Monday, December 23, 2013

Swiss roll...with pineapple & butter-cream filling

I always feel enthusiastic while doing something for the first time, especially when it comes to cooking. And to be  more specific, baking is always super exciting for me. Days of reading and researching, measuring ingredients precisely, mixing them, baking and seeing the perfect result is a joy that can only be understood by a fellow home-baker. Baking gives me a pleasure beyond imagination. Even if I fail sometime, I learn something new. 

This year just before the Christmas I thought of making one of my favorite cake, Swiss roll. Yes, it was to be my first attempt at it, but the fond memories I have of this cake was an inspiration. As a kid I used to have Swiss Rolls from cake shops in Kolkata, they were either vanilla flavored sponge cake filled with jam or chocolate cake roll filled with chocolate butter cream, both were my favorite. This particular cake is named differently in different places: Swiss roll, jelly roll, roulade, rolled jelly cake, jam roll whatever the name, it is always the same exquisite and awesome taste.

Swiss roll (jelly roll or roulade) is a thin sponge cake filled with jam or butter-cream and rolled and sliced into cross-sectional slices. You can use any filling of your choice. The steps may appear to be complicated, but once you do it, you will realize how easy it is. Even much easier than a normal round cake. This was my first attempt at making a Swiss roll, I can't tell you how much I loved it. Not only because my friends and family appreciated, I loved  and enjoyed every bit of the process. From beating the yolks, to baking the thin sponge and rolling it and at the end slicing  it to some perfect Swiss rolls. When I tasted it, it took me back to my childhood days. So here it is for you all, just before the Christmas something special from my kitchen to yours. Add this little glitter to your baking list and I promise you won't regret it.

Things needed to make the sponge:

  • All purpose flour: 1/3 cup
  • Corn starch: 3 tbsp
  • Eggs: 5 (separated)
  • Sugar: 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp
  • Vanilla extract: 1.5 tsp
  • Salt: a pinch

Things needed to make butter cream with pineapple chunks:

  • Butter: 1 cup (2 sticks or 226 gm)
  • Powdered sugar: 3 cups
  • Vanilla extract or pineapple essence: 1 tsp
  • Heavy cream: 3-4 tbsp
  • Pineapple (cut into small pieces) fresh or canned: 1 cup

Steps of making the sponge:

1. Grease a jelly roll pan, 17X12 inch (1 inch depth), line with parchment paper, keep aside. Pre heat oven to 450 F.

2. Sift the flour, cornstarch and salt and keep aside.

3. Separate the eggs. Add half cup of sugar to the yolks and beat with an electric beater or on a stand mixer till it turns smooth and almost white, over high speed for 5-7 min. Add vanilla extract and beat. This is the most important step. If you beat the yolks correctly then your sponge cake will come out perfect.

4. Add the flour mix to the beaten yolk and gently fold in.

5. In a separate bowl beat egg whites and two tablespoon of sugar till peaks are formed.

6. Add the egg white to the yolk-flour mixture and fold in very gently.

7. Pour the batter in the prepared pan and spread it evenly with spatula. Bake on the bottom rack of the oven for 5-6 min. Take out the sponge after 5-6 min, if you touch the center of the cake it will spring back.

8. Dust the sponge with confectionery sugar. Lay a clean kitchen towel on your work surface, invert the sponge from the jelly roll pan  on the towel. Very gently but tightly roll the kitchen towel wrapping the cake.

9. Keep the roll wrapped in towel on a cooling rack, let it cool down completely.

Steps of making the pineapple filled butter cream:

1. Bring the butter to room temperature. Cream the butte over high speed  for 4-5 min with an electric hand mixer or on a stand mixture.

2. Gradually add the powdered sugar to the butter and keep beating. Add heavy cream depending on the needed consistency. Add vanilla extract or pineapple essence, whichever you are using, beat well. Add small chunks of pineapple, if you are using fresh pineapple, make sure that's sweet enough to use. You can add other things of your choice from chopped cherries, nuts, or chocolate. You can change the flavor depending on your choice. 

Assembling the Swiss roll:

Unroll the towel wrapped sponge cake. Place it on clean parchment paper. Spread the butter cream evenly over the sponge.

With the help of the parchment paper roll the filled cake as tightly as possible but with utmost care, wrap it with a plastic wrap or aluminium foil tightly and refrigerate for 1-2 hrs. Slice and serve.

Instead of using butter cream you can spread jam or whipped cream or chocolate mousse over the sponge cake to finish up the Swiss roll. Before serving you can decorate the Swiss roll as per your choice, with whipped cream or chocolate or any frosting of your choice.

.I know it is a long procedure, here I have summarized the whole process for you,

This post is going to the bake event of Kolkata food bloggers. Click on the following logo to know more about the event and get scrumptious recipes.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Quick n easy cake for Christmas...

What I love about any festival is the festive mood, the preparation for it, the feeling of something very special is going to happen. I always found the days  of waiting for a festival the most exciting part. Christmas is not an exception. Making the wish list, buying gifts for my little one, expecting a surprise, discussing about food with friends, decorating the tree and above all baking cakes and cookies.

I bake several different cakes during this time, but a special Christmas cake is a must. Though I do not like the long elaborate process of soaking dry fruits with alcohol, then baking the cake and again brushing it with alcohol. I found it easier to bake a cake that taste exactly like a Christmas cake but can be baked just the day before Christmas.

This quick and easy Christmas cake has a dense, moist texture, with loads of candied cherries and orange peels. I used store bought tutti frutti, you can always make your own. I did not use any alcohol in this cake, but you can add rum or brandy to flavor the cake, or else add imitation rum flavor to bring the boozy essence. You can add nuts, raisins of your choice. It is a versatile recipe, you can customize as per your choice. 

Things needed to make the Christmas cake:

  • All purpose flour: 1 and 3/4 cup
  • Eggs: 4
  • Brown sugar: 1 cup
  • White sugar: 3/4 cup
  • Salt: 1 tsp*
  • Baking powder: 1 tsp
  • Unsalted butter: 1 stick (113 gm)
  • Vanilla extract: 1 tsp
  • Orange extract: 1/2 tsp
  • Tutti frutti mix: 1 cup
  • Cinnamon powder: 1/4 tsp
  • Nutmeg powder: 1/8 tsp
  • Extra butter and flour to prepare the pan
  • Rum or brandy to brush the cake (optional)
*If you are using salted butter, no need to add salt.

Steps of making the Christmas cake:

1. Pre-heat oven to 375F.

2. Grease a 9 inch loaf pan or 9 inch round pan with butter and dust with flour, keep aside

1. Sieve together all purpose flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon powder and nutmeg powder. Keep aside.

2. Cream the butter for 3-4 min. Add brown sugar and white sugar and cream it with the butter for 5-6 min, scrape the side of the bowl as needed.

3. Add eggs one by one and beat well.

4. Add vanilla extract and orange extract, beat well. You can add the alcohol (if using) at this stage.

5. Add the dry ingredients and fold in gently. Add the tutti frutti and fold.

6. Pour the batter in the prepared pan, bake in the middle rack of the oven for 45 min or till a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean.

7. Carefully take out the cake from the pan. Let the cake cool down on a wire rack for 4-5 hrs. You can slice and serve it. To give it the flavor of alcohol, Bake the cake at least 2-3 days prior the party, after the cake cools down, brush the cake from all sides with brandy or rum, cover with a plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator. Brush the cake with alcohol in between 2-3 times.

Wish you all a Merry Christmas, enjoy with your friends and family.

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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Lau chingri....Bottle gourd with shrimps

Lau chingri or bottle gourd with shrimps is a traditional Bengali recipe. There are different ways you can cook 'lau chingri'. Some add chopped onion to it, some add cumin and garam masala. I do follow the way my mother-in-law does it. You need small shrimps for this. Fresh shrimps are always recommended, but frozen salad shrimps are also good. I used the latter. I have been asked several time to post a recipe for lau-chingri, here it is today for you all.

Things needed to make Lau chingri or Bottle gourd with shrimps:

  • Bottle gourd: 1
  • Shrimps: 1 cup
  • Black cumin (kalonji): 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin powder: 1 tsp
  • Red chili powder: 1 tsp
  • Green chilies: 3-4
  • Mustard oil: 3 tbsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste

Steps of making Lau chingri or Bottle gourd with shrimps:

1. Peel the bottle gourd. And wash well. Cut into thin strips.

2. If using fresh shrimps, clean the shrimps and smear with little salt and turmeric. Fry the shrimps for 2 min or till red. If using frozen shrimps, thaw and wash well and fry. Keep aside.

3. In the same pan heat mustard oil, when the oil is hot add black cumin (kalonji) and green chilies. Add bottle gourd and turmeric powder, mix well. Cover and cook over medium heat. Cook till the bottle gourd is tender. Add cumin powder, red chili powder, salt, mix well. Cook uncover for 4-5 min. Add fried shrimps, sugar and cook for 2-3 min over high heat, keep stirring. Add few more green chilies if needed. Check seasoning and adjust accordingly. Serve hot with steamed rice.

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Fried rice...

Quick, easy, delicious.... Fried Rice is a life savior for me. Whether I'm not in a mood to cook something elaborate or preparing a special dinner for my family, in several occasions I end up with this simple fried rice. Add loads of veggies and meat, it is a dish in itself. Or keep it simple and serve with chilli chicken, sweet and sour chicken or chilli fish. It is versatile. Vegetarian or non-veg, it tastes good either way. And it is a great way to end up your leftover rice.

I use cooked jasmine rice to make fried rice. If you do not get jasmine rice, use good quality long grain rice. It is better if you are using cooked rice made last night or cooked at least 6-8 hrs before preparing the fried rice. To know to how to cook jasmine rice click here.

Things needed to make Fried Rice:

  • Cooked jasmine rice: 4 cups
  • Carrot: 1/4 cup
  • Green pea: 1/4 cup
  • Bell peppers: 1/4 cup
  • Onion: 3 tbsp
  • Garlic: 1 tsp
  • Spring onion (the green part): a handful
  • Egg: 2
  • Soy sauce: 2-3 tbsp
  • Sesame oil: 2 tbsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar: 1 tsp
  • Black pepper powder for seasoning
  • Oil to cook

Steps of making Fried Rice:

1. In a wok heat 2-3 table spoons of oil. When the oil is hot add finely chopped garlic, cook for 1 min over high heat, do not burn. Add chopped onions, cook till transparent. Add carrots and cook till tender. Add other vegetables, salt, sugar and cook for 3-4 min. Do not overcook the vegetables, keep them a bit crunchy. You can use any vegetables of your choice.

2. Push aside the vegetables on a side of the wok. Lightly beat the eggs with a pinch of salt. Add a teaspoon of oil and when the oil is hot, add the beaten eggs. As the egg sets a bit, mix it with all the vegetables. Cook for 2 min.

3. Add cooked rice, soy sauce, salt, black pepper, sesame oil and mix well. Break the lumps of cooked jasmine rice before adding. Cook for 3-4 min over high heat, keep tossing the rice. If you are using chicken or other meat or seafood, add the pre-cooked meat or seafood along with the rice(see note below). Take care not to burn the rice, adjust the heat accordingly.

4. Sprinkle chopped spring onion and serve immediately.

NOTE: To add chicken, cut chicken breasts into thin strips, fry the chicken strips with a little salt and black pepper powder. Keep aside. Add it along with the rice. Same way you can add shrimp, fry the shrimps and keep aside, add along with the rice.

Check these recipe to go with the fried rice:

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