Saturday, April 12, 2014

Apricot Couronne

There were sun dried apricots at home that no one wanted to eat.  And so I searched for recipes with apricots and it led me to Paul Hollywood's Apricot Couronne.  Having watched The Great British Bake Off , he is a big favourite of mine and have tried his Eight strand plaited loaf earlier on.

 The recipe seemed interesting.  I thought I had all the ingredients.  I should have checked. I normally do that, but this time I had no doubts.  I did not do my mise-en-place and started off very enthusiastically.  Mixed the dough and then discovered that I did not have the walnuts ! I was short on the apricots too. It was too late, and so I continued by just substituting it with what I thought was right.  I also should have checked some other sites on the procedure. Well, all in all - I did not stick to the original recipe, but the final product was good !

Couronne in Frech refers to the crown.  And this loaf is shaped like a crown.  It also has a lovely filling.

Reproducing the recipe as it appears on BBC Food Recipes and the changes I made.

Ingredients:For the dough
  • Strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting - 250gms
  • Salt 5gms
  • Instant yeast -7gms
  •  Unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing - 50g ( without realising I used salted butter ! )
  •  milk 105ml 
  • Egg - 1 slightly beaten
For the filling
  • Unsalted butter, softened - 90gms
  • Light muscovado sugar - 70g ( Used demerara sugar)
  • Ready-to-eat dried apricots, chopped and soaked in orange juice - 120gms ( I had about 100 gms)
  •  Plain flour - 35gms
  • Raisins - 60gms
  • Chopped walnuts - 65gms ( I used almonds - I ran out of walnuts !)
  • Orange  zest only - 1 
To finish
  • Apricot jam - 50 gms ( I omitted this )
  • Icing sugar 200gms
  • Flaked almonds - 25gms Did not do this either


  1. Place flour into a large mixing bowl and add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the butter, milk and egg and mix to combine, using your hands. Continue to mix until you’ve picked up all the flour from the sides of the bowl. Use the dough to clean the inside of the bowl and keep going until you have a soft dough.
  2. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and begin to knead. Keep kneading for 10-12 minutes. Work through the initial wet stage until the dough starts to form a soft, smooth skin.
  3. When the dough feels smooth and silky, put it into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave to rise for one hour, or until doubled in size.
  4. While the dough is rising, make the filling. Beat the butter and muscovado sugar together until smooth. Drain the apricots and add to the butter mixture along with the flour, raisins, walnuts and orange zest. Mix to combine.
  5. Line a baking tray with baking parchment or silicone paper.
  6. Turn the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface. Taking care not to knock the air out of it, roll out the dough into a rectangle, approximately 33x25cm/13x10in. Turn the dough 90 degrees if necessary, so you have a long edge facing you. Spread the apricot mixture evenly over the dough. Roll up the dough tightly (like a Swiss roll). Roll it slightly to seal, then cut it in half lengthways (you can leave one end joined to help you twist the dough and form the circular crown).
  7. Twist the two dough lengths together to make a rope, then join the ends of the rope to form a circular ‘crown’. Transfer to the baking tray. ( What you need to do is actually like braiding with the two cut portions )
  8. Put the tray inside a clean plastic bag and leave to prove for 30-45mins, or until the dough springs back quickly if you prod it lightly with your finger. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
  9. Bake the couronne for 25-35 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown. Set aside to cool on a wire rack.
  10. Gently heat the apricot jam with a splash of water, then sieve it and brush it over the warm loaf to glaze. Mix the icing sugar with enough water to make a thin icing, drizzle over the loaf and sprinkle with the flaked almonds. Leave to cool before serving ( I did not do the jam glaze.  Only the drizzle of icing sugar.  No almonds either )
                                         ( I will replace this picture once I make it again)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Spiced Carrot and Lentil Soup

S made this wholesome soup.  It was delicious.  And we had homemade focaccia ( the Hairy Bikers recipe) and it was a complete meal.

The soup is from BBC Food Recipes.  Here goes -

Ingredients: ( Serves 4)

Cumin seeds ( jeera) - 2 tsp
Chili flakes - to taste
Olive oil - 2 tbsp ( any other refined oil will do too)
Carrot - 6 - coarsely grated
Split red lentils ( Masoor dal) 140 gms
Vegetable stock - 1 litre - or use a ready to use cube
Milk - 125 ml
Yogurt to garnish or if you don't mind the extra calories - cream works even better)
Salt to taste and pepper too

Heat a  pan and dry roast the cumin and chili flakes
( the jeera jumps around in the pan is when you stop)
Keep aside half the roasted cumin
Add oil, carrot, lentil, stock and milk
Bring to boil
Simmer till the lentils are cooked

Whiz with a stick blender or any blender will do - till smooth
Season to taste - you can also add some pepper
Garnish with yogurt or cream
And top with the roasted cumin that was kept aside

Serve with any kind of bread.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Sticky Date Pudding with Toffee Sauce

A Donna Hay's Recipe - very nice, very simple.  I used dates that were mildly sweet and the topping with toffee sauce was perfect with the pudding.

Ingredients: ( Serves 6 )

Chopped Pitted Dates - 210 gms
Boiling Water - 250 ml - 1 cup
Soda bi carb (baking soda) - 1 teaspoon
Butter (chopped) - 100 gms
Brown sugar - 135 gms
Eggs - 2 nos
Self Raising Flour - 150 gms

Toffee Sauce ( I made just a third of this so make accordingly)
Butter - chopped - 150 gms
Single pouring cream - 250 ml
Brown sugar - 265 gms

Double cream - if you wish to put a dollop on the pudding

Place pitted dates, water and soda bicarb in a bowl - allow to stand for 5 minutes
I processed it to make an even mixture
Add butter and sugar and process till well combined

Now add eggs and flour and mix till just combined

Preheat the oven to 180C
Grease and line a 26cm x 16 cm square tin with non stick baking paper

Pour in the tin
Bake for 30-35 minutes till cooked - test with a skewer

Cool in tin for 10 minutes.
Cut in squares.

While it is cooling -  make the toffee sauce
Place butter, cream, sugar in saucepan over medium heat
Still till butter has melted
Bring to boil, cook for 5 minutes or till it thickens slightly.
Spoon over the squares
Put a dollop of cream (optional ) but it is really tasty when you do

* ( the above pic is when the toffee sauce has cooled down.  A few seconds in the microwave and the toffee sauce melts a bit... so have it the way you want it .. )

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Konkani Cuisine - Valval

Another of R mai's recipes.   Almost like the Kerala Stew.  A variety of vegetables in coconut milk and lightly seasoned.  Traditionally had with rice, but here I had it with Rava Dosa and I must tell you it was a great combination.  I just think, Valval can be had with anything you fancy.  Try it

( No specific measurements )

Veggies like - potato, sweet potato, pumpkin white or yellow, kovai, tender cashew, alsanda beans, ridge gourd......
Cut into even pieces lengthwise 
Cook till just tender in some water adding salt and a couple of slit green chilies

Either make fresh coconut milk by grinding coconut and water and extracting the milk or use ready to use - like I did ( makes life simpler)

Add this to the cooked veggies.
( If you find the mixture too watery you can thicken it any flour)

Season with mustard, cumin seeds and curry leaves.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Cinnamon-Raisin Bread

At the onset I must confess this was meant to be a Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread, but the swirls were just so faint that I dropped it (the swirl) from the title :-)   The  original recipe modified slightly is from The Kitchn.  I wonder where I went wrong with the swirls, since I religiously followed the recipe.  Perhaps it had to do with the rolling. PS - the swirls were there at the centre of the loaf, last picture added today 30 March , the swirls are more prominent when toasted - But that it not going to stop me from making this bread again 'cos it is a good tasting loaf of bread.

How to prepare a loaf tin -
Grease the tin bottom and sides with a thin coating of a flavourless oil - use a kitchen paper to ensure a thin film of oil.  Sprinkle the flour that is being used for the bread evenly all over the tin.  Then tap and tilt the tin to remove excess flour.   Put in the prepared dough to bake and when done, tilt the tin and the loaf will pop out easily 

Ingredients: for one loaf
Raisins - 1/2 cup
Warm water - 1/2 cup
Active Dry Yeast - 7 gms
Milk - whole or skim - 1/2 cup
Unsalted melted butter - 1/8 cup - 1 oz
Salt - 1 tsp
All purpose flour ( I used white bread flour) - 2 3/4 cup

Filling -
Granulated white sugar - 1/2 cup
Cinnamon powder - 3/4 tbsp

Egg wash - 1 large egg beaten with 2 tsp warm water

Plump the raisins for about 10 minutes in hot water.  Drain and set aside

Take a bowl add the warm water - (you can use the water that you soaked the raisins in, just make sure that it is not hot - but needs to be warm)
Sprinkle yeast over the top.  Give it a few minutes and then stir gently to dissolve the yeast in the water
Add in the milk ( warm), melted butter and salt into the water.
Followed by the flour and stir to form a shaggy dough.
Knead in mixer or by hand as I did for about 8-10 minutes to form a smooth but slightly tacky dough.
If it is sticky half way through the kneading ( as it states in the original recipe - sticky as in bubble gum) - add a little more flour
The dough is ready when it forms a ball without sagging and springs back when poked

Mix the raisins in a bit of flour to absorb the moisture and add these to the dough and knead till they are evenly distributed.
If kneading by hand, turn dough onto a work surface, make into an oval, sprinkle half the raisins over the top and fold.  Pat into an oval again and add the remaining and fold again.  Knead for a few minutes.

Return dough to the bowl.  Cover and keep in a warm place and allow to rise till it has doubled in bulk, which may take about an hour.

Meanwhile prepare the filling by combining the sugar and the cinnamon powder.

Combine the egg and water in a small bowl.  This is optional but helps in ensuring that when you roll the loaf later it binds it together and the layers do not separate when you slice the bread.

After the dough has doubled, roll it on a counter.  It should be slightly less wide than the baking pan and rolled as long as possible.  The thinner the better.  If the dough shrinks back, rest it for a few minutes.

Brush the entire surface of the dough with egg wash leaving about two inches clear at the top.  Sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar.  Starting at the end towards you, roll up the dough.  At the top, pinch the seam closed. Transfer to the prepared loaf tin seam side down

Let the loaf rise until mounded over the top of the pan ( takes about half hour to 40 mins)

Halfway, preheat the oven to 190C.
Brush the top of the loaf with egg wash and bake for about 40-45 mins until golden brown and gives a hollow sound when tapped.

Remove loaf from pan and allow to cool completely ( can take a couple of hours) before you slice it

Toast and have it with a pat of butter.  Enjoy !

The swirls -

Monday, March 24, 2014

Coffee & Walnut Cake

This was a super cake that S made... and she made it seem so effortless.   I could have eaten the whole cake by myself !  A hint of coffee, crunch of walnut ....delicious.  While this sandwich cake needed to be baked in two separate cake tins, S made it in one tin and then sliced it into halves and put the frosting.

( Recipe from Traditonal Family Cakes - Book )

Serves 8

Unsalted butter - 175 gms plus extra for greasing
Light muscovado sugar - 175 gms ( used demerara sugar)
Eggs - 3 large beaten
Strong black coffee - 3 tbsp
Self raising flour - 175 gms
Baking powder - 1 1/2 tsp
Walnut pieces - 115 gms
Walnut halves to decorate -f ew

Frosting - ( used about 2/3 recipe of frosting)
Unsalted butter - 115 gms
Icing sugar - 200 gms
Strong coffee - 1 tbsp
Vanilla extract - 1.2 tsp

Grease and line tow 8" cake tins or like S did - one tin only

Beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
Gradually add the eggs beating well after each addition
Beat in the coffee

Preheat the oven 180 C

Sift the flour and baking powder into mixture
Fold in lightly and evenly with a metal spoon
Fold in walnut pieces
Divide mixture into two tins ( if you are using two tins)

Smooth the services
Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 mins if using two tins or it may be close to 40 mins for a single tin
Bake till golden brown and springy to touch

Turn on to rack to cool

For the frosting - beat together the butter, icing sugar, coffee and vanilla extract, mixing until smooth and creamy

Once the cake has cooled use half of frosting mixture to sandwich cakes together ( or in between), spread the remaining on top of cake and swirl with palette knife.

Decorate with walnut halves.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Konkani Cuisine - Avanas Ambe Sasam

My aunt R mai makes this the best.  I requested her to make it for me keeping a watchful eye on the ingredients.  It may seem a strange dish - avanas (pineapple) ambo ( mango) in a slightly spicy coconut gravy, but once you taste it, you will want more.  Sasam refers to mustard and that is another ingredient that is part of the coconut masala.

Ingredients (  approximate )
Pineapple cubes of about 2 " size - 1 cup
Ripe Mango cubes - 2 cups
( You can add more or less of either of the fruits as per taste)
Coconut - grated - 1/2 large
Jaggery - 75 gms - depending on the sweetness or sourness of the pineapple
Red chilies - 1-2 - fry in little oil
Salt - a large pinch
Raw mustard - 1/2 tsp
Grapes - few (optional)

Cook the pineapple cubes with jaggery and salt in a little water till just tender - do not get them mushy
Cool thoroughly
Grind coconut and red chiles with a little water
After you grind to a fine paste add the raw mustard and grind once again
Add to the cooled pineapple.
Add the mango pieces and grapes

Serve chilled.

It is sweet/spicy and tangy all in one.

Note - Use ripe fruits for best results.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Dutch Apple Pancakes

It's nice when you search for a recipe with ingredients at hand and actually come up with a wonderful dish .  S had told me the Pancake Day was coming up, but it went by with none being made.  Today, there were  these lovely apples sitting in the fridge . So I thought why not a pancake with apples if there was one?  A search online and I liked what I saw on the Channel 4 website.  Here it is.  Make it, especially if you are an apple pie fan... it was truly delicious.

Tip - Make sure you do not cook the apples totally, it will result in a mush, keep a little bite on them so that there is a contrast in texture with the soft pancake.

( Makes two decent sized pancakes - not the small ones )

Unsalted butter - 50 gms
Apple - 1 large - peeled, cored, quartered and each wedge to be cut to 1/2 cm slices
Apple Brandy - 2 tbsp ( I skipped this )
Eggs - 2
Milk - 120 ml
Plain flour - 90 gms ( sifted)
Caster Sugar - 3 tbsp ( I used brown sugar)
Melted butter - 2 tbsp + a little more for the pan
Cream - 2 tbsp

Caster sugar - 100 gms
Ground cinnamon - 2 tbsp
Ground cloves - 1/2 tsp ( optional - I did not add)

Put butter in a pan and place over a medium heat.
Once the butter has melted, add the apple pieces and cook for 3–4 minutes until they begin to soften. *
and then transfer half the apple mixture to a bowl and set aside.

Prepare the flavoured sugar -  mix the caster sugar, cinnamon and cloves in a small bowl.

Make the batter - 
Break the eggs into a large bowl. Add the milk, flour, sugar and melted butter. Whisk to combine.

Ladle half the batter over the apple mixture in the pan and cook until the bottom of the pancake has set. Then flip/turn the pancake over and cook for a further minute on the other side. 

Slide the cooked pancake out on to a plate and keep warm. - repeat with the other portion of the apples and remaining batter

To serve -
Place each pancake on a serving plate, sprinkle with the flavoured sugar and serve with a dollop of cream

Add the brandy at this stage ( if you are using it ) to the pan and carefully set it alight to flame the apples. Let the flames go out of their own accord 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Lemon Drizzle Cake

This is a nice teatime cake.  Kind of a moist sponge with a tangy taste.  Just the right amount of sweetness. Recipe was sourced from a book that features what they say are easy to make classic favourites.  And indeed this was a simple one.

Also, if you follow a book, do check the preface for the baking temperatures.  S' oven is a fan assisted oven and I should have reduced the temperature from the start.  So it seems I may have baked it at a slightly higher temperature and caused the cake to brown a tad too early .

( This recipe calls for sour cream, but I find many other recipes use a little milk instead of sour cream. So I guess that can be a substitute)

Serves 8

Ingredients :
Butter for greasing
Plain flour - 200 g
Baking powder - 2 tsp
Caster Sugar - 200 g
Eggs - 4
Sour cream - 150 ml
Grated rind of 1 large lemon
Lemon juice - 4 tbsp
Sunflower oil - 150 ml

Icing sugar - 4 tbsp
Lemon juice - 3 tbsp

Grease and line a 20 cm / 8" cake tin and keep ready

Sift flower and baking powder into a mixing bowl
Add the sugar.  Mix well
In another bowl whisk eggs, soured cream, lemon rind, lemon juice and oil together

Preheat the oven to 180C if not fan assisted or 160 C if it is

Pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well till evenly combined.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin
Bake for about 45-60 minutes or until risen and golden brown

Meanwhile make a syrup of icing sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan
Stir over low heat till it begins to bubble and turn syrupy

When the cakes is done, remove from oven and when still warm prick the surface with a fine skewer and brush the syrup or drizzle it over the cake.  Leave to cool completely in the tin before turning out and serving.

Tip - For a crunchy lemon crust, make the syrup with granulated sugar instead of icing sugar

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Soft Dinner Rolls

S said she would make pasta for dinner.  And I thought it would be great to have  some freshly baked dinner rolls and chanced upon this recipe at An Oregon Cottage .  It was my first visit to this particular blog and the step by step pictures showed some delicious rolls and she said they were 100% soft.  And I am in total agreement.  While she used total wheat flour, I used half bread flour and half of whole wheat flour.  And they turned out just fine.  And with some good pasta they were the perfect accompaniment.

Recipe - makes 24 dinner rolls
( I made 8 of these)

Dry yeast - 2 tbsp
Warm water - 1/2 cup
Honey - 1/4 cup
Softened butter - 1/2 cup
Eggs - 3
Buttermilk or milk - 1 cup ( I used milk)
Whole wheat flour - 4 1/2 - 5 cups
Salt - 1 1/2 tsp

Dissolve the yeast in warm water and keep aside

I made the dough manually - you can use a dough maker/mixer

Cream the honey and butter.
Add the eggs and mix well
Then the milk and the yeast mixture

Add the flour and the salt. Mix till well combined.
Knead for a couple of minutes
The dough will be sticky but it should not stick to your fingers so add some more tbsp of flour if required

Transfer to a clean oiled bowl and keep in a warm place for an hour till it rises to double the volume

Turn on to a well floured surface.  Knead a couple of times. Rest for 3 minutes
Divide into equal pieces.  Shape into a ball.  And place in a well buttered/greased pan. I left a little place between them, but keep them preferably alongside touching each other.
Cover and allow to rise for an hour

Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180 C
Bake for about 20-25 minutes.  ( 20 were more than enough for me )
Till they turn golden brown

When they are still warm brush the tops with butter.  Tear apart and serve warm.


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