Archive | March, 2013

Blueberry Muffins

26 Mar

I have always wanted to bake muffins and am sure perfect muffins are every new baker’s dream. Well I discovered quiet a lot of important facts about muffin’s during my happy stunt with them this weekend. I say happy because the amount of effort that went into baking was really nothing compared to their yummieness. Not only that, they were beautiful, don’t believe me?? Check out for yourself!

Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Muffins

Well, I made these using the “Muffin Method” as compared to the “Cake Method” of baking muffins and since I really liked the recipe posted on the pioneer woman since it mentioned using yogurt instead of sour cream. I am still a budding baker, and was quiet impressed with the fact that with the muffin method I did not have to use the hand mixer at all! I suggest you read Muffin-101, before you start baking, I found it very informative.

Blueberry Muffin

INGREDIENTS (About 12 small muffins)

  • 1 1/2 cups minus 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup plain un-flavoured yogurt
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • turbinado sugar
  • butter for muffin tins or not, if you are planning on using paper liners

Pre-heat oven to 385 degree F.

In a bowl sift together all the dry ingredients – flour, sugar, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, salt and in another bowl whisk together oil, vanilla, egg, yogurt and honey. You can leave the nutmeg out if you aren’t very fond of it. Add the dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir to the count of 10. Its OK if the mixture has lumps, do not over-mix the ingredients. Over mixing results in gluten formation and affects the texture of the muffins.

Blueberry MuffinsPlace the paper liners in the muffin pan. Add the mixture into the muffin pans, fill up to 3/4 of the pan, using a big spoon/ice-cream so that the all the muffins are same size.  I did not have turbinado sugar available, so I sprinkled regular sugar all over on the muffin tops. I should mention here that I am a huge fan of crunchy muffin tops, and it is this sugar topping that makes them crunchy. So, by all means add the sugar topping :). Place the muffin pan into the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes clean out of it, well, except the blueberry goo sticking to it.

Cool the muffins first in the muffin pan and later transfer them onto the wire rack. While they cool down, feel free to dig your teeth into a soft, moist, crunchy, blueberry oozing muffin and bless yourself 😀

Happy Baking Y’all!!

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Strawberry Shortcake

22 Mar

Have I ever mentioned before that my husband is a huge fan of strawberries! Well this blog  is dedicated to how I finally succeeded in making, Strawberry Shortcake. Last week, when I baked cream scones and informed him that I could use them to make strawberry shortcake, he immediately jumped up at the idea of it. With his cousin’s visiting us for the first time, it seemed to be a good enough reason to indulge in some fresh strawberries and whipped cream (oh yes, heavy whipped cream!!).

Strawberry shortcake

Usually I count my calories, but that day I decided to let go and have some fun, afterall I was eating berries too! I am surrounded by awesome cooks, so I need to think about the outcome before I start cooking/baking just to be sure I will have something presentable ready and the end of the journey. Well, this journey was definitely worth all the risk, in fact  this now is one of my most reliable recipes.

INGREDIENTS

Scones

Bake a fresh batch of Cream Scones.

Topping

  • 1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Refrigerate the bowl and the hand mixer’s whipping attachments for 10-20 minutes. Add, sugar and cream into the bowl and whip with the hand mixer till stiff peaks appear and our whipped cream is now ready. Refrigerate it and it should be good for a couple of hours.

DSCN2662

Filling

  • 2 pounds of fresh strawberries
  • 1/4 cup of sugar

Wash, and cut strawberries into small pieces. Using a fork mash 1/3 amount of strawberries and add them to the cut ones. This makes the filling juicy. Sprinkle sugar over the bowl of strawberries, mix it with a single stroke and refrigerate 

Strawberry filling

After the scones have cooled down, cut them into half using a butter knife or pry them open with hands. Place the bottom half of the scone on the plate and top it with a layer of strawberry filling. I prefer a generous helping of strawberries as first layer, this ensures that the scone base absorbs the juices, but adding too much of it may result in the base getting soggy so I would say be careful about not drowning the scone. Top it with a layer of whipped cream and place the upper half of scone on this setup.

Strawberry shortcakeYour star berry shortcake is now ready! I was having so much fun layering it up that I added another layer of whipped cream and strawberries to it. See the pictures for yourself and trust me, they were as good as they look. For all those people out there who watch their calories, you can skip the second layer of topping altogether and replace it with just the strawberries. Its yummy either way!

So, that’s another item off my baking bucket list (which has almost everything on it, and that’s why I don’t maintain it anywhere :P)! I never knew small things in life could be so fulfilling, not to mention my husband is pretty happy with my little adventures in kitchen and he is a good cook himself. I am already looking forward to another weekend of baking. Its pure bliss, I tell ya!

That said, bake away!! Catch you soon with another post!!

(reference: joyofbaking)

My Weekend Bake – Cream Scones

17 Mar

Scones like every food, have their own history. I recently discovered that, originally these were made out of oats and baked on a girdle, but as a scone lover I can myself go to any extent to get a fresh one for myself. I am a frequent Starbucks visitor and am very much in love with their blueberry scones! Infact, it was here that I had my first scone but nothing beats being able to bake your own scones and have them with a cup of steaming hot tea! That was motivation enough for me to try to bake them.

Cream scones

INGREDIENTS (14-16 small scones)

  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp COLD unsalted butter, cut into smaller cubes
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream (I used milk and added the quantity based on judgement, enough to make the dough manageable but not too loose)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

NOTES

Some notes here, the butter should be really cold, you can keep them in the freezer for a couple of minutes. The second point of interest before we start baking is to remember not to over knead the dough, because we want our scones to be fluffy and crumbly and light! So, I chose to knead the flour lightly using my hands, you can use a mixer as well, your choice.

Pre-heat the oven to 275 degree F.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl and add pieces of butter to it as well. Crumble through the mixture till it looks like the picture below.

crumble cold butter with dry ingredients

In a separate bowl beat the egg lightly and add cream and vanilla essence to it and stir them into the dry mixture. Knead the dough to make a uniformly moistened dough. Cover the dough with a cling wrap and refrigerate it for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into hand sized well rolled balls. On a flat, floured surface, flatten each roll to about 2 centimeters of thickness, using a rolling pin. Now, to shape each scone you can use a cookie cutter or I just used a knife to divide the dough into small scones (the shape they sell them in, at Starbucks!!). Brush the scone tops with oil and sprinkle them with crystal sugar.

sprinkle sugar on scone pieces

Bake the scone pieces on an unlined baking trey, for about 15-20 minutes or until their base is golden brown. The scone tops might be a little soft when taken fresh out of oven, but as long as a toothpick stuck into them turns out clean, they harden perfectly upon cooling.

golden brown scone bottom

fresh out of oven cream scones

The aroma from my kitchen right now is mouth watering, and even my husband complimented the aroma when the cones were still in the oven, not to mention he loved them with butter and agreed to fetch some fresh strawberries for strawberry shortcake (my next post)!! But yes, these scones were an instant hit!

(reference: savorysweetlife)

Crispy Fenugreek Crackers (Baked Methi Mathri)

15 Mar

This is my first blog for the Daring Baker challenge. I had been patiently waiting for a good few weeks when the February 2013 challenge was declared. Sarah from All Our Fingers in the Pie was our February 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to use our creativity in making our own Crisp Flatbreads and Crackers!

My tryst with baking had only been a sweet journey till a few weeks ago, so I was very excited at this chance to bake something savory. I returned from a trip to India, a couple of months ago, and, I am almost out of my stash of Indian snacks, so I jumped at this opportunity and decided to go for crispy fenugreek crackers (or methi mathri). There was however, just one problem, these crackers are deep-fried and not baked, so I had to do a lot of homework, dig up recipe’s and even try out a few of them before I finally arrived the best combination.  Also, I wanted these crackers to be healthy and therefore I wanted to use very little all-purpose flour and butter, with the best possible taste.

Crispy fenugreek crackers with mint chutney

So, it goes without saying that this week was a very hectic work week for me, especially with one less hour to sleep, thanks to day light saving that came into effect from Sunday! After a series of trials that lasted over a week and half, I decided that cooking or baking wasn’t very different than chemistry lab sessions. One only needs to know which elements result in which compounds and must definitely be aware of  which combination can cause an explosion!

So, without further ado, here is the recipe:

     INGREDIENTS 

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp semolina
  • 1/4 cup hot melted butter
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1-2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
  • salt to taste

Crispy fenugreek crackers with mint chutney

Pre-heat the one to 350 degree F. Oil the baking sheets or line them with parchment paper.

In a bowl mix together all the dry ingredients. Add hot melted butter to this mixture and crumble through it lightly. Do not knead. Slowly add water and knead to create a hard dough. My mother emphasized a great many times to make sure that the dough wasn’t soft or even a little soft, and that its a hard dough that makes these mathri’s awesome! So, I added water a little at a time and kneaded it diligently. Remember, too much kneading will make the crackers hard, so knead them lightly.

Once, the dough is ready, divide it into small portions and using a rolling pin, roll them out uniformly. Use a cookie cutter to cut these out into desired shape and lay them a few inches apart on the lined/oiled baking sheet. Bake them for 10-15 minutes or till they turn golden brown and then switch sides. Cool the crackers on a wire rack and store in a dry, air-tight container.

These taste best when eaten with mango pickle, mint chutney, tomato ketchup and/or with a hot cup of tea. Try them out and let me know what you think of them!

REFERENCES

My first post!!

12 Mar

Being a new blogger, I decided my first post should be titled “My first post!!”. I used to find it funny that almost every blog has its first post titled to highlight the fact, but it is only now that I can gauge the role, of this first post,  in deciding the longevity of my stint here. I feel anyone can write, after all didn’t we write impromptu essays on school exams! But in our daily competitive struggle for success we let our creative selves take a backseat.

I first started baking last winter when a dear friend guided me through the basics of baking as she baked her famous christmas cake. So, baking is my new found passion! You must be wondering about this post being rather absurd as I began with blogging and now I parading about Baking being my passion, but trust me they are related.

I bake every weekend, not to mention I bake even on days when I come back early from work! I try and bake with whatever raw material I can get my hands on. So, one day I decided that I had to give my hobby a new direction. My zeal to bake prompted me to explore and one fine day I came across “The Daring Kitchen”, and, that is what connects blogging to baking for me.  So, now I think about measuring the ingredients, writing recipes, and even taking pictures!

Now, like every other first time blogger, I promise to be regular and make your mouth water with images from my weekend trysts with baking! Stay tuned for my first Daring Baker blog..!

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