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Cheese Pakora Begorrah

As Winter comes creeping up, I thought the time has come to share with the world the joy of cheese pakoras. Or, as my father likes to call them, “Not Really Pakoras” – a sentiment shared by the entire male sex according my very informal poll. Ingrates.

However, they’re delicious, hot, comforting, easy to make, very forgiving of adaptations, and quite filling for a snack. In short, they’re perfect!

Other than those pesky health issues they’re bound to give you, but who cares about a heart attack tomorrow when you can eat yummy pakoras today, right? Right!

Cheese Pakoras
(serves 2 – or 1 greedy person like myself)

Ingredients:

Cheese – a handful grated or two slices. (You can use any melty cheese although the more fancy ones are really wasted here. Just go for your usual cheddar or Velveeta or similar local variant for best results. And you can adjust the amount of cheese up or down as you prefer too)

Flour – three heaped tablespoons

Egg – one, beaten.

Onion – one half, chopped fine but not minced. (You could substitute one leek or four spring onions, less if you’d rather)

Chillies – One or more, according to taste, red or green, minced is good but not necessary. (You could substitute with jalapenos or even crushed black pepper. I prefer red chillies because those little flecks of red look great in the batter)

Milk – cold, three tablespoons or more, enough to bind without turning the batter into paste. (Substitute with cold water if you’d rather. Do not use hot water because it will melt the cheese and turn the batter runny)

Salt – a pinch. (Seriously, a pinch – because the cheese and egg will make it salty)

Oil – enough to deep fry

Method

First off, if you’re using cheese slices because you haven’t got anything better (ah, college! OR ah, laziness!) in the fridge, then go ahead and dice it up by running a fork lengthwise and widthwise. Use a knife if that works out better for you. If you’ve got grated cheese, then good for you, you’re ready to start.

Beat the egg till frothy with the salt, add the onions and chillies and beat till incorporated. Now add the flour and mix. Tumble in the cheese and give it a couple of turns so everything comes roughly together. Next add three tablespoons of milk to the mixture.

Use the same tablespoon for the flour and the milk if possible so that the measure is consistent. Add more milk if necessary. You don’t want the batter as runny as your usual pakora mix, but you don’t want it to be a sticky dough either. Too runny and the milk will overwhelm the egg and the pakoras will lie limp on the bottom of the pan like octopi suffering from ennui; too sticky and your pakoras will just taste of flour, a gluey warmth that sticks to the roof of your mouth in a decidedly uncomforting way. Your ideal batter should easily flow off the spoon but still roughly hold its shape for a few seconds when it plops back into the bowl.

Don’t stress if your first effort isn’t perfect though – the point of the cheese pakora is for you to relax, make stuff out of things that are already in your fridge and scarf it down (preferably with ginger chai) before you notice anything about it other than its guilty deliciousness. Once you’re hooked and experimenting with these once a week to your doctor’s horror, you’ll soon figure out your sweet spot.

Now as this involves melty cheese, I strongly recommend a nonstick pan. But go ahead and use the sticky kind if the nonstick is still in the wash. Pour tablespoons (yes, the same one with which you measured out your flour and milk) of the batter into the hot oil. Since these are made with egg, they’ll puff up to twice their size, so you’re not being mean with the portions.

Cook on medium-low heat. Stand back because these will spit and spatter as the cheese inevitably comes into contact with the oil. A minute on either side. Remember these are made with ordinary flour and contain cheese, so you don’t want them to turn that reddish brown of your usual pakoras. They’re cooked on one side when they puff up and are ready to be flipped over; take them out when they turn a gentle golden brown all over.

Yields about 10 pieces, crispy on the outside and melty on the inside. Drain and serve with your favorite sauce. I prefer Sriracha or Maggi Hot & Sweet. It goes great with leftover Taco Bell sauce too.

If you share my father’s exacting standards and would rather eat something more traditional, check out the video above. That looks crazy good.

 
10 Comments

Posted by on October 13, 2010 in Life, Personal, Video

 

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If Only the Movie & I Were Anjaana Anjaani

I was going to write a review of Anjaana Anjaani, but I got bored. Here’s a handy ad that makes the same point – shorter, cheaper and 100% more delicious!

 
10 Comments

Posted by on October 4, 2010 in Entertainment, Movies, Review, Video

 

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Fried Round Things

Bollyviewer once commented that all my recipes revolve around eggs and milk. That made me giggle because that’s exactly right. With those two magical ingredients in my fridge, I can whip up anything from a drink to a dessert to main course to pakoras (up next!). The day I have less than four eggs and at least a quart of whole fat milk in my fridge is a dark day at Chez Amrita. Starvation is practically leering in my face as I stumble out the door and run for the grocery store. Okay, amble. A diet of eggs and milk isn’t really conducive to running.

Anyway, I thought I’d offer something that didn’t revolve around eggs and milk for once – just to prove that I know other ways to get a heart attack before I turn forty. It’s a family recipe and as far as I know nobody else makes this thing. I’ve certainly never seen it on a restaurant menu nor have I ever been offered any at anybody’s home. According to family lore, my Auntie S invented the amazing dish we know simply as “Fried Round Things”.

She was puttering around the kitchen one day with a couple of my other aunts and they were debating what to do with the remains of two bunches of bananas and plantains sent over from the family estate. We were a large household and most of it had vanished but there were still a few left and they were on the verge of going bad. So thrifty Auntie S threw together a few ingredients and voila! An enduring family favorite was born.

The South Americans make something similar with green plantains but their version is savory and usually involves meat, delicious in an entirely different way. Fried Round Things only uses ingredients approved by my grandmother’s kitchen and is thus thoroughly vegetarian and pretty sweet. It is also very rich and if you pig out on it, you should know that consumed in large quantities, Fried Round Things can act as a laxative. You have been warned.

Note: This recipe uses two items that the general public (that’s you!) might not be familiar with – plantains and freshly shredded/dessicated coconut.

1. Plantains. For this recipe you need ripe plantain. Green plantains will not work. Local supermarkets in most places tend to carry these nowadays but if yours doesn’t, then check out the grocery stores that cater to people of Caribbean descent. Or South Indians if you live in India.

If you don’t know your plantain from your banana, then ask someone at the store to help you choose one that’s ripe / closest to ripening. If it’s ripe, then use it by the next day latest; if it needs some more time, stick it in a paper bag if you have one and leave it out for a day or two but not more than that. I like my plantains really ripe (it turns black) but don’t go that route unless you’re familiar with them and can tell ripe from rotten. Fried Round Things are delicious but nothing is worth food poisoning.

2. Dessicated Coconut. This is optional – in the sense that I’ve made Fried Round Things without it and I didn’t miss it all that much. But it’s undeniable that it really does add a certain something to the taste so if you can get your hands on it, that’d be good. Again, this is available at most supermarkets and if not, check your local Thai / Caribbean / South Indian grocery store. I used to get my supply from China Town when I lived around the corner from it, so it’s really everywhere.

At home, my mother and aunts use freshly shredded coconut. Which is nice and possible when you have a coconut tree in your garden and a maid willing and able to crack open a coconut with a wicked machete and then grate the whole thing out. I, on the other hand, once tore open a Bounty bar, nibbled off the chocolate layer and then crumbled in the coconut insides to my batch of Fried Round Things. I do not recommend my method. Better by far to find a maid adept in the art of machete-wielding and a house with a coconut tree growing outside it.

All this is to tell you that when you buy your dessicated coconut, taste it first to see if it’s been sweetened. It took me a while to find unsweetened dessicated coconut, which is what I’m using in this recipe, so if yours is sweetened, you’ll have to adjust the amount of sugar used.

Okay, so -

Fried Round Things

Ingredients

Plantain (ripe) – 1

Banana (any banana, smaller in size to the plantain, ripe) – 1

Plain Flour – 3 to 4 tbsps, level.

Granulated sugar – 1 to 2 tbsps, heaped.

Dessicated coconut (unsweetened) – 3 tbsps (use a big handful if its freshly grated unsweetened coconut)

Ghee – 1 tbsp

Salt – a generous pinch, one level tsp at most.

Vegetable Oil – for deep frying

Utensils

Bananas, especially when combined with sugar, will stick. Save yourself from a nervous breakdown and use a non-stick wok and wooden slotted spoon. A mixing bowl and a tablespoon. Maybe a masher.

Method

Peel and cube the plantains and bananas. Tumble them into a mixing bowl. Use your hands if you’re all down-home like my mom or a potato masher if you’re all fancy like me, and roughly mash the two together. You don’t want to thoroughly mash them to an uniform consistency – it’s good to have little chunks left intact.

Add coconut and salt and fold them in. Add the sugar; adjust upwards or downwards depending on the sweetness of the plantain, banana and coconut as well as your own tastes but make sure you add in at least half a tbsp of sugar as this will help caramelize the final product.

Add the flour. This basically acts as a binding agent so your goal is to only add enough flour to make sure it all sticks together like really thick, goopy batter. When you’ve added three tbsps, it ought to look kind of pasty and all sorts of wrong. This is when you add the ghee. The batter will immediately loosen up and resemble really thick cake batter.

If it’s at all runny, then add a little more flour. The ideal batter should be thick and goopy.

Heat oil and drop in tablespoons of the batter. I’m afraid this is the kind of thing that requires surveillance because it’s really easy to have it caramelized black on the outside while still raw on the inside. The trick is to drop in the batter in amounts no greater than a tablespoon and keep the heat steady at medium low. Try not to touch it too much while frying. Just turn it over once.

When it turns a fine golden brown, it’s ready to come out. Don’t be dismayed if it’s darker than that. We cousins personally think it’s better when it’s a little charred but my mother disagrees. Make sure you give the Fried Round Things a gentle squeeze as you fish them out because bananas and plantains drink oil like sailors drink liquor on shore leave. If you want to be extra conscientious you can cool them on a wire rack and blot them with paper napkins but look – you’re eating a thing called Fried Round Things. Let’s not kid ourselves here.

Makes 12. Serves 4. Enjoy!

(And if you plan on being greedy, make sure you’re stocked up on toilet paper.)

 
8 Comments

Posted by on May 29, 2010 in Life, Personal, Video

 

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Pop Went the Popsicle

Pop Went the Popsicle

The thing that shocked me the most about moving to America was when my friends would turn on the kitchen tap, fill a glass, and drink it. Water in our house was directly channeled through a filtration system before it was boiled to kingdom come, cooled, poured into sterilized bottles and stashed in the fridge. A separate batch was poured boiling hot into a thermos flask for my mother who insists on boiling her insides irrespective of the weather.

My greatest rebellion, the way I see it, was when I went to camp and drank my fill from a nearby tap like all the other care for nobodies around me, against the strict instructions of my parents. Of course, the Gods immediately felled sinful me with a mighty bout of flu and I landed in the hospital. But by then camp was over and I had other things to worry about like that perennial gift of camps everywhere: lice.

[Yes, my life is exactly that lame. Sorry.]

My very first memory of hospitals is from when I was barely four – I pigged out on contraband popcorn and my stomach rebelled. The resultant projectile vomiting was unpleasant but what followed was worse. Apparently the only way to treat a four year old with popcorn poisoning in 80s South India is to shove all sorts of tubes down her nose and stick her with IVs. Personally, I think the doctor must have been pissed coz he got dragged out of bed in the middle of the night and was trying to scare my parents into keeping a beadier eye on me.

If he’d been trying to warn me off popcorn, he definitely didn’t succeed. But hoo boy, did he teach my mother about the evils of popcorn. To this day I can barely munch a single kernel in her presence before she starts making noises about how its going to land me in the hospital.

The only good thing that came out of the whole experience is that my dad bribed me into staying still and convinced me that this was a Fun Thing for us to do as a family by buying me bucketloads of popsicles. The kind that come in a plastic tube and are probably filled with ice from the morgue? Or as I like to call it – the best kind. Raspberry and orange were my favorites. Of course, they were also the only flavors he ever bought me (or were available for that matter) but I loved them all the same.

The raspberry was a dark magenta and tasted like cough syrup. I’ve never understood why raspberry is such a hot flavor in India – I don’t think I ever saw it in its natural state until I left the country. Strawberries make so much more sense. But there it is, in everything from ice cream to jello. Is it some kind of colonial hangover?

The orange was a virulent shade of neon and was basically like sucking on a mild, iced lemon. You know how Rasna made the orange taste so much more orange-y than an actual orange could ever be? This made the orange taste less orange-y than the most withered, water-logged orange could ever be. And yet! So delicious!

The secret ingredient was obviously some cancer-causing chemical engineered to turn to children into mindless slaves. Or maybe dead people. Who knows! I can’t find them on the market these days. They’re probably banned.

Which was the bad news my father brought me that day as I lay on my hospital bed, eagerly awaiting the by-now de rigeur bribe of popsicles. Oh, the things those little goodies have convinced me to do – let them stick needles in my arm, tubes down my nose, push me into claustrophobic scanners that resemble coffins… No more.

I looked at the rectangular thing in my hand. “What is this?”

“It’s an ice cream bar,” my father said, refusing to look me in the eye.

I unwrapped it. “It’s an ice lolly.”

Now I’m not philosophically opposed to the idea of a ice on a stick but the whole point of the hospital experience was to suck it out of a plastic tube. Didn’t he know anything?

“Why don’t you eat it?” he asked, already hovering at the door.

“Where is my popsicle?”

“EAT WHATEVER YOU LIKE, YOU STUPID CHILD!” he yelled preemptively and dashed out the door.

I looked at my mother, laughing hysterically on the couch.

“Oh baby,” she said, patting me consolingly. “They don’t sell those anymore. In fact, they tore down that shop from which you father used to buy them. And those are the only things they carry in the supermarket.”

And that is how I found out that my childhood was losted. Isniff.

[pic source]

 
11 Comments

Posted by on April 29, 2010 in Life, Personal

 

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Slow Bread Pudding

The bread pudding we make at our house is basically a caramel custard with bread for extra oomph (real reason: it’s a convenient way to get rid of leftover stale bread. There is a limit to the amount of breadcrumbs a person can make and consume). So if you have a creme caramel / caramel custard / flan recipe, like the one above in the video, just add the bread and you’ve got delicious bread pudding! Or else, follow these directions:

Bread Pudding for Dummies!

Ingredients

Milk – 1 litre or quarter gallon

Sugar – 2 cups + approx. 1/2 cup granulated sugar for caramel

Eggs – 6 + 2 yolks (optional)

Custard powder – 1 tbsp (optional – I’ve never actually used this till now but my mother keeps telling me I should)

White Bread – Half to three quarter loaf or whatever bread you have left. Mixture at end should still be liquidy so stop before the bread soaks up all the liquid. Croissants are okay (all that butter is yummy for pudding), but pass on whole wheat or multi-grain bread. You could use it, but I have no idea what that would taste like. I usually make breadcrumbs out of those. Tell me if it works out for you if that’s the only thing you have in the house.

Vanilla – 2 tsp or one pod (if you have Food Network, you know what to do: slit the pod lengthwise, use the blunt end of the knife or point and scrape along the innards and then dump both the shell and the inner scrapings into whatever mixture you’re using).

Nutmeg – 1 tsp freshly grated OR 1/2 tsp powdered (optional, increase quantity if you’re a huge fan of nutmeg. I always have fresh nutmeg and might go up to a half tsp more if I’m using a vanilla pod)

Walnuts – optional, to taste. I use “a handful”, roughly chopped.

Water – as needed.

Utensils

Two pans – one should be large enough to hold the pudding mixture but small enough to fit inside the other pan. If you’re using an oven, I suggest a souffle pot placed in a lasagna pan. It works for me. But really, anything goes as long as its not nonstick. This is not a nonstick friendly recipe, so put that thought out of your head. Although the larger pot/ pan could be nonstick. It’s going to be used as a water bath so that’s all right. The main dish, i.e. the smaller pot that’s going to hold the pudding mixture, needs to be either ceramic or metal though.

If you’re using the burner method, make sure the smaller pot has a rim of some kind so the plastic cover won’t slip off.

Method

Okay, like I said, if you have a caramel custard / creme caramel / flan recipe that you swear by, then use that. Otherwise, here’s my culinarily challenged method for a dish that sounds fearsomely complicated but really isn’t.

First decide whether you’re going to be using the oven or the burner (read directions below in the Cooking section and make up your mind) and choose your main dish accordingly. Now you need a caramel sauce to coat the bottom.

If you’re using a souffle dish, then take a small pan and pour about 1/2 cup granulated sugar into it. This is the amount I usually use, but feel free to adjust as per your liking. If you don’t have a liking, then stick to my liking for your debut effort because at least you’ll have somebody to blame when you set your kitchen on fire. Heat pan until sugar begins to burn and bubble around the edges.

IMPORTANT: Do not use a spoon to help the caramelization process. Caramel is like mortar and you’ll spend the next three hours trying to prise it off whatever spoon you used. I learned this the hard way as my mother laughed at me.

Swirl the pan instead. When the color begins to change to gold, take pan off heat for a quick second and standing well back from it, pour a little over 1/4 cup water into burning sugar. Do not be alarmed at steam and noise. Return to heat and swirl pan a few more times until sugar has completely dissolved, caramelized and color has changed to dark brown.

Pour into souffle pot and swirl mixture around so it evenly coats the bottom of pot and about one inch of the sides. Don’t worry if the result is geometrically off. Just make sure the bottom at least is completely covered. Please be careful because if you get hot caramel on your skin, you will regret it for a long time.

If you’re using the burner method, then you can melt the caramel directly in the pot you’re going to use. Same directions. Set caramel coated pot aside to cool. Crackling noises as mixture cools and hardens are absolutely normal.

Next take 2 cups of sugar (more if you have a very sweet tooth) and blitz in the blender with 6 eggs. If you’re very committed to a firm pudding and are doubtful about the staying power of a half dozen eggs, add an extra 2 yolks. Make yourself feel better about the coming heart attack by thinking of this as a French recipe (note: there is no reason to suppose this is a French recipe). Alternatively you could add a tablespoon of custard powder. You could even add the yolks and the custard powder if you’re especially greedy and/or careful.

Personally, I’ve never used custard powder and the only time I ever added the extra yolks is the one time I made this with 2% milk. We need whole fat milk for this little show, me hearties!

Speaking of which… once eggs and sugar have been blitzed into submission, either pour in the milk and give it a good blitz to combine OR if it won’t fit in your blender, pour mixture into mixing bowl, add milk and use a handheld electric whisk or the whisk attachment in your KitchenAid and combine the three. You could whisk by hand, but then you’ll be in your kitchen till the cows come home. If things get desperate as they did once in college, then pour the egg and sugar mixture into a separate bowl and combine with the milk in your blender in batches. Indian ingenuity at work!

What you have in front of you now are the beginnings of a basic custard. Add vanilla extract and freshly grated nutmeg. If you’re not using vanilla pods, feel free to blitz for a couple more seconds to show the ingredients who’s boss. Yup, it’s you!

If caramel has cooled by now, pour custard into the pot. Otherwise, set aside for the moment. Take bread slices and remove crusts. Dice the bread into one inch pieces. Dunk bread into mixture.

NOTE: What I like to do is use a big mixing bowl and a handheld electric whisk to create the custard mixture. Then I can just dump the bread into it and set it aside for ten minutes so the bread soaks up the goodness and turns into beautiful mush.

Stir in nuts if you like. You can use whatever you have or prefer but I think walnuts stand up best to the flavors of this pudding. Remember to fish out vanilla pod if you used it. Now it’s ready to cook.

Cooking

Okay, so now comes the moment of truth. This is probably the most complicated part of this no fuss, make it with leftovers, recipe. I know people who make their creme caramels in Dutch ovens and pressure cookers and whatnot. I’m not one of them. I know precisely two methods of making this and they are as follows:

1. Oven: Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Boil about five cups of water. Place souffle pot containing bread and custard mixture in the middle of empty lasagna pan. Pour boiling water into lasagna pan to roughly one inch depth. More is okay (just barely, don’t push it) but less is not. It is important that the pot have a firm position in the middle of the pan, it should not float in water.

Pause to congratulate yourself on your fancy water bath. Next up: Iron Chef!

Place the whole thing in middle rack and bake for 4o mins to an hour. It depends on your oven but start checking on the status of the pudding from 30 minutes on. When the knife inserted in center comes out clean, pudding is done. Try not to splash water all over yourself when checking. That shit is no joke.

Remove souffle pot and let stand to cool. Once the pudding has cooled – and I don’t mean is just slightly warm or anything like that. I mean cooled – stick it in the fridge for at least three hours or, better still, overnight.

2. Burner: Take a plastic grocery bag or similar item large enough to completely cover the top of the pot containing the custard mixture and wash thoroughly, inside and out. If the plastic bag is too small, it might help to cut it in two. Pat dry the plastic and stretch it tightly over the mouth of the pot. Take a piece of string and tie the plastic under the rim of the pot. Yank on the plastic to make sure it covers the mouth of the pot tightly.

Now a reasonable person might ask, “But Amrita, we live in technologically advanced times. Why can’t I use tin foil or saran wrap or something similar? Why must I butcher a grocery bag like a deprived human being?” And I would tell them, “You’re right. But my mother says this is the way we do it and my mother has strange hoodoo powers that might make my kitchen explode or make me choke and die on a piece of newfangled pudding, so this is the way I make it. I don’t think she cares how you make your pudding though, so feel free to experiment and let me know how it all turns out for you.”

Now if you’re done wasting my time with your philosophical inquiries, take your large pot and fill with water about one to two inches deep. Place smaller pot with plastic covering into the middle. As with the other water bath, make sure its placed firmly at the bottom and is not floating. Remove or add water as needed. Place lid on top and turn on the burner.

Now if you have one of those insanely cool silicone covers that stick with what seems to be willpower or are doing this whole exercise in a massive steamer of some sort, then more power to you. If you’re like me and stuck in the Stone Age, then find something really heavy, like a mortar and pestle and stick it on top of the lid to weigh it down. Wait for the water to boil and steam to struggle out. Then lower the heat to simmer and leave it be for 45 minutes.

Turn off the heat after 45 minutes and let it stand until things cool down enough for you to take the smaller pot out of its steamy haven. Let it cool. This will probably take half the day. Do not remove plastic top until it’s thoroughly cooled.

Once the pudding has cooled – and I don’t mean is just slightly warm or anything like that. I mean cooled – remove the plastic covering and stick it in the fridge for at least three hours or, better still, overnight.

Eat

After refrigerating overnight, run a knife along the edges of the pudding and upend into a serving dish the way you would a jelly out of a mould. Do it carefully over a sink because the caramel will have diluted into a thin sauce and it’ll run over everything.

Enjoy! The damn thing only took you 12 hours from start to finish!

[For M – who asked but didn’t know what she was asking for! :P]

 
16 Comments

Posted by on January 8, 2010 in Life, Personal, Video

 

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Nightmares and Cakes

So here’s what I learned this weekend – if you watch The Dark Knight and follow it up by gorging on a six ingredient cake of which four ingredients are eggs, cream, sugar and rum, you will then dream of Amisha Patel singing songs from Mamma Mia on a Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham set (complete with diffused lighting) before Batman saves her from the machinations of two random dudes who’re in cahoots with Dr. Evil just as she launches into a Lara Croft impersonation and swings from a chandelier to save the cast of Battlestar Galactica – and then you’ll wake up in a pool of drool with a tummy ache.

Gross.

My Auntie S’s cake is meant to be eaten with extreme caution. It’s officially called The Burnt Sugar Cake and informally as “Auntie S’s cake” but I prefer what my mother calls it – the cream and sugar cake. Because that’s basically all there is in it, with a little flour to hold it all together. The directions below are written in a language called “Baking for Dummies” because that’s pretty much my level of baking. Believe me, if I could make this thing, so can you! It’s the world’s easiest cake and I’ve never ever come across a single person who didn’t love it (duh! it’s pure fat, of course everybody loves it). In fact, a little less love and I wouldn’t be sitting here right now feeling like crap. Oh well, it’s like drinking – at least I enjoyed it while it lasted.

Ingredients

Eggs – 4

Cream – 2 cups

Sugar – 2 cups (powdered) + 3/4 cup (granulated)

Flour – 2 cups

Baking powder – 1 level tsp

Boiling water – 1/2 cup

Dark Rum – 1/3 cup (optional but I prefer it and it burns off while baking so you don’t have to worry about kids)

Vanilla extract – 1 tsp (optional)

Walnuts / Almonds / Raisins / Cashews – a handful, roughly chopped (optional)

Method

Beat powdered sugar and eggs in a food processor. You can use a Kitchen Aid or electric whisk but you don’t want this to be too aerated so if you have a food processor go for it. When eggs and sugar have combined (about two – three minutes), add cream (thirty seconds). Pour into mixing bowl. Sift flour and baking powder together; add a few spoons at a time to the egg and cream mixture, stirring to combine.

In a separate pan, pour the granulated sugar on high heat and let it melt. When the sugar caramelizes and turns liquid, stir a little until all the sugar is melted and the color turns dark brown. When it starts to bubble and froth, add half a cup of boiling water and turn off the heat once the mixture stops hissing. Stand back and be careful when adding the water.

Cool the caramelized sugar – and no, lukewarm is not fine – and pour into the cake batter. Add vanilla, rum and lastly any nuts or raisins as per your taste. (I like walnuts with this. It’s almost unbearably rich but yummy!) Stir gently.

Pour into buttered, floured pan (if you don’t know what that is – take a little butter in a warm, dry cake pan, swirl it around so every inside surface is coated, drain excess butter if any, and dust it lightly with flour, shaking the pan free of any excess amounts). Bake at 180 C or 350 F for 45 minutes, check every five minutes after half an hour. When top is a rich dark brown and knife inserted in center comes out clean, cake is ready.

This is not a cake that needs or wants icing but if you want to prettify it further, hold a sieve over it and sprinkle powdered sugar. You can eat it warm or do what I do – slice and chill overnight and eat it cold. Bliss.

What I particularly love about this recipe, apart from it’s sheer lack of complications, is that it’s so forgiving. As long as you have an oven, a cake pan and the ingredients at hand, you can eyeball things or use everyday kitchen utensils to measure and mix. In fact, the original recipe says things like “use a katori of sugar” and “four large tablespoons of rum” and “beat it all in a mixi”.

Heh. Mixi. Enjoy but don’t eat it all at once even if you really want to.

 
16 Comments

Posted by on July 21, 2008 in Life

 

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