Monday, 28 July 2014

Sautéed pressed rice with Potatoes

Poha or Sauteed pressed rice with potatoes is a very popular breakfast dish in India. Pressed rice or beaten rice is easily available in all Indian stores. It can be easily stored up 3-5 months in airtight containers.

The preparation of beaten rice is very easy. All you need to do is rinse it well in cold water. please use a sieve. During the rinsing process, the flat beaten rice soaks the water giving it a crumbly texture. Though it will look a little wet in the beginning, it should be able to soak the water and the excess will be drained out. 

My recipe uses more onion as it gives moisture to the pressed rice and the potatoes. May be I am a little partial to curry leaves as I love them but the addition of curry leaves is essential as it gives an authentic flavor and aroma.

I usually make this in advance for breakfast and also store in the fridge for up to 3 days.  Some people like their poha sweet and some like it tart. I like it somewhere in between – there should be a good balance between the tart, sweet and the heat from the chilies. Also, the addition of peanuts gives it a very good crunch. The tradition recipe doesn't use cashews; it’s just that I am overly fond of cashews that are fried until they are golden brown. So if you don’t like cashews, you can skip it.

For the Poha:
1 cup onions sliced
3 cups pressed rice
1 cup boiled potatoes diced
1 tsp mustard seeds
10-12 curry leaves
½ tsp Whole cumin
2-3 green chilies chopped
Handful of salted peanuts
Handful of raw cashews
2-3 tbsp oil
A Pinch of turmeric
Salt, Sugar and lemon juice to taste

The first job is to wash the pressed rice thoroughly. Use cold water to wash this. You will see that the pressed rice is very delicate and with this thorough wash it is ready to be eaten. It should look crumbly and not stiff. Keep aside.

Heat a wok with the oil and chuck in the mustard seeds, cumin, curry leaves and chilies. Cover the wok and let the mustard seeds pop in the hot scorching oil. Once the popping stops add the onions and sprinkle some salt on it. Give it a good stir and cover so that the onions stew in its own steam. We are not going to brown the onions but we are merely going to cook the onions until almost cooked. Chuck in the cashews and boiled potatoes and sprinkle the pinch of turmeric. Stir this on high heat as we want to cook off the powder-iness of the turmeric. Add the salt and sugar to the potatoes and mix thoroughly before adding the washed pressed rice to it. Again give it a good mix and give it a squeeze of lemon. Sprinkle the salted peanuts on top.

Serve hot with a cup of tea or coffee. .!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Curry Chicken with mushrooms and peas

This is one of the most fulfilling recipes. It absolutely satisfies your cravings and hunger without you having to start feeling guilty about anything. The inspiration for this recipe came from the vegetarian version of making mushrooms and pea curry. No one in my house wants to see vegetarian food that’s when I decided to add chicken to it making it utterly delectable.

You can have/serve this curry with anything you prefer – steamed rice, toasted bread, tortillas or rotis. But I served mine with couscous. The recipe is mentioned below.  

In case you are using chicken (drumsticks and thighs) on the bone, you do not need any chicken stock to flavor the dish but If you are using boneless chicken then you need about half a cup of chicken stock in which case it will be half cup chicken stock and half cup of milk.

For the Curry Chicken

500 grams of Chicken
200 grams of Button mushrooms
300 grams of green fresh/frozen peas
10-12 almonds
6 cloves of garlic
1 inch piece of ginger
1 tsp whole cumin
5 medium onions sliced
3-4 green chilies
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp garam masala
½ cup tomato puree
1 cup whole milk
6 tbsp mild olive oil
Salt and sugar

Chop the garlic and ginger roughly. Heat a heavy bottomed pan, add 1 tbsp oil and saute the almonds until its aroma is released and then throw in the garlic and ginger. Toast until the almonds, ginger and garlic smell wafts through. Blend it into a very fine paste and set aside.

Heat the same pan with 3 tbsp oil, sprinkle the whole cumin on it and let it pop. Saute the onions and chopped green chilies for a few minutes on high, sprinkle some salt on it, give it a good mix and lower the heat completely and cover the pan with a lid. Let the onions stew in its own juices until they are completely soft and mushy. Add the quartered mushrooms and peas. At this point add in all the powdered spices into the mixture and season it liberally with salt. Cook the mushrooms, peas and spices on a high heat before adding the tomato puree. Add in about a teaspoon of sugar. Stir the mixture thoroughly before setting it aside in a bowl.

Heat the same pan with 2 tbsp oil and brown the chicken pieces in it. I like golden brown pieces and thereby I fry it on a high heat until my desired color is achieved. Once the chicken has some color, you will see that it oozes juice into the pan that is when you add the silky almond paste to it. Stir on a high heat until you see the oil separating, and then add the mushroom and peas. Add the liquid, cover with a lid and let it come to a bubbling boil before you reduce the heat to simmer for 15 minutes.
It should be very thick and gloopy giving it a spicy hit yet there should be a creamy undertone. Please note that by spicy I do not mean it to be hot, I am particularly referring it to the use of numerous spices in the curry.

I served this curry on a bed of couscous that I flavored with ginger, mustard and curry leaves.

For the Couscous with ginger and curry leaves

1 cup of couscous
1 ½ cup of chicken stock
3 tbsp mild olive oil
15-20 curry leaves
Handful of raisins
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tsp julienne ginger
1 tsp green chilies chopped

Bring the chicken stock to a rolling boil and then add it to the couscous. I used somewhere between 1 ¼ cup – 1 ½ cup. It depends on the quality of the instant couscous, sometimes it needs more and sometimes less. Cover with a cling wrap thereby not letting any steam escape. Set aside for 10-15 minutes.

In a frying pan, heat 3 tbsp oil, add the ginger, curry leaves, green chilies, mustard and raisins to it. The mustard seeds should pop and the raisins should plump up and look blistered but not black. Fork the couscous fluffing it up before adding the tempered spices. Add in the hot oil and the spices to the bowl of couscous very carefully and stir it thoroughly.

I used raisins to give it some sweetness. When eaten with the curry, it absolutely requires this sweetness from the raisins thereby balancing the spicy gravy.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Eggy Toast Sandwich

A controversial name for a simple savory french toast that I sandwiched with cheese. A good French toast should be crispy on the outside but soft and squidgy in the middle. Most of the time I land up making a vanilla or cinnamon French toast but somehow this time I was in a mood for something savory, something that felt warmingly satisfying.

I came up with sandwiching plain cheese slice thereby giving it a whole new attitude and dimension. You can always use the cheese of your liking – mozzarella would be a good replacement as well as some flavored cheeses like pepperjack.

I used a plain white bread that I cut into ½ inch thickness. I have seen that using precut white bread doesn’t give the same squidgy-ness to the toast.

Also, by adding a tablespoon of good chicken stock (In my case, I used a pinch of chicken stock cube or you can use a dash of chicken stock concentrate) adds a depth to the toast, the taste becoming sensational.

For the Toast:

2 slices of white bread
2 eggs
3-4 tbsp milk
Salt and Pepper
½ tsp Garlic powder
½ tsp Red Chili Flakes
1 tbsp chicken stock
1 cheese slice
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp mild olive oil

Mix the eggs, milk, pepper, salt, garlic, chili, and stock. Sandwich the cheese in the bread and place the bread in the egg mixture to soak for a little bit. After about a minute, turn the sandwich so that it can soak on the other side. Heat a non stick frying pan and add the butter and oil to it. Let the butter foam up, then place the eggy bread in the pan very gently. We don’t want it to break as it is very soft and susceptible right now. It should be placed on a low heat so that the insides of the sandwich cook evenly. Once it golden brown, do the same on the other side until you get the same finish. By this time the egg is completely set, the outsides would be golden brown and crispy, the insides meltingly gooey cheese!!

Serve hot. I enjoyed mine with sweet chili sauce. It tastes marvelous with ketchup too!! 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Chocolate Cake with Cherry Filling

This cake is my take on a black forest cake. I just combined the idea of using chocolate and cherry together and hence chocolate cherry cake was born. It’s a very simple recipe and it tastes amazingly delicious with the soft sponge, the fluffy icing and the thick chocolate sauce on top. Every mouthful of this cake is luscious and moreish.

I have experimented a lot with the filling of this cake. Sometimes I substituted chocolate butter cream in place of vanilla and then I skip the whole step of adding the ganache.

I also added strawberries (fresh ones) in place of cherries. But I heated the strawberries in a pan with a little bit of sugar and lemon juice to give it a jammy consistency so that the spreading becomes easier. It also gives a nice tang and tartness to the cake which balances the sweetness in the sponge and the ganache.

This cake is light, fluffy, outright delicious and moist. Please note that I have used less sugar in making this cake. However, if you wish, you can add more for the sponge as well as the icing. I am using 50 grams of cocoa which is actually a lot of it but it makes the cake very dark and the flavor of chocolate is accentuated all the more with the addition of this cocoa.

For the Cake:
200 grams butter
200 grams flour
50 grams good cocoa powder  
1 tsp baking powder
150 grams sugar
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup milk
4 eggs at room temperature
A pinch of salt

Sift the flour, cocoa, Baking powder, Soda and a good pinch of salt and keep aside.

I always use an electric handheld mixer and that makes my job ten times easier. Cream the Softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy. The mixture should look very pale, almost white, start adding in one egg at a time. Beat the egg in completely before adding another one. Add the vanilla now.

Start adding the flour and fold it in completely before drizzling in a third of the milk. Again add the flour and then the milk.

The mixture should be dropping consistency. It shouldn’t look clumpy but it should look like a gorgeously glossy and dark mix.

Bake in a round loose bottomed 8 inch cake tin at 180 degrees for 50-60 minutes. Please start checking the cake from 50 minutes on wards with a tester. Once done, let it cool for sometime in the tin and take it out and let it cool down completely.

For the Icing:
200 gms butter
150 grms icing sugar
½ cup cherries pitted (Preserved )
1 tsp vanilla essence

Blitz the pitted cherries and make it into a mush. Strain the liquid and keep aside. Beat the Butter on high until very pale. Start adding the icing sugar and beat it in completely.

For the Assembly:

Cut the Cake in half. Add a layer of butter cream icing and spread it evenly on both the layers. We are doing this so that the sponge is not soaked in the cherry liquid (even after straining, an amount of liquid is left in the cherries so its important to put the butter cream on both the cake layers). Add the cherries and spread it on the butter cream. Now, put the layers on top of each other making sure that the butter cream sandwiches the cherry mush.

Ice the cake completely covering every inch in that luscious butter cream. And keep it in the fridge to set.

For the Ganache:
200 grms dark chocolate
75 gms Butter
1-2 tbsp Single Cream

Please note that this step has to be done after the cake is completely iced. On a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter. Add the single cream. Take it off the double boilers and let it come to room temperature.

Once the chocolate sauce comes to room temperature, slowly drizzle the sauce on top of the iced cake and keep turning the cake letting the sauce drop from the sides creating the dropping effect. Leave it in the fridge for an hour before serving.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Garlicy Cream Sauce (For any Pasta)

Pasta is one of those ingredients that become unexciting quickly; hence you need to keep a repertoire of sauces in order to make the monotonous pasta refreshingly electrifying. Earlier I jotted down the walnut sauce recipe in which you can always make a few changes like – add toasted and pureed almonds/cashews, use slivers of pine nuts, minus the cream, add rosemary instead of oregano. That recipe had so many versions and you can quickly manipulate it to suit your palate. (Please avoid the maneuvering if you are a kitchen virgin)

Here comes another one of those recipes that is extremely quick to put together, requires very few ingredients and also doesn't really require any skills.

This is my version of the alfredo sauce; I decided to complete ignore the use of butter as I am already using cream and egg yolk. For people who wants to make it extra creamy, they can go for heavy cream instead of single cream. I do add a squeeze of lemon at the end as it cuts through the richness of the silken cream sauce. The garlic gives it a good punch thus I leave out chili flakes (which is optional. Sometimes the volatility of my temperament changes and I add a good pinch of red chili flakes to the sauce)

For the Sauce:

1 cup single cream
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg yolk
½ tsp grated or minced garlic
Salt, pepper and sugar to taste
A squeeze of lemon
Parsley (Fresh or dried)

For those who are not familiar with the double boiling method, here it goes – take a saucepan with about 1 inch of water. Place a bowl over it. The bottom of the bowl should not be touching the water. Bring it up to a boil. Put the cream, salt, sugar, pepper and the parmesan cheese in the bowl and let it come up to temperature. The indirect heat will melt the parmesan. Once the mixture is warm, add the egg yolk and stir until the cream thickens a little. Take it off the heat.

In a separate pan, add a tsp of flavourless oil and toast the minced garlic until soft and brown. Dump the garlic into the sauce. Let the sauce cool down a little before adding the lemon, if it’s warm there are chances that the sauce will split.  

There is another way to cook the sauce but if you are not careful, the egg yolk will split and hence you will get cream and scrambled egg. So unless you have done this before and are absolutely sure that you can handle it, I suggest using the double boiling method.

Heat up the cream in a saucepan until you can see bubbles arising on the sides. Give it a swirl. Take it off the heat and beat in the egg yolk. The residual heat will cook the egg yolk and make the sauce thick. Throw in the parmesan cheese and let it gradually melt in. Add salt and pepper to taste. To finish the sauce give it a squeeze of lemon. Finish off with chopped parsley.

You can use this sauce with spaghetti, fettuccine, tagliatelle. Sometimes I just add strips of fried chicken to it and it tastes absolutely fantastic. 

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Curried Spinach with Garbanzo Beans

Spinach is one green that I really like and I try to make different sauces or curries out of it. I generally mix and match – sometimes I use Garbanzo beans, corn kernels, and chunks of potatoes, other beans or simply cottage cheese. However this recipe is with Garbanzo beans.

I add tomatoes to this to cut through the bitterness of the spinach and also it adds a tang to the dish. I love curries that are hot and spicy thereby the addition of green chilies gives that attitude to the recipe. I do add a little butter and cream to bring a depth and richness to the sauce. Adding these ingredients make an ordinary and immensely boring green to something extravagantly scrumptious.

I tend to eat this with rotis or the Indian flatbreads but you can pretty much eat it with anything you like. Sometimes I, even, toast good crusty bread and dunk it in this curry. Trust me; you’ll start loving spinach (like I do) if you make this once.

I mentioned using heavy cream and butter. Some people like it very rich and some like it light and fresh. So use the cream and butter accordingly - use less for light version or use more for rich version! Just replace the butter with mild olive oil to saute the beans in. 

For the Curry:
3 cups Spinach
2 can Garbanzo Beans    curry
½ c tomato puree
3 medium onions diced
3 Green Chilies or Serrano Peppers
1 tsp garlic paste
½ tsp ginger paste
½ tsp Whole cumin
1 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp Cumin Powder
1 tsp Garam Masala
2-3 tbsp Heavy Cream
1 tbsp of butter
1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock
2 tbsp any flavorless oil

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan and add the cumin until it the pops. An earthy aroma should be released at this point, add the diced onions and sprinkle a good pinch of salt. This will help the onions to brown faster. Add the green chilies, garlic and ginger paste. Sauté it for a few minutes and add the pureed tomatoes to the onions. The spices (Turmeric, Cumin and Garam Masala) have to be added to the tomatoes and in order to cook off the floury texture, just stir it on high for few seconds. Add the spinach and sauté it. You will see the spinach wilts very fast releasing all the water. Puree this mixture and keep aside.

Drain the chick peas/ garbanzo beans. Heat the tablespoon of melted butter and stir fry the beans until you have some color on it. Add the pureed spinach to it and let it bubble away for at least 15 minutes. I like this curry a little on the gravy side and that is why I use about a cup of chicken stock to dilute it. However, if you like it thick you can add just about ½ cup of the stock. And then let it simmer for 15 - 20 minutes or until the sauce starts to come together. Finish it with a tablespoon of two of heavy cream.

Serve with warmed tortillas or Rotis or steamed rice. 

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Chocolate Mousse Tart

Firstly and most importantly, it is a no bake recipe so you don’t need to break your head over baking. Out of sheer necessity and cravings (of my sister), I came up with this recipe. I wanted to make something that was easy, something that did not consume too much time. Hence, the birth of chocolate mousse tart with brittle but heavenly shell that perfectly complements the smooth and satiny mousse filling.  

I have a soft corner for glossy, silky, almost devilishly luscious chocolate mousse. However, I never devoured a mousse tart that would perfectly suit my palate. One day I would complain about the shell other day about the mousse. I never liked using short crust pastry for this, it somehow did not appeal to my taste buds. I wanted something softer, something cushiony thereby I replaced the short crust pastry with no effort biscuit crumb.

Note: I used very less amount of sugar in this recipe. However, you can always add a tablespoon or more (to the tart shell and the mousse) to increase the sweetness. Also, I always add a good pinch of salt to any chocolate recipe. Firstly, it complements chocolate and secondly, it enhances and intensifies the flavor. Also, you can replace the single cream with double cream. It will become all the more gloopy and rich.

For the tart shell: (10 inch aluminum tart tin)

250 grams digestive biscuits
100 grams butter

I used a food processor for the base. Just put the biscuits and soft butter into the processor and blitz until it all comes together. It should look like wet sand. Press it into a tart tin using the back of a spoon or your knuckles. Leave it in the fridge to set for a good 60 minutes or so.

In case you don't want to use a food processor, just smash the biscuits in a ziplock bag and drizzle the melted butter over the biscuits. Mix well until it resembles the soft sandy texture and press it into the tart tin. 

For the mousse:

200 grams dark chocolate
75 ml Single Cream
4 egg yolks
2 egg whites
1 tsp gelatin
¼ cup whole milk
6 tbsp of castor sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
A pinch of Salt

Heat a saucepan with water in it. Place a glass bowl on top of the saucepan making sure the water boiling water does not touch the underneath of the bowl. Chop the chocolate finely as it speeds up the melting process. Add the egg yolks one by one whisking thoroughly. Add 4 tbsp of sugar and let it melt into the chocolate mixture. Slowly pour the cream and incorporate it completely into the chocolate mixture.

Put the gelatin in 2 tbsp of milk to bloom. Sprinkle it over the liquid and set it aside for a few minutes until it absorbs the liquid. Now heat the remaining milk and add the bloomed gelatin to it. Stir continuously until the gelatin melts completely. Pour this into the chocolate and cream mixture and mix.

Whip the egg whites with sugar over the saucepan of hot water until firm and glossy.

Now, gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate until completely incorporated. Pour the mixture into the tart shell and let it stay in the fridge unto a good 6-8 hours.

Happy Eating.. !!! :) 

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Quick Chicken Curry with Saffron

This recipe is perfect for busy weekdays dinner or lunch. It’s quick and very healthy. It can be eaten with rice, tortillas, pitas, Naan, Couscous, Quinoa etc. One thing I like about this dish is that it is incredibly easy to make. There is practically no effort required for this dish and giving less time doesn't mean you are compromising with the taste.

I must admit I came up with this recipe on an urge to cook something different with the chicken yet I thought it would become the same old boring chicken curry that I cooked often. While pureeing the cooked onion and cashews, I saw the tiny box of the gorgeous bright red strands of saffron and I just decided to add a pinch to it. Turns out, my spice intuition was right. The curry was incredibly aromatic with the fragrance wafting through the kitchen making me jump with delight. It did not taste like a quick fix chicken.

Few things before the recipe. I did not marinade the chicken well in advance as I was on a time crunch. However, if you wish to you can do this step and keep the chicken in the fridge to marinade. You can find these spices across most supermarkets in countries like US and Australia. These spices store well. All you have to do is keep it in some dark cool corner of your kitchen in air tight jars. They will last forever.  

For the marinade:
1 cup chicken (with bones)
1 tsp Tumeric powder
1 tsp Garam Masala
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp Paprika
¼ tsp Cinnamon powder
1 tsp Cumin powder
¼ cup Lemon juice

Firstly, I used chicken with bones as it makes the curry taste better. However, you can substitute with boneless chicken thigh pieces and later on use good quality chicken stock to make the sauce. Marinade the chicken in all these spices and the lemon juice and set aside.

For the Curry:
4 medium onions diced
3 - 4 tbsp mild olive oil
10-12 raw cashews
5 cloves of garlic
½ inch piece of ginger
2-3 green chilies or Serrano peppers
A pinch of Saffron

Heat a pan, add a little oil and chuck in the onions, chilies, Cashews, garlic and ginger. Give it a stir until the onions turn golden brown. Make a puree out of this. Just before pureeing it, add a pinch of saffron to the mixture. It will be quite thick and we will be diluting it with water/stock once we fry the chicken.

Heat the pan with remaining amount of oil and chuck in the marinated chicken on a high flame. The idea here is to just give the chicken a beautiful charred color on the outside. At this stage the protein will still be under-cooked. Add the puree and stir to combine.

I added water since I used Chicken with bones but if you are using boneless chicken I insist that you use stock. Adjust the stock accordingly. Let it simmer for 10 minutes or until the chicken is completely done. Serve hot.

You can eat this with steamed rice. I like it better with rotis but you can replace it with tortillas. Just warm them up before serving it. Happy cooking!! :)

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Indian Style Porridge/Upma

Upma (oopma) or thick Indian style Porridge is a very popular south Indian breakfast dish. It is made from semolina which is wonderfully yet simply spiced to give it a very thick porridge like consistency. I would call it thick Indian style porridge.

In my boarding school, every Thursday upma was served. I ate it the first time when I shifted from the north-eastern Indian state of Assam to beautiful picturesque Mussoorie in Northern India. As an Assamese, I only knew that rava/sooji/semolina could be eaten sweet and never pondered on whether it was cooked the same way all over the country. I was baffled at the thought of having savory semolina nonetheless, I ate it. My palate could taste it savory deliciousness however, my mind was not ready to accept it. I tried it a couple of times before I actually started liking this.  

Two years later when I left the boarding school, I wanted to replicate the process of cooking it but failed miserably every time. It felt as if the semolina was revoltingly denying being the same taste. I gave up!!

People say Failure is the pillar of success and Years later, I, still, was stuck at finding my perfect upma recipe. Finally, after multiple letdowns and disappointments, I managed to cook upma. Of course, it is a modified version of the original recipe.  
Although the list of ingredients looks lengthy, this is a fairly easy recipe. As for a matter of fact, it takes only about 15-20 minutes to prepare and the only balance that you need to worry about is the salt and sweet. 

For the Upma: 

1 cup Semolina (roasted)
2 medium onions sliced
2-3 green chilies chopped
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp Whole cumin
1 tsp Bengal gram/chana dal and skinned and split urad dal
8-10 fresh curry leaves
A handful of cashews
2 – 2 ½ cups of water
2 tbsp ghee/clarified butter
1 inch piece of ginger
A tsp of chopped fresh coriander
1 tbsp of Desiccated coconut
Salt and Sugar to taste

Heat a wok, pour the oil and add the Bengal gram, urad dal, mustard seeds and cumin seeds. As soon as the seeds start to pop, add the curry leaves. Once the ingredients release its entire aroma, put in the cashews and the green chilies and fry them until you achieve a luscious brown coating on them and then add the sliced onion and cook until they turn translucent. Sprinkle a dash of salt on the onions to speed up the process.

Add the semolina and stir for few minutes on high flame. Once again you will be able to smell the perfume of the spices and the semolina releasing a very toasty and appetizing aroma. Add the 2 and ½ cups of water and season it generously. At this stage, add the desiccated coconut, the water will hydrate the dried coconut and it will release its entire flavor into the porridge. The idea behind adding the salt and sugar (almost in equal quantities) is to balance the saltiness and the sweetness together. The heat should come from the chilies thereby making it an extremely delectable. Let it come to a bubble. Keep stirring. You will see that the mixture thickens up immediately and let all the water be soaked by the grains.

As soon as the semolina will be cooked, it will start to come away from the wok when you stir. It should look a little clumpy but that is okay. Add the minced ginger to the ghee and drizzle it on the semolina. Stir, rather vigorously, to combine. Garnish with the coriander and serve piping hot with Masala tea or Coffee. 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Coconut Buttercream Cake

As daunting as baking sounds, it is not that difficult and once you have your perfect mixture, you can never go wrong with this. I have been experimenting for quite some time now and this is pretty much the most basic sponge cake I make. It works for me as I can use mostly any filling I want. This time I just decided on whim that I was going to bake a coconut cake.

I love the flavor of coconut. Its sweet and tender flesh is, somehow, enticingly alluring to me, and of course I am, shamelessly, admitting to it. There is nothing better and satisfying than uniting your favorite foods creating a very harmonious yet party-in-your-mouth flavor.

A good sponge is all it takes to make my disposition astonishingly calm yet the devil inside me always asks for more. Hence, Coconut plus sponge equals coconut sponge cake.

I kept this cake very simple using only desiccated coconut but if you wish, you can always use fresh coconut, dehydrate it and use it in the buttercream. My desiccated coconut was bought and I am brazenly confessing to it as it did not compromise the sweet natural flavor of the cake.

For the cake:

200gms soft butter
150gms castor sugar
250gms refined flour
4 eggs room temperature
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 heaped tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 cup of room temperature milk
A good pinch of salt (forego if you are using salted butter)

I use an electric handheld mixer thereby making the process easier. It is not an impossible task doing it by hand. It just takes a little extra time.

Sift the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.

Combine the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat it (using the beaters) until pale and fluffly. Start adding the eggs one by one to the mixture. Incorporate the first egg completely before adding another one. Sometimes the mixture seems to curdle, you can just add a spoon of the flour mixture. It will immediately become a smooth mix again. Crack in all the eggs and the mixture should look exquisitely light and fluffy. The color should be a creamy yellow at this stage. Start adding the flour and the milk in alternately. You have to bring the mixture to a dropping consistency.

Bake in a lined loose bottomed 8inch cake tin for 50-60 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius. Start checking the doneness of the cake by inserting a tester. If it comes out clean, its done but if not then let it go on for another 5 minutes or so. Sometimes I use uncooked spaghetti strand to check the cake and I assure you it works absolutely fine.

You can also divide the mixture equally among two cake tins and sandwich them after making the icing. However, my cake is divided in thirds.

Once it’s done, leave it for 10 minutes in the tin and de mould it and let it cool down completely before icing the cake.

For the frosting:

200gms softened butter
150gms icing sugar
1-2 tsp single cream (in case needed)
2 cups desiccated coconut

Start by whipping the butter until it’s completely light, pale and fluffy. Add the icing sugar and beat for another few minutes until completely smooth. I use a little less icing sugar as I don’t want it to be overwhelmingly sugary.

In case it becomes thick, just add in a teaspoon of cream to loosen the mixture. Divide the mixture in half and set aside

Start by cutting off the dome of the cake and making a flat smooth surface. Then slice the cake into thirds. I use a thin serrated long knife. Using one half of the icing mixture, start filling in the layers one slice above the other. Use the palate knife, spread it on the slice and sprinkle a handful of coconut. Then put a layer on top and repeat the same process. At this point you should have finished one half of the frosting. Once you put the last slice on the top, use the rest of the frosting on the top and sides, trying to make it as smooth as possible. 

Don’t worry; you don’t have to be perfect as the cake will be covered with coconut.

Once it is smoothly iced, start sprinkling the coconut on the top and the sides until the cake is completely covered with the desiccated coconut. 

You can store up to 2-3 days as its desiccated coconut. However, if you are using fresh coconut, its advisable not to store it for long.