Thursday, 17 March 2011


I've been on a baking spree over the last couple of weeks. I've always wanted to bake a coffee flavoured cake but never got around to executing the dreamy thought of an aromatic coffee flavoured cake with the crunch of walnuts.

It was a good friend's housewarming party a few weeks ago and I decided to bite the bullet and put my money on a recipe from the matronly Delia Smith (available at I omitted the coffee cream frosting, which in retrospect (mainly because I had run out of unsalted butter) was a cardinal error. I then went on to top that (put it down to laziness!) by substituting the frosting with a generous spread of nutella! The cake was moist and had a fine crumb but the coffee flavour simply didn't shine through. The "frosting" only masked the already faint coffee flavour. Having dissected the recipe (and the results) with a friend, I will make the cake again, but with freshly ground coffee beans and the original coffee cream to make sure that the cake smells and tastes like it should - coffee cake! Watch this space!

Ever since I came across this recipe on the charming Smitten Kitchen website, I have been dreaming about caramel cake. Eventually though, it was this recipe for caramel cake that I decided to follow. The frosting was, simply put, outstanding. What a fantastic idea to brown butter and use that as the base for the frosting. Brown butter has a characteristic nutty flavour that gives depth and flavour to this frosting. I have some leftover frosting sitting, waiting, in a Pyrex bowl in my fridge. I cannot even begin to describe how much self-control it's taking me to stop myself from licking the bowl clean. The cake itself was nothing great. Having followed the instructions as closely as possible, my cake didn't have the fine texture that Delia's coffee cake recipe yielded. More research revealed that I wasn't the only one to experience problems with this recipe. My research also took me to a link on Martha Stewart's (fantastic) website Turns out, the recipe is very similar to a recipe by Maya Angelou, a very well known American writer and poetess. More on her at good old Wikipedia The major difference in the recipes that I noted was that Maya's recipe uses quite a lot more baking powder for the same quantity of flour. That might explain why the texture of my cake wasn't as good as I expected. I've made a mental note to try Maya's recipe the next time I have a craving for caramel.

And then, I got caught up with some horrible flu-ey bug which meant I ended up at home on sick leave. I was bored out of my wits and couldn't get all that extra frosting sitting pretty in my fridge out of my head. I had to do something with it before it became green and mouldy. I decided to use it on my never-fail, idiot-proof chocolate cake recipe, which I discovered on a happy day a few summers ago on the Hershey's website. The magic ingredient is a cup of boiling water! It was with some nervousness that I poured the boiling water into the cake batter the first time I tried the recipe. The thought of chocolate flavoured scrambled eggs is, you will agree, not particularly appetising! The finished product was, and has been, on the many ocassions that I have tried the recipe, a great success. Thanks to all that water, the cake batter is quite thin - very different from the consistency that most other cake recipes yield. Nothing to worry about! Just follow the instructions as they are, and you will not be disappointed. To cut a long story short, I used the caramel frosting on the chocolate cake with great results. Great combination - highly recommend that you try!

Idiot proof chocolate cake recipe

Monday, 7 March 2011

A Meaty Post

I walked into the neighbourhood supermarket today with a craving a good lamb curry. On most weekdays, I am too exhausted after a long day at work for heavy duty cooking. But today was a little different. I've had a very relaxed time at work (I think Someone Important has decided to take pity on me after four consecutive weekends in my dreary little office and many, many billable hours). Coming back to the theme of this post, my relatively chirpy mood meant that I stocked up on ingredients for a nice, wholesome lamb curry and got to work right after in my kitchen. I decided to follow my mother's example and use a generous hand with the ginger and garlic.

To feel a little less guilty about the red-meat-excess on a Monday night, I decided to be a good girl and throw in a bagfull of spinach and a couple of tomatoes. As the pressure cooker did its job and whistled away, I got my trusty Tilda rice out and got it bubbling in a saucepan.

Work in progress

At the end of an hour, my meal was ready. To say the least, I was very pleased with the results and I settled down with a plate of rice, my spinach and tomato lamb curry and some greek yoghurt on the side. Heaven.

Spinach and Tomato Lamb Curry (my recipe)

Serves 2

Diced lamb - 300 grams
Onion - 1 large (finely chopped)
Tomatoes - 2 (finely chopped)
Spinach - 1 bag
Corinader powder - 2 tbsp
Kashmiri Chilli powder - 1.5 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Saunf - 2 tsp
Garlic - 5 to 6 cloves
Chopped Ginger - 3 tbsp 
Oil - 2 tbsp
Green chillies (deseeded) - 2
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt - to taste  

Marinate the lamb in the lemon juice, red chilli and turmeric powders and salt. Set aside. Skin and finely chop the garlic. Heat oil and add the saunf, ginger, garlic and chopped chillies. Fry on medium heat until the raw smell disappears. You should be able to smell roasted garlic and ginger. Add the chopped onion and stir every now and then until golden brown. Add a little more oil if necessary. Add the coriander powder and give it a good mix for a minute or two. Now, in a pressure cooker, combine the lamb, torn spinach leaves, tomatoes and the onion mix. Pressure cook for 25-30 minutes

Serve steaming hot with rice or chappaties