Tag Archives: Demerara Sugar

Mid-week Wanderlust and Daydreams

Some mid-week serendipitous resonance earned me a few moments of day-dreaming, and you a bonus blog post.

I got off early from work, and instead of scurrying back home, I stopped at a neighborhood café (which you must check out if you live/visit Bangalore, for its quaint charm and cream of mushroom soup!). Ordered myself some soup and presently there was the aroma of sizzling garlic, which can warm even the coldest day. And this is how it came to pass, that I found myself, in an island of calm, in a busy city in the middle of the week, reading Bill Bryson’s “Neither Here Nor There” and day dreaming of the Northern Lights.

“I had an itch to roam.
I wanted to wander through Europe, to see movie posters for films that would never come to (my country), gaze wonderingly at billboards and shop notices full of exotic umlauts and cedillas and No Parking sign O’s, hear pop songs that could not by even the most charitable stretch of the imagination be a hit in any country but their own, encounter people whose lives would never again intersect with mine, be hopelessly unfamiliar with everything, from the workings of a phone box to the identity of a foodstuff. I wanted to be puzzled and charmed, to experience the endless, beguiling variety of a continent where you can board a train and an hour later be somewhere where the inhabitants speak a different language, eat different foods, work different hours, live lives that are at once so different and yet so oddly similar.
I wanted to be a tourist.”

On wanting to share the extract with you, I stumbled across the Homesick Wanderlust blog, proving yet again, that technology like the internet can unite, more than it can divide.

Apart from listening for resonance, eating better is a part of my ‘go slow’ new-year resolution. Hence, sharing with you the recipe for a whole-wheat carrot cake, baked a couple of weeks back, to make the most of the seasonal ‘spindly red carrots’ (duly inspired).

IMG_20150110_172525349Grease a nine inch baking pan, and get some buttermilk going by adding a teaspoon of lemon juice to about 3/8 cup of whole milk. Grate 1 ½ cup of carrot. Whisk together a cup of whole wheat flour, about a teaspoon of baking soda, a pinch of salt, and some cinnamon powder and nutmeg (1 combined teaspoon). Using your stand/electric mixer, whip together 2 small eggs and ¾ cup of Demerara sugar. Add the buttermilk and ½ teaspoon of vanilla. Fold the dry and wet and add the carrots. Sprinkle on some optional almond. Bake for 30 minutes and check for done-ness.

Easy, right? We will not mention the spring-form tin which I failed to fit properly, resulting in carrot cake batter oozing across my kitchen counter. Not when we are thinking positive thoughts.

A good book to read, a café to eat at, a blog to visit, a cake to bake, and inspiration to day dream – now that you have several choices, what is it going to be? Am returning to Paris, where I left Bill attempting to navigate the traffic.

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Bravery, Joy and some Toffee Pudding in the New Year

Have you read Neil Gaiman? Yes? LOVED him? Yes? That is why we are friends. Have not read him? Then what are you doing here – please don’t waste a minute more of this precious life and run out and buy his ‘Neverwhere,’ to begin with. If you live in my vicinity, give me a shout – will be glad to lend you a copy. I am dead serious.
If you have read his books, and not liked them, I am not speaking to you anymore. What’s the point? You and I will never see eye to eye on anything. You probably dislike desserts as well.

If you are going out to get a copy, pretty please get his latest book for me. I can’t seem to find it.

Toffee pudding cake
Toffee pudding cake

So why am I thus hectoring you? Because amongst other things, Neil excels at writing wishes for the new year. So here goes, my wish for you and me, for 2014:

“It’s a New Year and with it comes a fresh opportunity to shape our world.
So this is my wish, a wish for me as much as it is a wish for you: in the world to come, let us be brave – let us walk into the dark without fear, and step into the unknown with smiles on our faces, even if we’re faking them.

And whatever happens to us, whatever we make, whatever we learn, let us take joy in it. We can find joy in the world if it’s joy we’re looking for, we can take joy in the act of creation.

So that is my wish for you, and for me. Bravery and joy.”

Good stuff, right? The birth of Pootler chef is easily one of the best things that happened to me last year – the blog has given me much joy. Wish me the will to continue. Hope that you find/keep at something that gives you joy.

SG (the husband)’s family has an age-old tradition to cut a cake at midnight to ring out the old and welcome the new. SG and siblings grew up expecting a cake at the stroke of the hour. And I have eagerly adopted it, no better way to end the year than to pootle around the oven. And digging into warm cake, community style, can only herald good things – time with friends and family, laughter, some good memories – to come.

Here it is, the Sticky Toffee Pudding that welcomed 2014. Since I had only 200 ml of cream at hand, we shall call it Toffee Pudding and be happy with it. I cannot exaggerate the simplicity or awesomeness of this recipe. Let it suffice – I dream of the cake. David L. mentions in his post that he made it twice in a week. Well, SG had to physically restrain me from baking another batch today. Soon, when his back is turned. Evil laughtering.

I baked the cake first and added the toffee sauce later. Do check the original on the options to make this. And yes, my toffee is much paler than it should be, courtesy a new brand of demerara that I was experimenting with. Will let you know when I make it next, if a darker sugar impacts the taste.

To make the pudding

  • Chop 180 gm of dates and keep aside
  • Sift together 1 ¼ cup (175 gm) AP flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and ½ teaspoon salt
  • Beat together (of course, I used the Kitchen Aid, but you can do it by hand or a hand held) 4 tablespoon unsalted butter and ¾ cup (150 gm) white sugar
  • While waiting for the eggs and sugar to become light and fluffy, bring to a boil the chopped dates and 1 cup (250 ml) water. Switch the heat off, and add 1 teaspoon baking soda and mix. Use the mix while still warm
  • Meanwhile, to the butter-sugar batter, add in one and then another egg. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla. Keep scraping down the sides of the bowl
  • Alternate between adding half of the flour mix, then the dates with water, and then the remaining flour. Mix gently, and don’t overbeat
  • Pour into a pre-greased 8 inch or 9 inch pan and bake in a preheated 190 C oven for about 45 to 50 minutes
  • Let the cake sit in the pan and resist the temptation to sneak in a taste

To make the toffee sauce

  • In a saucepan, add 200 ml of cream, 1/5 cup (36 gm) demerara sugar, and 1 tablespoon of golden syrup. Add a pinch of salt, though I think I forgot to add some
  • Stir to melt sugar and bring to a boil. Simmer for five minutes while constantly stirring
  • Make holes in the cake using a fork or a toothpick. My baby niece helped by wielding a fork with more enthusiasm than was strictly required
  • Pour the toffee sauce over it. Cover with foil and bake for another 30 minutes at 150 c

I urge you to make this cake. It is simple enough for beginners and delicious enough for seasoned bakers. Trust me on this, you will find immense joy!

The Magic of Three

Today’s post is about 3. The number 3, my favorite single digit number, right after 7, 2, 9 and of course, 4 and 5. Remember there were three little piggies building houses that the bad wolf tried to tear down (of course, this was in the age when neither wolves nor vampires were lust-inducing handsome creatures). Good old Shakespeare had the same number cackling “Fire burn and cauldron bubble” which in turn, made Terry P. (bless his boots!) gave us Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg. And finally, in my third example, JKR chose three brothers and their hallows in keeping with so many other tales and myths. You get the picture, right? Everyone picks 3. In fact, if 3 were in school (or in a competitive game show), it would get picked first when people chose their teams. So all in all, a good number for me to blog about.

Banana Cake with Demerra Sugar and Chocolate Sprinkles
Banana Cake with Demerara Sugar and Chocolate Sprinkles

So the first topic of this post is “three wishes”, for which I need to tell you a little story. Once upon a time (last week), in a land far far away (in Chennai, my least favorite city in the whole world), I landed early in the morning, for a pre-lunch meeting. In a rare burst of romance, that cloudy Friday morning, I mused that I had never been to the famous city beach. Lo and behold, several hours later (after a delayed meeting, missing my flight back and crossing the city a couple of times) – I found myself at the beach, stuffing on mollig bhajjis (chilli poppers) and grilled corn. A long trudge back to the airport, and several hours spent in traffic, only resulted in a delayed flight. AND as icing on the cake, they ran out of my favorite sweet at the airport counter of Krishna sweets (if you have not tasted KS’s Mysore Pak, imagine this milky kind of cake in which you can taste every single of the trillion calories that every bite contains). I begged and pleaded the store counter guys to check again, for even one stray piece and YES, my second wish got granted in the form of a last 400 gm. By then I had thoroughly mixed up the nature of the wishes granted by the genie in the magic lamp (who did Disney musicals in his spare time) and the terrible Monkey’s Paw (spine chilling –decidedly-not Disney). The third wish though was given by the Good Genie. The nice flight check-in personnel, giving in to my abject begging and pleading (it is an art form!), put me on an earlier flight out. And thus it came to pass, that just as the clock struck midnight, I reached home, deliriously exhausted, but just in time for Wedding Anniversary #2.

You see, the husband has two siblings. And quite romantically or poetically, we celebrate our wedding anniversaries in a row. His elder brother went first (you know Papa Bear!) and he and his wife have theirs on the third day. We came second and our day is in the middle. And younger sister and brother-in- law (BIL makes the best pizza and ramen north of the tropics) married third and have their anniversary first. So it all adds up – why I put on so much weight in December. And why the husband is perpetually confused as to when our wedding anniversary is. Of course, I wanted to bake this year. And of course, my ‘airport tourism’ gave me no such opportunity. Instead, Mama Bear got us a gorgeous strawberry cake and the three couples blew out the candles together (with younger SIL and BIL, overseas, using technology and a bit of imagination).

Which brings me to the third topic (I know, I know, long post!) and the three bananas and the cake I did want to bake. I got around to it today, as the three bananas that I was saving specially for the cake, were going beyond over-ripe. And oh my Gawd! I suggest you run out right now and get yourself the ingredients to make this super-easy-and-even-more-delicious cake! You don’t need three or even one occasion to celebrate – in fact, you don’t have a moment to waste, not if you want to taste complete “awesomeness”.
Thanks again to David L. for a super-recipe. I made some minor modifications to his recipe (one for taste/health, a couple for mood, one because of laziness, and a couple due to ingredients and bakeware at hand). My version is  below – do check the original out.

Preheat oven to 180 c and butter and line a 9 inch pan. I used a round spring-form, but I do believe a square one or loaf tin will work better for an even rise. Sieve together 1 ½ cups (210g) of flour, 1 tsp baking powder, ½ tsp baking soda, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, ½ tsp salt. Add in ¾ cup (150g) sugar. I used demerara. You can use plain granulated white or brown sugar. Mash 2 over-ripe bananas and break in 2 eggs (brought to room temperature), 2 tbsp (30g) of melted butter, ½ cup yogurt/curd, and ½ tsp vanilla. Mix wet into dry and stir gently. Mix in 1/3 cup (60g) of chocolate chips and stir till just combined. Pour into the cake tin.

Then proceed to go wild. You can bake as-is or top with anything that catches your fancy. I used a combination of demerara and chocolate sprinkles which needed using up. I doubt if the sprinkles do more than look pretty, but that sugar topping!! The resultant crusty-crumb or crumby-crust is to die for! Bake for 40 minutes.

I had a quarter of this cake for lunch (some with strawberry jam!). In keeping with the blog theme, three reasons why I love this cake
1.  Very little washing up. If you have a weighing scale, it requires only 2 bowls, and 1 (½ tsp) spoon and one tiny bowl used for melting the butter. And 1 fork (aka banana masher) and the spatula. It is a party doing the dishes.
2.  Did you notice only 2 tbsp of butter? Did you?! Did you?!
3.  I still have one too-ripe-to-eat banana remaining. Banana granola bars may be in order.