Baking | Christmas Fruit Cake with Garam Masala …. Joyeux Noel 2012

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day Their old, familiar carols play, And wild and sweet The words repeat Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Christmas CakeChristmas Fruit Cake with Garam Masala ... anticipated, enjoyed, relished. December is never complete without this quintessential favourite, yet it nearly didn’t ‘happen’ this year. Yet for some reason the joy of the season, the light headed feeling, the warmth is missing. The heart feels heavy with the mindless violence that seems to raise its ugly head right across the world … be it New Delhi or New England.

Christmas CakeThe restlessness was getting overwhelming. Yesterday I needed to get into the kitchen, grab a dose of baking therapy. I have not baked for the past week. The insensitivity of the grotesque attack on the 23 year old girl in New Delhi has completely shattered us. The heart breaks that someone should have been subject to such animal behaviour.

Christmas WreathYet the strength of the human spirit of the victim is unbelievable. She has returned from near dead to prove just how strong a woman can be, still fighting death every passing minute. The tale of this strong young lady will go down in the history of India.

Christmas Wreath Yesterday I baked with her in my mind. I also gave the teen some ferns and tangerines from the garden to make me a wreath. With a little help from her brother, and none from the dog, she made me a pretty one! She managed to get Coco to wear a Santa hat too …

Coco SantaIt’s a simple fruit cake, one which shows up across the globe around this time. Often referred to as Christmas Cake, there are millions of recipes for fruit cake, in some regions every family hanging on to their own traditional recipe. Mine is a twist to our family recipe.

Candied peel

My Christmas Fruit Cake with Garam Masala has evolved from a traditional recipe handed down from my mother. Hers was the Garam Masala Christmas Cake. The one I baked this year follows the same basics of garam masala and orange juice to soak the fruit {overnight or for a few days/weeks}, some brandy thrown in if you like. I also continue to use a caramel coffee syrup to lend colour and deep flavour to the cake.

Coffee Caramel SauceEverything was done in a hurry as usual. No planning other than soaking a bunch of dry fruits and nuts the night before. I had plenty of bright oranges on hand, so decided to make candied orange peel. A recipe on Use Real Butter has stayed in my head forever.

Candied peelThe effect of the colour itself was therapeutic, mood uplifting and before I knew it I was soaking fruit in the orange juice. I threw in 3 tbsps of garam masala. Don’t worry, it doesn’t end up too strong. Nor does it make your cake smell like curry! It is beautiful. If you do have time, make your own.

Christmas CakeIt adds deep flavours of cinnamon, spice and all things nice; reminds me of gently mulled wine. Ties the season in nicely, warm and comforting in a deeply pacifying sort of a way.

Christmas Cake The daughter hates nuts, and the son hates raisins and fruit. Their taste buds always unite for Christmas Cake … right down to the last crumb. She says its all ‘mine‘, while he bitterly complains to me, naive enough to believe her… and life goes on!

Christmas Cake

Joy, Peace, Warmth, safety this holiday season dear readers.

Thank you for stopping by.

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

Baking | Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies with Smoked Sea Salt and Fluted Pistachio & Craisin Cookies … cookie l♥v

“Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.”
Robert Fulghum

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies with Smoked Sea Salt and Fluted Pistachio & Craisin Cookies 1Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies with Smoked Sea Salt and Fluted Pistachio & Craisin Cookies … Cookies Cookies Cookies. The events of the past week asked for something comforting … the call was for cookies! Last months Daring Bakers challenge was meant to awaken the cookie monster in us, which it did. Sadly,  I never did get down to posting them.

Pistachio & Craisin Cookies Excuses? Plenty and thankfully not too lame. Exams! Then the internet has played truant. The service provider refused to acknowledge the basic problem. A month later, after trying every solution under the sun, they finally agreed to redo the wiring {which is what we asked for in the first place}. Frustrating but true, like so many other things in life. I am happy to be back to blogging with less stress.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies with Smoked Sea Salt and Fluted Pistachio & Craisin Cookies Of late, I’ve been bitten by the brownie monster and it was just  a matter of time before I hit cookie mode. Daring Bakers in November set me off. Made two lots {downgraded from an ambitious 5-6}. Then the posting date passed by with intermittent internet and these poor cookies went into drafts. With the net now up and racing, I thought I’d better get them out before the bells begin to jingle louder. Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies with Smoked Sea Salt and Fluted Pistachio & Craisin Cookies and Gingerbread Men CookiesWhen the kidlets were younger, December always woke up the cookie monster in me. The jar was never empty. I was always elbow deep in dough {well almost}. My days {and often nights} would go in backbreaking baking, frosting cookies, doing stain glass cookies, hanging dozens onto the tree, making dozens more for the kids, their friends, for orders etc.

Wholewheat Gingerbread Men Cookies 2Then the ‘forever hungry for pretty Christmas cookies’ kids grew up. I fell to easier and more practical cookies to make. I hardly ever do cookies that need dressing up and fussing over. Wholewheat Gingerbread Men Cookies are an exception though; I really enjoy doing these. {Ceramics courtesy Urban Dazzle}

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies with Smoked Sea Salt Now I consider myself lucky if freshly baked cookies even get a chance to ‘cool completely‘! Before I know it, dirty grubby teen ‘lad’ fingers hesitatingly come forward to grab a few, while the older sister bites gently into them. The two are ALWAYS game for cookies.

Pistachio & Craisin Cookies 1I started off pretty early in November. First out of the oven were Fluted Pistachio & Craisin Cookies. Simple, crisp and delicious with craisins and pistachios adding beautiful flavour. The craisins were orange flavoured, so slight hints of orange teased the palette! Good beginning!

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies with Smoked Sea Salt 3Then I happened to see these chippers on a beautiful blog  Reclaiming Provincial. I instantly knew they were about to happen in the near future, pretty near future. I mentally ticked off everything I loved about them …

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies with Smoked Sea Salt They are from a book I long to own {read yet another book} Good to the Grain, Kim Boyce. Wholewheat flour only. Brown sugar too. Seemed like a good deal! They certainly were! Watch them as they bake though … they can go from brown to dark brown in a heartbeat.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies with Smoked Sea Salt 6My cookies didn’t flatten like the ones I saw. Maybe because our Indian wholewheat is heaps different from the American whole wheat pastry flour {I presume the original recipe uses wholewheat pastry flour}. Maybe the egg I used was a tad small. Whatever, but these are darned delicious cookies!

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies with Smoked Sea SaltI did add a drizzle of honey; maybe I could have added another. There’s plenty of time for experimenting because these are good cookies and are going to show up more often! Sorry for the delay in this Daring Bakers post Peta.

Holiday season is the time for sharing and Peta of Peta Eats is sharing a dozen cookies, some classics and some of her own, from all over the world with us.

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

Baking| Peace & Joy this Christmas … and Garam Masala Fruit Cake

“Christmas Shopping: Wouldn’t it be wonderful to find one gift that you didn’t have to dust, that had to be used right away, that was practical, fit everyone, was personal and would be remembered for a long time? I penciled in “Gift certificate for a flu shot.”
Erma Bombeck

Christmas Fruit CakeChristmas Fruit Cake with homemade marzipan toppingsWish you all A Merry Christmas,
May the Joys of the season
Fill your heart with goodwill and cheer.
May the chimes of Christmas glory
Add up more shine and spread
Smiles across the miles,
To-day & In the New Year.
Rosie Cash

Christmas Fruit Cake with homemade marzipan toppingsHave a wonderful festive season dear readers. I eventually got my fruit cakes baked. Did you? I even found time for some marzipan magic!!

~Happy Holidays!!~

Summary: An Indian twist to the traditional fruit cake. Garam masala adds to the warmth of the spices. The fruit marry well with flavours like garam masala, orange juice, brandy,caramel and lime juice. The coffee and caramel syrup give the cake a nice, deep hue!

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 2hrs 30minutes
Ingredients:

  • Garam Masala Fruit Cake
  • 1-1.25 kg mixed fruit,nuts,peel mincemeat {mincemeat recipe follows}
  • 400gm plain flour
  • 300gm unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 200gm sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4 cup caramel syrup {Made with 1/2 cup of sugar caramelised. Add some water and heat gently to liquefy. Measure and top up with water to make 3/4 cup liquid. Cool}
  • 2tsp instant coffee
  • 2.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt {skip if using salted butter}
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Mincemeat or fruit mix, sans suet
  • 700gms raisins, chopped if desired
  • 200 currants
  • 100gms orange peel, chopped
  • 170gms almonds, chopped
  • 250gms cashewnuts, chopped
  • 100gms candied cherries, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cherry liquor {or brandy}
  • 1/2 cup brandy {or rum}
  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice {from 3 keenus/oranges}
  • Juice of 3-4 limes
  • Zest of 2 keenus/oranges
  • 4 tbsp garam masala
  • 2tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp instant coffee

Method:

  1. Garam Masala Fruit Cake
  2. Toss the soaked mixed fruit in the flour well in a large bowl {I used a huge wok} so that the fruit is completely coated. Reserve.
    Stir coffee into caramel syrup. Reserve.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar till fluffy, 2 minutes, add the eggs one by one and beat well again.
  4. Now add the caramel syrup and vanilla extract and beat again for a minute till well incorporated. The mixture may appear curdled but that’s fine. Add baking powder and whisk again.
  5. Turn this batter out over the mincemeat and stir well with spatula to blend uniformly.
  6. Turn into lined loaf pans/baking tins and bake at 140C until the top appears done when you touch it, about 1 hour for the loaf pans, and almost 2-2 1/4 hours for my 15 X 11 tin. {Do keep an eye on the top of the cake. My ovens ‘bake’ setting is just the lower level so the top doesn’t brown too quick. If you find the top browning too soon, please slip a foil loosely over the top about an hour and a half into baking.}
  7. Cool in tin, turn out and wrap in cling-film once cold. Allow to stand and mature in a cool dark place for a day or two, at least overnight. The longer it stands the better the flavours, but we never get that far in my fruit-cake loving household.
    Poke the top with a skewer and pour a few tbsps of brandy {or rum} over the top before wrapping the cake if you like. Makes the cake nice and moist.
  8. Sift icing sugar over the top if you like, and add some homemade marzipan toppings.
  9. !Mincemeat / fruitmince or fruit mix, sans suet
  10. Mix all the ingredients nicely and soak overnight in a cool place, or for 3-4 days. The longer you soak the fruit, the more mature the flavour. I soaked mine for 3 days. {You can substitute the alcohol with an equal amount of orange juice too}
  11. If you find the fruits are looking dry, add about 1/2 cup of brandy/rum/orange juice and toss again. Leave for a few hours for the juices to get absorbed.

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


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