Monday, July 27, 2009

Devil's Food Cake

Adapted from Linda Collister's incredible book, 'Chocolate', the Devil's Food Cake must be one of the densest things know to humans. It is my favourite recipe, so far.

Devil's Food Cake
  • 140g of Milk Chocolate (grated or finely chopped)
  • 125ml of Sour cream
  • 175g of Brown or Muscovado Sugar
  • 300g of Plain Flour
  • A pinch of Salt
  • 3 tablespoons of Cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon of Bicarbonate of soda
  • 115g of Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
  • 200g of Castor Sugar
  • 2 large Eggs (separated)
  • 1 teaspoon of Vanilla Essence
  • 175ml of Water (room temperature)
  • 280g of Milk Chocolate (grated or finely chopped)
  • 225ml of Sour Cream
Grating milk chocolate is an incredibly satisfying and tempting experience.
Put the chopped chocolate, sour cream and brown sugar into a heavy-based saucepan and set over very low heat. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth, but not hot. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Sift the flour, salt, cocoa, and baking soda onto a sheet of wax paper and set aside.
Put the butter into a bowl and beat until creamy. Gradually beat in the castor sugar. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, followed by the vanilla essence. Mix in the flour mixture and the water. When thoroughly blended, work in the melted chocolate mixture.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff, then gently fold into the batter.
Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pans, and then bake at 180°C for 25 minutes (for 20cm cakes) or 30 minutes (for 23cm cakes). Let cool for 5 minutes, then invert on a wire rack, remove the lining paper, and cool completely before icing.
Melt the milk chocolate by suspending it in a bowl over a larger pot of steaming but not boiling water. Remove from the heat once melted and stir in the sour cream. Leave until very thick and spreadable.
Ice the cooled cakes by sandwiching three (for the 20cm cakes) or two (for the 23cm cakes) together and icing the sandwiches.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pumpkin Pie

Adapted from Jane Price’s ‘Kitchen Classics: Pastries and Breads’, this recipe was merely a tasty way to dispose of a surplus of pumpkin. And it has cinnamon in it, so little more reason was needed.

Pumpkin Pie
  • 500g of Pumpkin (Chopped into small chunks)
  • 2 Eggs (Lightly beaten)
  • 140g of Soft Brown Sugar
  • 80ml of Whipping Cream
  • 1 teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon of Freshly Grated Nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • 150g of Cake Flour
  • 100g of Unsalted Butter (Cubed)
  • 2 teaspoons of Castor Sugar
  • 80ml of Iced Water
  • 1 Egg Yolk (Lightly beaten, to glaze)
  • 1 tablespoon of Milk (to glaze)
Steam or boil the pumpkin for 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain and mash the pumpkin and set it aside to cool.
To make the pastry, sift the flour into a large bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Stir in the castor sugar. Make a well in the centre and add almost all the water. Mix it together using a flat bladed knife and a cutting action until it forms beads. Add the remaining water if the dough is too dry.
Lightly grease a 23cm circular pie dish. Gather the beads into a ball and press it evenly into the pie dish, covering the base and sides. Trim off the excess and crimp the edges. Roll out the trimmings to about 2mm and cut into leaf shapes. Refrigerate the pastry-lined dish and leaves for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cut baking paper to cover the dish and spread uncooked rice over this. Bake for 10 minutes, remove the paper and rice and cook for another 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Meanwhile, place the leaves on a baking tray lined with baking paper, brush with the combined milk and egg mix and bake for 10-15 minutes or until lightly golden. Set aside to cool.
To make the filling, whish the eggs and brown sugar in a large bowl. Add the cooled mashed pumpkin, cream, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, and stir to combine thoroughly. Pour the filling into the pastry shell, smooth the surface and bake for another 40 minutes, or until set. If the pastry edges begin to brown too much during baking, cover the edges with foil. Allow the pie to cool to room temperature and decorate the top with the leaves.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Cherry Tart

“Sleep 'til you're hungry, eat 'til you're sleepy.”
A recipe introduced to me by Maren, marking perhaps the beginning of my affair in the kitchen. An appropriate selection for the revival of my baking since being back. It is also the first of my baking experiments that I shall be sharing on my blog.

Cherry Tart
  • 125g of Margarine
  • 1 Egg
  • 125g of Sugar
  • 250g of Flour
  • 2tsp of Baking Powder
  • 1 glass of pitted Cherries
  • Semolina or Corn Flour (Thickener)
  • Cream the margarine and sugar and then add the egg
  • Add the flour mixed with baking powder
  • Knead until well mixed but still slightly crumbly
  • Line with wax paper and grease a round baking tin and cover the bottom with about 2/3 of the dough
  • Heat the cherries in a small pot
  • Add the thickener in small amounts while stirring until the mixture flows only very slowly
  • Once the mixture is cool, pour it into the tin and spread it evenly
  • Ring the edge of the tin and dot the surface of the cherries with balls of the remaining dough
  • Bake at 220°C for about 40 minutes or until the dough is golden brown
  • A variation uses apple sauce (made with 6 apples) instead of the cherries
  • Serve warm with whipped cream

See more pictures on facebook.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Hello, World.

A bird, possibly a seagull, drifting in the air above Niagara Falls, 25th May 2009.
The appeal of freedom versus the reality of the diet.

Hello, World,

My name is Nikheil, and here begins my foray into the strange world of Blogging.

I do not know yet what I shall write, or even if I will write very much more than this introduction. Although I have been aware of the existence of blogs, and have heard both rave and enraged reviews, I just seem not to have given in to curiosity.
Until now.

Often, thoughts, ideas and opinions have sauntered into amorphous and undefined existence in my mind and been frustrated by attempts made in vain to find an escape. With a disgruntled shake of their tiny anthropomorphic fists, they sulkily vanish in a poof of forgetfulness or distraction. They are consigned to the abyss, and are seldom retrieved, dusted off and better inspected, as there are always new thoughts entering the echoing cavern that is my brain.
Perhaps I shall find a solution here. I've never been one for diaries, despite my fixation with recording and preservation, not especially those handwritten. Suffice to say I avoid seeing my own handwriting at all costs. I can either think OR write by hand, a mutually exclusive pairing that makes life difficult. Having grown up in the Age of Wars (or as we prefer to call it, the technological age) I feel far more comfortable penning my thoughts - as it were - on my laptop keyboard.

As I mentioned earlier, I was not unaware of Blogger - I just never found the inclination to find out what exactly this strangely named phenomenon was. I did not spend the last 18 years of my life living under a rock, although I first met a computer at the age of 10, so perhaps the first decade can be written off. After the turn of the milennium, I discovered the world of computers and made an ungainly entrance onto the virtual stage, signing up for and forgetting the passwords for about a dozen various mail services. I admit I was slow on the whole social networking/life-on-the-internet thing. I completely missed myspace, friendster and Hi5, only hearing the names whispered around during computer classes in high school. I had only just begun to use Instant messaging, namely MSN, but I was otherwise disconnected. I based my adolescent life on resisting almost all kinds of peer pressure, which seemed like a good idea, and so remained aloof. However -
"If you try to avoid every instance of peer pressure you will end up without any peers whatsoever, and the trick is to succumb to enough pressure that you do not drive your peers away, but not so much that you end up in a situation in which you are dead or otherwise uncomfortable. This is a difficult trick, and most people never master it, and end up dead or uncomfortable at least once during their lives."
- Lemony Snicket.
Luckily I had a singular group of understanding peers, and so I was not entirely alone. That said, it didn't stop them from applying some pressure from time to time, and eventually I decided it was safe to cave just a little, and I signed up for a Facebook. This was mid-December 2007. I had absolutely no idea what Facebook was, just that I now had one. I gave the home page a disinterested glance, excitedly added two or three friends, quickly got bored when nothing happened and so signed off and forgot about it for a month and a half. When I returned sometime in February, this time armed with knowledge, I ran down a beach and kicked off into the ocean. It's now only a year and a half since then, and my online life is now a significant portion of my real life, blossoming with wild abandon. I rely on it heavily to keep in touch with friends and family spread out across the globe. I have discovered both a love of photography and an ensuing - almost obsession (I won't bother denying it) - with uploading photos, as anyone will attest.

About two weeks ago, I read the June (I think... yeah, I'm pretty sure it was June) cover article of TIME Magazine, which discussed the phenomenon called twitter. Once again, I'd heard of it, but never really given it much thought. It seemed to me like someone had sat with an xHtml pair of scissors and trimmed the Facebook API until only statuses remained. I already had this in the package deal that is fb, and did not see the need. I also only had time for one social networking site in my life, and my Facebook life was, and still is, quite satisfactory. However, upon reading this article, (,8599,1902604,00.html) which posited that Twitter would soon replace Google as a dynamic and real-time search engine, I decided - not out of infidelity to Facebook, but out of curosity about Twitter - that I would check it out.

So I used my trusty old Gmail and roped me a Twitter account (making me a Twit-izen - cool name, right?), posted my first tweet (no, I take that back, it's weird.) about something, and then did the usual search for familiar faces. I found about one friend, and so expanded my search to include celebrities. I added them, got bored and signed out. I later signed in and experimented with the profile customisation settings - something lacking, but not missed on Facebook - which gave me about an hour of fun ( I tend to get carried away). I grew tired of this, closed the tab and returned to Facebook, sighing with relief to see the friendly and familiar #3A5998 blue, and the reassuring Lucida Grande. I have since returned to Twitter when the whim takes me there, but I seem to have missed the point, and grow tired of strangers writing nonsense to me, and companies taking advantage of current topics to market themselves with stolen topic tags. It does not hold the same magic for me as it did for Mr. Johnson, or as Facebook does for me.

I am now reminded that I may well have themed my blog after Mr. Snicket and his delightfully dark works. Oh well, perhaps another time. I am quite happy with Romanticism and Romantic poetry.

Well, look at this. I have allowed my fingers to run away from me. I think it's quite likely that no one will ever see this, or care, but at least I can say I've given it a try. I will explain later what motivated me to give Blogging a try, even in light of my recent disappointment with Twitter, but for now, I must check my facebook...

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