his last post
of 2012, it should be a momentous one. As a blogger who is passionate about her blogging this post ought to be witty and have some brilliant
writing so that you are all still talking about this mid-way through 2013. I
wish, but then there's no point in kidding myself that I’m even close to doing
something like that. I could have done a recap/ flashback of the year that 2012
has been, or listed my favourite recipes or my most popular recipes or
something of the sort.
I’ll be honest
and admit that I rarely read those kinds of posts on other blogs unless there’s
something really interesting in the post, so why it’s not fair to expect anyone
else would want to read mine! I’m sure you’re not interested in a summarised
edition of me going on about myself. Let me just say that it’s been a year of
ups and downs though a lot of good has come of it all. All the same, I’d rather
look ahead and walk into 2013.
So I’ll be nice
and spare us both the retrospection and the effort, for me of having to write
it up and you of having to choose between reading it or running away from here
as fast as you can.
I will leave you
with a recipe for a “No-Egg Nog” instead. Why this recipe? Why not an Egg Nog?
Well, I’m just
recovering from a rather bad bout of the flu and its left me with a somewhat nasty
cough and a constant desire to soothe it with something hot. One of the best
home remedies for a persistent cough is a hot glass of milk with a big pinch of
turmeric in it. But I’m in the mood for something else, something a little
festive, especially since there hasn’t been much of a festive feeling here the
past couple of weeks. A Non-Alcoholic Hot Tea Toddy nursed me through my last sore throat and that was pretty good stuff. But this time round, I'm in the mood for something different and an Egg Nog would be it, especially at this time of the year.
This would be
fine except that I cannot take the idea of eggs in something I’m going to
drink. It probably goes back to my childhood when some well-meaning friend of
my mother’s told her that a raw egg in a bit of brandy was a good home remedy
for a persistent cough. You can imagine that my mother must have been desperate
for her to resort to that remedy since we really didn’t eat eggs much and were
a teetotaller family.
So I wanted
something milky, hot and full of “warm” spices. Since an Egg-y Nog was out, I
decided to make an No-Egg Nog. It is the perfect thing for this time of the
year, something that will warm you up and comfort you, especially if you, like
us, would want to end the festive season without eggs or alcohol.
The Egg Nog is
thought to have derived from the British Posset and was in the old days, drunk
by the well to do as they were the only ones who could afford eggs and milk.
Like the Posset, the Egg Nog is a milky drink with was sweetened with sugar,
enriched with raw eggs, cream and spices, and spiked with brandy. Traditionally
it was served hot which must have been perfect during the cold wintry days of
Christmas and the New Year.
The “nog” part
of Egg Nog is thought to have come from the word “Noggin” which was a small
wooden mug used to serve strong alcoholic beverages. Who knows and who cares? If
you like nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger in your milk, then this one’s for you.
No eggs or
alcohol in my beverages so I made mine without, and I serve my No-Egg Nog hot.
Some milk, a bit of cream, a couple of spoons of custard powder, sugar and a
nice little helping of ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon – that’s all you need for
this Nog. The reipe below is just a set of guidelines. Feel free to work around
it to make what suits your taste.
This No-Egg Nog of
mine is pretty versatile and very child friendly. Thin it down a bit (or take
the cream out) and serve it chilled in summer. Add a little more custard powder
and thicken it into an interesting sauce to serve with chocolate-y desserts
like cake and brownies.Add a little
more custard powder and some cream, and cook it till it’s a little thicker,
then cool it and churn into a No-Egg Nog ice-cream! Use it as cream patisserie and fill pastries,
cakes or cupcakes with it.
My “No-Egg” Nog
4 cups milk (2%
100ml cream (25%
2 tbsp vanilla
flavoured custard powder
6 to 8 tbsp
sugar (depending on your taste)
1 1/2 tsp
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground
1 tsp nutmeg
cocoa powder to garnish/ serve (optional)
Put the milk and
cream in a saucepan. Add the custard powder and sugar and whisk well. AddPlace
the saucepan on the stove and slowly bring to a boil over medium heat,
constantly stirring to make sure no lumps form. When the mik has thickened
slightly, add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Turn off the heat and let
the nog stay in the saucepan for about 10 minutes.
Pout the nog out
into 4 glass mugs and dust with cocoa powder. Serve hot. If you prefer your nog
cold refrigerate it until chilled, stir/shake and serve.
On this last post on the last day of 2012, I would like to say a thank you to all of you who have been here and been one of the main reasons behind the motivation to continue talking about good food here. Here's to another year of even better food!
to make Panettone this year! Every Christmas season, I look for something new
to bake. You know, push my baking limits (well, not always) and explore bakes
beyond my existing knowledge and this year one of the things I had decided to
bake was a Panettone. And then I discovered that the Daring Bakers challenge for
the month was also to bake a Panettone!
2012 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by the talented Marcellina of
Marcellina in Cucina. Marcellina challenged us to create our own custom
Panettone, a traditional Italian holiday bread!
A Panettone is a
traditional Christmas bread originally from Milan, but made and sold all over
Italy during the holidays. Once again, there are different accounts about the
Panettone’s origin but the most popular version is a romantic 15th
It seems that a young noble man named Ughetto Atellani, a falconer
in the Court of the Duke Ludovico Maria Sforza, fell in love with Toni who was
the daughter of a poor baker.Ughetto apparently
disguised himself as a pastry chef’s apprentice and got a job in in her
father’s bakery. To impress Toni, he is supposed to have created a tall fruit
studded bread to present to her father and called it “Pan de Toni.”And so it was, and won Ughetto his lady
love’s hand in marriage gave Italy its Panettone! There is another version
which says the nobleman decided to help out the baker who fell on hard times,
and success of the” Pan de Toni” put the bakery back on its feet and the
grateful baker agreed to give his daughter’s hand in marriage to the
nobleman. Either way, the bread was a
success and everyone – the baker, his daughter, the nobleman and all the
Panettone eaters lived happily ever after! Moral of the story? A good bread can
make for a very happy ending!! After all, how can a bread that is more like
cake, made with eggs, butter, honey, vanilla and lemon zest, dried and candied
fruits not be a success?
is the usual one about the seasoned chef-in-charge who for some reason makes a muck
of his dish and then the novice-in-the-kitchen/ dishwasher/ potato peeler jumps
into the act and creates a masterpiece! Here, Toni was a scullion in the Sforza
family kitchen. On Christmas Eve, the
chef responsible for the dessert prepared for the feast burned it! So Toni jumped
in and created a yeasted rich bread studded with dried fruit and raisins which
as a resounding success. The grateful and happy Duke Ludovico il Moro decided
to honour the creator and named it “Pan de Toni”!!
story attributes the Panettone to a Sister Ughetta who lived in a poor convent
with other nun. Obviously Christmas wasn’t going to be very cheerful until she
came up with the recipe for a sweet and fragrant yeasted cake on top of which
she cut a cross with a knife. When baked, the scoring on the cake created a
pattern which many traditional style Panettone still carry even today. Interestingly, “ughett”
apparently is the word for raisins in Milanese dialect!
Panettone is no
longer kept just for Christmas and is baked throughout the year and is often
served at brunch or even as part of dessert with cheese and wine. The original
Panettone was a flatter and less rich bake. With time, it got richer and took
on the tall shape that is typical of Panettone seen today. To get this shape
with a cupola like top, Panettone is baked in tall straight or fluted paper
moulds or tin cans traditionally moulds that are very high sided which come
either straight or fluted.
If you can’t
find the moulds you can make your own moulds or bake it in a spring form cake
tin (high sided or regular), a tube pan or anything else you think you have
that might work. Just remember it needs to be oven-proof. I used a spring form
cake tin lined along the side with a tall ring of parchment paper.
So was that
sheer coincidence or a sign that the Daring Baker challenge this month was to
bake a Panettone? Either way, it meant I was going to make that Panettone and
also that I was doing a Daring Bakers challenge after a bit of a break, once
again. The only thing was that I had already decided on a recipe to make my Panetton,
when I saw the challenge recipe.
more authentic a recipe than the one I had chosen, the challenge recipe
included two pre-ferments, an overnight rise, 7 eggs, about 350gm of butter and
an almost sure thing of the Panettone possibly tearing apart from its bottom!
If I point out the not-so-good stuff about the challenge Panettone, I have to
play fair and also point out that all the butter and eggs make 2 really good
Panettone, and when has festive and celebratory baking ever been about anything
but a lot butter and eggs?
couldn’t justify (at any level) the use of so much butter and eggs in my bakes
while making a point to eat healthier, not even eating smaller portions and
sharing with the neighbours, I decided to make the Panettone but with my chosen
recipe. I chose this recipe for a couple of reasons. The first being that it
didn’t take me half of the week to make it, and second was that though it took
less time than the traditional version it involved making a “sponge/ biga/ poolish”
or pre-ferment. After some reading on the subject, it is clear that what makes
the difference in flavour and texture of Panettone is the pre-ferment. The
final reason that swung this recipe for me was the number of absolutely
positive reviews about it from people who had made it before.
is pretty easy to make and you will be delighted with the bread that comes out
of your oven. Feel free to use the original recipe or tweak it to suit your
taste like I did. You will rarely find dried peel in my recipes because I don’t
like them, though tutti-frutti is ok. I used whatever dried and candied fruit
and nuts I had on hand. I also adapted the almond-sugar glaze from the
challenge recipe to use on my Panettone. The glaze makes for a very tasty and
crunchy texture on the Panettone which I would definitely recommend making. I
also added sugar bits which made for a nice sweet crunch on a not very sweet
bread. If you don’t have sugar bits, you can sprinkle the top with brown sugar
or broken/ crushed sugar cubes.
Panettone – A
Christmas Yeasted Fruit Bread From Italy
1 1/2 cups dried
fruit and nuts (black currants/ raisins, cranberries, chopped apricots, chopped
candied ginger, tutti frutti, chopped almonds)
For the glaze:
1/3 cup whole
1/4 cup icing
1 1/2 tbsp
2 tbsp milk (and
a bit more if needed)
1 tbsp oil
Sugar bits for
Make the biga by
mixing the flour, water and yeast in a medium to large bowl, with a wooden
spoon. You will have a dough which is a
bit stiff and that’s alright as it will bubble up by next morning. Cover the
bowl loosely and allow it to rise overnight, about 12 hours when it will be
The dough for
Panettone is quite sticky so working it by hand can be difficult and a dough
kneader or food processor will make things easier. I used my food processor.
Put the sponge/
biga/ polish and all the other ingredients for the dough, except the dried
fruit and nuts and knead, on slow speed, till it comes together as a dough.
This will be very sticky initially but eventually form some sort of a smooth-ish
dough that’s still a bit sticky.
Oil your palms
and shape the dough into a ball. Place it in a well-oiled bowl, turn it round
to coat it well, cover and let it rest for about an hour and a half. The dough
will not rise as much as you might expect it to.
Flatten out dough
by hand as much as you can and spread the dried fruit and nuts across the
surface. Roll up the dough in any way you want and then knead it gently just until
the fruit seems well dispersed in the dough.
Place the dough
in a lightly greased bowl, and allow it to rest for an hour. It won't rise
much; that's OK. Over handling will
cause the fruit to release too much sugar into the dough, slowing its rise. Rest
the dough for 15 minutes.
time, prepare your baking tin if not using Panettone moulds. Line the tin on
the base and sides with parchment paper. If using a spring form cake tin, line
the sides with parchment cut to about twice the height of the side of your cake
tin to allow the bread to rise while it bakes.
I used an 8” spring form cake
tin. Remember that the narrower/ lesser
the diameter of your baking tin, the taller your Panettone will be and the
longer it will need to bake to ensure the middle is cooked properly.
Also prepare the
almond glaze. Run the almonds (blanched or unblanched) with the icing sugar in
a small jar of your blender or a spice grinder till the almonds are coarsely powdered.
Mix this with the other ingredients for the glaze until you have a quite thick
mixture which can be brushed onto the Panettone.
Place the dough
in your prepared tin, cover the top and allow the dough to rise for about 2 to
2 1/2 hours. The dough will rise less than it will for other breads, but it
should still rise a bit. It will rise higher while baking. Brush almond glaze
gently but well, all over the surface of the risen dough. Sprinkle the sugar bits over this.
Panettone at 180C (350F) for about 30 to 45 minutes till the Panettone is done.
A cake tester/ skewer poked into the centre should come out dry, without any
crumbs or wet dough clinging to it. If the Panettone is browning too quickly
during baking, cover it with aluminium foil.
Remove from the
oven and cool it in the pan for about 5 to 10 minutes, then unmould and cool
the Panettone on a rack.
should serve about 10 to 12 people.
ho doesn’t love
the idea of Santa bringing you gifts while you sleep? And then the almost
unbearable excitement of tearing open the gifts to see what being good for the
whole year has translated into? There are a lot of things one loses when one
grows up, and I think one of things that we have lost most is the child in us.
The little joys like believing in a Santa Claus (or the equivalents of all
that’s good) and living in the moment.
celebrate Christmas and as young children, the only Santa who brought gifts for
children lived in our story books. My husband and I however, lived (and still
do) in a place where Christmas is a huge affair and Santa Claus was very much
part of the scene.So our daughter grew
up in a world where Santa Claus was pretty much celebrated alongside Lord Ganesha
and Sri Krishna.
So as a small
child, she went to sleep on Christmas Eve worrying if Santa would remember her
(how could he remember them all?), if she had been good enough to warrant a
visit, and if he knew his way to leave presents for a kid who lived in a house
And as parents,
we used to enjoy shopping for presents, and waiting till she was asleep to wrap
up and hide them away, and then wait with eager anticipation (perhaps more than
her) to see her face light up with happiness on opening her presents. This went
on until she was about 7 or 8 when we overheard her telling her cousin brother
that Santa was an imaginary figure (he wanted to know why Santa didn’t visit
him!) and that it was we who got her the gifts while pretending to be him. She
went on further to explain that if she told us that she knew the truth, she
would stop getting gifts for Christmas!!
So that was the
end of the magic and fun of Santa and Christmas magic. So though, Christmas no
longer holds the delight it used to, we still get affected by the season. It’s
cooler for one thing, and there are signs of Christmas everywhere. Bright stars
and twinkling lights, Santa Clauses – both cut-outs and pretend ones, trees
(even though plastic) and decorations, Christmas songs and carollers, bakery
windows full of all manners of festive cakes and confections……………………..
You can see all
my posts this month have been kind of Christmassy too. And here’s one more
that’s really in the spirit of the season, a Santa Bread. If you know me, you
know my love for baking bread and even more so if it’s shaped bread. I came
across this lovely Santa Bread while looking for something else and knew it had
to be baked.
I halved the
original recipe because my baking tray and oven would not take a large one.
While my Santa doesn’t look as cute as the original, I’d like to think he’s not
too bad. I stuck to recipe pretty much apart from adding some cardamom and
lemon zest. I also discovered, at the last minute that I had run out of red
colouring so I used a mixture of fresh beetroot juice and a bit of turmeric to
give me the right shade of red.
And that’s how
Santa joined us for tea! As for the bread, it’s a light version of brioche
(smaller quantities of butter, egg, sugar) and makes for a very soft and tasty
bread. Serve it any way you want, plain or with accompaniments. Either way, no
one will be able to resist it.
I mixed my dough
in the food processor but you can do this by hand. Put 2 cups of flour, the
sugar, yeast, salt, cardamom and lemon zest in the processor bowl and pulse a
couple of times to mix together.
Heat the milk,
water and butter in a small saucepan till just warm. Add this to the processor
and pulse till well mixed. Add the egg and knead until you have a reasonably
soft and elastic dough. Add as much of the remaining flour as needed to get
Shape the dough
into a ball and place in a well-oiled bowl, turning the douh to coat it
completely. Cover and let it rise till almost double in volume (about 1 to 1
dough and divide it into two portions, one slightly larger than the other. Working
on a lightly floured work surface, shape the larger portion of dough into an
elongated triangle with rounded corners for Santa's head and hat.
smaller portion in half. Flatten out one potion into a circle and fold in half
to a semi-circle. Flatten and shape this into a beard. Using scissors or a
pizza cutter, cut into strips to within 1”. of top. Cut the strips rather thin
as they will rise and become thicker while baking. Position the beard on
Santa's face, and twist and curl the strips for a prettier looking beard!
Use the remaining dough to make a moustache,
nose, a brim and a pom-pom for Santa’s hat. Shape a portion of dough into a mustache;
flatten and cut the ends into small strips with scissors. Place this above the
beard. Then place a small ball above the moustache for nose.
Fold the tip of
hat over and add another ball for pom-pom. Roll out a narrow piece of dough to
create a hat brim, and position under hat.
Cut two small slits for eyes, with scissors,
and place the raisins in them.
Divide the milk/
cream for glazing between two small bowls. Add the red food colour to one and
brush this over Santa’s hat and lightly on the cheeks to add a little colour to
his face. Brush the plain milk/ cream over remaining dough.
Cover the dough loosely with foil and bake at 180C
(350F) for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for a further 10-12 minutes or until
golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Serve with coffee or tea.
makes one small loaf for about 4 people. Double the ingredients for a bigger
I think this post is the perfect occasion to thank you all for supporting this blog by just being here and to wish all my friends and readers, including those of you who might not say anything but continue to make my blogging worthwhile by your prescence, a very Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays.
I also wish you all a very Happy New Year, well in advance.
his month on
this blog has been all about festive and sweet bakes. It’s difficult to believe
that I don’t have a sweet tooth and that I haven’t been eating much of the
stuff I’ve baked so far, except to sneak the occasional thin slice of my fruit
baking bug seems to have bitten me big time and so you’re going to be seeing
some of those recipes here this month. Come January and I promise you healthier
recipes. I had promised myself that I was going to bake something gingerbread
this season, and actually had plans to build a log cabin since I had already done a gingerbread house a couple of years back.
haven’t had a lot of spare time to indulge in creative baking in the past
couple of months. I also postponed all plans for the log cabin plans for a
later date since my daughter and I were supposed to build it together and she
hasn’t been feeling too well.
I don’t like cookies
much, but if there’s a cookie that’s not too sweet and packed with ginger I
will give it a second look and take a bite too. I understand the emotion behind Shakespeare's sentence in " Love's Labour Lost" where he says, "And I had but one penny in the world, thou should'st have it to buy gingerbread".
So the urge to make something
gingerbread has stayed with me this month. Having made gingerbread men before,
I thought I would bake some gingerbread cut-out cookies, as I haven’t baked
cookies this season. I also wanted to make sure I hadn’t lost my cookie
decorating skills. These decorated gingerbread cookies satisfied my urge for a
ginger-something and the creative side of me. I can’t tell you just how much I
enjoyed decorating them, despite the fact that I had a rather stiff neck by the
time I was done with decorating them!
I’m not very
good when it comes to decorating cakes but I can do a reasonably good job with
piping and decorating cookies and I wanted to try out some new patterns. I
couldn’t be bothered with colouring my icing so I decided to stay with a colour
scheme of brown and white! Instead of using regular royal icing, I used my
egg-free version because the lemon juice cuts down the sweetness of the icing
and the tang complements the gingerbread cookie.
gingerbread cookies are slightly crunchy without being tooth-shattering hard!
If you live in climates where humidity is the norm like here, store the cookies
By the way, did you know that the first gingerbread men were said to have been produced for
the amusement of Queen Elizabeth I for whom they were baked in the shapes of
her favourite courtiers, and occasionally decorated with gold leaf!
together2 1/4 cups of flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg baking powder, baking
soda and salt in a bowl till they’re just mixed well.
In another bowl
beat the butter, sugar and date syrup, with a hand held mixer on medium speed,
for a couple of minutes. Add the egg and beat for another minute.
Now add the
whisked flour and beat on low speed till it comes together. Lightly flour your
hands and remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into 2 portions. Pat
each portion into a ball and then flatten it into a small disc. It will be a
bit sticky which is fine. Wrap both discs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for
about 2 hours or even overnight like I did.
Take the dough
out, and leave it at room temperature if it seems hard. Let it soften until the
dough can be shaped but is still cold. Once the dough warms up it will become
very soft, sticky and difficult to manage or roll out.
flour your working surface and do not be tempted to add too much flour, as the
cookies will become tough and chewy. Working with one portion at a time, roll
it out to 1/8th” thickness and cut out shapes with cookie cutters.
Place the shapes
on lightly greased or parchment lined sheet and refrigerate for about 20
minutes. Then bake them at 180C (350F) for 8 to 10 minutes till the edges of
the cookies start browning. Do not let the cookies became too dark.
Let them cool
completely on racks and store them in airtight containers till you’re ready to
decorate them. These cookies are delicious even without the icing,
icing by mixing together icing sugar and enough lemon juice to make a thick,
almost viscous icing. Make sure your icing sugar is sifted and has no lumps.
Spoon the icing into a piping bag. Snip off a very small part of the tip and
decorate the cookies as desired. Remember that this icing isn’t as hard as
regular Royal icing, so if you’re planning to pack and mail them, you will need
to be very careful.
makes about 35 to 40 cookies (2 1/4" to 3” in size), depending on the size
of cookie cutters used.
without fruitcake? For those who celebrate and make their own Christmas fruit
cake, the excitement starts a month or two ahead with soaking all the dried
fruit in alcohol. Steep the fruit this way ensures it will make an awesome
fruit cake, but also ensures a long shelf-life once the cake is baked.
once made, the fruit cake would be wrapped in cheesecloth soaked in rum or
brandy so that the cake would last and also develop a richer and fruitier taste
as it ages. I read somewhere that fruitcakes preserved with alcohol and wrapped
carefully actually last for up to 50 years! This may be exaggerating the case a
bit too much, and I’m in no position to find out as I’m not going to be around
that long from now.
The only thing
is I don’t like the Christmas kind of fruit cake. I never have, and I’m unable
to decide which puts me off the cake more - the strong smell and taste of the
alcohol in the cake or the awful tasting and coloured candied peel!
If there was one
thing that puts me off Christmas, it is the gifts of Christmas fruit cake that
arrive from friends and neighbours. You cannot refuse them, and you cannot give
them away because everyone’s home is full of the stuff! My husband on the other
hand loves the stuff, but there’s only so much he can eat of it. Our daughter
has taken after me in this matter and will not even come near the cake.
I have in the
past couple of years taken to baking my own fruitcake, mostly for my husband
and to give to friends. I make them without alcohol and have discovered 2
distinct advantages my non-alcoholic cakes have. One is that the fruit that
goes into it don’t have to be “prepared” ahead of time, and the second that I
can serve it to children (and myself too). My cakes do not smell “funny”
Of course, there
are those who would argue that my fruit cakes are not the real deal. That’s
fair enough, but as far as I’m concerned there’s enough place in this world for
another kind of fruit cake (pun not intended!).
Last year, I had
posted my non-alcoholic version of the famous Christmas-time favourite in Kerala,the Kerala Plum Cake. Now that’s a dark and moist fruit cake and involves making
a caramel sauce that goes into the cake. This time around, I wanted to make a
lighter cake, in terms of colour, calories and the fruit in it. There is a
variety of fruit cake that’s called a light fruit cake because white sugar is
used instead of brown sugar, and also the dried fruit used for this cake are
usually light coloured like apricots, golden raisins, etc.
All the recipes
I looked at had a lot of fat and eggs in them. Those that were low in both didn’t
really appeal to me. I was looking for a recipe that was comparatively lower in
both fats and eggs (4 eggs invariably produces an “eggy” flavour that we don’t
like) as I wanted something healthier. Someone asked how cake could be termed “healthy”?
I don’t claim that cakes are healthy, just that I wanted to make a cake that
wasn’t “heavy” like the usual lot.
I solved the
problem by coming up with my own version. No, my cake is not healthy but it
does take a lot less butter (if you consider 100gm butter to be “less”) and
just 2 egg whites. It’s also a moist but not dense cake, that also has a lighter
feel when eaten. Make it without the marzipan cover/ decoration and it makes a
lovely cake for a special tea.
For me fruit
cake is about a cake that’s not chock full of fruit and nuts. I like to it be a
cake that’s studded with fruit and that’s how I chose to make mine. If you like
more fruit you can increase the quantity in your cake. You can use whatever
dried fruit and nuts you like but I used dried papaya, golden raisins,
preserved cherries, almonds and pistachios.
I also had some
marzipan left in the fridge, that a very good friend sent me almost a year back. I had
been zealously hoarding it but decided if I hoarded it any longer I might not
be able to use it at all! So in the style of English Christmas fruit cakes, I
decorated my fruit cake with marzipan. I left out the icing because I didn’t
want a very sweet cake. The idea for decorating the cake with marzipan stars came from here. I have
to say toasting the marzipan gives it a very interesting taste. It also means
you don’t have to wait for the marzipan to dry out.
If you are
inclined to do so, marzipan is best made at home and not very difficult to do.
This was you can also adjust the amount of almond extract/ essence and rose
water you put into your marzipan. You could also leave it out altogether if you
don’t like the flavours.
would have it, Simone chose the theme for her monthly photography challenge
to be “Christmas/ Festive Cakes” which is also the theme for Meeta’s Monthly Mingle which she is hosting this month. So two birds with one stone!
I do most of
food photography in my living-dining area at home. Since both the living area
and the dining area have huge windows, I have the choice of deciding where I
want my light coming in from and how harsh or soft it is depending on which part
of the day I take photographs.
This time, I
closed the curtains on both the left (partially) and the right windows so that
I had enough light coming in from my kitchen door (yes, I have loads of natural
light almost the year round where I live) to create a moody/ warm and festive
mood with the light from the candles. I used a white foam board on the right to
reflect some of the light coming in from the left. There were more highlights
than I wanted, on the candles and Christmas decorations at the back so I used a
short black board on the left (7:30 direction) to remove most of them. The photograph above was taken with a 50mm f/1.8 lens at f/3.2, 1/13s and ISO 100.
A Light Fruit
Cake Decorated With Marzipan
For The Cake:
1 cup granulated
2 egg whites,
1 cup cake flour
(or use 2tbsp cornstarch and top up with all-purpose flour)
1 1/2 tsp baking
1/2 sp baking
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp chai
1 1/4 cups mixed
chopped candied fruit, dried fruit and nuts
(papaya, golden raisins, cherries,
almonds and pistachios)
1/8 cup candied
1/2 cup desiccated
1 1/2 tsp orange zest
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup unsweetened
orange juice (preferably fresh)
silver dragees for decorating
For The Glaze:
3 tbsp apricot
jam (or orange marmalade)
2 tbsp water
Put the flour,
cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, the powdered spices and salt in a large
bowl and whisk together a couple of times to mix. Add the dried fruit, nuts and
the ginger and toss coat them well with the flour. This ensures the fruit doesn’t
sink to the bottom of the cake.
In another large
bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with a hand held electric mixer till
fluffy. Add the beaten egg whites, the lemon and orange zest and the extracts
and beat till mixed. Now add the half of the flour, and then half the orange
juice, then the rest of the flour and the orange juice beating well after each addition
until just mixed well. Lastly add the desiccated coconut and beat till well
mixed. Do not over beat the batter.
batter into a well-greased and floured (or parchment lined, if you prefer) 7
1/2” or 8” round cake tin. Smoothen the top and bake at 180C (350F) for about
40 minutes to an hour till a skewer pushed into the middle of the cake comes
If you find the cake browning too quickly cover with foil about
halfway through baking. This cake will rise but dome very gently. Let the cake
cool in the tin for about 20 to 25 minutes in the cake tin and then unmould it.
Cool completely on a rack.
Make a glaze by
boiling the jam and water for a couple of minutes. Press this through a sieve
to remove lumps and let it cool slightly. Brush this over the cake just before
covering with marzipan. The recipe for marzipan, if you want to make it, is at
the bottom of this post.
To Decorate The
Fruit Cake With Marzipan:
Take a piece of
the marzipan (about the size of an orange) and roll it into a smooth ball and
flatten it slightly. Dust your work surface lightly with icing sugar, and roll
out the marzipan to a uniform thickness of about 1/8th”. Cut out a
circle, using a pizza/ pastry wheel, the exact diameter of your cake.
apricot glaze over the top of the cake, and place the marzipan circle on the
cake to fit it perfectly. Press it down lightly so it sticks to the cake.
Take the scraps
from the rolled out marzipan and a little more fresh marzipan and roll it
together into a ball (about 3/4 the earlier amount) and roll out again to 1/8th”
thickness. Using a star shaped cookie cutter cut out enough stars to cover the
top edge of cake.
Using some of the apricot glaze to help stick them down,
place the stars, in an overlapping manner, along the top edge of the cake and
one in the centre if you want. Decorate with silver dragees/ sugar balls.
remaining marzipan in an airtight container and refrigerate for future use.If
you are not toasting your marzipan decoration, then leave the cake in a cool place,
overnight, to dry out.
If you have a
blow torch, use that to toast and brown the marzipan decoratively. Otherwise
place the marzipan covered cake under the grill for about 3 or 4 minutes or in
an 180C (350F) oven for a few minutes. Watch your cake to see the marzipan
This cake serves
8 to 10 people.
2 cups sugar
3 1/2 cups skinned
and slivered/ chopped almonds (you can also use cashewnuts)
1/2 cup water
1 tsp almond extract
2 tbsp rose
almonds finely by running them along with a little of the icing sugar, to
prevent it from becoming pasty. Even if it does, that’s ok. Just make sure
there are no lumps.
Put the sugar
and water ina pan, and stir till the
sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and add the powdered almonds, extract and rose
water. On medium heat, stir frequently until the almonds cook and became a
thick mass. Once it starts leaving the sides of the pan and resembles a dough,
take the pan off the heat. Take the marzipan out of the pan and let it cool on
Once cool knead
well till smooth and use as required, or wrap in cling film and store in an
airtight container in the fridge. If your marzipan seems hard or dry, just “warm”
it in the microwave for a about 10 seconds and it will soften up. Otherwise add
a few drops of warm water and knead well.