Saturday, December 24, 2011

Rich Christmas Plum Cake

The spirit of Xmas is incomplete without the traditional yummy Christmas plum cake. Once our Christmas tree was, up my 8 year old daughter - who loves baking, was after me to start preparing to bake the plum cake.

I have been trying different plum cake recipes every Christmas for the last few years. This year, I am greatly inspired by fellow food blogger Aliena Varghese 's recipes on her blog, and have tried to follow her plum cake recipe, with a little variation in some ingredients. Thanks for this Ally.

My daughter and I baked this plum cake together last evening. Here is how we did it.

Butter - 250 gms
Brown Sugar - 200 gms
Eggs - 4
Plain flour - 350 gms
Rum/Brandy - 3tbsp
Salt - 1/2tsp
Mixed Spice (powdered nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves) - 1tsp
Vanilla Essence - 1tsp
Molasses - 5tbsp
Apricot Preserve - 1/4cup
Orange Marmalade - 1/4cup

Orange and Almond Essence - few drops
Baking soda - 1/2tsp
Almonds/ Cashew nuts - 200gms
Cherries - 125gms
Raisins - 100gms
Sultanas and Currants - 250gms
Tutty Fruity - 250 gms
Dates - 200gms
Mixed peel - 125gms

Chop and soak all the fruits in dark rum or brandy one week in advance. Stir everyday.

Pre-heat the oven at 140 degrees centigrade. Sift the flour, salt and baking soda and keep aside. In a separate bowl cream the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Whip the eggs separately and add them little at a time, making sure the mixture does not curdle. Add in the essences and keep beating. Fold in the flour and continue stirring till batter is fluffy. Add the fruits, peel, spices, apricot preserve and orange marmalade and mix thoroughly till well combined. Pour the batter into a greased baking tin. Bake at 140 degrees centigrade for 45 - 55 mins (depending on the oven) until the top turns a dark brown and when a skewer inserted into the cake comes out with dry crumbs.


You can use caramel instead of molasses and regular sugar instead of brown sugar.

The quantity and type of fruits/nuts is entirely your choice, however I'd recommend to use orange rind if you can because it enhances the flavour a lot. You could also throw in some
dry sugar coated ginger.

If you plan to ice the cake, reduce sugar by 1/3 cup. This cake is sweet enough on it's own.

You can soak up the cake after it has cooled completely with a little dark rum.

Baking time will vary as per the oven, but typically, keep checking after 40 mins.

Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Banana Bread (egg-less)

Been craving for some home-made dessert for a while now. So decided to snap out of my lazy stupor and bake something. There were a few over ripe bananas sitting in the fruit basket - ideal for baking banana bread (egg less).

This is the first bread I learnt to bake few years back (after having tasted the banana walnut bread at ICRISAT Hyderabad). Moist, delicious and wholesome. And folks at home love it.

1 cup sugar ( Indian granulated white sugar or brown sugar)
3 bananas (ripe)
4 tbsp melted unsalted butter
2 tbsp curds/dahi
1 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour (maida)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla essence or extract
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1tsp cinnamon powder

Pre Heat oven to 350 degree fahrenheit / 180 degree centigrade. Blend the bananas, add sugar, curds and mix. Add butter, salt, and flour till incorporated. Mix the baking soda with the milk and add it to the above mix along with the vanilla essence. Mix in the walnuts and cinnamon
powder and stir till everything is well blended. Pour this batter into a greased bread tin and bake for about 50-60 minutes or till a tooth pick inserted comes out dry.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Aroy, J.P.Nagar, Bangalore : Restaurant Review

Having enjoyed Thai food in Singapore few months back, decided to sample some of it in South Bangalore. Aroy - is what the Thais call pleasure, is situated in JP Nagar, facing mini forest.

Its a nicely done up classy restaurant with a big roof-top seating area and a small indoor one. It was pretty crowded for a mid-week night - few families but mostly large corporate groups.

I ordered Jamaican Passion cocktail (White Rum, Dark Rum, Passion fruit, Clove, lime & orange), as I love passion fruit. However, there was hardly any passion fruit flavor. Basically orange juice and rum. And no clove for sure!

The Thai raw mango salad - Yam Mamuang, is something I was really looking forward to, and I was very excited to see that it was listed on their menu. While I cannot say that the salad was bad, it was definitely not authentic. The raw mango slivers were fresh and tangy, spicy too - but what was missing was the generous garnishing of crushed groundnuts and cashew nuts. While there were no cashew nuts at all, I did count about 4 pieces of crushed groundnuts. No basil or cilantro. Funnily, the chef had added quite a bit of glass noodles....I am guessing the intention was to add some body to the dish, however they failed miserably at the attempt. I know lots of people who dislike noodles (like my husband) but love the salad, and for such folks, finding noodles in their favorite salad can be quite a turn off.

A starter that was really nice (again - nothing Thai about it) was the Golden Basket Veg. Basically crisp tarts with corn, bell peppers and onion filling.

Moving on to mains, we had Chili Basil Fried Rice (Khao Pahd Bai Kraprow). Tasted like a typical Chinese fried rice with a dash of basil. Nothing to write home about. For accompaniment, we wanted something tasting very very Thai with coconut flavor. We asked the manager to suggest - and he asked us to try the Thai Red Curry with stir fried veggies. This is not on the menu but he offered to make it for us. Again, we were very disappointed. Turned out tasty alright, but nothing Thai again. Just a run of the mill oriental red semi gravy with vegetables.

The service was good, and the staff was obliging when we asked for extra groundnuts in the salad.

On the price front, Aroy is way too steep for the kind of food they offer.

Decent enough to classify as 'oriental food', - but definitely not my first choice for Thai food in Bangalore.

Verdict: 2.8/5