Baking | Prinsesstårta … or simply a princess cake for Pinktober #cake #dessert #Pinktober #pink

“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.

Pinktober Princess Cake,  PrinsesstårtaPrinsesstårta … a princess cake my way to mark Pinktober. Every October begins with a pink cake in support of breast cancer research, or Pinktober, as it is popularly known. October is the National Breast Cancer Awareness month. International campaigns are run each year to raise awareness and funds for research. In addition, the campaign also offers information and support to those affected by breast cancer.

Prinsesstårta, Princess cake for PinktoberThe first week of October sees Mr PABs birthday and he’s grown used to a pink birthday cake. I might be torn for time, tired to the bone, might not bake a cake on any other occasion but the Pinktober one is never missed. Neither is the ribbon. You can see the pink on my earlier  Pinktober posts, else catch them on my PINK board on Pinterest.

The pink ribbon is an international symbol of breast cancer awareness. Pink ribbons, and the color pink in general, identify the wearer or promoter with the breast cancer brand and express moral support for women with breast cancer. Pink ribbons are most commonly seen during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

pink-ribbon-296x300A Princess cake or prinsesstårta is the lads most favourite cake of all time. Years ago I did a recipe testing for Helene of Tartlette which included a Bavarian cream. That was a princess cake of sorts. We still remember how fantastic that cake was, a benchmark of sorts for birthday cake.

A princess cake (prinsesstårta in Swedish) is a traditional Swedish layer cake consisting of alternating layers of airy sponge cake, raspberry or strawberry jam, pastry cream, and a thick-domed layer of whipped cream. This is topped by marzipan, giving the cake a smooth rounded top. The marzipan overlay is usually green, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and often decorated with a pink marzipan rose.[1][2]

The original recipe first appeared in the 1930s Prinsessornas Kokbok cookbook, which was published by Jenny Åkerström, a teacher of the three daughters of H.R.H. Prince Carl, Duke of Västergötland. The cake was originally called grön tårta (green cake), but was given the name prinsesstårta or “princess cake” because the princesses were said to have been especially fond of the cake.

Prinsesstårta, set upside downMy version of the prinsesstårta is a little off the traditional mark, just slightly. The layers of the traditional Swedish cake have jam and pastry cream. I skipped the jam as I thought my pastry cream was sweet enough. The dome of whipped cream wasn’t going to happen as I used a low fat 20% cream, so I stabilised it with gelatin. The dome happened in an upside down manner which is how I built up the cake and left it to set overnight.

PrinsesstårtaI hoped it would look fine the next morning …and it certainly did much to my delight! The other deviation was of course the marzipan cover for the cake. I made marzipan too that morning but it did not behave. At all. With October being unseasonably warm at 40C this year, the marzipan really sweated and wouldn’t roll out.almonds for marzipan

I had to do a rapid rethink as I didn’t want to jeopardise the poor stabilised dome. That would have been a disaster so my next best option was a chocolate coating, tricky but doable. The idea is to have the chocolate coating at a cool, or almost same temperature as the cream dome so that the dome doesn’t melt. It was touch and go. I won!! Sort of.

Prinsesstårta, Princess cake for PinktoberThe dome wasn’t as smooth as I expected it to be, or like I wanted it to be but given the weather, I was happy I had the cake covered! Left to set in the fridge, you can see the uneven bits, or maybe refer to it as an artisanal finish? Taking pictures was difficult again as the icing threatened to melt.

Prinsesstårta, Princess cake for Pinktober I used the marzipan to make a couple of hurried roses etc. Then the quintessential PINK ribbon. Minimalistic was the sensible and possibly only way to go. Stuck it all on and was just grateful to have a cake. Once cut, the honours done, it was fantastic to taste.

Prinsesstårta, Princess cake for Pinktober Much to my delight, the boy immediately exclaimed, “Yay, a Princess Cake! I just saw it on the Simpsons this morning.” What a delicious coincidence! The prinsesstårta layers behaved well while being sliced, the cake itself a winner on all counts {other than smooth looks!}. Light, airy, flavourful, creamy and a celebration! Try and challenge yourself to make this, right side up if possible, else use my way home. This is a cake every baker must make at least once. Must!

Swedish Prinsesstårta, princess cupcakes I’ve done a real fun version of Swedish Prinsesstårta Cupcakes with the Daring Bakers in May 2013. It was hot as hot can be back then, but much easier to do little cupcakes than one huge domed prinsesstårta. Also, then the marzipan was store bought and possibly more smoother and easier to handle than home made. If you rather do pretty cupcake prinsesstårta, then here’s the place to be.

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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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Food for thought | What’s the one kitchen appliance you couldn’t live without?

“I put the kitch into kitchen.”
Nigella Lawson

Kitchen appliancesI have a confession to make: I love baking. Bit of an understatement? I love doing things from scratch and pushing my own boundaries to get creative in the kitchen. A recent post I did for the Home Bakers Guild got me thinking. There I talked about my passion for baking and the ingredients I enjoy using. Today my mind went a step further … What’s the one kitchen appliance you couldn’t live without?

Baking ingredientsThose who know me know that I don’t have a sweet tooth. My joy lies more in the making than in the devouring. Without my kitchen and my favourite kitchen utensils, would I be able to create the same great food? Would I find baking therapeutic? The answer’s probably no. AmulPerhaps I’ve grown so used to working with them I take my beloved kitchen appliances for granted, and a  tribute to my favourite and much-loved cooking tools is never too late! Do you have favourites? Other than my heavy duty machines, these are 2 things I often turn to on a daily basis. Irish Creme Chocolate Cakes with an Irish Creme Caramel Sauce

 Sieve

One of the most popular kitchen appliances, some people only use a sieve when they need to strain vegetables, rice or pasta. However, for a baker like me, a sieve can make all the difference between a bad cake and a good cake. Actually I think it holds the key to macarons too. Think sieve, think airy, light and dreamy!

Blood Orange Macarons with Maple Orange Chocolate Pastry CremeLearning that I had to sieve flour to make cakes that not only looked good, but also had a light and fluffy consistency whilst tasting great was probably one of the first lessons I ever learned in the kitchen. Have you ever had a cake that hasn’t had some of the ingredients sieved? I’ve made the mistake once, and I can safely say it’s not very nice! Coffee Chocolate Mascarpone Layered Cake It’s better to play safe … and bake yummy!! Did I forget to add that a sieve is also handy for a quick dusting of icing sugar or cocoa powder to finish off a cake? That’s why I love my sieve.

Hand Mixer

Swedish Prinsesstårta, princess cupcakes Years ago, I used to mix my cake mixture by hand. In the beginning it was kinda fun, had the promise of stronger and leaner arms, but it was very tiring. The lean arms didn’t happen of course!!

Oven Roasted Plum & Almond Cakes Julia Child 500My first hand mixer arrived as a birthday present from my husband who heard me whine quite a bit about the woes of hand mixing and elbow grease issues! It changed the way I have baked since that day. In my early years of baking, this was one good piece of advice I handed out to new bakers especially in India. It makes mixing ingredients together so much easier, quicker and it’s a lot more fun to do too!

Hyatt Chef Maurizio Masterclass I remember the Italian chef at a Masterclass at the Hyatt whipping up egg whites to stiff peaks in seconds with a HUGE bowl and a balloon whisk. I just gaped. Tried to emulate him, and can safely say I was back to the hand mixer really soon. One press of the button and it’s like magic!

Food photographsYou can see how much these mean to me, two appliances that I couldn’t live without. If I didn’t have them in my kitchen, then I truly believe that baking wouldn’t have been the cake walk it currently is!! So, which kitchen appliances can’t you live without? Do you have favourites?

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

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