Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mad about Doughnuts

Who doesn’t love Doughnuts? Now, you will love them more with a simple sugar syrup and a hint of cardamom glaze.

My all time favorite? Doughnuts. Yup, can’t get enough of them and I simply love it with a hot cup of coffee. Who doesn’t love them? Making them is even more fun. Getting a good dough is the key here and you have an option of baking them or frying in oil.

  • 1-1/8 cup Whole Milk, Warm
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons (one Package) Instant Or Active Dry Yeast
  • 2 whole Large Eggs, Beaten
  • 1-1/4 stick Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 4 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • Glaze (a simple sugar syrup with a hint of cardamom)
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • a bit of water to submerge the sugar
  • dash of cardamom
  • Oil to fry
  1. Heat the milk till it is warm (not hot).
  2. Add sugar to milk and stir till it is completely dissolved.
  3. In a small cup add yeast and pour milk/sugar mixture over yeast. Stir gently, then allow it to froth for 10 minutes.
  4. Add beaten eggs to melted butter, stirring constantly till it is completely incorporated.
  5. Pour in the yeast mixture to the butter & egg mixture, whisking it constantly till it is thoroughly combined.
  6. Slowly, start adding flour to the above mixture and whisk it constantly.
  7. For 10 minutes, keep mixing the flour till it starts coming together.
  8. If the dough is a bit sticky, add a bit of flour.
  9. Gently knead it on a lightly floured surface till you get a good springy dough.
  10. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow it to sit for half an hour. Then, transfer the dough to a fridge.
  11. Refrigerate dough for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
To Make the Doughnuts
  1. Remove bowl from fridge and turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface.
  2. Roll out to 1/4 to 1/3-inch thickness.
  3. Using a 3-inch cutter, or a glass, cut as many rounds as you can, then roll out remaining dough and repeat the cutting process.
  4. Cut holes out of each round using a 1 1/2-inch cutter or a small bottle cap (that’s what I used).
  5. Place both doughnuts and holes on a floured baking sheet.
  6. Cover with large tea towel and place in a warm place.
  7. Allow doughnuts to rise undisturbed for at least an hour.
  8. Doughnuts should be visibly puffier and appear to be airy.
To Fry the Doughnuts:
  1. Heat oil (i used regular sunflower oil) in a pot.
  2. The oil should not be too hot- otherwise it will burn the doughnuts.
  3. One to two at a time, gently pick the doughnuts and slide them in hot oil. Allow them to cook 1 minute on each side; they will brown very quickly.
  4. Remove doughnuts from the oil and place it on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
  5. Fry the remaining doughnuts and holes. The holes will cook more quickly than the doughnuts; about 30 seconds per side.
  6. Allow doughnuts to slightly cool.
To Glaze/coat
  1. In a small pan, add sugar with a bit of water and dash of cardamom powder (water level should just be enough to submerge the sugar, don’t add too much)
  2. Put it on a medium flame and allow the sugar to dissolve and infuse with the cardamom.
  3. As the liquid starts to get to a thick consistency (with sugar completely melted and caramelized) , turn off the flame and set it aside.
  4. One by one, brush the doughnuts with the sugar syrup.
  5. If you want an extra sugar rush, dip them in a cinnamon sugar (cinnamon + granulated sugar mix)
  6. Serve warm if possible, or room temperature.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cooking isn't always glossy...

I am amazed at the variety of dishes cooked and relished on millions of blogs all over the world. People are so creative and there are certain blogs which churn out recipes by the minute. I am laid back and completely lazy compared to certain blogs. But it does make me wonder, do these people have any off days at all? When I mean off- I mean those days where you simply can't muster to cook or don't want to be in your kitchen? I am not ashamed to reveal that I have my off days where I simply don't even wanna boil water in the kitchen, leave alone cooking something exotic! Well, that's me... Don't get me wrong, I love cooking. Sometimes, you do get tired of things that you love doing most. If you don't fall into my category, then you are a super human being and please stop reading this post, now! If you do have off days, then here is a list of "must haves" in your pantry-

A packet of instant noodles- Yes, anything instant is good- at least till you have this insane need for whipping up something delicious. My favorite (and I can vouch for millions of Indians) is Maggie :) oh, you won't believe the height of my laziness- I simply dump the noodles in a big bowl with the tastemaker or "masala" packet that comes with the instant noodles and fill it up with water and shove it in a Microwave for 7 to 8 minutes. I stir occasionally in between, just to keep an eye on things. Viola, a quick, delicious meal is ready. Obviously, the cooking style won't be winning any merits, anywhere- but, who cares? Slurp....

A packet of crisps, chips with yoghurt dipping or any sauce that comes handy- My number one lazy snacking habit. I always have some junk packet of chips in my pantry and a box of probiotic yoghurt (I am lactose intolerant to a certain extent). You don't need a microwave for this one- with your bare hands, rip open the packet and grab the chips and dunk them in yoghurt, tomato sauce, pasta sauce or anything you might have- well, that doesn't bring a good picture in your mind, but who cares- Life is short and make the most of it!

A packet of bread- Yes, please- I love bread. Nothing fancy here. I literally, raid my fridge for anything that can work as a filling- cucumber, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, olives- ok, ok- who am I kidding? I am too lazy to go with the veggies- so, I work super good with cheese spread, butter, peanut butter- Now, I am in business- I simply put the bread in a toaster till it is golden brown and when it comes out hot from the toaster- just spread peanut butter and the joy you get out of the bite....hmmmm :)

Ok, I get it- you are the healthier type? Snack on a fruit or salad and don't even come near me with those- Just kidding!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My twist on Pulla...

Pulla is a Finnish sweet cardamom flavored bread (also finnish sweet rolls). What makes this really awesome is the cardamom flavor that is inherent in the bread – it’s not sickly sweet and would make you come back for more.

I can’t tell you how long I have been waiting to make this bread but never had an opportunity. It’ s a braided bread and I found out that there are couple of techniques to get them braided (thanks to youtube). Though the technique I followed is not an easy one, I still could pull this one off. If you are someone, who can make bread without a sweat then there will be no concerns for you. However, for people like me, who have to think this like a big project here are couple of pointers- the trick is kneading the dough to let the yeast work it’s magic and giving enough rest time for the dough to rise.

  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1 pkt dry yeast (about 7 to 8 gms)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp salt (can skip if you use salted butter)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp crushed cardamom seeds
  • 4-5 cups flour (all purpose)
  • 1 stick melted unsalted butter
  • 1 egg mixed with a bit of water for egg wash
  • for filling-
  • 2-3 tbsp softened butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom powder

  • Heat milk till it is lukewarm.
  • Pour milk into large bowl and stir in the yeast.
  • Allow the yeast to awaken and let it sit for about 7 minutes.
  • Add egg, crushed cardamom, sugar and salt and whisk till they are incorporated.
  • Stir in about 1 cup of flour, melted butter and whisk into a batter.
  • Add the rest of the flour.
  • Knead for about 10 minutes with your hands on a lightly floured surface. (If it is too sticky, add a bit of flour).
  • The kneaded dough should be springy to touch.
  • Place the dough in a bowl and cover bowl with cling wrap/ towel and let it rise in a warm place for about 1 to 1 ½ hours.
  • In the meanwhile, mix the filling ingredients together.
  • Once your dough has risen and doubled in size, knock the air out and Knead it gently for a couple of minutes on a lightly floured surface.
  • Roll the dough into a oblong or an oval shape with a roller on a parchment paper.
  • with the help of a pizza cutter, make slanting cuts along both sides (be careful not to cut deep as we need the space in middle for the filling)
  • Just ensure that the strips you cut are equal in number on both sides and are of the same length on both sides.
  • Spread the filling in middle.
  • Leaving the end closest to the filling attached, start braiding the strips over the filling tucking in the loose ends.
  • Tuck the end and pinch the dough to seal it off.
  • Cover with dish towel and let it sit at least 15 minutes to rise again before baking it.
  • About 5 minutes before baking, give it a quick egg wash.
  • Bake them at 200 degree celsius for about 15-20 minutes on a preheated oven.
  • Enjoy with a cuppa steaming coffee.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Mastering the Art of Making Perfect Pizza Dough

Mastering the art of making perfect pizza dough has never been easier!
Getting a perfect pizza dough is an art. It took me a long time to get a workable dough. I wouldn’t say mine is perfect, but I can definitely claim that I am in the right track for achieving perfection. Me and my friend were talking about pizza’s the other day and she was reliving the disastrous attempt she had made over the weekend. It set me thinking…the fact is, it isn’t difficult to make. You need to understand the texture and couple of attempts will make you confident. So, let’s get to the basics:

What makes a good pizza dough?
Yeast! Awakening the yeast and allowing it to work magic on the dough- That is the first step you will hear from anyone who has knowledge on making the dough. Though, i have heard one of my friend going gaga over fresh yeast, I have never worked with it. How do you awaken the yeast? Mix it in warm water (luke warm water, neither too hot or cold) with a bit of sugar and allow it to froth (takes about five to eight minutes).
Kneading the dough?
You need a good workable surface- it sure gets messy! Dump the flour on a workable surface and make a small well in the middle. That’s the classic technique. You pour the yeast mixture in the middle and start pulling the flour into the mixture. Keep mixing, drawing larger amounts of flour in till it all starts to come together. Knead earnestly till you get a springy dough. The test is you press the dough with your finger and when you release it – it should come back to original shape.
It finally boils down to ingredients, doesn’t it? I have dabbled with different measurements till I finally started listening to my favorite chef- Jamie Oliver. Yeah, he swears by this recipe for Pizza dough and so do I. I have memorized it to such an extent that I can make pizza dough at the drop of a hat!
  • 500 grams All purpose flour
  • 7 gm dried yeast
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp fine sea salt (can substitute normal salt)
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • luke warm water about 200 to 250 ml (always go easy on water, don’t pour too much and regret!)
(Makes about 3-4 medium Pizzas).
Nitty gritty details that you shouldn’t forget-
Once you have a smooth, springy dough (after kneading it well) , place it in a large flour-dusted bowl and flour the top of it. Cover it with a damp cloth or cling wrap and place it in a warm room for about an hour till the dough doubles in size. You gotta rest your dough, that’s a crucial point. Once the dough has doubled, move the dough to a workable surface and knead it to push the air out with your hands. The dough is ready for use.
Do I even have to spell out Toppings? You can be super creative with the toppings- You can keep the dough in fridge for a later use. I don’t go overboard with the pizza sauce. I use anything handy from arrabiata sauce for pasta to a normal tomato ketchup (only when you are super lazy to dish out a good pizza sauce). Veggie toppings are my favorite- corn, bell peppers, sliced onions, jalapenos, black sliced olives-

Nothing works like a home made pizza- so, if you still have a pizza takeaway number on your speed dial, this should be an eye opener!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Garlic Knots

Of late, I haven’t been cooking much. My mom who is visiting me, has taken complete control of the kitchen. My taste buds are in a south Indian cuisine heaven (if there is one???). So, this weekend, I decided to make something we all would enjoy- As a big fan of garlic, I had been eyeing on making these knots for quite sometime. The highlight of the dish is Garlic butter with a coriander/cilantro twist. My original plan was to use parsley, but as luck would have it, I ran out of parsley and what can you expect from a South Indian cuisine expert’s fridge?

You need patience- needless to mention, I guess, when working with yeast! Making the knots isn’t tough- Initially, the knots can be a bit wobbly and out of shape…(can be a bit sticky, at times). Slowly, you work your way and get them right. It’s fun to work with, it’s delicious and just melts into your mouth- Buttery, Garlicky Knots :)

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp dry active yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp melted salted butter
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour (keep more handy for dusting)
  • For Garlic butter coating-
  • 5 tbsp salted butter
  • 4-5 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 1 tbsp Chopped coriander/parsley
  1. Dissolve the yeast in warm water with sugar and let it sit for 5 minutes. Allow it to froth.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and butter. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the olive oil, then the yeast-water mixture. Mix this together to form a soft dough and knead for 5-10 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and lightly coat with olive oil.
  3. Put it in a large bowl, top the bowl with plastic wrap and set it at room temperature to rise.
  4. When the dough has doubled in size (after an hour or so), punch the air out of it and knead it on a lightly floured surface.
  5. With the help of a rolling pin roll out the dough to a rectangle.
  6. Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, cut the dough into strips.
  7. Take one strip and tie it into a knot.
  8. The dough will be sticky along the cut edges, so dust these with flour before you tie the knot.
  9. Set each knot down on a baking tray covered with parchment paper and finish tying knots with the rest of the dough.
  10. Leave some space between each knot.
  11. When all the knots are tied, coat them with a little olive oil.
  12. Loosely cover them with plastic wrap and let them rise again until doubled in size.
  13. Bake the knots in a preheated oven @ 200 degree Celsius for 10 to 15 minutes till they become golden brown.
  14. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small pot and cook the garlic gently in it just long enough to take off that raw garlic taste, about 1-2 minutes over medium-low heat.
  15. Add chopped coriander/parsley and stir to combine. Turn off the heat.
  16. When the knots are baked, take out of the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Paint with the garlic-butter-coriander mixture and serve.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Cardamom & Cinnamon Swirl bread...

The ambience was perfect for baking. I had the whole house to myself & I had all the ingredients in my kitchen cabinet. My buddy, the radio was belting out good songs. I am on a baking spree these days and I can’t complaint. This bread is special because, it includes my two favorite C’s- Cardamom and Cinnamon. Oh boy, the smell that wafts all around the house, just spikes up your spirit! This one is a winner :)

Phew, preparation time is long. And you have to be patient while the yeast does the trick. If you are an impatient soul like me, it becomes tough. Trust me, all the patience is rewarded with a sensational and aromatic bread :)

  • 1 cup Milk
  • 6 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons Active Dry Yeast
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 3-1/2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 11/2 Tablespoons Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Cardamom
  • Egg And Milk, Mixed Together, For Brushing
  • Softened Butter, For Smearing And Greasing

  1. Step 1 will be to awaken your sleeping yeast. Mix yeast and 1/4 tsp of sugar in a bowl with 2-3 tbsp of warm water. Set it aside for five minutes for the yeast to froth.
  2. Melt butter with milk. Heat until very warm, but don’t boil. Allow to cool until still warm to the touch, but not hot.
  3. Since I used salted butter, I haven’t used any salt separately for the dough.
  4. In a bowl beat sugar and eggs until combined. Pour in milk/butter/yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add the flour, bit by bit and knead until combined.
  5. If dough is very sticky, add 1/4 cup flour and knead for 5 minutes.
  6. Once the dough is done, place it in a bowl and set it in a warm, hospitable place for an hour.
  7. The dough should double in volume after an hour.
  8. Once the dough is doubled, punch out the air and gently knead it on a work surface.
  9. with the help of a rolling pin, roll the dough in a rectangle (ensure it is not too wide to put in the baking pan).
  10. Spread some butter on the dough.
  11. Mix sugar, cardamom and cinnamon together, then sprinkle evenly over the butter-smeared dough. Starting at the far end, roll dough toward you, keeping it tight and contained. Pinch seam to seal.
  12. Spread the baking pan with softened butter. Place dough, seam down, in the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 45 minutes.
  13. Preheat oven to 180 degree celsius.
  14. Mix a little egg with milk, and brush over the top. Bake for 30-35 minutes on a middle/lower rack in the oven.
  15. Remove from the pan and allow bread to cool. Slice and serve with a cuppa steaming coffee- bliss!


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