Black forest cake

Best Black forest cake – Easy recipe using cocktail cherries

Black forest cake

Ingredients:

FOR THE SPONGE CAKE
Self-raising flour or plain flour220g
Baking powder1 tsp
1 1/2tsp if plain flour is used
Bicarbonate of soda powder1/4 tsp
Cocoa powder50g
Salt1/4tsp
Eggs5
Vegetable oil1/2 cup
Lemon juice1tsp
Caster sugar100 g
Nescafe 1 1/2 tbsp
Hot water1 cup
FOR THE FROSTING
Heavy cream/Double cream/ Whipped cream2 cups
Icing sugar1 cup
Dried milk powder1 tbsp
Vanilla essence 1tsp
FOR THE SUGAR SYRUP
Water10 tbsp
Sugar10 tbsp
FOR DECORATION
Morello cherry1 bottle
Dark chocolates1 bar

It was indeed a dream come true; the thrilling experience I had while admiring my gorgeous Black Forest Cake was beyond description.

This was something that I thought as a quite a daunting task, some months before. However, I realised, that it is just a matter of making two simple chocolate sponge cakes, soak them with sugar and cherry syrup, cover with whipped cream frosting, and pat with dark chocolate shavings. Not so daunting when your grit, coupled with passion, is on track, after all!

To make the whole process easier and less stressful, I used cocktail cherry in cherry syrup, instead of making the same with fresh cherries. Cherries are seasonal fruits and in some months fresh ones are not available in supermarkets. Also, in tropical countries, cherries are hard to find. Hence, I guess, using cocktail cherries in this recipe is very practical and in turn, the cherry syrup in the bottle gives an addictive deep flavour to the cake as well as the cherry liqueur soaked cherries are equally addictive.

Gather all the necessary ingredients and proceed with confidence. Opt for a relaxed time during which you will not get distracted. Follow all the steps methodically and voila! Black Forest Cake will be in front of you in no time! Trust me, you will love the ultimate goal!

Let’s start making this beautiful cake;

  1. Bake the cake

Whisk egg yellows

  • Pour 1cup of hot water into 1 1/2tbsp of Nescafe and make a cup of coffee. Let cool
  • Sift 220g of flour with 50g of cocoa powder, 1/2tsp salt, 1tsp of baking powder and 1/4tsp of bicarb. Keep aside
  • Whisk the egg yellow until frothy
  • Now, Add the flour mixture and give a good mix with a baloon mixer or a fork
  • Add the cup of coffee and 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
  • Mix all together until a smooth batter is formed

Beat the egg whites

  • Separate eggs (Even a tiny drop of egg yellow could spoil the batter, so be very careful while separating the eggs)
  • Take a clean, dry bowl (Any wetness in the bowl will not allow the egg whites to stiff well)
  • Drop egg whites. Beat on high speed until heavy and stiff
  • Pour in 100g of sugar in three times while beating on high speed
  • Drop 1tsp of lemon juice
  • Beat a few rounds and keep aside

Combine both

  • Now, pour the egg white mixture into the egg yellow mixture and gently combine until everything incorporates producing a smooth batter

2) Into the oven

two trays of this size are perfect
  • Pre-heat the oven to 160C for 10mins
  • Line up two round trays
  • Divide the batter and pour into the trays
  • Place the trays on a wide rectangle tray filled with water
  • Place it in the oven and gently close the oven door (do not bang the oven door shut as the cakes can drop from the middle)
  • Bake for 20-25mins
  • Stab a skewer into the middle of the cakes. If the skewer comes out clean the cakes are ready. If not, leave 5 more mins in the oven
  • Take out from the oven and let cool on a cooling rack

3) Make the sugar syrup

  • Mix 10tbsp of sugar and 10tbsp of water and make the sugar syrup

4) Make the Frosting

  • Keep all the ingredients needed for frosting on the work top. Double cream should be taken out of the fridge just before using it. Chilled double cream makes beautiful snow like peaks
  • Take a clean, dry bowl. Wipe clean if any wetness is left. Pour in the 2 cups of chilled double cream
  • Beat on high spead until the cream turns thick and stiff
  • Add 1 cup of icing sugar in three times and continue beating for 2-3 mins
  • When the pins are lifted they must hold beautiful stiff peaks. Stop beating
  • Add in milk powder and lemon juice
  • Beat a couple of rounds and check the taste. If the sweetness is not enough, you can add a bit more icing sugar and mix
  • Cover the bowl with a cling film and refridgirate until needed

5) Decorate the cake

  • Peal off the baking paper of completely cooled cakes. Try baking the cakes on the previous day
  • If the sides and the tops of the cakes are hard and crusty, scrape them off neatly. Otherwise its perfectly alright to take the cakes as they are
  • Now stab both cakes all over with a skewer and make several tiny holes
  • Pour the sugar syrup all over both cakes
  • Now pour the cherry syrup/liquer in the bottle of cocketail cherry on to both cakes liberally
  • Place one cake on the cake stand. Cover with the frosting. Place cocktail cherries around and in the middle
  • On top place the other cake
  • Pour some cherry syrup/liquer from the bottle of Cocktail cherry
  • Cover the top and around with the frosting
  • Fill some of the frosting into a piping bag and using the rose nostle make a dainty line of roses
  • Place a cherry on each rose
  • Shave the dark chocolate with a vegetable peeler and pat on the sides of the cake
  • Done!
  • Place the cake in the fridge overnight or at least 3hrs before serving
  • Enjoy!

Tips:

  • Make sure you buy the best brands of all the ingredients in order to produce best results
  • Place all the ingredients on the work top to make the process easier and quicker
  • Read the recipe a couple of times and make a mental note of the steps
  • Always opt for a peaceful time for baking because just one little step forgotten, the whole effort will be spoilt
  • Do not pre-heat the oven too long. Upto 15mins is more than enough. And also, never bang the oven door after placing the cake inside. The air inside will get disturbed and make the cake to flop from the middle
  • Before frosting/icing the cake always make sure the cake is completely cooled. Bake the cakes on the previous day to save a lot of time and energy.
Lassi

Lassi – quench your thirst instantly – Best summer drink

If you have not tasted this divine drink before, do not let this summer pass without tasting it. Or else you will miss a great chance to experience the utmost joy of this silky smooth, icy cold, velvety drink that slithers through your throat, rejuvenating your whole self with an instant effect. I must say that your summer joy is not complete if you have not sipped a glass of Lassi!

So, hurry up, buy a thick, full-fat tub of plain yoghurt or just Greek yoghurt and go home and make Lassi! Spread the joyful news! Stay cool, stay happy throughout the summer!

Lassi, widely used in the Indian subcontinent during the hot summer months, is the most refreshing, smooth yoghurt drink you can think of.

Getting the proportions right is the key to achieve the right consistency of this amazing drink. When added too much water, for example, the silky smooth texture vanishes. If you do not add ice cubes into the blender jar, the churning will not give the right chill. It should all come together in the right proportions to have the most delightful Lassi in your glass!

Even if you are tempted, do not gulp down the whole glass in one go! Just sip slowly and experience the real bliss of this silky smooth drink that instantly cools you down and refreshes you to the core.

Hurry, let’s whiz this up!

Ingredients needed:

Full-fat plain or Greek-style yoghurt or plain curd1 cup
White sugar 2 1/2 tbsp
Cold dinking water1/4 cup
Ice cubes3

Let’s churn it:

  • In a blender jar drop all the ingredients together
  • Blitz on high speed for 1-2 mins. Do not exceed this time to keep the frothy texture
  • Serve immediately with froth on top of the glass
  • Delicious

Aubergine-egg pant pan fried

Pan-fried aubergine/Egg plant circles-crispy, spicy and delicious

The purple magic!

Aubergine/Eggplant fry

The glossy, purple aubergines could come to your plate in many delicious forms but believe me, this is one of the best dishes! Hardly any oil in these crunchy, delicious aubergine circles and you will come to love them either as a side dish or a starter! It is indeed purple magic!

Aubergines are healthy, versatile, and supremely delicious when prepared with care. The soft middle can absorb a lot of oil like a sponge, so it is wise not to deep fry or add too much oil into any dish you prepare using this vegetable.

I happened to invent this recipe, while casually experimenting on an exciting new recipe with aubergines and was delighted with the outcome. This is a very simple, easy peasy recipe, but you cannot underestimate the well-balanced taste!

Step by step recipe is given below with all the necessary details. So, let’s make it!

Ingredients – omit cumin powder if you prefer a less spicy version

Ingredients:

Aubergines/egg plants2
Red chilli powder1tbsp
Cumin powder1tbsp
Turmeric powder1/2tbsp
Salt 1/2tsp
Cornflakes (plain)1 cup
Olive oil2tbsp

How to make:

  • Slice the aubergines thinly
  • Keep aside
  • Crush a cup of plain cornflakes
  • Mix all the spices together
  • Add a little water and make a thick paste
  • Rub the masala paste on both sides of aubergine circles
  • Keep all the slices on a plate
  • Now, dust cornflakes on both sides of aubergine slices
  • Stack all the prepared circles on a plate
  • Heat a little olive oil in a flat pan and arrange all the aubergine slices and fry both sides, gently turning occasionally
  • Keep the fried aubergines on a stack of tissues for a while and serve immediately!
victoria sponge cupcakes

Victoria Sponge cupcakes – filled with Buttercream icing and jam

Let’s start

Make these yummy cupcakes and spread the joy around! It’s indeed a joy to find a cherry sitting on the creamy butter icing, beneath the half-opened flap in the middle!

Kids will go crazy with the sight of this most inviting delicious treat! No assurance needed to testify the out-of-this-earth taste of these. And they are super easy to make too!

As a matter of fact, this is the same recipe of the classic Victoria Sponge cake which is indeed a show stopper!

Please click the link below for the full step by step recipe for Victoria Sponge cake:

Victoria Sponge cake
Link for Vic Sponge Cake

Equipment: You will need some cupcake cases and a muffin tray. To fill the cupcakes, you need to opt for the best strawberry or raspberry jam. Making the buttercream icing to the right consistency is also equally important to achieve the best taste.

So, Lets, begin,

What you will need

For the cake

Self Raising flour / Cake flour200 g
Margarine or melted butter under room temperature200 g
Caster sugar200 g
Eggs under room temp3
Milk3 tbsp
Lemon juice and Vanilla essence1/4  tsp each
Salt3/4 pinches
Baking powder (if you are using plain flour add 1/2tsp)1/4 tsp

For the Buttercream icing

Icing sugar200g
Margarine100g
lemon juice3/4 drops
Vanilla essence1tsp
Milk (optional)1tbsp

Make the batter

  • Cream butter and sugar together until smooth and creamy,  using an electric hand mixer.  Go clockwise  (3 – 4 mins)
  • Add eggs, one at a time. Make sure you beat  after each addition ( Beat 3/4 rounds after each addition)
  • Add vanilla essence,  lemon juice, salt, milk and whisk two rounds(1min) 
  • Mix baking powder to flour and sieve onto the cake batter
  • Fold the flour gently with a wooden spoon until everything comes together as a creamy batter

Preheat the oven to 180C for 20mins. Do not exceed this time. If your oven heats up too soon, set it for 160C.

Fill the cupcake cases

silicon cupcake cases are re-usable and you can remove the cake from the case
  • Fill cupcake cases with the batter leaving little space on the top for the cake to rise
  • Place the filled cupcake cases in a muffin tray
  • Lift up the tray and drop it twice onto your kitchen-top gently, allowing the batter to spread and settle evenly on the try

Into the tray

  • Place the tray in the middle/bottom shelf of the oven and slowly close the oven (If your oven heats up too soon, set the temp. for 160 C degrees and bake the cake on the lowest shelf)
  • Bake for 20 mins or the tops of the cupcakes turns golden. After 20 mins, insert a skewer into the middle of one cupcake and if it comes clean,  your cakes are ready

Important tips: Oven

Place the tray with cakes in the oven and close the door very gently. If the door is shut with a bang, the cakes can slump in the middle

Never open the oven door during the initial 10mins as the cakes might not rise but drop from the middle

If the cakes are browned on the top but soggy in the middle, do not worry, simply place parchment paper on top of the cakes and continue baking for a further 10 mins

Out of the oven

  • Take the tray out of the oven and let it rest for 10 mins
  • Remove the cupcakes and let them cool off on a wire rack
  • Meanwhile, whip up the butter icing

Frosting the cake

Whip up the buttercream icing:

  • Cream up margarine and gradually add sieved icing sugar. Beat on high speed until smooth and creamy using an electric hand mixer
  • Add lemon juice, vanilla and milk. Beat a few rounds
  • Buttercream icing is ready to use!

Ice the cakes:

  • Slice the top of some cupcakes
  • Spread a generous dollop of jam
  • Smear buttercream on jam
  • Cover with the sliced top
  • Dust with icing sugar
  • Yummy!
  • For a change, you can dig in the middle of some cupcakes and make a well
  • fill the well with jam and then buttercream
  • Close with the removed crust
  • Dust with icing sugar
  • Yum!

Serve at the afternoon tea-time and enjoy!

How rising oil price affect food prices

The oil prices rise steadily and despite the falling demand, especially in the West due to strict lockdowns. At the moment two crude oil benchmarks, WTI and Brent, have hit above crucial $50 mark.

It goes without saying how food prices are going to be affected by the rising oil price during these troubling times.

Since the transportation of goods by roads, both national and international level, the prices of essential items are already being subject to inflationary pressures. The rise in oil price is only going to make it even worse at a critical time.

In addition, the air transport has collapsed by a significant percentage and it will add more pressure to sellers to raise the prices.

Farmers are going to feeling the pinch too: with rising oil price, they cannot afford to use machinery in an optimum capacity – for obvious reasons.

If the rising oil price forces consumers to turn to alternatives such as biofuels, the price of essential items could even go higher than the current values.

It’s true that the oil producers have to survive too: they have to look after the needs of their own populations; they have to invest in research and exploration too.

Most producer are in the opinion that the oil price within the current range, from $40 – $50, is something that they can manage their budgetery needs while addressing the ballooning deficits.

Please read more on oil price here

Chilli shrimp paste

chilli Paste – best taste enhancer with just 4 tbsp of oil

Chilli paste
Chinese chilli paste

Hello chilli lovers, let’s meet every pantry must-have taste enhancer! This special spice and chilli blend will instantly enhance the flavours of fried rice, noodles or any stir-fries! We know that dried shrimps have a distinct flavour and in this recipe, it is being roasted in oil and blended with dried chillies and onions along with sauces in perfect proportions to win everyone’s taste buds!

Now, this will be a piece of good news for all the healthy eaters; While experimenting on this great taste bud winner, I came across a superb way to minimize the amount of oil used in it.  Instead of deep-frying all the ingredients as everyone usually does, I stir-fried, using only four tbsp of oil, while keeping the taste perfectly intact! Wonders of wonders, really!

Surprisingly,  the taste was supreme, despite not being drenched in oil like many available brands on the shop shelves.  I am pretty sure that if you taste this delicious chilli paste once, you will never buy any supermarket brands which has no real shrimp taste. Absolute fake!

I suggest that you make a large batch and fill a large glass bottle and store in the fridge. It will sit in the fridge fresh and aromatic for over three months.

So, let’s make it!

Ingredients needed:

Dried shrimp1 cup
Chopped onions1/2 cup
Sugar2/3tbsp
Salt1tsp
Soy sauce3/4tbsp
Ginger and garlic chopped2tbsp
Chilli flakes1tbsp
Vinegar1tbsp
Ingredients

You will need the following ingredients: (You can add more of any of these according to your taste)

Let’s make

  • Heat 2tbsp of oil, fry the dried shrimp and keep aside
  • Add another 1tbsp oil and fry chopped onions and keep aside
  • Add the third tbsp of oil and fry chilli flakes, chopped ginger and garlic
  • Bring all together and give a good mix
  • Add soy sauce, sugar and salt
  • Pour in vinegar
  • Check the taste and add more salt and sugar accordingly, until it is just the right flavour you are looking for!
  • Crush all into a paste using a hand blender
  • Your delicious chilli paste is ready!
  • Store in an air-tight glass jar and place in the fridge

Chocolate Sponge Cake – No electric mixer – make in the pan and bake in the oven

I am not surprised if you feel too lazy to take out all the necessary equipment to fix a cake sometimes, worrying about all the washing and wiping would be waiting!

So, why not try this recipe to save your day! Just call this, a ‘lazy cake’ because you don’t have to use the electric mixer or the mixing bowl at all. Instead, you just have to cook all the ingredients in a pan. The batter comes out creamy and silky smooth and bakes a super moist and incredibly delicious cake ever! You don’t have to ice this cake because it is perfect as it is.

This cake cannot go wrong, so do not worry. Just relax and fold the ingredients together and pop the batter into the oven. I baked this cake under 160C instead of usual 180C given the fact that the batter is a little too runny and also to achieve a more moist texture in the cake.

Tip: If the top of the cake is already browned and the middle is under cooked, cover the top with a baking sheet or just a blank-sheet and cook further 10 minutes

Ingredients needed:

Self-raising flour200g
Margarine or butter200g
Sugar200g
Cocoa powder2tbsp
Salt3 pinches
Baking powder1/2tsp
Water5tbsps
Milk3tbsp
Eggs2

Let’s make it:

Set the oven to 160 C

  • In a pan heat butter until melted and add sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves and add milk
  • In another pan heat water and add cocoa powder and salt. Stir under low flame until cocoa powder blooms. Pour into the pan with butter and sugar and give a good mix
  • Beat eggs with a fork until frothy and add to the pan
  • Add flour and baking powder together and drop to the pan.
  • Mix all together until a smooth batter is formed
  • It is this easy you see!
  • Now that all have come together as a runny batter, pour into a lined tray with parchment paper (If the batter has lumps, send through a sieve and pour into the baking tray
  • Bake in the bottom shelf of the oven for 30 mins or until a skewer comes out clean when stabbed in the middle
  • Once out of the oven, cover the top of the tray with a tea towel and let the cake cool off completely
  • Once cooled, take out of the tray and cut into dainty pieces. To achieve the best results, dip the knife in boiling water and wipe clean

Eton Mess – Easy recipe – Deliciously British & very stylish

Eton Mess
Fresh strawberries

YouTube video with detailed demonstration

Much loved for its finest taste and luxury appearance, Eton mess is a very popular dessert in the summer season in England and believed to be served at the annual cricket match at the Eton College in the late 19th century, where it got its name!

Who can resist this indulgent, sweet strawberry dessert? The occasional crunch of the meringues in the silky smooth cream, drenched in the sweet strawberry sauce and the taste of fresh juicy strawberries, make it a heavenly treat in the warm summer months, where the strawberries are in abundance.

The best news is that it takes only a few minutes to whip it up! Gather the ingredients needed and it’s just whipping the cream and wrapping all in it! Then, grab a spoon and let your taste buds go dancing!

Serve on a scoop of vanilla ice cream or just decorate a cake with it to give an absolute luxury taste and appearance!

Ingredients needed:

Juicy strawberries
For the strawberry sauce
Juicy strawberries200g and a cup full for garnishing
Sugar3 1/2 tbsp
Lemon juice1 tsp
Water1 tbsp
For the whipped cream
Double cream – whipping cream200ml
Icing sugar3 tbsp
Lemon juice3 drops
For Meringues
Buy a packet of good quality meringues from a supermarket

Let’s whip it:

1st Step: make the strawberry sauce

Strawberries, lemon juice, sugar
  • Place strawberries, sugar, lemon juice and water together in a pan and heat up gently until the strawberries are softened and floating in a sauce. This will take about 10-15 mins.
  • Send the sauce through a sieve to get a clear liquid without any seeds
  • Keep aside to cool.

2nd Step: Whip up the cream

Eton Mess will be a messy and undesirable lump if the cream is not whipped to perfection. It is very important to place the cream and the mixing pins in the fridge until needed and wipe the bowl clean and dry.

  • Take the cream and mixing pins out of the fridge and immediately pour cream into the bowl
  • Now start whipping at medium speed and gradually increase the speed to maximum. You will notice the cream thickens while mixing rapidly for 3/4 mins
  • Add icing sugar while beating in full power
  • Add lemon juice
  • Beat until stiff peaks form. When you lift the pins, the peaks must not drip but stay stiff and firm
  • Check the sweetness and add a bit more icing sugar in, if you desire to take the sweetness a little further

3rd Step: Assemble – the best part!

  • Slice a cup full of strawberries and drop them into the cream
  • Add some of the strawberry sauce
  • Crush some meringues and drop
  • Mix all together
  • Decorate with more strawberries, strawberry sauce sprinkled on the top, and meringue scattered on

or

  • Take a tall glass and drop chopped strawberries, then whipped cream and top it up with strawberry sauce. Continue the same layers until you reach the top.
  • Decorate with a sprig of mint
  • Place in the fridge for 2/3 hrs and serve chilled
  • Delicious!

My Amazon picks:

Best Chocolate Brownies -Blitz In The Blender And Baked To Perfection

This is the easiest and the yummiest Chocolate Brownies I have ever made! I mentioned “easiest” here, because the batter is made in seconds by dropping all the ingredients into a kitchen blender and blitz together just for 5 seconds!

Originated from the United States in the 19th century, Brownies are crispy and crackly on the top, fudgy in the centre, chewy and caky at the same time. It is a cake and it is not! The difference is no baking powder or self – raising flour are added, so the batter does not rise. Instead, it becomes chewy and fudgy while baking.

So, let’s make these beauties and serve them around, at tea time! Or you can drop a few on top of vanilla ice-cream and serve with a little dash of chocolate sauce to make it a gorgeous dessert!

You can also, drop them into a transparent bag, tie a ribbon and make a pretty gift for a friend! Once you made them, serving ideas will come flooding! So, let’s get ready with the ingredients and give it a try;

Ingredients needed:

Plain Flour100g
Butter/Margarine100 g
Sugar250 g
Eggs2
Cocoa powder1 tbsp
Milk2 tbsp
Milk chocolate 125g
Vanilla 1 tsp
Salt3 pinches

Let’s make:

  • Melt milk chocolates, milk, salt and cocoa powder together on a pan or in the microwave. Mix well. Keep aside
  • Add butter and sugar into a pan and heat gently while stirring until the sugar dissolves and let it cool. You can use the microwave for this purpose.
  • Add the eggs into a blender. Whiz only for 3 seconds.
  • Add butter and sugar mixture, chocolate syrup and vanilla. Whiz for 5 seconds
  • Add flour. Whiz for 5 seconds. Your batter is ready!
  • Pour into a glass or Pyrex dish lined with a parchment paper
  • Bake for 20-25 mins
  • Let the baked brownie sheet cool off completely
  • Dip a sharp knife in boiling water, wipe clean and cut squares
  • Store in an air-tight box
  • Taste even better the next day!