lets see how far I can go sweetening people’s lives in their moments of celebration.

Sorry about the sappy stuff. However it was important for me to put this on my blog, cause of how significant it is. Since the birth of my son, I’ve looked at ways to earn an income while staying close to him. After a few months of hunting for part-time evening jobs and not coming across any that offered flixibility in terms of working hours, I figured I should give this a try for what it is worth.


Moving on, I made something that I hadn’t done in a very long while. Lasagna. I must confess that I am not a big fan of cheesy foods. I’ve had a life long hatred for milk and other dairy products that I just can’t explain. If anything smelt cheesy or milky, I wouldn’t eat it. Hence I’ve always pulled the cheese off my pizzas and always asked for barely there sprinkling of cheese on my Paninis if I have to order them at a caf√©. I’m aware that I sound a bit alien to some folks, especially here in Britian, where almost everyone is a closet cheese-connoiseur. In fact, I personally am yet to come across another person who has a dislike for cheese like myself. However since my son’s birth, I’ve consciously tried to include cheese in my cooking and diet in a bid to get him to try all foods so he doesn’t end up hating it for no reason like I do. So I made this vegetarian Lasagna a few days ago, albeit with a little hesitation, but it turned out so good that even I enjoyed second helpings of it!

Aubergine and Mozzarella Bake

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I had enough Aubergine to fit two loaf tins, so I baked one for dinner that evening and froze one away for later. I took the recipe from here and instead of grilling the Aubergine slices in the oven, I fried them on a griddle, which took a bit of time, but was well worth the effort. I’m going to skip the recipe and instructions for this dish just cause the link I’ve included is rather detailed and it would be unnecessary for me to repeat it here. Here are some more pictures of the cooking and assembly of the Lasagna I took though.

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If you’ve never tried a vegetarian Lasagna, I’d highly recommend this one to you. You will not be disappointed. Do give it a try. ūüôā

Plus, I tried my hand at making my own pesto for the first time! It was much better than the popular store-bought stuff and incredibly easy to make as well. I only wish someone had told me about this earlier!

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Home Made Pesto

Just blitz together the following in a blender and add to cooked al dente pasta.

  • 2 cups of basil leaves
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup of parmesan or other hard cheese (I used sparing amounts cause I found the smell of the cheese too strong. You can sprinkle more as a garnish later on however)
  • Walnuts or pine nuts – 1/2 cup
  • Garlic gloves – 2
  • oil – 1/2 cup (olive or sunflower oil)
  • a splash of lemon juice

In other news, I’ve finally slipped into autumn mode after wrapping up some hobbies I started way back in summer. While going on a lovely walk early one morning, I was blown away by the beautiful autumn scenery before me.

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Both my son and I enjoyed running around and playing among autumn leaves and my spirits were soaring. I picked a few leaves on my way back hoping to make something with it later on during the day. Here’s what I came up with after playing around with it on my carpet.

Craft Ideas using autumn leaves

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As you can see from the collage, I’ve merely rearranged the leaves to give you an idea of all the different things you can do with it. I ended up stringing the leaves to make a bunting for my living room for the day and later took it downstairs to hang it between two trees by the entrance of my building. While it looked really pretty outdoors (I’d forgotten to take a picture of it), it got blown away by the winds by the next morning! If you want to make a wreath out of the leaves as shown in the picture, you can either choose a polystyrene base or simply make your own by cutting an old cardboard box (into a round or heart shape) and sticking the leaves on top of it.

After nearly a year I’ve started going to Forest school at my local woods with my son, and we are both enjoying it tremendously! Here’s a picture of my son enjoying pasta cooked on an open fire at the woods.

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I guess those are all the updates for now. Hope you have a fabulous end to the month of October whereever you are. xx

(Update:I managed to get an online certification for a Level 2 food safety course this afternoon while my toddler napped and by evening, I’d managed to convince another friend to let me bake for her daughter’s 2nd birthday party. I’ve also finalised the logo and name of my business for putting on the application form for holding a stall at a food fair at my local arts centre. I don’t know why I have tears as I type this. Maybe its because I know God’s hand is behind all these sequence of events that seem to just happen one after the other.)


O Give thanks unto the God of gods, for His mercy endureth forever

Psalm 136:1


snoogums-boogums turned 3!


My boy turned 3 and I had to up the ante on the party department! So after two parties and tonnes of party food and cake later, I can certainly say that I had more fun than my tot in the last week.

My son¬†has lately been obsessed with the Disney cars movie so I decided on hosting a Lightning McQueen themed party. (If you don’t have a car crazy little boy like I do, Lightning McQueen is the name of the animated car the Disney movie is based onūüėú)

Continue reading “snoogums-boogums turned 3!”

Chocolate and Banana Marbled Chiffon Cake

I’m very fond of chiffon cakes and for years was obsessed with¬†perfecting it after coming across it online the first time. Although it’s quite a difficult one¬†to master, it is well worth learning and perfecting the method to making a proper Chiffon cake, cause it’s the lightest and the most spongy cake you’ll ever come across. Not even the divine Angel cake can actually compare to the softness and springiness of the Chiffon cake. Trust me, you really have to try a Chiffon cake for yourself to know what its like!

Like most sponges, the Chiffon cake is also a fatless sponge that relies on whipped egg whites for its light texture. Most recipes call for a bit of oil and milk to lighten the batter and the egg whites are usually whipped with a little cream of tar tar to stabilize its structure¬†while baking in the oven. A chocolate chiffon cake is my go to base for most birthday and Christmas Cakes and I dress it up with any kind of icing I fancy at the time. Here’s a Teddy cake I made using a chocolate chiffon cake as a bar for my son’s 2nd birthday.

Anyway, after making a wonderful chocolate and banana cake last week, i still had a surplus of ripened bananas to use up and I chose this recipe to go with this time, making slight modifications to it. I have always baked my chiffon Cakes in normal cake pans and do not own a bundt pan or angel cake pan or tube pan as it is called in some countries. This time however I made my own bundt pan using a food can weighed down with beans on the inside. I wasn’t quite sure if it would work initially; but I’m happy to inform you that it worked a treat and i didn’t need to go out and spend a fortune on a bundt pan that I might only end up using once in a while.

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I’m going to spare you the details of the recipe and other minutae that goes into the baking of a good chiffon cake; there are hundreds of videos and blogs dedicated to this cake, mainly by home bakers from south East Asia where the chiffon cake is very popular and made in almost every household.
I would highly recommend Rose Levy Beranbaum’s videos on youtube if you are completely new to Chiffon cakes or baking in general.

 

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My chiffon cake turned out wonderfully moist and soft and most of it was gone with in 20 minutes after I cooled and served it to my son! I’m surely going to be making it more often in the coming days. However, in the heat of the moment I’d completely forgotten to take pictures of the sliced cake!¬†Hopefully I’ll remember to grab my camera on time next time around. Until then, I hope you have a blessed few days ahead as we draw close to good Friday and contemplate the immense and wonderful sacrifice that was paid on our behalf on the cross.

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

Romans 8: 32, 33 & 34

 

Easter tidings

Easter, this year, has brought with it great joy and comfort to me more than any other year I could think of so far. Holding on through lent, life looked rather bleak and wintry for a number of reasons. But fortunately enough, hope and joy never fails to recover during this season each year, thanks to a certain Jewish Carpenter who died and yet lived, proving that neither death nor suffering can defeat His purpose for my life. I left no stone unturned in whipping out sweetmeats that are quite popular from my native town to mark and celebrate a new beginning this Easter. A small platter of these went out to close friends and to a couple of neighbours whom I hope that someday will join with me in celebrating this resurrection.

Here’s what I made…

Chocolate snowballs rolled in coconut, Kalakand Burfi, Sweet poli and slices cut off a chocolate slab cake.

More pictures for your viewing pleasure, courtesy of my husband…

 Eggs and egg-shaped things

Continue reading “Easter tidings”

A couple of my cakes…

I’ve decided to show off my baking skills today, and to start with¬†here’s a picture of the first cake I ever baked

A Black forest cherry cake for my Husband on his birthday

 
A chocolate cake made in a flurry


A chocolate ganache cake for a friend who just had a baby


Another Blackforest gateau I made for Christmas

Finally and the most recently made…


A vanilla strawberry cake for my Valentine

I haven’t bothered putting up any recipes for these cakes solely because there are just gazillion of them everywhere on the internet. But if you would still like my versions of any cake shown above, leave a comment or send an email by using the form below

Hello world!

Hello there,

Welcome to My Cookery Album. For a long time now¬†I have wanted my own blog to post recipes and pictures of the food I cook. Having browsed through zillions of blogs and finding that most have pictures and recipes of the same dishes probably cooked in a multitude of different methods, I have decided to keep mine simple, posting recipes only if different to the many others one can find on¬†the internet and focusing primarily on the pictures¬†of the food I cook, more like an online album. Here’s the first of the many to come¬†

It was my birthday a couple of days ago, and I made these desserts to giveaway to close friends and family. On the plate, there are some squares of chocolate & carrot cake, cornflour halwa and some pecan baklava. I found most of the recipes online and though they were quite easy to make, the halwa was more time-consuming and needed a lot of elbow grease to make than the others.

Continue reading “Hello world!”