Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mini Chocolate Chiffon Celebration Cake

Every gal needs a go to chocolate cake recipe. This recipe is easy, low fat and you can have a lot of fun decorating the individual little cakes with your kids. I baked this cake in a sheet , 12 inches by 8 inches and about an inch and a half deep.
Once the cake cooled down, I then used round biscuit cutters to cut out pieces in three different circles sizes. For a good finish, ideally referigerate the cake for about 4 hours before cutting the circles out.

One sheet will yield about 5 maybe six three layered small tiered cake like in the photograph above. The total height of the the little tiered cake is about three inches. You will need to purchase sprinkles( little round sugar balls of different colors) usually available in the baking aisle. Spread some nutella on the sides of the cake round very carefully. Roll the edge of the cake round in the sprinkles and assemble your mini cake. Top with a Strawberry whopper candy or M&Ms.A fun cake for kids and the kid in us!

Recipe from
Perfect Cakes by Nick Malgieri

Cake Batter:

13/4 cup cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup Cocoa ( Preferably Dutch Process)
3/4 cup boiling water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
6 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup Egg whites( from 7 or 8 large eggs)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice

Before you start
A. Preheat the oven
B. Line a pan bottom with wax paper and spray only the bottom with some oil spray.

1. Sift and mix together the dry ingredients.
2. Add the boiling water to the cocoa. Mix well. Once the cocoa cools to room temperature, add to the other wet ingredients and mix well.
3. Beat the egg whites with salt and lemon juice until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually and beat the egg whites to stiff peaks
4. Add the wet ingredients( egg yolks, oil, vanilla, cocoa) to the dry and mix thoroughly with the egg beater
5. Fold in the batter gently into the egg whites.
6. Bake for about 30-50 minutes, depending on the size of your pan. Test with a toothpick after half an hour to see if it is done.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Black Walnut Chiffon Cake

I absolutely adore Chiffon cakes. They are light, they donot have any butter and are the easiest cakes to make. They have a simple dump everything into a bowl, add egg whites and bake kind of recipe structure which is great when you want a home baked cake but donot want to fuss with too many details.

Making buttercream etc is a lot of effort that I donot usually put into everyday cakes. I instead used nutella- a chocolate hazelnut spread easily found in the supermarket and crushed walnuts to dress up this simple yet delicious cake.

This recipe makes two 9" cakes. I then used a biscuit cutter to cut out individual circles of cake, stacked two layers up using nutella as glue and then decorated the outside with walnut bits for a strong walnut taste.

Recipe from
The Good Cook :Cakes- By Time Life Books

List 1

1 cup black walnuts , finely ground
21/4 cups cake flour, sifted
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
5 egg yolks
3/4 cup cold water
2 tsp vanilla extract

List 2:
8 egg whites, stiffly beaten with a tsp of lemon juice

Sift together the ground black walnuts, the flour, the white sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in the brown sugar. Add the rest of the wet ingredients -oil, egg yolks, water and vanilla extract. Beat the btter until very smooth.

Gradually pour the batter into the stiffly beaten egg whites, folding the batter into the whites until just blended.

Pour the batter into two buttered and floured layer cake pans that have been lined with wax or parchment paper.

Bake for 45 minutes in a preheated 325 F oven. Then increase the heat to 350 F and bake for ten minutes more or until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Remember to adjust times if you are using a different shaped pan.

Spread nutella on the cake slices and decorate with powdered walnut pieces.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Book Review: In Defense of Food

I seem to have better luck publishing to Taste of India from my Cakeworks blog, hence this trial post of an article from my regular blog at Sometime foodie.

During my grad school days in the US I travelled via bus to and from my University. On the bus, I was struck by how many poor people, who could not even afford their own car- were huge, overweight and obese. I was puzzled. In India being fat and obese is a mark of prosperity and wealth. If you think about the poor in the US, the reasons are clearer - Coke 1.89 litre is cheaper than water. Fast food burgers are the cheapest food and the most fattening. It is a very disturbing that it takes a lot more money and effort to buy vegetables, or meat and make healthy meals at home. It takes a lot more money to afford a gym. Being thin , slim in the US therefore, is a sign of being well off.

In 'In Defense of Food', Michael Pollan calls this phenomenon, "being overfed and undernourished". Why is this happening and what can we do about it? These are the primary questions raised and answered by Michael Pollan in 'In defense of food'. I am a longtime fan of Michael Pollan, and his many articles on food in the New York Times and via his books - two of my favorite works are Botany of Desire and Second Nature.

Michael Pollan begins with outlining the rise of "Industrial Agriculture" in the US, and its devilish spawn- the processed food industry. He is very entertaining and lucid as he reveals the true extent of their lobbying and marketing power. The extent of their manipulation of government and media is frankly frightening.

These might sound like big words, but everyday we, you and me; hear & see & read news reports saying that X ingredient is good for your health and then within six months we read that no, no actually X ingredient is bad for your health. In short, the scientists really donot know.

This is a direct result of Food Companies "sponsoring" research in food. Yesterday Oat bran was in fashion, today it is Omega 3. I guess they will put Omega 3 in your french fries too tomorrow- does that actually make your french fries healthier?

He names this manner of studying food, one ingredient at a time, nutritionism.He points out that this food fashion buisness does not really lead to any benefits in the long run and then goes on to suggest some really practical rules for all eaters leading to a healthy life and happy stomach.

Personally, i think this book is a MUST read for every foodie who wants the best for their family. Unless we realise how we are being manipulated by the food industry, in every meal and every snack - we cannot resist or more importantly - fight back.