Thursday, September 29, 2016

Everyday Bread...

Baking bread at home is easy and simple. Flour, water, salt and a leavening agent are the ingredients needed to make a bread and are easily available, The most commonly used leavening agent is yeast. I use active dry yeast, that's the easiest option for any home baker.

I love freshly baked bread and hence I bake often at home. I thoroughly enjoy the process of bread making, from mixing, kneading, rising to baking and serving it to my family. Previously I used to knead the dough by hand, which is of course time consuming and laborious. Last year I got a gift from my husband, a KitchenAid stand mixer, and my bread making ventures are thus more frequent and with ease.

Not only kneading the dough, the KitchenAid stand mixer works wonder for so many other recipes. Cake, cookies, biscuits, scones, whipping cream, making buttercream the list is quite long. I have an artisan stand mixer with tilt head and 4.8 L mixing bowl. It is so easy to use, I consider it as the most prized possession in my kitchen.

While making bread at home, make sure you use proper measuring cups and spoons. To begin yeast is the best choice as a leavening agent. Gradually with practice, beer, buttermilk, or in advance baking mode one can use sourdough starter to make bread. Handling yeast is not that difficult as it seems. Use good quality active dry yeast and every time proof the yeast to make sure the yeast is alive or your dough won't rise. Depending on the temperature of the place, proofing and rising time varies, so practice to understand the nature of the yeast being used and the best time and place for proofing and rising.

If you do not have a stand mixer that's not a problrm, I used to knead the dough by hand for so many years. Yes, of course a stand mixer makes the job easier but the fun of kneading dough by hand is beyond words. Feeling the dough as you turn, pull, rotate is such a pleasure. You can ask your kids to join you, that adds to the fun.

Rising the dough in a moderately warm place is always advised. Here in Kolkata the temperature and humidity is pretty high and the dough rises pretty quickly. If you are living is much colder place then place the dough in one of the corner of your kitchen or place it inside the oven (switched off) with the oven light on.

It's advised to keep the dough to rise in a place where the temperature is constant.

A fully risen dough is always a pretty sight for any home baker. But make sure not to over proof the dough. As the dough doubles in size start working with it.

While working with the dough try to use as little as flour possible. just to dust the working surface and to dust your hand from sticking to the dough.

Shaping the dough is a step I enjoy much. This time I made a milk bread which is great for breakfast. It can be shaped as a loaf or a rough round as I did. For some reason I prefer a round bread than a rectangular loaf.

Things needed to make Milk Bread:

(makes two loaves)

  • All purpose flour: 6 cups
  • Yeast: 1 tbsp
  • Water: 1/4 cup
  • Milk: 2 and 1/2 cup
  • Butter (melted): 3 tbsp
  • Sugar: 1/4 cup
  • Salt: 1 tsp
  • Flour to dust
  • Butter or oil to grease

Steps of making Milk Bread:

1. In the bowl of the stand mixer add yeast, sugar and warm water. The water should be warm, not hot. Mix well, let the yeast proof.

2. As the liquid bubbles, add 2 cups of flour, warm milk, salt, sugar, melted butter and mix it on low speed with the hook attachment on. If you are doing it by hand, mix it with a spatula. Gradually add flour one cup at time and mix over low speed, scraping the sides in between. Once all the flour is incorporated increase the speed to 4-6 and knead for 4-5 min. The dough may cling to the hook attachment, use a spatula to scrape it down. If you need to know how to knead dough with hand, check my focaccia recipe.

3. Take a large deep bowl, grease it with oil or melted butter. Place the dough in the bowl. I prefer using a large glass bowl, I find it easier to measure the amount dough is rising. Turn the dough to coat with the oil or butter, cover the bowl with a cling wrap and let it rise for 1-2 hour or till the dough doubles.

4. When the dough doubles in size, plop it on a flour dusted working surface and divide the dough into two equal halves. Work with one dough at time, cover the other one.

5. Gently press the dough to make a flat circle. Take a part from the outer part and tuck it in to the center, turn the dough a little and repeat. This way you will end up to a round dough. the tuck in side in will be the underside of the bread. Turn the dough gently, with the palm of your hand cup the dough and shape gently. Work with the other dough the same way.

6. Place the shaped dough on a parchment paper. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let to rise to double in size.

7. While the dough is rising place a baking sheet in the middle rack of your oven and pre-heat the oven to 180 C / 350 F.

8. After the dough rises carefully hold the parchment paper and place the dough on the baking sheet inside the pre-heated oven.

9. Bake at 180 C for 30-35 min.

10. Take out the bread and let it cool down in a cooling rack. Slice only after it's completely cooled down, enjoy with butter, jam, spreads. To store keep in an air tight container for 2-3 days in refrigerator.

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Nolen gurer ice cream...

I scream you scream, we all scream for ice cream. When it comes to ice cream age is no bar, we all love it. I have been trying my hand on ice cream making for last few months, but never got satisfactory result till now. The texture, the smoothness, that I was looking for wasn't really there. Lot of research to find the reason took me to a detailed discussion on ice cream making on and I tried the eggless version. It came out really good. So here it is, my two cents on ice cream making from all the trial and errors that I went through.

Friday, August 19, 2016

How to make a simple vanilla cake...

Today I'm going to share a simple basic recipe for making a vanilla cake. A recipe that can be followed by anyone. For a long time I have been requested to post this but haven't done it till date. Though I bake this cake at least thrice a month as a snack for my kid. It is so easy and simple that my nine year old knows how to do it. 

This is the recipe I have seen my mother and aunts use while baking cakes in winter. It was like a ritual in our house to bake at least one cake during our winter break. I remember it was such a exciting day for us. It was more of an event. We used to announce with pride to our friends "today Ma's going to bake a cake, so we can't join you to play badminton this morning". Badminton, oranges and cake were such integral part of our winter days.

Coming back to the cake, there was an electric oven to bake the cake, a small round shaped aluminium  oven with flat top and bottom with a glass top from where you can see the cake rising. It was my father's duty to take out the oven from its box. Yes, it used to be kept in its original box throughout the year waiting to be used during winter for our family celebration of Christmas and new year.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Chapor ghonto...

Few days back I saw a meme that stated 'Vegetarian Bengali is a Myth'. My reaction was "are you kidding me!!!!". Really.. have you ever heard about aloo posto (Potato cooked with poppy seed), sukto (a bitter sweet vegetable stew), ghonto (vegetable mishmash), chochori (stir fried vegetables), the list is endless.
Unfortunately, Bengalis are universally labeled with mach-bhat (fish and rice) along with few cliche sweets like rosogolla and misti doi. Ask any celebrity outside Bengal they will try to say 'ami misti doi khete bhalobasi' (I love having sweet yogurt) in an obnoxious accent. I can ignore these useless attempt to win hearts by saying something that's written  either by their PR agencies or else said to increase their fan following. But when one call himself a 'Bong' and states that there is no such Bengali who follows vegetarian diet makes me think how much knowledge this new generation have about our rich food culture, and what makes them so irresponsible to make a comment in public forum and which gives a complete wrong conception about Bengali food.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

My Soba noodle bowl and passion of photography...

This post is going to be a bit different than my other posts. This will be more about my passion for food photography than the usual recipe posts I share. Don't worry, there is a recipe at the end,but I would like to call this one 'The monologue of a self taught food photographer'.

For last few weeks I was planning to add some movement, action and human touch to my food photos. But planning and execution are two different things, specially for a self taught photographer like me.

Whatever knowledge I have gathered about food photography is because of my food blog. During the course of shooting the food I cook, I have managed to understand and learn different aspects of food photography and there is so much yet to learn.

For me experimenting with the camera is the best way to learn. And I enjoy it immensely. I feel super enthusiastic about trying anything new, it gives me a rush, it is like a quest to do something I haven't done earlier.

While looking at a food photo, I  am always intrigued to get a feel of the story in it. Being a hardcore foodie and food lover, I think incorporating sense of movements like mixing the batter, or pouring sauce or holding a bowl of soup in a food photo brings out an emotion, it tells a story and that is what I love and want to share. I have shot a few like that previously, but all were very amateurish and I find them awful when I see those images now.

I am my worse critic, and I compare myself with the past me. The images I have taken earlier and now shows me it is an evolving process for a self taught food photographer. Photography in general needs planning and lots of trial. Sometimes it's frustrating but "never give up" is the mantra and above all enjoying your work is the fuel to keep on going. So I placed the camera on tripod, arranged a glass, a bottle and some orange juice and started. I tried a pouring shot. If you follow me on Instagram or like my Facebook page you have already seen the following image.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Lentil with lime leaves...

Yesterday I prepared a simple dal for lunch, a typical Bengali lentil soup, but something that turned it special. The dal was flavored with the leaves of Gondhoraaj lebu. Gondhoraaj literally means king of aroma and it is native to Bengal. These are somewhat similar to kaffir lime. From a welcome drink to main course to desserts, these elongated thick skinned large limes work wonder. Usually these limes are cut lengthwise into wedges and served along with Bengali meals, either a simple dal or a spicy bowl of mutton curry, it uplifts every single dish.

Sunday, June 12, 2016


I'm not an expert when it comes to cook in microwave, I mean solely using the micro feature. Grilling and the convection mode are frequently used but the microwave mode is only used for re-heating food in my house. It works wonder when I need to dehydrate herbs or to blanch almonds.

So when Indrani a co-blogger and a member of Kolkata food blogger announced an event to cook something using microwave and solely microwave not the grilling or convection option, my first thought was  that I need to pass this. But before saying 'quit' I gave it a little thought and came up with this very simple easy idea of making sandesh in microwave. I make sandesh very often to lure my kid to eat homemade cottage cheese or chana, which is  usually  falls in her "reject" category.