Monday, October 31, 2011

Apple Almond Cake

Can't believe we are heading towards 2012 at break neck speed... 

Oct in India is a festive season - full of festivals - the biggest one being Diwali - like Christmas all the buildings and houses are decked with pretty lights, lanterns and flowers. I made rangoli with fresh flowers this time and the fragrance of that and the scented diyas (yes, you read right) kept the house looking pretty and smelling good!

After the week long break of feasting, crazy card nights, losing money and then making some, lights and lots of partying followed by my son's 3rd Birthday Party, tons of gooey chocolate cake and lots of Halloween Candy - I am so ready for a Breezer - oops I meant BREATHER!

I think we need to usher in November a bit slowly so we can savor December in all it's glory - the cold weather, the nice sunny days with a cold breeze, lots of Christmas festivity and holidays and bring in the New Year with a bang.

Delhi is flooded with apples currently and it's not exactly fall but I wanted a warm cinnamony something to keep me going as it gets cold early in the morning and late evenings... so you need something to tuck in with your coffee or tea.

I read a lot of great reviews about an apple cake from Dorie Greenspan's book and went about adapting it minimally to suit my needs. It was real easy to put together and I didn't even get my electric mixer out for this.

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup ground almonds
3/4 tsp baking powder
100 grams salted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup apples finely chopped

Center a rack on the oven and pre-heat it to 180C.

Butter a large loaf tin and prepare. 

Whisk together the dry ingredients. Melt the butter. Whisk together the eggs and then add sugar and whisk. Now I added a third of the dry ingredients and melted butter alternatively till completed incorporated. 

I then used a rubber spatula to fold in the apples.

I decorated the bottom of my loaf tin with slivers of apple and brown sugar and poured the batter over this. And baked it for about 40 minutes.

The pictures do no justice to this cake as it was moist and had a very nice nutty flavor from the almonds. It wasn't too apple or too sweet and just perfect to enjoy at anytime!

It made a hand snack for the the toddler to take to school too and the bonus that it had fruits and nuts had me beaming at my genius!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Will you walk into my parlour... to share some BROWNIES?

                                       Will you walk into my parlour?" said the Spider to the Fly,
                               'Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;

I remember these words from a poem we read long, long time ago in school... and though the spider is actually being mean here...I say these words in a nice way!

Sometimes you have a gazillion thoughts running through your head at one time and you are trying to fit them all into the 2 hours you have while the toddlers at school:

Running ten minutes late to the gym, the treadmills going to be gone

I need a pedicure

My son needs a new bottle for school ASAP

But we are out of veggies & fruits for the week - and it's only Wednesday?

What about a quick stop after groceries at that pretty shop to check out some baking equipment?

And the dry cleaning has to be picked up by Friday

And we all know what the priorities are... as we rush through errands before the toddler gets off from school.


Sometimes, your day is just long and you do not want to drag yourself out of bed - you just want to speak to your BFF over the phone, enjoy an extra cup of tea and eat another brownie.  

BFF's change over time and time flies... when I was younger (read teens) I was always at logger heads with my MOM and didn't want her anywhere near my parties / school work / classes. I felt she embarrassed me... and NOW I am always clambering for her attention and need her opinion on most things. She is the one person who will always be there to speak to you when you call, answer your calls back, give her opinions, fight with you and reason with you!

My mom doesn't live in the same city as me and neither does she like chocolate much but I am sure she would have had another cup of tea and a brownie with me if I had insisted... that's what BFF's are for!

These are just a box brownie mix with extra chocolate chips thrown in for good measure :) - hope they warm up your tea-time like they do for me!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Banana Chocolate Cupcakes - Secret Recipe Club

What's it about playschool and toddlers? A cold or cough or "a new bug" every 3 weeks, early mornings chases around the house with my son in his PJs and I following him with his brush, school bags being left behind in the elevator... I barely got time to recover from the sleepless nights in April when playschool started and by the time I had a chance to put my head up, we were already in October!

The year has not ended yet, but has been very difficult for my family with a lot of close members not being around anymore and two going in a very sudden way leaving us surprised at how short life can be.

There has been a sudden awakening around me to appreciate life more and become a better person. Yes, I am still snappy at that time of the month; No, I haven't suddenly become Ms Goody-Two-Shoes; I still lose my cool at small things when I having a bad day - BUT I have started to sit up and look at the simple pleasures life has to offer so it doesn't race you by.

Walking hand in hand with your little one picking up flowers, picking up your toddler from school with a treat (chocolate cupcake), getting up early in the morning to enjoy your morning cuppa in a quiet house before everyone is up or just enjoying some quiet sit-down time with your spouse away from the maddening social commitments.. this list can just go on and on.

And, life I realized is as simple as you make it to be...So go on and do something you really want to but haven't been able to do for a while 'coz of your super crazy schedule!

When I chose this recipe from, I wanted something kid friendly that my son could bake with me 'coz he thinks he is my lil helper and likes to whisk away in the bowl while I add the ingredients. I was not going to be a MANIAC and look for perfection but these came out pretty perfect if I may say so!

The Secret Recipe Club is the brainchild of  Amanda Formaro where you get assigned to a secret blog and get to cook from it! Excited... you can learn more about it from the links provided! A great initiative to get to know more bloggers and try out new recipes!

The original recipe is here - - I tweaked it a bit here and there depending on what I had on hand!

100 grams salted butter
1 cup flour ( About 3/4 all purpose and 1/4 millet flour and 2 tablespoon cocoa powder)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
2 very ripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla

Makes 6 cupcakes and takes about 30 minutes from start to finish. A great way to get your child involved.

I sat my kid down in the middle of the kitchen on a splat mat with a big bowl and whisk - in went the bananas - mash, mash, mash. Then went in the melted butter and a lot of vigorous whisking. Then went in the sugar - I had to help here a bit so that the mixture was a bit creamy and the sugar was dissolved. The eggs and vanilla were broken and whisked by me in a separate bowl and then whisked into the bowl by the toddler. The flour all in one heap, into the bowl and all mixed together.

WHAT A FORGIVING RECIPE! The toddler opted for whisking after all the effort and I went back to lining the muffin tin and put the cupcakes in for 25 minutes in a 170C preheated oven.

We just used a icing sugar and warm water to make a paste, put it in a baggy and most of what you see is what my son did with me holding his hand... life is all about having fun! Enjoy with your loved ones with a tall glass of milk or hide it in the snack box for a warm hug when they get back from school!