Tag Archives: Daring Baker

Surprise Pound Cake

27 Jul

For the July Daring Baker’s Challenge, Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to bake a cake. But not just any cake; she asked us to add in a special surprise for our eyes as well as our taste buds!

I always find zebra cakes very fascinating and although its on my to-bake list, I opted to do something simple this time around. I baked a pound cake with a “star” of a surprise inside.



  • Ingredients for a loaf of chocolate/red velvet pound cake
  • Ingredients for a loaf of vanilla pound cake

The world of internet is abound with pound cake recipes, so I am not going to delve into that. You can choose your own pound cake recipe for this. Also, I was deliberating about baking a red velvet pound cake or chocolate pound cake, so ended up with a mixture of both 😛 .  Added red food coloring and a bit of chocolate to the batter for the main loaf 😀

I started off with baking the vanilla loaf first and baked it in a 9*5 pan at 350 degree Fahrenheit for about 50 minutes. Again, I would think that would vary on your recipe.  After the cake had cooled a bit, I transfered it to wire rack and let it cool further. I find it easier to make clean cuts on a cool cake as opposed to one freshly out of oven. Cut it into 1 inch slices. Now, I used a star cookie cutter, but really you can use any  cookies cutter, to carve out the surprise part of the cake.


Prepare the batter for the chocolate pound cake and pour it into the loaf pan barely enough to line an inch. Place the carved stars along the length of the pan, leaving no gaps in between. I did however leave a little less than half an inch between the pan wall and the stars on either side. Also, make sure that all the edges of the stars align. Now, pour the remaining batter over the assembly and place into oven for baking.


The cake looked like a regular pound cake and gave away no details of the surprise inside, until it was cut. Well, I and only I could see the little bumps made by the star tops 😉 . But, the cake looked and tasted amazing. I love how the stars are perfectly shaped and each loaf of cake has stars on both sides.


Amazing!,  and a great variation from regular cakes! If its already not evident from my blog, I would like to end the post by saying that I absolutely loved this month’s challenge!


Hot Cross Buns

27 Apr

The April Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den . She challenged us to Spring into our kitchens and make Easter breads reflecting cultures around the world. Since, in addition to sharing the recipe for Osterbrot – German Easter Bread and Mama Pia’s Easter Bread, she had also given us the option to bake any Easter Bread of our choice. I seized this opportunity to bake the “Hot Cross Buns” 🙂

Hot Cross Buns

And I sang the kindergarten rhyme “Hot Cross Buns” all the time I was baking. Well, according to wikipedia, A hot cross bun is a spiced sweet bun made with currants or raisin and marked with a cross on the top, traditionally eaten on Good Friday in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean, South Africa, and Canada. For the challenge I chose to use the one over at Foodness Gracious. I stumbled upon the blog while looking for a recipe for the buns, and I think I am a fan. I would totally recommend paying them a visit 🙂



  • 1 cup warm water
  • 3 tsp quick rising yeast
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1/3 cup dried milk powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 1/2 cup bread flour
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup raisin


  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 6 tsp water


  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tsp sugar

Dissolve the yeast in warm water and then add sugar, dried milk and the egg. Whisk them till combined. Add 1 1/2 cup of flour and mix it till it forms a smooth paste, cover and set it aside for ~30 minutes.

Hot Cross Buns

Add oil and salt, followed by the remaining flour, and after forming it into a ball, transfer to a stand mixer with a dough hook and add the spices. If the dough is still a little wet, add another tablespoon or two of flour. Add the raisins and mix at a low speed for a couple of minutes. Place the dough in a lightly greased container and set it aside again for ~30 minutes.

Grease a 13*10 inch baking tray and pre-heat the oven to 380 degree Fahrenheit. Divide the dough into 12 balls and place them into the tray  into a 4*3 grid. Cover the tray and set it aside till the dough balls rise enough to touch each other.  Meanwhile, mix water and flour together and once the dough balls are ready, pipe a cross across all the buns.

Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Boil sugar and water for the glaze. When the buns are golden brown remove from oven and  glaze them over.

Hot Cross Buns

The buns are now ready. I happened to stumble upon the recipe at the right time, not only was I looking for one I could use for this month’s DB challenge, the weather in the Bay Area has also been perfect to make one appreciate oven fresh buns (yeah,its raining here !!!!! and they say its summer! )

Hot Cross Buns

A good recipe, I say! You can butter them up or splash them over with some jam or marmalade, either way they are delicious. Off I go now, to make some hot tea 😀 Enjoy!!

Pastel de Tre Leches

28 Sep

Its Daring Baker challenge time again!!

Inma of la Galletika was our Sept. 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and WOW did she bring us something decadent and delicious! Pastel de Tres Leches or Three Milk Cake, creamy yet airy, super moist but not soggy.. just plain delish!

Pastel de Tre Leches

I have been quiet busy with life, but I am bless the day I decided to join the Daring Bakers Challenge!! This forum has been a constant source of motivation to me and with the members sharing these awesome challenges and bakes, it pushes me to do my bit too 🙂

Pastel de Tre Leches or The Three Milk Cake is very popular in many parts of Central and Southern America, although the origins of the tres leches are disputed.  When made without butter, it is a very light cake, with many air bubbles. This distinct texture is why it does not have a soggy consistency, despite being soaked in a mixture of three types of milk. So, in simple words, it is a sponge cake soaked in three types of milk, evaporated milk, condensed milk and heavy cream. 


Vanilla Sponge Cake

  • 5 large eggs (separated)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

Three milk syrup

  • 1 can (14 ounce) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 can (12 ounce) evaporated milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 teaspoons rum (I used 4 teaspoons of coffee)

Topping and/or filling

  • Fresh and cold whipping cream
  • Fresh fruit (I used strawberries)

Preparation: Sponge Cake

Preheat oven to moderate 350 degree fahrenheit. Prepare a 9 inch round cake pan.

Separate the egg whites from the yolks, and beat the egg whites on medium speed, about 3 to 5 minutes. When soft peaks form slowly add the sugar in small batches and whip until stiff peaks form (~5 minutes).

In a medium bowl beat egg yolks at medium-high speed for about 5 to 6 minutes, or until the egg yolks become pale colored, creamy and puffy. Stir in vanilla. Gently fold the egg yolks with egg whites until just combined while trying not to lose any volume by over mixing.  Fold in the flour by sprinkling it in parts over the egg mixture. Mix until just combined (over-beating will result in a denser, flatter cake).

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake in the preheated moderate oven for 25 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean. Let it cool on a wire rack. Once it cools down, poke holes all over the cake to better absorb the three milk syrup.

Preparation: Milk syrup

In a saucepan add the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, heavy cream and cinnamon stick and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and continue boiling for 5 minutes. Remove it and let it cool. Once it cools down add instant coffee or a flavor of your choice. Gradually brush the milk syrup into sides of the cake (including the surface) until it is absorbed. Refrigerate overnight to give the cake enough time to soak up the syrup.

Pastel de Tre Leches

Layer on some whipped cream onto the cake and around its edges and decorate the cake top with fresh strawberries or any fruit of choice.  Decorate the cake’s edges with some crushed pecans to add a little crunch to it and  Voila!! The cake is now ready to be devoured :D, of course one slice at a time 😛

Pastel de Tre Leches

The recipe shared by Inma is just perfect, the cake isn’t soggy at all, it is just perfectly soaked and simply delicious!! It still surprises me that the yummiest things on this earth are so easy to bake.

So till I get around to posting about my next bake, stay blessed and keep baking 🙂

Mawa Cake

27 Aug

Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen was our August 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to make some amazing regional Indian desserts. The Mawa Cake, the Bolinhas de Coco cookies and the Masala cookies – beautifully spiced and delicious! 🙂 Mawa Cake was the mandatory item in this month’s challenge and Aparna even shared the recipe to make mawa from scratch. I thoroughly enjoyed this month’s challenge, especially because we got to bake not one but two delicious treats.

Mawa Cake

In Aparna’s words, “Mawa Cakes are a specialty cake that is the hallmark of Irani cafĂ©s in India. The Iranis are Zoroastrians who left Persia/ Iran in the 19th and early 20th centuries to escape persecution of non-Muslims, and settled down and thrived here mostly in the cities of Mumbai, Hyderabad and Pune. They’re most famous in India for their friendly informal cafĂ©s/ restaurants that serve the most awesome food. The brun pav or maska pav(kinds of bread) with Irani chai (thick, strong, sweet and milky cardamom flavoured tea), their Shrewsbury biscuits and Mawa cakes are just a few of them.

Mawa (also known as Khoya/ Khoa) is made by slowly reducing milk (usually full-fat) until all that remain is a mass of slightly caramelized granular dough-like milk solids. Mawa is used in a wide variety of Indian sweets like Gulab Jamun and Peda, to mention just two.”

Mawa Cake



  • 4 cups (1 litre) of full fat milk


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup mawa
  • 1-1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 tsp cardamom powder
  • 2 cup cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • almonds to decorate

Mawa Cake

Preparation: Mawa

Boil the milk in a thick bottomed pan,preferably in a non-stick pan, stirring it on and off, making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom.
Turn down the heat to medium and keep cooking the milk until reduces to about a quarter of its original volume.  Once that happens, lower the heat and cook for a little while longer. Keep stirring regularly, until the milk solids (mawa) take on a lumpy appearance. There should be no visible liquid left in the pan, but the mawa should be moist and not stick to the sides of the pan.

Remove the pan from heat and let it cool completely. Cover and refrigerate it for a day or two (not more) till you’re ready to make the cake. It will harden in the fridge so let it come to room temperature before using it.

Preparation: Cake

Pre-heat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit.

Beat butter, the crumbled mawa and the sugar in a large bowl, using a hand held electric beater, on high speed until soft and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat on medium speed till well incorporated. Add the vanilla and milk and beat till mixed well. Sift the cake flour, baking powder, cardamom powder and salt to the batter and beat at medium speed till well blended.  Grease and line only the bottom of an 8 inch pan. Pour the batter into the pan. Place the almonds onto the batter randomly (I decorated or, rather, tried to decorate my bake by placing the almonds in a pattern :P. This is what happens when one reads only 1 instruction at a time 😀 ). Do not press the nuts down into the batter. A Mawa Cake always has a rustic finished look rather than a decorated look.

The instructions directed us to bake the cake in the oven for about 1 hour or until the cake is a golden brown and a skewer pushed into the centre comes out clean. Do not over bake the cake or it will dry out. If the cake seems to be browning too quickly, cover it will aluminium foil hallway through the baking time.  This is how my cake turned out to be. I had a bigger pan, so my cake didn’t rise as much, nor did it have a cracked top, however, it did taste awesome.

Mawa Cake

The cake was moist and yummy and the cardamom flavor made it all the more irresistible. Now, all I can think about is to find ways to have my next slice 😀  It somehow reminded me of christmas and the festivities.  So, I recommend it to one and all.

Ciao friends! Happy baking 🙂 Will post my Bolinhas De Coco experience (2nd part of this month’s challenge) soon.

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!!

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:


  • 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!


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