passionate about baking

“Another fresh new year is here . . .
Another year to live!
To banish worry, doubt, and fear,
To love and laugh and give!”

Savoury macsAnd hence draws an end to a decade {gosh seems like almost a century eh?}. A promising and ‘footloose’ year was 2010, with obvious reference to the appearance of feet towards the end. Still not sure how I achieved them feet, but am betting its the new oven. I have had more success in the last 2 months than I’ve had over the last 2 years with these fiddly creatures … I’m loving it! This ‘happy feet’ post wraps the year that was. Looking forward to a spanking new year, with loads to do and fresh perspectives. Sorry no resolutions for me. I’m just not the sort. Que sera sera, what will be will be.Mac Tweets time again {I’m late, sorry}, and the theme this month for Mac Attack #14… Savoury Sweet for the Holidays had me perplexed. Decided to add some freshly ground pepper to the shell, with a sprinkle of sea salt. The macarons shells tasted really nice, almost addictive. Despite all the sweet I bake, I am a hardcore savoury person, and love my salty rather than sweet.savoury macsThe pepper & salt macs shells had me intrigued. Before I found feet in these I had set some quark. The filling would be savoury too, and I was thrilled I found feet. The macs were nice, but alas … savoury macarons are not for me. As far as macarons go, I’m rather conventional and prefer the sweet ones. However, these did provide for a fascinating adventure!

Do you want to join Jamie and me making MACARONS??

If you do, you are most welcome to join the
‘Attack’. You can find all the information at our dedicated macaron blog
MacTweets. The rules for can be found here. You can always join us next month too. Just drop us a mail or tweet.

Savoury Quark Macarons
1 egg white, aged for 2 days
2 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp egg white powder
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp seat salt
Sift the almond meal & powdered sugar well, twice.
Beat the egg white until it looks like baby foam bath, 20 seconds. Add powdered egg white & granulated sugar and beat till it holds stiff peaks 1 -1 1/2 minutes {if you hold the bowl upside down, it shouldn’t fall out – try at your won risk though}
Fold in the almond meal-icing sugar mix until you get a lava like macronage. {Hint: If you cut a line through the batter, it should disappear within 5-8 seconds. Now you are good to go}
Pipe, or spoon tsp amounts of batter on parchment paper, and rap the tray firmly on the kitchen counter to get rid of any air bubbles.
Freshly grind whole pepper over the macarons, and leave to dry for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 140C. Once preheated, sprinkle a few flakes of sea salt over each macaron shell and bake at 140C for 12-15 minutes. {I use the top shelf in my oven, with just the lower element}
Check to ensure they are set, and not jiggly. Slide parchment from tray onto cooling rack, or marble slab, and allow to cool completely.
100gm quark {homemade recipe here}
2 tbsp grated cheese
1 clove garlic minced
Fresh basil
Salt to taste
Gentle squeeze of lime

Mix all ingredients with a balloon or whisk till smooth. Taste & adjust seasoning if required.
To assemble
Match equal halves of macarons, and keep together.
Use a small spoon or piping bag/nozzle, deposit a tiny amount of quark filling on the flat side of the macaron, and sandwich with another of the same size. Sandwich them, squeezing gently. Leave to set in fridge.
Savoury Quark Macarons

♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥

A peep into the year that went by …

These kittens are sweet. You think so too? A stray littered in an old dilapidated room on my parents roof. They were very sweet until they started growing up and dragging prey home {read squirrels and rats}! Then my Mum had enough of these cuties …   they’ve now left!Shift to WordPress. I made the move this year but CODE still puzzles me, yet I’m happy with where I am now. Mac poweryes the mac gods smiled on me & I felt blessed to find feet. Maybe next year onwards I shall venture more bravely into filling territory, but at least the fear of not finding feet has been defeated. Things from my blog that I made more often than I can remember this year … Double Chocolate Strawberry & Oat Energy Bars {Megan’s Cooking}, Buttermilk Pound Cake, Oatmeal Chocolate-chip Cookies, Roberts Absolutely Best Brownies {David Lebovitz}, Coffee Macarons, Eggless Chocolate & Vanilla Cake, Chicken Shami  Kebabs, Butter Chicken, Marie Helenes Apple Cake {Dorie Greenspan}, Rustic Garlic Loaves, Wholewheat Chicken Basil Wraps, Chicken Bell Pepper & Mushroom JullieneOttolenghis Ricotta & Spinach Roulade & Chargrilled Brocolli Salad. These are recipes are some of those that I keep coming back to, over and over again.My first love still remains cakes, especially layered cakes. COFFEE is still placed on top of my list {Espresso Coffee Cream Cake -YES!!}, but I’ve had a fabulous time exploring others like the Lavender Chiffon Cake with Whipped Lemon Curd and Strawberry Quark Cake. Another favourite – No Bake Strawberry & Quark Cheesecake.

Macarons seem to have stolen some of my time this year and continue to hold me captivated. No matter how many times I try to make them, the joy of ‘feet’ is thrilling each time. My faves this year – these coffee macarons, and the best – these vanilla macarons which made up this fantastic macaron trifle from Donna Hay. This was my most fun dessert yet, a show stopper!

Fruit in baking is still my mantra, and I’m over the moon to see luscious strawberries flood the market. Still priced high but delicious in everyway, they keep finding their way into my oven. I’m ending this year with 2 of my current passions … Strawberries and Donna Hay! She has me captivated and each time I saw her on MasterChef Australia I felt like I knew her personally.  At home, we are wrapping up 2010 with Donna Hays Strawberry Tarte Tatins … and they do look smell wonderful in the ramekins!In perspective, I’ve spent more time than I can imagine on twitter, a place I enjoy. The connect, the banter, the joie de vivre … but I admit I’ve cut back on time spent there as a day has just so many hours. Yet, it’s one place I long to be, and whenever I can steal a moment, I’m there! Facebook still makes me feel lost, and Stumble Upon is a deep mystery! For once, this year I’ve got invited to more foodie events than I could attend! Cookbooks and many of them, some bought, some sent for review … and all good ones.Still have to read them all, but still have more on my list. Some of my favourites – The Chocolate Bible, Lara Ferronis Doughnuts, Mainland China Cookbook, I L♥ve Macarons, The Cake Bible.

HAPPY 2010 you wonderful peeps. Hope it’s filled with peace, joy and happiness for each of you. HNY!!

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

“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

Toasted Walnut Linzer Cookies with Strawberry FillingJust another manic day like many others!  One of ‘those days’ when you have enough on your plate. Then by some cruel twist of fate, you land up at Tastespotting … and immediately wish you hadn’t. That was me that day. I couldn’t take my eyes off those beautiful cookies. There was something about them, and then the name “Pecan Linzer Cookies with Cherry Filling“. They held me captivated! I was soon breaking into The Parsley Thief’s beautiful blog to get my virtual fill of them!Toasted Walnut Linzer CookiesThe cookies had to be made! I had them on my mind all morning despite a PILE of work. I made sweet butter, did the laundry, chopped a  kilo fruit & nuts for fruit cake – BIG achievement. Non-traditional mincemeat sans suet made, matured briefly & baked into fruit cake. To be posted soon!}.Garam Masala Fruit Cake That morning, I also tried my hand at savoury macarons for MacTweets and failed {Attempted a second time recently, with success! That post is coming too}. My feet were begging for freedom, but the heart wasn’t willing and soon I had the walnuts toasting. Time to take it slow, I decided to toast the walnuts that day, make the dough the next day & roll the cookies out wheneverbut one thing led to another!

Toasted Walnut Linzer Cookies with Strawberry Filling …and the holiday baking spirit isn’t that easy to shrug off. Once the walnuts cooled, I was tempted to grind them, intrigued by the procedure. Now just a step away from dough, so I proceeded to make that too. Dough to be rested in the fridge OVERNIGHT said the head, but soon the heart was rolling out cookies. Such was the temptation, and so good was the dough. It rolled well though could have been better if I had let it rest for 2 hours, but I couldn’t wait. Baked the cookies with a song in my heart! Yes, they were that attractive at The Parsley Thief’s place!

Toasted Walnut Linzer Cookies with Strawberry Filling December is whirring by, now unstoppable. It’s halfway past the month, and it’s fun to see the baking frenzy that has hit the world. Twitter is abuzz atweet with who’s baking what, food blogs are bursting with fabulous holiday baking ideas. Did you see these cute Swiss Roll Christmas Cottages at Not Quite Nigella ? Missed a heartbeat when I saw them! I wish I had most of December left as there are so many delicious  ideas, but I’m GLAD I made these cookies at least!Toasted Walnut Linzer Cookies with Strawberry Filling They were lved by the kids,  prized apart, jam duly licked off, sugar too, and then the cookies enjoyed … gobbled up in seconds. I saved some to give to friends as they were disappearing too soon. I think the basic cookie is a great one too sans the jam filling, quite like a nutty crisp shortbread on its own. My not-so-sweet tooth preferred it that way. A dusting of sugar seemed good enough. Toasted Walnut Linzer Cookies with Strawberry FillingThe box now lies empty as the daughter had her sweet-toothed friend over for the day yesterday, and they finished them off, down to the last crumb! Make them, enjoy them … and gift them! They are actually my first ever sandwich cookies; pretty darned good ones. Toasted Walnut Linzer Cookieswe you! Of course there’s  a platter tucked away for Santa, and that’s where these are going!

…and they are also going to the Kitchen Corners December Cook Off where the it’s all about baking & giving cookies!

Toasted Walnut Linzer Cookies with Strawberry FillingToasted Walnut Linzer Cookies with Strawberry Filling
Adapted from The Parsley Thief
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, February 2007
Makes about 20 sandwich cookies
2 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cups walnut halves
2 tablespoons powdered sugar {plus, more for decorating}
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter {slightly softened}
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup homemade strawberry vanilla bean conserve , melted with 1/2 tsp water {or any preserve of choice}

Toasted Walnut Linzer Cookies with Strawberry Filling

Begin by toasting the walnut halves, either in a dry skillet over medium heat, or in a 180C. Toast for about 5 minutes. Be careful, nuts burn quickly! Set aside to cool completely before proceeding with the recipe.
In a mixing bowl, whisk the flour & baking powder, until combined. Set aside.
Add the toasted walnuts, powdered sugar, salt & cinnamon to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment. Cut the butter into small pieces & add to the bowl, along with the sugar. Blend until light & fluffy. Add the vanilla extract & egg, blend until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl, as necessary. Turn the mixer to low & slowly add the flour mixture, beating until just incorporated.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface & shape into a ball. Cut the dough in half & shape each half into a disc. Wrap the discs in plastic wrap & refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 190C. Roll out the dough, one disc at a time, to an 1/8″ thickness. Cut the cookies out using a 2″ scalloped edge cookie cutter & arrange them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Using mini cookie cutters, cut shapes out of the centers of half the cookies. These will be the tops. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking time. Let the cookies cool slightly before transferring to a rack to cool completely.
When cool, add some powdered sugar to a small sieve & tap a dusting of sugar over all the cookie tops. Spread a layer of strawberry preserves over the cookie bottoms & place the tops on.
The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
Toasted Walnut Linzer Cookies with Strawberry Filling♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥

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

“Some people give time, some money, some their skills and connections, some literally give their life’s blood. But everyone has something to give.”
Barbara Bush

Baking in Delhi ... the vitalstatistics!Baking in India is a whole new ball game, a challenge like none other, where something as basic as uninterrupted power supply might pose one of the biggest challenges yet. By the time you whip, the eggs, fold in the flour and pre-heat the oven, the minute you pop the tin into the magic box…POP, there might be a power cut.While finding a way around that might be a little expensive, and not easy for most of us, I’m going to try and list a set of resources to tackle the other important issues – EQUIPMENT, INGREDIENTS and BAKING TINS etc. This little list is based on what I use, my experiences with other fellow bakers…and trivia I find here & there.I will continue to build on it as I go along.

Do leave a comment/mail me if I have missed something! I would love to hear from you!

A fellow foodie blogger I recently exchanged notes with, the very sweet Pamela Timms @ Eat & Dust who I finally got to meet after ages of planning. We met at the French Pastry Festival for a Le Cordon Blue workshop run by LBC Master Chef Christian Fuare, hosted at The Oberois. Once the workshop was done, we chatted through a light, flavourful and delicious lunch and covered the ups and downs of baking in India.

With some inputs from Pamela too, with gentle pressure from the sweet Suma @ Cakes And More, and many emails from kind, patient readers of PAB, without further delay, here we go…

In my kitchen

1. Oven – I use a Morphy Richards 40L oven I recently purchased. It’s a nice oven, a good size and has a variety of oven settings. {Pamela has the same, and in addition has a Bajaj as well that she recommends}. Right now there aren’t any problems, but if I need to fix it there are sites like PartSelect that provide appliance parts and have tutorials.

2. Electric Handbeater – This is indispensable for someone like me, and I use it all time. I use an in-store brand from Croma {which turned out to be a sturdy one imported by Croma from WoolWorth}

3. Thermomix – A magical kitchen food processor, and not just that. It even cooks. In the Thermomix, processing takes just seconds. It can weigh, chop, grind, mince, mill, knead, whisk, beat, blend, puree, whip and juice! I use my TM every single day, and love it to bits.  {Thermomix in India}

4. Things I can’t live without … my microplane zester, spatulas, nutmeg grater, box grater, Santuko knives, Ergo chef knives, more knives, mixing bowls of every size {glass & steel}, balloon whisks, offset spatulas, bread knives, potato peeler {shaves chocolate curls and cheese well too}, stack of chopping boards, candy thermometer, cookie scoop, pastry bags, icing set with many nozzles, rolling pin{s}, dessert rings {adjustable and fixed}, Lazy Susan {you got to love this creation}, weighing scale {even though the Thermomix has one}, cherry pitter {thank you Purple Foodie}, disposable piping bags {thank you Suma},  … and as much parchment paper as I can possibly stash. I think parchment paper is one of the best inventions ever! I just wish we had some locally available for home use. I know that some is being produced here but it’s for commercial use! 🙁

Update: Parchment paper is now available locally – look for it at Modern Bazaar, Needs, Big Bazaar

5. More things I can’t live without … Endless baking tins, loose bottomed tart tins, petit four molds, ceramic ramekins, odd plates, white crockery, spoons of every size and shape…

Pantry Staples for Baking:

I’ll begin with the basic basics…

White butter: I actually make my own every week and store it in 100gm portions in the freezer. It keeps as good as fresh. White/unsalted/baking butter is difficult to find locally in the NCR. You might find some local brands like Gopaljee at your neighbourhood dairy. Imported Lurpak is available at gourmet stores like La Marche.

Plain flour: Simple old maida. Modern Bazaar stores cake flour in addition.

Whole wheat flour: Aata {I use Aashirwaad}

Vanilla Beans: Available well packed and organic at Fab India. I get 500gm packs from Down South – ‘Vanilla India Producer Company’, Ernakulam, Kerela { Ctc 91 4846599233/9349256746 }.

Vanilla Powder: Available in 50gm sachets at Fab India outlets

Vital Gluten: Available at Modern Bazaar {on request; ask the Store Manager}

Sugar : I use plain granulated sugar most of the time. For quick bakes I grind the sugar, and use this even in place of icing sugar.

Vanilla Sugar: Just slip a slit vanilla bean {after scraping seeds for use in something} into a jar of granulated sugar, and shut the jar tight. Store in a cool place, shaking it once or twice a day. You should have sweet smelling vanilla sugar in about a week.

Pure Vanilla Extract: I make my own {do remember it takes a while to get ready, 3-6 months}

Brown sugar: I use light brown demerera most of the time when brown sugar {light/dark} is called for. Muscavado Sugar is available imported in most gourmet stores but does cost a packet. I prefer to stick to local brands.

Yeast: I use Gloripan / Mauripan brand instant yeast that Suma from Bangalore sends me from time to time. Check her blog Cakes & More for the online source {You will be surprised at the baking/patisserie stuff you get there}. I also use fresh yeast that is available in 500gm blocks available at Modern Bazaar {Vasant Vihar and DLF}. I store the block in my freezer, and chip off the bit I want to use. Never had a problem with it. Dried yeast is also available in most ‘kirana‘ stores, and in INA etc.

Buttermilk: Best discovery to date. Saw something at local Mother Dairy outlet, checked the ingredients and did a dance of joy. Chhach is cultured buttermilk sold in 500ml packs at Mother dairy and Amul. For baking, use the plain chhach.

Baking Chocolate: The very bane of every Indian bakers life … but help is at hand with an online store Delicious Now. I often order 2-3kgs of there couverture chocolate for my baking. Its a good quality, single bean origin chocolate {55%} which works well for me. They have 10kg packs on there site, but did repackage and meet my order for 3kgs. {Priced at @700 per kg/Nov2011}. It’s a good couverture for home baking, though you stock a higher % chocolate as well.

A chocolate supplier in Ludhiana can be found at Chocolate and Baby Spice {[email protected]} and they courier slabs of dark chocolate etc, and accept payment via bank transfers online. They are very reliable and efficient as I have ordered from them often in the past.

Other than this, you can find Calebaut, Selbourne, Morde at INA market. Morde is available in 500gm bars in white, milk and dark baking chocolate in most gourmet stores like Modern Bazaar, La Marche etc.

Pimento in Jangpura also stock chocolate – +91-9810003527 or +91-9810245682. {Thank you Meenu Iyer}

Almond Meal: INA Market, mainly during winter

Dry fruits, candied peel, whole spices etc: Old Delhi, INA Market

Cocoa: My heart is set on Valrohna but it is too expensive here, as are other imported brands. What do I use? Nilgiris cocoa powder from down South thanks again to Suma and the hubs trips to Bangalore, my stock is maintained. Its a good, dark cocoa {no idea if it is alkaline or not, but to tell you the truth, I have never bothered to check}, and I have never met with a problem!

Cream: C is for cream and in India the non availability of whipping cream can make you weep. All we get is 20% low fat Amul cream {and Gopaljee in the NCR at times}. I use Amul {200ml tetrapacks} for my mascarpone etc, and for frosting too. I keep it chilled in the fridge. See my Cream in India 101…whipping it into submission. Imported whipping cream is available in most gourmet stores.

Update {Aug 2012}: After repeated requests on Amuls FB wall, they have come back to me saying they are working on a whipping cream! So there is hope in the near future.

Soft cheese: I make my own mascarpone, ricotta and  quark. {recipe here}. Local Indian soft cheese is available in most gourmet stores like Modern Bazaar, INA, La Marche, Natures Basket. These stores sell a large variety of imported cheese as well.


  •  Pigmento in Jangpura has a range of chocolate compounds and cocoa and tons of fillings, colors and other stuff useful for baking/making chocolates – call them at +91-9810003527 or +91-9810245682. {Thank you Meenu Iyer}
  • Modern Bazaar, Vasant Vihar & DLF Phase 1, Gurgaon has an extensive aisle with baking products {which are often found to be priced quite high} You would find vital gluten there on demand. Please request the store manager.
  • Parchment paper – You could order online. Just mail your requirement to [email protected]. They have a FB page Passionate Baking
  • Bakersmart – An online store for buying gloripan yeast and compound chocolate and some other stuff like pans and liners and fondant press etc {thank you Ketkee @ The Constant Nibbler}

Shopping for pots and pans, ramekins etc:Pots & pans in Delhi

1. Baking tins, dessert rings, bread knives, bread molds, muffin trays, icing sets, pastry bags … and lots more in this little shop in Old Delhi. Take the Metro to Chawri Bazaar, and a rickshaw from there. I love this shop! {Update April 2013- They have a website too now.}

1730/B, Bazar Lal Kuan, Delhi 110006
Mohd Kashif, Ctc 9311150022
{Deals in bakery ware, cake mould, bread mould, muffin tray, pizza tray, cake stand, halwai ware, kitchen ware}
2. Vintage pots and pans
Doma Copper Brass
12 Tibetan Market
New Delhi
Tashi Nima , Ctc 9999700186
3. Urbandazzle is all about living with style. Be it Drinking, Dining, Decor or Gifting – it’s the one-stop shop for all such items. Urban Dazzle is a must visit too for bakers in India. Ramekins are reasonable here, as is other bakeware. Bakeware, dessertware, bottles, RAMEKINS, cake plates, decanters, kitchen essentials, table essentials, tumblers, carafes… a huge variety under one roof! Be it Drinking, Dining, Decor or Gifting, it’s the one-stop shop for all such items. While most of their current selection is made of glass, they intend to diversify into other items going forward.

4. Stores like The Home Store, Osaba {Vasant Vihar}, Tarini {Greater Kailash & DLF Phase 4}, Croma {Sanjeev Kapoors silicon baking line}, Lifestyle stock good quality baking tins, ramekins, ceramics etc but do check in advance as stocks are very erratic!
5. Butler Mart, Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi – Bakeware, Kitchenware, Electrical appliances {palette knives, icing knives, baking dishes of all sizes, even serving plates etc.} {Thank you Eishaan Bhargava for the link.}

…. will keep updating!


Helpful links

Baking in Bangalore

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