Pacific Pilchard fried rice

 

Delicious with every mouthful, this one-pot rice dish is a feast to the palate!!

Great choice for someone looking for a healthy version of meat free special rice dish for lunch.  Also, the aroma and the flavours of pilchard fish, tomatoes, potatoes and sauces will deliver a very satisfying meal indeed!

Make sure you buy Pacific pilchard in tomato sauce for this recipe as it is the ideal choice to produce the best results.

Get  ready with these items:  

 

Pacific Pilchard in  rich tomato sauce 1 small tin 155 g
Rice (White basmati) 1 & 1/2 cups
Ginger and garlic grated 1 tbsp
Coriander leaves and stems 1 cup
Tomato 1 juicy
Onions 1 large
Fish sauce 1 tbsp
Soy sauce 2 tbsp
Ketchup 2 tbsp
New / Baby Potatoes 6 cut into chunkes
Cumin seeds and mustard seeds 1 tsp each
 Salt  1/2 tsp or to taste

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Let’s Make it:

  • First wash the rice until water runs clear.   Drain water and keep aside.

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  • Chop onions, tomatoes, grate ginger and garlic and cut potatoes.  Open the tin of pilchards and drain the sauce into a cup.  Leave aside the tomato sauce and fish pieces seperately.  Chop coriander leaves and stems.  Keep everything aside.

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  • Heat up olive oil in a wide pan.  Sprinkle cumin seeds and mustard seeds, let them splutter.
  • Add the sliced onion and lightly brown it.
  • Add the following ingredients and fry after each one

Salt, ginger-garlic paste, coriander leaves and stems, chopped tomato, tomato ketchup, tomato sauce from the tin, soy sauce and fish sauce

  • Fry everything until  a thick and juicy sauce is formed.
  • Add potatoes.  Keep frying.

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  • Drain water from the rice and add to pot.  Fry the rice for a min or two.
  • Next, pour warm water just above rice.
  • Give a good stir to bring everything together , cover and cook on very light flame.  Cooking time usually takes  10 – 15 mins.
  • After 10 mins, open the lid, drop the fish pieces
  • Adjust the taste
  • If the rice is not cooked enough and there is no more water left, sprinkle hot water to the sides, cover tightly and lower the flame for allowing it to cook a bit further
  • Finally, garnish with chopped coriander . Cover and keep the flavours to settle for about 10 mins
  • You can serve this dish on its own or with Chinese chili paste or any pickle on the side
  • Yummy !!!

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date cake

Classic Date Cake – Super Moist And Flavourful In Every Bite!

date cake

This super-moist, melt in the mouth date cake is a perfect teatime treat or if you are going on a trip with your family or friends, cut the cake daintily into squares and neatly arrange them in an airtight plastic box and take it with you.  The delight of those who eat the cakes will make you swell with pride and joy.

In my effort to create the family favourite classic date cake that my mum used to make, I stumbled upon an ‘aha’ moment to reproduce the same with less time and effort.  In the process,  I observed that dates could be boiled to soften in minutes rather than the traditional way of soaking them overnight.  Hence, the date pulp will be ready in just  a matter of 10 mins and you can proceed to make the cake right away!  Super easy! You can even make it and eat it on the same day ! However, it will taste more flavourful and soft in the next day.

With all the tips and techniques given nothing can go wrong.

I use Stork spread, especially made for cakes for this recipe.  Using butter is not a wise option as the cake can go too lumpy or dense.  For any cake, I recommend a good quality margerine or spread which gives a lighter and more airy texure to the final product.  I got this tip from Marry Berry, in my opinion, the most respected cookery writer in the UK, who has never let me down.

You need the following ingredients;

Good quality  dates 250 g
Margerine or spread 250 g
Caster sugar 250 g
Self raising flour (Plain flour could be used if SRF is not available) 250 g
Eggs 4
Plain tea bags 2
Salt 2 pinches
Baking powder 1 tsp
Bicarbonate of soda 1 tsp
Juice of lemon 2 tsp
Boiling Water

 Let’s get started:

First step

Prepare the date pulp.

(Traditionally,  this is done by soaking the dates overnight with a combination of hot water, plain tea bags and bicarb.  I invented a quicker and much easier method to make the same quality date pulp, in just 10-15min by boiling it which made the whole process easy and less cumbersome. (Interestingly, the idea of dropping tea bags into this, is purely to get a nice dark brown colour.)

Gather the following;

  • Good quality dates – 250 g
  • Plain tea bags          – 2
  • Bicarb                       – 1 tsp
  • Water to fill up to the level of dates

Let’s make it;

  • Wash the dates thoroughly
  • Remove the stem parts and deston
  • place in a deep- bottom pan and fill with water just a little above the level of dates

  • Drop the tea bags, cover and boil until the water is down to the bottom of the pan and the dates are soft
  • Mix 1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda into the pot, mix well
  • Boil for further 2/3 mins
  • Take out from the flame and let the dates cool off completely
  • Squeeze the tea bags and remove them
  •   Your date pulp is ready

Let’s get on with the cake now

  • Pre heat the oven to 180C .

Oven temp conversion chart at http://happyrecipes.co.uk/oven-temperature-conversion/

Cream it

  • Beat sugar and butter together for about 2 mins or until creamy, using an electric hand mixer
  • Add eggs one at a time,  beat for 15 seconds after each addition
  • Now add the date pulp and beat for 1 min until everything comes into a watery batter

  • Add lemon juice, vanilla and salt
  • Next,  mix baking powder with flour and sieve it on to the batter
  • Gently fold the flour with a wooden spoon until everything comes to a creamy batter

Tray it

  • Line up a baking tray  with parchment paper and pour the batter in
  • Lift  the tray up and gently drop to the surface to let the air bubbles escape and the batter to spread and settle evenly

Oven it

  • Place the tray in the middle or the bottom shelf of the oven
  • Bake for  20  – 30 mins or until a skewer comes out clean when stabbed in the middle of the cake.  If the skewer comes out sticky, leave the cake a few mins more in the oven.

Enjoy

  • Take the cake out of the oven and let the cake rest for 5 mins
  • Gently,  remove from the tray and let it cool on a wire rack
  • Dip a knife in hot water before slicing the cake to avoid it from crumbling

Tips:

  • Always opt for the best quality wet dates for a flavourful cake
  • Never open the oven door during the first 10mins of baking
  • This cake taste best on the next day

Chinese Dumplings – Flavourful dumplings better than what you get from restaurents

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Our numerous visits  to various Chinese restaurants in the China Town, in central London, just to taste their authentic dumplings, have always been tantamount to a massive disappointment. They  never lived up to our expectations, especially, when it came to flavours. I found the outermost layer,  very soft and moist but the inner filling was almost flavourless.  So, I started experimenting with dumpling-making for a while in order to produce the best  and, much to my delight,  came out with exciting results.

Surely, it became an instant hit with my family members and then with my friends.  I even went as far as making sea-weed, the most favoured Chinese side dish.  In fact, in place of real sea-weed, which is hard to find,  I used Savoury cabbage (Curly cabbage).   Aha !!! Now that’s interesting isn’t it?  Well, the taste is same and I even happened to wonder whether in Chinatown, they too serve us cabbage !!

How to make my sea-weed, in actual sense, cabbage, is given below.

First, make the dough with the following ingredients : Enough for 30 – 35 dumplings.

  • Place 300g of plain flour in a bowl and make a well in the middle.  Now, pour 1/2 cup of boiling water into the well, cover the bowl and let it rest for 5 min.

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  • Open the lid and run through a wooden spoon.   Again cover and leave for 10 mins.
  • Now pour 1/2 cup of warm water gradually while kneading the flour with your hand .  Add more warm water if needed and knead until the dough becomes soft to touch and not sticking onto your fingers.  Cover and let it rest for 30 mins.  In the mean time, make the filling.

What you need for the filling;

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 Pork mince or Chicken mince 300 g
Spring Onion – Class A  – 120 g 1 bunch
Soy sauce (dark) 4 tbsp or more
Blended sesame oil 4 tbsp
Brown Sugar 3 pinches
Ginger – shreded 1 inch root
Salt 3 pinches
Corn flour 4 tbsp
Rice vinegar 1 tbsp
Cabbage – shredded 1 cup (optional)
    • Mix all the ingredients thoroughly and keep aside for 10 mins for the flavours to bind before making.
  •  Pork mince is a better choice for this recipe as it gives a very flavourful results.
  •  A cup full of shredded Chinese cabbage could be added to increase the quantity of the filling in case you are making them for a larger family or a gathering.

Let’s make:

  • Divide the dough into equal size balls as the size of a red cherry and arrange on a side of the kitchen work- top.
  • Lightly flour the surface of the kitchen work- top or a wide chopping board.  Place a ball of dough and roll it to a flat round shape with a rolling pin.
  • Place a table spoon of minced meat mixture onto the middle of the round shape.

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  • Bring both sides together and pinch on the pleat making them tightly clasped.

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  • Make enough for one round of steaming.  While one batch is in the steamer, you can go ahead making the next batch to avoid any extra uncooked dumplings to get damaged by sticking onto the surface.
  • The final step is to steam the  dumplings. Brush oil on the bottom of the steamer and arrange   dumplings without sticking to each other.  Now, steam on high flame for about 5 mins.  You will see the colour of outer cover  changes and start glistering when cooked enough.

Chinese dumplings

  • Switch off the flame and take out dumplings one by one, very gently, with the help of a soft edged tongs and  place on a plate .

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Let’s make the dipping sauce

  • 2 tbsp  – Dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp  – warm water
  • chopped coriander leaves
  • a few pieces of chopped red chili for a fiery blend. (avoid chili when serving kids)

chil Whisk all together and serve in a separate bowl next to dumplings with chopsticks, a fork or a spoon. In place of this sauce dipper, you can opt for Chinese chili oil or chili paste which are ideal dippers for these dumplings.

 

Sea-weed 

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  • You simply have to shred the curly cabbage as thinly as possible.
  • Then deep-fry in hot oil.  Just a min or two is enough for them to get crispy. Do not over frying will lose it’s lovely green colour.
  • Now add sugar and salt as per your taste.
  • Yummy sea-weed is ready to devour with delight !!

Chicken Biryani

Mum’s Special Chicken Biryani – Easy Biryani Recipe By Mum

This is my mum’s signature dish in which she poured a generous amount of love while it was being made.  Naturally, our mouths would start watering at the thought of this exotic dish and wished that mum would make it everyday!  Yet, we were privileged to devour it only on special occasions or on Sundays as a special treat for the family or friends who stopped by.

Unlike the usual biryani dishes, this is very light on the tummy due to the minimum oil amount  used.  Also, the cooking process is very simple and easy; any novice could come out with the mounthwatering results in his/her first attempt.

Mint chutney and  chicken gravy are the best accompaniments for this dish and mint, being a medicinal food digester can  work wonders. Recipe of these are given below;

So let’s make this is real winner of hearts for today’s lunch!

Ingredients required for 4 very hungry people :

Chicken Whole small chicken or 350 g of chicken legs cut into medium size pieces
Basmati Rice 2 & 1/2 cups
Plain Yoghurt 1/2 cup
Knor or Maggi Chicken soup cubes 1 and 1/2
Roasted curry powder or garam masala 2 tbsp
Onion 2 large
Ginger and garlic 2 tbsp grated
Cloves, peppercorns and cardamoms, cinnamon 5 each crushed
Turmeric powder and pepper powder 1 tsp each
 Green chili  3 slit

How to make:

Marinate

  • Massage  the chicken pieces thoroughly with yogurt,  roasted curry powder , turmeric,  grated ginger and  garlic,  salt, turmeric powder, pepper powder, slit green chili and the crushed soup cube.
  • Cover with cling film and  refrigerate for at least 2 hrs.

Prepare the rice

  • Wash the rice until water runs clear, drain, then keep aside for 20 mins. This will allow the rice to stretch during cooking.

Fry

  • Heat up 2 tbsp of olive oil in a wide brim pan.  Add the whole spices; cloves, peppercorns, cardamoms, cinnamons and let them crackle
  • Add grated ginger and garlic or  the paste of it
  • Add the onion slices and slightly brown them.  Drop a handful of curry leaves

Add rice

  • Now add the rice and quickly stir through , not letting it to stick to the bottom of the pan.  Fry the rice for about 2 mins or until well coated.

Add chicken

  • Now add the chicken with all it’s marinade
  • Mix rice and chicken thoroughly while turning them constantly for 2 – 3 mins.

Add warm water

  • Add warm water, just above the level of rice.
  • Give a good stir
  • Adjust the taste at this point

  • Cover the pan with a tea towl and then tightly close the lid

  • Cook under very low fire
  • Open after 10 mins and bring the bottom layer to the top and mix gently
  • Cook until the meat is tender and rice is cooked properly
  • Switch the flame off and let the pot rest for 15 mins for flavours to adjust
  • Serve with mint chutney and chicken gravy

Mint chutney

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How to make:

  • Take a handful of mint leaves and drop them into the jar of the hand blender
  • Chop a few shallots and drop into the jar
  • Thinly chop one or two small green chilies and add into the jar
  • Thinly cut a root of a ginger piece and add with a few pinches of salt
  • Now, crush everything into a pulp using the hand blender
  • Squeeze half a lemon into the pulp and mix it with the fingers until everything comes togethe
  • Taste and add more salt or lemon, if needed.
  • Done !

Chicken gravy

  • Marinate the chicken pieces with ginger and garlic paste, chili powder, pepper powder, slit green chili, salt, turmeric, roasted curry powder and 2 tbsp of plain yoghurt
  • Heat oil in a wide pan
  • Add a few crushed garlic cloves, curry leaves and chopped onions and fry
  • Drop 1/2 tsp of red chili powder and a few drops of turmeric into the oil and fry
  • Now drop all the chicken and fry a few minutes until well coated
  • Cover, lower the flame and let the chicken cook for 5 mins
  • Add warm water and inch above the chicken, cover and cook
  • Add 1tbsp of coconut milk powder or thick coconut milk for flavour
  • Done!

beef burger

Best Burger Bun – Juicy homemade beef burgers

beef burger

This is a very healthy and filling choice of a snack for a bunch of bouncy young kids, coming back home all hungry and tired after playtime!!  They will most certainly ask for more, so, remember to keep some extra burgers ready.

Wrapped nicely in a foil, these could go into anyone’s office or school lunch pack too. This juicy, home-made burger bun, could be tucked in without  a  guilt as they are free from all kinds of preservatives or processed ingredients.  You can  wrapped the extra pattis with a cling film. place them in a plastic box and store them in the freezer, that could come quite handy on a later date.     

So, let’s make them;

Get ready with the following ingredients;

Minced lean beef 300g
Burger buns 8 -10
Large onion 1 very thinly chopped
Tomato Ketchup 3 tbsp
Egg 1
Soy sauce 2 tbsp
Coriandar leaves A handful choppped (Optional)
White bread slice  2  grate into crumbs
 Salt  1/4 tsp adjust according to your taste
Pepper  1/4 tsp

To serve :  Cheese singles, thinly sliced tomatoes, cucumber, lattuce and burger sauce

Let’s make :

Mix it

  • Chop the onion very thinly (any larger bits can cause the burger fall apart while frying)
  • Grate the bread slice into thin crumbs.
  • In a large bowl add all the above ingredients ; mince meat, chopped onion, bread crumbs, chopped coriandar, egg, salt, pepper and both soy and ketchup and mix thoroughly using your hands.

Test the taste

  • Now, take a small potion from the mixture,  make a ball, flatten it and fry both sides on a heated and oiled non-stick pan or a griddle
  • Taste it and check if you need to add anything more.  You can add more soy sauce, ketchup, salt or pepper and adjust the taste at this stage.

Make the burger pattis

  • Now the taste is just right, take equal sized balls from the mixure and flatten them thickly.  Wet your hands to make this process easier
  • Place them on a tray and cover with a cling film
  • Refrigirate for 1 hr

Fry it

  • Next, spray olive oil onto a non-stick frying pan or a griddle and place the pattis around it
  • Fry one side and then slowly turn over to the other side
  • Never press them down with your spatula.  If pressed down, all the juices will run out, making it dry and crumbly.
  • When both sides are properly cooked, place them on a kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil. Proceed with the rest of the pattis.

Fill it

  • Place the bottom sides of the buns on the same frying/griddle pan
  • Quickly place the burger pattis on top of each and top them with  slices of cheese singles/slices and leave for a min for cheese to melt slightly
  • Take out from the pan and squeeze a dollop of burger sauce, ketchup or mayo on top
  • Arrage slices of tomatoes, cucumer and lattiuce
  • Cover with the top part of the bun and press down gently.
  • Wrap in foil paper and stack them on a tray
  • Serve warm

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Breakfast pancakes

Breakfast Pancakes – Fluffy And Melt In The Mouth

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These spongy, sweet pancakes is a delightful start for the day. My son wakes up on Saturday mornings and races into the kitchen to make these on his own; I am sure you can understands his enthusiasm and his irresistible temptation. He gobbles them up happily with Golden syrup, runny honey, strawberry sauce or simply dipping them into Nutella chocolate spread.

Encourage your kids to make these on their own under your supervision.  They will be delighted to watch how the white batter forms into a lovely , golden pancake under sizzling butter.

For a change, mix a few drops of red or green liquid cake colour to the batter to make a batch of  velvety red pancakes and see the delightful wonderment among your kiddies!!

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What you need to make these: ( Easy to use measurements in cups are given for making these  on daily basis)

 Plain flour 150 g (1cup)
Milk 150 g (4/3 cup)
Caster sugar 30 g ( 2 tbsp)
Baking powder 1 tsp
Salt 3 pinches
Egg 1
Butter for frying

 Let’s start:

  • Into a mixing bowl, sieve the flour, salt and baking powder
  • In a different jug, add the egg and milk and whisk them together and add sugar.  Rapidly whisk until the sugar dissolves
  • Pour the milk, sugar and egg mixture into the flour and beat gently with a wooden spoon until a smooth batter is formed without any lumps

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  • Place a flat non-stick pan on medium flame and melt butter until bubbly
  • Now ladle two or three spoonfuls of batter  into the frying pan in three different places, a bit far from each other

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  • Fry the pancakes for 2 mins and flip to the other side
  • Once both sides are golden, take out from the pan and repeat with the rest of the batternfd
  • Serve with maple syrup, runny honey, bananas or chocolate spread on side.

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Roasted curry powder – Sri Lankan

cuyyr powder There is no better way to spice up your dishes than adding your home-made curry powder to your cooking; on one hand, you know for sure what goes in it; on the other hand, it will measurably  enhance the taste, appearance and aroma of the dishes that you love to make. Once, experienced the obvious difference, you will never go for the ready-made packets in stores. The good news is that it will only take about half-an-hour for the whole process and you only have to be careful not to let the spices burn up while roasting them in the pan.

You need the following whole spices : 

 Coriander whole 2 cups
Cumin whole 1 & 1/2 cups
Cloves 1 tbsp
Cardamoms 1 tbsp
Dried red chili whole 6
Black pepper whole 1 tsp
Cinnamon quills 4 broken into small pieces
Raw rice 1 tbsp
Curry leaves and Pandan leaves A handful each

g1 Once roasted, the colour of the spices looks like this.   Let’s make it:

  • Heat up a wide pan on medium flame and add coriander ; slowly, dry roast while constantly running  a wooden spoon through.  When the colour changes into darkest brown / blackish , immediately empty it to a foil sheet.
  • Now add the cumin seeds and roast until its colour also changed into darkest brown.  Empty it to the same sheet on top of coriander and let them cool down.
  • Now add the rest of the spices and roast them, while tossing and turning them continuously.  Add them to coriander and cumin.  Now that the spices are roasted, it is time to grind them up.

Set your spice grinder  to full speed.

  • Add a handful of roasted spices and grind until it smooth, empty on to a sheet of paper and then slowly fill in to an air tight spice container.
  • Continue this process, taking short intervals, as over-heating could damage your grinder.
  • Now fill in a smaller spice container for regular use and the rest must be stored in an  air-tight spice container and pushed to the farthest corner of your kitchen cabinet, away from light.

This will stay with its best quality and aroma intact for about 3-4 months; spice grinder  

Homemade Bread – Best Homemade Bread With Panasonic Bread Maker

bread-300x293If you love bread, nothing can match this beautifully crusty, spongy and delicious bread that will melt into your mouth!! This beauty is not available even in the most exclusive bakery or a supermarket in-store bakery.  You will congratulate yourself for investing on this most trustworthy bread maker and will be baking breads and many other bakery products that are fit for Royalty, without stopping!

Thankfully, hundreds of bakery recipes could be obtained by downloading the PDF files that are 100% accurate with mouthwatering results!

It’s not only baking breads, but also kneeding  dough into perfection for making pizzas, naans, French breads, doughnuts, cakes etc.   You only have to take the dough out once it’s done and shape it up the way you need and stick it in the oven. Voila!!  The delicious aroma of beautiful, golden bakery products that will come out from the oven can make your neighbour go green with envy!

All thanks to my Panasonic bread machine that has been baking such lovely breads over the past 15 years – and is still baking.

Important : 

  • You must remember to use yeast from a newly opened sachet for a perfect bread.  Old yeast can be a huge disapointment.
  • Always use a good brand of bread flour for best results
  • Stick to the quentities of the recipe
  • Clean the machine regularly and keep it in a safe place

These are the ingredients needed for a large size white bread: 

Allinson Easy Bake Yeast TinImage result for bread flour

Dry yeast 1 tsp
Strong white bread flour 500 g
Sugar 1 tsp
Butter 25 g
Dry milk powder 1 & 1/2 tsp
Water 300 g

Everything goes into the bucket and the bucket in turn goes into the bread machine. Set the time to your own requirements and leave it alone.  It will carry on the whole process automatically without any assistance or supervision on our part. After 4 hrs, the mouth-watering, baking-bread aroma will waft through  the whole house, then the street and beyond.

Panasonic SD-2501WXC Bread Maker with 25 programmes Whiteimages-150x135

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Cake tips, Equipment and Techniques

cupcake cases  419IsK3Gc1L__SX355_

cupcake cases- silicon

salter-60-minute-clockwork-timer233692337   flour   stork

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cup cake traycake tin

  • Use the right equipment : To cream up the cake batter, use an electric hand mixer for best results.  Traditionally, a wooden spoon was used, but now, this machine does a quicker and easier job.
  • Measure ingredients accurately :  For a beautiful cake, all ingredients should be measured with 100% accuracy as specified in the recipe.  The best equipment to facilitate this particular need is a digital scale rather than a normal kitchen scale.  For a volume of 1Kg cake, for instance,  you need, 250 g butter, 250 g sugar, 250 g Self-raising flour and 4 eggs.
  • Use the best ingredients :  Using good brands for your cake is very important for the best results.  The brands that I have been using for the past 15 years are shown above.  All ingredients should be kept at room temperature, before making the cake batter.
  • Mixing the cake : Make sure you beat the batter, clockwise with your electric hand mixer in order to get the right consistency – never side to side or counter clockwise.  Mixing will take for about 3 – 5 mins at high speed.
  • Eggs :   Make sure you use Class A medium eggs that are kept at room temperature.  Take out from the fridge 1/2 hour early or if you are in a hurry, drop them in a bowl filled with lukewarm water for 10 mins. 
  • Butter : I personally do not prefer using butter, as the cake goes stiff after  a few hours in cold climates.  Before using, however, you need to soften up the butter, which gives you an extra task to attend to.  There are very good spreads available in supermarkets, especially made for baking purposes, which are naturally creamy and stay creamy in the fridge too. I use Stork, especially for cakes tub, which has never let me down; it rather helped me bake such glorious cakes.
  • Sieve the flour :  Use self-raising flour for cakes, unless suggested otherwise in the recipe. For some cakes, a blend of both self-raising and plain flour are used.   Swift the flour and baking powder together,  holding the sieve, well above the cake batter.  This will allow the air to escape from the flour, giving a very light, soft texture to your cake.  Make sure you use a wooden spoon to co-ordinate flour and batter together, never the electric hand mixer.  Lightly, fold flour bringing from the sides and dropping to the middle and going around gently until all comes together as soft batter.
  • Sugars :  Use Caster sugar, which is  ideal for cakes.  The mixing time will take up to 1-2 mins for caster sugar as it dissolves very  quickly.  However,  you can use granulated sugar, which gives the same results.   The only difference is that you have to extend the mixing time up to 3-4 mins, up until the sugar granules breaks down and dissolves.
  • Baking powder :  Baking powder is a key ingredient,  as it helps the cakes to rise.  Use a good brand and never use too much.  Excessive baking powder will make the cake taste bitter, leave a sunken cake and a wrinkled  surface.
  • Baking tray :   Choose the right size for your cake.  If you have a large tray, you can divide it by using a thick strip of a cardboard to fit for a smaller quantity of batter.  Remember, never to fill the trays to the brim as the cake doubles it’s volume while rising.  So, fill the tray – 2/3  or half.  ( 8″ x 10″ Oblong tray for 1 Kg cake). For cupcakes, use cupcake trays to place the cupcake cases filled with batter so that they do not spill out and stay intact.  Silicon cupcake cases are great for handling and they could be re-used after a quick wash with warm water.
  • Lining the tray : Use parchment paper to line up the tray.  Do not worry if you have run out of parchment paper; you can use  white blank sheet papers, cut into the shape of the tray and brush butter all over,  dust the surfaces with flour and shake off the excess.  
  • Vanilla essence : Use a good brand of natural vanilla essence.
  • Lemon juice      : Dropping just 1tbsp of lemon juice to your cake batter will make a big difference.  It will give a very pleasant aroma  as well as taking the taste to the highest limits.
  • Salt :  Most of the modern recipes do not include salt in theirs.  Yet, salt used as a vital ingredient for baking since Victorian times.  Just a pinch or two salt will help blending the flavours and heightening the taste.
  • Oven : Set the oven to 180 C , 20 mins before you pop the cake in.  Depending on your oven, the self that you place the cake on differs.  It should be either in the middle self or the bottom.  It’s very important to be in tune with your oven. Bake a few small cakes and check the exact place which bakes your cake to perfection.  Do not open the door of the oven in the first 10 mins of baking as it will drop the cake in the middle.  Baking time varies according to the set ups in ovens.  Normal baking time is 15 – 25 mins.
  • Wooden skewers :  Use a thin wooden skewer to insert in the middle of the cake after 15 mins of baking time.  If the skewer comes clean, your cake is ready!!!! If the skewer is damped with a few bits of batter, shut the door and bake for another 5 mins.
  • Cooling :  Leave the cake in the tray for 5 mins to cool off.  If you try to take it out, the cake can break in several places.  Slowly pull from the sides of the parchment paper and take the cake gently out to leave it to rest on a cooling rack for about 10 mins.
  • Cutting the cake :  Dip the knife in hot water, wipe clean before cutting the cake to prevent it from crumbling.
  • Serve the cake  :  Now, serve your cake with a big SMILE !!!     Store the left overs in an air tight container.  When serving next day, microwave the cake pieces on a plate just for 5 seconds and everyone will think  that they came straight from the oven – so soft, nice and warm!!

Continue reading “Cake tips, Equipment and Techniques”

Nutella choc chip cookies

Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies – Kid’s favourtie

Nutella Choc chip cookies

 Kids will love these crunchy, chocolate cookies.  The shop bought ones cannot even come closer to these!  So easy to make too.  You can get the kids to help with the whole process.  I even let my little one to pop the tray into the oven under my supervision.  They will be delighted to eat these yummy, crunchy cookies made by their own little hands.  Store them in an air-tight jar only if any left!

You need the following ingredients to make these:

Nutella chocolate spread 125 g
Plain flour 200 g

Caster sugar

90 g
Soft brown sugar 90 g
Butter 125 g
Egg 1 medium

Milk chocolate drops-

Or chocs break into small pieces

120 g
Baking powder 1/2 tsp
Cocoa powder 10 g
 Vanilla and salt  3 drops each

Let’s get started,

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 C / 350 F/ Gas mark 4).
  • Mix both types of sugar , add to butter and whisk together with an electric hand mixer until creamy. (Do not beat too much as the cookies could not become crunchy)
  • Add the egg and continue beating.
  • Add Nutella spread, vanilla and mix all together.
  • Mix baking powder, plain flour, cocoa powder and salt together and sieve in to the mixture.
  • Stir in the chocolate pieces.
  • Now gently fold everything together using a wooden spoon.
  • Spread a baking parchment paper on a baking tray and place tablespoonfuls of chocolate mixture on to the tray leaving enough space for them to spread as they bake.
  • Prepare two trays if the space is not enough
  • Place the tray in the bottom of the oven and bake exactly 14  mins.
  • Most importantly, once the cookies are out of the oven, you must let them fully cool down on the tray itself.  This is the trick to make them crispy and crunchy.  Do not worry if  you  notice they are still soggy when you take them out of the oven because they get crispy with the heat of the tray.
  • After all the cookies are cool enough to handle, gently take one by one out of the tray using a flat spatula and transfer onto a cooling rack.
  • Store in an air-tight jar . They  will stay crispy up to 5 days.
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