Pilchard fried rice

This one-pot Pilchard fried rice is a real feast!

A 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 give the best results.

🧡💛💚💙💜🤎Get  ready with these items:  

Pacific Pilchard in  rich tomato sauce1 small tin 155 g
Rice (White basmati)1 & 1/2 cups
Ginger and garlic grated1 tbsp
Coriander leaves and stems1 cup
Tomato1 juicy
Onions1 large
Fish sauce1 tbsp
Soy sauce2 tbsp
Ketchup2 tbsp
New / Baby Potatoes6 cut into chunkes
Cumin seeds and mustard seeds1 tsp each
 Salt 1/2 tsp or to taste
pilchard

🧡💛💚💙💜🤎Let’s Make it:

  • First, wash the rice until water runs clear.   Drain water and keep aside
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  • Chop onions, tomatoes, grated 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 separately.  Chop coriander leaves and stems.  Keep everything aside
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Ingredients
  • 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 the pot.  Fry the rice for a min or two
  • Next, pour warm water just above the rice
  • Give a good stir to bring everything together, cover and cook on a 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 chilli paste or any pickle on the side
  • Yummy !!!
date cake

Date Cake – Super Moist And Full Of Flavour! Perfect with a cuppa!

If you love the comfort of a delicious, spongy piece of cake with a cuppa, I suggest that this is the best cake to appease your tastebuds!

The well-balanced sweetness and the moist texture of this cake will win your heart instantly! The best news is that this cake tastes so good even without any heavy frosting. Just plain without much deco but proudly holding its place with unshakable trust!

You could even pack daintily cut pieces of this cake in a plastic box to take on picnics or long drives. I always remember to bake this cake and take it when I visit my best friend and the delight in her smile says it all!

With all the tips and techniques are given below nothing can go wrong. So, let’s get ready to make this beauty!

You need the following ingredients;

Good quality wet dates250 g
Margarine or spread250 g
Caster sugar250 g
Self-raising flour (Plain flour could be used if SRF is not available)250 g
Eggs4
Plain tea bags2
Salt2 pinches
Baking powder1 tsp
Bicarbonate of soda1 tsp
Juice of lemon2 tsp
Boiling Water 

 🧡💛💚💙💜Let’s get started:

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 (De-stoned) – 250 g
  • Plain tea bags          – 2
  • Bicarb                       – 1 tsp
  • Water to fill up to the level of dates

🧡💛💚💙💜Let’s make it;

  • Drop dates, two teabags and 1tsp of bicarb into a pan and fill with water just above the level of dates
  • Cover and boil until the water reduces to the minimum (This concoction might turn greenish because of bicarb but don’t worry)
  • 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

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.

Oven temp conversion chart at

https://happyrecipes.co.uk/oven-temperature-conversion/

Cream the batter

  • 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

In to the tray

  • 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

Stick in the Oven

  • Place the tray in the middle of 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 tastes best the next day

dumplings

Chinese Dumplings – Deliciously flavourful and dangerously addictive

This easy recipe will bring your dumplings dream true! Make them at home, keeping the authentic Chinese taste intact and you will never seek them from restaurents!

I must say that our numerous visits to various 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 and I found the outermost layer delicate and moist but the inner filling had no flavours and very little in quantity too.

 So, while experimenting with dumpling-making for a while, I came out with such exciting results which surely became an instant hit with my family as well as with friends. As a matter of fact, the overall taste is completely based upon the filling, so, take all the ingredients fresh and of good quality. Minced pork is best for this recipe but if you do not prefer pork opt for chicken mince.

So let’s get on with making dumplings!

Ingredients needed for the dough and for the filling :

Enough for 30 – 35 dumplings.

Minced pork, spring onions, plain flour, corn flour, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, ginger , sugar and hot water
Minced pork, spring onions, plain flour, corn flour, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, ginger , sugar and hot water
For the outer cover
Plain flour300g
Boiling water1/2 cup
Warm water(enough to knead the dough)
For the filling
 Pork mince or Chicken mince300 g
Spring Onion – Class A  – 120 g1 bunch
Soy sauce (dark)4 tbsp or more
Blended sesame oil4 tbsp
Brown Sugar3 pinches
Ginger – shreded1 inch root
Salt3 pinches
Corn flour4 tbsp
Rice vinegar1 tbsp
Cabbage – shredded1 cup (optional)

Let’s get started:

1) Make the dumplings cover;

  • 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
  • Immediately, cover the bowl and let it rest for 5 mins
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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 meantime, make the filling.

2) Make the filling;

  • In a large bowl add minced pork
  • Then add chopped spring onions
  • Drop sugar and chopped ginger in
  • Now, add soy sauce, sesame sauce, and vinegar
  • Drop cornflour in
  • Bring all together using a fork or chopsticks
  • The filling is ready!

3)Let’s make the dumplings and steam them:

  • Divide the dough into equal size balls
  • Lightly flour the surface of the kitchen worktop or a wide chopping board.  Place a ball of dough and roll it to a flat round disk, using a rolling pin
  • Place a tablespoon of meat mixture on the middle
Place the filling in the middle of the flatten disk
  • .Bring both sides together and pinch on the pleat making them tightly clasped.
  • Make enough for one round of steaming. While one batch is in the steamer, you can go ahead making the next batch and place them on a flour-dusted 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 – 6 mins.  You will see the colour of the outer cover change and start glistering when cooked enough
  • Switch off the flame and take out dumplings one by one, very gently, with the help of soft-edged tongs and place them on a plate
  • Your delicate dumplings are ready!
Chinese dumplings

Let’s make the dipping sauce

What you will need:

  • 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 chilli oil or chilli paste which are ideal dippers for these dumplings.

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Chicken Biryani

Mum’s Chicken Biryani – Anyone can make Easy Biryani Recipe

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This is my mum’s signature dish in which she poured a generous amount of love while making it, so, needless to say, that it always came out the best!  However, she only made it on special occasions or on Sundays as a special treat for the family or friends who stopped by.

Unlike the usual biryani dishes, the cooking process is very simple and easy; any novice could come out with the mouthwatering 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 :

ChickenWhole small chicken or 350 g of chicken legs cut into medium size pieces
Basmati Rice2 & 1/2 cups
Plain Yoghurt1/2 cup
Knor or Maggi Chicken soup cubes1 and 1/2
Roasted curry powder or garam masala2 tbsp
Onion2 large
Ginger and garlic2 tbsp grated
Cloves, peppercorns and cardamoms, cinnamon5 each crushed
Turmeric powder and pepper powder1 tsp each
 Green chili 3 slit

How to make:

Marinate

  • Massage  the chicken pieces thoroughly with yoghurt,  roasted curry powder, turmeric,  grated ginger and  garlic,  salt, turmeric powder, pepper powder, slit green chilli 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 its the 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 chillies and add into the jar
  • Thinly cut the 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 together
  • Taste and add more salt or lemon, if needed.
  • Done!

Chicken gravy

  • Marinate the chicken pieces with ginger and garlic paste, chilli powder, pepper powder, slit green chilli, 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 chilli 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 Beef Burger – Juicy homemade Burger Treat!

beef burger

Make these juicy beef burgers for kids coming all hungry from school or after bouncing hours in the playground! They will simply love to tuck into these and shower you with compliments! Be ready with some extra burgers in case!

Wrapped nicely in a foil, these could go into anyone’s office or school lunch pack too. The best news is that you can tuck into these home-made burger buns, without a  guilt as they are free from all kinds of preservatives or processed ingredients.  You can wrap the extra burgers with a cling film, place them in a plastic box and store them in the freezer which could come quite handy on a later date.     

So, let’s make them;

Get ready with the following ingredients;

Minced lean beef300g
Burger buns8 -10
Large onion1 very thinly chopped
Tomato Ketchup3 tbsp
Egg1
Soy sauce2 tbsp
Coriandar leavesA handful choppped (Optional)
White bread slice 2  grate into crumbs
 Salt 1/4 tsp adjust according to your taste
Pepper 1/4 tsp

Let’s make;

Mix

  • 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; mincemeat, chopped onion, bread crumbs, chopped coriander, 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 patties on top of each and top them with  slices of cheese singles/slices and leave for a min for the cheese to melt slightly
  • Take out from the pan and squeeze a dollop of burger sauce, ketchup or mayo on top
  • Arrange slices of tomatoes, cucumber and lettuce
  • 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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Fluffy breakfast pancakes

Breakfast Pancakes – Fluffy and spongy

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 understand his enthusiasm! 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. They will love to munch a few strawberries dipped in Nutella along with their pancakes. There are numerous ways to make them look extra special and taste even better! Simply follow your tastebuds!

Strawberries dipped in Nutella choc spread served with pancakes!

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

 Self-raising flour(this make very soft pancakes. You can use plain flour with a bit more baking powder150g (1cup)
Milk150g (4/3 cup)
Caster sugar30g ( 2 tbsp)
Baking powder1/2 tsp
Salt3 pinches
Egg1
Butter for frying 

 Let’s start:

  • Into a mixing bowl, sieve the flour, salt and baking powder together
  • In a 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 batter
  • Serve with maple syrup, runny honey, bananas or chocolate spread on the side.

Roasted curry powder recipe

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 of making it 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 whole2 cups
Cumin whole1 & 1/2 cups
Cloves1 tbsp
Cardamoms1 tbsp
Dried red chili whole6
Black pepper whole1 tsp
Cinnamon quills4 broken into small pieces
Raw rice1 tbsp
Curry leaves and Pandan leavesA handful each

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, 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.
  • Finally, 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, let’s grind them up.

Set your grinder to full speed (A coffee grinder is perfect for the job)

  • Add a handful of roasted spices and grind until smooth, empty on to a sheet of paper and then slowly fill into an airtight spice container
  • Continue this process, taking short intervals, as over-heating could damage your grinder
  • Tightly close and store away your spice container until needed
Bread machine bread

Best Homemade bread – with Panasonic bread machine

The most trusted Bread Machine in town!

To order the Panasonic Bread machine from Amazon, click on the link below;

If you love bread, there is no rival to this beautiful home-made golden loaf. It is fluffy and spongy in the middle and crusty on the sides! all you dream of a perfect bread!

Dunk a spongy piece in a bowl of chicken soup, mutton curry, creamy lentil curry, or a lamb stew and pop into your mouth to experience the joy of tasting the best bread in the world! Just smearing butter on a warm slice and eating it plain is just enough to feel the wonderment of this lovely bread!

🧡💛💚💙💜🤎💗 Why you should buy Panasonic Bread Machine

With a thumbs up, I can recommend the Panasonic Bread Machine for the best home-baked bread! I have been using mine for the past 16 years and it is still baking flawless bread! What I marvel at most is that the whole process happens automatically, with just a push of a button! You simply have to add all the ingredients into the bucket that comes with the machine, programme it, and walk away! The machine will take over all the tasks of mixing, kneading, proving, and baking the bread automatically and finally present you with the world’s best bread!

🧡💛💚💙💜🤎💗Making of the bread – time

It usually takes a total of 4hrs for the whole process of baking bread but if you are in a hurry there is a speed option of 2hrs. To make the dough it takes 45min which includes mixing, kneading, and proving. You just need to shape it according to what you are making and bake in the oven. The list is endless; Naan, Pita. French bread, dinner rolls, pizza etc

🧡💛💚💙💜🤎💗Electricity consumption

An average bread maker uses less energy than a coffee maker, coming in at about 9kwh. So, no worries thrifty people! The cost of electricity consumption for the whole process of baking bread is just 5p. Good news, indeed!

🧡💛💚💙💜🤎💗Recipes

Not only bread, but you can also bake cakes, make the dough within 45 mins for pizza, naan, doughnuts, hot cross buns, pita bread, or French bread. Once the dough is ready, you just need to shape it according to what you are making and stick it in the oven. So, no sweating over kneading dough or wait until it is proven. The bread machine does all the kneading and proves the dough automatically. It is as easy as that!

🧡💛💚💙💜🤎💗Best news

A long beep tone will indicate once the bread is ready, or just follow your nose along with the delicious aroma of freshly baked bread and meet your bread!

The recipe book that comes along with the machine and a freshly baked bread!

Tips for perfect bread:

  • Remember to use yeast from a newly opened sachet for a loaf of perfect bread.  Old yeast can be a huge disappointment
  • Always use a good brand of bread flour for the best results. I use Allison’s
  • Stick to the exact quantities 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: 

Dry yeast1 tsp
Strong white bread flour500 g
Sugar1 tsp
Butter25 g
Dry milk powder1 & 1/2 tsp
Water300 g
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Cake Baking tips, Equipment, and Techniques

cupcake cases

The whole process of baking a beautiful cake is indeed a therapy! From measuring ingredients to stick the batter in the oven, the whole process requires your undivided attention and of course, Love!

Never bake cakes when you are under stress or in the middle of a hundred chores as something can always go wrong, making you utterly disappointing. It could be very discouraging. Hence, chose a free time that you will not get distracted until the cake it safely out of the oven!

I have mentioned here, crucial tips and techniques of baking a flawless cake and I am sure they will be helpful.

If anyone is interested in baking this might be the first cake to get right. Once, you master this basic pound cake, baking all other fancy cakes will become a “piece of cake”

Recipe for the simple pound cake:

pound Cake – delicious buttery flavour sponge

1) Use the right equipment:

  • To cream up the cake batter, use an electric hand mixer for best results.  My choice is the Kenwood brand which has 2 or 3-speed options and a very durable motor. I have been using mine for the past 20 years without any worries!
  • Make sure you beat the batter, clockwise with an electric hand mixer in order to get the right consistency.  Mixing will take about 3 – 5 mins at high speed. You need to beat continuously until the yellow colour of the batter turns into pale white. Beating more than 5 minutes can cause the cake to collapse or not rise properly while baking. So, you need to pay attention to stop beating the batter as soon as the right colour and the fluffy consistency is achieved

2)Measure ingredients accurately:

  • For a perfect 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
Digital Scale – for accurate measurements

3)Use the best ingredients :  

  • It’s very important to use the best brands for your cakes to achieve delightful results. Hence, never compromise on the essential ingredients needed for a cake.  All ingredients should be kept at room temperature, before making the cake batter

Eggs:  

Make sure you use Class A medium eggs that are kept at room temperature.  Take the eggs out of 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. 

Margarine:

stork

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, specially made for baking purposes, which are naturally creamy and stay creamy in the fridge too. Because margarine is less dense than butter, it helps in rising cakes quickly and contributes to a lighter and spongier texture.

I use Stork, especially for cakes tub, which has never let me down; it rather helped me bake such glorious cakes.

Tip:

Remember to keep the tub of margarine or butter under room temperature before using it. In case you forget this, just a 50-sec turn in the microwave will soften it.

Flour:

Opt for the best self-raising flour for cakes, unless suggested otherwise in the recipe. Sift 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 a soft and fluffy batter.

Sugar:

Caster sugar is ideal for cakes as it dissolves quickly when mixed in the batter. The mixing time will take up to 2-4 mins for caster sugar.  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 4-5 mins, up until the sugar granules break down and dissolves. The best way to use granulated sugar is to grind it before adding it to the batter

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.
  • Also, remember to keep the container always closed air-tight. If the cake does not rise, check the quality or the expiry date of your baking powder

4)Choose the right Baking tray:

Choose the right size for your cake is very important. If you have a large tray, you can divide it by using a thick strip of cardboard to fit for a smaller quantity of batter.  Always, line up the trays with baking paper/parchment paper so that the cake will not burn from the sides and could easily be lifted out. Remember, never to fill the trays to the brim as the cake doubles its volume while rising. Always leave enough space from the top for the cake to rise freely.

As for cupcakes, use cupcake trays to place the cupcake cases filled with batter so that they do not spill out and stay intact while baking.  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 paper, cut into the shape of the tray and brush butter all over,  dust the surfaces with flour and shake off the excess.  

5) Taste enhancers:  

Vanilla essence:

Use a good brand of natural vanilla essence.

Lemon juice:

Dropping just a few drops of lemon juice into your cake batter will instantly quash the raw eggy smell and bring a very pleasant aroma as well as enhancing the taste in a great deal.

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 salts will help to incorporate the flavors beautifully and heightening the taste. Hence, do not forget “salt”

6) Oven:

Which ovens are best for cakes? Gas or Electric?

Gas ovens are usually the preferred oven for baking since it often requires the oven to preheat and to provide moist air. Electric ovens can dry out the moisture in cakes to some extend. To solve this problem, you can dip the tray with the cake batter in a larger tray filled with water and bake your cake.

Pre-heat the oven

Set the oven to 180C, 15 mins before you place the cake in.  Usually, the middle shelf of the oven is the best place to bake your cake. However, to be on the safe side, baking on the bottom shelf is advisable as the possibility of the cake burning out is very less.

Stay in tune with your oven

It’s very important to be in tune with your oven. This is a very simple tip to test your oven if it is newly bought or you are new to it.

Make the usual simple batter for pound cake with;

  • 150g Caster sugar
  • 150g Margarine
  • 250g Self-raising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 pinches of salt and 3 drops of lemon
  • 2tbsp of milk

Make the batter

  • Beat margarine and sugar together until creamy
  • Add eggs one at a time and beat after every addition a couple of rounds
  • Add in milk, salt, and lemon
  • Sift the flour on to the batter and combine with a wooden spoon until all comes together as a smooth batter
  • Your batter is ready to use now

Tip: Divide the batter into two trays. Place one tray on the middle shelf of the oven and bake. Take the cake out and leave it to cool.

Then, the other tray must go on the bottom shelf and bake. Check which one is baked best and how much time is taken. This way, you know exactly on which shelf to bake your cake.

  • Do not open the door of the oven in the first 10 mins of baking as it will drop the cake in the middle
  • Shut the oven door very slowly after placing the cake in the oven. If the oven door is bang shut the air in the oven suddenly gets disturbed and it will cause the cake to drop from the middle
  • Baking time varies according to the setups in ovens or depending on the cake. The normal baking time is 15 – 25 mins
  • Do not forget to alert you with a timer

5) While baking:  

  • Place the tray with the batter in the oven and close the door gently. Never bang it.
  • Remember to set the timer but do not forget to peek a few times
  • Never open the oven door during the first 10mins
  • Wooden skewers: Stab a thin wooden skewer 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 soggy with the batter stuck to it, shut the door gently and bake for further 5 – 8 mins.
  • If the cake is browning from the top but soggy in the middle, cover the top with a sheet of foil or baking paper and bake for further 5-8mins
  • take the cake out of the oven and leave to cool in the tray itself for 10mins
  • Then, gently lift and drop the tray on the kitchen top to loosen the edges of the cake. Take the cake out and leave it to cool on a wire rack
  • Cooling:  Leave the cake in the tray for 10 mins to cool off. Slowly pull from the sides of the parchment paper and take the cake gently out and leave to rest on a cooling rack
  • Your cake is ready to serve

6) Serving

  • You can serve the cake straight after cooling, all fresh and with that, “melt in the mouth” effect!
  • If you are planning to frost the cake with buttercream, it is advisable to place it in the fridge for better handling
  • Place the cake in an air-tight container for keeping the moisture intact

Cutting the cake:  Dip the knife in hot water, wipe clean before cutting the cake to prevent it from crumbling

Serve the cake  : 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 serve beautillyfully warm. You can easily fool everyone believing that the cake came straight out of the oven!

Continue reading “Cake Baking tips, Equipment, and Techniques”
chocolate chip cookies

Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies – Kid’s favourite

Nutella Choc chip cookies

Kids’ will go wild with excitement when they come to know that these crunchy chocolate cookies are made with their all time favourite Nutella spread!

I guarantee that even adults cannot resist a crunchy bite of these perfect cookies. You start with one and finish with several of them! So, beware! You could easily become addicted to them.

You can create more excitement at home by inviting kids to join you in making these. The whole process is very easy and straight forward, so they will not leave an almighty mess in the pantry. I am sure they will be delighted to taste the crunchy cookies made by their own little hands.  No need to emphasize that a cup of warm hot chocolate will beautifully complement the cookies!

Store them in an air-tight jar if anything is left!

You need the following ingredients to make these:

Nutella chocolate spread125 g
Plain flour200 g

White sugar

180 g
Butter125 g
Egg1 medium

Milk chocolate drops or chocolates broken into small pieces

60 g
Baking powder1/2 tsp
Cocoa powder10g or 2tbsp
salt 3 drops

Let’s make:

  • Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F/ Gas mark 4)
  • Mix sugar butter. Beat together using an electric hand mixer for 2mins (Do not beat too much as the cookies will not become crunchy)
  • Add the egg and beat for 1 min
  • Add Nutella spread, vanilla and beat for 2 mins
  • Stir in the chocolate pieces
  • Mix baking powder, plain flour, cocoa powder and salt. Sieve onto the mixture
  • Now, gently fold everything together using a rubber spatula
  • Spread a baking parchment paper on a baking tray. Scoop a tablespoonful of the chocolate mixture and place on the tray. Continue with the rest of the mixture leaving enough space for them to spread as they bake
  • Prepare two trays if space is not enough
  • Place the tray in the bottom of the oven and bake exactly 20  mins (remember to set the timer)
  • Take the tray straight out of the oven after 20 mins and let the cookies cool on the tray itself. Do not take the cookies out of the tray until they are completely cooled. The heat of the tray will make the cookies become crunchy
  • If the tray has no room for all the cookie batter, spread them on another tray and bake separately

Tips:

  • Most importantly, once the cookies are out of the oven, let them fully cool off 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 will get crispy with the heat of the tray.
  • Store in an air-tight jar. They will stay crispy up to 5 days

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