Category Archives: Cake

Brooklyn Blackout Cake

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I really need to check my tickets like a million times before I travel next… especially if they’ve been booked by someone else! There I was on Saturday afternoon, all content after my theatre workshop in Jaipur, excited to head back home that evening… when I just happened to glance at my ticket. And guess what… I was booked on the flight home the next day!! Long story short, I got an extra 24 hours in the city, which was great since I had been supremely lazy this trip & hadn’t gone anywhere! So I went shopping (yay!), had a drink & a traditional Rajasthani dinner with my friend (camera played tricks so no pictures :-()… & lazed some more all of Sunday!

But my delayed return home meant that I would not have the time to a bake a birthday cake for my father-in-law before mid-night Sunday… or would I?

While relaxing on Sunday, I caught up on my blog-reading. I was going through one I had just started following Food Made With Love… the name itself got me interested because that’s what I believe in too, spreading love through food! And I hit jackpot! I saw a recipe for a Brooklyn Blackout Cake. I was very intrigued… this was the 2nd time in 2 days that I came across that cake! Seemed like there was some history to it. And there is! I love background stories to everything! I went & asked my best friend, Google, & here’s what I found.

The Brooklyn Blackout Cake is a soft, crumbly, 3 layered chocolate cake (usually Devil’s Food) with a wonderfully deep yet light chocolate custard / pudding filling & frosting, topped with a layer of finely processed cake crumbs. Sigh… I wanted to sink my teeth into that one right then & there!!

The original cake was invented by a New York bakery, Ebinger’s,  which was a Brooklyn institution from 1894 to 1972. During World War II, the Civilian Defense Corps in the U.S., regularly practiced blackout drills. In Brooklyn, which was close to the naval yard, blackouts prevented the battleships which were dispatched from being silhouetted by the bright lights of the borough in the background. So the dark, almost black cake was named after these blackout drills.

This rich, intense cake was somewhat of a staple in New York, the cake that you took as a gift at a dinner party, for birthdays or just as a treat! It was apparently the kind of cake that grandparents tell their grandkids about… “You have no idea what you have missed!” types. Ebinger’s shut shop in 1972. Of course the authentic Brooklyn Blackout Cake recipe was lost with that. Many bakers, bakeries & die-hard Ebinger fans have since tried to recreate this yummy-licious cake. 

The recipe I followed is from Food Made With Love, which was in turn from the Humming Bird Bakery Cookbook. Luckily I had most of the ingredients I needed & my doll of sister-in-law picked up the rest by the time I landed! So I reached home & got down to making the Brooklyn Blackout Cake for my father-in-law’s birthday!

Ingredients:

Cake

  • 100 gm Butter, (softened)
  • 260 gm Caster Sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 45 gm Cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 170 gm Plain Flour
  • 160 ml Whole Milk

Chocolate Custard:

  • 250 gm Caster Sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons Maple Syrup
  • 125 gm Cocoa Powder
  • 200 gm Cornflour
  • 85 gm Butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

To Sprinkle:

A pack of Chocolate Chip Cookies, blitzed in the food processor

Note:

The original recipe called for:

  • Unsalted butter. If you do use this, you need to add a pinch of salt.
  • 500 gm Castor Sugar. I thought I’d start off by adding half the quantity of sugar & taste my way along to see if more was needed. I think 250 gm was enough
  • 1 tablespoon Golden Syrup. I figured that the Maple Syrup enhanced the sweetness & added this rich flavour to the custard.

3 x 20 cm cake tins, base-lined with grease-proof paper

Method:

For the Cake

  1. Cream the butter and sugar  until light & fluffy.
  2. Add the eggs one at a time,whisk & mix well ,scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula after each addition.
  3. Beat in the vanilla extract, cocoa powder, baking powder & bicarbonate of soda (plus salt if using).
  4. Add half the flour, then all the milk, & finish with the remaining flour. Mix well until everything is well combined.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tins & smooth over with a palette knife.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven at 170 C for 2o mins (if using 3 x 20 cm tins). 
  7. Leave the cakes to cool slightly in the tins before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

For the Chocolate Custard:

  1. Put the sugar, golden syrup, cocoa powder & 600 ml of water into a large saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally.
  2. Mix in the cornflour with 120 ml of water, then whisk into the cocoa mixture in the saucepan.
  3. Bring back to boil , whisking constantly. This is important else the custard will be lumpy. 
  4. Cook until very thick, about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat & stir in the butter & vanilla extract.
  6. Pour the custard into a bowl, cover with clingfilm & chill until very firm.

It looked so pretty & delish even without the crumbs!

Putting it Together

  1. When the cakes are cold, using a serrated knife, slice a thin layer off one of the cakes.
  2. Put this layer into a food processor and process to make fine crumbs.
  3. Put one cake on a cake stand and spread about one-quarter of the chocolate custard over it with a palette knife.
  4. Place a second cake on top and spread another quarter of the custard over it.
  5. Top with the last cake and spread the remaining custard over the top and sides.
  6. Cover with the cake crumbs and chill for about 2 hours.

 Note;
  • I used the wrong sized cake tin (a larger one!) so the cake didn’t rise enough to give me 3 layers + crumbs
  • I sliced 2 layers & instead of cake crumbs, used the cookie crumbs
  • Also since I made 1 large-ish cake, it took longer to bake almost 35 minutes.

I finished frosting just after midnight, so we ended up cutting the cake the next day. It stayed well in the refrigerator & I kept it out for an hour before serving. It was so worth the wait! Soft, gooey & rich, rich chocolate!! And surprisingly light too. This cake is going to be baked pretty often I think!!

This recipe serves 12 people.

PS: I would like to thank Robert Simon for informing me that the Original Ebinger Brooklyn Blackout Cake, was made with Coffee. That, I can imagine, would take the cake to another level! Am definitely going tot add in the coffee the next time I make it 🙂

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Strawberry Cake with An Orange-Basil Glaze

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HAD to bake today! It has been so long since I last baked.

This cake was put together with such a sense of urgency! Almost as if I didn’t bake right then & there, something awful would happen! After a pretty harrowing past couple days, I knew where this was coming from. There’s a whole lot of change going on in my life. I am pretty good with that usually, in fact I thrive on it. It suits my restless Gemini spirit just fine, adapting to  new experiences, new feelings… reworking things to make it all  fit & brand new. But sometimes change comes with a sense of losing control… of yourself, the situation. You tell yourself to be patient & ride with the tide, more often than not, it works. But there are days when my “Zen”-ness all but disappears… I so desperately needed some Kitchen Therapy!

I didn’t bother with photographs or music & just got right down to it!

 I wanted to use Strawberries (they were heading to the trash-can in a couple days!) & Oranges (just bought a dozen yesterday). And of course it all had to be “almost” in sync* with my diet plan & diabetic-friendly since my mother-in-law is visiting.

I remembered reading a scrumptious  Apple Yogurt Tea Cake recipe on Sam’s blog, Le Pirate & used that as the base reference for my cake. I didn’t have macadamia oil, so I used olive; substituted the sugar with Sugar-Free tablets; used a combination of whole wheat flour & oat meal instead of plain flour, & added some crushed roasted peanuts I had leftover from yesterday & an orange-basil glaze just for fun!

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 1.5 cups Oat Meal
  • 1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 3 tablespoons Crushed Roasted Peanuts
  • 15 tablets Sugar Free / Sweet ‘n’ Low powdered / 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons Yogurt (beaten well)
  • 1/4 cup Milk
  • 1/3 cup + 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 150-200 gm Strawberries (chopped)
  • Zest & Juice of 2 small Oranges

For the Glaze*

  • Juice of 2 Oranges
  • 2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • A few leaves Basil (roughly chopped)

*The reason why this is “almost” in sync with my diet plan. You could avoid the glaze, but then again…

Method

Cake

  1. Whisk together the oat meal, whole wheat flour, peanuts, Sugar Free tablets, orange zest & baking powder & soda,  & toss in the chopped Strawberries.
  2. Beat the eggs well & add vanilla extract, yogurt, olive oil, orange juice & whisk well.
  3. Add the liquid mixture to the dry one & combine it gently. Don’t over-mix.
  4. Adjust the consistency of the batter with milk.
  5. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 C for about 30-40 minutes

Glaze

  1. Heat the orange juice & brown sugar mixture with basil leaves on a low flame till the sugar melts & the consistency turns syrupy. Strain & keep aside till the cake is done. 
  2. Use a skewer to poke some holes on the cake & pour the syrup over it while still hot.

Oat-Meal & Whole Wheat Cake with Strawberries & Orange-Basil Glaze

And Sam is so right… this cake hardly takes any time to put together & in spite of using oat meal & whole wheat flour, instead of refined, plain flour, the cake still turned out wonderfully moist, soft & oh, so delicious!

This recipe makes a 7 inch loaf… a perfect breakfast treat for a harrowed girl on a diet… guaranteed to make you feel better 🙂

A 100 likes & La Fraise

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I got a 100 Likes on my blog! Yay!

Thank you all for taking the time to read & appreciate the recipes. I’ve really enjoyed writing the posts over the past month since I started writing the blog. And this is very encouraging!

So thanks again 🙂

Now I’m on a diet starting tomorrow! And I can’t bake desserts, cakes or anything sweet, fattening or unhealthy… basically all that is yummy-licious… for the next 10 days!! Even if it is for someone else! Poor me 😦

I had to bake a cake one last time to celebrate the 100 Likes on my blog!

This is my sinful, decadent, experimental swan song… for about 10 days! (Boy am I dramatic!!)

I made this Flour-less Chocolate Almond Torte with Strawberries, for the first time on New Year’s Eve 2012-13. My inspiration was a dessert called L’Orange at Moshes, one of my favourite restaurants in Bombay. It’s an orange, hazelnut & chocolate cake & I absolutely love it!! The season for strawberries had just begun in Bombay around then & I just couldn’t resist the baskets of the lush, plump, red fruit I saw everywhere. So that’s what went into the cake instead of oranges & since hazelnuts weren’t available in my neighbourhood, I used almonds.

I looked up a bunch of recipes & eventually decided to merge 2-3 of them. It was a real experiment of sorts. I had no idea how it would turn out! My electric beater wasn’t working, so I didn’t get the volume & texture I wanted. And somehow the chocolate glaze hardened too quickly. It looked pretty & tasted great… I mean strawberries & chocolate – you can’t go wrong with that!

Our oldest, closest theatre friends (well they’re like family), that we were spending New Year’s Eve with, they loved it! These guys have been the most encouraging towards my food-foray! They’ve been guinea pigs, given feedback & generally been super, super supportive. Love them!

 

But for me… still not quite La Fraise (Strawberry in French)!

This is my New Year’s Eve 2012-13 Torte.

The Torte 2012

The Torte this time round seems to have risen better & is beautifully moist. (Okay so I sneaked a bite from a cup cake version I made to taste!!). I was a bit worried since I realized after popping the tin in the oven that I may have forgotten to put in the correct amount of a pretty important ingredient! But it seems just fine! Thank heavens! The glaze too is lighter & softer.

Fresh out of the Oven

I am not writing out the recipe yet as it is still a work in progress. I re-worked proportions, used an electric beater (my new one yay!), changed the glaze a bit,.

Will the experiment work? Will I be closer towards achieving the L’Orange result. Fingers crossed!!

La Fraise 2013

The Pre-Diet Torte 2013

In case you have a recipe or tips to help me get it right… please share!

Red Velvet and that Little Girl’s Smile…

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I first heard about Red Velvet Cake three years ago. My sister was going to have her baby in London & I went to help her out. Priti, foodie partner in crime & one of my closest friends told me, “You have to try the Red Velvet Cupcakes at the Humming Bird Bakery! They are divine.”

On another trip, I would’ve gone there on day 2! But at the time thanks to my adorable newborn nephew Ahaan, I didn’t go anywhere… Not even to watch a play. Didn’t want to miss a gurgle or a coo!

Back in Bombay, over the past couple of years, we tried looking for a “divine” Red Velvet CakeDeliciae Desserts at Out Of The Blue, Bandra, had a good one. Our favourite ones are from California Pizza Kitchen at Phoenix Mills  & Cuppa Joe’s at Bandra which unfortunately shut shop 😦

I had promised Priti that I would attempt baking her one & that too before either of us starts our diets (fingers crossed on that one!)!  So after a hectic weekend of  meeting some friends after months, hanging with the family & eating a big Sunday lunch at Mom & Dad’s… yesterday was the the day.

Also, I was very excited to use the latest additions to my kitchen – a new hand beater, with a stand & all (thank you husband) & a Spring-form cake tin (thanks Mom & Dad) 🙂

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I have used Martha Stewart’s Red Velvet Chocolate Cake & Cream Cheese Frosting recipes.

Ingredients

Cake

  • Unsalted butter, for cake pans
  • 2 1/2 cups Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1 1/2 cups Sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups Canola Oil
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/4 cup Red Food Coloring
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup Buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 2 teaspoons White Vinegar

Note: 

I ran short of Red Food Coloring so I used a little over a 1/4 cup of Beetroot Juice in addition to the 20 ml bottle of red food colouring I had

Didn’t have Canola Oil so I used Sunflower Seed Oil

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz / 225 gm cream cheese, room temperature
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
  • 1 cup Icing  sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Note:

I added the Zest of 1 lemon & a 2 teaspoons of Lemon Juice to the the frosting

The reviews of the frosting said it wasn’t sweet enough, so I added about 2 extra tablespoons of Sugar

Also I would cut down the butter by about a tablespoon or two… got too heavy for me.

Method

Cake

  1. Pre-heat  the oven to 350 F / 175 C & generously butter two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans. Sprinkle with flour, and tap out the excess; set aside. (I went with using 1 large cake tin)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and cocoa; set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (YAY!!!), combine the sugar and oil, and beat on medium speed until well combined.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Add food coloring and vanilla, and beat until well combined.
  6. Add flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  7. In a small bowl, mix baking soda and vinegar until combined. Add to batter, and beat for 10 seconds.
  8. Evenly divide batter between the prepared pans (or into the one).
  9. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. (Mine took longer, almost 45-55 min)
  10. Transfer to a wire rack to cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Remove from the pans, and return to the rack to cool completely.

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Frosting

  1. Place cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula, soften cream cheese.
  2. Gradually add butter, and continue beating until smooth and well blended.
  3. Sift in confectioners’ sugar, and continue beating until smooth.
  4. Add vanilla & lemon zest, and stir to combine.
  5. I followed the advice on one of the reviews of the recipe & stuck the frosting in the freezer for 1/2 hour, after which I added the lemon juice & whisked it well.

Putting it Together

  1. Slice the cake in 1/2
  2. Cover the bottom 1/2 with the frosting & place the top 1/2 on it
  3. Cover the entire cake with the rest of the frosting

The result…  Quite yummy! The cake is soft & moist. The next time I would add more color or beetroot (which adds to the flavour). The lemon juice & zest in the frosting made it lighter & fresher.

OMG Shivani! It’s awesome!!” Priti’s verdict! 😀 Yay!!

      

This recipe serves 8-10 people

Devil’s (Improv) Cake

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A great thing about Jaipur is that I always land up meeting interesting people & have memorable encounters each time. I don’t think I’ve ever been entirely lonely & friendless in the Pink City in the past 6 years! (Lucky me!)

I’ve watched very corny Bollywood blockbusters at one of Jaipur’s oldest movie theatres with French & British volunteers from school! Spent cold evenings swapping recipes, music & stories with a Russian teacher while her hair-dryer warmed up the room! I’ve joined a large group of American exchange students on the precarious roof tops of 2 storey buildings in Tripoliya Bazaar, watching the Teej Festival procession of camels, elephants, horses & dancers. This one afternoon, I learnt the ghoomar, the traditional Rajasthani dance. My “teacher”, a traditional folk dancer lived with her family in a tiny, tiny unfinished home but had performed the world over.

Teachers like me, who came to the school from Delhi & Bombay every once in a while to teach drama, photography, puppetry, who I met “coz we were sailing in the same boat”, are now good friends. After class or on weekends we’d drive up to the forts or walk around exploring the bazaars or even better grab a beer & kebabs at the street stalls on a chilly winter night! And the best part… it’s always a surprise; I never know who I’m going to meet!

This time round though, I was very excited to catch up with an old, friend whom I was going to meet after nearly 15 years! I last met Reema at her wedding. She has moved to Jaipur now & invited me home for dinner, the day I reached & then again on my last night there! A home cooked meal is always welcome! And when someone offers to cook mutton for you, the Bengali way, you’ve got to love her! And what better way to demonstrate that love by baking for her & her family 🙂

Reema & Amit have 2 gorgeous daughters Arushi & Ayesha, who love chocolate. So I found a Nigella Lawson recipe for Devil’s Food Cake & gave the list of ingredients to Reema, who organized it all. Ask me where you can get gorgeous block print razais (blankets) or the best lassi (a thick, sweet, yogurt based drink) in Jaipur, & I’ll be able to tell you with my eyes shut! But basic groceries… absolutely clueless!

I volunteered to buy the chocolate… very optimistic, I know. Of course, I couldn’t find any dark cooking chocolate… so I improvised*… that’s what theatre people do best, don’t they?

So ingredients in place, our equipment in order, my eager 12 year old assistant, Arushi & I began our Devil’s Improv!

Ingredients

Cake:

  • ½ cup Cocoa Powder
  • ½ cup (packed) dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup Boiling Water
  • 9 tablespoons Butter (softened), plus some for greasing
  • ¾ cup fine Powdered Sugar
  • 1½ cups Flour
  • ½ teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ½ teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Eggs

Frosting

  • ½ cup Water
  • 2 tablespoons dark Brown Sugar
  • ¾ cup Butter (cubed)
  • *350gm dark Chocolate (chopped)/ 2 cups Chocolate Chips

*My Improv Ingredients

  • 4 Orange Silk Cadbury Chocolate Bars (chopped)
  • 4 Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate Bars (chopped)

(The grocer gave me very strange looks when I asked for 8 bars of Chocolate!)

  • Zest of 1 Orange
  • 2 tablespoons Orange Juice
  • 1 tablespoon Instant Coffee Powder

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Method

Frosting

  1. Heat water, brown sugar & butter in a pan over a gentle flame, till it melts.
  2. When the mixture bubbles, take it off the heat & add the chocolate.
  3. Leave it to melt for a bit & then add the coffee powder & orange juice.
  4. Whisk the mixture well till it is smooth & glossy.
  5. Leave the frosting to rest, whisking it every now & then. It will thicken as it cools.

Note:

I had cut down the amount of water since I was going to add the orange juice, but I still found the frosting on the thinner side. It would be a good idea to reduce the amount of water, even if you aren’t adding the juice.

It helps to make the frosting first, as it has enough time to thicken while you make the cake.

Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F/ 180 C. Grease & dust or line the bottom of 2 8 inch round cake tins (We had just 1, so went with that)
  2. Pour the boiling water into a bowl with the cocoa & sugar. Whisk & set aside.
  3. Get your “sous chef” to cream the butter & powdered sugar together. Peep over her shoulder to see if she’s beating well until pale & fluffy 🙂
  4.  Sift the flour, baking powder & baking soda in another bowl & set aside. (We realised at the time we started that we were out of baking soda so I increased the quantity of the baking powder to about 1¼ teaspoons… it worked!)
  5. Add the orange zest & vanilla essence to the creamed butter & sugar, mixing all the while.
  6. Now add an egg, quickly followed by a large spoon of the flour mixture; continue mixing as you add the 2nd egg & the rest of the dry ingredients.
  7. Finally fold in the cocoa mixture & mix well.
  8. Divide the batter between the 2 prepared pans (or 1) & bake for about 30 minutes or till a cake tester comes out clean.
  9. Set the cake tin on a wire rack for about 5-10 minutes & then turn out to cool.

Putting It Together

Carefully slice the cake in half. Set one half on a plate. Spread a generous amount of the frosting on it & set the other half on it. Cover the entire cake with the rest of the frosting.

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Nigella’s Notes

  • The cake can be baked 1 day ahead & assembled before serving. Wrap tightly in cling-film & store in an airtight container. With our weather, it might make sense to refrigerate.
  • Un-iced cakes can be frozen the day they are baked, for about 3 months. Thaw for 3-4 hours at room temperature
  • Iced cake will keep for 2-3 days in an airtight container in a cool place or the fridge.Image    Image

The Review

Our Devil’s Improv worked!! The taste of orange was a pleasant surprise for our “audience”. It balanced the otherwise too sweet milk chocolate. And coffee added richness to the flavour. The cake was soft, light & melt-in-your-mouth.

Did I hear “Encore!”? 😉

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This recipe serves 8-10 people