Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Vanilla cupcakes

A simple cake was all I wanted to bake for a long time. The one I remember eating from my Mom's kitchen long long ago. Neither she remembers what the cake is called nor does she remember the recipe. So, I gave up all hope of baking the simplest of simple cakes. This was until Lakshmi blogged her plain cake recipe. So, this was it. "Plain cake" - so simple a name, yet I never knew about it. A zillion thanks to dear Lakshmi. Both me & my husband love it.

Recipe is exactly as shown in the blog referred to. However when you're making cupcakes out of this batter, make sure you only fill the cup until half-full. This is very very important. For all other muffins that I make from instant cake-mixes, I generally fill-up the cup until 75% full and they always come out neat and nice. But with the "plain cake" batter, I had a terrible experience the very first time I tried the much awaited recipe. As usual, the cup was filled upto 75%. Within 10 minutes, I smell something really yummy. Quickly rush to the oven to see the status. My!! the batter puffed up and the cake looked pretty and almost done. It rose to almost 1.5 inches above the level of the cup. Whenever something interesting happens in my kitchen, I scream out for my dear husband (if he's at home). It took him about a minute to come, and you won't believe what I saw. The cupcake was oozing out the batter from the center just like a volcanic mountain oozes out lava. Damn! Should have taken a picture. But, all my hopes and dreams of having a simple cake were shattered at that very moment. Quickly had to turn off the oven and empty the extra batter from each cupcake by inverting it vertically. There was batter all over the place, yucky.. Finally, the cakes were done, and they were yum.

The next time when I baked "plain" cupcakes, I filled up only till 50%. They were neater this time.

Also, one more caveat. Whenever you bake, make sure you keep checking your oven now and then and don't just go by the baking time shown in the recipe. Had I not smelt the cake, and left it for 30min, I can't imagine how my cakes might have ended up.

I also added some raisins and walnut pieces to the batter. But since the batter was quite thin, all the dry fruits settled down at the bottom of the cake. Got to fix them next time. For blending the ingredients, I used a stand mixer from India and not a hand-mixer. It did a good job, and I didn't need to buy one more gadget.

Now, the shots:

First time (that lava time):

Second time:

The other day, I baked a round pound-cake for a change. Here it is..
That's the simplest cake decoration I could think of - whipping cream with candy dots.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Chama dumpa (taro root) fry

Calling this a fry is not right, because I've only used about 2 tbsp oil (yes!!) for 2 pounds taro. Baking does the trick. Earlier, I blogged about (baked) fried potato curry. Making chama dumpa vepudu (fry) is exactly same as the other recipe with potatoes, with the following differences:
  • Taro is cooked prior to baking
  • No onions
So, here's the recipe phat-a-phat:

  1. Steam the taro in a pressure cooker until 4 whistles.
  2. Leave the taro root to cool and then peel it. Washing the cooked taro in a running drain of cold/tap water will help remove all the heat.
  3. Once peeled, wash and cut the taro into medium size pieces. Typically, an average sized chama dumpa sold in US can be pieced into about 10-12parts. Don't cut them too small. Also, steamed taro can be extremely slippery on the hands - so be careful not to let your fingers come in the way of the knife.
or (B):

Start with step 3 above and microwave the taro till they are 80% cooked. If you have a microwave, I suggest you follow method (B). Cooking time is greatly reduced and cutting the taro also becomes easier as its un-cooked and hence not slippery.

After (A) or (B),
  1. Bake the taro pieces at about 350F. Don't bake for too long. Only bake until a thin crust forms on the pieces. When left in the oven for a long time, taro becomes dry and hard. Important thing is, you should bake until the sliminess goes away, so that taro becomes easier to work with in the cooking pan. In the traditional way of frying in a pool of oil, taro is fried in batches so that they don't stick to each other. We're skipping this step by baking and then doing a stir fry.
  2. Oil + jeera + curry leaves; baked taro+ salt + turmeric; cook with lid covered for 5min; add chilli powder.
To note:

If you're a two-time mealmaker like I am, *DO NOT* fry the baked taro all at once. Doing so makes them absolutely dry for the 2nd time meal and no amount of microwaving can fix it. What I do is, fry half the baked stuff and store the rest in a sealed container. Just before the 2nd meal, I fry them.

Inspired cooking   © 2008. Template Recipes by Emporium Digital