Homework #14 – Biscuit de Savoie

The biscuit de Savoie is a tasty, light and fluffy sponge cake. The cake originated in the French region of Savoy (the name translates literally to “Savoy biscuit”) in the 18th century. It is important to bear in mind that the recipe for this biscuit contains no leavening agents. This means that the batter must be thoroughly beaten in order to infuse the cake with air, creating the light and airy texture that defines this cake.

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Biscuit de Savoie

Homework #14 - Biscuit de Savoie
 
Ingredients
  • Flour - 60 gms
  • Cornstarch - 60 gms
  • Caster Sugar - 150 gms
  • Eggs - 4 (separated)
  • Powdered sugar for dusting
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius
  2. Butter and flour a large brioche mold
  3. Sift the flour and cornstarch together into a bowl and set aside.
  4. Make a meringue in a separate bowl. Beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Add the sugar and beat until stiff and glossy.
  5. Using your spatula, fold some of the meringue into the reserved egg yolks until incorporated. Fold this mixture into remaining meringue. Fold the dry ingredients into the meringue mixture.
  6. Fill the prepared brioche mold. Bake until the biscuit springs back when touched and the tip of a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  7. Remove the biscuit from the oven and allow it to cool slightly before gently unmolding onto a wire rack. Serve dusted with powdered sugar.

 

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Homework #13 – Galette De Rois

Starting late December, pastry shops in Paris start filling up with Galettes des rois or King’s Cake to celebrate the festive Epiphany on January 6th. Since they are so good they are pretty much around till the end of January. At School at LCB Paris, we learnt to make these, also known as Pithiviers named after a town in the south of Paris.

King’s Cakes in France usually are layers of puff pastry filled with almond cream, it’s so incredibly tasty you just can’t stop eating it knowing fully well what is it doing to your waistline. You can have all kinds of fillings but I love the creme amandes. The tradition is to add a little figurine inside and who ever gets it on cutting gets to be the king.

First rule – With puff pastry it’s important to keep it well-chilled and work very quickly. Keep the second piece in the refrigerator until after you’ve rolled out the first. Make sure to seal the edges really well to avoid the filling leaking out. Snap the two ends together with your fingers and then poke a few holes at the top to enable the steam to escape as it’s baking.

Galette de rois

Galette de rois

Galette De Rois
 
Ingredients
  • Almond Filling
  • 100 gms almond flour
  • 100 gms sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 100 gms butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons rum
  • Some almond extract
  • 2 large 9x9 inches of puff pastry sheets
  • Glaze
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon milk
Instructions
  1. To make the almond filling, in a medium bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine almond flour, sugar and butter.
  2. Add eggs, rum and almond extract .
  3. Take one pastry sheet and roll it into a circle. Then use any round circumference - plate/bottom of a springform pan to get an exact circle. Roll one piece of puff pastry into a circle about 9½-inches (23cm) round. Place the dough on the baking sheet.
  4. Cover it with a sheet of parchment paper or plastic film, then roll the other piece of dough into a circle, trim it, and freeze the dough for thirty minutes.
  5. Remove the dough and almond filling from the refrigerator. Take one circle of the dough pastry out of the refrigerator. Spread the almond filling over the center of the dough leaving 1 inch around the edges. Placate figurine or the prize 🙂
  6. Brush water around the edges and then the other circle of dough on top of the galette and press down to seal the edges
  7. Preheat the oven at 180ºC. Using a fork press down the edges further to create a design.
  8. Stir together the egg yolk with the milk and brush it evenly over the top.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes or until the galette is browned on top and up the sides. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

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Homework # 12 – Ginger Bread – Christmas Special -All is well that ends well!

Another year is just slipping by. Before you know it it’s Christmas. That time of the year when you have the chance to change your attitude and shrug away the less exciting bits of the year. Well, Almost. I need the change. And as I put up my tree in the studio, I decide to make something that will fill the air with Christmas spices and ginger and all things nice – Ginger Bread. I can’t think of a better way to bring in the Christmas Spirit. I want to make it everyday through this season. Here’s a recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson, but since I don’t like my bread too sticky it’s more my version of a cake which I can dunk in my tea.

Eat it as soon as it’s out of the oven. And watch how the year gone suddenly seems to be ending on a high.
My Ginger bread squares !

My Ginger bread square

Ginger Bread
Recipe type: Bake
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 250 gms flour
  • 150 gms butter
  • 100 gms honey
  • 100 gms golden syrup
  • 100 gms brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp dried ginger powder
  • 1 tsp 5 spice powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp soda mixed in 30 ml warm water
  • 200 ml milk
  • 2 eggs
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degree C
  2. Melt the butter, sugar, honey and the golden syrup along with all the spices and ginger. Don't bring this to a boil just enough on slow heat till its all a homogenous mixture
  3. Take it off the heat and keep aside till it cools .
  4. Add the milk, eggs and the dissolved soda
  5. Add the flour into the wet mixture and use your beater if needed just for 30 seconds till it comes together. Don't overheat this.
  6. Pour into the square mold lined with paper and bake for 45-50 mins
  7. Transfer to a cooling rack and cut into slices of your choice and dunk it in some tea and feel the spirit of Christmas around the corner

 

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Le Cordon Bleu, Paris

This ideally should have been my first blog post because It’s an experience that I cherish very dearly. It’s one of those things that gave me so much happiness from the inside. That I chose to learn to bake at one of the best pastry schools in the world and that school was in Paris was just a huge added incentive.

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My class at Le Cordon Bleu Paris

I chose the intensive course because a longer break than that from home and my family was not entirely possible. And man, when they say it’s intensive it really is that. I used to be at school at 8.00 am sharp to make sure that i made it in time to the lockers to change into the uniform and make it to the class.

I loved every day of school. When you do things you love it’s not tedious and the long hours don’t matter. Some days I finished class at 8.45 pm and dragged myself back home and since Paris in the summer is just so beautiful and bustling, even the walk back home (on the days that i didn’t take the metro ) wasn’t too tedious.

The chefs were hard on us, img_3878hard when we didn’t listen, hard when we were tardy, hard when our table tops were dirty, hard when we injured ourselves (pay attention they would say), hard when we thought we had beaten the Chantilly enough and they said don’t stop  not ready yet…. they were finicky about perfection. And that’s what makes this school so great. They were meticulous and strict and wanted each of us to strive for the best result.

They spoke French, but we always had a superb interpreter and that never really came in the way. It’s not about the best recipes a school like LCB offers, it’s the techniques that you learn – the best way to work on puff pastry or pate choux or what it takes to make those perfect meringues. The exam was taken as seriously as any exam would, both the practicals (I made the classic French apple tart that’s on my menu now) and the theory.The school now has a new campus but the old one where i studied was surprisingly small. I always imagined it to be large and far more bustling but it was small and so were the demonstration and the theory class rooms. But, that’s what made it warm and intimate and most students whether from pastry or cuisine got to know each other. I made some good friends from all over the world and it’s so nice to see each of them further their baking careers.

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Celebrate Bandra

I really love what this sweet cultural festival does to Bandra each year. I have been living around the promenade for close to two decades now and so much has changed, but it’s so good to see how the residents around Bandra work together making it one of the better suburbs to live in. And, while Carter Road sees a lot of action through the year, I think Celebrate Bandra, now in it’s 8th year, is something I look forward to. I have been lucky to be invited by the fine folks at Mcubed Library (if you haven’t got your kids enrolled there, you should. Check them out – http://mcubedlibrary.com) for the past few years to conduct baking workshops with the kids as part of the festival.

This year the entire theme was understanding mathematics in everyday life and so it was at my baking class. We made two kinds of cakes – one ‘without any proportions’ and one following a recipe. Such fun!

Of course, when we baked without proportions the kids added half a cup of baking powder and half a litre of milk and the cake was an utter disaster. But, then we made these perfect vanilla cupcakes with some delicious butter cream icing following a recipe and voila! they turned out perfect driving home the point of how important measurements are when it comes to baking and how every ingredient plays its part in making a yummy cake.

i love the happy faces and the zillion questions and I look forward to more and more of these every year.

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Homework #11 – Black Sesame Carrot Cake

I am obsessed with seeds of all kinds and while I love pumpkin and chia, there is something so exotic and oriental (oriental because I have plenty of memories of sesame encrusted sushi in Japan when I went there a decade ago and then some more from the stuff that Sadaharu Aoki a master Pattisier I encountered in Paris) about sesame seeds that I have been scooping for recipes to work with them. I recently came across something on one of the blogs I follow and I instantly knew that this is what I wanted my weekend baking to be.

So, here is a superb carrot cake recipe generously topped with sesame seeds. Also, carrots and sesame together are a bundle of health – sesame is super rich in antioxidants and vitamins and carrots are one of the biggest sources of Vitamin A. So let’s eat more cake!

Note: Be generous with the amount of sesame seeds you put on top of this loaf, the more the merrier. Let these tiny happy seeds fall all over the plate as u pull it out of the loaf tin and cut the cake; it’s great fun picking them off the plate later.

Black Sesame Carrot Cake
Recipe type: Bake
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: Half kg loaf
 
Ingredients
  • 100 gms flour
  • 2 large carrots grated (about 100 gms)
  • 2 eggs
  • 60 ml oil (use a good quality cooking oil please)
  • A fistful of chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp black sesame seeds, plus more as needed
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 90 gms brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C.
  2. Brush the inside surfaces of your mould with butter and dust it with flour.
  3. Mix all the dry ingredients - flour, baking powder, and cinnamon.
  4. In another bowl take oil and brown sugar and beat them well. Add the eggs and beat until it's light, add vanilla.
  5. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture followed by carrots, and finally the oil.
  6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with sesame seeds. You want it to be completely covered in seeds.
  7. Bake for 45 mins or until the cake tester comes out clean.

 

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Homework #10 – Cinnabons

It’s my birthday, yay! And I woke up not wanting to bake myself a cake. Any baker buddies listening? But it was such a crisp morning that I couldn’t help but go back into my studio. Somebody gifted me a whole heap of cinnamon from Srilanka which was lying around in the kitchen. The smell of cinnamon and the sound of Simon and Garfunkel filled my morning and my head started spinning with happiness. What a perfect way to start a birthday morning!

And that’s that. I instantly knew that I had to do something with cinnamon and there it was, a deep craving for Cinnabons. I had found my birthday purpose.

Cinnabons or Cinnamon Pull Aparts are so easy to make and so delicious to be had, pretty much as soon as they’re out of the oven, with a cup of coffee. However, what they need is a little patience, as it’s always needed with any kind of work with yeast.
A few hours of watching the dough rise gives me such a thrill.

So here’s what you need to spread some warmth 🙂

Cinnabons
Recipe type: Bake
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 Rolls
 
Ingredients
  • 200 gms warm whole milk
  • 400 gms all purpose flour
  • 50 gms sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 60 ml cooking oil
  • 5 gms dry yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Some egg for the egg wash unless we are drizzling it with some cream cheese icing !
  • The filling
  • 50 gms butter
  • 1½ tbsp Cinnamon
  • 100 gms brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Take yeast in a bowl and pour over warm milk. let is rest for 5-8 minutes . It may or may not froth. Don't panic. Just make sure your yeast if of good quality. I use Prime yeast.
  2. Take flour, sugar, salt, oil in another bowl and pour the yeast mix a little at a time. Keep mixing as you add the yeast. You don't need a blender just keep stirring with a spatula.
  3. If your mixing bowl is large enough you could knead in the bowl itself, else transfer all the ingredients onto a table top and knead for a few minutes. Grease a bowl, place the rolled up dough in it and cover with a damp cloth and keep aside. Be patient.
  4. In about 2 hours the dough should double up. Knead it once more and flour the table top to roll out the dough into a rectangle.
  5. Using a pastry brush spread the butter across the rolled dough. Sprinkle cinnamon and all the brown sugar leaving about half and inch towards one end . If you like raisins then black raisins are lovely with this and u could add them here.
  6. Roll the rectangle gently into a log making sure the the sugar and the raisins don't fall out. Add some egg wash to the end which is not sprinkled with sugar and stick it such that it holds the log together.
  7. Using a sharp knife cut the log into slices and place them in a buttered rectangle tin.
  8. Cover with cling film and keep aside for a little less than an hour.
  9. Bake for 35 minutes at 165 degree Celcius in a pre-heated oven.

Rolled Dough

Rolled Dough

Sliced Log

Sliced Log

Cinnabons

Cinnabons

While it’s cooling, make some coffee, put on your favourite music and find your comfortable spot. Eat on! Happy birthday to me.

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Homework #9 – Coconut, Ginger and Banana Loaf

For as long as I could remember, I have not liked coconut in anything sweet. The only chocolate I never enjoyed was Bounty. How sad that it took me so long to discover how delicious and healthy this most easily available nut is. I started consuming EV coconut oil in things once the whole world started proclaiming its many advantages. And well, it grew on me.

I experimented with coconut in my baking and now I simply love it. I can create a whole new menu with things made from coconut. Tried coconut sugar ? It’s beautiful!

This is a beautiful cake and makes for a perfect tea time treat.

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Coconut, Ginger and Banana Loaf
Recipe type: Bake
Cuisine: Cakes
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 loaf
 
Ingredients
  • 3 eggs
  • 150 gms coconut sugar
  • 100 gms plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 75 gms melted butter
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger or as per taste
  • 1 pod of vanilla
  • 1 coconut, cut in half and shredded (150 g)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees.
  2. In a bowl beat the eggs and the coconut sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla pod.
  3. Fold in flour and baking powder.
  4. Add the melted butter.
  5. Mash the bananas with a fork and fold them into the cake batter together with coconut and ginger.
  6. Pour the batter into a cake loaf tin lined with parchment paper. Bake in the oven at 170 degrees Celsius for about 50 minutes. Use a cake tester to see if done .
  7. Tip - Taste the cake batter and if u think the ginger isn't strong enough, you could add half a tsp of dried ginger powder.