Baking | Peaches & Cream Cake … light summer cake. Trifles too. #stonefruitlove #dessert # cake #summer

“Cake is happiness! If you know the way of the cake, you know the way of happiness! If you have a cake in front of you, you should not look any further for joy!”
C. JoyBell C.

Peaches & Cream CakeIt was a Peaches & Cream Cake for my father’s birthday last week. Everything was going according to plan,and I toyed around with summer cake ideas in my head. Summer is for stone fruit, and the cake would most certainly have some! Peaches! I had a kilo of them in the fridge. Cream? Yes of course; there’s always some on hand. Time for peaches and cream!!

Peaches & Cream Cake Despite knowing that whipping cream in miserable summer heat is sure to fail, I marched ahead. At 43C, life was never going to be a cake walk in the record breaking heat and humidity we have had this summer. That the rains failed added to my misery. 75% humidity and everything looks like it’s condensing! Not the best weather to work with cream cakes in …… Peaches & Cream Cake 4…and then it was time for a power breakdown. It had been assembled but a cake needs chilling you know. I stuck the cake into the fridge and we finally left for dinner. The cake survived as power was back when we returned. I thanked my lucky stars that it held together until we cut it, well almost. It was YUM! Oh, did I tell you I never got to my kilo of peaches? Peaches & Cream Cake 3Yes that happened too. With all the unnecessary drama of no power, I just reached out for a tin of canned peaches; probably my best idea that day. Another good idea was the  Crème patisserie I made for the frosting … finger licking good.

Dell Venue 8 Pro TabletI also forgot to charge the camera battery. So there I was, ready with the cake waiting to be shot… and a dead battery! I could have wept. Some luck though came by way of this magical Dell Venue 8 Pro Tablet that Dell sent me to review. It had been delivered a few hours before! The first thing I did was grab the sleek piece of technology and take a few pictures with it’s fab 5.0 mega pixel camera.

Peaches & Cream Cake It’s a thing of beauty, the Dell Venue 8 Pro Tablet. Light, well designed and FAST, it’s got a crystal clear touch screen, and a dual {front and back} camera. I’ve got as far as using the camera, and then editing the pictures with the in-built basic editing tools. The editor is quite snappy and fun, and delivers a good end result. The 5MP front camera did the job that moment in time … and I hurriedly updated the recipe into the tablet too. The processor is FAST, actually an ultrafast Intel® Atom™ processor Z3740 (up to 1.8GHz Quad-Core).Peaches & Cream Trifles A great battery life, easy to use with Windows 8.1, and very light, you are going to read more about this piece of art in the near future. Oh did I tell you about the peace of mind it gave me while I was working in the kitchen. Dell’s optional Accidental Damage Service ensures your tablet stays protected. Rest easy. They promise to repair or replace your device in case of accidents, like spills, drops, falls or electrical surges.

Peaches & Cream TriflesI saved some cream and peaches; enough to make a few trifles. Layered the same way as the cake, they were fun to assemble … and eat of course! The goblets are one of my favourites from Urban Dazzle. I use them often for different stuff like Dark Chocolate Mousse, Peach Lime Coolers & Stone Fruit Salads.

Peaches & Cream Trifles

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Cooler | Phalsa Berry Sharbat – ‘Blendit’ like Vikas Khanna #summer #cooler #inseason #kitchenaidindia

“The more you know, the more you can create. There’s no end to imagination in the kitchen.”
Julia Child

Phalsa ka Sharbat Phalsa Berry Sharbat … the much dreaded ‘loo‘ or hot summer winds, dry and dust laden, sweep across the plains of North India. Summer here becomes intolerable at times, with ‘fry eggs on the sidewalk‘ like temperatures threatening your very existence! Then along come some of the best fruit that nature has to offer … and life becomes worthwhile again! This Phalsa Berry Sharbat helps you survive…

Phalsa ka Sharbat With a slew of summer fruit now being offloaded by the truckloads, we could not have asked for more. Red, luscious, juicy cherries, mangoes falling off hand carts, watermelons piled sky high on roadsides, peaches just about beginning to surface, Indian java plums too. And then the phalsa berry, a beautiful, tangy, astringent much awaited native Indian berry!

Phalsa, Grewia asiatica Packed with vitamin C and antioxidants, this humble little berry, Grewia asiatica, brings alive childhood nostalgia. Back then, almost 40 years ago, the silent afternoon would be pierced by the shrill cry of the ‘phalsa wala‘. You’d find him with a wicker basket, topped with a very wet gunny bag which he gently peeled back to reveal the precious little berries. The very fragile and perishable phalsa would change hands for a few pennies. Washed gently and tossed in rock salt, we would hungrily suck them, trying to extract the most from the almost impoverished looking fruit.

Phalsa ka SharbatSometimes if we were lucky enough, we would be rewarded with phalsa ka sharbat! It was pain staking to make and a special treat. Life is a little easier now, with gadgets that make life in the kitchen a breeze. Just one sip of this amazing cooler, in colours that uplift the soul,  memories of a quintessential part of Indian summer comes alive! Sharbats or ‘fruit and flower based coolers‘ are the answer to the beat the heat!

Kitchenaid Blendappetit  with Vikas Khanna Hymns from the Soil This takes me to the launch of the KitchenAid Pro Line Cordless Hand Blender in association with Masterchef Vikas Khanna in Delhi. The launch is a part of multi city #Blendappetit Tour spanning across India starting from May 20, 2014. While, the cordless blender is a unique, first of its kind, versatile product, it comes with an ultimate experience of ‘anytime anywhere’ blending.

Kitchenaid Blendappetit  with Vikas Khanna Hymns from the Soil This new blender from Kitchenaid India is a magic machine, ergonomically designed, a thing of beauty. It comes equipped with a rechargeable 12V lithium ion battery which gives it the power to perform efficiently. The super blender can blend, mix, whisk, chop, froth, puree, shred and whip up anything in a flash.

Kitchenaid Blendappetit  with Vikas Khanna Hymns from the Soil The very sweet and charming Vikas {I was fortunate enough to shoot with him recently} blended a lip smacking good kiwi smoothie from his new book.  The chef was affable as ever; entertaining, engaging, humourous! He connected instantly with the expectant crowd and soon had the gathering mesmerised. Ripples of laughter flooded the studio in Gurgaon with Vikas holding court, spinning out one anecdote after another. Stories of his home, his mother & grandmother, his inspirations, his journey from cooking a Rs 20 meal in Punjab to a Rs 20 lakh meal for Obama … yet humble and grounded as ever, a philosopher at heart!Kitchenaid Blendappetit  with Vikas Khanna Hymns from the Soil The afternoon witnessed the launch of his book- .Hymns from the Soil, his first book on Indian vegetarian food and a tribute to Mother Earth. It is full of nostalgic tales of his childhood, and in many ways ‘our childhood’. The ‘mitti ki khushboo‘ or the smell of the wet soil, planting his own vegetable patch, the vegetable vendors with fresh vegetables, seasons that spelt fresh produce {unlike now when you almost get everything round the year} … a touching evocative connect with the soil of the land. The book is beautifully written, with stunning pictures and recipes that call your name.

Phalsa ka Sharbat With so much talk of the connect of the earth, including the shrill call of the vendor that pierced the afternoon silence then, it’s a good time to share this recipe. I make the Phalsa Berry Sharbat every year, changing the recipe as I evolve, always in panic like the berries might disappear or go out of fashion. The phalsa season is a short one here just through May and June. Juicing these in my Thermomix is a breeze … which is why I make this quite often.

Phalsa ka Sharbat 6Phalsa ka Sharbat Not sure if taste buds change as the years go by, or the flood of flavours available and sugar laden options in packaged juices snatch simple pleasure away. Maybe it’s the slightly astringent aftertaste, but unfortunately, this isn’t the kids favourite sharbat. The boy loves his aam panna or raw mango sharbat, the daughter her cranberry juice. Thankfully both also love the daily fresh watermelon juice & smoothies.

Phalsa ka SharbatThe Phalsa Berry Sharbat takes the summer heat away, refreshes the soul, gives you a generous dose of vitamin C and antioxidants … what more can you ask for in these ‘oven like’ months? Oh yes, and if it takes you on a trip down memory lane, that’s even better! I’m loving it!!

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

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Baking | Wholewheat Dark Chocolate Biscotti, GF Buckwheat Mini Apple Pies & Wholegrain Coffee Chocolate Chip Cake … & a product review #élan

“You begin with the possibilities of the material.”
Robert Rauschenberg

Baking & Serving with élanMy love for food props is understated. I am avid lover and collector of any prop related to food, from a spoon to a cauldron! It’s no secret that I haunt the streets of Old Delhi looking for vintage finds, that I browse Etsy just to drool, that Pinterest is another favourite hang out. That’s probably the tip of the iceberg as food photography props are an obsession! élan is a refreshing discovery!

living with elan I rarely veer towards bright colourful props, maybe something to do with my inherent bend of mind towards pristine neutral whites and dull un-shiny metallics! No longer though! I was recently sent this BRIGHT POP ART styled cake stand with server, and 3 tier stand. Gingerly taken out of ‘the well packed box‘, they bowled me over!!

living with elan This was where the very talented NY art school graduate Vidushi Gupta, the creative brain behind ‘Living with elan‘ comes in. She describes herself as  “passionate about the tactile, the messy, and the raw – designs and colors that transcend the mundane and bring joy to your everyday life.

living with elan

élan is a treasure-trove of fascinating lifestyle products waiting for you to organise, garden, entertain, gift, and even entice. Buckets, boxes, caddies, gardening tools, blackboard markers, suspended hearts-birds-mini homes, lanterns, stools, trays, napkin rings and more! Enjoy basic geometrics, vivid colors, patterns, and raw textures. Each piece is handmade.

living with elan I was instantly drawn to the bright, cheerful colours, the interesting and refreshing designs, and the powder coated finish. I love metallic bric-a-brac, and élan fills my heart with joy. That they used the rather underrated and unexplored world of galvanized sheet metal {read unbreakable , long lasting and sturdy} is a HUGE plus for me.

living with elan  The filigree lacework on the cake stand and matching server, the very neat powder finish of the tier stand all scream quality. And this quality available in the very heart of the NCR is even better! The lady was sweet enough to offer me the rani pink cake stand {though she did ask me if I’d rather have another colour}. PINK fitted in beautifully with Pinktober and my breast cancer awareness drive.  How wonderful that the tiered stand also had a nice touch of PINK {and the server can be used with it too}… sweet!

living with elan 6The products are not painted – they are powder coated in an industrial oven to ensure maximum quality and life. All their powder coating is lead-free and safe for foods, so you can eat from any of them. There was plenty in Entertaining with élan for me, yet curiosity drove me to explore further! Plenty of ♥-tuggers I have to say…

Organizing with élan

Wooing with élan

Gardening with élan

Traveling with élan

Mini bird homes, bucket caddies, chantilly gift boxes, an amphora pitcher of l♥ve {♥♥♥}, everything organiser, a fabled accessory bucket, mughal flower bucket, a mughal pie in the sky storage box {♥♥♥}, the dabbawala box {♥♥♥} … I was running out of words! These are just a few of the products they have on offer. The vivid colours, thoughtful designs and versatile range makes sure there is something for everyone.

living with elanBetter still, they offer ‘tailor made‘ options! How cool is that? They can customise any product for you , match it with a theme or occasion, or both. Their existing line can be custom coloured to match party theme or brand colours. You can even ask for a brand logo to be added! Immense possibilities to create refreshing, happy moments!

Whola wheat almond Biscotti & Whole Wheat Coffee & Dark Chocolate Pound Cake Of course I had a field day. I made a Wholegrain Coffee Chocolate Chip Cake that morning. Almost similar to the one above, but for a teeny bit of buckwheat flour. Also sneaked some Chocolate Almond Olive Oil & Whole Wheat Biscotti from a batch baked for Mr PAB who was leaving for HKG. He likes to carry a ‘taste of home‘ with him when he travels!

GF apple walnut buckwheat piesBeing a kinda free day, I made tiny little GF apple pies with buckwheat just because …

I scribbled  the recipe on a scrap of paper and can’t find it of course. It was basically chopped apples, brown sugar, cinnamon powder, chopped walnuts & raisins, a few tbsps of buckwheat flour all tossed together. I patted them together into cupcake liners {thank you Finla}, dotted them with butter and baked them for about 20 minutes. The daughter loves anything apple, and loved these cold!

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

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