Pineapple pastry

Pastry is a term used in India to refer to any cake made with a fresh cream filling or frosting. The most popular ones are the Black Forest and Pineapple pastries.

When we were kids summer holidays were spent at granny's in Bangalore. Every visit to Commercial Street or the shopping area in Jayanagar almost always was accompanied by a stop at the Taj Cake shop or Sweet Chariot. Both these places make great tasting pastries. I miss those visits but on the other hand I am really glad I know how to make these pastries at home (thanks to mom!) and I can satisfy my cravings anytime.

Pastries are usually made with fat-free sponge cakes where all the sponginess comes from the eggs.

Pineapple Pastry:

You will need:

For the Cake: (Makes two thin 9-inch cakes)

2 cups All-purpose flour plus more for pans
1 ¾ Cups Confectioner’s sugar (Powdered Sugar)
6 Eggs
2 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp Pineapple Extract (or Vanilla)

For the Filling and Frosting:

1 ½ cups Heavy Whipping Cream
½ cup Confectioner’s sugar
1 Cup Pineapple chunks

For the syrup:

1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp Powdered sugar
½ to ¾ cup Ice-cold water

Preheat oven to 300F. Prepare the baking pans. For this cake you will need two 9-inch round baking pans. This step is very important for easy removal of the baked cakes. Since this cake has no fat in it, ie no butter, the chances of it sticking to the pan are more if pans are not prepared well. Grease the insides of the pan evenly with butter or solid vegetable shortening using a pastry brush. Sprinkle each of the pans with 1 tbsp of all-purpose flour. Tap pans gently on the kitchen counter to ensure the flour spreads and covers the pan. Remove the excess flour. Set pans aside till ready to use.

Separate the white from the yolks. Beat each separately adding pineapple extract and little sugar at a time. The whites should form stiff peaks and the yolks should be pale and thick. Fold the beaten yolks into whites. Sift flour and baking powder thrice and fold into the egg mixture.

FOLD: Means to slowly turn dry ingredients into the wet in a circular inward to outward motion. Do not beat or mix vigorously. The main purpose of folding is to allow more air into the mixture and to avoid flattening the frothy eggs.

Pour mixture into prepared pans. Bake for 15-20 minutes till cake is done and springs back on touch or a cake tester (or toothpick) comes out clean when inserted in the centre of the cake.

Let cool in pan for 10 minutes and then invert cakes onto cooling rack. Let cool completely before frosting.

Chill the beater blades and the bowl in which you will use to whip the cream. Whip cream while slowly adding sugar till cream is thick and stiff. Do not overbeat, it turns to butter!

Mix lemon juice, sugar and water in a bowl. Place one cake over a cake pedestal or plate, poke holes with a fork in a few places on the cake. Spoon the syrup all over the cake in a till cake is moist (but not soggy). Spread an even layer of the cream, and place pineapple chunks and sliced maraschino cherries. Place the other cake on top of this and repeat the moistening procedure. Spread an even thick layer of cream on top. To finish decorate with remaining pineapple chunks and cherries.

This pastry is light and before you know you will be reaching out for another slice!

Sun-dried Tomato and Olive Focaccia

Focaccia is flat oven-baked Italian bread, considered similar to a pizza. It differs though on the toppings and the way it’s prepared.

I have kept away from baking breads and anything that involved yeast, because the yeast ‘beast’ has been intimidating. This time the urge to eat a freshly baked Focaccia got the better of me and I set about making the Focaccia. I must say working with yeast was not bad at all, in fact I no longer feel intimidated, and I hope to bake more breads from now on.

We love the flavour of sun-dried tomatoes, so this Focaccia has loads of it on top. Olives taste good too and go well with the sun-dried tomatoes.

I chose to use the recipe for Tender Potato Bread to make the Focaccia. Tender Potato Bread was a Daring Bakers’ Challenge way back in Nov. 2007. I was not part of the Daring Bakers then yet. It felt good to go back and try a DB challenge. The results were incredible as always.

Sun-dried Tomato and Olive Focaccia:

The dough was very soft and very sticky too, which had me worried while making the bread, but eventually the dough came together beautifully. I halved the original recipe which yielded one 9” x 13” Focaccia, and four herbed flatbreads.

You will need:

2 medium to large floury (baking) potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks.
The variety of potatoes you might want to use would include Idaho, Russet & Yukon gold, there are others.

2 Cups (475 ml) Water

½ tbsp plus ½ tsp salt

1 tsp active dry yeast

3 ¼ cups to 4 ¼ cups (500g- 675g) unbleached All-purpose flour

½ tbsp unsalted butter, softened

½ cup (65g) whole wheat flour


¼ cup Olive oil

½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, in oil, cut into thin strips

¼ cup whole black olives, quartered

Coarse salt

½ tsp Oregano

1 tbsp Garlic, chopped

A little of dried Oregano, Thyme and crushed red chilli flakes

Pastry brush, to brush on olive oil

Making the Dough (Directions will be for making by hand):

Put the potatoes and 2 cups water in a sauce pan and bring to boil.Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, half covered, until the potatoes are very tender.

Drain the potatoes, SAVE THE POTATO WATER, and mash the potatoes well.

Measure out 1 ½ cups(375ml) of the reserved potato water. Add extra water if needed to make 1 ½ cups.

Place the water and mashed potatoes in the bowl you plan to mix the bread dough in. Let cool to lukewarm (70-80°F/21 - 29°C) – stir well before testing the temperature – it should feel barely warm to your hand. You should be able to submerge you hand in the mix and not be uncomfortable.

Add yeast to 1 cup all-purpose flour and whisk. Add yeast and flour to the cooled mashed potatoes & water and mix well. Allow to rest/sit 5 minutes.

Sprinkle in the remaining 1/2 tablespoon salt and the softened butter; mix well. Add the 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, stir briefly.

Add 1 cups of the unbleached all-purpose flour and stir until all the flour has been incorporated.

Turn the dough out onto a generously floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, incorporating flour as needed to prevent sticking. The dough will be very sticky to begin with, but as it takes up more flour from the kneading surface, it will become easier to handle; use a dough scraper to keep your surface clean. The kneaded dough will still be very soft.

Place the dough in a large clean bowl or your rising container of choice, cover with plastic wrap or lid, and let rise about 2 hours or until doubled in volume.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead gently several minutes. It will be moist and a little sticky.

Forming the Focaccia:

Take about 2/3rd of the dough and flatten it out onto a 9”x 13” inch baking sheet covered in foil. Spread it out to all the ends of the sheet using your finger tips. Brush the top of the dough generously with olive oil, sprinkle on a little coarse sea salt, and then dimple all over with your fingertips. Cover with plastic and let rise for 20 minutes.

After the 20 minutes, top the Focaccia with the sun-dried tomato strips, olives, garlic and oregano. Dimple again.

Forming the Herbed Flatbreads:

Cut the remaining dough into 4 equal pieces. With a floured hand shape into rounds and lay flat on a baking sheet lined with foil. Brush tops with olive oil, sprinkle each with a little of oregano, thyme and red chilli flakes. Space them about 2 inches apart. Cover and let rise for about 35 minutes.

Baking the Focaccia and Flatbreads:

Preheat oven to 450 F(230 C).

For the Focaccia: Place the Focaccia in the centre of the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. If you feel the toppings are getting brown quickly reduce temperature to 425 F and continue to bake.

Remove from pan, and let cool for at least 10 minutes on a cooling rack before cutting. I brushed on a little more olive oil as soon as it was out of the oven, this helps keep it moist.

For the Herbed Flatbreads: Reduce oven temperature to 400F and place the flatbreads in the centre of oven. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden on top. Cool on a wire rack.

The Focaccia was out of this world and so were the herbed flatbreads. This recipe will surely be my go-to recipe anytime I need to eat freshly baked bread.

CLICK Cookies

CLICK is a monthly photography event hosted by Bee and Jai over at Jugalbandi.

Its been a really long time since I sent in an entry to this event. This month's theme is "Cookies". I have clicked quite a few cookies in the past, and it wasn't very hard choosing an entry.

(Click on image to enlarge)

These are Raspberry Almond Twirls, and the recipe is here.

I hope all of you are enjoying the long weekend.

Vanity Bag Cake

A friend had her birthday recently and I felt this cake was very apt for her because she is a beautician. As with each and every cake, I enjoyed doing the detail work.

Its a Vanilla cake covered in Fondant and the 'cosmetics' are made out of Fondant.

My friend loved it and I am glad I got a chance to make her day! :)

Jackfruit Halwa

I have been away vacationing in Vegas and sunny California, got back on Monday. But since we were gone for almost a week, it took me just about a week to get into the rigmarole of life. My customers were waiting eagerly for my return, so it was back to work for me right away. The trip was very refreshing and I will surely write more on that later.

If there is one fresh fruit that I missed incessantly here is Jackfruit…up until a few days back when I discovered (yeah, with a triumph!) that fresh jackfruit is very much available here as well. Back home, eating fresh jackfruit was almost a daily ritual when the fruit was in season. Dad would often buy the peeled, ready to eat fruit; on his way back home from morning work. We always wolved it down like there was no tomorrow!

Our local Farmers Market was selling fresh jackfruit, whole as well as halved. I bought a halved chunk, wondering all the way to the cashier, if I would be able to peel it and lay my hands on the juicy fruit within. In the end I finally decided to risk the peeling part and bought it. I must say it is a task best left to the roadside vendors who do it so effortlessly (or so it seems). After a sticky ordeal which seemed eternal, I was able to beam at my prized pieces of fresh, juicy fruit. These pieces were so sweet I can’t even begin to tell you how good they tasted.

Hubby is not a big stickler for fruit so I had almost all of it to myself…having gorged on half the pieces; I remembered Ajji (grandma) used to make a halwa out of jackfruit. It’s a simple aromatic sweet dish.

Jackfruit Halwa:

You will need:

1 tbsp Ghee
1 tsp Cashew bits
1 tsp Raisins
1 cup fresh jackfruit, cut into small bits
2 tbsp fresh grated Coconut
½ tsp Cardamom powder
1 tbsp Sugar (only if fruit is not naturally sweet)

Heat ghee in a pan and add the cashew and raisins. Fry till light brown. To this add the chopped jackfruit. Fry for 3 minutes, till jackfruit loses its colour slightly and becomes a little mushy. At this point stir in the sugar only if needed. The fruit I had on hand was very sweet on its own, so I didn’t use any sugar. Add the coconut and cardamom, fry till fragrant, another minute. This can be served hot, chilled or at room temperature.

I spoke to Ajji right before I made the halwa to make sure this is how she made it and she gave me a whole list of other dishes that could be made using Jackfruit. I am yet to try them – provided this batch of jackfruit lasts long enough.

Veggie Spring Rolls

My hubby and I were off to Vegas over the weekend, and now we are in sunny California. The weather is perfect and so are the places to visit here. We are not back until this coming weekend, and I am making the most of my time away from the kitchen.After all I do need a break don't I? :)

I had made Veggie Spring Rolls last week, the Indian way. Here Spring rolls are made with the ready to use wanton wrappers, but the spring rolls back in India are made with thin crepes, which are filled, rolled and then deep fried. The outer layer is crisp and soft at the same time, and makes the roll heartier compared to the very crisp wanton wrapper.

You will need:

For the Crepes:

1 Cup All purpose flour

½ Cup Corn flour (Corn starch)

1 Egg, lightly beaten

¼ tsp Salt

Water as required

Cooking spray

For the Veggie filling:

1 Cup Green cabbage, shredded

1 Cup shredded carrots

½ tsp Garlic, minced

½ tsp Ginger, minced

½ cup Scallions, chopped

1 tsp Dark soy sauce, low-sodium

Salt to taste

1 tbsp Sesame Oil

1 tsbp Hot chilli sauce or Sriracha (adj. acc to taste)

Oil for deep frying

2 tbsp All purpose Flour

Make the Crepes: Mix all of the ingredients for the crepe using water as required to make a smooth batter. The batter should be of pouring consistency.

Heat an 8” wide non-stick skillet, spray with cooking oil, pour about ¼ cup of the batter in the centre of the pan. Lift pan and gently swirl it around in an anti-clcokwise direction, to help spread the batter evenly across the pan. Cook on medium heat, for a minute or two on each side. Prepare all crepes. Store crepes in between paper towels.

Make the Filing: Heat the sesame oil in a pan. Add the minced ginger and garlic. Saute till fragrant. Now add the shredded cabbage and carrots. Cook till cabbage and carrots have wilted down and are soft. Stir in the soy sauce and the chopped scallions. Saute for a minute, adjust seasoning and turn off heat. Let filling cool before using.

Heat oil in a deep pan. Take a crepe; place 3 tbsp of filling breadth wise on the crepe. Take the edge closest to you and flip over the filling tightly; now take the right and left edges and bring over the first fold to close the edges. This ensures the filling stays inside when frying. Roll all the way till it forms a tube. Moisten the open edge with the flour paste, and seal. Drop in hot oil sealed side down. Fry until light brown, flip once to cook both sides.

Remove and drain on paper towels. Cut across at an angle and serve with more hot sauce or a sweet dipping sauce.

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