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baking

White Chocolate Cheesecake with balsamic strawberry topping“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
Charles M. Schulz

White Chocolate Cheesecake with balsamic  strawberry topping, music to this bakers ears. I’m not one for cheesy baking on V Day; possibly the last one who’ll bake for the day. Yet, I am a sucker for good recipes that catch my eye, and this one certainly did. A white chocolate cheesecake with ingredients as many as the fingers on my hand would tempt any baker or cheesecake lover. It certainly tempted me!

White Chocolate Cheesecake with balsamic strawberry toppingThe minute I saw BetterButters fun video, part of their V Day series, to get men into the kitchen to bake something simple for their loved ones, they had me in the loop. If the first frame lists 5 simple ingredients, 4 of which are already there, then what’s to stop this rabid baker? Not much!! All it took was a trip to the local grocery store, grab some cream cheese, also some thyme that happened to be there, and I was set. I always have strawberries at home since they are so much in season these days.

Thyme, food styling, food photographyIt’s a simple recipe, S I M P L E. Make sure you see the video twice. First to enjoy the ease, and next, if you are like me, to jot down the steps. Else grab someone a willing soul, asking them to play the video as you go along. One thing I always do is follow the main recipe as is the first time. This was super fun, and I am going to bake this again soon. You know the other thing what I loved about the recipe? The natural quintessential cheesecake sink in the centre that holds the delicious filling.

White Chocolate Cheesecake with balsamic strawberry topping A few things I might change. Maybe make the white chocolate cheesecake with quark the next time around. I am not a huge fan of Britannia Cream Cheese as the slight saltiness creeps through and takes away somewhat the joy and beauty of white chocolate. Talking about white chocolate, make sure you use good quality white chocolate. With as little as 5 ingredients in the cheesecake, each one counts in the end.

White Chocolate Cheesecake with balsamic strawberry topping This is a great great recipe for beginners, for bakers, for cheesecake lovers and especially for people like me who need a springboard for creativity. I have already begun dreaming of what else I can do with this. For now, enjoy it as it is, a beautiful White Chocolate Cheesecake with balsamic  strawberry topping. You could even do a light jelly topping that BetterButter did, but try this recipe you must! You can download the BetterButter app here – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=in.betterbutter.android

Recipe: White Chocolate Cheesecake your picture

Summary: White Chocolate Cheesecake with balsamic strawberry topping  is a great  recipe for beginners, for bakers, for cheesecake lovers and especially for people like me who need a springboard for creativity. You could even do a light jelly topping that Better Butter did, but try this recipe you must! Makes a 7″ cheesecake

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Ingredients:

  • White Chocolate Cheesecake
  • 200g white chocolate, melted {I used white baking chocolate}
  • 200g Cream Cheese {Britannia}
  • 4 egg, separated
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 1/2 tsp strawberry extract
  • Topping
  • 150g strawberries, quartered
  • 40g brown sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 vanilla bean shell
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Garnish
  • Fresh strawberries, thyme

Method:

  1. White Chocolate Cheesecake
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a 7″ dessert ring or a loose bottomed baking tin.
  3. Place egg whites with a pinch of salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk until stiff peaks form
  4. In the meantime, place the melted white chocolate, egg yolks and cream cheese in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Add vanilla and strawberry extract and whisk again.
  5. Add 1-2 tbsp of the beaten whites to loosen the mixture, then gently fold the rest in. I turned the chocolate mix into the bowl of the KitchenAid stand mixer as it is a large very convenient bowl to mix in.
  6. Transfer batter to prepared tin and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 150C and bake for a further15 minutes. Fina;y reduce the temperature to 120C and bake for another 15-20 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool completely in tin, then chill for a few hours or overnight. Gently demold and place on serving platter.
  8. Top with strawberry topping, and scatter fresh thyme over.
  9. Topping
  10. Place all ingredients in a heavy bottom non-reactive saucepan. Simmer gently until thick and jam like. Taste and adjust sweetness if required. Cool. {Can be made a day or so in advance}

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

Wholewheat Garlic Oat Soda Bread 1
“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. Fisher

Wholewheat Garlic Oat Soda Bread. Bread I baked after ages. Each word of the title appeals to me, yes, even the soda bit! I’ve read about this quick baking bread with no proofing/time for the dough to double for years. For some insane reason, I never baked one. The baker in me was always mesmerised by the challenge of yeast breads, also the joy of seeing the dough rise seemed exciting. Well as they say, been there, done that several times over, the yeast monster well tamed. That was 5 years ago, when the net wasn’t exploding with information and social media was still maturing! Soon one realises that yeast just needs to be alive. It works wonders if you give it enough time in a cuddly warm draft free place! It is quite piffling; there is truly no monster there.

Wholewheat Garlic Oat Soda Bread Now baking bread is fun, therapeutic and stress free. Grab some good yeast and you are in safe hands. This is why when I saw the image of the soda oat bread that shared by Laura of My Little Honk Kong Kitchen on Instagram, it was love at first sight. Her loaf adapted from BBC Good Food looked rustic, moorish, earthy and so me! Also baking bread with soda was new for me. I had to have a go ASAP!

Instagram Passionate About BakingOooh, did I tell you that Instagram is my most fave to be at? It used to be Pinterest earlier, but I am currently addicted to insta!

Soda bread is a variety of quick bread traditionally made in a variety of cuisines in which sodium bicarbonate (otherwise known as baking soda) is used as a leavening agent instead of the more common yeast. The ingredients of traditional soda bread are flour, bread soda, salt, and buttermilk. The buttermilk in the dough contains lactic acid, which reacts with the baking soda to form tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide. Other ingredients can be added such as butter, egg, raisins, or nuts. Ireland, Scotland, Serbia, Australia are some countries that have their own version of this quick baking bread.

Wholewheat Garlic Oat Soda Bread It’s strange that a bread can come together so easily and yield such a moorish loaf on the other side. The Wholewheat Garlic Oat Soda Bread almost sang to me as it stepped out of the oven. Such a pretty bread. Pretty, pretty, pretty. Turned out to be darned tasty too. I had to play around with the ingredients a bit since I was out of plain flour, well almost. With only a few tablespoons in the bag, I used pretty much of whatever else I had on hand. Of course I grated some garlic into the dough. For me, savoury bread should must have garlic. Must!

Wholewheat Garlic Oat Soda Bread A splash of extra virgin olive oil in the dough too added to the overall texture and flavour of this near wholegrain bread. Fresh rosemary, pink Himalayan salt, maybe even pink pepper all add nice touches to bread.  Slice it warm, drizzle with more EVOO, scatter some smoked mature cheese, some toasted walnuts, maybe capers, rocket too. Sit back and enjoy!!

Recipe: Wholewheat Garlic Oat Soda Bread
your picture

Summary: Wholewheat Garlic Oat Soda Bread is possibly the quickest bread you can bake. From almost a no knead shaggy dough that is quick to throw together, it’s our current favourite bread. Try this near wholegrain version to see how good quick bread can be. Recipe adapted from My Little Hong Kong Kitchen. Makes one 6″ round loaf.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Ingredients:

  • Dough
  • 200g wholewheat flour
  • 50g plain flour
  • 50g oatmeal
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 15g extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 250ml cultured buttermilk {approximately}
  • Topping
  • Fresh rosemary sprigs, Himalayan pink salt, garlic slivers, drizzle of extra virgin olive oil {with more to serve}

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Lightly grease a heavy baking sheet, or line with parchment.
  2. Place both flours, oats, soda and salt in bowl of stand mixer {or in a large bowl} and stir to mix. Add the garlic, rosemary and extra virgin olive oil and stir again.
  3. Gradually add the buttermilk to make a soft dough. {You might not need it all, or you might need a spoon or so more}. Just knead the dough until it comes together; don’t overwork it or the bread will get tough.
  4. Shape into a round loaf, approximately 6″ in diameter, cut the top 2-3 times with a very sharp knife.
  5. Drizzle over with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle fresh rosemary, garlic and Himalayan pink salt.
  6. Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes until the bottom makes a hollow sound when knocked. If it doesn’t, turn over and bake for a further 10 minutes.
  7. Take out of oven, cool on a rack for 15-20 minutes. Slice and serve with loads of sweet butter or flavoured olive oil, mature cheese, walnuts etc.

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

Chocolate buckwheat groats biscotti “Make half your grains whole grains.”

Chocolate buckwheat groats biscotti … a nice way to feed the blog in the new year, a tad late perhaps. Life has been a bit of a whiz, things that happen often least expected, yet as they say, life goes on. Every time I thought I’d post on the blog, something new happened. Then I suddenly discovered a shop in the neighbourhood selling locally sourced buckwheat groats. Pretty mundane and boring for most of the world, yet almost a mini celebration for me.Buckwheat groats Buckwheat groats are gluten free seeds from a plant related to rhubarb. The outer husk is pulled away and the grain-like fruit is harvested and eaten. Buckwheat is very nutritious, making it popular in many nations across the globe. Buckwheat provides complete protein, including all the essential amino acids. These soft white seeds have a mild flavor, but when toasted or roasted, they have a delightfully intense flavor. Groats can be steam-cooked like rice for salads and side dishes or ground in your own mill into fresh flour. The robust flavor of this quick-cooking gluten free grain is perfect for salads, soups and cereal. Use buckwheat groats in any recipe that calls for whole grains.

buckwheat groatsFood connects are strange! These heart shaped seeds had me mesmerized. I still remember my fascination with this pseudo cereal when our Ukrainian friend fed them to our 6 month old daughter every morning in Moscow way back in 1996. She always talked about how good they were as cereal, how they had been brought up on them etc.  I’d heard a load about them, read a bit about them, often wondered if I should order them online, yet laziness got the better of me. Then the day I saw them on the shelf, they were mine in a heartbeat. I was so excited, so raced home to first get a close look at them babies! Chocolate buckwheat groats biscottiRather lost at sea with my new ingredient,  it was back to the google gods for help. I soaked some overnight and thought I’d do a salad with them. Left them to drain the next morning, and was making a batch of biscotti, and then thought why not? Why ever not can I steal some groats into my biscotti, and that’s just how this Chocolate buckwheat groats biscotti came to be. The biscotti turned out to be quite good if I may say so myself. Attracted a lot of interest from a very curious dog too!

Chocolate buckwheat groats biscotti A few days earlier, in the first week of January, I was contacted by the the local TEDx team here inviting me to host a TED talk. Did catch me by surprise, and it took me a bit to figure out if I was good enough for TED. Well eventually after much nervous mulling over I said yes  and got together  a small talk. Deeba Rajpal TEDxFor the uninitiated, the TEDx Program is designed to help communities, organizations and individuals to spark conversation and connection through local TED-like experiences. TEDx was created in the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading.”

Be local, stay seasonalMy talk was in a light vein touching upon my graduation from refined foods to whole foods, briefly touching upon my journey from college to food blogging, recipe development and food styling. The mainstay of the conversation was of course to rethink what’s on our plate, and try and look beyond foods with no nutrition and empty calories. Not the words of a food researcher or historian, just ideas from someone who enjoys getting good healthy fresh food on the table.

Just desserts, wholefoodsThe audience was great, so enthusiastic and appreciative, that I think most of the nervousness melted away! I think they did hear me out to the very end, as my last slide mentioned this biscotti, and that I was carrying some in my bag just in case someone wanted a nibble. Sure enough, once I left the auditorium, there was a line of kids from the audience outside. One sweet lad hesitatingly asked, “Ma’am, you said you had biscotti in your bag. Do you?”

Chocolate buckwheat groats biscotti The rest, as they say, was history! The same evening I received a mail from a smart  bespectacled young lady from the audience, praising the biscotti, discussing recipes, and asking for advise! My closing line at the talk was meant to be “If you can inspire even one, you have left a mark in this world.”. I think I missed the line out there as the talk was extempore, but here it is anyway! I guess I left a mark!

Recipe: Chocolate buckwheat groats biscotti your picture

Summary: Crisp, chocolaty, satisfying and wholegrain, this Chocolate buckwheat groats biscotti is healthy delicious. Keep it on hand for a quick nibble! Makes approximately 30 cookies.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour plus resting time
Ingredients:

  • 150g wholewheat flour
  • 50g oats
  • 60g buckwheat groats, soaked overnight, drained
  • 75g dark chocolate, melted
  • 50g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 75g brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 15g yogurt
  • 50g butterscotch chips or chocolate chips
  • 15g brown sugar for topping

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Lightly grease a heavy duty cookie sheet, or line with parchment.
  2. Stir together the wholewheat flour, oats and groats in a bowl. Reserve.
  3. Place the melted chocolate, butter, sugar, egg, vanilla extract, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk until mixed. Add the dry mix and mix on low speed until it all comes together. Add the yogurt if required. {The biscotti dough is meant to be quite firm}
  4. Stir in the butterscotch/chocolate chips, or walnuts if you like.
  5. Bring the dough together with your hands, divide into 2 and shape into logs.
  6. Transfer to prepared tray, spritz gently with water, and sprinkle over with brown sugar.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes until the logs are firm to touch.
  8. Take out from oven, and reduce the temperature to 160C.
  9. Slice the logs thinly, about 1/2″ slices, and lay flat on the cookie tray.
  10. Return to the oven and bake for another 25-30 minutes until firm. {return to the oven if they feel a little soft. Biscotti should be firm and dry}
  11. Cool completely on cookie rack, then store in an airtight box.

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

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