Thursday, 20 February 2014

Focaccia Caprese

Its been a very very long time, almost 8 months,since I have posted anything on my blog... Quite an unacceptable mistake from my part. It wasnt a decision made or just that I was plain lazy. Its just that there was a lot happening at my end that I couldnt get the time to sit peacefully( even now Im kind of indulging in a small war with my baby to write this,motherhood woes) and type something.

I have started up a small business and that took up almost all of my time, no regrets at all though. I have been wanting to do something on my own and at the same time wont affect the time I spent with my baby. Thats how I started Cookieman, at Viviana Mall,Thane. If ever you guys get the time Do visit the counter.

Getiing back to cooking, I think it was somewhere in March that I came across the group We Knead To Bake. Its a group organised by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen. I wanted to join the group but it was late and had to wait for the next batch,which commences the next year. I waited and joined the moment she announced the next batch. So the first bread we had to bake was Focaccia Caprese. Have to say its the most softest bread I have made or eaten till date. Its really soft and fragrant. 

Recipe Source   - The Kitchen Whisperer
Recipe Adapted - Aparna
For the Dough:
2 tsp instant yeast
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
3 1/2 cups bread flour*
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup oil (preferably olive oil)
1 to 1 1/2 cups warm water
A little more olive oil for brushing dough

For theTopping:
4-5 larg-ish tomatoes, sliced thin
1 6-7” round piece of fresh buffalo mozzarella, cut into1/4” slices**
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips

For theHerbed Oil:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tspdried oregano
1 tspdried basil
1/4 to 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
1/2 tspfinely minced garlic/ paste
Salt to taste
Fresh basil leaves for garnishing

* If you cannot find bread flour, you can add 1 tbsp of Vital Wheat Gluten to 3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour and mix together well. Otherwise just use 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour.
**Since I did not get buffalo mozarella, I used Amul Cheese, but didnt like it as it did not melt as it was combination of mozarella and cheddar.

First make the herbed oil. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together. Keep aside till required.

The dough can be mixed and kneaded by hand or machine. Put the yeast, sugar flour, salt and oil in the bowl of the processor and pulse a couple of times to mix well. Then add 1 cup of warm water (and as much more as you need) and knead until you have a soft elastic dough that is just short of sticky.

Remove the dough from the processor bowl, shape into a round and place in a well oiled bowl turning the dough around so it is coated. Cover and let it rise till almost double in volume. This should take about an hour.

You can make this as 2 medium sized Focaccia. For the rectangular Focaccia, take two rectangular pans/ jelly or Swiss roll pans (I just rolled it into a rectangle and placed in the baking tray)and oil them well. Then divide the dough into two equal portions and lightly roll them (or press out) out into approximately 11” by 7”. If making 4 Focaccia, then divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Roll each portion out (or press out) evenly into approximately 5” by 7”. It alright if it’s an odd shape because Focaccia is really a “rustic” bread.

Transfer the dough to the baking tins. The dough will shrink a little. Use your fingers and push it out a bit making sure it’s evenly thick throughout. Let it rise for 20 minutes. Lightly oil your finger tips and press into the dough creating evenly spaced “dimples” in it. Generously brush the surface with oil.

Bake at 210C (410F) for about 18 to 20 minutes till it is almost done and is beginning to turn golden brown. Take the Focaccia out and turn up the heat of your oven to 230C (450F).  

Lightly drizzle some of the Herbed Oil over the Focaccia and then evenly arrange some slices of mozzarella over the bread, leaving very little space between them. Arrange the tomato slices over this and a little sprinkle the chopped basil over this. The topping should cover most of the surface of the bread.

Drizzle some more Herbed Oil over the topping and return the bread to the oven. Bake the Focaccia for 5 to 8 minutes or until the cheese has just melted. Remove from the oven and garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Cut the Focaccia into slices and serve while it is still hot. This recipe should serve 4 if served alone or 6 if served with a side.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

No Bake Eggless Mango Cheesecake

Its the season of mangoes and as usual there was an overload of mangoes at home. I had done most of my mango cooking like Mambazha Pulisheri, Manga Pachadi and the like. And the mangoes we get these days in the market arent the ones you can smash a bit with the skin on and sip, so the stock wasnt depleting. Got me reminded of my childhood days were I used to sit on my veranda and wait for a strong breeze and then hear the mangoes falling. Then its the frantic running and rushing to find and sort out the good mangoes from the bad ones. Life was bliss and joyful!! There was this certain type of mango we call as Nadan Mambazham which used to be dark green outside and orangish yellow inside, that one was the tastiest of the lot. How I wish I could have them now!

Anyways coming back to my overload of mangoes... I thought of making a Mango Cheesecake. Searched on Google as usual and found the edible blog with a super awesome recipe,that too no bake!!! Chandru had taken tickets for a 7 pm movie and I started making the cheesecake at 6 pm,finished the entire setting and stuff and was right on time for the movie! So you can imagine how easy this recipe is! So this is a must try for all of you.. Bakers or non-bakers :-)


Recipe Source -

Cream cheese - 250gm
Cream - 170 gm 
Sugar - Half a cup 
Mango puree - 1 cup
Gelatine - 1 Tbsp
Hot Water - 1/4 cup
Graham cracker crumbs - 1.5 cup (I used Digestive biscuits here)
Unsalted butter, melted - 75 gm (about 1/3 of a cup)

Whiz the graham crackers in a food processor. Add melted butter and whiz again until the mixture comes together. Press into the bottom of an 8" springform pan that's lined with aluminium foil or use individual glasses. Refrigerate while preparing the rest of the cheesecake. 

Mix the cream cheese, cream, and sugar in a bowl until well combined. You can do it by hand or use low speed on your Kitchenaid. An electric beater is not needed. 

Add the gelatine to the hot water and stir till it completely dissolves. Add the mango puree and stir well. Keep half of this mixture aside and add the rest to the cream cheese mixture. Stir gently until well combined. 

Pour on top of the graham cracker base. Return to fridge for another 10-30 mins. 

Pour the mango mixture as the third layer. Do this gently so that the layers don't combine. If you use a springform pan, the top layer will be much thinner, as it should be.

Refrigerate overnight and get ready to serve a yummy dessert at your party that can be prepared well in advance!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Braided Cinnamon Wreath Bread

Browsing through Cucumbertown one day,I chanced upon this beautiful looking bread. It was really stunning and I felt the process of making it would definitely be complicated. I then searched for the pictorial demo for this bread and found it. And to my joy it looked pretty doable. Its really easy,in fact super easy.. Thats the upside! The downside, the bread is a bit dry,if you compare it with Cinnamon Rolls. But this one is a treat for anyones eye!


Recipe Source - Ana Maria Ciolacu from Just Love Cookin

Yield: 1 Wreath 
 2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
17gms yeast
1/8 cup melted butter
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp sugar

1/4 cup softened butter
4-5 tbsp sugar
3 tsp cinnamon

Mix the yeast and sugar with the lukewarm milk and let it sit a few minutes while the yeast bubbles and foams up.

Add the egg yolk, the melted butter, the flour and the salt, then knead the dough and shape into a ball.

Place the dough in a large, greased bowl, then cover and place in a warm space and let rise until doubled in size (about 1 hour).

Preheat oven to about 200 degrees. Dust your work surface with flour, and roll the dough out to a thickness of 1cm.
Picture courtesy:Ana Maria Ciolacu
Spread the melted butter across all of the dough, then sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar mixture.

Roll up the dough, and using a knife, cut the log in half length-wise.

Twist the two halves together, keeping the open layers exposed as described in the photo tutorial. Give a round shape, then transfer to a baking tray (buttered or covered with cookie sheet).

Top the remaining butter and sprinkle some sugar and cinnamon mixture. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

Reduce the oven temperature to 170 degrees after 5-10 minutes to stop it burning. Top with icing sugar mixed with water if you want, just sprinkle some sugar, or eat it like this.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Classic French Madeleines

The name Madeleine is quintessentially French. And the famous Petite Madeleine is a classic French tea cake. Its been a while since I've been coming across these small cute cakes on various sites and been wanting to try them out. But the lack of Madeleine pan was keeping me back and I didnt know where to get it from in Mumbai. So the idea of making Madeleines was put in the back burner. I was in Yemen for a couple of months as thats where my parents are , and there at the Tefal store I found my Madeleine pan!!! I was ecstatic as that was an unexpected find!

The Madeleine recipe seems easy and just involves a few steps,but trust me it does involve a lot of precision and technique. I followed the recipe by Dorie Greenspan and it was as expected, flawless! The technique of combining cold and hot really worked and yielded the perfect Madeleines with the humps,crispy edges,soft spongy and super tasty! If you don't have the Madeleine pans you can use your muffin pans or the whoopie pie pans,just that getting the crispy edges would be an issue. So lets get to the recipe :-)


Recipe source -

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup castor sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons; 3 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Confectioners sugar, for dusting

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and keep close at hand.
Rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant.  
Beat the eggs and sugar together on medium-high speed until they are pale, thick and light, 2 to 3 minutes; beat in the vanilla.  Grab a large rubber spatula and very gently fold in the dry ingredients followed by the melted butter.  Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter and chill the batter for at least 3 hours or, if you have the time, overnight. 
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 190 degrees.  Butter madeleine moulds  dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess.  If you have a nonstick madeleine mold, give it a light coating of vegetable cooking spray. 

Spoon the batter into the moulds, almost tablespoon would do.  Dont spread the batter. Bake the large madeleines for 11 to 13 minutes and the minis for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the madeleines are golden and the tops spring back when touched.  Remove the pan from the oven and release the madeleines from the molds by rapping the edge of the pan against the counter.
Dust the tops with confectioners sugar and serve the sweets with tea or espresso.


Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Eggless Garlic Cheese Pull Apart Bread

Its just a few days back that I chanced upon a beautiful blog Edible Garden. I liked the blog page on Facebook too, and that's when I got a status update about this beautiful bread. It was a pull apart garlic bread. My husband and I love garlic bread. So I decided to bake the bread for dinner. But the issue was that neither did I have stock of Cheddar nor Mozzarella. What to do? And the thing about women is that when we think we need to do something,then we need to to do it at that moment. Postponing in terms of cooking,not done! 

Then I thought of a plan,why not freeze the processed cheese cubes and use them. Maybe that's not the right way to do it,maybe the taste would be different altogether,but why not give it a try. So I tried. And the attempt I must say was not bad :-) Do try this recipe out. Atleast for the aroma in your house!! 


Recipe source -


3 cups of all purpose flour 
1 tsp of sugar 
2 tsp of yeast 
1/2 cup of warm milk 
1 tsp of salt 
25 gm of butter, at room temperature 
1 tsp of garlic paste or finely minced garlic 
3/4 cup of milk, at room temperature 

For filling:
20 gm of melted butter 
3 tsp of mixed herbs (Basil,Rosemary,Thyme and Parsley)
1 tsp of crushed cumin seeds 
1 tsp of red chilli flakes 
1/2 cup of grated cheese (I used frozen processed cheese,you may use cheddar or mozzarella)

Mix the warm milk, sugar, and yeast. Set aside for 5-10 mins until frothy. 

Meanwhile, in a stand mixer bowl attached with the dough hook, mix the flour, salt, garlic, and butter on low speed. Add the frothed yeast mixture to this and mix again on low speed. Of course, you can do the kneading by hand too. 

Add the 3/4 cup milk and knead further until a soft slightly sticky dough takes shape. Knead for about 3 mins. 

Shape into a ball as much as possible and turn into a well-oiled (with olive oil) bowl. Turn to coat the dough and wrap with cling-film. Set aside for about 1.5 hours. I made the dough around 8pm in the night and refrigerated it overnight.

Once risen, punch down the dough and roll on a floured surface into a large, roughly 12"x12" square. Brush with melted butter. 

Sprinkle the cumin, chilli flakes, cheese, and dried basil. Lightly roll with the rolling pin so the filling gets embedded a bit into the dough. 

Cut into 6 strips and stack on top of each other, filling side on top. 

Cut into further 6-7 stacks and arrange cut side down in a well-greased loaf pan. 

Cover with a clean, wet towel and let it rise for an hour. 

Pre-heat oven to 350F/180C and bake for 25-30 mins until golden brown. 

As soon as out of the oven, brush the hot bread with milk generously and let it cool down before serving. 

Note: you can use any filling of your choice, keep the basic bread recipe the same

You can have it alongwith pastas or pizzas. Since it was for dinner we prefer something light so I made a Pepper Mushroom side dish to go alongwith it.

Hope you would like it!! :-)

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Traditional Battenberg Cake

Valentines Day in a week... But we never celebrate or do anything special on that day,with the logical explanation as to why a special day for love? But then this year I thought let me do something special for him! The cake bake thought was there in my mind and I was randomly checking out Food Gawker.If you all havent visited the site then you are missing out on something beautiful,seriously! That site is so true to its name... It leaves you gawking. I mean so many beautiful and well shot snaps of food and recipes. Do you need anything else?So I was going through their wonderful snaps and something really caught my eye. A checkered cake and beautiful! Went to the website and read about it all,except for the almond meal I felt maybe I can try baking the cake.Luckily for me I had a huge stock of almonds that my Amma had given me. So made the almond meal and got started on the cake. 

The cake was very yummy with the almond taste to it. I didnt much like the Marzipan coating,but that was necessary to keep the four long pieces of cake intact. Slowly I worked on rolling the Marzipan and sticking it on the cake. And... It stuck together! And I got a beautiful (atleast to my eyes) Battenberg cake! I immediately called up my friend Rupini saying it came out well because I had told her I was going to attempt something crazy! I didnt tell Chandru anything about the cake as I wanted to see his reaction to a checkered cake! He was actually kind of stunned seeing a cake like that and was happy that I attempted something drastic.All happy me!! So my friends,dont get intimidated by the looks of the cake,its a easy cake to make. I had finished the entire process in less than 3 hours (I had made the almond meal the previous day)! Do try it out and feel happy!!




¾ cup / 175gm  Unsalted Butter, softened & cut in cubes
¾ cup / 175gm Caster Sugar
1¼ cups / 175gm  All purpose Flour
3 Large Eggs, room temp
½ cup / 65gm Ground Almonds (Can be substituted with ground rice)
2 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp Almond Extract
Red Food Colouring, paste, liquid or gel
To Finish
1/3 cup / 100gm  Apricot Jam or Strawberry Jam
225gm Marzipan, natural or yellow
2 cups granulated sugar
4 cups ground almonds (or almond meal)
2 egg whites
Powdered sugar for dusting 

Almond Meal
500 gm Almonds,blanched and skin removed

50gm Icing sugar


Almond Meal

Put the almonds in a food processor and grind till fine.

Since the almonds will release oils the icing sugar can be added as needed to prevent it from getting stuck together and the maintain the powder consistency.

Store it in a air tight container or ziplock in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to moderate 180°C
Whisk together the dry ingredients then combine with the wet ingredients in a large bowl and beat together just until the ingredients are combined and the batter is smooth.The batter will be a thick one.

I used my bread tin for making the cake,if you have a Battenberg tin you can use that,or if you have a big square tin you can make a partition with a cardboard rolled with silver foil and use it.

Spoon half the mixture into the tin and bake it for 25-30 mins until the cake is well risen, springs back when lightly touched and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cake and take it off the pan.

Add a few drops of red food liquid/gel/paste to the remaining batter, stir until the colour is thoroughly distributed, add more colour if needed.
Spoon the pink batter into the baking tin and bake the same way as before.
Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out to cool thoroughly on a wire rack.
Once completely cool, trim the edges of the cake with a long serrated knife

Cut each coloured sponge in half lengthways so that you are left with four long strips of sponge

Neaten the strips and trim as necessary so that your checkered pattern is as neat and even as possible
Gently heat the apricot/strawberry jam and pass through a small sieve

Brush warmed jam onto the strips of cake to stick the cake together in a checkered pattern (one yellow next to one pink. On top of that, one pink next to one yellow)
Sift the icing sugar in a bowl with the ground almonds. Add the remaining ingredients and mix to make a stiff paste. Knead until smooth.
Assembling the Battenberg Cake
Dust a large flat surface with icing sugar then roll the marzipan in an oblong shape that is wide enough to cover the length of the cake and long enough to completely wrap the cake
Brush the top of the cake with jam
Place the cake on the marzipan, jam side down
Brush the remaining three sides with jam
Press the marzipan around the cake, making sure the join is either neatly in the one corner, or will be underneath the cake once turned over
Carefully flip the cake over so that the seam is under the cake and score the top of the cake with a knife, you can also crimp the top corners with your fingers to decorate
Neaten the ends of the cake and remove excess marzipan by trimming off a small bit of cake on both ends to reveal the pattern
A little note on Battenberg Cake:
The chefs of the British Royal Family were introduced to the German style of cake making during Queen Victoria's reign. This included the use of bright colours and marzipan.The first Battenberg cake was made in that German style to celebrate the wedding of Queen Victoria's granddaughter, Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine, and was named after her husband to be, Prince Louis of Battenberg.
"Happy Valentines Day"