cornmeal and coconut rose water cakes

cornmeal and coconut rose water cakes | A Brown Table

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!

cornmeal and coconut rose water cakes | A Brown Table
cornmeal and coconut rose water cakes | A Brown Table
cornmeal and coconut rose water cakes | A Brown Table

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 rose water cakes | A Brown Table

cornmeal and coconut rosewater cakes

yields: 6 individual cakes

ingredients

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.

Baath Cake

baath cake for @Saveur | A Brown Table

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.

Indian Spices (Jaggery) for @Food52| A Brown Table
Homemade Garam Masala for @Food52| A Brown Table
Homemade Ghee for @Food52 | A Brown Table
Homemade Ghee for @Food52| A Brown Table
Lassi for @Food52| A Brown Table
Aloo Gobi for @Food52| A Brown Table

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.

 

 

rose and strawberry almond milk falooda

rose and strawberry almond milk falooda | A Brown Table

You'll notice a new tab up on the blog, it's a link to my photography portfolio. Some photographs will be familiar and others new to you but in general, it's a collection of projects I've worked on or currently working on. When people ask me what I like more being in the kitchen or working with the camera, I find it hard to choose and honestly, I don't think there should be a choice. In that very sense, maintaining a food blog is the nexus of these two elements and I think it also answers that question. Probably, one of the most exciting things is having the choice to do things the way you want to and breaking and bending the rules, be it food or the camera. 

"Falooda" is probably one of the most popular dessert type drinks you can find in India. When I visited India, last year I got one and made sure it was topped with ice cream. An ice cold glass of sweet rose flavored milk served with ice cream, thin vermicelli noodles and basil seeds. But before I talk about my version, I have to give a shout out to a Persian dessert that is the origin of this delicious drink.

Persians have a dessert with a similar name called "Faloodeh" which is pretty spectacular, the ones I've generally eaten at Persian restaurants, is a rose and lemon flavored frozen dessert with thin vermicelli noodles and I like to top it off with some sour cherry sauce. But there are variations, on this theme that I know I have to taste soon. If you visit a Persian restaurant get it, you will love it. 

In this updated version of the Indian drink, I've skipped the dairy in favor of almond milk from Califia. Falooda is all about the layers so I stuck with the theme because that's what makes it rather exciting, besides all the lovely flavors. I kept the vermicelli and the rose, well sort of. Ideally you would use rose syrup but rose water is much gentler and you can control the sweetness, the syrup on the other hand can be super sweet in this drink. Basil seeds can be tricky to find but chia seeds are easily found at most stores and give a similar gelatinous texture after being soaked. I added a layer of strawberry purée to give a pop of color to the drink (usually the rose syrup does that job) , the purée is also sweetened with sugar which is why I avoided sweetening the almond milk but if you want you can sweeten the milk or use Califia's sweetened almond milk. The garnishes I suggest are all optional, some of you might like edible rose petals while others might not but the ice cream is always a nice touch (you know how much I love ice cream, I'm rather surprised that for once I didn't have any at home to add to this falooda).

rose and strawberry almond milk falooda | A Brown Table
rose and strawberry almond milk falooda | A Brown Table
rose and strawberry almond milk falooda | A Brown Table
rose and strawberry almond milk falooda | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this drink,

  • You'll notice I don't call for adding any extra sugar or sweetener to the almond milk. The strawberry purée is pretty sweet to begin with so I didn't find the need to add any more. However, if you want it sweeter, feel free to add more sugar. You can also use Califia's Almond Coconut milk blend or their pre-sweetened almond milk. They will all work very well in this drink.
  • Chia seeds absorb a lot of liquid, you might find the need to shake or stir things up in the jar when you soak them overnight. You might also need to add a little more milk to the seeds if you find them in a big chunky clump. 
  • The strawberry purée is rather thick but if you want you can thin it out a little if you prefer with water or simple syrup. Just remember that as it thins out the vermicelli will sink through and sit on top of the chia seed layer. 
  • This drink is pretty heavy and I find it best served after a really light lunch or dinner. 
  • Since this drink is all about layers when presenting, it's important not to mix them up when preparing the glasses. Carefully prepare the layers but be extra careful when pouring the almond milk over the vermicelli layer. Another trick that works well here, carefully pour the milk over a spoon so it doesn't disturb the layers.
rose and strawberry almond milk falooda | A Brown Table

rose and strawberry almond milk falooda

yields: 2 servings

ingredients 

4 cups unsweetened Califia almond milk, chilled

3 tablespoons chia seeds

1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries, hulled

1/2 cup sugar

2 1/2 cups water 

1/4 cup vermicelli noodles (broken into 2 to 3 inch long fragments)

1 tablespoon rose water 

1 tablespoon dried rose petals (optional)

ice cubes/crushed ice for serving (optional)

vanilla or strawberry or rose ice cream for serving (optional)

1. Take 1/2 cup of the almond milk in a medium-sized clean glass jar, sprinkle the chia seeds over the milk. Close the surface of the jar with a tight lid or cling film and shake. Leave the chia seeds to expand and absorb liquid for a minimum of 4 to 6 hours but preferably overnight in a refrigerator.

2. To prepare the strawberry purée, place the strawberries in a medium-sized thick-bottomed saucepan on medium heat along with the sugar and half cup water. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to medium-low then cover with a lid and cook the contents of the saucepan for another 5 minutes. Remove from stove, allow to cool and then purée in a food processor or with an immersion blender. Strain the purée through a fine mesh strainer and discard the seeds. Reserve the strawberry purée and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to chill before use. 

3. To prepare the vermicelli noodles. Bring the remaining two cups of water to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the vermicelli and cook until soft and tender (they do not need to be al dente but should be cooked completely). Remove from stove, drain the hot water carefully and add cold tap water to cool the noodles. 

4. To prepare the falooda, take 2 tall glasses. Layer each with half of the chia seeds. Then layer about 1/2 cup of strawberry purée (you can use less if desired) over the chia seeds carefully with a spoon. Drain the water from the cooked vermicelli and divide the mixture equally between the two jars over the strawberry pureé layer. To the remaining almond milk, add the rose water. (You can also sweeten the milk with a little sugar or sweetener of your choice. See Note in Tip section above). Pour the almond milk over the layered noodles in each glass carefully to avoid the layers from mixing. Garnish with rose petals or ice cubes/crushed ice and/or ice cream if desired (you can do all three if you want in any combination). Serve chilled with a long spoon. Before drinking, stir the contents of the glass.

Note: This post was sponsored by Califia farms and all thoughts expressed here are solely my own. 

red beet, rose water, honey, goat cheese and goat milk ice cream

red beet, rose water, honey, goat cheese and goat milk ice cream| A Brown Table

For someone that professes to love ice cream that much, I almost shuddered when I realized I haven't made a batch in a long, long, long time. Like any devoted home ice cream maker enthusiast, I always keep the canister frozen and at one point, even pondered at getting a second one as a "backup", so I know my love is pure. It was time to rectify this immediately! So to break this cycle, I'm sharing this sweet floral accented pink hued ice cream and even if you have second thoughts about beets in a dessert, I urge you to keep an open mind, this one might just surprise you (in a pleasant way hopefully)!

This was a hard one to name, too many ingredients that stood out and deserved a mention, so I apologize in advance if it sounds way too long. I started off by oven roasting my red beets before I puréed and stirred them into goat milk. The roasting helps to enhance the natural sweetness of the beets by cooking the sugars inside and give them a light caramel flavor. The ice cream base is sweetened with a little honey and brown sugar and then flavored with a light dash of rose water. The natural tanginess of the goat cheese helps to balance the flavors.  

I did notice one really interesting feature about the red pigment known as Betalain in the beets, it started off as pink but turned red after the ice cream base was removed from the hot stove and then went back to pink as it cooled down. I know the pigment color is pH sensitive (acidic/alkaline environments) but this temperature effect was new to me. 

red beet, rose water, honey, goat cheese and goat milk ice cream| A Brown Table
red beet, rose water, honey, goat cheese and goat milk ice cream| A Brown Tablered beet, rose water, honey, goat cheese and goat milk ice cream| A Brown Table
red beet, rose water, honey, goat cheese and goat milk ice cream| A Brown Tablered beet, rose water, honey, goat cheese and goat milk ice cream| A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this ice cream,

  • Roast your red beets by wrapping them in aluminum foil and placing them for about 45-60 minutes in an oven at 400F. The beets will cook in their own steam and should be very soft when done. Peel and purée the beets using a food processor. 
  • Some people may find rose water to be a little intense in flavor, so I recommend adding the smaller amount listed below. If you like it by all means bump it up but not too much or it will mask the taste of the beets. 

My ice cream base recipe is loosely based on the basic technique used in Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home

red beet, rose water, honey, goat cheese and goat milk ice cream| A Brown Table

red beet, rose water, honey, goat cheese and goat milk ice cream

yields: approximately 1 generous quart 

ingredients 

1 1/2 cups red beets, roasted, peeled and pureed

2 cups goat milk, full fat

1 cup heavy cream

4 tablespoons honey (I used the clover variety)

1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) brown sugar

1  1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

4 tablespoons goat cheese, softened to room temperature

1-2 tablespoons rose water (use 1 tablespoon for a milder flavor and 2 for a stronger one)

1. In a large bowl, add and whisk together the puréed red bets, goat milk and heavy cream. Stir in the honey and brown sugar. Transfer the contents to a medium thick bottomed saucepan and heat on medium-high flame with occasional stirring. Bring the contents of the pan to a rolling boil for one minute. 

2. While the the saucepan is heating, quickly mix the cornstarch and the water in a small bowl to form a slurry. Pour the slurry into the boiling contents of the saucepan and whisk vigorously to combine. Boil the contents of the pan for 2 additional minutes until the entire ice cream base acquires a thick custard like consistency. Remove from stove and stir about half cup of the hot ice cream base into a large bowl containing the goat cheese, whisk until smooth. Add the rest of the ice cream base and whisk to combine evenly.

3. Pass the liquid through a sieve to filter out any beet flesh particles. Collect the ice cream base in a container, cover the surface of the liquid with cling film and allow to cool to room temperature.

4. Once the ice cream mixture has cooled to room temperature, stir in the rose water. Transfer the contents into a 1 gallon ziplock bag and seal airtight. Place the bag in  an ice cold water bath and cool to around 40F or until ice cold.

5. Once the ice cream base has cooled, pour it into the prefrozen canister of your ice cream maker and churn as per the manufacturer's instructions. (I normally churn for 30 minutes until the ice cream resembles a soft-serve consistency). Transfer the ice cream base into a freezer-safe container and layer the surface with parchment paper. Press gently to remove any air bubbles and seal the container with the lid. Freeze for at least 4 hours until the ice cream is firm before serving. 

chai and rose fresh berry cake

Chai and Rose Fresh Berry Cake | A Brown Table

Earlier this week, I met up with the amazing Cheryl from 5 Second Rule. Cheryl is one of the nicest people I've spoken with, she is humble and kind even though she is an award winning blogger and has several cookbooks. We talked for quite a while about blogging, food and life in general. Cheryl also has a new book on one of my favorite ingredients, yogurt. Yogurt culture comes out this April and I can't wait to check it out and see all the fun ways I can eat my favorite dairy.

I have a few small pots on our balcony and got all sorts of dwarf trees when we moved in. You can imagine my excitement when I found blooms in my blood orange plant, I wasn't expecting any in the first year! The fig tree has awakened but I haven't noticed any future ovules that will become figs yet. Fingers crossed!

Over at Instagram, I hinted earlier that I would revisit this cardamom lime spring berry cake I made last year. Berries are probably one type of fruit that I eat all the time so I feel obligated that I owe lots of "dessertly" tributes to them. This version is completely different, the cake is flavored with Indian chai (Chai is the hindi word for tea) and edible rose petals and then sprayed generously with rose water. In Indian food you will find rose water and rose petals being used to infuse their delicate sweet flavor in several desserts and drinks, it's one of the culinary traditions that's come via the influence of the Mughal empire in India. This cake takes all of those flavors into account and I tried to bring it all together to make one spring treat. The frosting is made of light whipped cream and cream cheese with a hint of rose water. Then there's a little layer of berry jam and fresh berries in there for that burst of sweetness. Now, my frosting skills are not the best but I have improved significantly since I started working at the bakery. For one, I've learned to hold a piping bag correctly, frost cakes quickly, and decorate them as needed. No more wrist pain with piping bags! 

Chai and Rose Fresh Berry Cake | A Brown Table
Chai and Rose Fresh Berry Cake | A Brown TableChai and Rose Fresh Berry Cake | A Brown Table
Chai and Rose Fresh Berry Cake | A Brown TableChai and Rose Fresh Berry Cake | A Brown Table
Chai and Rose Fresh Berry Cake | A Brown Table
Chai and Rose Fresh Berry Cake | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips when preparing this cake that you might find useful,

  • Here's the deal with dried edible rose petals, they smell wonderful and will impart their delicate floral flavor to anything they are added. But trying to eat them directly is no fun. I do garnish the top of the cake a little with the dried petals but don't get too carried away. You'll end up chewing way too much for comfort. 
  • I use whole wheat white pastry flour as it has less gluten than the regular red grain variety resulting in a tender cake crumb.
  • I can never remember to leave my butter out to warm up when I need to in a recipe. But a little trick I've learned at work, wrap the butter up in cling film and pound it till it is just soft  and pliable. Use the softened butter as needed. Coincidentally, this is also something I saw the students do when they were preparing their laminated doughs in the pastry class I audited a few days ago.
  • To slice the cake, I pass 4 bamboo skewers through the center of the cake at mid height. I then slice the cake in half using the skewers as a guide. After the cake is halved, I remove the skewers out. You could certainly, cut the cake in half using any method that works best for you.
  • You can use any type of jam in the cake. I recommend trying jams that are a little more tart such as raspberry or black currant, I personally find strawberry jams to be a bit too sweet and overpowering at times. 
  • You can use a springform or regular circular 9 inch pan that is around 3 inches in height. 
  • The strawberries help to hold the cake layers together and prevent the frosting from squirting out. But I still recommend keeping it chilled even when you cut through the cake. Use a clean and warm serrated knife when you slice it to get clean and even slices. 
  • I use a spray bottle to evenly infuse the cake with rose water. Get a cheap one from the dollar store. Alternatively, use a brush to flavor the cake. I didn't add any sugar to the rose water because there really is no need with the jam, the frosting and the cake's sweet profile. 
  • I cut back on the amount of cream cheese that would be used in this frosting. Ideally you would use 8 ounces cream cheese to 2 cups heavy whipping cream but I find that to be very salty in taste. If that doesn't bother you adjust the frosting accordingly. 
Chai and Rose Fresh Berry Cake | A Brown Table

chai and rose fresh berry cake 

 

 

yields: one 9 inch cake 

ingredients 

1/2 cup (100mL) water, boiling

1 tablespoon darjeeling/assam black tea leaves

1 cup minus 2 tablespoons (5 ounces) whole wheat pastry flour 

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon fine grain kosher sea salt

2 tablespoons dried edible rose petals, ground to a fine powder

1 cup (7 ounces) sugar

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened and chopped + extra for greasing the pan

5 large eggs, at room temperature

3 tablespoons + 50mL rose water 

1 quart heavy whipping cream

8 ounces cream cheese, warmed to room temperature and whipped

3/4 cup (5 ounces) sugar

1 cup raspberry or strawberry or mixed berry jam (I used raspberry)

2 cups strawberries, fresh and ripe, halved

2 cups blueberries, fresh and ripe

1 cup raspberries, fresh and ripe

 a few extra berries for garnishing the top of the cake 

a few dried edible rose petals for garnishing the top of the cake

1. Sprinkle the tea leaves over the boiling hot water and leave aside to sit for 5 minutes. Strain and discard the leaves, you should have between 75-50mL of tea infused water left behind. Cool to room temperature completely before use. 

2. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and rose petal powder four times and keep aside. Place a wire rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 325F.

3. Line the base of a circular 9 inch baking pan with parchment paper and grease lightly with a little butter. Place the sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Attach the paddle blade to the mixer and cream the sugar and butter on medium-low speed for about 5 minutes. Then add the eggs one at a time and whisk until combined. Add half of the sifted dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and mix on low speed for about 1 minute until just combined, then add the tea prepared in step 1 along with the rest of the dry ingredients. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for about 35-40 minutes until the center is springy, yet firm to touch or a skewer comes out clean when passed through the center of the cake. Allow the cake to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then release from the sides using a sharp knife and cool on a wire rack. Once the cake is cooled, wrap it in cling film and freeze it for at least 2 hours before frosting.

3. Place the heavy whipping cream, cream cheese, sugar and 3 tablespoons of rose water in the bowl of a stand mixer and using the whisk attachment beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Keep refrigerated and chilled until ready to use. 

4. Place the cake on a cake stand/turntable and slice it in half (see kitchen tips above). Spray the inner sides of both cakes with the remaining 50mL rose water using a spray bottle. Layer the bottom half of the cake with the jam using a large offset spatula. Then take 1 cup of the whipped cream frosting and layer it over the jam. Then layer the cake with place the strawberries top side facing upwards in three concentric circles. Fill the gaps between the circles with the raspberries and blueberries. Top the berries off with about 1/2 cup of whipped cream and then place the top layer of the cake over it. Frost the outside of the cake using the spatula to get a smooth and even finish. Decorate with extra berries and a few rose petals. Refrigerate the cake for an hour or two before cutting to serve. This cake will be good for up to 2-3 days.