Archive | April, 2013

Daring Baker’s April Challenge: Savarin

27 Apr

This post is my first official entry for the Daring Baker’s challenge! Well there was a lot of confusion about deadlines and joining dates and I finally managed to get into the rhythm of things this month 🙂

Natalia of Gatti Fili e Farina challenged us to make a traditional Savarin, complete with soaking syrup and cream filling! We were to follow the Savarin recipe but were allowed to be creative with the soaking syrup and filling, allowing us to come up with some very delicious cakes! Well, this was also my first rendezvous with baking a yeast based cake and the I am pretty pleased with the experience.


Savarins are usually made in ring moulds but they can also be baked in bundt pans. I was very particular about following Natalia’s recipe to the hilt, so I am going to post it in her words.

INGREDIENTS (Serves 10-12 people)


  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp water, lukewarm
  • 6 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp instant yeast (1/2 satchel)
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 2/3 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp orange and lemon zest (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • butter/oil for greasing


  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2-2 cups sugar
  • Juice from 4-5 lemons

Cake: Sponge
In a small bowl mix 2 tablespoons lukewarm water, 3 tablespoons flour and the yeast , cover with cling film and let rise 60 minutes

Cake: Dough
After 30 minutes put the egg whites in the bowl and whip for a couple of minutes using a wire whisk, add flour in parts until you have a soft dough that sticks to the bowl (about 2 cups) and work until it comes together , cover with cling film and let rest 30 min. Add the sponge to the bowl along with a tablespoon of flour and start mixing. Add the second yolk , the sugar and as soon as the yolk is absorbed add one tablespoon of flour. Keep whisking and add the third yolk and the salt and as soon as the yolk is absorbed add one tablespoon of flour. Keep on adding one yolk at the time and the flour saving a tablespoon of flour for later, mix the dough until is elastic and makes threads.

Add the butter and as soon as the butter is adsorbed add the last tablespoon of flour. Keep on mixing till the dough passes the window pane test. Keep on mixing till the dough passes the window pane test. Cover the dough with cling film and let it proof until it has tripled in volume 2 to 3 hours. Meanwhile, grease up the cake mould, dough scraper and the work surface and fold with the Dough Package Fold two or three times around. Cover the dough with a cling foil and let it rest for 15 minutes.


Turn the dough upside down and with the help of your buttered dough scraper shape your dough in a rounded bun. Make a hole in the center with your thumb and put it in the baking pan. Cover with cling film and let rise in a warm spot until the dough reaches the top of the pan about 1 hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 340 degree fahrenheit and bake the Savarin for about 40 minutes until the top is golden brown. The dough will rise while baking as well, so make sure that you use a  mould of diameter 11 inches for this recipe. When the Savarin is done take it out of the oven, let it cool and remove carefully out of the pan.


Combine water, sugar and lemon juice and boil it for 5 minutes. Remove from stove and let it cool.

To make sure that the cake was well soaked, I soaked it in the baking mould itself, adding ladles of syrup on the cake, till the syrup reaches the rim of the mould. Refrigerate overnight. When, I took the cake out of the mould the next day, it had soaked up all the syrup 🙂

The center of the cake is usually filled with pastry cream and fruits, but lazy as I am, I decided to go for whipped cream and added raspberries as well. However, since the cake tasted good even with whipped cream, I have decided that I will prepare pastry cream next time I bake savarins 🙂


Last, but not the least, cut off a slice with some cream and raspberries and sit back and enjoy your slice of pure joy and bliss!!

Hope you like my version of the famous savarin!!

Yay to Spring!! Lemon Crinkle Cookies

19 Apr

Spring is finally here! Yes, after many push backs from winter this year, spring was finally able to make its way to us 🙂 And so am I, after a week and a half of procrastination and brooding, with lemon crinkle cookies to welcome spring!

I like lemons, both their taste and color, and these recipes for baking yummy lemon crinkle cookies circulating online, gave me this brilliant idea of trying my hands as well. I have baked cookies before, but they have always been the usual chocolate/chocolate-chip cookies and this was the first time I baked a soft, chewy variety.

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

And oh boy am I glad I made these!! These soft chewy variety not only looks refreshing but also have this sweet, tangy flavor that remains after every bite. Just writing this post makes me feel like digging my teeth into one right now!  Absolutely Yummy!!

INGREDIENTS (20-22 cookies)

  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup granular sugar
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest (I used zest of 1 entire lemon)
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (I used juice of 1 entire lemon)

NOTE: Use fresh lemon juice and zest only.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit. Line a cookie tray with parchment paper or, you can oil it as well.

Add flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl and sift together. In a separate bowl cream sugar and butter till light and fluffy. Add lemon juice, zest, egg and vanilla and whip again. Remember to scape the sides of the bowl as well. Now, for all the above steps you can use a either a wire whisk of a hand blender but for the next step use either a spatula or a whisk only (No blending/whisking). Slowly, stir in the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients till combined.

I would recommend that you refrigerate the cookie mix for 10-20 minutes now. Divide, the batter into equal small balls and after rolling each ball into powdered sugar, place it on the cookie sheet. Keep some distance between adjacent cookies since, these do spread out and puff up on baking. Bake in the oven for 9-11 minutes.

Again, these might look under baked when you take it out of the oven, but if the tops have crinkled and a toothpick comes out clean, they are ready! I have this habit of peeping into the oven every 1-2 minutes :P, so I know that the cookies crinkled long before the timer ticked 9 minutes 😀  .

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

This might be the 100th time on this post, but I can’t tell you how yummy these cookies are!  These shout Spring and ooze lemon in every bite…

So, bake them if you love lemons… bake them even if you aren’t sure about loving lemon, you will love them for sure after that!

Nankhatai – cardamom flavored Indian butter biscuits

9 Apr

Nankhatai has always been my favorite. Their aroma is irresistible and these tiny blobs melt in your mouth the instant you take a bite. So, here is a little history about these biscuits.

Years ago when India was still a colony, Dutch set up a bakery in Surat to produce bread for their consumption. When the Dutch left India, they handed over the bakery to one of the their employees named Dotivala and the bakery became the ‘Dotivala Bakery’. Nankhatai is one of his fusion creation, a combination of ‘Dutch butter biscuit’ and an Indian sweet called ‘Dal’. In Persian, Nankhatai means ‘bread of Cathay’ or Chinese bread. It was one of his masterpieces and went well in the Indian market since it did not even consist of eggs.


Without much ado, here is the recipe.

INGREDIENTS (15-20 small biscuits)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (measure it after it has been powdered)
  • 1/2 cup ghee
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 tbsp cashew/almonds (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

Pre-heat oven to 350 degree fahrenheit.

Sift cardamom powder, sugar and flour and either use powdered sugar or powder regular sugar using a grinder. Cream sugar and ghee in a bowl using hand mixer till light and fluffy.  Knead in the flour gradually into dough. If you want you can add chopped nuts at this time and gently fold them into the dough. Make 15-20 small balls and place them on a greased cookie sheet. Place the greased sheet into oven for baking.


I remember my mother baking them once when I was a kid and the only thing I remember about that one session was that you need to be really careful when the biscuits are in the oven. Even a second more in oven would result in them getting over baked. Remember that the nankhatais should have no noticeable color change, color change indicates over-baking. Usually it take around 15-20 minutes but I would suggest you to bake only till cracks appear on the biscuits. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the biscuits cool.

Make yourself a nice hot cup of tea or coffee and enjoy it with nankhatais.

Have a good week and …bake away!!

My Weekend Bake – Pineapple Upside Down Cake

1 Apr

Baking a pineapple upside down cake has been on my bucket list forever! I find it very interesting that the dessert not only incorporates the flavor of the fruit but also displays it unabashedly. So, I decided to try my hand at baking the cake this weekend. I will admit here that I had been reading a lot about upside down cakes for quiet some time and was quiet amused to find that pineapple upside down cakes came into existence only in 1920s. 

Following the tradition, I would like to present to all my readers a picture of the yummy pineapple upside down cake that emerged as a result of my experiment as a teaser before I proceed with the recipe 🙂

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

I sure hope that the above image would lure you into trying your hands at baking it sooner than you had planned. I have also had the cheesecake version of this cake and I am in love with both the versions. But then I love everything that constitutes dessert, almost always 🙂 The recipe I used has been borrowed from the joyofbaking.

INGREDIENTS (Serves 6-8)


  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar (I used dark brown)
  • 1 medium pineapple (I used canned pineapple slices)
  • Maraschino cherries (optional)


  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350 degree F. We will need a pan at least 9 inch diameter and 3 inch depth. Mine was less than 3 inch in height and I was worried the batter might overflow while baking. Thankfully, it didn’t!


If using canned slices, pat each slice dry with paper towels. I let my slices sit on paper towels for a good 10 minutes before laying them in the pan.

Place the butter for the topping in the cake pan and place it in the oven till it melts. Add the brown sugar to the pan and place it in the oven again till it caramelizes (bubbles start appearing). Remove the pan from the oven and lay out the pineapple slices and one maraschino cherry in the center of each slice.

 In a large bowl whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder. In a bigger bowl, cream sugar and butter till light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract followed by the egg yolks adding one at a time. Add milk, followed by the flour mixture, adding in small portions and ending with the dry ingredients. In another bowl whisk the egg whites with cream of tartar till firm peak forms. Gently fold in the egg whites with the cake batter. Pour the batter onto the caramelized pineapple slices and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes or until the top turns brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Also, the cake would have pulled away from the sides of the pan.


Run a knife around the edges and them invert the cake onto the serving plate. If some of pineapple pieces get stuck to the pan, no need to worry, just remove and place them onto the cake. Fortunately, I didn’t have to replace any of the slices as mine came out perfectly.

DSCN2719I recommend you to either serve it fresh out of oven or re-heat it for a couple of minutes before serving. Also, I served it with fresh whipped cream (Refer Strawberry Shortcake for the recipe), but I am sure it would taste good with vanilla ice-cream as well.

I am pretty sure I will bake this soon again. The cake turned out to be soft and fluffy and the pineapples were most definitely the crowning glory. My baking session this weekend was definitely more than satisfactory and am now super pumped up for the week.

Have a good week, friends and like always, bake away :)!

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