Baking Dilemmas

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Baking is a past time for most of us.  We enjoy it because it is usually easy, and the aroma while it bakes in the oven is heavenly, and when we taste it, it’s divine. “Usually” is the key word.  These days, with gas shortages, it is taking much longer for things to bake. I usually bake in the evenings now when I know we will have somewhat normal flow of gas for the oven to heat up and cook properly. It is taking much longer though.  And the anticipation of the finished baked good makes us all antsy. 

 When I say baking is “usually easy,” I am referring only to those recipes that don’t make me convert their measurements. It’s frustrating when the app on my phone doesn’t allow me to easily convert the measurements from grams to cups, or from ounces to tablespoons. My kids love to help me, and sometimes it’s fine. But sometimes, the added persons in my small kitchen makes me even more frustrated when I am trying to figure out the exact quantity to use and the kids are screaming to let them help me. Being kids, no one wants to wait the extra minute or so to let me do the conversion in peace. 

Hence,  I did some research last night wanting to make brownies and cakes but without having to measure butter. I haven’t bought a kitchen scale yet. In the U.S, all the recipes we used were measured in cups and tablespoons/teaspoons. So it was easy to follow recipe. Since we don’t have access to every ingredient used these days, I have to find other options on the Internet to substitute particular ingredients. It takes a toll sometimes on my over loaded brain, and half the time I give up for the day.

I thought I’d share my findings with you all.  Some recipes said to use canola oil instead of butter in baking, and others referred to olive oil.  There is this new cupcake recipe I tried, which I will share soon, and the person was discussing how she loved boxed cakes only because they were soft and raised when baked. She tried oil instead of butter because all boxed cake mixes used oil, so she made the same recipe but with oil and she showed pictures of her cupcakes using different ingredients. They looked so pretty. 

Here is a small conversion table I thought was handy. I will be printing it out and keeping it in my recipe book.  Hope it helps you out too.

Butter/Margarine

Olive oil

 

1tsp

¾ tsp

1 tbls

2 ¼ tsp

¼ cup

3 tbls

1/3 cup

¼ cup

½ cup

¼ cup + 2 tbls

2/3 cup

½ c up

¾ cup

½ cup + 1 tbls

1 cup

¾ cup

For further guidance you can click here and check out this amazing table for equivalent amounts of olive oil to be used in the place of margarine/butter if ever the need arises. Makes things so much easier for me!

Keep in mind that when you are beating butter and sugar, the mixture is creamy and fluffy. Beating oil and sugar gives it a wet, heavy look. The reason for this is that butter holds tiny air bubbles and oil does not. I can’t guarantee that your cake or cookies will turn out the same if you substitute.  Do try it and share your results. It will be helpful to everyone.  I guess as always, it’s trial and error. But I hope I have made on step easy for you by sharing these tables. 

By Maasi Saba

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Who says NO to pizza, no one, ever!

By Maasi Javeria

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Well, almost.

Having the opportunity to enjoy a good thin crust pizza and that too which is appealing to eyes as well is rare.

As my daughters were on their own to a trip to New York with their grand father (lucky them) couple of weeks back, I went with my hubby and my 61/2 years old son, to try a new restaurant. My little one was blackmailing us like any thing and we were pampering him like our first born.

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I wanted to have Chinese and enjoy a hot bowl of soup but no sir! the prince wanted to have a pizza. So we went to this new place discovered by the hubby called “pizzeria by Nishat”. I had doubts about the new venture until I was served their thin crust cheese margarita and an all vegetarian. I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I say that it was few of the best thin crusts I ever had. The flavours were really good as well but it was more the colourful combo of jalapeños and peppers that really caught my attention. And the best part of it all was that I could witness how the pizza was being made in the beautiful brick oven. From the chef’s expert rolling of the dough to the sprinkling of the yummy toppings and finally both the cheeses, it was a feast to the eyes to watch and I already had imagined myself eating it even before I actually was.

Going Bananas!

By Maasi Saba

I make this delicious and easy banana cake for my kids every few weeks. With the warm weather upon us, bananas, as well as many other fruits start to go soft after a few days.  This cake is best with bananas that are soft but not spoiled.  It’s a tried and tested recipe I found on the internet, but I can’t seem to find the exact site anymore.

Here is the recipe:
150g butter (I use nurpur 200g, and cut in half, and cut the half remaining as well to = 150g)
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup milk
1 cup mashed bananas (this is about 3 bananas depending on the size)
1/4 cup chocolate chips (more or less if desired)

* Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
* Melt butter, add sugar, eggs and vanilla essence and mix well with a beater

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* Sift flour, baking soda, and baking powder on top of melted ingredients
* Mix carefully, and then slowly add milk. mix well.
* Mix mashed bananas.
* If you want, you can add some chocolate chips.
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* Pour mixture in a well greased and lined pan.
* Bake for 30-40 minutes at 180 degrees.

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So this was what was left of it. It was scrumptious!

The original recipe was called something like “Busy Woman’s Banana Cake.”  That is all i had copied a few years back. In the original recipe, it stated to melt butter in a pot on the stove and then add sugar.  Then to turn the stove off and add the eggs and mix.  Well, the first 2 times i made it well.  I remembered to wait until it cooked a bit before I added the eggs.  Then, the next two times I didn’t.  Usually, when my children find out I am baking they all come and beg to help. Then I have to designate some easy steps so they feel like they are contributing.  But then they would start distracting me, and I lose my senses.  So two times I actually messed up the second stage by adding eggs into the hot butter and sugar mixture.  After that, I decided to either let it melt at room temperature (which is pretty easy to do these days), or in the microwave.  I follow all the steps as I have stated.  For those who have never made this cake, there are 2 cups of flour so when you are mixing it together, it gets quite thick.  My arm hurts by the time I finish hand beat everything. I usually use an electric beater to just mix butter, sugar and eggs, the dry items are then folded in by hand.  Remember to slowly add the milk or it will splatter all over the counter and yourself.  My kids and I love the the taste of bananas and chocolate so that is why we add some chips to the mixture.  I had taken a few pics so you could see the different consistency of the cake batter at each stage. I was going to also take a pic of the finished cake, but I am sorry that was not possible.  By the time I remembered to, it was already eaten.  So, very sorry for that.  I guess you will have to make it to see the results yourself.

Enjoy!

Some of My Favourite Swiss Roll Recipes

By Maasi Maryam

Don’t we all want to get a little creative in our kitchens? Well, most of you already are but today I want to show you that being creative and original can be very basic and rewarding. Playing around an old favorite is never easy, but with a little dedication and some hard work, (yes the love of food can make its way into the busiest of schedules, trust me) we can come up with things that would take a lifetime to forget!

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It’s all about a few creative twists and turns to the humble sponge. A good sponge cake sheet can be the basis for a variety of delicious desserts. Let’s start with some tips for a perfect sponge every time. The cake batter is always baked in a large shallow Swiss roll tin to make sheets of sponge.

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To prevent it from sticking to the pan and breaking when you take it out, butter the tin, line it with greaseproof paper and then butter again. Once the cake has cooled down, you can then start filling it with fruit mousses (any soft fruit mango berries peaches), chocolate ganache or cream patisserie. You can get as versatile with the fillings and toppings as you please…how about a layer of homemade jelly or walnuts and cream? It all depends on your mood and what flavours amuse you the most.
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Today I want to share with you all some combinations for filling and toppings I adore. So that basically means that I’ll be sharing some recipes from one of my favourite cookbooks, “The Creative Kitchen”. The recipes include peach fruit mousse, chocolate ganache and walnuts and cream topping.

Let’s get working mommies !

Peach fruit mousse

Gelatin 15 g
Peach fruit juice 1/2 litre
Sugar 200 g
Water 3 1/2 fl oz
Egg whites beaten until stiff  3
Heavy whipping cream whipped to soft peaks 3/4th litre

IMG_0965Start with pouring some tropical juice in the gelatin to soften it, mix until smooth. Melt the sugar in the water over a low flame, while stirring gently. Gradually increase the heat and boil the syrup. Then take it off heat and immediately dip the base of pan in cold water to stop the cooking process. Put this hot syrup on the beaten egg whites in a thin stream, whisking without break and continue beating until all the syrup is incorporated and the meringue is cool.

IMG_0971NOTE: what you ‘re making here is a meringue. The finished meringue should be very shiny and white and form a stiff peak on the end of your whisk. Now melt the smooth gelatin and peach juice mixture over a low heat and add the rest of the peach juice as well. Carefully fold the gelatin and juice into the meringue, and then fold in the whipped cream as well.

Chocolate Ganache

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Hard semisweet chocolate chopped 250g
Whipping cream (not whipped) 1/4 litre

Put the chocolate and cream in a heavy based saucepan over a low heat and stir until all chocolate has melted. Continue mixing over heat for about 10 more minutes, but do not bring to a boil. The chocolate cream mixture should be smooth and thick by now. Now pour the mixture into a large bowl and refrigerate at least an hour.

When you take the bowl out of the fridge whisk the chocolate mixture with an electric beater for 10 minutes or until it doubles in volume, very light in texture and a pale brown.

Walnuts and Cream

Ground walnuts 1/2 cup
Heavy whipping cream (whipped and chilled)  2 cups
Sugar 4 tablespoons (less if you like)
Vanilla essence 1/2 tsp
Salt a pinch

Mix together all of the above and chill overnight.

Serving suggestions

All these fillings can be used to fill layers of sponge that have been moistened by spraying with sugar water syrup. (1 part sugar to 2 parts water mixed and poured in a spray bottle)IMG_0970

Use the Swiss roll tin to pour over some jelly into, let chill and set completely, top with the fruit mousse and finish with the sponge cake sheet, trimmed to fit the top of the tin. Take the finished layers out by placing the tin upside down so you see the jelly layer on top.

Or simply spread the walnut whipped cream onto the cake sheet and roll it to make a lovely Swiss roll.

Believe it or not, working with different tones and textures brings out the best chef in you. Happy cooking mommies 🙂