Saturday, 21 May 2011

Sugar Cookies

Friday afternoon at office... Just a couple of hours to go before I wind up and start on the 1-hour drive back home. It has been a really hectic week, both at work and at home. I haven't been able to spend  much time in the kitchen for dinner preparation, this entire week. Reason: my daughter has started making it a habit of forcing me to join her on her pre- and post-dinner walks with her father. When I get her dressed and hand her over to her dad, she promptly picks up my sandals and forces me to accompany her or refuses to go out with him. So I started wondering what i am going to cook over the weekend and took a short browsing break from work. I went to my favorite website and found the recipe for sugar cookies. I have been apprehensive to try this out earlier, thinking that all other recipes that do not state they are sugary turn out so sweet, so how much sweeter will sugar cookies be?

But looking at the ingredient proportion, it seemed reasonable. Hence I promptly printed that out and decided to try it. Moreover, I have had the no-cook fondant sitting in the pantry for over a week now and I needed to bake something suitable to decorate with it.

Here is the recipe

Sugar Cookies:

3 cups (390 grams) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For Sugar Cookies: In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda. 

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 to 4 minutes). Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until you have a smooth dough.
Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about one hour or until firm enough to roll. 

I refrigerated the dough for 2 hours. 

Preheat oven to 170 degress C. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper. Reason for this is explained below.
Remove one half of the chilled dough from the refrigerator and, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch (1 cm). (Keep turning the dough as you roll, making sure the dough does not stick to the counter.)  I found the dough manageable only for the first one minute or so. After that it becomes too soft and soggy. You can roll it out by sprinkling some dry flour over the dough to make manageable. Cut out desired shapes using a lightly floured cookie cutter and transfer cookies to the prepared baking sheet. 
Place the baking sheets with the unbaked cookies in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes to chill the dough which prevents the cookies from spreading and losing their shape while baking.
  Bake cookies for about 8 - 10 minutes (depending on size) or until the edges are just starting to brown. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. 

Makes about 50 cookies. 

I use the microwave oven in convection mode. It has a turn-table diameter of 10.5 inches. My baking sheet is 10-inches in diameter and I have only one baking sheet. So I used my square and round cake pans too to make three baking sheets.

I cut out the dough and prepared the first baking sheet with unbaked cookies and that went into the refrigerator, while I started preheating the oven. In the meanwhile I prepared the other two baking sheets. When the first baking sheet went into the oven, I set the timer to 60 minutes; the second and third were in the refrigerator. Took the first batch out at the end of 10 minutes, put the second tray in and waited for the first tray to cool down. The third was in the refrigerator ready to go into the oven. When the first had cooled down, I moved the cookies to the wire rack, pulled out the second half of the dough from the fridge and started cutting out the cookies and preparing the fourth batch on the first baking sheet.
Thus the time to preheat and prepare the sheets was minimized and the entire dough could be baked in 60 minutes.

Decorating the cookies:

The website suggests frosting these cookies with royal icing. Royal icing with meringue powder has to wait  for another time. This time it is going to be fondant covered ;).

Wait for the cookies to completely cool down.
Roll the fondant on a clean surface to a really thin layer. Use the cookie cutter and cut into the shapes matching the cookies you want to cover. Lightly brush the top surface of the cookie with corn syrup. Slowly lift the fondant shape and fix it over the cookie. The cookie would have expanded while baking. So the fondant will not cover the entire surface of the cookie. You would have to press it gently to spread and cover the entire surface.

Store the cookies in an airtight container, with a wide base. Arrange the cookies at the bottom of the container in one layer, spread butter paper or parchment paper on top. Start arranging the next layer of cookies and so on. 

Frosted cookies will keep several days in an airtight container. 

Feedback from family and some friends:

While I was just done packing these cookies with mom's help, my neighbor's son dropped in with a box of jack fruit. I immediately offered him one cookie and he simply loved it. So I packed some in his box and returned it. Dad and mom tasted the plain cookies while they were cooling down and loved the melt-in-the-mouth texture. My daughter kept picking them up numerous times and even ate the no-cook fondant rolled in balls while I was decorating ;).

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No-cook Fondant

I was in college when I watched the movie "Father of the bride", the first time and loved it. I recently watched it again on TV and loved it even more. I know that is exactly how my hubby dear will react when my daughter grows up to marriageable age :). In fact hubby dear acknowledged it himself while watching the movie ;).
One funny scene is where the family visits the wedding coordinator and choose the cake from the catalog at his office. Have you noticed how the father reacts on seeing that the 3-tier wedding cake costs 600$? Well I was wondering too. I went through some pictures of multi-tiered decorated cakes and realized that these are works of art and so much time and effort goes into creating these delectable palates. Shouldn't the creator be rewarded well? And hence the cost. Here is one such sample from a website:

What lovely flowers and butterflies. I am sure my little girl will go bonkers if I can make something like this for her :).
I was intrigued and while browsing further came across this website with recipes for fondants. I really didn't want to try the recipes with gelatin, although I bought one pack on my last visit to Nilgiris, so I settled for the no-cook fondant.

Here is the recipe from

1/3 cup unsalted butted, softened
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted

Since the corn syrup I used is vanilla flavored, I reduced the Vanilla extract to 1/2 tsp. 

Cream butter slightly in a large mixing bowl; blend in corn syrup, vanilla and salt. Add confectioners' sugar all at once and mix with a wooden spoon then knead with hands. Turn onto a smooth surface and continue to knead until mixture is well blended and smooth. Store in a cool place. Shape as desired.

Coloring the fondant:
I made five portions of the fondant and colored them with the five colors I have - yellow, orange, green, blue and pink. To color the fondant, dip a toothpick in the food color gel and smear it all over the fondant. Roll and knead the dough well so the color is uniformly incorporated. You do not want to end up with streaks of color. Repeat this process, until you get the desired color. Use a new toothpick each time you dip into the food color gel.

The blue color turned out too bright since I used the color twice, so I decided to use the red color just once and got a lovely pink shade.

The fondant can be covered in butter paper or cling wrap and stored in an air-tight container at room temperature. It keeps for several days if thus stored.

Shape leaves, flowers butterflies etc., and decorate your cakes and cookies as you desire.

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Thursday, 19 May 2011


How many of us have noticed those apple shaped coconut covered chocolate cakes at bakeries. I find them so tempting but resist myself everytime I visit a bakery. I came across a recipe for similar looking cubical cakes on this blog and wanted to try it out from a really long time. I finally decided to bake it last weekend, when bro and sis-in-law were here.
I followed the Vanilla Tea cake recipe from my earlier post and used the Lamington's chocolate frosting recipe. The cakes turned out really yum, but as always the picture hardly does any credit ;).
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Sunday, 15 May 2011

Vanilla Tea Cake

I recently visited IBCA and procured some aluminium baking pans and other accessories. I was thrilled to be trying out earlier recipes on these new pans compared to the unpredictable glass dishes. So the first recipe I tried out was the Vanilla Tea cake from I had perfected this with my glass dish and I wanted to fine tune the oven temp and time with the aluminium pan.

Here's how:


2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter (unsalted, at room temp)
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 180 degree C and line a 8" square pan.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

Beat butter until soft. Add sugar and beat until fluffy.
Add 1 egg at a time and beat well after each addition.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the vanilla extract.
Beat until combined. Alternately add the flour and milk in 3 additions,
starting and ending with the flour.
Pour batter into pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.

If the cake starts browning too quickly, then after about 12-14 minutes,
cover loosely with a foil.

Cool for 10 minutes and then invert on wire rack and remove pan and
parchment paper. Cool completely and cut into pieces.

 The cake turned out soft and good. Folks at home loved the golden brown crust. I totally agree, the picture does not do credit ;)

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Saturday, 14 May 2011

Vanilla cupcakes

When I started experimenting with cakes, it was always a simple chocolate cake I would try out; as I only had that recipe in my microwave recipe booklet. I came across some silicone muffin cupcake moulds at a nearby store and bought them to try out cupcakes with the same recipe. The cupcakes always turned out great, but the first few round cakes I tried were a disaster, and that's another story. So I proudly made chocolate cupcakes and gave them to my grandmother who was visiting. She took one bite of this and immediately remarked "Yennamma intha cake karuppa irukku. Kasakkuthu vera". (What is this dear, these cakes are black in colour and they taste a little bitter?). I was so disappointed :(. So I immediately tried out vanilla cupcakes with the same recipe omitting the Cocoa powder make some normal butter cream frosting to spread on the cupcake. Needless to say, these bright cream coloured sweet cakes, won her over :)

Here is the recipe:
Flour - 2 cups
Baking Powder - 2 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Butter - 1/2 cup (room temp, unsalted)
Sugar - 1 1/4 cup
Eggs - 2 (room temp)
Milk - 1 cup (room temp)
Vanilla Essence - 1 tsp

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line/grease muffin pans. I use silicone cupcake moulds and hence I skip this step.

Sift Flour, baking powder and salt, 3 times. Keep aside.
Cream butter and sugar well.
Add Vanilla essence mix well.
Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.

Mix the flour mix and milk to the butter-sugar-egg mix in three additions, starting and ending with the flour.
Fill each cup 3/4th with the batter and bake for 20 minutes. I took them out in just 18 minutes.
Remove and let cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert and remove the muffin pans and cool completely.

This makes 18 muffins (standard size), but some of my muffin cups are large and hence I could make 14 muffins.

I frosted these with Chocolate fudge. This is the first time I tried frosting a cake. I had recently purchased the icing bag and nozzles from IBCA and I was thrilled to try it out.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting:
120 g unsweetened chocolate
2/3 cup unsalted butter at room temp
1 1/3 cup confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract.

Melt the chocolate in a saucepan. Alternately you could place it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. In another bowl, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and beat well until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla extract. Add chocolate and beat until the frosting is smooth and glossy.

Pipe any design you wish on the cupcakes. I was only trying out the various nozzles this time and the frosting was quite ridiculous to look at. I sprinked some coloured sugar balls too.

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Masala Biscuit

Who does not have a weakness for spicy biscuits or savories to go with tea? I certainly do. So when I started baking, I was on the look-out for the non-chocolaty, non-sugary biscuits that are a perfect complement to a cup of hot beverage. Divya's blog post on Masala biscuits turned out to be just the perfect thing I was looking for.  I have baked these quite often in the past and they have turned out lightly browned and crumbly in the mouth. I do not know if it is the new Anodized Pizza pan that doubles as my baking sheet, that is causing the excessive browning. I need to get that checked out and standardize the temperature and time setting with the new baking pan. I usually cut them out round, but I was excited to have got my new set of cookie cutters from Singapore a couple of days back, when sis-in-law and bro visited. I wanted to try those shapes out. My daughter cut most of these biscuits that makes this all the more special to me.

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Indian Biscuit

Well I really did not know that the Indian Biscuit is called Nankhatai until I saw the recipe for this item in most blogs that I follow.

I usually follow Divya's Atta Nankhatai recipe. This is a weekly snack bake for my little girl. But apparently, this little girl got bored of the same biscuit over the last few months that she stopped eating it. Knowing how much ghee, flour and sugar goes in, we were really apprehensive about consuming all of it. So I had given it a break for a few weeks. Recently Divya has made the maida nankhatais based on Raaga's recipe. Boy, wasn't I tempted to bake these looking at the pictures ;). Well I did  and here are the biscuits.

 I kept these only for 15 minutes at 180 degree celcuis and still they browned quite a bit. Maybe the mixing was not exactly as per the recipe? I did not cream the ghee and sugar. Instead I mixed the sugar and maida and then added ghee. I will follow the recipe to the dot next time and see how it turns out.
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Monday, 2 May 2011

Chicken Curry

I was bored of the usual chicken curry or pepper chicken and I was really finding it difficult to get the right gravy consistency without using besan or cornflour (much to my husband's chagrin; he feels gravy thickened in this manner tastes and looks like chinese gravy) even though the taste always turned out right. So I decided to tweak my usual recipe a little and made a green curry this time. Thanks to Marias chicken recipes for the cashew paste idea; I was sure my husband would have no objections to thickening the gravy with this method.


1. Chicken - 350 grams (cleaned and skinned)
2. Onions - 2 (medium sized)
3. Tomatoes - 2 (finely chopped)
4. Chilli powder - 1 tsp
    Dhaniya (coriander powder) - 1tsp
   Salt - 1 tsp
   Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
   Pepper powder - 1/2 tsp
   Saunf powder (fennel) - 1/4 tsp
   Garam Masala - 1/2 tsp
   Ginger paste - 1/2 tbsp
   Garlic paste - 1/2 tbsp
   Curry leaves - 15 to 20
   Mint leaves - 15 to 20
   Coriander stalk - 3 to 5
5. Oil - 1 tbsp
6. Coriander leaves for garnishing
7. Cashew paste.

Grind the ingredients in No. 4 together. I always keep powdered ingredients (cumin, pepper, chilli, coriander seeds) but you can use 1 tsp of the seeds to get 1/2 tsp of the powder approximately.
I also always use ginger and garlic paste. Very often the stalks of the coriander leaves turn out to be too thick for garnishing. In such cases, I use the leaves and save the stalks to grind with masala gravy.

Slice the onions fine. Heat the oil and fry the chopped onions until they are golden brown; add the masala paste and fry until the raw smell is gone and there is good aroma. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the chicken pieces and ensure that the pieces are covered well with the masala.
Add a cup of water and boil the chicken until soft.

Add the cashew paste and boil for just half a minute. The gravy thickens as it cools and so you can turn off the heat even with the gravy is a little thinner than desired. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with Chapati or Rice.

Verdict: Well, the chicken gravy was not too spicy and brought out the flavour of the chicken pieces very well. We thoroughly enjoyed it with both Rotis and Rice.

If you wish, you could step up the chilli and pepper quantity to make it more spicy.

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