Monday, December 30, 2013

Bienenstich Kuchen (German Bee Sting Cake) - We Knead to Bake #12

Wish You All A Very Happy New Year - 2014

This German Bee Sting cake is our last We Knead to Bake baking project for this year.  Looking forward to baking more delicious and challenging yeasted goodies next year too.

Aparna's choice for this month is the Bienenstich Kuchen or what’s also known as the German Bee Sting Cake! Bienenstich is not really a bread but a traditional German sweet yeasted cake that has a baked on topping of crunchy almond toffee-like layer and filled with a vanilla pastry cream. Bienenstich is traditionally eaten as dessert but also served with tea or coffee.

Bienenstich means “bee sting” in German and probably got its name from the honey flavored topping that is typical of this yeasted cake. There are however some interesting stories connected to it. One story is that the German baker who was creating this recipe came across a bee (possibly attracted by the honey) and was stung by it and decided to name the cake after the incident!

Another story is that a group of German bakers stopped invaders from entering a neighboring village, sometime in the 15th century, by throwing beehives at them. In order to celebrate their victory, they created the original version of the Bienenstich.

Click here for more detailed version of this recipe.

I used small ramekins and baking cups for baking this cake instead of cake pan.

For the Pastry Cream Filling:
Milk 2% - 1 cup (250ml)
Sugar - 3 TBSP
Vanilla flavored custard powder - 3 TBSP
Heavy cream - 200ml
Corn starch - 1 TBSP

For the Dough:
Milk 2% - 1/4 cup (since I didn't use eggs, I added 2 to 3 TBSP more milk)
Butter - 7 TBSP (100gm), at room temperature
All purpose flour - 2 cups
Sugar - 2 TBSP
Egg - 1 to 2 ( I did not use it)
Salt - 3/4 tsp
Instant yeast - 1 1/4 tsp

For the Honey - Almond Topping:
Butter - 3 1/2 TBSP (50gm)
Sugar - 1/3 cup
Honey - 2 TBSP
Vanilla extract - 1 tsp
Sliced almonds - 2/3 cup


  • Make the custard for the filling first. This can be made the previous day and refrigerated till required.
  • Keep aside 1/4 cup of milk, and put the remaining milk and the sugar in pan. Over medium heat, bring this to a boil while stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. In the meanwhile, dissolve the custard powder in the 1/4 cup of milk. 
  • Add this in a stream, to the boiling milk and keep whisking so that no lumps are formed.
  • Keep whisking until the custard becomes very thick. Take the pan off the heat and let the custard cool to room temperature. 
  • Whisk it on and off so it stays smooth. If it does become lumpy after cooling, use a hand blender to make it smooth. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate.
  • Once you are ready to fill the Bienenstich, whip 200ml of cream till soft peaks form. Then add the corn-starch and whip till it forms stiff peaks. Whisk the custard to make sure it is smooth. Gently fold the cream into the custard. If you feel it is too soft, refrigerate for a couple of hours and then use.

  • To make the dough, heat the milk until it is quite hot but not boiling. Cut the butter into pieces and add to the milk, stirring it until the better melts completely. Let it cool a little. 
  • In the meanwhile, put the flour, sugar, salt and the yeast in the bowl of your processor. Run a couple of times to mix well and then add the egg (leave the egg out if you don’t use it). Run again till the egg has also mixed well. Now add the butter-milk mixture (it should be warm, not hot) and the then knead till it forms a smooth and soft (loose) brioche-like dough that’s just short of sticky. It should come away from the sides of the bowl and be easy to handle.
  • Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a bowl. Cover loosely and let it rise for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. This dough will rise quite well but not to double or as much as your regular bread dough. 
  • Deflate the dough, and shape again to a smooth ball. Place it in a 8” spring form cake tin lined with parchment. It is important to do this otherwise the topping will make the bread/ cake sticky and difficult to unmould. Flatten the dough a little, pressing down lightly so that the dough fits the cake tin. It doesn't matter if its not touching the sides like batter does. Let it rise for about 30 to 45 minutes. It will not rise very much and look a little puffy.

  • Prepare the topping while the dough rises. Melt the butter, sugar, honey and vanilla in a small pan, over medium heat. Keep stirring frequently and it will start bubbling up. Let it cook for about 3 minutes or so until it turns to a light beige color. Add the sliced almonds, and stir well till the almonds are well coated. Take the pan off the heat and let it cool a bit. The mixture will become quite thick.
  • Now get ready to bake the bread/ cake. Once the dough has risen, use a spoon take bits if the topping (it will be quite thick, like a sticky fudge) and distribute it uniformly over the surface. If there are small gaps they will get covered once the bread/ cake is baking.
  • Bake at 180C (350F) for about 25 to 35 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbling. A cake tester through the center should come out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. Then gently loosen the sides with a spatula and unmould. Let it cool completely on a rack.

  • When it has cooled completely, slice the cake into two equal layers carefully, using a very sharp knife. Spread the pastry cream on the lower layer and top with the upper layer and refrigerate till ready to serve.
  • This recipe should serve 8 to 10. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Cardamom Flavored Snowball Cookies

Happy Holidays!!!
Recipe (slightly modified) source: Wilton

Unsalted butter - 2 sticks or 1 cup, softened
Granulated sugar - 1/2 cup
Pure vanilla extract - 1/2 tsp
Cardamom powder - 1 tsp
All-purpose flour - 1 3/4 cup
Ground almonds - 1 cup
Confectioners sugar - for dusting

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degree F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and mix well.
  3. Add flour and ground almonds.  Mix with electric mixer on low speed until dough forms.
  4. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place 1 inch apart on cookie sheets.
  5. Bake 20-25 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown.  Remove to cooling rack.  Cool for 5 minutes.
  6. Roll warm cookies in confectioners sugar.  Cool completely before storing.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Curry Podi ~ Multi-Purpose South Indian Spice Powder

For dry curries like eggplant (ennai kathirikai), spicy potato or any other vegetable stir fries.
For instant arachivitta sambar or kootu. Grind this powder with some grated coconut and add it and the end.

Here are two of my recipes using this curry podi / powder:
Eggpalnt Curry
Spicy Potao Roast 

Coriander Seeds - 1 cup
Chana dal / kadalai paruppu - 1/2 cup
Dry red chillies - 8
Black pepper - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds / Methi -  1/4 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 spring

  1. Dry roast all the ingredients on a low flame until light golden brown and aromatic.  Let it cool completely.
  2. Grind into a coarse powder.
  3. Store in an airtight container.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Cranberry - Meyer Lemon and Ginger Pickle

Cranberry - 2 bags (24oz)
Meyer Lemon - 6  (Here is an article about Meyer lemon)
Ginger - 1/2 cup, peeled and chopped into bite size pieces
Mustard seeds - 2 tsp
Asafoetida - 1 tsp
Red chili powder - 1 1/2 - 2 TBSP or to taste
Roasted fenugreek powder - 1 tsp (dry roast fenugreek seeds in a pan until dark brown and fragrant)
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Sesame oil - 1/2 cup
Curry leaves - 1 to 2 springs
Salt - 3 to 4 tsp or to taste

  1. Wash and dry the cranberries.  Discard soft, discolored or shriveled cranberries.
  2. Wash the meyer lemon and pat dry.  Cut into half and remove seeds.  Then cut into 8 pieces or smaller.
  3. Heat sesame oil in a large sauce pan.  Add the mustard seeds and let it splutter.
  4. Add curry leaves and chopped ginger.  Fry for a minute.
  5. Add the cut lemon pieces, turmeric powder and 1 tsp of salt.  Cook for 10 minutes until lemon becomes soft.
  6. Now add the cranberries, red chili powder and salt.  Mix well.
  7. Cook on low flame until the cranberries are soft and mushy.  Keep stirring occasionally.
  8. Once cooked, oil will start to float on top and sides.  At this stage switch off the flame.
  9. Add 1 tsp roasted fenugreek powder and mix well.
  10. Let it cool completely.  Store in a clean, dry glass jar.
  11. Refrigerate and use a dry spoon when serving.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Kanel Snegle / Kanelbullar (Swedish Cinnamon Snails / Buns) ~ We Knead to Bake # 11

This is Aparna's We Knead to Bake challenge for the month of November.

Recipe copied from Aparna's blog My Diverse Kitchen.

Here is a youtube video on how to bake Kanelbullar / kanel Snegle.

  • Kanel Snegle (Cinnamon Snails) or Kanelbullar (Cinnamon Buns) which is the Swedish version of the popular American Cinnamon Rolls. The Swedish version are probably the original version and not sticky like their American counterparts and are also less sweet. These rolls are delightfully aromatic, soft and moist, and perfect with a cup of tea/ coffee whether for breakfast or in the evening.
  • The Swedish Kanel Snegle/ Kanelbullar is less about sugar and more about the spices in it – cardamom in the dough and cinnamon inside the Snails/ Buns. Whether you call them Snails (coiled shape)or Buns (twisted and rolled up) depends on how you shape them. Scandinavian celebratory breads tend to be all about spices and warmth so you will find a lot of their breads scented with cardamom. Cinnamon, cloves, aniseed, etc.
  • These Cinnamon Snails/ Buns are found all over Europe with slight variations in recipe and the shapes as  Franzbrotchen, Korvapuusti, Skillingsbollen, etc.
  • Kanel Snegle/ Kanelbullar are traditionally made on the 4th of October every year in Sweden to celebrate “the Day of the Cinnamon Bun” but can be found in bakeries all through the year. There are different ways of shaping this confectionery and I have detailed two types here – the typical “snail” shape which much like that of the regular Cinnamon Roll, and the “twist”. You are free to explore different shapes and try them out if you’re feeling adventurous.

For the Starter:
Warm milk - 1 cup
Instant yeast - 2 tsp
All purpose flour - 2 cups

For the dough:
All the starter
All purpose flour - 2 cups
Salt -1 1/2 tsp (if using salted butter, 3/4 tsp)
Lemon zest - 2 tsp
Caster sugar - 1/3 cup
Butter - 3 TBSP, softened at room temperature

For the filling:
Butter - 1/3 cup, softened at room temperature
Light brown sugar - 1/2 cup, loosely packed
Cinnamon powder - 2 tsp
Coarsely ground almonds - 1/3 cup

For the topping:
Milk - 1/4 cup (or egg wash if you eat eggs)
Pearl sugar or large sugar crystals ( I used turbinado / raw sugar)


  • Mix together all the ingredients for the Starter into a sticky dough, in a large bowl. Place the Starter dough in an oiled bowl and loosely cover it and then refrigerate it.  Remember the dough will rise quite a bit so use a container that has enough room for this.
  • The next day, about 30 minutes before you are ready to start on the dough, take the Starter out and leave it at room temperature. As always this can be kneaded by hand or in the processor. I’m giving instructions for using the processor.
  • Tear the Starter to large pieces and drop into the processor bowl.  Now sift together the flour, cardamom and salt into a bowl. Add this, the lemon zest and sugar to the bowl and run the processor till well mixed.
  • Now add the soft butter and knead well until you have a smooth and elastic dough. If your dough feels dry, add a little milk or if it feels wet then add a little flour till you have the required consistency of dough.
  • Now turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and then roll it out into a approximately rectangle about 20” by 12” in size. Make the filling by mixing/ creaming together the soft butter, brown sugar and cinnamon with a fork or spoon into a spreadable paste. Depending on which shape you are going to make your Cinnamon Buns, spread the filling either all over your dough rectangle, or over half of it.
  • Sprinkle the coarse almond powder over this and then either tightly roll the dough jelly/ Swiss roll style and cut it into 20 equal pieces with a sharp knife. Place these, cut side down on a lightly greased baking sheet leaving space between them, or in white cupcake cases. 
  • Otherwise fold the dough over in half and cut into 20 long strips with a sharp knife, twist and shape them as desired. Place these, cut side down on a lightly greased baking sheet leaving space between them, or in white cupcake cases.
  • Let them rise for about 10 to 15 minutes till they look a little puffy but not swollen up. Brush the Snails/ Buns with milk (or egg wash) and sprinkle with pearl sugar, large sugar crystals or brown sugar (whatever you have on hand).
  • Bake them at 200C (400F) for about 15 minutes till they’re cooked, golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. If they’re browning too quickly, turn down the temperature by about 20C (65F) and bake them till done.
  • Let them cool on wire racks. You can serve them warm or at room temperature. You can freeze these Kanel Snegle for whenever you feel like having one. This recipe makes about 20 Kanel Snegle/ Kanelbullar.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Potato Masala

Potatoes - 3, large, boiled and peeled
Onion - 1, large, diced into chunks
Channa dal - 2 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Green chillies - 2, chopped
Ginger - 1 inch piece, finely chopped
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves and fresh coriander leaves - few springs
Oil - 2 TBSP
Water - 1 cup
Salt - to taste

  1. Heat oil in a skillet and splutter mustard seeds.
  2. Add channa and urad dals.  Fry until golden brown.
  3. Add the cut onions, green chillies, ginger and curry leaves.
  4. Saute until translucent, but still crunchy to the bite.
  5. Add 1 cup of water. turmeric powder and salt.  Bring it to a boil.
  6. Mash the boiled potatoes with hand and add it to the boiling water.
  7. Mix thoroughly.  Let it cook until the masala thickens.
  8. Masala should be slightly loose but at the same time thick in consistency.  Add water accordingly.
  9. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
  10. Serve with poori or doasi.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Nel Pori Urundai for Karthigai Deepam

Nel in tamil, is unhusked rice paddy.  Nel pori is puffed rice paddy.

Nel Pori - 4 cups
Jaggery - 1 cup
Thinly sliced coconut - 2 TBSP
Cardamom powder - 1 tsp
Dry ginger powder(sukku) - 1 tsp
Ghee - 1/2 tsp

  1. Spread the pori in a large plate or bowl.  Remove all the husks.
  2. If pori is soft, spread them in a tray and toast in a oven on a very low temperature setting.
  3. Remove and let it cool.
  4. Roast the thinly sliced coconut in 1/2 tsp ghee until golden brown.
  5. Heat the jaggery in 1/4 cup of water until completely dissolved.
  6. Strain to remove any impurities.
  7. Add ginger powder, cardamom powder and coconut.
  8. Boil the strained jaggery syrup until it reaches a soft ball consistency.
  9. To check the consistency, place some syrup in a bowl of water.  If you can make a ball out of it, then it is ready.
  10. Pour the jaggery syrup all over the pori.
  11. Using a wooden spoon, mix well to coat.
  12. Apply little ghee to your palm and shape into tight balls. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

100 % Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread ~ We knead to Bake #10

This is Aparna's We Knead to bake challenge for the month of October.  After  two unsuccessful attempts of baking this bread, I guess the third time was a charmer.  Please refer to Aparna's blog for more detailed recipe.

Peter Reinhart’s recipe uses a soaking procedure and the Biga/ sponge and that is the secret to the softness and texture of this bread. Other than that, it is important to knead the dough well to develop whatever little gluten there is in the whole wheat flour. Also be careful while shaping the dough into a loaf and make sure that you do not tear the risen dough as this will tear the gluten “cloak” that would have developed.


For The Soaker:

Whole wheat flour - 1 3/4 cups

Salt - 1/2 tsp

Water at room temperature - 3/4 to 1 cup

Vinegar (apple cider or plain) - 1 TBSP
For The Biga/ Sponge:
Whole wheat flour - 1 3/4 cups
Instant yeast - 1/4 tsp
Milk  - 3/4 cup (or a little more)
Vinegar (apple cider or plain) - 1 TBSP
For The Final Dough:
All of the Soaker
All of the Biga/ Sponge
Vital Wheat Gluten (optional) - 1 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1/2 to 3/4 tsp
Whole wheat flour  -  1/3 cup (and a few tbsp. more if required)

Instant yeast - 2 tsp
Oil (or melted butter if preferred) - 1/8 cup
Honey - 2 TBSP

  • First make the Soaker. Mix all of the Soaker ingredients together in a bowl until all of the flour is hydrated. I found that I needed more than the original 3/4 cup of water suggested and used a little over 1 cup but this can change from flour to flour. So I would suggest using 3/4 cup water and then adding a little at a time, until you have the desired consistency. Your Soaker should be somewhat like reasonably firm bread dough in consistency. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 12-24 hours. 
  • Now make the Biga/ Sponge. Mix all of the Biga/ Sponge in a bowl and knead together well till a soft ball forms. Again you might need more than the originally suggested 3/4 cup of liquid; I needed a little more. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight. This will keep for up to 3 days.
  • Two hours before you plan to mix your dough for the bread, remove the Biga from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature. You might find your Biga rising a little during this time.
  • Divide the Biga and Soaker into small pieces (about 12 pieces each) using a sharp knife or scraper and put them in the food processor bowl (or stand mixer). You can knead this by hand too, but the dough will be tacky and a little difficult to manage. Do not be tempted to add more flour, when it is time to, than necessary.
  • Add the remaining ingredients for the dough, except the 1/3 cup flour) and knead for about 3 minutes. Let it rest for 5 minutes, then add as much flour as needed (if necessary) to the dough and knead for another 3-4 minutes. Your dough should now come away from the sides of the bowl but still be a little sticky but somewhat manageable. It’s really important to not add too much extra flour during this step.
  • Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and let rise until almost doubled (about 1 1/2 hours). Then turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat the dough out into a rectangle with a width that just a bit less than your loaf tin. See that you do not tear the dough. Roll it up and shape into a loaf (see the video, if you need it).
  • Place your loaf in a greased and floured loaf tin (I used a 9” by 4” loaf tin) and let it rise until it is just higher than your loaf tin. Bake the loaf at 180C (350F) for about 40 to 45 minutes until the top is a nice deep brown colour and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
  • Let the loaf cool completely (at least for about 2 hours), before slicing it. Refrigerate the loaf if not consuming immediately.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Whole white urad dal  - 1 cup
Raw rice - 2 TBSP
Sugar - 4 cups
Water - 1 cup
Saffron strands - 1/4 tsp
Rose essence - 1 tsp
Oil - for deep frying
Orange food color - optional ( I used saffron for the color)
Zip lock bag or piping bag with round nozzle

Here is a video on how to make jangiri.

  1. Soak urad dal and rice for 1 hour.
  2. Drain the water and grind with very little water until soft and fluffy.  Add little crushed saffron while grinding the dal.
  3. Place sugar in a pan and add 1 cup of water.  Bring it to a boil.  
  4. Just before it reaches to one string consistency, switch off the flame.  Add rose essence and saffron. 
  5. Prepare the zip lock bag by piercing a hole in the middle of the bottom.  Use a thin hot nail or rod.
  6. You can also use a piping bag with a round nozzle.
  7. Heat oil (fill about 1 inch deep) in a broad skillet on a low flame.
  8. Half fill the zip lock bag or piping bag with the batter.
  9. Press the batter over oil to make a circle and continue pressing along the sides like a coil.
  10. Make like 3 to 4 jangiris at a time.  
  11. Fry until golden brown.  Remove from the oil and drop them in to the sugar syrup.
  12. Press the jangiris down to soak.  Leave them in the syrup until the next batch is fried.
  13. Repeat the process.
  14. If the syrup becomes thick, stop the frying and add little hot water to the syrup, bring it to boil.
  15. Makes about 30 jangiris.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Deepavali Legiyam / Marundhu

Legiyam / Marundu is a herbal medicine,  prepared during deepavali / diwali.  In some households,  it is a tradition to have a spoonful of this medicine first thing in the morning on deepavali day, before eating all the sweets and savories.  This herbal medicine helps to aid digestion problems and also great for cold and cough.

Black pepper - 2  TBSP
Cumin seeds - 2 1/2 TBSP
Coriander seeds - 2 1/2 TBSP
Omam / Ajwain - 2 1/2 TBSP
Kandan thipilli - 10 sticks
Arisi thippli - 10
Sukku / Dry ginger - 2 inch size
Elakkai / Cardamom - 3
Jaggery powder - 1 cup ( same amount as ground powder)
Ghee - 4 TBSP

Note:  If you can't find kandan thippli and arisi thippli, omit and use other ingredients.
Both Arisi thippili and Kandan thippili are called pippal in hindi and long pepper in english.  Arisi thippili is a small, black grainy pepper and kandan thippili looks like a stick.  I did find the stick pepper in local indian store, here in NJ.


  1. Place all the ingredients except jaggery and ghee in a skillet.  Slightly saute for 30 seconds.  No need to roast them, just heat it up.
  2. Let it cool.  Using a blender, make a smooth powder.
  3. Measure the powder and take the same amount of jaggery.
  4. Add water to the powder and make a thick paste, like a soup consistency.
  5. In a large heavy pan / kadai, heat the paste on a low flame.  Keep stirring.
  6. Once its start to thicken, add the jaggery and keep stirring until jaggery is melted.
  7. Add the ghee slowly and cook until you get the jam consistency.
  8. When the mixture starts to leave the sides of the pan without sticking, switch of the flame.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Sweet Rice Puttu with Jaggery - Navarathri Recipe

Happy Navarathri

Rice flour / Puttu flour - 1 cup ( I used puttu flour,  Nirapara brand)
Jaggery - 1 cup
Fresh grated coconut - 2 TBSP
Cashew nuts - 5
Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Ghee - 2 tsp
Water - 1/2 cup

  1. Boil 1/2 cup water with salt and turmeric powder.  Let it cool.
  2. Dry roast the rice flour until hot and slightly brown.
  3. Sprinkle the turmeric water little by little to the rice flour and mix.  The right consistency is, you should be able to form balls with the flour and break to powder again.
  4. Tie the flour mixture in a clean white cloth / towel and stem cook for 15 - 20 minutes.
  5. Transfer the steamed flour mixture into a large plate and crumble the big pieces. You can sift the mixture, if it has lumps.
  6. Place jaggery in a pan with little water and melt.  Strain to remove impurities.
  7. Boil the jaggery water and make syrup.  Test the syrup for right consistency.  That is when you drop some jaggery syrup in cold water, you should be able to form a ball.
  8. Remove from the heat.
  9. Add the jaggery syrup little by little to the steamed flour with one hand and mix the flour with another hand using a spoon or spatula.  The syrup will be very hot, so be careful while mixing.
  10. The puttu should be grainy and not like halwa.  
  11. Heat ghee in a small skillet and roast the cashew pieces and grated coconut until brown.  
  12. Add it to the puttu and mix well.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Verkadalai / Peanut Sundal ~ Navarathri Recipe

Verkadalai / Dry Peanuts - 1 cup
Grated Coconut - 2 TBSP
Lemon Juice - 1 TBSP (optional)
Salt - to taste
For tempering:
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Red chillies - 2
Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp
Oil - 2 tsp
Few curry leaves
Spice powder: Dry roast until fragrant and grind to a fine powder
Coriander seeds - 2 tsp
Whole black pepper - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
White sesame seeds - 1 tsp

  1. Soak the peanuts in enough water for 2 hours.
  2. Drain and pressure cook with 1 cup of water and salt for 3 to 4 whistles.  Drain and keep it aside.
  3. Heat oil in a skillet and add the mustard seeds. Let it splutter.
  4. Add urad dal, red chillies, asafoetida and curry leaves.  Fry till golden brown.
  5. Add the drained peanuts and mix well.  Add the ground spice powder and mix thoroughly.
  6. Cook for a minute.  Adjust salt.
  7. Add the grated coconut and mix well.
  8. Mix in the lemon juice and serve.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Maladu - Roasted Moong Dal & Split Gram Flour Laddu for Navarathri

Moong Dal Flour (store bought) - 1 cup
Roasted Split Gram dal / Pottukadalai / Dalia - 1 cup
Sugar - 1 to 1 1/4 cup
Ghee - 3 to 4 TBSP or little less than 1/4 cup
Cardamom Powder - 1 tsp

  1. Take the roasted gram, and dry roast in a skillet on low-med heat.  For about 2 minutes.  Let it cool.
  2. In a blender, grind the roasted gram / Pottukadalai / dalia to a fine powder.  Keep it aside.
  3. In the same blender, place the sugar and make a fine powder.
  4. In a skillet, on a low heat, roast moong dal flour until it gives a nice aroma.  Let it cool completely.
  5. Sift both flours in a bowl.  
  6. Add the powdered sugar and mix well.   Add 1 cup sugar first and if you think you need more sugar add the rest.  Mix in the cardamom powder.
  7. Melt the ghee.
  8. Slowly add the hot melted ghee to the flour mixture.  Mix well.
  9. Once you are able to form a ball, stop pouring the ghee.  
  10. Mix thoroughly and start making round balls.
  11. If you find hard to form balls, sprinkle little bit milk (about 1 tsp) to the mixture.  
  12. Store it in a airtight container.   

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Khaliat Nahal / Honeycomb Buns - We Knead to Bake # 9

Recipe Source: Aparna

This month we’re baking bread that can be made sweet or savory. It is easy enough to make and what is unusual is that it is filled and then covered with a sugar syrup/ glaze which is typical of Middle Eastern confectionery. 

Khaliat al Nahal (also known as Khaliat Nahal) translates as Bee’s Hive in Arabic. This is because the buns are baked close to each other in a round pan where they form a honeycomb like pattern. They’re traditionally made sweet and glazed with honey flavored syrup, though savory versions are also made. 

This recipe makes 18 small buns, and if you want fewer you can halve the recipe to make about 9 or 10 buns. For half the recipe, use a 6” or 7” round cake tin to bake the Honeycomb Bread.  You can also bake them individually in muffin tins if you prefer, except they would not have their characteristic “honeycomb” pattern.

Traditionally, the filling used in this bread is a small piece of plain cream cheese but here choice of filling is entirely up to you. You can make it sweet or savory.  

Khaliat Nahal (Honeycomb Buns or Bee’s Hive Buns)

For the dough:
1 cup lukewarm milk
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp sugar (for sweet bread)
3/4 to 1 tsp salt (for savoury bread) OR 1/4 tsp salt (for sweet bread)
3 1/2 tbsp(40gm) butter, melted
2 tbsp milk for brushing the dough
2 tbsp white sesame seeds for sprinkling on top (optional; only for savory bread)

For the filling:
1 cup of filling (approximately) of your choice, either sweet or savory
Savory - cream cheese OR crumbled feta cheese OR crumbled paneer/ cottage cheese, flavoured according to your choice. You can also use any other savory filling that you want. 
Sweet - cream cheese (traditional filling), or any other filing of your choice like chocolate,   dried fruit like dates, raisins, chopped nuts, chopped fruit , sweetened coconut filling, etc.
I used Philadelphia milk chocolate cream cheese.

Sugar Syrup/ Glaze:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
A pinch of saffron
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp lime/ lemon juice

Make sure your melted butter has cooled down a bit before using it. Put 2 cups of the flour, salt, sugar (if making the sweet bread only) and melted butter in the bowl of your processor. Run a couple of times to mix well.

Combine the milk, sugar and yeast in a small bowl and keep for 5 minutes. Add this to the processor bowl and knead until you have a smooth and elastic dough which is not sticky. Add as much of the remaining 1/2 cup of flour as you need to get this consistency of bread dough. I used all of 2 1/2 cups of flour for mine.

Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a well-oiled bowl, turning it to coat completely with the oil. Cover and let it rise till double in volume, for about an hour.

Turn the dough out onto your work surface. You won’t really need to flour it as the dough is quite manageable as it is. Cut it into 2 halves. With your palms, roll out each half a “rope” about 9” long. Cut each rope into 1” pieces so you have a total of 18 pieces.

Take each piece and flatten it out a little and place half a teaspoon of filling in the centre. Pull up the sides and wrap the dough around the filling, pinching it closed at the top. Smoothen it into a round ball. Place this in a well-greased round 9” cake tin. Repeat with the remaining 17 pieces and the filling. 

Arrange the filled balls of dough in concentric circles, filling the base of the cake tin.
Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise for about 30 to 40 minutes. Brush the tops with milk and sprinkle the sesame seeds over this. Don’t use the sesame seeds for sweet bread, only for the savoury one. Bake the buns at 180C (350F) for about 25 minutes, until they’re done and a nice golden brown on top. Let them cool in the tin for about 5 minutes and then on a wire rack.

If you’re making the sweet version, make the sugar syrup/ glaze during the first rise of the dough. For this put the sugar, water and saffron in a small pan and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for a few minutes until it starts thickening a bit. Take it off the heat and add the honey and the lime/ lemon juice. Mix well and let it cool. Keep aside till needed.

When the sweet buns come out of the oven, pour the syrup all over the top of the “Honeycomb”.  The bread should be hot and the syrup/ glaze should be cool. If you want your Honeycomb Buns to be less sweet, just brush the syrup/ glaze over the top.

Let it sit for a while for the syrup/ glaze to set a bit. Serve them warm with tea/ coffee.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Almond Butter

Almonds - 2 - 3 cups, raw or roasted
Cinnamon Powder - 1/2 tsp
Sea Salt - a pinch

Place almonds in the food processor with the "S" blade.
Turn the food processor on and let it run for a minute until it forms fine crumbs.

Add the cinnamon powder and salt.  Continue processing.
After 3-4 minutes of processing they turn clumpy and forms a ball.
Scrape the sides.

Process until they release oil and turn into thick paste.
Continue processing until you get a creamy and spreadable consistency.

It takes about 15 - 20 minutes to get to the creamy stage.
If you are using roasted almonds,  the butter will be dark brown in color.
I used raw almonds.
Store it in a airtight glass container and refrigerate.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Laugenbrezel (German Style Soft Pretzels) - We Knead to Bake # 8

To make soft or hard pretzels was the challenge for last month's We Knead to Bake group.   I choose to make soft pretzels with jalapenos.  

Recipe source:  My Recipes and Aparna
2 1/4 tsp dried active yeast
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 cup warm milk
3 cups + 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
6 cups water
2 tbsp baking soda
1 tsp cornmeal or semolina
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp jalapeno, chopped
Coarse salt


  • In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm milk and allow that to stand for about 5 minute.
  • Add the 3 cups flour, chopped jalapeno and salt to the proofed yeast and stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. The dough will feel slightly sticky, so add a bit of flour as and when necessary while kneading. This should take about 8 minutes.
  • Form the dough into a ball and place in a large oiled bowl, turning to coat the dough with oil. Cover and allow the dough to rise for about 40 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)
  • Deflate the dough, cover and let it rest 5 minutes. Divide dough into 12 equal portions.
  • preheat oven to 425 degree F.
  • Work with one portion at a time and cover remaining dough to prevent it drying. Roll each portion into an 18-inch-long rope with tapered ends. Cross one end of rope over the other to form a circle, leaving about 4 inches at end of each rope. Twist the rope at the base of the circle. Fold the ends over the circle and into a traditional pretzel shape, pinching gently to seal. Place pretzels on a lightly greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise 10 minutes (pretzels will rise only slightly).
  • Put the 6 cups of water and baking soda in a non-aluminum pan and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer. Gently lower a pretzel into the simmering water. Cook on each side for about 15 seconds. The pretzel will swell/ puff up a bit. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and place on a greased wire rack. This will prevent the pretzel from sticking to the rack. Repeat with the remaining pretzels.  Sprinkle coarse salt over the pretzels.
  • Place the pretzels on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal or semolina.  Bake at 425 degree F (220C) for 12 minutes or until pretzels are deep golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  • Serve warm with a dip of your choice or just plain. They’re best eaten fresh, and on the same day. This recipe makes 12 Pretzels.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Uppu Seedai and Vella Seedai for Krishna Jayanthi

Happy Krishna Jayanthi

Uppu Seedai (Savoury)

Rice flour - 1 cup
Urad dal flour - 2 TBSP, roasted until light brown and aromatic
Butter - 2 TBSP, room temperature
Sesame Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Freshly grated coconut - 1 TBSP
Asafetida - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - for deep frying

  1. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients.  Add water little at a time and make a tight dough.
  2. Spread a clean and damp cloth or paper towel on the counter top.
  3. Take a small marble sized dough and roll it into a ball, using your palm.
  4. Heat oil in a pan.  Drop the rolled balls little at a time.  
  5. Move the balls gently to prevent them from sticking together.
  6. Fry on a medium heat, until golden brown.
  7. Place it on a paper towel to drain of excess oil.

Vella Seedai (Sweet)

Rice flour - 1 cup, sifted
Urad dal flour - 2 tsp, roasted until light brown and aromatic
Jaggery - 1 cup, grated
Thinly Sliced Coconut Pieces - 1 TBSP
Cardamom Powder - 1/4 tsp
Sesame seeds - 1/2 tsp
oil - for frying

  1. In a large skillet, dry roast the rice flour on a low flame, for a minute and until aromatic.
  2. Let it cool completely.  Add the urad flour, sesame seeds and the thinly sliced coconut pieces and mix well. 
  3. Place 1 cup water and 1 cup jaggery in a pan.  Heat until the jaggery dissolves completely.
  4. Strain the jaggery syrup using a fine mesh strainer to remove impurities. Add cardamom powder.
  5. Boil the strained jaggery syrup in the same pan.   Remove from the heat.
  6. Using a ladle, add the syrup little by little into the flour mixture until it forms a tight tough.  
  7. Keep it aside for 30 minutes.
  8. Grease the palm with some ghee and roll the dough into small balls.  A little bigger than a marble.
  9. Heat oil to medium high. The oil should not be smoking hot.
  10. Drop 5 or 6 rolled balls in hot oil.  Wait for a minute and gently move it around to prevent them from sticking together.
  11. Deep fry until dark brown.  

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Savoury Kugelhopf ~ We Knead to Bake #7

Savorury Kugelhop,  is this months challenge for We Knead to Bake group, started by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen.  I made some changes to the filling from Aparna's version.  I made it with some indian spices sans the cheese.  

A Kugelhopf (also spelt as Kugelhupf, Gugelhupf or Kugelhoph) is a yeasted sweet cake well known in the Alsace region of France, as well as in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, and variations of this are also found in some countries of Eastern Europe. The most common story about the Kugelhopf is that Marie Antoinette (the same lady of the “let them eat cake” fame!) brought it from her home country Austria, to France upon her marriage to King Louis XVI.

The Kugelhopf is typically baked in a special pan that is round with a hole in the centre, somewhat like a bundt pan but heavier. Since it is a yeasted cake, the Kugelhopf has a dense bread-like texture and is made from a somewhat enriched dough like brioche but is not as rich. It is considered similar to a coffee cake that might be eaten for or with breakfast, or could be part of an afternoon snack with coffee.

This savoury version is also good for breakfast, as a snack or with a simple soup.
A lesser known version of the Kugelhopf is its savoury Alsatian version called the Kugelhopf aux Lardons. “Lardons” is the French word for bacon, and this version is typically made with onions, ham/ bacon, walnuts and herbs.

This bread/ cake contains eggs because they are a characteristic part of this bake, but feel free to substitute powdered flax seed for the eggs if you don’t eat them. You may also use sun-dried tomatoes and toasted pine nuts instead of the tomatoes/ bell pepper and walnuts. I used Cheddar because that’s what I had, but use a cheese of your choice if you prefer. A sharper cheese will taste better.

This Kugelhopf bakes in an 8” Kugelhopf pan, but you should also be able to bake it in an 8” Bundt pan, a regular loaf tin (or 2 small ones), smaller Brioche tins or even muffin tins. If you’re baking this in muffin tins you might want to use half the recipe, though I understand that this bread freezes well>

Recipe copied and modified from Aparna.

3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
2 tsp instant yeast 
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
75gm or 1/3 cup butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten lightly or mix 2 TBSP ground flax seed powder in 6 TBSP of cold water and set it aside for 10 minutes.
1 tsp oil
1/4 cup chopped green bell peppers
1/4 cup deseeded, pulp-free and chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped Italian pepper
1 cup onions, finely chopped
1 jalepeno, finely chopped
1/2 cup black currants
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1 tsp red crushed pepper
1 tsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek)
1 tsp garam masala
Salt, to taste

  • Once again I used the processor. This can be done by hand but it will be a bit sticky to handle. Put 3 cups of flour, yeast, and salt in the bowl of the processor. Pulse a couple of times to mix. The add the butter, a little at a time, and process till incorporated. 
  • Add the warm milk and process till mixed. Now add the eggs or flax mixture and process till mixed. You will now have a soft and sticky dough. Knead some more, adding more flour, a little at a time and just enough till the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Do not be tempted to add more flour than absolutely necessary.
  • Your dough will be very soft, elastic and just short of sticky. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover and let it rise until double in volume. This can take from 1 1/2 hours to 2 1/2 hours!
  • In the meanwhile, heat 1/2 tsp oil in a pan. Add the chopped green bell pepper, the tomato and a pinch of salt, kasoori methi, chili powder and garam masala powder.  Stir-fry till the raw smell disappears but the vegetables are still crisp/ crunchy.  Add the currants.  Remove and keep aside. To the same pan, add the remaining 1/2 tsp oil and sauté the onions with a pinch of salt till they turn golden brown. Remove and add to the bell peppers and keep aside.
  • Grease an 8” kugelhopf mould or bundt pan well especially around the centre (or whatever pan/ tin you plan to use). Place some pumpkin seeds in the bottom of the mould. If you’re using a loaf tin or brioche moulds, then don’t do this. Instead press in the pumpkin seeds on top of the dough after the second rise, just before baking. 
  • Once the dough has risen, deflate it. Then work the  stir-fried onions, bell pepper and tomato mixture into the dough. The best way to do this is to flatten the dough out and spread all this over the surface, fold the dough over and then knead it. This will ensure a more uniform incorporation of the “filling”. The dough will be a bit sticky, so use a scraper to help you with the kneading. Do not add more flour!
  • Roll the dough into a longish log, long enough to fit into the mould comfortably. Lift the “log” of dough and place it in the mould in a circular fashion and pinch the two ends together to close the “circle” of dough. Cover and let the dough rise for about an hour or so, until it reaches the edge/ rim of the mould. 
  • Bake the Kugelhopf at 200C (400F) Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees for about 35 to 40 minutes until the top is golden brown and sounds hollow when it is tapped. 
  • Unmould the Kugelhopf and let it cool on a rack. Slice and serve. This Kugelhopf should serve about 10.