Baking | Wholegrain Bourbon Garam Masala Christmas Cake … with nuts, figs and quark #MerryChristmas #fig&nutcake #garammasala

“The nutcracker sits under the holiday tree, a guardian of childhood stories. Feed him walnuts and he will crack open a tale…”
Vera Nazarian

Wholegrain Bourbon Garam Masala Christmas Cake Wholewheat Bourbon Garam Masala Christmas Cake …my way of saying thanks to a year gone by. Was a turbulent year in many ways, one that I am glad to bid adieu too. The world seems less safe, less peaceful. Yet in many ways I am grateful. I have been given opportunities that I never imagined would come my way. Gifts as well…Wholewheat Bourbon Garam Masala Christmas Cake…from the stunning range of Mauivel1830 handmade copper ware from France to the Fujihoro retro porcelain enamelware from Japan, I found myself at the receiving end, and happily so! It has been a blessed feeling indeed, and this is just the tip of the ‘iceberg’!!Wholegrain Bourbon Garam Masala Christmas Cake

Fujihoro Porcelain Enameled Kitchenware To inaugurate the copper ware, I did a fun and delicious Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding using almost the whole range that was gifted to me. It took a bit of thinking. In the en, I had an absolute blast! Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding with Mauviel 1830

Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding with Mauviel 1830 The range offers kitchen collectibles that are pure art, fantastic quality, superior workmanship and an investment if you love kitchenware. I enjoy working with these beauties, whether is is baking, cooking or just serving in them. They are wonderful to use both for Indian food, and otherwise.Apple & Pear Crumble in Mauviel1830 copperwareAnother time I baked an Apple Pear Crumble the day it rained  forever. That day onwards the cold really set in. Winter  has really dug it’s heels in, and North India is treacherously cold. Chilly winds, foggy days and barely any sunlight on most dayst. Mauviel 1830It’s a good time to be in the kitchen though. The house smells divine with warm aromas wafting through it, and everyone’s hungry all the time. ALL THE TIME! Loads of nuts and chocolate are always happening, in bakes and otherwise too. Some stir fries and vindaloos as well!Chocolate Tapioca Pudding …and plenty of experiments! I was fortunate this year to get invited to join the Saffola Fit Foodie Panel. It’s been a busy past month developing healthy and fun recipes for them. It’s something I enjoy, and it makes me think out of the box constantly. Keeps me quite busy.

Saffola Oats Fit FoodieAs the thinking develops, whole grains found their way into my annual Christmas bakes too, beginning with the Wholegrain Lingoberry Thumbprint Cookies. My recent Wholegrain Christmas Stollen with dried peach + walnuts +orange peel came out a winner, and it was this inspiration that made me think a different Christmas cake.Wholegrain Bourbon Garam Masala Christmas CakeFor a first, it’s a Fig and Nut cake as the boy just does not enjoy fruit in his cake anymore. The cake is also partially whole grain. To experiment further, I used some homemade quark in it as a part substitute for butter. You can see how much I enjoyed it. More so, because IMHO, this turned out to be the best Christmas cake I have made.Wholegrain Bourbon Garam Masala Christmas Cake Flavoured with a favorite Indian spice, garam masala, the figs and nuts got a soaking in some Jim Beam Bourbon that was personalized and sent to me a few days ago. Not one to drink, I was quite happy to share it with the figs and nuts. The fig and nuts got a week of dunking in it, while I procrastinated. When the time finally came, I was in a hurry, so the method was fast tracked. Wholegrain Bourbon Garam Masala Christmas Cake I think it worked really well. Quick Quick Quick was the way I worked, and had the cake{s} in the oven in under 30 minutes. I baked 2 small cakes too in the Mauivel1830 as I love the heavy metal it’s made of. I thought they would bake well in the copper ware…and I wasn’t wrong at all!Wholegrain Bourbon Garam Masala Christmas Cake9

Recipe: Wholegrain Bourbon Garam Masala Christmas Cake
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Summary: A healthy take on my normal Christmas cake. The Wholegrain Bourbon Garam Masala Christmas Cake is part wholewheat and also uses some home made quark to replace the butter. The flavours of garam masala really bring it alive, as do the bourbon undertones. Feel free to increase the spirit, or use coffee or orange juice as a substitute. It’s a quick batter to throw together, just right for the holiday season.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, plus time to soak fruit
Ingredients:

  • Fig & Nut mix
  • 250g walnuts, chopped
  • 250g cashew nuts, chopped
  • 50g crystallised orange peel
  • 50g crystallised ginger
  • 125g dried figs, chopped
  • 125ml Jim Bean bourbon
  • 15g /1 tbsp garam masala powder
  • Fruit cake
  • 100g whole wheat flour
  • 100g all purpose flour
  • 100g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 150g homemade quark
  • 200g brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Topping
  • 25-30ml bourbon for drizzling

Method:

  1. Place all the ingredients for the fig and nut mix in a large bowl. Toss well together to make sure the spices and bourbon are mixed right through. Cover and leave overnight, or as long as you like. I left it out on the counter for a week since it’s freezing cold. If it is warm, maybe you can place it in the fridge.
  2. Preheat the oven to 150C.
  3. Line a 8″ round loose bottomed baking tin with 2 sheets of parchment {the cake bakes slowly and it’s important to protect the bottom}
  4. Sift together both the flours, and toss the fruit in the flour mix.
  5. In a large bowl, beat the sugar, butter and quark until light and mousse like. Beat in the eggs, followed by the vanilla extract, baking powder and salt.
  6. Add the dry mix and stir well to make a uniform thick batter.
  7. Turn into prepared tin, and bake for approximately 1 1/2 hours. My oven uses just the bottom element for baking. I turned the upper element for 7-10 minutes to brown the top.
  8. Leave to cool in tin.
  9. Turn out and drizzle over with the extra bourbon. Slice and serve immediately…
  10. … or wrap tightly in cling wrap and let mature at room temperature/in a cool place for 3-4 days. 

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Baking | Wholegrain Christmas Stollen with dried peaches + walnuts + orange peel … a healthier version of the German Tea Bread

“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight.”
M.F.K. Fischer

Wholegrain Xmas Stollen Wholegrain Christmas Stollen with dried peach + walnuts +orange peel… a healthier version of the German Tea Bread. I’ve been fascinated by the Stollen for long. Actually ever since I discovered homemade quark. Once I figured there was something as good as Austrian curd cheese, AND that I could easily make some at home, I naturally went around looking for ways to use it. Wasn’t long before I discovered the Dresden Stollen. Indulgent Italian holiday bread. I baked another recipe into a Stollen Bread Pudding.

Wholegrain Xmas Stollen I loved making it. Would love to make more batches but for the fact it 1s a 100% all purpose flour tea bread. The wholegrain bug I have been bitten by doesn’t allow me to go back that easily. The odd birthday cakes with APF are OK; they’re once in a while indulgent stuff. One look at Meeta’s Stollen the other day, and the craving set in. It was time for STOLLEN! More precisely, Wholegrain Christmas Stollen with dried peach + walnuts +orange peel… a healthier version of the German Tea Bread.Wholegrain Xmas Stollen’twas an experiment. Came out quite well. It’s inspired by Meeta’s favorite version, a Date Fig Quark Stollen. Mine is partially whole wheat, partially almond meal and partially APF. It’s not as light as my earlier APF Dresden Stollen, but we are certainly not complaining. This turned out yum if I may so so myself. Once you make your own quark { prep 2 days in advance}, or if you just buy it, it’s an easy bread to throw together.

Wholegrain Xmas Stollen dried peaches + walnuts +orange peelPacked with dried peaches that I picked up in Srinagar this summer, crystallised orange peel {that I made some time ago} and chopped walnuts, it’s a special Christmas bread. Couldn’t add raisins and such as the boy can’t stand them. I have an Xmas fruit cake to make too, and I think it’s gonna be a nut cake as things go. The nuts are still soaking….. que sera sera. Hope I get there in time!Wholegrain Xmas Stollen Either go Meeta’s  baking powder way, or my yeast route, both ways would work well. It’s been raining here in North India the past few days, so the dough didn’t get a chance to rise well. You might get a better ‘rise’ if the weather permits. Let me know if you make this. It’s delicious. Do wrap it and keep it for 2-3 days before slicing. It’s more moist once it matures for a couple of days. Mince sliced beautifully and was moist too.

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Dessert | Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly … Merry Xmas

“Christmas, here again. Let us raise a loving cup:
Peace on earth, goodwill to men,
And make them do the washing up”
Wendy Cope

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly … these were plenty fun to make and absolutely delicious {if I may so so myself}. Couldn’t think of a better way to ring in the bells, to colour our world with the red, white & green. They seemed so right!!

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas JellyThat they turned out goblet scraping good was an added bonus. Everyone, young & old, loved them. The kids begged for seconds. And thirds. Goblets, glasses, shooters. All fun!Tropical Coconut Milk Rice Pudding Remember my very recent the Tropical Coconut Milk Rice Pudding with Thai fruit? These jellies were what I had in mind initially, yet the rice pudding came first. This a little later. Both eggless and both held their own spot in the dessert world. While I fell in love with the colours of the former, the latter played some more magic. Kid sorta magic!

Tropical Coconut Milk Rice Pudding

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly Of course the Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly dessert is inspired. Inspired by the Strawberry and Vanilla Macaron Trifles I made in Dec 2010 adapted minimally from a Donna Hay recipe. They were absolute crowd pleasers then. The story the same this year as well.

Strawberry Vanilla Macaron TrifleThe magic lies in the beauty and simplicity of the fruit juice jelly with suspended fresh fruit within. One look at the dragon fruit, the black and white contrast, and the luscious strawberries in the fridge … and a small voice in my head said “Why not? Why ever not?”

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly So to keep with the flavours, I did a mixed jelly … litchi juice for the dragon fruit and cranberry juice for the strawberries. How good can good get? The result was fab. I know because I could hear the goblets being scraped clean. Thankfully there was plenty.

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly There is nothing like glassware to set jelly in. I used a variety of glassware just because I wasn’t in the mood for monotony. I used brandy goblets, stemmed glasses and a few shot glasses too. I think stemless brandy glasses would work well too. Or maybe these beauties from Urban Dazzle which are one of my favourites.

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly The dessert needs a little pre-planning. Since there are two flavours of jelly, one needs to set first, then the other follows. I was a bit impatient so the colours merged a little. No issues though. They still tasted brilliant. I think I managed one a little closer to how I would have liked them all to be.

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly Dressing up the jellies is the fun part. Pipe over some barely sweetened low fat pillowy soft cream {I used an Ikea funnel}, garnish with colourful fruit, add a sprig of fresh mint … and go HO HO HO!!

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly

Have a safe, delicious and fun holiday season. Joyeux Noël dear readers, Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas 2013

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