Stollen Wreath for the Daring Bakers

This is a special post for several reasons -- it is the 300th post on this blog, on completion of the 3rd year and the very last post for the year 2010. I couldn't have ended with a better post than one about the Daring Bakers Challenge. And before you think I 'stole' a wreath, read on...! :)

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book.........and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

Stollen is a bread-like fruitcake made with yeast, water and flour, and usually with zest added to the dough. Candied orange peel and candied citrus is often also added.Over the centuries, the cake changed from being a simple, fairly tasteless "bread" to a sweeter cake with richer ingredients.

Preparation time:

The following times are approximate. I suggest you gather and scale/weigh/measure (mise en place) all your ingredients before you begin mixing.

• Approximately 1 hour first stage – then rest overnight or up to 3 days
• 2 hours to warm up after refrigeration
• 15 minutes shaping
• 2 hours proofing
• 30-45 minutes baking

Equipment required:
• Mixer with dough hook or strong arms and hands
• Mixing bowl
• Bowl to soak raisins
• Small saucepan
• Sheet of plastic or plastic wrap to cover when proofing
• Bench or pastry scraper (very handy for cutting dough and also cleaning work surface)
• Rolling pin
• Dough whisk can be handy but not necessary
• Pastry Brush
• A scale is really important to have when making bread so I strongly advise you to get one. You do not have to have one though. (would make a good Christmas gift!)
• Sheet Pan or round Pizza pan
• Parchment Paper

Stollen Wreath
Makes one large wreath or two traditional shaped Stollen loaves. Serves 10-12 people


¼ cup (60ml) lukewarm water (110º F / 43º C)
2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) (22 ml) (14 grams) (1/2 oz) active dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) milk
10 tablespoons (150 ml) (140 grams) unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
5½ cups (1320 ml) (27 ozs) (770 grams) all-purpose (plain) flour (Measure flour first - then sift- plus extra for dusting)
½ cup (120 ml) (115 gms) sugar
¾ teaspoon (3 ¾ ml) (4 ½ grams) salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 grams) cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (very good) vanilla extract
1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon extract or orange extract
¾ cup (180 ml) (4 ¾ ozs) (135 grams) mixed peel (link below to make your own)
1 cup (240 ml) (6 ozs) (170 gms) firmly packed raisins
3 tablespoons (45ml) rum
12 red glacé cherries (roughly chopped) for the color and the taste. (optional)
1 cup (240 ml) (3 ½ ozs) (100 grams) flaked almonds
Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
Confectioners’ (icing) (powdered) sugar for dusting wreath

Note: If you don’t want to use alcohol, double the lemon or orange extract or you could use the juice from the zested orange.


Soak the raisins in a small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum (or in the orange juice from the zested orange) and set aside.

To make the dough

Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.

In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium - low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.
Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.

In a large mixing bowl (4 qt) (4 liters) (or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.

Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.

Add in the mixed peel, soaked fruit and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate. Here is where you can add the cherries if you would like. Be delicate with the cherries or all your dough will turn red!

Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn't enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.

Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.

Shaping the Dough and Baking the Wreath

1. Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
3. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
4. Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.
5. Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.
6. Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.
7. Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough.
8. Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.

Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot.Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first.The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.

Let cool at least an hour before serving. Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keeps the stollen fresh - especially if you intend on sending it in the mail as a Christmas gift.

When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style. The stollen toasts beautifully with a spread of butter and tastes absolutely delicious!


The more rum and the more coatings of butter and sugar you use the longer it will store. I used about 1/2 cup of rum to soak the raisins and about 1/2 cup butter to coat the stollen and about a cup of powdered sugar.

1. Stollen freezes beautifully about 4 months
2. The baked stollen stores well for 2 weeks covered in foil and plastic wrap on the counter at room temperature and
3. One month in the refrigerator well covered with foil and plastic wrap.

Thanks Penny for a scrumptious challenge!

It has been a great year of baking and cooking, wishing all of you a very wonderful year to come with loads of fun and food. Till next year, happy eating!

Merry Christmas!

It's snowing here in Atlanta and we are enjoying a very White Christmas :) I baked Gingerbread Cookies this morning. Warm and spicy, just the thing for a snowy day.

Wishing all my readers and well-wishers a very Merry Christmas!

Bread Pulao

It’s been over a month since I posted here, and I thank all of you who still stopped by and checked for updates. We’ve been busy entertaining family and travelling too.

Recently I tried a new recipe for pulao. The cooking method is different from conventional pulaos and so are the ingredients, which set this pulao apart. Like a lot of dishes concocted in mom’s, grandma’s or athamma’s (MIL) kitchen, which don’t have a fancy name…Bread Pulao is one of them.

You will need:

1 cup Basmati Rice, washed
2 cups Water

¼ cup Oil
1 Onion thinly sliced
2 cups chopped mixed vegetables (potatoes, peas, carrots)
6 cloves Garlic
10-12 Green chillies, chopped
½ cup fresh grated Coconut
2 tsp Poppy seeds
½ cup packed Mint leaves
A handful cilantro
Salt to taste
3 slices bread

Cook the basmati rice in water and set aside. Boil the veggies, drain and reserve. Toast the bread in a toaster and then apply little ghee on both sides. Cut into small cubes.

Grind the garlic, green chillies, coconut, poppy seeds, mint leaves and cilantro into a paste using little water. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the onions and sauté for a few minutes until soft and translucent. Add the ground paste and sauté for a few minutes, till fragrant. Now add the boiled veggies and salt to taste. Add the prepared rice and combine well. Add more salt as needed. Lastly stir in the bread cubes. Serve hot with a cucumber raita.

Diwali Cake

Wishing all my readers a very Happy & Safe Diwali. This year too I am taking a Diwali themed cake to a potluck party at a friend's place. Diwali is a time of lights, colors, family, friends and fun.

This cake is to depict all the fun and festiveness of Diwali.

It's two tiered Strawberry cake with vanilla frosting. The decorations are Fondant cutouts with buttercream designs. The diyas (lamps) are all hand-made and are completely edible.

Moong Dal Upma

The temperatures are dropping here in our end of the world, looks like Winter is just around the corner. Chilly weather calls for warm comfort food, which make you feel good from within and keeps you full.

On one such chilly evening, I made Moong Dal Upma. It needs a little bit of prepping ahead of time, but once that’s done it comes together fairly quickly.

You will need:

½ cup Yellow Moong Dal
2 tbsp Urad Dal

For the seasoning:
3 tbsp Oil
1 tsp Mustard seeds
1 tsp Urad Dal
1 tsp Chana Dal
Few curry leaves
6 green chillies, slit
1 small onion, chopped
Salt to taste
3 tbsp Grated fresh coconut
1 tsp Lemon juice

Soak moong dal and urad dal in water for 2 hours. Rinse well, drain and then grind to a chunky paste using water as required – the dals must be broken and the paste should be grainy. The batter should be of pourable consistency but thick like idli batter.

Pour batter into greased idli plates and steam for 8 minutes until the ‘idlis’ are done. Remove from plates and let cool completely. Once cooled, break the idlis between your fingers.

Heat oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds and when they begin to splutter add the urad and chana dal. Add the curry leaves and green chillies. Saute for a few seconds and then add the chopped onions. Saute until soft, now add the powdered idlis. Also add the grated coconut and combine well. Season with salt. Cook on low heat for 5 minutes. Add lemon juice. Serve while still hot.

Savory doughnuts for the Daring Bakers

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

I made Alton Brown's yeast doughnuts. I chose to make them savory instead of sweet since I have more savory food lovers in the family than ones who enjoy sweet stuff. This is probably the very first time while gearing up for a challenge that I failed to notice I was short on all purpose flour. I had just about a cup and a third, and it was too late to quarter the recipe since I had already prepped the yeast and other ingredients for half the recipe. I had no all purpose flour substitute, so decided to go ahead and add a cup of wheat flour instead. I kept my fingers crossed the whole time the dough was rising and while the doughnuts were in the fryer. Thankfully they turned out good but not the same texture as doughnuts made with all purpose. These were slightly denser but tasted good. I will try making them with only all purpose flour sometime. I also used Butter instead of Vegetable Shortening.

Equipment required:
•A Dutch oven or deep skillet
•Deep fry thermometer, candy thermometer or any thermometer that will withstand and measure temperatures of up to 380 degrees
•Metal slotted spoon, metal slotted spatula or tongs (do NOT use plastic - it will melt!)
•Cookie sheets or a wire rack lined with paper towels to allow doughnuts to drain
•Electric hand mixer or stand mixer, or a bowl and a spoon if you are able to utilize a lot of elbow grease
•Doughnut or biscuit cutters or you can use a glass and a piping tip for the center

Half of this recipe yielded 20 doughnuts.

Yeast Doughnuts:
Preparation time:
Hands on prep time - 25 minutes
Rising time - 1.5 hours total
Cooking time - 12 minutes
Yield: 20 to 25 doughnuts & 20 to 25 doughnut holes, depending on size

Milk 1.5 cup / 360 ml 3/4th cup
Vegetable Shortening 1/3 cup / 80 ml / 70 gm / 2.5 oz (can substitute butter, margarine or lard) 40 ml
Active Dry Yeast 4.5 teaspoon (2 pkgs.) / 22.5 ml / 14 gm / ½ oz
Warm Water 1/3 cup / 80 ml (95°F to 105°F / 35°C to 41°C)
Eggs, Large, beaten 2
White Granulated Sugar ¼ cup / 60 ml / 55 gm / 2 oz
Table Salt 1.5 teaspoon / 7.5 ml / 9 gm / 1/3 oz
Nutmeg, grated 1 tsp. / 5 ml / 6 gm / ¼ oz
All Purpose Flour 4 2/3 cup / 1,120 ml / 650 gm / 23 oz + extra for dusting surface 325 gms

1/2 cup Grated parmesan
1 tsp Dried Basil
2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp Garlic powder

Canola Oil DEPENDS on size of vessel you are frying in – you want THREE (3) inches of oil (can substitute any flavorless oil used for frying)

1.Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the shortening. (Make sure the shortening is melted so that it incorporates well into the batter.)
2.Place the shortening in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.
3.In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. It should get foamy. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and shortening mixture, first making sure the milk and shortening mixture has cooled to lukewarm.
4.Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer (if you have one), combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined.
5.Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well. Add the dried basil, garlic powder, parmesan and chilli flakes.
6.Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes (for me this only took about two minutes). If you do not have a dough hook/stand mixer – knead until the dough is smooth and not sticky.
7.Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
8.On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch (9 mm)thick. (Make sure the surface really is well-floured otherwise your doughnuts will stick to the counter).

9.Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch (65 mm) doughnut cutter or pastry ring or drinking glass and using a 7/8-inch (22 mm) ring for the center whole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel(or plastic wrap), and let rise for 30 minutes.
10.Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 °F/185°C.
11.Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side or until golden brown. My doughnuts only took about 15 seconds on each side at this temperature). They browned quickly.

12.Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired.

While the doughnuts were still hot I brushed them with a little melted butter and sprinkled garlic powder on top.

Aloo Gobi Chettinad

We have family visiting us from India which has kept me on my toes taking them places and getting them familiarized with the American way of living. We even went on a road trip covering 3000 miles in 12 days. Was a whole lot of fun and now are back home to the usual grind.

On our road trip we had Aloo Gobi Chettinad at an Indian restaurant. It was spicy, just the way we like it. I recreated using what I thought went into the dish, and the results were pretty close. It is a simple dish quick enough to be made with less time.

You will need:

2 Potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups Cauliflower (cut into pieces)
2 Tomatoes, chopped
½ cup Chopped Onions
3 tbsp Oil
½ tsp Mustard seeds
10 curry leaves
3 Dried red chillies, cut into pieces
2 tsp Pepper powder
Salt to taste

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the cubed potatoes and cauliflower. Return to a boil and cook for 6-7 minutes until almost done. Drain veggies and reserve.

Heat oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds, curry leaves and dried red chillies. Saute for a few seconds until the mustard seeds begin to splutter. Add the chopped onions and sauté until done. Now add the chopped tomatoes and cook until soft.

Add the boiled veggies, pepper powder, ½ cup water and salt to taste. Cover and cook for 8 minutes on low heat until the curry is simmering. Serve hot with rotis or rice.

Thanks to my readers for checking in during my absence, will try to update more often on here.

Have a great week ahead!

Spicy Basil Fried Rice - Restaurant style

This is one of our favorites at any Thai restaurant. Fried rice with lots of garlic and basil, spicy enough to make you cry! We used to order home-delivery on those odd days when I had no mood to cook, but the fried rice used to be disappointing. The fried rice would never be spicy enough. So there began my attempt to replicate restaurant style Spicy Basil Fried Rice. I've had to make this over and over to get the exact restaurant taste, trying different ingredients. One fine day I hit upon the right combination, here it is.

You will need:

1 cup Jasmine Rice (or Basmati Rice)
3 tbsp Oil
½ cup sliced onions
½ cup sliced green peppers
½ cup sliced red peppers
¼ cup frozen peas
½ cup carrot strips
5 cloves garlic, minced
1” piece ginger, grated
3 tbsp Sambal (red chilli paste)
2 tsp Sriracha (Asian Hot sauce)
2 tsp Dark Soy Sauce
1 ½ tbsp Brown Sugar
1 cup packed Thai basil leaves, washed and dried (or American basil)
Salt to taste

Prepare jasmine rice as per package instructions. Spread on a plate to cool and set aside.

Heat oil in a large pan. Add the minced garlic and grated ginger. Saute for a few seconds until fragrant. Now add the onions, bell peppers and carrots. Cook for 4-5 minutes until veggies are tender. Add the frozen peas. Saute for a minute and then add the sambal. Combine until veggies are coated. Now add the cooked cooled rice. Stir and then add the soy sauce and sriracha. Mix well and cook for 3 minutes on medium heat.

Add the brown sugar. The sambal and the soy sauce makes the fried rice taste salty and acidic, the brown sugar balances out by adding a little bit of sweetness. This leaves a very pleasant after taste without taking away the heat from the sauces. Lastly, add the chopped basil leaves.

Combine well, cover and cook for a minute. Turn off heat. Serve hot.

Decorated Sugar Cookies for Daring Bakers:

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

I've always stared in awe at gorgeously decorated sugar cookies,but never tried doing them myself. This challenge was just the push I needed to dive in and get those creative juices flowing. It was a very fun challenge and the cookies were absolutely scrumptious.

• You must make the Basic Sugar Cookie recipe provided (unless specific diet restrictions apply)
• You must make your cookies with the theme of September, whatever that means to you

We were allowed to decorate the cookies any way we wanted as long as it represented what the month September meant to us. To me, September is a month of birthdays of some very good friends. They are an important part of my life and so made cookies thinking of them.

Variations Allowed

• While you must use Peggy Porschen’s sugar cookies recipe, you are allowed to add your own flavourings to the dough, so if you’d like to add a pinch of cinnamon & nutmeg, substitute some of the flour for cocoa, or maybe add orange zest, go for it!
• You don’t have to make your own royal icing from scratch, you may use a store bought mix.
• You may make any shape cookie you like so long as it has the theme of September, this means you could do round or square cookies and pipe pictures/words on them or use specifically shaped cookie cutters (butterflies, flowers, hearts etc)
• You may also use coloured sugars, luster dust, edible glitter or flakes, dragees and coloured sprinkles to decorate your cookies.
• I’ve provided links to vegan, egg free and gluten free sugar cookies at the end of this post. To make the recipe dairy free, use margarine or your favourite dairy free spread instead of butter.

Preparation Time
30 minutes: Making dough & rolling
1 hour min: Refrigeration
8-15 minutes: Baking per tray depending on size of cookies

Equipment Required
- Parchment paper
- Rolling pin
- 5mm guide sticks (optional)
- Cookie cutters or sharp knife
- Baking trays
- Wire cooling rack
- Spatulas
- Mixing bowls
- Measuring cups/spoons or weighing scale
- Sieve
- Icing bags / Parchment Cones
- Sizes 1 to 5 plain icing tips (2 and 4 being the most common to use)
- Star icing tips (optional)
- Couplers (optional)
- Toothpicks
- Elastic bands

Basic Sugar Cookies:

Makes Approximately 36x 10cm / 4" Cookies

200g / 7oz / ½ cup + 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
400g / 14oz / 3 cups + 3 Tbsp All Purpose / Plain Flour
200g / 7oz / 1 cup Caster Sugar / Superfine Sugar
1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
5ml / 1 tsp Vanilla Extract / Or seeds from 1 vanilla bean

• Cream together the butter, sugar and any flavourings you’re using. Beat until just becoming
creamy in texture.
• Tip: Don’t over mix otherwise you’ll incorporate too much air and the cookies will spread during
baking, losing their shape.
• Beat in the egg until well combined, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the sifted flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms.
• Tip: I don’t have a stand mixer so I find it easier to switch to dough hooks at this stage to avoid
flour flying everywhere.
• Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces.
• Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 5mm/1/5 inch (0.2 inch)
• Refrigerate for a minimum of 30mins.
• Tip: Recipes commonly just wrap the whole ball of dough in clingwrap and then refrigerate it for an hour or overnight, but by rolling the dough between parchment, this shortens the chilling time and then it’s also been rolled out while still soft making it easier and quicker.
• Once chilled, peel off parchment and place dough on a lightly floured surface.
• Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife.
• Arrange shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for another 30mins to an hour.
• Tip: It’s very important you chill them again otherwise they’ll spread while baking.
• Re-roll scraps and follow the above process until all scraps are used up.
• Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted) / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
• Bake until golden around the edges, about 8-15mins depending on the size of the cookies.
• Tip: Bake same sized cookies together otherwise mixing smaller with larger cookies could result in
some cookies being baked before others are done.
• Tip: Rotate baking sheets half way through baking if your oven bakes unevenly.
• Leave to cool on cooling racks.
• Once completely cooled, decorate as desired.
• Tip: If wrapped in tinfoil/cling wrap or kept in airtight containers in a cool place, un-decorated cookies can last up to a month.

Royal Icing:
I used the Wilton recipe for Royal Icing.

3 level tablespoons Meringue powder
4 cups Powdered sugar
5-6 tablespoons luke warm water

Ensure all vessels are completely grease- free. Place all ingredients in the bowl of a stand-mixer and combine on low-medium speed for about 7-10 minutes until the icing loses its shine. Scrape sides of bowl mid-way if necessary. Store in an air tight container. Do not refrigerate.

This is full strength royal icing. Thin it out as required by adding a few drops of water at a time.

Decorating Your Cookies: Flooding
“Flooding” a cookie is a technique used when covering a cookie with Royal Icing.
1. You outline the area you want to flood which helps create a dam
2. Then fill or flood inside the area you’ve outlined

Decorating Your Cookies: What You'll Need
- Piping bags / Parchment Cones / Ziplock Bags
- Elastic bands
- Piping tips (between sizes 1 & 5)
- Couplers
- Glasses (handy for standing your piping bags in)
- Clean clothes, dry & damp
- Toothpicks
- Gel or paste food colouring

Decorating Your Cookies: Royal Icing
The most important thing when it comes to decorating with Royal Icing is the consistency.
There are two ways of flooding your cookies. Some like to do the outline with a thicker icing and then flood with a thinner icing. Some like to use the same icing to do both which saves time and you don’t have to have two different piping bags for each colour you’re using.
The Same Consistency Method

• Mix your royal icing according to the recipe/instructions
• Drag a knife through the surface of the Royal Icing and count to 10
• If the surface becomes smooth between 5 & 10 seconds, the icing is at the correct consistency
• Tip: If your icing is too thick, thin it by adding a few drops of water. Mix, do the 10 second test, then if it’s still too thick, add a few more drops of water, repeat, etc.
• Tip: To thicken your icing, add small amounts of icing sugar until thick enough for the 10 second test

Two Different Consistencies Method Consistency:
• Mix your royal icing according to the recipe/instructions.
• Separate into 2 different bowls, one lot of icing for outlining, the other for flooding.
• For the outlining icing, drag a knife through the surface of the Royal Icing.
• If the surface becomes smooth at around 10 seconds, the icing is at the correct consistency.
• Tip: If your icing is too thick, thin it by adding a few drops of water. Mix, count to 10 seconds, then if it’s still too thick, add a few more drops of water, repeat, etc.
• Tip: To thicken your icing, add small amounts of icing sugar until thick enough for the 10 second test.
• For the flooding/filling icing, drag a knife through the surface of the Royal Icing.
• If the surface becomes smooth at around 3-4 seconds, the icing is at the correct consistency.
• Tip: If your icing is too thick, thin it by adding a few drops of water. Mix, count to 3-4 seconds, then if it’s still too thick, add a few more drops of water, repeat, etc.
• Tip: To thicken your icing, add small amounts of icing sugar until thick enough for the 3-4 second test.

Color icing anyway you want.

Prepping and Filling Your Bag
• Attach your icing tips to the piping bags using couplers
• Tip: You don’t need to use a coupler but it makes it easier if you want to change tip sizes
• Tip: A size 1 tip is best for doing intricate details. A size 2 tip is good for some details and outlining. Fill or flood with sizes 2 – 5.
• Tip: You don’t need a piping bag, you can use a parchment cone or ziplock bag with a tiny bit snipped off the corner. I would however recommend getting a piping set if you don’t have one as it will be much easier and more precise.
• Stand the piping bags in glasses with the tops of the bags folded over the top of the glass.
• Fill your icing bags with each coloured icing.
• Tie the ends of the piping bags with elastic bands.
Decorating: Outlining
• Fit the piping bag with a size 2 or 3 tip.
• Tip: Or snip a very small bit of the corner off of a parchment cone or Ziploc bag
• Hold the piping bag at a 45 degree angle above the cookie where you want to start the outline.
• Gently squeeze the piping bag and start moving in the direction you want to outline the cookie.
• Start lifting the piping bag away from the cookie so that the flow of icing falls onto the cookie, making it an even and neater outline.
• As you start to reach the beginning of the outline, bring the piping tip closer to the surface of the cookie to meet the start of the icing outline.
• Tip: If you’re doing an intricate cookie, like a snow flake, you won’t be able to lift the tip as far away from the cookie.
• If you’re doing a different colour border, eg a black border, let the outline dry before flooding. If using the same colour for the outline as you’re flooding with, begin flooding after doing the outline.

Decorating: Flooding
• Fit the piping bag with a size 2-5 tip, the bigger the area being filled, the bigger the tip.
• Tip: Or cut slightly more off the corner of a Ziploc bag to create a slightly larger opening.
• Quickly zigzag back and forth over the area you want to fill.
• Tip: You need to be quick when flooding the cookie so don’t worry too much if it’s not filled in neatly.
• Using a toothpick or clean paintbrush, push the icing around into the gaps that are still remaining.
• Either pick up the cookie and tip it from side to side to even out the filling, or lightly bang the cookie down on your kitchen counter.

Packaging and Storing
• Once fully decorated, allow cookies to dry for 24 hours in a cool and dry area.
• Stack cookies in an airtight container, from largest cookies at the bottom, to smallest and more intricate at the top, with parchment or wax free paper in between the layers.
• Store in a cool and dry area with the container’s lid firmly sealed.
• Will last for about a month if stored this way.

Snowballs - a summer dessert

This is one of those desserts which will make you go mmmm at the very first bite. A cold delicious combination of fruits, custard and bread perfect for the summer. A bit of a lengthy process, but worth every bit of it.

You will need:

4 slices of white bread
¼ cup Mixed fruit jam (or flavor of your choice)
½ cup cold milk
1 cup chopped fruit- apples, bananas
2 tsp Sugar
½ tsp Lemon juice

For the custard:

2 cups whole Milk
4 tbsp Custard powder
6 tbsp Sugar

Whipped cream (can)
Cherries to top

Dissolve the custard powder in ½ cup milk (from the 2 cups). Bring remaining milk to a boil on medium heat while stirring to prevent burning. When the milk begins to boil, add the sugar and then remove from heat briefly while you add the custard mix. Stir till mixture thickens and then return to heat. Cook for 4 minutes till custard thickens completely and coats the back of your spoon. Remove from heat and cool.

Combine the cut fruits, lemon juice and sugar. Set aside.

Cut away the sides of the bread. Apply jam on one side of each of the slices. To bring all the components of this dessert together I like to keep all that’s required side by side, sort of like an assembly line. Have this order : Prepared bread slices, cold milk in a shallow plate, fruit mix, dessert bowls, and prepared cooled custard.

Take a slice of bread, dip for a second on both sides in the milk, gently squeeze out the excess milk, place on the palm of your hand. Fill a spoonful of the fruit in the centre. Squeeze into a ball, and place in a bowl. Pour enough custard to cover the ball.

Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. Top with whipped cream and cherries before serving.

Dig in!! :)

Dahi Baingan – Eggplants in Yoghurt

Dahi Baingan is a dish native to Orissa, a state on the Eastern coast of India. I have an Oriyan friend and she had mentioned this dish to me a couple of years ago. I had never gotten around to making it until today. This dish uses a spice blend called Panch Phoran meaning five spices. It does consist of five spices which have distinct flavors. Panch Phoran is commonly used in Oriyan cuisine.

If you don’t have Panch Phoran in your pantry and don’t intend to buy some either, then here’s how you can make it.

You will need:
1 tsp Cumin

1 tsp Fennel seeds
1 tsp Fenugreek seeds
1 tsp Nigella seeds

1 tsp Black mustard seeds

Combine the above ingredients and use as needed. Store as you would store any other spice, in an air-tight container.

Dahi Baingan

You will need:
3 long purple eggplants
½ cup Yoghurt, lightly beaten

1 ½ tsp Panch phoran

¼ tsp Turmeric powder
4 green chillies, split horizontally

Few curry leaves

Salt to taste

3 tbsp Oil

Wash the eggplants, wipe dry and then cut into 2 inch pieces. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan. Add the eggplants, sprinkle a pinch of salt and cook on medium heat until soft but still holding shape. Transfer eggplant to a bowl.

Return pan to heat and add remaining oil. Add the panch phoran and allow it to sizzle and flavor the oil. Now add the green chillies, turmeric and curry leaves. Saute for a few seconds until the chillies are blistered. Turn off heat. To the eggplants, add the yoghurt and blend to combine. Then add the prepared seasoning and salt.

Mix well and serve with hot rice or rotis. We enjoyed it with hot rice and ghee.

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