berry, lime and cardamom spring cake

berry lime cardamom cake

There are things that I have learned that I do as a blogger that normal people don't. For example, baking yourself a cake and then trying to figure out if it's more birthday, spring or Easter appropriate for the blog. You see April is my birthday month (though my birthday falls at the very end of the month) and this year it falls on one of the solar eclipses (perhaps it might mean something), Easter too tends to bounce around the calendar every year, so I fell into the blogging dilemma of when to make the cake and when to share it on the blog. The only thing I was surely certain of, was making it! Last year I made myself chocolate butter cookies but this year I wanted a big fat cake full of berries, I should rephrase that, I mean't to say LOADED with berries! 

a dozen eggs

I love angel food cakes because they are so airy and light yet so soft and spongy. I zested a couple of green limes into the batter and tossed in some ground green cardamom. Instead of a frosting, I slapped the cake layers with an extra generous amount of lightly sweetened Greek yogurt and stuffed the cake with fresh strawberries and blueberries.

cornflour

This is not a very sweet cake but when you taste the yogurt and the cake together, the yogurt brings out the sweetness of the cake and the fresh flavors of the lime, cardamom and berries. I'm very happy with this cake, it's a little less guilt-free and makes deliciously light dessert. Needless to say, to balance things out, I cut myself a huge fat chunk and ate  devoured it! So here's to happy spring, birthdays, Easter and celebrations of all sorts and for that matter any reason.

lime zest and meringue 

I adapted the angel food cake recipe from Great Cakes by Carole Walter.

Note: When sifting flour, I recommend taking out a leveled cup of the flour, then sifting it and remeasuring the sifted flour. You can store the extra bit that's left behind. Also, with the strawberries and blueberries, you can use less and I indeed did have fruit left behind after I put the cake together. Feel free to play around with the amounts of the berries. You might notice, that I've used cornstarch/cornflour here to make my own cake flour and yes, this kitchen hack indeed does work!

berry lime cardamom spring cake

These are some of the delicious and beautiful spring recipes and blogs that I'm definitely gearing up to try out from my fellow bloggers;
  • Sini of My Blue and White Kitchen made her version of Finnish Raspberry Meade that looks and sounds absolutely gorgeous.  I might need a few pitchers, just saying!
  • I came across a new blog called Kiss My Spatula and I've fallen in love with the rich and colorful photography. 
  • The talented duo, Alex and Sonja at A Couple Cooks made these Ricotta Scrambled Egg and Asparagus Tacos that looks perfect for a spring brunch.
  • One of my favorite inspirational bloggers, Linda of The Tart Tart made some amazing Black Sesame Macarons that I really, really want to taste!
  • Imen has a Rhubarb and Rosemary Syllabub with Poitin up on the Farmette. It's no secret that I love farms and I'm adore the photographs she shares of her family farm on Instagram because it reminds me of M's parents' farm in Virginia. 
lime berry cardamom cake

berry, lime and cardamom spring cake 

yields: 6-8 servings / one 10 inch diameter angel food cake

ingredients 

32 ounces plain non-fat/ low-fat greek yogurt
1 cup (4 1/2 ounces) sifted flour 
2 tablespoons cornflour/cornstarch
1 1/2 cups fine sugar
1 1/2 cups (15 3/4 ounces) 12 egg whites, at room temperature
1 tablespoon warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons madagascar bourbon vanilla extract
3 limes
1/4 teaspoon green cardamom, freshly ground
1/4 cup (1 1/4 ounces) confectioners sugar
32 ounces strawberries, rinsed, drained, hulled and sliced in half 
6 ounces blueberries, rinsed and drained

1. Place the greek yogurt in a colander or sieve pre lined with a piece of clean cheese cloth or a kitchen towel over a large bowl. Allow the yogurt to drain in the refrigerator for at least 2 to 3 hours and discard any whey the collects in the bowl. Reserve the yogurt until ready to use.
2. Place a wire rack in the lower-third of the oven and preheat to 375F.  Take a 10 inch diameter angel food pan, trace and cut out a circle of parchment paper to line the base of the pan. There is no need to grease the pan. Keep the prepared pan aside until ready.
3. Sift the pre-sifted flour, cornflour and 1/2 cup of the sugar three times on to a sheet of parchment paper and keep aside.
4. Place the egg whites and warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer and using the whisk attachment beat on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes or until the eggs get frothy. Stop the mixer and add the cream of tartar, salt, and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla extract. Whisk until the mixture begins to form soft peaks (ripples should form in the foam at this stage). At this stage, add the freshly grated zest of two limes and the ground cardamom and whisk for another minute .  Add 1 cup of the sugar, two tablespoons at a time from the side of the bowl and continue to whisk for about 2 minutes in total time. Remove the bowl from the mixer and transfer any of the white meringue mixture and lime zest bits that might have collected onto the whisk, back into the bowl. 
5. Sift 1/3 of the sifted dry ingredients from step 2 onto the egg whites and using a large wire whisk and carefully fold the dry ingredients into the meringue. Do not overmix or stir the batter as it will deflate. 
6. Using a rubber spatula, carefully transfer and push the batter into the prepared cake pan. Gently press the cake batter with a clean tablespoon and flatten the top surface. Finally, run a knife along the edges of the pan in a circle to remove any trapped air bubbles and once again smoothen the surface with the tablespoon. 
7. Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the center of the cake is soft and springy to touch and becomes golden brown. Avoid over baking the cake or it will deflate. Spray a wire rack with a little non stick spray and then once the cake is done, immediately invert the cake onto the wire rack. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan. Once the cake has cooled, run a sharp knife along the edges of the pan and around the inner tube to loosen it. Transfer the cake on to a cake rack and remove the pan. Peel and discard the parchment paper from the top of the cake and discard. 
8. To prepare the yogurt "frosting", place the drained yogurt in a large mixing bowl, add the remaining 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and the confectioners sugar. Whisk the yogurt until the sugar is completely blended. 
9. To assemble the cake: Slice the cake in half using a sharp serrated bread knife. Remove the upper layer and keep aside. Spread a generous 1/2 cup of the yogurt on the lower half and place the sliced strawberries with the bottom surface onto the yogurt. Scatter some of the blueberries in the space between the yogurt. Layer the berries with another generous 1/2 cup of the yogurt and place and align the upper half of the angel cake on top. Layer the top of the cake with a generous amount 1/2 cup of the yogurt and fill the hollow center of the cake with the rest of the yogurt. Layer the top of the cake with some of the strawberries and blueberries and fill the hollow center with the rest of the fruit as desired. Just before serving the cake zest the last lime over the cake. Store the cake in the refrigerator. This cake is best eaten the day it is prepared but you can make the angel cake a day in advance and assemble the cake the following day.

balsamic raspberry sauce and chèvre cake

balsamic raspberry sauce and chevre cake

One of my favorite things to do when I work on my blog posts is to sit in the bedroom and have the curtains to the doors pulled back all the way, simply because I can glance outside and enjoy the view of my little garden. It's even more exciting when spring arrives, because I impatiently indulge in multiple glimpses of the little tips of green that are sprouting through the soil or budding off the branches. Not that the incessant staring will make them come any sooner but more so because it reminds me of what my garden looked like in previous year and what it might look this time.  I have a mid-shade of a green thumb, I can grow some plants with ease and others, well not so much. I keep getting a little better each year, learning what really works well with me and my garden. Mind you my garden is not huge, it's a tiny semicircle of open soil that I am super thankful for, especially when you live in a city, it's my little oasis.

raspberry cake prep

Spring time entertaining is one of my favorite things to do, there are so many fresh colors and tastes that start to show up everywhere that it's hard not to enjoy it. I haven't baked a cake in a while and I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to indulge a little. This cake is not too sweet and is "healthy-ish" but it definitely has personality (it might remind you of my cobbler recipe) but it's simple to make and will definitely impress. This is a saucy cake and a sassy one at that, perfect to serve at a spring lunch or dinner party. There are fresh raspberries that are bathed in a sweet concoction of honey and a balsamic vinegar from Calivirgin to make that sassy sauce. To brighten and balance the sweet and tart flavors of the sauce, I added a few dollops of lightly sweetened fresh chèvre cheese from Vermont Creamery. Serve this cake warm, then eat a lot of it and share it with your loved ones, if you must. A little cooking note, you can keep the raspberry seeds in the sauce or filter them out, either way it's delicious!

To give spring a much needed warm welcome, I've teamed up with a bunch of wonderful and talented bloggers in a fantastic giveaway organized by the very wonderful Katie Webster of Healthy Seasonal Recipes. There are several wonderful prizes that one lucky person will win. To enter the giveaway, simply follow the instructions in the widget at the bottom of the post. Good luck and do visit the other participating bloggers and check out their delicious recipes! The giveaway begins on April 11, 2013 and ends on April 16, 2014 at 9:00am PST.

Here's what's to be won in the goodie bag!

From Vermont Creamery: A Taste of Vermont Creamery Gift Package and In a Cheesemakers Kitchen Cookbook. 
From JK Adams: A set of Coupe Appetizer Plates (2 pieces.) 
From Calivirgin: 1 8.45 ounce bottle of roasted garlic olive oil, 1 8.45 ounce bottle of the rosemary infused olive oil and 1 8.45 ounce bottle balsamic vinegar. 
From Effie’s homemade: 10 packages of crackers (2 oat, 2 corn, 2 nut, 2 cocoa, 2 rye.) 

Disclaimer: I did not receive any financial compensation from the participating sponsors in this giveaway. All opinions stated are my own. I did receive free samples from Calivirgin and Vermont Creamery.

balsamic raspberry sauce chevre cake

balsamic raspberry sauce and chèvre cake

yields: 4-6 servings

ingredients

11 ounces raspberries, fresh
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (Calivirgin) 
1/4 cup honey+ 2 tablespoons
2 ounces fresh chèvre cheese, at room temperature (Vermont Creamery)
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk, full fat
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
1 teaspoon madagascar bourbon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons coconut oil, melted + a little extra to grease the baking pan

1. Place half of the raspberries in a medium sized saucepan along with the balsamic vinegar and the 1/4 cup of honey. Heat the contents on medium-high flame and bring to a boil, immediately reduce and cook for 10-15 minutes. Mash the raspberries with a potato masher. At this point you can use the sauce as is or pass it through a sieve and press the pulp as much as you can to remove the seeds. Add the remaining raspberries to the sauce and keep aside.
2. Place the chèvre and remaining two tablespoons of honey in a small bowl and mix with fork.
3. Preheat the oven to 350F and place the wire rack at mid level in the oven. Lightly grease the baking pan with a little coconut oil. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt and keep aside. 
3. In another medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk the egg, coconut milk, sugar, vanilla, and coconut oil. Carefully fold the egg and coconut milk liquid into the whisked dry ingredients and mix until completely combined. Transfer the batter into the greased baking pan.
4. Randomly drizzle the raspberry mixture onto the cake batter and then using a silicone spatula or spoon create random swirls. Using a teaspoon drop small scoops of the sweetened chèvre on the surface of the cake. Bake the cake for at least 30 minutes or until the cake is completely cooked or until a knife comes out clean from the center of the cake.


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coffee chocolate hazelnut pound cake

chocolate coffee hazelnut pound cake #food #foodphotography #foodstyling #cake #dessert #chocolate

Polar vortex and snow, that is what we came back to from warm and sunny, Charleston! In my opinion, snow has two sides to it a good side and a dark side, just like THE FORCE in Star Wars, seriously! Here, let me explain,

Positives

  • The landscape becomes one big white gigantic frosted cake. 
  • You get a day off from work, if the snowfall is crazy heavy. At least a "delayed arrival" if traveling is bad.
  • You can make flavored ices with fresh snow, though I don't recommend picking up snow from the side walk due to hygienic reasons. 
  • Most dogs love snow! Snoopy for one, loves to run and play in it and eat it. 

Negatives

  • I learned that suede/leather etc. get destroyed by the salt.
  • You tend to feel like your enacting a scene from Swan Lake due to a lack of form and balance and you fall on your back more often than necessary when things are slippery or if your dog is pulling you across the street to catch a squirrel. 
  • The day after a heavy snow day is like a hangover, everything on the roads is messy. 
  • Cleaning the salt out of the dog's paws and off the floor of your house.
chocolate coffee hazelnut pound cake #food #foodphotography #foodstyling #cake #dessert #chocolate
chocolate coffee hazelnut pound cake #food #foodphotography #foodstyling #cake #dessert #chocolate
Snoopy snow collage Jan 2014

To balance all the snow related events that happened this week, I baked a pound cake that was full of warm flavors. This simple cake has everything I've been craving for, especially on on a cold and wintry snow day. There's dark roast coffee that's interspersed with swirls of a sweet dark chocolate and hazelnut paste. This pound cake goes great with tea or coffee and at any time of the day. I adapted and modified the basic pound cake recipe from

The Cook's Illustrated Baking Book

. By the way, this is a fantastic cookbook and a big thank you to Sarah of

The Vanilla Bean Blog

for the great recommendation. (I do need to work on my swirling technique here in this cake).

Note: I prefer to use raw hazelnuts with their skins for a fresher taste. However, if you have skinned pre-toasted hazelnuts, by all means use them, just skip the toasting part in Step 1 below and proceed directly to the food processor stage to prepare the chocolate-hazelnut paste.

chocolate coffee hazelnut pound cake #food #foodphotography #foodstyling #cake #dessert #chocolate

pound cake with coffee, chocolate and hazelnuts

yields:

8 servings

ingredients

1/2 cup (2 3/4 ounces) raw hazelnuts with skin 

1 cup (6 3/4 ounces) semi sweet dark chocolate chips

16 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon madagascar bourbon vanilla extract

3 large eggs + 3 large yolks, whisked lightly

1 1/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) raw brown sugar

2 tablespoons instant coffee (the dark roast variety is good here)

1 3/4 cups (7 ounces) cake flour

1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Spread the hazelnuts on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in an oven for 15 minutes or until the nuts begin to brown. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and immediately transfer the hot nuts into a clean kitchen towel. Massage the nuts while they are still in the cloth to peel the skin off the hazelnuts. You can remove the skin off the hazelnuts that did not fall off. Place the warm nuts and chocolate chips in a food processor and pulse till you get a smooth paste. The heat of the hazelnuts will melt the chocolate. Keep this aside. 

2. Grease and flour a 8 1/2 X 4 1/2 inch loaf pan. 

3. In the mixing bowl of a food processor, add the butter and salt. Using the paddle attachment at medium high speed beat the butter and salt until soft and creamy. Reduce this speed to medium low and add the sugar in two additions. Once all the sugar is added, increase the speed to medium high and beat the ingredients for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. You might need to scrape the bowl down occasionally with a silicone/rubber spatula. Reduce the speed to medium and add the vanilla and the whisked eggs and yolks. Beat the ingredients for another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the bowl from the mixer. 

4. Sift the coffee and flour twice and then sift half of the dry ingredients over the butter-egg mixture. in the mixing bowl. Fold gently using a silicone/rubber spatula until combined. Sift the rest of the flour mix over the batter,  repeat the folding process and scrape along the bottom of the container. There should be no visible flecks of flour at this point. 

5. Pour half of the batter into the greased loaf pan. Add half of the chocolate-hazelnut paste prepared earlier. Then layer with the rest of the cake batter, followed by the rest of the chocolate-hazelnut spread. Take a skewer or knife and swirl it throughout the cake batter in the pan a couple of times to create a swirl/marble pattern. Place the pan on a cookie sheet and bake it on the middle rack for 1 hour or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted through the center of the cake. Note, the skewer will be gooey from the chocolate-hazelnut mixture but it should have cake crumbs if the cake is done. Rotate the cake half way through the baking process. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes in the loaf pan and then run a knife through the edges of the cake. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and cool for about 1- 1 1/2 hours before serving. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

brandied gingerbread cake

Zesting gingerbread cake

Ginger is by far one of my favorite ingredients to cook and eat. Though I consume ginger throughout the year, it somehow moves up the ladder in my kitchen to become one of the most popular ingredients as soon as the weather begins to cool down. Those delicious warm and zesty notes in ginger are probably the main reason why I fall in love with this spice year after year. 

Paddle and batter

Gingerbread cake is one dessert that I make a few times every holiday season and each time the recipe changes a little. This version of the cake is earthy with whole-grain buckwheat flour that's flavored with a blend of delicious spices and the sweetness of molasses and brown sugar. I sometimes throw in a little bit of crystallized ginger  bits (a generous 2/3 cup amount, lightly tossed in flour added at the final stage of the batter preparation) into the batter to give it an extra special kick but this time I left it out. This cake represents my slightly boozy and whole-grain twist on this delicious traditional dessert. I've added in brandy and orangecello into the cake batter and the sauce. If you can't find orangecello then orange juice will work fine too. If you want to skip the brandy completely that is fine too, I would recommend swapping the apple cider and orange juice (use the same volumes) for the brandy and orangecello. 

Baked gingerbread cake

I prefer serving this cake warm with the fresh lime zest scattered all over the cake, though it tastes delicious when cool too. The lime zest really lightens the flavors of the spices in the cake. The brandy sauce permeates through every bit of the cake without making the cake too soggy yet keeping the cake moist. However, if you want to reduce the alcohol and make the cake less boozy, I would recommend simmering the alcohol for a longer time (approximately 20 minutes) or you could carefully flambé the sauce to get rid of most of the alcohol (I've done it both ways but simmering for a longer time is easier and safer and you can always add a little water to the sauce to dilute the flavors if they become too concentrated). 

Brandied gingerbread cake

brandied gingerbread cake

yields: 10-12 servings/ 9" x 9" X 2 " square pan

ingredients

1 1/2  cups (7 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup (3 3/4 ounces) buckwheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons dried ginger powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon, freshly ground
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1/4 teaspoon cloves, freshly ground
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
1/2 cup (3 3/8 ounces) dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, cold
3/4 cup dark molasses, unsulphured
1/4 cup orangecello (or fresh orange juice)
3 tablespoons brandy (or apple cider)
1 cup plain non-fat greek yogurt
zest of one lime, fresh  

1. Preheat the oven to 350F and set the rack in the lower third position of the oven. Line the baking pan with parchment paper and keep aside.
2. Mix and sift the dry ingredients from the flour to the cloves, three times and keep aside.
3. Fix the paddle attachment to a stand mixer. In the mixing bowl of the stand mixer, add the butter and brown sugar and beat on medium-low speed until creamy. Add one egg at a time and beat the batter for 40 seconds at medium-high until all the eggs have been added. Mix in the molasses, orangecello and brandy at medium-low speed.
4. Add half of the sifted dry ingredients to the batter and mix at medium-low speed. Add the yogurt to the batter along with the rest of the dry ingredients and mix at medium-low speed until completely combined. 
5. Quickly transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes or until firm to touch in the center or until a skewer when inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. 
6. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the cake and drizzle with the warm brandy sauce (instructions below) evenly over the cake.  Allow the cake to sit for at least 30 minutes before serving, to allow the cake to absorb the sauce. Just before serving, garnish the cake with the fresh lime zest. 

spiced brandy sauce

yields: about 1 - 1 1/2 cups

ingredients

1 cup brandy (or apple cider)
1/2 cup orangecello (or orange juice)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
4 cloves
1" cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon dry ginger powder 

Mix all the ingredients together in a thick bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil on a medium high flame. Reduce the flame to low and simmer for another 10 minutes. Remove from flame, pass the sauce through a strainer and discard the spices. Reserve the sauce and keep aside until ready to pour over the cake.

chocolate layer cake with swiss buttercream frosting

chocolate genoise layer cake with raspberry swiss buttercream frosting

Genoise cakes are one of my all time favorites when it comes to baking a fancy dessert cake especially those that get iced. They don't crack and rise evenly without any crazy issues and there is something magical about the sponge texture of these cakes. More than anything, it has taught me patience, something I always need help with. 

genoise cakes

This weekend we celebrated our friends' upcoming marriage with a stock-the-bar party. They both love chocolate, so I figured it might be fun to make them a chocolate cake with a hint of raspberry. The cake itself is light and the Swiss buttercream frosting is not too sweet making it a good choice for a brunch dessert. this way the possibility of food-induced coma is reduced.

frosting the cake

I prefer to make two separate cakes here rather than do it all in one sitting. It is easier to fold less flour into the egg mixture and the risk of deflating the eggs gets reduced. I topped the frosting with a few shavings of sweet dark chocolate to balance the flavor of the frosting and give it a little richer look. You can leave the food color out or adjust the amount you need to get the desired level of color you like.

chocolate genoise layer cake

Both the cake and buttercream frosting recipes have been modified and adapted from "Great Cakes" by Carole Walter. 

layer cake

Note: Prepare two genoise cakes separately. Instead of doubling the amount of ingredients required for the cakes, I find it easier to prepare two separate cakes especially when it comes to the folding of the dry ingredients into the batter.

chocolate genoise cake 

yields: 10 1/2" X 15 1/2' X 1" thick cake 

ingredients

3/4 cup ( 3 3/4 ounces) cake flour
1/3 cup (7/8 ounce) dutch-process cocoa
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
5 large whole eggs + 2 large egg yolks
3/4 cup+2 tablespoons (6 1/4 ounces) sugar 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup (1 7/8 ounces) butter, melted and warm

1. Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350F.  Line a baking pan with parchment paper. 
2. Sift the cake flour, cocoa and baking soda together 4 times and place aside.
3. Place the bowl of an electric mixer over a saucepan containing simmering water. The water must not touch the base of the bowl. Add the eggs and yolks with the sugar and whisk to blend completely. This will take about 4 minutes until the sugar is completely dissolved and the color of the mixture becomes a dark gold. 
4. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and using the whisk attachment, whip the eggs for 5-6 minutes until tripled in volume and the mix becomes light and foamy. At this point, you should able to draw a ribbon that will hold its shape on the foam. 
5. Add the vanilla from the side of the bowl and whip for another 2 minutes. 
6. Remove the bowl from the mixer, sift 2-3 tablespoons of the pre-sifted flour mix over the whipped eggs and fold it in with a silicone spatula using a circular motion taking care to reach the bottom of the bowl. The foam will deflate a little and there is no need to try and incorporate all the flour at this stage,  it will be mixed in completely at the end.
7.  Just before the addition of the last bit of flour, drizzle the warm, melted butter over the batter and quickly sift the rest of the flour mix over the batter. Fold into the batter completely within 30 seconds. 
8. Using the rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared baking pan. Leave behind any residual flour or butter that might be stuck at the bottom of the bowl or this will prevent the cake from rising evenly. 
9. Gently tap the pan to remove any trapped air bubbles and bake it in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. The cake is completely baked when the center of the cake when pressed springs back. Remove the pan from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Spray a cooling wire rack with nonstick cooking spray oil, run a knife around the edges of the cake to loosen it and flip the cake over the wire rack. Allow to cool completely before icing.

swiss buttercream frosting

yields: about 3 1/2 cups

ingredients

4 large egg whites
3/4 cup (4 1/4 ounces) confectioner's sugar
3 sticks(1 1/2 cups  or 12 1/8ounces) unsalted butter, soft but slightly firm to touch
2 tablespoons raspberry liqueur 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 drops red food coloring (optional, you can adjust the amount to get the desired level of pink color you desire)

1. Whisk the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer until the eggs get foamy. 
2. Place the bowl over a saucepan with simmering water. The water should not touch the base of the bowl. Add the sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time to the eggs and continue to whisk for about 30 seconds for each addition. Continue whisking the egg whites for 3 minutes, the whites will begin to warm up and the entire mixture will become white and thick. 
3. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and place it under the electric mixer.  Using the whisk attachment, whisk the mixture for 8 minutes at medium-high speed to form a thick white meringue-like mixture. Set aside.
4. In a separate mixing bowl, beat the butter for 1 minute with an electric mixer. (I used a handheld mixer for this but if you have another mixing bowl for your stand mixer, you can use the paddle attachment at medium-low speed). The butter should be soft but not warm. Keep aside.
5. Using the whisk attachment of you stand mixer, beat in the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time into the egg mixture, about one minute for each addition.
6. Add the raspberry liqueur, the vanilla, and the food coloring and beat for 1 minute until thick and creamy. Cover the frosting with cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes before use. 

raspberry syrup

yields: about 3/4 cup

ingredients

1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup raspberry liqueur

1. Mix all the ingredients together in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the mixture reduces to half its volume. 
2. Cool and refrigerate completely before use.

Assembling the cake

ingredients

1 cup dark chocolate shavings

1. Place the two cooled cakes over each other with the top side of each cake facing downwards on flat plate or cake board. This top crust creates a good support for the cake structure. With a sharp serrated knife trim the edges of the cakes. With the knife, make a small notch on one side of both cakes, this will help with aligning the cakes later.
2. Carefully remove the top cake layer and place aside.  
3. Start working with the lower cake layer. With a brush, spread half of the raspberry syrup over the cake. 
4. Layer the surface with a thin crumb coat of the frosting. Place the cake in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to harden the crumb coat.
5. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and spread 1 cup of frosting in an even layer using an offset spatula. Return the cake to the refrigerator and let it chill for 20 minutes. 
6. Place and align the second cake layer on top of the chilled frosted layer of the bottom cake layer, using the notches created earlier to correctly align the cakes. The bottom of the second cake layer should face the frosting of the first cake layer.
7. Brush the rest of the raspberry syrup over the upper layer. Refrigerate the cake for 15 minutes. Spread a thin crumb coat of frosting on top of the cake and refrigerate for another 15 minutes. Carefully spread out the rest of the frosting in an even layer on the top surface of the chilled cake with the offset spatula. 
8. Generously sprinkle the chocolate shavings over the cake and refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes before serving. To get clean even cake slices, place a sharp serrated knife under running hot tap water, wipe the blade with a clean towel and cut the slice. Repeat this for each cake slice, this will prevent any crumbs from sticking to the frosting and it will ensure a clean cut.

masala chai apple cake

Masala Chai Apple Cake

As far back as I can remember, I've always drunk more tea than coffee though this eventually changed with grad school (many hours of test preps necessitated caffeine). Tea or chai is served at almost every meal in Indian cuisine and in some instances even after a meal. Chai can be drunk plain with or without milk, sweetened or unsweetened but my favorite way to drink tea is when the liquid is infused with a concoction of spices giving it a delicious aromatic fragrance and warm flavor. Masala chai or spiced tea can be made in so many different ways, my mother likes hers with a little freshly grated ginger root ,  sometimes she might add in a few crushed cardamom pods and if she is feeling extra adventurous, then she'll toss in both. My favorite version of chai involves a few more spices to her mix, I like to throw in a little cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, and star anise, to give it a bit of a spicier taste. When it comes to selecting tea leaves for preparing the brew, I personally prefer to use whole loose black tea leaves from Assam, the flavor and color are much more richer and darker, Darjeeling black tea is another good option.

apples

I can hardly keep up with what most days or months represent, so this is truly a complete coincidence, that I have an apple cake recipe for you during September, the national month of apples. There are so many different kinds of delicious and colorful varieties of apples available today that can be used specifically for different things. My favorite are the Red delicious and Granny Smith apples, though I will probably sink my teeth into any apple that is crispy. Yeah, I guess I am a crispiness snob when it comes to apples, the joy of biting into a crispy apple while the sweet juice trickles off your fingers is simple and pure perfection! 

spices

This is a great everyday rustic cake made rich with tea, spices and apples, one you can certainly eat at anytime of the day, just like tea (you can even eat this with a cup of coffee). Instead of adding the spices to the tea (which is what one would do to make masala chai traditionally), I added freshly ground spices directly to the cake batter and prepared a reduction of the tea to concentrate the each of the flavors of the ingredients. Granny Smith apples are tart and they hold their shape during the baking process and you can taste the apples in every slice of cake that you bite into. Tea and apples are a wonderful combination in this cake and I am sure you will enjoy it.

As an option, you can also fold in 1/2 cup of raisins or walnuts to the cake batter towards the end when you add the apples. 

tealeaves

Do check out some of my favorite apple recipes,


Savory Apple Samosas, that can be served with this Sweet Tamarind Chutney.

Chai apple cake

masala chai apple cake

yields: 6-8 servings/ one 9 inch cake

ingredients

1 cup water
4 tablespoons black tea leaves ( I used Darjeeling)
1 cup (4 1/2 ounces) plain all-purpose flour + 1 tablespoon (for coating the grated  apples)
1 cup ( 4 1/4 ounces) whole-wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon dried ginger powder
1/2 teaspoon green cardamom seeds, ground
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns, freshly ground
2 cloves, freshly ground
1/2 inch cinnamon stick, freshly ground
1/4 teaspoon star anise, freshly ground
1 teaspoon butter for greasing the pan
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature + extra butter to grease baking pan
1 cup (7 1/2 ounces) brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup plain non-fat greek yogurt
2 large granny smith apples, peeled and grated (you should get approximately 1-1 1/2 cups of squeeze grated fruit pulp)
1-2 teaspoons of confectioner's sugar,  for dusting the cake

1. Center a wire rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325F.
2. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the tea leaves to the water and continue to boil for one minute. Remove the saucepan from the stove and allow the tea leaves to steep in the water for 5 minutes. Strain the liquid through a tea strainer into a clean cup and discard the leaves. Rinse the saucepan clean (to make sure there are no residual tea leaves left behind). Transfer the tea back into the saucepan and bring it back to a boil on a high flame. Reduce the flame to a gentle simmer and reduce the liquid volume to approximately 1/4 cup. At this stage remove the tea and leave to cool to room temperature. 
3. Whisk and blend all the ingredients from the flour to the star anise and keep aside.
4. Line a round 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper and grease evenly with the butter.
5. Using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar for 7 minutes on medium speed. Beat in one egg at a time to get a smooth and creamy cake batter. Add the cooled concentrated tea prepared earlier to the batter and mix completely.
6. Add half of the whisked dry ingredients to the cake batter. Combine completely into the batter until no more flecks of flour can be seen. Stop the mixer and add the yogurt to the batter and beat gently on low speed until combined completely. Beat in the remaining flour until no more flecks of flour can be seen.
7. Gently squeeze the liquid out of the grated apples between the palms of your hands and reserve two tablespoons of the juice. Toss the apples in the extra flour and fold in the grated apples and the reserved juice into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Smooth the surface with an offset spatula and bake for 50-60 minutes in the oven. Half-way through the baking process, open the oven and rotate the cake pan to ensure even baking. The cake is completely baked when the center is firm to touch or when a skewer comes out clean from the center. Remove the baked cake and allow it cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Run a knife between the edges of the cake and the pan and transfer the cake to a wire rack. Cool the cake completely to room temperature for at least 1-2 hours. Dust with confectioners sugar before serving. 

oat bran and yogurt teacakes

Oat bran yogurt teacakes


I've had an amazing time in Charleston, it was everything I expected and so much more. The people are friendly, the city is historic and beautiful, and the food delicious. The beaches are clean and the water warm enough to swim in, I could not have been happier. This trip turned out to be a perfect summer holiday, there are several great places to eat at, some new and some old with each offering a distinct and fun menu. Some of my favorite places on the trip were Butcher and Bee, Saffron and Sermet's. Downtown.
Even as an adult, I still love fireworks and the spectacular show at Charleston did not disappoint. From the city's aquarium, we had an amazing view of the colorful display of lights that filled up the dark skies. Here are some of the photographs of the dazzling fireworks that for some reason always remind me of supernovas and comets.

Fireworks 2
Fireworks
Fireworks and teacake

I have an obsession with all things concerning yogurt, I eat yogurt daily and use it often in cooking. I drink it after my daily workouts in shakes and smoothies as my protein source. A few months ago, I posted a recipe on using Siggi's filmjólk to prepare a saffron and almond drink, over time I got adventurous and started to incorporate this Icelandic drink into several different recipes at home. One reason why I consume and use Siggi's dairy products is because of their company's commitment to using sustainable and eco-friendly practices and the taste is wonderfully tangy. The versatility of their dairy products makes it a useful ingredient to have on hand and just as it did in these oat bran teacakes. These teacakes are delightful and beyond tea or dessert are also great to eat at breakfast. Besides the Icelandic yogurt, there's healthy and delicious oat bran, ground almond meal (with the husk/skin), and some whole-wheat pastry flour. To make it a little more adult (which is completely optional), I added in some reduced red wine for color and created a few swirls. If you do skip the red wine, then skip step#2 and the swirling portion in step#5. 

Lemon Zesting

I can't believe how time flies, this month marks the second year of my blog. When I first began A Brown Table, I wondered if I could keep up with a weekly schedule and the demands of maintaining an active blog. That part is still hard and finding a balance between life and blogging can sometimes be challenging. So much has changed too with this blog, I learned a little bit of CSS, HTML and photography over time and incorporated new ideas and styles with every post. I've made mistakes on this journey and learned from them but every upcoming post makes me excited to share my food, photographs and stories with you. I do hope that you have enjoyed them along the way.

What would a blog birthday be without free gifts and the folks at Siggi's were extremely kind to sponsor a giveaway to celebrate the wonderful two years. The rules for this contest are simple, all you need to do is leave a comment below this post on how you would use Siggi's and visit the Facebook pages and click the like buttons for both A Brown Table and Siggi's. I will randomly select five winners who will receive a free bottle of filmjólk and 4 cups of skyr, via the Rafflecopter widget below (so please sign up through the widget). This contest is only open to residents in the United States (due to shipping reasons, sorry). This contest will run through July 17th and the five winners will have 48 hours to respond, otherwise I will have to select someone else. So hurry up and enter to win and try some delicious Icelandic filmjólk and skyrr from the  folks at Siggi's! Please share this with your friends on Twitter and/or Pinterest!

oat bran and yogurt teacakes

yields: 6 mini bundt cakes

ingredients

2 cups red wine (optional)
1 stick butter, chopped at room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup oat bran
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup almond meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup unflavored plain non-fat Siggis' filmjólk
neutral cooking oil spray

1. Preheat the oven to 350F and set a wire rack at mid level height.
2. Reduce the wine to 1/4 cup in a thick bottom saucepan on a medium flame. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. Remove and keep aside to cool.
3. Fix the paddle attachment to a stand mixer and cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the lemon extract and lemon zest to the batter and beat for another minute. 
4. In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk the oat bran, flour, almond meal, baking powder, and baking soda. Add half of the flour mix to the batter and mix for a minute until combined. Pour the filmjólk into the batter with the rest of the flour mix and beat until completely combined.
5. Spray and grease six mini bundt pans with the cooking oil spray. Divide the batter equally among the pans. Add a teaspoon of the reduced wine on top of the batter and each pan and with a clean skewer stir the wine a little in the batter to create random swirl patterns. Place the bundt pans on a baking tray about an inch from each other. Bake the cakes in the preheated oven on the wire rack for 30 minutes until a skewer or knife comes out clean from the center.  Remove the pans and flip the onto a clean plate and allow the cakes to cool inside the bundt pans. After 10 minutes, tap the individual pans carefully to release the cakes. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool to room temperature completely before serving.

Disclaimer: I did not receive any financial compensation for this product, all opinions stated here are my own.

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cardamom and saffron olive oil pound cake

Cardamom and Saffron Olive Oil Pound Cake

Happy belated Easter everyone and I hope y'all had a good long holiday weekend. Instead of hosting an  Easter Sunday brunch I chose to host a dinner for the premiere of the third season of my favorite book/tv show Game of Thrones. Needless to say, there was plenty of food to represent the seven kingdoms though I might have overestimated on the amount of food this time. Still, leftovers are great because you get a couple of days off from cooking during the week and I am using the extra time to catch up with reading or any other activity that has been in desperate need of my attention. 

Eggs

I baked an olive oil pound cake for the dinner along with a few other desserts. This is a very simple cake recipe, the cake crumb is moist while the texture is light and airy. That is exactly the way I like my slice of pound cake, of course with a hot cup of tea or coffee. Pound cakes are what I think of when people say a rustic everyday cake or dessert. Though they were originally invented to clean up the pantry (equal quantities of flour, eggs, and sugar; hence the name "pound") they have come a long way and have become a lot more interesting. 

Olive oil and Eggs

I find olive oil pound cakes to be a little more fascinating than the butter based versions because the oil affords a lot more flexibility if you want to get adventurous with flavors. It's a good and heavenly marriage of flavors! A little bit of an herb or a spice seasoning can go a long way with olive oil and this remains true for most olive oil based cakes. This cake also has a slight nutty flavor from ground almond meal and uses skim milk (you can go with whole milk, if you prefer) This version of the pound cake, also uses a sprinkling of freshly ground green cardamom pod seeds and a pinch of saffron strands. The light fragrance of the freshly ground cardamom brings a sweet flavor to the cake while the saffron brightens the color of the yolks in the cake. What could be more wonderful than something so simple and delicious for an everyday cake. Of course you can skip the cardamom and saffron and add your own flavors. Feel free to experiment with other combinations, I've made this cake before with sage/rosemary and crystallized ginger bits just like my cookies.

Cracked Egg and Pound Cake1
Cooling Pound Cake

cardamom and saffron olive oil pound cake

servings : 2 cake loaves, about 20 slices

ingredients

a little olive oil for greasing loaf pans
2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond meal
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground green cardamom seeds
a pinch of saffron
5 cold large eggs
1 cup low-fat or skim milk
2 tablespoons sugar for sprinkling on the surface of the cake

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two loaf pans with parchment paper and then grease with a little olive oil. 
2. Sift the flour, almond meal, and baking soda. Return any bits of almond meal that might remain in the sieve back to the flour mix. 
3. In a stand mixer, attach the paddle and beat the sugar, salt, olive oil, cardamom and saffron in the mixing bowl until smooth. This should take about 3-5 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until the entire batter becomes creamy and light yellow in color. 
4. Add half of the flour mixture to the batter and beat until completely blended. Pour in the milk and the rest of the flour mix and beat until completely blended. 
5. Pour and divide the batter into the two prepared loaf pans. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until the centers are firm or until a bamboo skewer or knife comes out clean from the center. Sprinkle the extra sugar on the top surface of each cake and put the tins back in the oven for another 5 minutes. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in their pans. Slide a knife around the edges of the cake to release it and transfer it to a wire rack to cool. Slice the cakes with a sharp serrated knife at room temperature.

rose cake

Rose Cake with Candied Rose Petal Cream Cheese Frosting

Happy Mardi Gras! However, once Fat Tuesday is gone this will also end up as the week of all things sweet that are pink and red, so I thought it would be appropriate for me to share a recipe that displayed the colors and mood of the week. Personally, I am not much of a big Valentine's day person, I prefer if people loved and sent me gifts on each of the 365 days of the year versus just one day. Plus the "holiday" these days is way too commercialized and over priced, so I tend to avoid it. But this week I too will have a pink colored week with this delicious rose petal flavored cake and I hope you will enjoy it too! Ever since I baked my rose and cardamom cookies for the cookie swap, I've been besieged with thoughts of baking a rose-themed cake sans the cardamom. 

Candied Rose Petals, Rose water and an Eggy Whisk

I wanted a soft, tender and moist cake that would just simply smell and taste of fresh roses. Rose water is a very mild ingredient when it comes to fragrance but if you can get your hands on a good quality rose syrup that is used to make sweet drinks and sherbets, you are in luck! I normally use the Rooh Afza brand which I find very easily in most Indian stores as a stronger rose flavoring ingredient if I want to flavor a dessert. Another fun ingredient that you can also find at most Indian and Middle Eastern stores is the candied rose petal preserve called gulkhand. This is a very common accompaniment in India that is used as a mouth cleanser and freshener after a meal. Just by itself, I find the taste and fragrance to be deliciously heavenly. Fresh edible rose petals are collected and then cooked with honey or sugar to create a preserve of the tender petals.
For my cake, I adapted a chiffon cake recipe from one of my favorite and in my mind, a very useful cookbook, "The Science of Good Cooking" by Cook's Illustrated. If you are a science geek or nerd, then you will love this book.
For the frosting, I turned as always in time of need to my domestic fairy godmother Martha Stewart, for her easy cream cheese frosting. By adding the rose petal preserves and flavoring it with the rose water and syrup, I eliminated the need to incorporate the petals into the cake batter. You can  adjust the color of the frosting by adding a little more or less of the syrup. The oil keeps the cake moist while the cake flour offers a tender crumb due to its lower protein content than regular all-purpose flour. Do make sure to have your eggs at room temperature and always use fresh baking soda that is active!


Ready to  Bake Cake Batter

rose cake

servings: 12

ingredients

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups unbleached cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 large eggs (2 whole, 5 separated), room temperature
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil (preferably a neutral tasting oil)
2 tablespoons rose water
3 tablespoons rose syrup (Rooh Afza brand or any other rose syrup that is sweet and red in color)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1. Set the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325F. Line the bottom of a 9" circular springform pan with parchment paper.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt for one minute, till all the dry ingredients are completely mixed. 
3. Whisk in the 2 whole eggs and the 5 egg yolks, water, oil, and rose water until the batter is smooth. Do not over mix the batter.
4. Fit a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar at medium-low speed for 1 minute and then medium-high speed for 5 minutes or until the egg whites form stiff peaks. 
5. Using a silicone spatula carefully fold the egg whites into the batter. Make sure that all the egg whites are folded into the batter and there are no traces of egg white.
6. Pour the batter into the springform pan. 
7. Drizzle the rose syrup on the batter and with a fine knife or skewer (I use a bamboo skewer for this) swirl the red syrup in a random circular motion to create a swirl pattern.
8. Gently tap the pan to release any trapped air bubbles in the batter and bake the cake for about 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean from the center. 
9. Let the cake cool in the pan for at least an hour and then remove the cake from the pan by carefully running a knife between the edges of the cake and the pan. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and cool for another 2 hours before icing. 

rose petal cream cheese frosting 

yields: about 2 cups 

ingredients

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick of butter, chopped, room temperature
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup gulkhand or candied rose petal preserves
1 tablespoon rose syrup

1. In a large mixing bowl, mash the cream cheese with a fork or rubber spatula.
2. Gradually beat in the butter with an electric hand mixer until completely smooth.
3. Sift the sugar into the bowl and beat until smooth.
4. Mix the gulkhand/preserves and rose syrup in a small bowl to make a slurry. Beat this into the frosting until completely mixed. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before use. 

assembling the cake

1. Slice the cooled cake in half with a serrated bread knife. Carefully place the top of the cake aside on a clean surface. 
2. Spread about half of the cream cheese frosting on the surface of the lower half of the cake.
3. Carefully align and place the top half of the cake over the frosted lower half. 
4. Spread the rest of the frosting on the top of the cake. 

Note: I recommend chilling the cake for 20 minutes before serving. It makes it easier to cut the cake without having cake move. The frosting gets firmer and will prevent the sandwiched cake from sliding.  While assembling the cake, it useful to  place the cake onto a circular cake drum, it will make it easy for you to transfer the frosted cake to a cake stand or any other serving dish.

baath cake/ goan coconut cake

Baath cake with tea

It's finally feeling a lot like winter, the winds are chilly and almost every leaf that was once green and had turned a fiery shade of autumn is now lying on the sidewalks. Even my precious fig tree in the garden has lost most of its leaves and looks like a naked elongated branched creature protruding out from the ground. Cold weather also makes it way harder for me to get up early in the morning when all I want to do is curl up and stay warm under the covers. Thankfully, the holidays make winter fun and it gets me excited for all the things I can do. For me, cooking and baking all sorts of special holiday recipes that I grew up eating or for that matter even venturing out into unfamiliar culinary territories makes it fun. An even more special moment for me is when I surprise my family and friends with some of my favorite holiday desserts. This year will be no different, I've already shipped some stuff out to a few people that I know will be surprised and hopefully happy when they receive their packages this week.

Whisk some Eggs

In the next few weeks, I am going to continue to share some of my favorite holiday recipes with you. One of these holiday recipes is this delicious and traditional Goan cake that was served at almost every holiday occasion such as Christmas and Easter, as far as I can remember. Goa has a lot of coconut trees and consequently they became a major part of the regional diet and lifestyle over time. The Baath cake is rich in coconut flavored with rose water that gives it a wonderfully nutty and floral fragrance at the same time. Besides its heavenly taste and aroma, the cake is also very moist and tender. This is the second semolina based cake recipe that I have shared with you.

Shredded Coconut and Cake

This is a simple and easy cake recipe to prepare. However, you must let the cake batter soak anywhere from a few hours to overnight, this will allow the semolina to absorb all the liquid and swell up. The resultant cake has a nice moist and plump crumb that is soaked up with all the deliciousness of the coconut and rose water flavors. You can serve this cake warm or cold. The original recipe that I had was very rich and had way too much sugar and eggs that I have tried to cut back without really compromising on the taste or the quality of the cake. I used reduced-fat coconut milk in my recipe to cut back on the fat and also because coconuts are seasonal. If you can find fresh coconuts, I recommend using two cups of finely grated coconuts instead of the coconut milk and the 1/4 cup of shredded coconut. The finer the shreds the better the texture of the cake. Personally, I like to serve the cake in small bite-sized pieces with hot tea or coffee.

Freshly cut and baked right out of the oven

baath cake/goan coconut cake

ingredients

1 stick unsalted butter
4 large eggs
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 cups semolina flour

a pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder


1/4 cup shredded/grated unsweetened coconut

1/4 cup rose water

2 cups reduced-fat coconut milk

1. Line a 9X10 inch baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper cut to size. Spray the sheet and pan with a neutral cooking oil spray.
2. Cream the butter, eggs, and sugar till fluffy using an electric mixer.
3. Fold in the semolina, salt, baking powder, coconut, rose water, and coconut milk. Then mix for another 2 minutes with the mixer until all the ingredients are combined. 
4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Seal the pan with cling film and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to overnight. 
5. The cake batter will have set by this point. Bake the cake for 40 minutes in the center of the middle rack of an oven that is preheated to 350F.
6. The cake is done when it gets golden brown on the surface or when a knife comes out clean from the center.  Allow to cool in the baking pan, serve warm or chilled with tea or coffee.

ruffled blueberry chocolate cake


Last weekend we drove to Virginia to visit the Fall Harvest festival at Mount Rogers. Fall is is one of the most beautiful seasons to visit the Virginia outdoors and enjoy the beautiful colorful foliage. I was very lucky on this trip, for many, many reasons. I got to see sugarcane being harvested and squeezed for its sweet juice. I watched molasses being prepared from the sugarcane juice over a hot stove. The molasses are sold in pint jars to raise money for the local fireman's station. A worthy cause indeed! I tasted my first hobo pie, picked up some homemade apple butter, ate ripe and juicy red apples off a tree. There was just so much to do and too much to squeeze in a short two day trip. 


Unlike D.C. where it is currently still relatively green, the Virginia fall is in full swing. It was also pretty chilly in the evenings but nevertheless breathtaking. I couldn't wait to share these photographs with you and I do hope you enjoy them!


I got to bite and chew on fresh sugarcane and sampled their sticky sweetness. The sugarcane juice brought back sweet memories of India. As kids growing up, we would always run out to the vendors on the street in the Bombay and wait eagerly while they ground the juices out of sugarcane and fresh ginger into glasses heaped with ice. It was so refreshing and simple but yet delicious.


Last weekend was also the birthday of one of my friends, Walt. Birthdays and special events are probably the only few times that I will actually venture out in making a cake that is rich and decadent. It turns out that Walt loves blueberries and any cake that incorporated blueberries would be perfect for him. In my personal opinion however, birthday cakes should have some amount of chocolate. After all, it is that a special moment where things should be a little over the top. In preparation for Walt's cake, I made the blueberry and chocolate jam. I designed his birthday cake completely around these two ingredients. Genoise chocolate cakes are layered and sandwiched with the jam and lightly drenched with a blueberry-white wine syrup. I then used a vanilla flavored buttercream icing that was spiked with a little creme fraiche to keep things simple yet rich. On how to decorate the cake with the ruffles, I used this icing idea from Martha Stewart.


ruffled blueberry chocolate cake

ingredients

for the chocolate cake  follow this chocolate genoise sponge cake recipe. I made two 9 inch cakes, sliced each in half, and then layered them. If you want more cake layers you can either increase the number of cakes or cut thinner layers of the cakes. If you do this, then you should increase the amount of jam, syrup, and icing accordingly.

for the blueberry chocolate jam follow this recipe. You will need 1 and 1/2 cups of the jam. You can use less if you prefer the cake to be a little less sweet.

blueberry wine syrup

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 cup white wine like Reisling or Chardonnay (I used the Pearmund Reisling 2011)
1 cup sugar

Mix all the ingredients together in a saucepan. Cook on a medium flame till the sugar dissolves completely. Bring to a boil and then cool to room temperature before use. You can also refrigerate this and prepare it at least 3 days in advance.

buttercream icing

2 cups unsalted sweetcream butter at room temperature
3 3/4 cups confectioner's sugar
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
10 drops of blue food coloring ( you may need more depending on how blue you want the icing to look)
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons creme fraiche
No. 104 icing tip

Chop the butter into small cubes and place it in the bowl of an electric blender. Using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and creme fraiche at a medium speed for about 6 minutes till it is completely smooth. Sift the sugar once onto a sheet of parchment paper. Sift the sugar into the butter in 1/2 cup installments till completely mixed in with the butter. The butter will keep getting lighter as more air is incorporated into it. Add the vanilla, salt, and food coloring at the end and beat for another two minutes. Transfer the icing into a bowl (preferably metal as it will chill faster) and cover with cling film until ready to use. You can make the icing at least two to three days in advance. 

Assembling the cake
Slice each cooled cake in half with a serrated knife and keep aside. Cut out a 10" circle of cardboard and cover with a clean sheet of aluminum foil and two 12 inch X 2 inch strips of parchment paper. Place the two strips about 2 or 3 inches apart from each other on the smooth side of the aluminum covered cardboard circle. Add a tablespoon of the frosting in the center of the aluminum covered cardboard sheet. This will help to glue the cake down to the surface and prevent it from moving. Place one cake layer in the center of the circle and brush the cake with the blueberry wine syrup. You will use about 1/4 cup of the liquid. Smear the surface it with about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the blueberry and chocolate jam. Cover with a second layer of cake and repeat. Continue and repeat the addition of the syrup and jam till the entire cake is complete. For the top most layer of the cake, only brush the cake with the syrup but do not add the jam. Place the cake in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes to cool. 

Icing the cake

Cover the entire cake with a thin layer of the buttercream icing to create a "crumb coat". This helps the rest of the icing to stick easily to the surface of the cake. Cool the cake in the refrigerator for another 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, scoop the icing into an icing bag or icing syringe with the No. 104 tip attached. Make sure there are no air bubbles in the icing bag. When the cake is cooled, apply the icing by keeping your hand in the vertical position and moving in a zig-zag fashion from left -to-right on the side of the cake. The ruffles should be 1 inch apart from each other. Repeat the same procedure for the top surface of the cake, moving from the outer end to the inner center of the cake. Additionally, you might want to dollop a little bit of jam in the center of the cake or perhaps sprinkle a little bit of chocolate shavings on the top. 


whiskey-kissed brown turkey fig cake


Strange things can happen! I was never a big fan of fresh figs while growing up and my dislike for dried figs was even more severe. However, now I find myself stuck with an intense love for the fruit, so much so that I planted a fig tree in my garden this past spring with the hope that I might have my own personal supply. Folks, as luck would have it, I have no figs yet but the tree is growing taller and taller. Thankfully, I have found other places that will satisfy my fig cravings. The farmer's markets and on occasion some of the little farm stores we run into when we drive out into the country. 


Instead of opting for a destination vacation for our Labor Day weekend, we decided to stay in and spend one day out in the country. The rest of the weekend I devoted to finishing up a couple of home projects which included making a console table and some floating shelves. We planned a picnic with our neighbors, Krysta and Travis and drove out to Little Washington in Virginia. Krysta packed up a delicious picnic for us and we made our way through a couple of vineyards, a whiskey distillery, and several antique stores. Yes, you have to squeeze in the shopping whenever you can!


The weather was just right (even at 90F) and even with the high humidity, we still had winds that kept us relatively cool. Most of the vineyard owners are friendly and will let you walk around the vines and explore. As you might have noticed, this is an image heavy post but I wanted to share some of the sights from our trip. 


My inspiration for this cake came from a few of the different things we sampled on our picnic, Krysta's figs and the whiskey tasting from the Copper Fox distillery. For some reason, the thought of figs and whiskey sounded deliciously decadent and indeed it is so! The baked figs and whiskey get a rich honey like flavor that melts in your mouth. Since figs are expensive (at least here in our area), I used fig preserves that are rich and packed with a concentrated amount of figs and flavor.


This cake is soft, moist, and buttery. I put the sliced figs about 20 minutes into baking the cake so that they don't burn and get bitter. This worked out perfect and the little amount of brown sugar on the surface helps to develop a sweet brown crust. The whiskey adds a gentle flavor to the cake and the figs become even "figgier"! Since the amount of alcohol is pretty small and as the cake is baked, I found no traces of any alcohol while eating the cake, the whiskey simply dehydrates the figs a little and helps in their caramelization during baking but it also gives a much more flavorful taste to the cake.


This cake will last for a couple of days outside but if refrigerated it should last for a little more than a week. A good quality honey bourbon will do wonders for the cake but any other whiskey should be equally good with the figs.


whiskey-kissed brown turkey fig cake

ingredients

6 fresh ripe figs (brown turkey figs or any other kind you can find)
50ml honey bourbon whiskey or any other whiskey
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups of a good quality fig butter/preserves (I used the Trader Joe's brand of fig butter-it is rich and dark and not overly spiced)
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon brown sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 350F. 
2. Cut the stems of the figs and slice them lengthwise. Add the figs to the whiskey and let them sit for 30 minutes at room temperature. 
3. Sift the flour and salt twice and keep aside. 
4. In a thick-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter and the preserves on a medium flame. Stir constantly till the butter and preserves are combined and smooth. Remove from heat and keep aside. 
5. Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl, add the sugar and with an electric mixer cream the eggs and sugar till they expand to four times its original volume. The goal here is to beat as much air as you can into the cake batter and this should take about 15 minutes if you use the high speed setting of an electric mixer. Pour half of the melted butter-fig mixture into the whisked eggs and sugar. Drain the whiskey from the sliced figs and pour it into the batter. For now, keep the sliced figs aside. Fold the batter gently with a spatula and then add the rest of the butter-fig liquid and combine gently. Do not over-fold the batter because you will lose the air that you have carefully whisked in.  Fold in the raisins.
6. Take an ungreased rectangular baking dish (12 X 10 inches) and pour the batter into the dish. Bake the cake in the preheated oven. The cake will begin to rise and brown as it bakes. After 20 minutes during the baking stage, open the door of the oven and carefully add the sliced figs across the surface of the cake (I like to space them out equally so I can later cut slices each having a fig on top). Sprinkle the brown sugar on the surface. Be quick and don't let the cake stay out for more than 2 to 3 minutes. Put the cake back into the oven and bake the cake till the crust is golden brown and the center of the cake is cooked. This will take another 20 minutes (A knife should come out clean from the center of the cake). Remove the baked cake and allow to cool to room temperature in the pan, before you serve. 

Disclaimer: I did not receive any financial compensation for the fig preserves from Trader Joes. All my opinions listed here are my own.

orange and fennel semolina cake


I have a citrus addiction, limes, lemons, sweet limes, oranges, blood oranges, etc. There is something wonderful about the fragrant smell of citrus plants and trees. When I was 11 or 12 years old, I remember urging my father to pick me a little lime plant. The poor lime plant didn't last for more than a few months but it gave me one of my fondest scented childhood memories. I would rub the leaves of the lime plant between my palms and sniff the scent off my fingers. It was simply heavenly and these days I really wish I could grow some in the garden


On our way back from a quick trip to the beach last weekend, we stopped by a market in North Carolina where I was surprised to find some fresh oranges. I am not sure if they were local but they were delicious. Needless to say, I couldn't resist and picked up a few among other things to bring home. They had some interesting items, especially a "Moonshine Jelly". I am not sure what one does with this, do you just use this as a regular preserve or jelly? I think a scoop of that for breakfast might lead to a very interesting day. I stayed away from it and went with some huckleberry preserves, black raspberry jams, and honey.



One of my favorite types of cakes are the semolina-based cakes that are popular in Mediterranean and Indian desserts. Fresh, firm, and ripe oranges give this cake its taste and aroma. I made a light honey based glaze infused with orange zest and freshly ground fennel seeds to pour on top of the cake. The orange by itself lends a very delicate flavor in this cake and a tiny bit of fennel seeds aids in giving a bit of flavor without being overpowering. Fennel seeds have a sweet anise or licorice like taste and are served after a meal in Indian cuisine to freshen the breath.



I've had many disasters with bundt pans in the past but after much trial and error and advice from an expert, this strategy always seems to work. A silicone bundt pan is great and you don't need to grease it too much before use. However, the real trick is to invert the cake while it is still hot in the pan onto a flat surface like a plate. The steam will push the cake away from the pan and the cooled cake will come off without breaking. This is one of those moments where I feel like saying "Voilà!" as the revelation occurs. Now, if only I could grow an orange plant here in Zone 7! 


orange and fennel semolina cake


ingredients


for the orange glaze syrup

1.5 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground fennel 
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange blossom honey or regular honey
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
1 teaspoon cointreau or any other orange flavored liquor

for the cake

6 eggs
3 cups semolina
1 cup flour
3 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1.5 cups sugar
3 sticks chopped unsalted butter at room temperature
2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest
1 teaspoon fennel seeds


Bundt pan greasing mixture


1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil


To prepare the glaze, combine all the ingredients except for the cointreau/liquor. Bring the contents to a gentle simmer in a thick bottomed pot and stir constantly until the volume reduces to half and the sauce begins to thicken and turn golden . This should take about 15 minutes. Once thickened, remove the sauce from the stove and add the cointreau. Allow to cool to room temperature before adding it to the cake. If the sauce gets too thick and hard to pour, then place the container in tub of warm water to loosen it up and then pour it on the cake.


Grease a bundt pan well with the greasing mixture (simply mix the three ingredients listed and use) using a basting brush.


Preheat the oven to 350F. In a bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients - semolina, flour, baking soda, and fennel seeds. Keep this aside. In another large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar using an electric blender or whisk. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time till combined. Add the orange juice and the zest to the batter and beat it for another 20 seconds. Add one cup of the dry ingredients to the batter and beat until completely blended. Repeat this till the rest of the dry ingredients have been incorporated into the batter. Pour into the greased bundt pan and shake it very gently to make sure the batter spreads evenly into the pan. (Don't shake or tap it too much or the air bubbles that you whisked in will be lost.) Bake for about 30-40 minutes in the preheated oven till the surface is golden brown or until a skewer/knife comes out clean from the center of the cake. Once the cake is  baked, remove the bundt pan with the hot cake still in it from the oven. Immediately place a sheet of baking paper on top of the cake and invert the bundt pan with the baking paper onto a clean flat plate. Let the bundt pan with the cake rest and come to room temperature. When the cake is cooled completely, tap the top of the bundt pan gently and remove the pan. The cake will be left behind sitting on the paper. Pour the orange glaze on top of the cake and allow it to fall from the sides. This cake can be served at room temperature or even slightly warm with a cup of  hot coffee or tea.

chocolate mint cake


I am in that final phase of thesis writing where I edit and re-edit, create tables and figures and transfer information from one program to another. Then I suddenly notice formatting errors due to that occasional software glitch where tabs and margins turn out to be more complicated than the actual research question or regressions that concern the paper. Software can definitely take a mind of their own and then there are those moments where I want to give it a piece of my mind. I really wish there was a command where I could type back "Whack Program Please"!


You might have noticed that I've been busy. I've been working on designing a new logo and also this special birthday cake. My friend John turned 30 this week and since this is a big one, I thought I would bake him his birthday cake as a special gift. I checked to see if he had anything special in mind for a cake and he said chocolate but it does not have to be as elaborate as the chocolate raspberry cake that I made for the chili cook-off. Still I wanted the cake to be fun, after all it was his big 3-0! Chocolate cakes are great but why not make it something even more decadent. A little bit of inspiration came my way, when I heard that he had stuffed his gym bag with some boxes of girl scout cookies. It was then that I said to myself, why not make a cake inspired by a thin mint cookie. I did not add too much creme de menthe in the buttercream, for one I needed to keep the ratios of liquid to fat constant so I did not end up with a very green buttercream but if you do want to add a little food color to it you could achieve the desired shade/color of green.


I went back to the basic recipe for the genoise cake and baked two separate genoise cakes. The cake is then layered with a layer of mint flavored creme fraiche icing and two separate layers of dark chocolate creme fraiche icing. The entire cake is then coated and sealed with a simple buttercream icing infused with creme de menthe and then drizzled with a dark chocolate glaze which is again infused with creme de menthe. The edible silver pearls are just for a little decoration and can be found anywhere.


This cake was also featured at the Huffington Post on June, 26th 2012
chocolate mint cake


ingredients 


for the cake: 


Chocolate Genoise Sponge Cake Recipe


mint creme fraiche filling
4 tablespoon creme de menthe
1 cup creme fraiche
2 tablespoon sugar


chocolate creme fraiche filling
1/4 cup semisweet dark chocolate chips
1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream

1 cup creme fraiche
2 tablespoon sugar


mint buttercream frosting
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 tablespoon creme fraiche
5 tablespoon powdered sugar
3 tablespoon creme de menthe


dark chocolate glaze
3/4 cup semisweet 75% dark chocolate chips
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
8 tablespoon powdered sugar
8 tablespoons hot water (90F)
2 tablespoon creme de menthe 


mint syrup
1 cup creme de menthe 
4 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup water


edible silver pearls for decorating the cake


After the two genoise cakes are prepared, cool and wrap them up (they can be made a day or two ahead and stored in the refrigerator or frozen for a month before use).

Heat the creme de menthe, 4 tablespoons of sugar  and 1/4 cup water in a pot and bring to a simmer. Allow to cool to room temperature before use. 
To prepare the mint creme fraiche filling, beat the creme fraiche with a whisk at high speed till it forms stiff peaks. Add the sugar and the creme de menthe and whisk till combined and fluffy. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before use.
To prepare the chocolate creme fraiche filling, beat the creme fraiche with a whisk at high speed till it forms stiff peaks. Beat in the sugar and combine. In the mean time, melt the chocolate with the heavy cream on a simmering water bath and then pour it into the creme fraiche and whisk on high speed till smooth and stiff. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before use.
To prepare the buttercream frosting, beat the butter and the sugar till it becomes light and fluffy. This will take about 7-10 minutes at high speed. Add the creme fraiche and creme de menthe and continue beating till  completely combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before use.
Slice each genoise cake through the center to get two separate discs of equal thickness using a serrated knife and a turn table. Place one cake on a foil covered cardboard disc of equal size. Place the cake with the foil covered cardboard disc on top of a sheet of parchment paper on a turn table/cake stand or plate (This will help you to decorate the cake and reduce any clean up). Brush the surface of the cake with the prepared mint syrup, you will use about 2 tablespoons of syrup per cake slice. Then spread the mint creme fraiche filling with an offset spatula. Add the second cake layer on top of the mint creme fraiche and brush about two tablespoons of the mint syrup. Spread 1/2 of the chocolate creme fraiche filling. Similarly, place the third cake layer and brush with the mint syrup and then spread the remaining chocolate creme fraiche filling. Add the final fourth layer of cake on top and brush gently with the mint syrup. Cover the cake with cling film. At this point the cake can be refrigerated for at least 2 hours before coating with the buttercream or kept overnight. Layer the buttercream frosting with an offset spatula by coating the sides gently and slowly. You can wet the spatula by running it under warm tap water to get a smooth finish on the frosting. Allow for about 2cm of buttercream frosting on each side of the cake. Start with the center and then move to the sides. Cool the cake in the refrigerator for another 1 to 2 hours before pour the chocolate glaze. The cake should be cool enough to allow the glaze to drizzle and spread. 
To prepare the drizzle, melt the chocolate over a simmering water bath with the whipping cream. When completely melted and combined add the powdered sugar and keep mixing over the water bath. The mixture may form into a small ball. Add half of the hot water to the chocolate and keep mixing till incorporated. Add the rest of the water and creme de menthe and combine till a smooth liquid is obtained. Remove the glaze from the water bath and allow to cool till it is lukewarm (rather does not feel too hot to your skin). Pour the glaze on the top of the cake at the center and then with an offset spatula push the glaze to the ends to allow it to drizzle and drip from the sides. It helps to use a wet offset spatula to move the chocolate glaze. Sprinkle a few of the edible pearls and allow the cake to set in the refrigerator for at least two hours before serving. Remove the sheets of parchment paper from the bottom of the cake before serving.

mixed berry slices


First, I was really astounded and had one of my "Wait, what ???" moments! You see, A Brown Table got a nod in the food section of The Hindu, one of the national newspapers in India. Needless to say, I am super excited and thankful for their generous feature. Its that time of the year again when the red carpet is rolled out and golden men are awarded. You can hear the loud pop of a champagne bottle and the resounding clapping of hands and perhaps see tears of joy rolling down after words of gratitude are shared. If you've already guessed by now, I am referring to the Oscars. Since we are having a few friends over to watch the show this weekend, I have been debating on my choice of dessert. For these kind of dinners, I normally lean towards some sort of chocolate based treat because it is usually a safe bet. But sometimes, I like to get a little adventurous and get everyone to partake in my culinary expeditions.


Seasonal mixed berries and convenience were my two big inspirations for this dessert. The convenience factor comes from the shape and size, thin slices are much easier to handle and make a great finger food. I would recommend flipping the berries to have their open ends facing downwards right into the batter, this way you won't end up with a surface full of craters and wells. You might notice some unusual types of flours for a cake batter in this recipe but when baking berries I've found adding cornflour and rice flour help to protect the fruit from getting mushy and absorb any excess liquid but at the same time keeping the cake moist. 


mixed berry slices

ingredients

6 ounces blackberries
6 ounces raspberries
1 cup sliced almonds
4 large eggs
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cornflour
1/4 cup rice flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line an 9 X 10 inch rectangular pan with a sheet of baking paper and grease with a vegetable oil spray. Whisk the baking powder and flours together and keep aside. In a  mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together using a hand or stand mixer.  Now, add one egg at a time to the batter and beat till fluffy. Add 1/3rd of the flour mixture to the batter and continue beating till mixed. Similarly, incorporate the rest of the flour into the batter. Pour the cake batter into the baking pan, Randomly spread the berries out onto the surface of the batter keeping the open-end of the berries (raspberries) downward. Sprinkle the almonds on top of the entire cake and bake in the oven for 40 minutes or till knife comes out clean from the center of the cake when poked. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before you cut. Using a serrated knife cut the cake into squares or rectangles. 


chilled almond milk-drunk cake


There is a constant  staple of  apps on my iPhone that I use daily. Besides checking my email and text messages, I constantly use my Pandora station. It is sometimes hard to imagine how I ever traveled without my constant musical companion. My dependence on technology these days appears to be getting all encompassing and I am not sure what I would do without constant internet access. I have no complaints though, I enjoying every minute of being connected. Its made me some wonderful friends along the ways especially through this blog.


Its finally the end of the week and time for dessert. Mostly that's how I think weekends should be redefined, in terms of dessert. Almond milk is probably the best kind of milk substitute. It is naturally sweet and rich in proteins and healthy fats. Almond nuts by themselves are very popular in Indian desserts and even make a great garnish to some rice and meat dishes in Indian cuisine. 


This particular cake was inspired by the Latin American Tres Leche and a couple of ingredients common to Indian desserts - cardamom and almonds. Cakes can make everyone happy, even the biggest sourpuss on the planet (or so I'd like to think) and I've been wanting to make this for a while. I added a bit of ground cardamom and slivered almonds to the cake. While this cake bakes in your oven, the aromas will breathe a new flavor of freshness in your kitchen. There is nothing better than the scent of toasted almonds in a room. Unlike the tres leche which uses three different types of milk to soak the cake, this cake has the milk replaced by almond milk. A new marriage in heaven was created when I heated the almond milk with some freshly ground cardamom seeds. I admit to keeping a little of the lightly sweetened milk aside to "taste for personal reasons". There is no need for whipped cream when you have crunchy and toasted almonds on the cake's soft crust. Try this unique chilled almond milk cake and it will surely make you a very, very happy trooper!


You might have notice in this particular post, I have "overused" the little silver cup in my photographs. I wanted to test and see how much I could stretch my imagination with this prop for a single post by keeping the cake the subject of each photograph and everything else secondary.


chilled almond milk drunk cake

yields: 10-12 servings

ingredients

a little extra butter and flour to grease the pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground almond powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon almond liqueur / extract
1 cup butter, cubed at room temperature
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 cup slivered/sliced almonds 
3 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Gently grease and lightly dust a 9" X 13" baking pan with a little butter and flour.
2. Sift the flour, almond powder, and the baking powder twice and keep aside. In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and the 1 cup of sugar together using the paddle attachment on medium-high speed. 
2. Beat the eggs into the creamed mixture, one at a time till completely blended. Beat 4 tablespoons of the sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture each time, until all of the flour mixture is completely blended. 
3. Fold in the almond powder, almond extract and half  of the cardamom. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and gently spread the batter evenly with an offset spatula. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the slivered/sliced almond and bake for about 30 mins or till a knife comes out clean from the center. Remove the cake and let it cool to room temperature in the pan. 
4. Heat the almond milk, rest of the cardamom and sugar till it comes to a gentle simmer on a low flame. Using a butter knife cut the cake in the pan into equal squares. Gently poke the surface of the cake with a fork to make holes for the almond milk to seep through. Pour the milk mixture on to the surface of the cake evenly and cover the pan with a lid and let the cake chill for at least 4 hours (8 hours is best) before serving. Serve chilled.

Note: While sifting the almond flour, you may get a couple of tiny grains of ground almonds (depending on how fine you grind them) left back in the sieve, just toss them back into flour mixture.