Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Apple Walnut Cake

Once again a prolonged absence from active blogging. I have enough reasons for my being busy, the main one being that I am into a new project in my office. New work means new challenges and I'm focussed right now on getting myself acquainted to learning new things. However, I had the weekend to myself and was able to prepare for the Blog Hop. So, here goes my entry for this week's Blog Hop.

This time I got the oppurtunity to visit Jayasri's Samayal Arai. A very versatile blogger - one finds a variety of food from pastas to couscous. I find her blog a global one, with many types of food from across the world. Browsing through her recipes and reading her write-ups was a pleasant experience. She has an impressive collection of eggless baking recipes too. So, I tended towards trying one of her baked goodies.

My choice was to try the Eggless Apple Walnut Bread. But, just while preparing, I found that I had actually ran out of flax seed meal. However, I just went ahead to bake it anyway trusting heavily on the other ingredients mentioned in the recipe. I made quite a few changes to the recipe and hence I'm providing the recipe below. This is a jist of the measurements I used. The original recipe can be found here and feel free to experiment.

All purpose flour - 150g (1 cup)
Whole Wheat flour - 100g (3/4 cup)
Butter - 40g
Cinnamon - 1/4 tsp
Nutmeg - 1 tsp
Apple Puree/Apple Sauce - 1 cup
Vanilla Essence - 1/2 tsp
Baking Soda - 2 tsp
Baking Powder - 1 tsp
Buttermilk - 150ml
Sugar - 100g
Maple Syrup - 4 tbsp
Walnuts - a handful (coarsely chopped)
Salt - a pinch

Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter a pound cake tin and keep it ready.

In a bowl, sift together the two flours along with the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Keep it aside.

Take the buttermilk, apple puree, melted butter and the maple syrup in a blender and give it a pulse just to make them come together as a single thick liquid.

In a large bowl, take the blended liquid items. Add vanilla essence and sugar and whisk it for a minute with a hand blender.

To this, add the sifted flour little by little, whisking gently. Throw in the chopped nuts and fold them along.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking tin and bake for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

The bread's consistency and taste resembled mostly that of a cake. It was so sooo soft and fragile that it just melted in my mouth. With the apt amount of sweetness and aroma, it was an absolute pleasure to the palates. I would like to just repeat Jayasri's statement - it is the softest cake that I've ever baked.

I never felt the absence of egg or even the flax sead meal in the cake. I would definitely be baking it again and thanks a ton Jayasri for providing such a wonderful eggless treat.

A small note: The original recipe calls for about 30-35 minutes of baking. My oven took however longer. Please adjust according to your oven settings. Sending this lovely cake to Tickling Palate's Blog Hop Wednesday - V and Ramya's Recipe's ABC Series - A for Apple.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dulce de Leche Brownies

I can't believe it is time again for the next Blog Hop round. Time - it flies by incredibly fast. Not just initiating the event, Radhika of Tickling Palates does a remarkable job by sending remainder mails to all the participants just in time. This is of immense help to someone like me, who always run after things at the last minute. There by, here is my update for today's Blog Hop Wednesday.

This time, I got to follow Divya's EasyCooking. She is a very established blogger and an experienced cook, blogging since 2008. That is, more than three and a half years!! It is really inspirational to see such bloggers. I suppose her passion towards cooking is what drives her. Keep going Diyva!

Initially, it was a little confusing what to try from the mighty number of more than 480 posts. But then, the situation was so, that I could easily pick out one. We were invited to a friends' house on Saturday, as their parents have come over to visit them here in Germany. So, I wanted to bake something for them and take along. Thus, I confined my search to baking. Thanks to her excellent recipe index, I got what I was looking for.

I selected this absolutely yummy-licious brownies. I had some Argentinean Dulce de Leche, sitting in my fridge and this looked like an excellent opportunity to put it into good use. Ever since I got to know about Dulce de Leche, I'm in love for that. In Frankfurt, it was not a problem to find an Argentinean shop where you get ready made yet authentic Dulce de Leche and you don't have to make the boiling condensed milk experiments and all. I've already baked some muffins with them which were gorgeous. This time, these pretty Dulce de Leche Brownies caught my attention and I gave a try.

I was contemplating for quite some time what to substitute for the eggs in this recipe. Silken Tofu had been a good substitute many a times. Unfortunately, I didn't have it at hand. I was not sure what else would work best without compromising the taste and texture. Time was running and I had to get them ready before evening. After much thought, I gave up and just used eggs. In fact, I was baking for friends and I'm more than happy if they like it [though I can't taste it :( ].

The original recipe can be found here. I followed all the measurements exactly as mentioned, except adding Dulce de Leche a bit more generously. The spreading of DDL on the brownie batter was real fun. I waited an anxious 30 minutes. The result was visibly wonderful. I just let it cool completely, took few snaps quickly and off to the party.

The verdict from the friends was that it tasted absolutely wonderful. My husband was glad to describe more precisely. He found that the brownies tasted a little bit on the bitter side, yet very very tasty to his palates. He found little islands of soft DDL in the brownies which added more to the taste, along with the crunchy nuts in between. The texture was soft and just like he would expect a brownie to be. What more to say?!

I just can't wait for the day when I would try an eggless version of these beauties. Waiting to secure the next pack of DDL again. Ya ya, it makes me get indulged!! But, who wouldn't want to? As a small note, I would like to add that as Divya suggests, if you have the time I mean, refrigerate them overnight and warm a little before serving. You would definitely love them!! Sending this to Blog Hop Wednesday IV.

Thursday, September 08, 2011


I'm back with a travel post this time!! We had taken holidays last week in view of Eid ul Fitr. This time, we were invited to our friends' house in the north of Germany. After prayers on Tuesday, we set out to their house and had a good time there. We returned home next day evening. The rest of the week was still there and it was almost like summer was slowly waving a goodbye. We wanted to go out somewhere and it was a spontaneous plan and we're glad we did it.

Constance (Konstanz in German) is a small city located on the banks of Bodensee. So, what is Bodensee? It is the third largest fresh water lake in Europe, known just as The Lake Constance in English. Not to be confused with the ones by the same name in the USA and Canada. The lake forms a natural boundary between the three countries - Germany, Switzerland and Austria. It is to the south of Germany bordering the states of Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg and is fed by the River Rhine flowing from the Alps into the south of the lake. The lake is a beauty by itself, a favourite spot in Summer for sailors, sport lovers and tourists.

We started on Saturday morning by car. It was a longer drive than expected due to weekend traffic. Around 3 in the afternoon, we reached Constance and checked into our hotel. Our initial stop was to the Mainau Island. It is a small island in the lake on the German side. The entire island is maintained as a garden and is fondly called the Blumen Insel Mainau (The flower island Mainau). As the name suggests, the island is studded with numerous beautiful flowers. We reached the island by a ferry running from Constance. Right from the entrance, it is all fragrant and colourful everywhere you turn around. Different flowers bloom in different seasons. This time, Dahlias were in full bloom.

My husband was busy trying to capture all those nature's beauties into his lenses. Even I was making my own round with my mobile clicking around with excitement. There are good round trip suggestions for everyone around the island. One can easily cover the entire island by walk in a couple of hours. It was a very memorable walk through the gardens. There is a little area called Schmetterlinghaus (Butterfly house). Could you imagine how much I was amused? It housed many lovely colourful butterflies - big and small, flying all around. We were glad we got some nice clicks of these winged beauties too. The trip back to Constance on the ferry with the decorative lightings in the evening was again wonderful and memorable.

The next day was expected to be raining. We rightly chose to stay indoors and made a visit to the Sea Life. Sea Life is a chain of aquariums in Europe and the USA. It was in my wish list for a long time to visit the aquarium. The life under water is always a fascination to me. Do you know the octopuses are highly intelligent and have a good memory and problem solving skills? Do you know the sharks must always keep swimming so as to avoid sinking?

We got to see lot of flora and fauna in the aquarium including star fish, jelly fish, clown fish (the Nemo fish), rays, sharks, turtles, sea horses, octopuses and of course, penguins and lots of other small and large fishes. I also got to touch a star fish and it was an extra-ordinary experience. The aquarium is surely a great experience for children and adults alike!!

After lunch, we started our drive back to home. It was mostly raining during the travel, but the traffic was quite ok. Thus, our holidays came to an end and from Monday, back to work and the routine continues. Yet, it was a memorable little picnic during the weekend and I'm eager to make another little trip. Hopefully soon!! :)

Insel Mainau
Sea Life at Constance
Lake Constance Wiki
Mainau Wiki

Thursday, September 01, 2011

For the 7 links challenge

I've been blogging for quite some time now and it is a time to reflect upon my work so far. Priya of Now Serving has invited me to play the game of the 7 links challenge. Thank you Priya for giving me this wonderful opportunity, where I get the chance to look back and do a self-rating of my posts so far.

1. The most beautiful post

This one has been real tough. Each post has been written with commitment and prepared with compassion. When both these elements come together, the end result would indeed be beautiful. Anyhow, for the game's sake, let me name a couple of them which are close to my heart: Bruges

and Hello in there

2. The most popular post

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies - This one was quite easy to choose. I just oriented myself on the number of comments received.

3. The most controversial post.

I do not have any.

4. The most helpful post.

Lamb Biryani - Most of our friends who have visited us and tasted this Biryani have liked it and asked for the recipe. However good we explain, a written recipe is always better. I think, this is also my longest post so far. I am happy that I have taken the pains to write down all the step by step instructions with pictures and documented it for ever, so that anyone can refer to it anytime. That way, it rightly deserves to be called the most helpful post.

5. A post that was surprisingly successful.

Kohlrabi Dhal Curry - I never expected this post would gain so much popularity. I have also noted that many google search has directed to this post of mine and I'm of course, happy about that.

6. A post that did not get the attention it deserves.

Risotto ai Funghi - This is a very yummy Italian recipe, which I'm also proud of getting it right at the very first try. Back then, I did not have as much as readers as today and so it naturally went less noticed.

7. A post I am most proud of.

Basil Pesto - There are many reasons why I'm proud of this post. Trying a dish from a foreign cuisine is not always easy. That too making it the traditional way is quite a challenge. I'm glad that it tasted very authentic and lasted long on my very first try. Apart from that, the snaps have come out beautiful and it was the first one to be accepted by Foodgawker ;-)

Hope you continue to support my blogging journey as ever. So, why end the fun here? I'm taking the privilege to tag the following fellow bloggers too:

1. Shilpi Bose of It is Tasty Ma
2. Nashira of Plateful
3. Priya Sreeram of Bon Appetit
4. Nisha of Look Who's Cooking too
5. Ambreen of Simply Sweet 'n Savoury
6. Umm Mymoonah of Taste of Pearl City
7. Aipi of US Masala

And hey, the list is not limited. If you have not yet been tagged, but feel like it is fun to share your thoughts, feel free to join the challenge. :)

Raisins Bread Knots

It was a wonderful month of Ramadan. I still can't believe it is over very soon. Eid was on Tuesday for us. It was a lovely day and on the Almighty's grace, it went on very well. We had been invited to a friends' house in the north of Germany. After prayers, we set out there and we had a memorable time there. We returned home only very late last night. This post is exclusively for the Blog Hop Wednesday, a blog event by Radhika of Tickling Palates. Even before Eid, I explained my situation to her and she kindly gave me one day excuse. So, I'm posting for the event today.

This time, I got the opportunity to visit Neha's blog - From my heart. Her blog is young, but within a short time, she has posted some really wonderful and unique recipes. I really liked a few of them and had a tough time choosing. At last, I asked my husband to pick one. He finally closed in on these cute little bread knots.

The original recipe can be found here. I followed it almost exactly, except for the following changes:

  • I omitted washing the bread knots with egg-whites. Instead, I brushed the knots with a little olive oil before baking. This gave the knots a beautiful upper crust.
  • I added some raisins along with the flour while kneading, which was a great idea indeed. We really loved biting into those sweet pieces. (Ok baba, I admit, it was my husband's idea!!) 
  • I used Nigella seeds instead of Basil seeds.
I enjoyed preparing these pretty knots very much. They were easy to make, but tasted great. Initially, I wondered how to make those knots, but later realized that it doesn't really matter. It was fun twisting and turning the dough. Unleash your creativity and you get wonderful shapes. I think, most of mine turned out to be like snails rather than knots. As I said, it really doesn't matter. We took some of these to our friends too and they too liked it a lot.

It is best served warm. You can either bite into them as such or enjoy with marmalade or honey. A dash of honey is my personal choice. Have it as breakfast or as tea time snacks. I'm sure you would like them either way. Sending this to Blog Hop Wednesday - Week 3.