Every summer involves a ritual of luscious mangoes dazzling in their sweetness and and tropical fruity aroma. After more than 5 years, I got the chance to taste Indian mangoes all the way in London on a vacation and there were so many varieties to choose from; the Kesar, the Alphonso, the Langara, and so many more that I’m now certain that if I can’t visit India in May, I might need to just take a trip back to the land of the Queen.Read More
Before we talk cake business, I want to share some wonderful and unexpected news with you. Yesterday, early in the morning, I received some news from my friends that Season was nominated as a finalist by the James Beard Foundation Awards in the Best Photography category for Cookbooks. I was shocked to say the least, cried a lot, my hands started to shake when I texted M to tell him the news.Read More
Easter and Christmas were the two big family meals that I looked forward to every year. The food, it was all about the food. A large oval dining table filled with way too many dishes for one person to cook (the tasks were wisely divided between my aunts and mom by my grandma, I think this is also one of the wisest ways to use your children, as soon as they come of age make them help you in the kitchen. I eagerly await the day, I have mine and they come of age to help me clean peas from their pods).
This Easter, I decided to take my favorite Goan cake, yup y'all know how much I love this Ba'ath cake because I've done different versions of it...this time it's a cornmeal cake that's got the sweet and delicate flavor of rosewater with coconut. I made little individual cakes in my mini-cocottes but you can even make them cakes in a lined muffin pan just like you would cupcakes. Just make a note that the number of cakes will change depending on how big/small the muffin pans are.
Instead of using milk, I've used Califia Farm's unsweetened creamer. The results are pretty amazing, I find that it adds to the flavor of the cake, the coconut flavor pops out. The cornmeal gives this cake a granular yet soft texture, there's the sweetness of the corn mixed in with the coconut flakes and rosewater. I mean honestly, this couldn't get any better and even if you don't celebrate Easter, you should still make this cake to welcome spring!
Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing the cakes;
- I'm using coconut oil instead of butter in this cake batter. I amplifies the fragrance of the coconut in the cake but coconut oil's shelf life decreases after baking so I wrap and refrigerate the individual cakes in clingfilm for up to 4 days. You can warm these cakes up at 30 seconds on low power in the microwave if you prefer them warm.
- I use cast iron mini-cocottes but as I mention above, muffin pans will work too, just remember the number of cakes will change depending on the size of the muffin pan.
- Don't use rosewater that's too old, it loses it's intensity and always store it tight in the refrigerator once you open it.
cornmeal and coconut rosewater cakes
yields: 6 individual cakes
150gm coconut oil + a little extra for greasing the cake pan
1 cup califia creamer unsweetened almond milk
1 cup(81g) cup unsweetened shredded coconut (I used desiccated)
2 cups(282gm) cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1cup (200g) superfine sugar
3 large eggs, cold
1/4 cup coconut cream
1 tablespoon rose water
1. Place a wire rack at midlevel and preheat the oven to 350F. Grease 6 mini-cocottes with a little coconut oil and keep aside. Place the creamer in small thick bottomed saucepan. Heat on medium-low heat until warm for about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from stove and add the coconut, stir with a silicone spatula and allow to steep for 20 minutes.
2. In a medium size mixing bowl, dry whisk the cornmeal, salt and baking powder. Keep aside.
3. Attach the whisk to the stand mixer and in the bowl of a standmixer whisk the sugar and eggs for about 4 to 5 minutes until pale yellow on medium speed. Reduce the speed to low and add the coconut oil, cream and rose water and mix for about 1 minute until combined. Remove the whisk and replace with the paddle attachment. Combine the ingredients on medium-low speed until completely combined. Divide the batter equally between the 6 greased mini-cocottes and place them on lined baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, turning them halfway through. The cakes will be lightly golden brown in color when done and firm to touch, a skewer should come out clean when inserted through the center of the cake. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for about 60 minutes before serving. Serve the cakes lukewarm in the min-cocottes or un-mold the cooled cakes using a blunt knife by running it between the edges of the cake and the mini-cocottes. The cakes can also be served cool at room temperature.
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Califia Farms. However, all opinions expressed are solely my own.
Guys, I wrote my first article for Saveur! I baked my favorite Goan coconut cake and you can get the recipe on there. I've done a couple of other versions here on the blog but this one is much more traditional and as "coco-nutty" as I could get it while keeping the recipe as close as possible to the one I grew up with. Bake, eat and enjoy!
As most of you know, I've also been sharing more traditional Indian recipes over at my column Food52. I delve more into the basics that I've grown up with, I've spoken about stocking up your pantry for Indian cooking, making staples such as Garam masala, aloo gobi sweet and savory lassis and making your own homemade ghee. Head over there to get the recipes.
It's the last few weeks of summer and these are some of my favorite links that have been on my mind:
I'm in a mood to bake myself a big summer pie and Michelle's blueberry, peach and lavender pie might just happen tonight along with some vanilla ice cream.
Cynthia has written a lovely recipe for Mul Naengmyeon (Korean cold noodles).
I made these chocolate surprise cookies for a party and they were delicious!
Roasting a whole chicken is tricky but these tips make it easy.
Pretty Instagram styling tips from Bon Appétit
Creamy peach and honey popsicles to stay cool with.
Last week was the birthday of my dear friend, Cheryl of Sternman Rule. Since birthdays and cakes are synonymous (though I firmly believe ice cream should be too), I thought I would surprise her with a cake when I met up with her for lunch this week (we had Korean food in Korean town in Santa Clara). So I had to hold off on posting the recipe, lest she saw it online before I gave it to her. Cheryl has been busy with her new book, Yogurt Culture and traveling so it was really nice to get some time to spend with her and catch up. I didn't let her see the cake at lunch because buttercream and warm weather are not good together. To protect the cake, I wrapped it up in almost what can best be described as a bulletproof vest of aluminum foil and clingfilm. She wanted to peak but I wouldn't let her.
I can eat a lot of coconut, savory or sweet. And being part Goan, coconut cakes are part of my lifestyle. This particular coconut layer cake has two layers of sponge that have coconut and cardamom infused into the cake batter. The whole process of making this cake from whipping the batter up to toasting the coconut and frosting it, makes for one very aromatic and fragrant time in the kitchen. And if you end up with extra toasted coconut shreds, save them for breakfast to add to your yogurt bowls or even to your homemade trail mixes or just eat whenever.
The recipe for the Swiss buttercream frosting used in this cake is easy and it's also not too sweet. I sometimes find frostings to be cloyingly sweet, so much so that I usually take them off the cake (if I'm eating out). Ideally, I like the frosting to compliment the cake and not take away from it. Cardamom and coconut are two highly aromatic and flavorful ingredients to work with and in this cake they make a happy union, one that's rather tasty.
Also, resisting the urge to eat a cake that's for someone else is hard, very hard!!!
Here are some of my tips that you might find useful when making this cake;
- I used desiccated coconut for this recipe. I prefer to use unsweetened coconut when making the cake batter but for decorating the cake use sweetened. Both fresh and desiccated work well here.
- The swiss buttercream recipe will give you about 3 1/2 to 4 cups of frosting enough to cover two 9 inch cakes and layer them. However, if you want more icing and a thicker coat, I recommend doubling the amounts used for the ingredients in the frosting recipe.
- I use rice flour in this recipe not only to give a tender crumb but also for a smoother flavor. Rice flour add a little nuttiness that compliments the coconut and cardamom flavors in the cake.
- If the weather is warm (as it is here in summer), I recommend chilling the cakes before working with them. Buttercream is easy to work with when it soft and pliable but not to the point where it is melting. I only have one bowl for my stand mixer, hence the recipe instructions require you to wash and dry the bowl between preparing the meringue and the butter but if you have more bowls you don't need to do this. However, there is an advantage to transferring the meringue to a cool bowl, it keeps the mixture cool and won't let the butter melt when it is added to it.
- Since this is a coconut cake, I recommend consuming it within two to 3 days of preparing it. Store it a the refrigerator.
This cake is adapted from the Great Cakes book by Carole Waters.
cardamom and toasted coconut cake
yields: 2 X 9 inch cakes (to form one double layer cake)
for the cake:
3/4 cup skim milk
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (I used desiccated)
2 cups(266g/9.38 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (52g/1.83 ounces) rice flour
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cups unsalted butter, cubed at room temperature + a little extra for greasing the cake pans
1 1/3 cups (266g/9.38 ounces) superfine sugar (I use baker's sugar)
3 large eggs, cold
1/2 teaspoon green cardamom, freshly ground
1. Bring the milk to a rolling boil in a small saucepan and pour this over the coconut flakes in a heat proof container. Stir to mix. Transfer this mixture to a food processor and pulse 10 times for 20 seconds. Transfer to a container and allow to sit for 5 minutes before use.
2. Place a wire rack in the lower-third of the oven and preheat to 350F. Take two 9 inch circular cake pans, line the bases with parchment paper cut to size and grease them with a little butter. Keep aside until ready to use.
3. Whisk the flours, salt and baking powder three times and keep aside until ready to use.
4. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and using the paddle attachment beat for 60 seconds on medium-high speed. Add the sugar and continue to beat on medium-high speed for 6 to 7 minutes until smooth and creamy. Using a silicone spatula scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally to bring the ingredients together.
5. Add one egg at a time and beat each egg into the batter for at least one minute on medium-high speed. Using a silicone spatula, scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally to bring the ingredients together.
6. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium-low and then add 1/3rd of the sifted dry ingredients from step 3 and 1/3rd of the coconut-milk mixture from step 1 into the creamed ingredients. Repeat this with the remaining flour and coconut-milk mixture until the ingredients are completely combined. Add the cardamom and beat for 30 seconds. Using a silicone spatula scrape the sides of the bowl to bring the ingredients together.
7. Divide the cake batter between the two prepared cake pans. Smooth the surface with an offset spatula. Bake the cakes for at least 25 to 30 minutes until the center of each cake is firm and a skewer comes out clean from the center. Remove from the oven and allow the cakes to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then release from the pan with a sharp knife and place on a wire rack to cool to room temperature completely before frosting. If desired, you can wrap each cake with clingfilm after they are completely cool and then refrigerate overnight or up to four days before frosting.
for the cardamom and coconut swiss buttercream frosting
4 large egg whites
3/4 cup (120.48 g/4.25 ounces) confectioner's sugar, sifted once
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks/ 340.19g/12ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature, cubed
1/4 cup cream of coconut
1/4 teaspoon green cardamom powder, ground fresh
1. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the wire whisk attachment, whisk the eggs on medium-high speed until it just starts to get frothy.
2. Remove the bowl from the mixer and place it over a pan containing barely simmering water. The water should not touch the bowl. Using a handheld electric mixer, start to whisk the eggs on medium-high speed with one hand while slowly adding 2 tablespoons of the sugar with the other hand. Continue to whisk until all the sugar has been added and the egg whites warm up (around 120F). The mixture will transition to a thick mixture resembling marshmallows.
3. Remove the bowl from the pan and return to the stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment whisk the egg white-sugar mixture on medium-high speed for 6 to 7 minutes until it becomes acquires a thick meringue like structure and cools down. Transfer this mixture to a cool bowl and keep aside.
4. Clean the bowl of the stand mixer by washing it thoroughly and wiping it dry. Place the butter in the bowl and using the paddle attachment beat the butter for about 1 minute until it smooth and creamy. It should not be too soft otherwise the buttercream will be soupy. Scrape the butter out of the bowl into a dry cool bowl.
5. Return the egg mixture to the same bowl of the stand mixer in which the butter was beaten (you don't need to clean it). On medium speed using the paddle attachment whisk in 1 tablespoon of the butter at a time, into the meringue. Add the coconut cream and the cardamom and whisk for another 45 to 60 seconds until it is combined evenly. Refrigerate the buttercream for at least 15 minutes before using.
for the toasted coconut and coconut cream syrup
2 cups packed sweetened shredded coconut fresh or desiccated
1/2 cup coconut cream
1/4 cup (50g/1.767 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1. Place a wire rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 300F. Spread the coconut over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Toast the coconut for about 5 to 7 minutes. Watch it carefully to avoid burning. The coconut should be a mix of white, dark brown and golden brown shreds. Remove aside and keep aside to cool completely before using.
2. Heat the coconut cream, sugar, and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and allow to cool. Refrigerate this syrup to chill completely until ready to use.
assembling the cake
1. Line a cake stand with four 12 X 4 inch strips of parchment paper in a crosswise section. Place one of the cakes on top of the lined cake stand. Using a serrated knife make a few superficial criss cross cuts (they do not to be deep, just minor cuts on the surface). Brush the surface of the cake generously with coconut cream syrup.
2. Attach a pastry bag with a #6 pastry tip or a tip with wide mouth. Fill the bag with buttercream and squeeze out the buttercream in a spiral to get an even amount of buttercream. Using an offset spatula even out the buttercream if needed. Then place the second cake layer on top of the buttercream and repeat the entire process. Refrigerate the cake for 10 minutes.
3. Coat the rest of the cake with the remaining buttercream. (You don't need to really do a crumb coat here because you won't see the surface of the cake but you can if you like).
4. Coat the generously with the toasted coconut on all sides and refrigerate for another 10 minutes.
If anything can move fast, it has got to be time. I certainly have a hard time keeping up with it and now that it's almost mid-December here I am writing my final recipe for the year (there'll be one more post this week from me sharing some of my favorite holiday recipes). We're taking a long and much needed trip to visit my family in India. A big family reunion and a fun wedding, it is going to be fun time. While, I'm away a couple of my wonderful blogger friends are going to take over and share their delicious food with you. So stay tuned for those exciting posts in the upcoming weeks to follow. I'll be sharing photographs from my India trip on Instagram , so do stop by.
I'm excited to go back to Bombay (Mumbai) and Goa. This is also M's first time, so we have to do a few touristy things on this trip, sadly no trips to Agra to see the Taj Mahal this time but we have plans to see a ton of other fun places and eat a whole lot of food. We also have a wedding, my not-so-baby cousin has decided to celebrate her wedding in Goa so this is also going to be one big party! Needless to say, since we're celebrating Christmas with my family, I may have sent a few "subtle" hints to relevant family members on what I would like to eat when I arrive. Most of the dishes I've requested are traditional recipes served at Christmas though I'd be happy to eat other items they are willing to prepare. I'm not one to refuse a kind offer, especially the food-related kind!
It would only be fitting that I share this coconut toffee recipe with you since I'll be in Goa in a few weeks. Goan food uses a lot of coconuts, coconut trees in Goa are as abundant as lemon and orange trees in the San Francisco Bay Area, they're everywhere. This is one of my favorite desserts that my mom's side of the family makes often at Christmas. They are sweet and decadent and a little bite goes a long way.
Here are some of my kitchen tips while preparing this little treat at home;
- Use fresh coconut if possible, if you can't find it you can use dried but in either case always use unsweetened shredded.
- I use pure unbleached cane sugar in this recipe, I find raw brown sugar to overwhelm the delicate taste of coconut.
- Stirring to prevent burning is critical in this recipe as is reaching the soft-ball temperature of 240F. At this point the mixture solidifies correctly to form one little delicious candy.
yields: approximately 54 pieces (each 1.5 X 1 inch in size)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter + a little extra for greasing the pan
2 cups (14 ounces) packed unsweetened fresh coconut grated/shredded (or 11 ounces dry coconut grated/shredded)
1 cup 2% milk
2 cups (14 ounces) sugar
1/4 teaspoon green cardamom, freshly ground (optional)
2 tablespoons almond flour
1 tablespoon rose water (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
1. Line 9X9 square baking pan with 12X9 rectangle of parchment paper and then grease it with the extra butter.
2. Place the 4 tablespoons of butter, coconut, milk and sugar in a thick bottomed saucepan. Heat on a medium-high flame and bring to boil. Stir occasionally with a silicone spatula until the sugar completely dissolves. If you decide to add the cardamom, add it now, otherwise move to step 3.
3. Continue to heat the contents of the pan with constant stirring. Keep heating and stirring until the temperature reaches 240F, the mixture will begin to brown and the sugars will caramelize a little (it is important to stir as you proceed to prevent burning), quickly fold in the almond flour. Cook for one additional minute with constant stirring. The mixture will be relatively liquid free and will start to come off from the sides of the pan in a ball (just like preparing marzipan at home). Remove from stove and fold the rose water in to the mixture. Transfer the contents of the saucepan to the greased baking pan. Using an offset spatula or butterknife spread and smoothen the coconut mixture to cover the entire surface of the pan evenly. Allow the coconut toffee to cool completely.
4. Remove the cooled coconut toffee from the pan by releasing it from the sides of the pan with a sharp paring knife. Lift the coconut toffee out using the parchment paper. Cut into 1.5X1 inch rectangles or 1 X 1 inch squares (or any size you like). Serve the toffee at room temperature. Store the extra in an airtight container at room temperature.
Before we get to these delicious caramelized apple and coconut sticky buns, I need to announce the winner of the giveaway for the Smitten with Squash cookbook by Amanda Paa. Kelli who made a fall themed strudel with butternut squash, caramelized onions and kale is the winner of this giveaway. Kelli, please shoot me an email with your details so I can have your book sent out to you at abrowntable [at] gmail [dot] com.
As a kid, when I thought I would someday enroll in culinary school, I also harbored a not-so-secret desire to become a pastry chef. Pastry chefs are like magicians (or more appropriately culinary scientists) in my head. They come up with wondrous edible marvels that require a good knowledge of chemistry and food both of which make the inner geek in me rather happy. That desire didn't pan out as I would have wished but then this blog came about and now I find myself baking sticky buns at home!
Sticky buns are definitely an indulgent treat however, if I am going to make a batch at home, I like to have them stuffed up with something other than cinnamon and sugar. I decided to fill the swirls in these buns with little bits of apple and golden raisins enveloped with the delicious flavor of coconut. There's a little bit of applesauce to bring all the flavors together in the filling with a hint of cinnamon, all in all I think these are great to serve at a fall inspired brunch or breakfast.
I got the basic dough recipe for the sticky buns from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Cook's Illustrated Baking Book.
Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing these guys;
- Make sure your yeast hasn't expired or else the dough will not ferment and rise properly.
- Use fresh cinnamon and firm and ripe Granny Smith apples. Cut those apple bits into small bits so the dough will fold over easily during rolling. Granny Smith apples hold their texture well during baking but they also have a little tartness to them which balances the sweetness of the filling.
- Personally, I don't like too much of a sugar glaze, so I made a very small amount of glaze for these buns. You can easily increase the amount of glaze by doubling the quantities of the ingredients listed for the glaze below.
- I used sliced almonds to top the buns but you can use pecans, walnuts, pistachios and probably any other type of your favorite nut.
caramelized apple sticky buns (adapted from The Cook's Illustrated Baking Book)
yields: 12 buns
1 lb granny smith apples
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup golden raisins
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder, freshly ground
3 larges eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) brown sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant/rapid-rise yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher sea salt
4 1/4 cups (21 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour + extra for dusting
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled + 1 tablespoon for brushing the dough and greasing the pan (*you can also use a neutral vegetable oil spray to coat the pan, but don't use olive oil)
1/2 cup sliced raw almonds
glaze (if you want more glaze, double the quantity)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, freshly ground
1. Wash the apples, peel and cored them. Chop the apples into very tiny pieces (the smaller the better as it will be easier to handle when wrapping the dough).
2. Heat a thick bottomed medium-sized saucepan on a medium-high flame. Melt the butter in the saucepan and then add the apples along with the lemon juice, apple sauce, coconut, raisins, sugar and cinnamon. Mix evenly with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, cover the saucepan with a lid and cook for about 8-10 minutes with occasional stirring to prevent any burning. Remove and keep aside until ready to use.
3. Using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer whisk the eggs on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes. Add the buttermilk and whisk for about 1 minute. Then add the brown sugar, yeast and salt and combine for about 1 minute. Add 2 cups of the flour and mix with the paddle attachment until combined. Then remove and replace the paddle attachment with the dough blade. Add the next 2 cups of flour and the 6 tablespoons of melted butter, mix until the dough comes together for about 5 minutes.
4. Transfer the dough to a clean and lightly floured surface. Knead with hands for about 5 minutes adding the remaining 1/4 cup flour as needed to bring the dough together. The dough should not be sticky but should be soft and pliable. (You might need to add a little more flour if the 1/4 cup isn't enough, avoid adding too much flour). Once the dough has come together, transfer it to a well-oiled bowl, place it in there and brush lightly with a little oil (a neutral vegetable oil spray would work too). Cover the bowl with cling film and keep it in a warm place. Allow the dough to double in size for about 2 1/2 hours.
5. Transfer the risen dough to a clean and lightly floured surface and shape it into a small rectangle with your hands. Using a rolling pan, roll out the dough into a 16 X 12 inch rectangle, dusting lightly with flour as needed. Brush the dough with the remaining tablespoon of butter, leaving a half inch border along the top edge.
6. Using a large flat spoon or silicone spatula, transfer and spread the apple filling over the dough. Smooth with your hand or the spoon. Lightly grease your hands before you handle the dough. Starting with the longer side, begin to lift the dough and roll, pressing tightly but gently to form a cylinder. Pinch the ends firmly to seal the cylinder. Using your hands, gently shape the cylinder to an even diameter. The cylinder should be around 18 inches in length. Using a sharp serrated bread knife, gently cut through the center of the cylinder with a sawing motion. Cut each half similarly into 6 equal parts. Line a rectangular baking (13 X 11 inch) dish with parchment paper, grease lightly with a little butter (or spray lightly with an oil spray). Place each of the 12 buns in the pan cut side down, arranged next to each other. Cover and allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours in a warm spot.
7. While the buns are rising, prepare the glaze. In a small stockpot, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter on a medium-high flame. Add the sugar, honey, water, salt and cinnamon and stir until the mixture is smooth and the sugar has completely dissolved. Bring the syrup to a boil and then cook for another 5 minutes with constant stirring until it just begins to caramelize. Immediately remove from stove and keep aside until ready to use. If the glaze begins to harden, warm it slightly before use to melt and add 2 -3 tablespoons of water to dissolve it.
8. Place a wire rack in the center of the oven and a pizza stone on it (if you don't have a pizza stone to bake with, just use the wire rack). Heat the oven to 350F. Once the oven is warm, sprinkle the almonds over the buns and bake the pan with the buns for about 20-25 minutes until just golden brown. Immediately remove from oven and carefully drizzle with the warm glaze all over the top of the buns. Transfer the buns back into the oven and bake for another 6-8 minutes until the glaze just begins to caramelize (watch it carefully to make sure it doesn't burn). Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Slide the buns out of the pan using the parchment paper onto a wire rack. Serve warm by pulling the buns apart or cutting through with a serrated knife.