Baking | Wholegrain Christmas Stollen with dried peaches + walnuts +orange peel … a healthier version of the Italian 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 Italian 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 Italian 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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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

No Bake |Smoothies galore … and the difference between a food processor and blender #smoothies #healthy #seasonal #freshproduce

“I have more healthy cravings than my normal eating habits, like I crave fruit and cold things like smoothies.”
Kourtney Kardashian

SmooothiesSmoothies … you gotta love them. As the years pass by, the head wins over the heart. You know that it’s easier to gulp down a smoothie than chew through a buncha green leaves! And you also know that however good or bad it tastes, a well balanced, seasonal smoothie is going to do you a load of good. Headed for SmoothiesIt’s pointless waiting for the new year to come and make resolutions, so I just got the ball rolling and made them before! Post the Jaipur trip, what with all the over the top indulgence and pampering, I had but one thing on my mind, get FIT!OatsI have begun taking tiny steps. I’m eating healthier, I’m not eating out a lot, fewer food reviews, some form of exercise … and of course smoothies. I’ve also been invited to join the Fit Foodie panel on Saffola, which just gives me more reason to work towards my goal! I’ve put together a small graphic to make things easier. Play around with these three groups {not an exhaustive list} , add some yogurt, milk, buttermilk, almond milk, fruit juice or maybe water as required. I also throw in  spoon or two of oats at times.Food groups for smoothiesDo you smoothie? Here’s a bunch of recipes to set you off if you want to join in. You can find some here too. I basically go through the fridge to find what I can use and pair. Smoothies I made three versions yesterday, and surprisingly enough the persimmon one was the best. The spinach, cuke and tender coconut water was nice too. The banana smoothie we have everyday, so that was quite normal, but normal good. Such fun. The processor is such a magic machine!

Persimmon smoothieThe processor is a blessing in disguise for soups too, though the immersion blender works really well in most cases. A while ago however someone asked me what the difference was between a food processor and blender. I have both in the kitchen, and it set me thinking. Thought I’d try and answer the query here just in case you had similar questions. Hope it helps…

Food processors and blenders, what are the differences between them?

If you only have a small kitchen then you may be wondering if you really need both a blender and a food processor. The fact is that although both gadgets have blades, and a reputation for dicing and slicing, they actually have quite different uses.
If you are going to be able to do all of the jobs you need to in a kitchen the chances are you are going to want to use a blender and a food processor at some point; especially if you regularly make smoothies or soups.
When does a blender come into its own?
The shape and blades of a blender are designed to cater for soft fruit and liquids. The name really says it all; these gadgets are excellent for blending ingredients into such delights as tasty smoothies. Depending on what fittings your blender has it may be able to cope with slicing ice for use in the smoothies; this can make them into an extra special treat on a hot summer day.
These tasty additions to any menu are a great way of getting fruit into a child’s diet. You can use the pulp produced when you are juicing to create imaginative and colorful smoothies that most children will love. The shape of a blender is slender and designed to accommodate soft and liquid products, and not usually more solid produce.
What about a food processor?
If you are using liquids then it’s a good idea to stick to using your blender, but for anything more solid you should switch to a food processor. Food processors have blades that are designed for chopping and slicing.
They also have a bowl that is larger and can accommodate more solid produce. If you have vegetables that you want to reduce in to small pieces to use in a soup then a food processor is the perfect gadget to use. It can cope with all sorts of vegetables and nuts, and in no time you will have all of the ingredients you need to make as much delicious soup as you want.
Which is the best to have, a blender or a food processor?
The answer to this question is really going to depend on what you need to do most. Is it more important to you to be able to blend together liquids, making drinks and smoothies; or is it more important to you to be able to slice vegetables for soups or stews?
It may be that you need to do both. There are blenders that have blades which provide a certain amount of chopping capacity, and food processors can deal with a very small amount of liquid, but generally if you want to be able to blend and chop you are going to have to make room in your kitchen for both a blender and a food processor.

Headed for smoothiesSo I guess it’s time to SMOOTHIE! Come join me. Grab a bunch of fresh seasonal produce, pair it with a medium you like, throw in some nuts, seeds, herbs and get going. Once you’re done, what’s next? Soup maybe?

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

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

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