Recently I made this cake for a work morning tea. I was asked about the origins of this recipe and I realized that the recipe appeared in Cuisine magazine about 20 years ago. I don’t want to mess with a classic but over the years tweaked a bit and reduced the amount of sugar. It is a generous cake and the flavours are so perfect for winter.
Have you ever racked your brain wondering what to take a plate for an office morning tea? Not just office morning tea – I mean a baby shower or for other occasions when you are asked to take something. If you want an easy, fail proof, easy to impress slice, then look no further. I tweaked the recipe a bit to suit my own personal preferences but this is Dean Brettschneider, the Global Baker’s recipe. Do try it as like everyone who has tasted this slice, you’ll be craving for more!
INGREDIENTS FOR THE BASE
125g melted butter
120g plain flour
70g rolled oats
120g brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tin (380g) caramel condensed milk
45g golden syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Good pinch of sea salt (crystals)
100g dark chocolate (62% cocoa)
75g evenly chopped toasted and skinned hazelnuts
For the base
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Mix all dry ingredients together and then pour in the melted butter and combine until it forms a loose dough (a little crumbly). Prepare a 28cm by 22 cm baking tin by lining with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly before applying caramel filling. Make caramel filling while base is baking.
Place all the ingredients except the salt in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring all the time until it becomes thickened. Watch it does not burn.
Spread evenly on warm base and sprinkle the sea salt on top. Place back in oven for further 12 -15 minutes. Cool well.
Melt chocolate and butter together. Spread evenly over cooled caramel and base. Sprinkle with nuts. Refrigerate for a couple of hours at least. When cool, use a sharp knife and cut into squares. Clean knife edge with every cut so you have clean squares.
To prepare roasted hazel nuts, place nuts on a shallow baking tray. Roast in oven for 15-20 minutes at 150 degrees Celsius. Check often to ensure that the nuts don’t burn. Cool and rub nuts in your fingers to loosen skins. Handpick nuts out and discard skins. Chop with a knife or in a food processor.
I learnt to make this brittle from my friend Rachana. I had tasted it more than a year ago and when I asked for the recipe, she said she eye balls all the ingredients, so she needs to come over to my place and demonstrate. We did just that a couple of weeks back. In India, brittle is called chikki and there are family variations. Sesame seed and peanut brittle are most common. Chikki is made with jaggery and an easy substitute would be muscavado sugar.
This mixed nut version uses edible gum called gond or gaund or gondh. The gum is dried resin of axle wood tree (type of Acacia – the botanical name is Anogeissus latifolia) and is believed to be a wonderful warming food according to Ayurveda.
Copra is dried coconut kernel – commonly sold in Indian supermarkets in the half shell or uncut as a whole.
300g cashew nuts
150g pumpkin kernels
200g dried copra
75g sesame seeds
50g sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon pepper
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon ajwain (carom seeds)
32g edible gum or gond
6 tablespoons ghee
750g good quality jaggery
Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper and spread the cashew nuts and almonds, making sure to keep them separate. Roast in oven for 25 – 30 minutes until they are well roasted and crisp. Once cool, cut or process in the food processor so they are roughly chopped.
Dry roast the sesame seeds. Place the pumpkin kernels in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 30 seconds intervals until they are roasted. May take a couple of minutes based on your microwave wattage. Finely slice the copra and dry roast in a pan.
Prepare two large baking sheet pans by lining them with baking paper. Have a large rolling pin handy.
In a large non-stick cooking pot, dry roast the spices – pepper, fennel seeds and ajwain. Pound coarsely and set aside.
Heat four tablespoons of ghee and fry the edible gum in three batches until it pops.
Put the jaggery in the pot along with the remaining two tablespoons of ghee. Melt the jaggery while stirring continuously. Have a small bowl with cold water handy to test the doneness of the syrup. You have to get the jaggery to a hard ball consistency. This means if you drop the syrup in water, it turns hard immediately.
Once the jaggery syrup is ready, mix in all the prepared nuts, spices and edible gum. Mix well and pour onto prepared sheet pan. Flatten out using a rolling pin. Use a pizza cutter to cut the chikki into bite sized pieces. Store in an airtight container.
I know the name is intriguing and yes the main ingredient is beetroot. This is a guilt free treat – just five ingredients and plant based. It is easy to make so definitely give this recipe a try. Boiling the beetroot does take time and the brownie is only as nice as the quality of your chocolate. Buy the best you can afford with at least 60% cocoa.
200g dark chocolate
½ cup plain flour
½ cup ground hazelnut powder
½ cup brown sugar
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a shallow 22 centimetre square baking tin with baking paper.
Top and tail the beetroot. I like to boil beetroot (whole), uncut and unpeeled so the colour does not run. Once boiled, cool and peel. Cut into pieces and puree well using a blender.
Melt chocolate in a microwave safe bowl.
Mix the pureed beetroot in to the melted chocolate. Add the remaining ingredients. Pour mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Switch the oven off and let it sit in the oven for a further five minutes.
Allow to cool in the tin before slicing. You can serve with cream or ice-cream or I love it on its own.
Store bought jams are a far cry from homemade jams. The strawberries I made jam with were farm fresh bursting with flavour and sweetness, so I was able to reduce the amount of sugar. This jam has only three ingredients – fruit, sugar and a couple of teaspoons of butter to set. A tip – don’t use overripe fruit.
1.5 kilograms strawberries (rinsed and hulled)
1 kilograms jam setting sugar
2 teaspoons (10g) butter
Place a plate in the freezer for the set test.
Cut the large strawberries into halves or quarters. Coarsely crush with a potato masher.
The history and origin of Phirni (sometimes spelt Firni) is not confirmed but often believed that the Mughals enjoyed rich milk based puddings. This milk pudding tradition is common in Persia so it is likely that the dish has origins there.
The main difference between phirni and kheer is that rice is ground in the former whereas kheer is rice pudding and you cook it whole.
Thiyya Gavallu literally translate to sweet shells. Store bought ones pale in comparison to homemade ones. This is an Andhra sweet and is like a sugar dipped dough nut. My grandmother used to make them and I have her shaping device but if you don’t have any such contraption, you can use the back of a fork.
This is a traditional Indian sweet that I made for Diwali a few days back and it was well appreciated by the family.
Around Diwali, I reminisce about my own childhood memories of this festival with a huge smile. Diwali is about wearing new clothes, decorating the house with as many oil lamps as you can manage, eating a feast and then fireworks. A month prior to Diwali, the preparations for making our own rockets, flower pots and pencils would start. We had a real chemistry lesson patiently delivered by my father. We lived on a University campus and would always have competitions with neighbours. Now we all know better and it is good everyone is keeping away from fireworks because of pollution. The spiritual significance of Diwali is to try to distinguish the truth from lies, illumine our minds from darkness with light and realize the oneness of energy in all living beings. It is believed that the spirits of our ancestors return on the night of Diwali and the fireworks are an offering to their spirits.
There isn’t ever a dessert course in a traditional Indian cuisine. Sweets and other sweet things are served alongside and in some regional cuisines they are eaten at the start of a meal. It is good to have some of these sweet treats as part of your repertoire so you can create an authentic Indian dining experience.
I can say that I loved cooking and collecting recipes from a very young age. I still have the note book where I hand wrote family favourite recipes and subsequently made additions in the nineties. I think this recipe is my version of such a recipe – I love it because it is a generous cake and has spicy flavours to complement the pumpkin and prunes. The cake is easily serves 12-15 people so make it for a family get together.
I tend to sway towards savoury dishes and kind of play second fiddle when it comes to desserts or sweet things. I tend to create and choose recipes that are not too finicky, use fewer ingredients and sugar and fat are somewhat reduced.
I can’t take credit for this recipe – I was inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s beetroot, ginger and soured cream cake in his book “Sweet”. I of course modified to suit my family’s taste buds. The cake is rich and moist suitable to make as a birthday cake or for a cake and coffee morning.
75g pecan nuts
200g plain flour
150g caster sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
¼ teaspoon salt
250g raw red beetroot, peeled and coarsely grated
Finely grated zest of 1 large orange
100g crystallized ginger
2 large eggs
60g sour cream
125ml sunflower oil
For the Icing:
150g cream cheese, at room temperature
60g icing sugar, sifted
6 centimetre piece of fresh ginger, grated on a fine mesh and the flesh squeezed to extract all juices about 4 teaspoons
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin and set aside.
Spread the pecan nuts on a baking tray and roast for ten minutes. Remove from the oven and chop in half or smaller if you prefer. Set aside. Increase oven temperature to 195 degrees Celsius.
Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a large mixing bowl and mix to combine and aerate. Add the beetroot, orange zest, pecan pieces and crystallized ginger, but do not stir.
Place the eggs and sour cream in another bowl and whisk to combine. Add the oil and whisk again. Pour over the beetroot and flour mix, and using your hands or a large spatula, mix well to combine.
Pour the mix into the cake tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 50-55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let cool in the tin for 30 minutes or so before removing from the tin and cooling on a wire rack completely.
To make the icing, place the cream cheese in a bowl. Use a wooden spoon and beat for 10 seconds. The time may vary, but you want cream cheese relatively smooth. Add icing sugar and beat until well incorporated with an electric whisk. Add the cream and beat for about a minute, until the icing is thick and smooth. Add the ginger juice, beat for a final few seconds. Use a palette knife to spread over the top of the cake and serve.