Baking | Chocolate Cake & Coffee Patisserie Cream Trifles … a coffee high!

“To me, the smell of fresh-made coffee is one of the greatest inventions.’
Hugh Jackman

Chocolate Cake & Coffee Patisserie Cream TriflesChocolate Cake & Coffee Patisserie Cream Trifles. The deep, sensual aroma of coffee steeping won me over! Are you devastated by the smell of fresh bread or cookies baking? Or onions in gently frying in butter? Roasting garam masala? Fruit stewing with vanilla beans? Or maybe coffee beans roasting? Fresh herbs? Freshly plucked tomatoes? I absolutely am. It’s an olfactory explosion of sorts.

smells 2When I was young I often woke up to the delicious smells of onions frying, a chocolate cake baking, a clarified butter/pure ghee dal tadka … but the most vivid memory was of the smell of wet earth after the first monsoon showers. To this day, the smell of wet earth takes me back to those childhood days when we used to race out to play in the rain. Pure nostalgia!Whole wheat coffee dark chocolate pound cakeNow more than ever before, my world is ruled by food aromas. Does your nose lead you to the kitchen? At home here, all day long, you’ll find folk following their nose into my kitchen. It’s the most happening place in the house. I baked a chocolate cake 2 days ago. Yet this coffee pound cake was on their mind. ‘Why didn’t you bake another coffee cake?’. The  teens pestered me! Annoying? Yes!Chocolate Cake & Coffee Patisserie Cream Trifles I’m an out-and-out coffee sort of person! The family is too. Fresh coffee beans roasting … nirvana. Takes me back to days down south. Every house would roast their own coffee. Ours did not, but the neighbours generously shared the aromas. What a beautiful heady feeling to wake up to. Instant upliftment.

Vanilla beans in bakingI’m also a vanilla sort of person, mostly paired with fruit. The fragrance of splitting a plump vanilla bean and scraping the insides makes my day. That morning was good! Once the thermomix got down to making the creme patisserie {7 minutes is all it takes}, I had ample time to sit and take in the fragrance. My hands smelt so good.

Balsamic Vanilla Basil StrawberriesTry reducing fresh strawberries and vanilla bean for a compote. The whole house smells beautiful. Seriously … never underestimate the power of smell. Walk into a good coffee shop and if you’re like me, you’ll fall into a trance! 
hocolate Cake & Coffee Patisserie Cream Trifles So to cut a long story short, I was MAD that my chocolate cake didn’t go down well. I counselled myself a little. I knew what went wrong. I had tweaked a good recipe and added more baking soda than necessary. Extra baking soda always plays spoil sport. Note to self : BEWARE in future!hocolate Cake & Coffee Patisserie Cream Trifles I almost trashed the cake yet knew the crumb was light. It was a good cake basically, so trifle was on my mind. I love it when cake obliges with neat little squares. Two minutes later, I was in coffee creme patisserie mode. Time to win the coffee lovers back! Pastry cream that smelt like heaven, felt smooth as silk. Asked the daughter to check for sweetness. She couldn’t wouldn’t stop spooning it into her mouth! Just one last spoon, she begged!

Chocolate Cake & Coffee Patisserie Cream Trifles Trifles are great make ahead desserts. Also a lovely way to use up leftover cake. We love fruit trifles and we loved these Chocolate Cake & Coffee Patisserie Cream Trifles too. Deep coffee flavours, great pairing with chocolate, nice play of textures. The cake cubes soaked in a coffee syrup. A swirl of whipped cream might have completed the trifle. CoffeeSo tell me dear reader, is your life is ruled by good food aromas? What are the smells that awaken your senses? Are you convinced that if something smells divine, it must taste even better? Do you eat with your eyes first? And do you believe, like me, that the sense of smell, sight and taste are all interlinked to make our world more delicious?

Smells of everyday

Food,  ingredients, aromas, the folk, the garden, the venue, memories, the ambiance … the entire connect weaves a delightful ‘spread’!
~For Indiblogger and Ambipur  … ‘Smelly To Smiley!’ ~

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Baking | Swedish Prinsesstårta Cupcakes … Daring Bakers serve up royally delicious cakes!

“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.

Swedish Prinsesstårta, princess cupcakes Swedish Prinsesstårta Cupcakes … the best BEST cake we’ve eaten of late. Perfect balance of flavours, moist, flavourful, addictive good, non chocolate … PERFECT! It’s been a while since I enjoyed a Daring Bakers challenge so immensely. Everything was good about it. I have to admit that I veered off the basic recipe … but need to blame the treacherous North Indian summer for that!!

Swedish Prinsesstårta, princess cupcakes Come May and I got a very excited call from local DB Ruchira. “Guess what the challenge is? A Princess Cake! Wheee… I love it!I was equally thrilled. A Princess cake is junior teens 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.

Swedish Prinsesstårta, princess cupcakes To date, it’s been the best ever cake for the kidlet. He repeatedly tells me how good ‘that Bavarian cream‘ was! Talk about love for food and good taste. Everything Helene does has the midas touch. The months challenge was partly inspired by her recipe.

Swedish Prinsesstårta, princess cupcakes

Korena of Korena in the Kitchen was our May Daring Bakers’ host and she delighted us with this beautiful Swedish Prinsesstårta!

Swedish Prinsesstårta, princess cupcakes

A little research revealed that the original recipe was created in the 1930s by a Swedish home economics teacher named Jenny Åkerström, who taught the three Swedish princesses of the time. She published a series of four cookbooks called “The Princess Cookbooks” and in one of the editions, there was a recipe for “Grön Tårta” (green cake). One story is that this later became known as “princess cake” (prinsesstårta) because the three princesses are said to have loved it so much. 

Another story is that Ms. Åkerström actually created three very elaborate “princess cake” recipes – a different one for each princess – and that the current version is a simplified combination of all three. That explains the princess connection, but the reason for the cake being green still seems to be a mystery. 

I got to the challenge very very late. It was the 25th already. And the weather? Hot as hot can be, threatening to get worse by the minute! It was 46C at 6pm day before. Fry the eggs on the sidewalk hot, maybe bake the poor princess there too! Plans for a Princess cake were rapidly demolished. Swedish Prinsesstårta, princess cupcakes Yet I am very nostalgic about the Daring Bakers, a journey that has been long and fruitful. I have been with them for 5 years maybe, and it’s the only baking group I have continued with. I owe them most of what I’ve learnt. The journeys been full of ultimate highs, and a few heartbreaks too; entirely memorable.

Swedish Prinsesstårta, princess cupcakes Besides, the challenge this month was not just one of being a ‘baker‘. Bakers as you know double up quite often as patisserie chefs too. A finger in every pie, and so on! It was a test of skills at many different levels. I had to make something. That came by way of these sweet Princess Cupcakes that I’ve had bookmarked for years! {I baked the cupcakes the previous evening and completed them at the crack of dawn. You can find a few grainy pictures taken in a hurry to guide you through}

Swedish Prinsesstårta, princess cupcakes The components are quite the same. There is cake, pastry cream, whipped cream, jam and marzipan. A petite version in this blistering heat which hitting 48C is much easier to handle.  I had some balsamic cherries from the two ingredient dark chocolate mousse. Cherries make life a lot more worthwhile. 

Swedish Prinsesstårta, princess cupcakes The Swedish Prinsesstårta Cupcakes turned out excellent. The cupcakes are layered about the same way as you would a Swedish Prinsesstårta. In 20 minutes, spared of a power cut, I was past stage one. Cupcakes done! While they baked, the pastry cream was stirred in the Thermomix. 7 minutes to perfect pastry cream!

Swedish Prinsesstårta, princess cupcakes I made the pastry cream a little thicker as it’s so hot. I didn’t get to the marzipan though I have made it several times in the past. It was far too hot to attempt marzipan from scratch. A special gift from my dear friend and Daring Baker Finla came to my rescue. She sent me marzipan with a truckload of stuff a few months ago. I use it very sparingly and was thrilled to have some on hand for the princess cupcakes.

Swedish Prinsesstårta, princess cupcakes This was the best part! Such fun dressing the little ones up. I did the flowers and leaves out of trimmings and it reminded me of my first and only fondant cake, the Tea Rose Fondant Cake, I made a while ago. The cupcakes were patched together on fast track as everything threatened to melt. The end result isn’t as neat as I would have liked it to be, but the marzipan was going too soft.

Thank you Korena was such a beautiful and eye opening challenge. I intend to make the priginal Swedish Prinsesstårta once the weather gets cooler.  Thank you as always Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice for hosting this fab kitchen!! Do stop by here and check out some more royalty!

 

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No Bake | Mulberry Strawberry Buttermilk Sorbet & Mulberry Jam … In season with mulberries!

“I put everything I can into the mulberry of my mind and hope that it is going to ferment and make a decent wine. How that process happens, I’m sorry to tell you, I can’t describe.”
John Hurt

Mulberry Strawberry Buttermilk Sorbet & Mulberry Jam Mulberry Strawberry Buttermilk Sorbet & Mulberry Jam! Here we go round the mulberry bush tree, and looks like I’m going to stay right under it! We’re enjoying a very short and very sweet mulberry season. I feel so inspired! Seems like it’s going to be mulberries all the way.

Mulberries

Mulberries are actually a good source of raw food protein, a rarity in the fruit kingdom. They are also a good source of magnesium, potassium, riboflavin, iron, calcium, vitamin C, and fiber. One of the mulberry’s greatest health assets is it’s high concentration of resveratrol, an antioxidant currently being studied for its effects on heart health.

Mulberry Strawberry Buttermilk Sorbet 1The sudden mulberry distraction {maybe madness} arrived unannounced as usual. This post is more about the story around the fruit, than the sorbet or jam itself. The latter would barely spin a tale, though the sorbet recipe is a real winner!

Mulberry Strawberry Buttermilk Sorbet A large number of us joined the very large hearted and talented Neel at Learn Food Photography to polish our photography knowledge and skills. A few of you might know that I am still very lost about the technicalities behind the camera and am a compulsive auto shooter.

Learning food photography...So thanks to this 30 day exercise, we are down almost 3 weeks doing what we like to do best. That includes virtually meeting and interacting with a huge like minded community. {The photograph below is one of my favourite shots from last week.}

Day 17 – Create Harmony and BalanceIn addition to some serious photog learning, the interactions are also a huge take away. It’s fascinating to see how food photography can reunite folk from India to Mexico!Mulberry Jam Together we’ve played with light, angles, DOF, backgrounds, props, diffusers and so much more. Maybe you can catch bits in my photographs. You can see the sorbet in many different hues, from an early morning shot, to a rather deep pink late evening one. An enriching experience!

Mulberry Strawberry Buttermilk Sorbet & Mulberry Jam 4It was on the forum that I chanced upon a photograph of mulberries that Ozan from Turkey shared. That made me sit up. What happened to our mulberry season? Why didn’t I remember? Man Friday was immediately summoned and commissioned with ‘the mulberry task’.

MulberriesHe never fails…never! He soon brought me a bag of pretty, juicy mulberries, sweet as sweet could be. Morning saw me stirring mulberry jam! Nothing to the recipe. Just the berries with equal sugar, a vanilla bean, a dash of lime juice.  I threw in some aged balsamic too. Simmered until soft over low heat, then cooked until it thickened somewhat. TADA! Jam! No pectin, nothing!

Mulberry Jam I get a HUGE bagful every alternate day. I’ve frozen some. Throw them into smoothies for the kids. A strawberry mulberry smoothie is beautiful. Then I wanted to make something I’ve waited long to  make, a buttermilk sorbet. I added some mulberries  instead of just a strawberry sorbet. Delightful!

Mulberry Strawberry Buttermilk Sorbet This mixed berry sorbet is light, refreshing, summery and beautiful! I shot it in many different ways in the ongoing LFP exercise. It included styling – napkins, garnish, Pinterest inspiration etc. I got some right shots, and some very wrong.  So much fun, and so much to learn.

Mulberry Strawberry Buttermilk Sorbet It was three days of ‘mulberry shots‘! Another huge bagful came in this morning so the head is buzzing with mulberry coloured thoughts again. Any recipe suggestions are more than welcome. Hopefully I’ll have another mulberry centric post out this month!

Mulberry Strawberry Buttermilk Sorbet Until then, please help yourself to really really refreshing and pretty Mulberry Strawberry Buttermilk Sorbet. The Mulberry Jam is quite sweet and makes for a nice addition in a berry dessert sauce, added to whipped cream into a fool, dolloped over breakfast cereal or slathered onto a warm buttery toast! I love cooking in season!

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