Cakes cookies n savory goodies

Best of year 2010 with some Marble Sugar Cookies

4:50 AM



Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.                                Hal Borland

Its again the time to bid adieu to the current year. How has it been for you? Last week saw a virtual friend expressing her 2010 feelings with different emoticons on her social networking page. Guess that is true for all of us, a mixed bag of good and bad times.

 Personally I had a marbled feeling like these cookies (yeah!that’s why so many marble cookies this year)…the year 2010 has been pretty bad with few good moments sprinkled in. But if I look back I see the wisdom that the past year’s bad experiences have instilled in me. Now am wiser, stronger, positive and I  value each and every moment that God blesses us with. Hope with this year’s experience I would not be as gullible as before. The new year brings lot of good promises. Am planning to start my work again. I know its way more difficult than I think, especially with a toddler and without any help but plan to take baby steps to my success.

On the blogging front, many things happened. I restarted my dream friendship chain called Arusuvai. Hope this would be successful to rekindle the last season’s charm of touching hearts and spreading friendship among Indian Bloggers.

Also won Indo’s giveaway and a cookbook from susan for my recipe in MLLA.

Bought my first DSLR and started taking food photography very very seriously. Thanks for all your encouragement friends.

Baking has become a serious affair in my kitchen now, and was able to dish up these fabulous treats for friends and family. No more complain on what we don’t get in India but lets make best use of what we have.

Also started baking breads at home. Yayyyy finally…thanks a ton Suma for the Gloripan tip-off (recipe to come soon).

Bengali recipes are where my love lies and am happy to have revived these old recipes.

Combined my love for art n crafts and cooking with these magnificent recipes. Aren’t they wonderful?

Though the year has been tough for us yet I choose to say “Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right. (Oprah Winfrey)”.  With positive notes I look forward to the New Year with more hope. wish the brand New year brings us joy and fulfilled dreams. Amen!

I also choose this moment to sincerely thank all my readers for supporting, appreciating and liking my space. It is you who made this place cherished and popular. Thanks for everyting.

With this here is a quick marble sugar cookies recipe, which we love with our evening coffee.

Chocolate Marble Sugar Cookies
Ingredients:
Flour: 31/2 cups
Powdered sugar 1 cup:
Egg: 1
Soda-bi-carb: pinch of
Butter: ½ cup
Oil: ½ cup
Cocoa powder: 4 tbsp
Vanilla essence: ½ tsp
Milk: as required

Method:
Sieve the flour and soda together and keep aside.

Beat oil, butter and sugar together. Once creamy break the egg in. beat for a while. Mix in the essence.

pour the flour in 2-3 batches and mix to have a smooth and sticky dough. Add milk as required to bind everything together.

Now divide the dough in half and to one part knead the cocoa powder dissolved in little milk. Wrap both the white and chocolate dough in cling wraps and freeze for atleast an hour.

Once you are ready to bake preheat the oven at 190 C.

Take little of both the dough and make a small ball. Roll it out to ¼” thickness and with a cookie cutters dipped in flour cut shapes.

Place these on a greased baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes or till the sides start to turn light brown.

Cool and store in airtight containers. If you wish, pipe designs with royal icing.

My icing was not proper and was runny. So will not recommend the recipe I followed.


On this sweet note I take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy and Prosperous new year!!!

Have a great year ahead friends!!!

Events:
1. Champa's Bake off.

5. sendng this to Srivalli's best of year 2010.


Tags:
Cookies recipe, cookie recipe, sugar cookies recipes, iced sugar cookies recipe, christmas cookie recipe, easiest cookies recipe, marble cookie recipe, how to marble a cookie dough. best ever sugar cookies recipe, kids cookies recipes, milk and cookies.

Cakes cookies n savory goodies

Candy Cane Cookies (Eggless)

9:18 AM


So how was your Christmas this year? Did you have fun? Did you give in to the spirit of the season with all things glittery and shiny? I did. Though we dint bring any Christmas tree this year but the baby simply loved all the tinsels and baubles in the shops. Every time we went out he looked at all those Christmas lights with awestruck eyes. Finally when we bought some decorations to give our home a little touch of Christmas cheer, he was elated…and kept on jumping when his father finally switched on the lights. He loves glitters and glam and next year we will surely bring home a big Christmas tree for him.

I saw these cookies while searching for the Mince Pie recipe in Joy of baking and instantly knew I will make these. Give me something craft-y and am in anytime. These were perfect for son’s kiddy friends who received Christmas gift hampers from him this year. But the biggest hurdle was to make it egg less, as most of them are pure vegetarians. So, I added little more butter and 1/3 cup of almond flour and the final outcome was crisp, tasty and cutesy cookies. The shaping of the cookies is a little tricky, you will fumble with the first one or two but once you get the hang of it they will become easier. Have tried to give a pictorial on the shaping but the low light in my kitchen spoils everything. Still this would give you the basic idea.

Here is how I made these cutesy cookies, which were genuinely loved by the kids and their parents.

Eggless Candy Cane Cookies

Ingredients:
Flour: 2 cups
Almond flour: ½ cup
Butter: 10 tbsp
White oil: 4 tbsp
Powdered sugar: 1 cup
Milk: 2-3 tbsp (or less)
Soda-bi-carb: a pinch
Vanilla essence: ½ tsp
Red food colour: little

Method:
Mix flour, almond flour, soda and set aside.
With a electric mixer or whisk beat the sugar, vanilla, oil and butter till creamy. 


Mix in the dry ingredients in 2-3 batches and fold till you get smooth dough. If needed add the milk a spoonful at a time.

Take half of this dough and mix in the red food colour. I used powdered colour which I dissolved to 1 tsp of milk.

Cover the doughs separately in plastic wrap and chill for 20-30 minutes(if you find the dough too soft, otherwise you can make the cookies directly).

Once you are ready to bake preheat the oven to 160C and line a baking sheet with butter paper (I used my tracing papers and greased it with little butter.)

With greased hands start making the cookies. First take walnut sized ball from the white dough. Roll this between your palms or on a lightly greased surface to make a 4-5” long rope. I found it easier to make 2-3 long ropes and then joing them by pressing the edges together and then rolling.

Do the same with another walnut sized ball from the red dough.

Place the two ropes side by side. Now by slightly lifting one side try to twist the ropes together to create spiral. Do this little at a time or you will end up breaking the ropes. After every twist check the ropes if Broken somewhere. Do this by pressing the broken parts together and rolling.
Once twisted roll it back and forth on a lightly greased surface to secure the twists and to make it smooth.

Carefully transfer on the sheet and then slightly bend the top like a cane.

Prepare the other sticks and place them an inch apart on the baking tray.

Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes (mine were ready in 8 minutes), check after 5 minutes if the sides are browing fast. If so adjust the heat.

Cool them on wire rack and store in airtight container.

A Homemaker’s Note:
  1. Don’t bake them on greased foil as the heat from the foil will make the bottom dark brown.
  2. The colour of the cookies is brighter when not over baked so please be extra careful to check the cooking time.
  3. The cookies would be soft even after baking. Be very careful in transferring.
  4. You can see the original recipe (with eggs) HERE.
Events:

1. Champa's Bake off.



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Cakes cookies n savory goodies

Orange Flavored Tutti Frutti Cake

11:56 AM


Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home!  ~Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers, 1836

Wish all my lovely friends a very Happy Christmas!

Hope you all are enjoying the festival of togetherness and warmth of this season’s merriment with your near and dear ones. I have always thought of Christmas as a time when friends and family comes around to wrap the whole year with each other. This is a beautiful festival where so many emotions and innocence is attached. Adore the faith with which kids hang stockings to get gifts or the way they believe Santa comes home on Christmas night to reward if you are good. That is some innocence belief, which could only be a part of a kid’s wonderland. Love the midnight masses with the chorus carol welcoming Christ to bless us…there is some divinity that’s only associated with this festival. I believe in the words of Burton hillis, “The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:  the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other”. Christmas for me is the time to be kind, to be generous, to be forgiving and all in all a good time to open our hearts and look forward to new days with new optimism.

Even in India, Surprisingly this is one of the times when we take out the time and soak all the happiness and festivities around. Winter being the most cherished season and with the two major holidays coming one after another it always give us a long time to enjoy. Come Christmas and everyone in Bengal would be ready to atleast go for one picnic…some manage to arrange it far away from home to a scenic spot and some choose their backyard banana field to cook and eat with extended families…but everyone joins in the gaiety, which is the very essence of this festival.

Christmas also is the time to eat fruit cake and the market is laden with so many varieties to choose from. From traditional rum soaked fruit and nut cake to less know Madeira cake, the spread on offer is huge. Last year I made the traditional fruit cake and this year wanted to do something different. Saw many a Dandee cake in the blogosphere and tweaked the recipe to have my own version of this Orange fruit cake. Hubby loved it so much that this evening when Baba called up the first thing he said was “T has made a superb fruit cake…”. Good to hear from a not so great lover of sweet things. Personally I love the crumbly texture and the dominating orange flavour.

Here is the recipe:
Orange Flavoured Tutti Frutti Cake
(a 7" cake)

Please mail to ahomemakersdiary@yahoo.in for the recipe





Cool on a wire rack and serve as it is or with some final sprinkling of castor sugar on top. I brushed the top of the hot cake with some homemade orange marmalade.

A Homemaker's Note:
This cake doesn’t rise much so don’t worry but make sure the cake is cooked from within. Always do the toothpick taste.


Events:

1. Champa's Bake off.
3. Its the time to Jingle again at Asan khana.

Tags:
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Cakes cookies n savory goodies

Linzer Cookies

6:34 AM


By far these are the best cookies I have ever baked. These have almost a melting in the mouth texture. Especially, when eaten all dressed up with a heavy shower of castor sugar and sandwiched with jam…these are simply ittesistible. If the pictures don’t testify the taste I will appeal you to make a small batch (which I promise you will regret later) to see it yourself.

Baking in India is not very easy, and I guess all bloggers residing in India ,  serious in baking, will agree with me. Starting from a mere necessity like muffin liners to very little known  ……paper you don’t get things easily even in big cities like Bangalore. I have drooled and drooled and almost turned green with envy every time saw bloggers baking good breads (everyone will tastify especially Aipi)…now that I have found the perfect instant yeast (all thanks to Suma) I am in constant fear that what will I do if they stop stocking this specific brand. So when saw this Linzer cookies recipe in Good House Keeping, I instantly fell in love with these but was not sure where to find hazelnut…so like every time I again tried to replace it. This time with the huge stock of Almonds I had after Diwali.

Soon I was roasting the almonds and measuring flour. Making of the cookies are easy if you roll the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap. Linzer cookies are cut with special cookie cutters specially made for this. I dint have any so again used 2 big and small bottle caps for the round ones (oops! now Hubby will know why the medicine bottle cap was missing for a couple of days) and a small heart shape cookie cutter for the smaller ones. Loved making every minute of it as these were my first sandwiched cookies but what made me content is my baby’s love for it.

This morning when I finished clicking suddenly he woke up and came to the room. He looked at the cookies and exclaimed “Bi Bi (biscuits)’’…I handed him one. He first licked the top coat of sugar and with a happy face declared “bhayo (bhalo or good)”, then he opened the top cookie and with his finger ate all the jam. Once the jam was finished he came to me demanding “abar abar (that literally means again but he says this also to mean some more). I loved every moment of it. Watching our kids grow is the most wonderful experience of life, and when they appreciate the the food we cook, thats the best reward.

 Between did you know Linzer cookies are actually is adapted from the very famous Linzer Torte named after the city of Linz in Austria. Linzer Torte is a holiday classic in the Austrian, Hungarian, Swiss, German, and Tirolean traditions, often eaten at Christmas. Linzer Torte is often made like small tarts or cookies in North American bakeries.(wiki)

Here is the recipe

Linzer Cookies
(Yields 2 dozens medium size)

Ingredients:
Flour: 11/2 cups
Almond: 1 cup loosely packed (if you get almond or hazelnut meal use 2/3 cup)
Butter: 6 tbsp
Sugar: 1/2 cup
Pinch of salt
Egg: 1
Cinnamon powder: ¼ tsp
Vanilla/lemon essence: ½ tsp
Baking powder: ¼ tsp

For sandwiching: Jam (I used strawberry jam which I thinned a little with strawberry syrup)

Castor sugar: for dusting

Method:
Take the almond in a micro proof bowl and cover with water. Microwave for 2-3 minutes. Take out, rinse with cold water. Drain all the water and spread on a newspaper. Press almond between your finger the skin will come off easily.

Now dry roast the almonds in a skillet till it release a nice nutty aroma. Take off and let it completely before doing anything with it.

Grind the nuts with the sugar to a very fine dust texture. Do it by pulsing several times and make sure the nuts don’t release oil.

Sieve the flour, baking powder, cinnamon powder and salt. Keep aside.

Now with n nelectric mixer or a spatula cream the butter, add the sugar-nut mixture and cream once again. To this add the egg and vanilla. Mix well.

Tip in the flour-baking powder mixture in two batches, combing well after every addition. Make a sticky dough.

Divide it in two equal part, cover with plastic wrap and pat to make a 1/2" thick disk. Chill for 30 minutes.

Once you are ready to bake preheat the oven at 175 C.

Roll one dough between two sheets of plastic wrap to ¼” thickness. Cut with cookie cutters or bottle caps. 


Make sure that you cut one top and one bottom layer for the cookies. Cut out small circles or any shape of your choice on the middle of the top cookie. (see notes)

Repeat till all the dough is finished.

Place them on a greased cookie tray and bake for 12-14 minutes or till the sides turn a little golden brown.

Cool on wire rack and store in airtight container.

Before serving dust the top cookie with generous shower of castor sugar, and put jam on the bottom one. Sandwich and serve.

A Homemaker’s Note:
  1. Make sure you cut a pair of cookies for the finished one. One cookie with a cut out at the center and the other whole.
  2. You can alternatively pulse the almond with ¼ cup flour as well.
  3. Here are some variations that fellow bloggers recently baked…
  4. Soma’s Hazelnut Linzer cookies
  5. Deeba’s walnut linzer cookies

  1. Put jam only when you want to serve it or it will become soft.
So what did you bake this year for Christmas???

Events:

1. Champa's Bake off.
3. Its the time to Jingle again at Asan khana.

Tags:
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Cakes cookies n savory goodies

Mince Pie with Homemade Mincemeat

9:01 AM


The Christmas fever has settled in and am baking like a maniac these days. Last Friday I baked a huge batch of coconut-chocolate chip cookies (recipe coming soon) for the kiddie neighbors and then went out with the baby for our evening stroll. After sometime got an incredible warming aroma of home baking. I tried to guess which house it was wafting from only to realize that we had reached the back of our own house and the very smell was the result of my whole afternoon slogging in the kitchen. Funny Eh!!!

Hubby wants to gift homemade cookies and cakes to his collegues in the new office and I plan to shower my sonny boy’s friends with some choclate treats. Then we have my cousin sister and her 4 year old little brat, some very good friends who would drop in to save us from anything even in the middle of night, some more friends who have invited us for Christmas and New year parties this year and for me something homemade makes the best hostess gift.  So baking, baking and baking some more for me this year and am loving every minute of it.

Last year I made this incredibly good Rich Fruit cake for Christmas. All our guests in the Christmas party loved the cake except Hubby. Somehow he dint appreciate the rich flavour of soaked dry fruits in rum and red wine. We still have a small jar of soaked fruits from last year and I was wondering what to make with that and zeroed on Mince pies. Watched the recipe on Rachel Allen’s 'Bake' a few months back and liked the idea of combining crunchy pastry shell with soft soaked fruits and nuts.

I followed this mince meat recipe from Joy of Baking and it tasted absolutely delicious. I almost convinced myself dropping the idea of baking the pies and eating the mince meat as it is. If you like the deep flavour of rum combined with the slight bitter-sweet rich taste of the soaked fruits and the heat from nutmeg and cinnamon…then this mincemeat is for you. But am glad that I only ate a few spoonful and finally made these pies…they look gorgeous but taste even better. It has a sensational sweet, crunchy, juicy taste or as our very own     
'Kalyan, The  Knife' describes, It gives you sheer Adult pleasure. Even while am writing this post am tempted to go and open the fridge to have another bite right away…on a good note even Hubby liked this taste and this morning lovingly added a couple of these mini pies to his lunch box.

Between, did you know that in the beginning mincemeat actually had meat and eggs. Later suet or kidney fat was replaced for meat. Now a days it is made with or without the fat, mostly with lots of dry and candied fruits and nuts soaked in good quality wine or rum.

Here is the very easy recipe
The mincemeat recipe is minimally adapted from here.

Mince Pie
(For 12 small pies)

Homemade mincemeat
Ingredients:
Green Apples: 2 (Used Granny smith Variety)
Apple Juice: ½ cup (Used Tropicana 100%)
Brown sugar: 3 tbsp
Butter: 1 tbsp
Candied gingers: 1 tbsp
Nutmeg powder: 1/3 tsp
Cinnamon powder: ½ tsp
Clove powder (I powdered 2 cloves)
Soaked fruits and nuts in rum and red wine : 2/3 cup (recipe HERE)

If you don’t have soaked nuts, add the following to the above ingredients
Raisins: 2 tbsp
Currants: 2 tbsp
Candied peels: 4 tbsp
Candied fruits like pineapple, mango etc: 2-3 tbsp
Tutti frutti: 5-6 tbsp
Rum/red wine: ¾ cup
Method:
Wash, Peel and chop the apples in small cubes.
Put everything in a heavy bottom pot. Mix well and boil on low till all the juice dries up and the fruits soak up all the flavours. Do this by occasionally stirring the mincemeat, otherwise it might burn at the bottom.

Cool it completely before use.

I dint store it but according to Joy of cooking it stays good in the fridge for a month if added little rum or wine every week.

The Pate Brisee or the pie shell

Ingredients:
Flour: 11/2 cups
Castor sugar: 2 tbsp
Chilled Butter: 6 tbsp
Ice cold water: as required

Method:
Take the flour and sugar in a big plate.
Rub the butter in the flour till a bread crumb consistency is achieved. If needed add more butter.
Pour ice cold water very little at a time and lightly mix it in the flour. Use only your fingers and at no point add pressure. That way the heat from your palms will melt the butter and the pastry would be heavy and chewy.
Just when the dough starts to come together wrap that in a cling film. Lightly tap and make a disk of 1” thickness and chill for an hour.

Assembling and baking
After the chilling time roll the dough between two sheets of cling film to ½” thickness.

Cut circles slightly bigger than the tart moulds. Spread the circle to cover the entire inside of a greased tart mould. Poke few holes with a fork and blind bake for 5 minutes in a preheated (200C) oven.

Roll out the remaining dough to ¼” thickness and cut any shape of your wish with a floured cookie cutter. Set aside.

Fill the tarts with the prepared mincemeat and top with a star shape. Bake for 15-20 minutes or till lightly browned on the sides.

Let it cool completely before trying to unmould.


Enjoy!!!

A Homemaker’s Note:
Generously butter the inside of the tart moulds or unmoulding the pies becomes very difficult.

You can also brush the top with little milk to get golden brown colour.


Events:

1. Champa's Bake off.



Tags:
Mincemeat, mince pie, continental pie, continental sweet tart, tartlet, mini tart, christmas pie, christmas dessert, chirstmas treat, fruit n nut treat, rum soaked dry fruits, wine soaked nuts, delicate flavours, pate brisee, shortcrust pastry, how to make pate brisee, how to make pastry shell, eggless tart case recipe, best sweet pie recipe, mincemeat dessert, mini pie for kids, best sweet tart recipe, spicy tart, nutmeg, cinnamon powder dessert.

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