Category Archives: Cakes


Cake 1

I absolutely love surprises. Most of the presents that I receive have been been pre bday/anniversary presents.  My husband tries hard to keep them up, but ends up giving in hours and sometimes days before the actual “moment”.  I somehow believe the surprise element adds a whole new dimension and makes gifting experience even more memorable. How I wish I could change this characteristic of his!  This Valentines day for me was no different. He got some stuff for me and supposedly hid it on the trunk. On our way to the dinner, he blurts out what he has got for me and also ended up saying that it was right inside the trunk!  Huh! Such are his skills.

cake 3

Anyways coming to the recipe : Aparna chose a Beinenstich Cake for “We need to Bake” for the month of Dec’13. For this month she asked us to bake anything of our choice or work on any missed post. So I decided to go for this German delicacy.  Bienenstich means “bee sting” in German and probably got its name from the honey flavored topping that it typical of this yeasted cake. It is made with an enriched Brioche like dough. This yeasted cake is filled with pastry cream mixed with whipped cream. Instead of the custard powder as mentioned in the recipe I used white chocolate pie and pudding mix along with whipped cream. The filling was not stable and strong enough to handle the weight of the top layer,  it oozed out a bit. So using custard powder is the best choice. Of course the other options are to use Buttercream or Bavarian cream.

Cake 2

Also once done it gets difficult to cut the cake because of the top layer, so it’s better to pre-cut the almond toffee layer into slices; Place the base on a serving platter, make a collar around it with a double parchment paper (which should be taller than the height of the cake) and then spread the filling on the lower layer; finally place the pre-cut layer on the top and refrigerate for at least couple of hours before serving.

Bienenstich Kuchen (German Bee Sting Cake)

Yield: One 8" cake

Serving Size: serves 8 - 10


  • For the Pastry Cream Filling:
  • 250ml milk (I used 2%)
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp vanilla flavored custard powder or any other as per choice
  • 200ml cream
  • 1 tbsp corn-starch
  • For the Dough:
  • 1/4 cup milk (I used 2%)
  • 6 tablespoons +2 teaspoons butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp instant yeast
  • For the Honey-Almond Topping:
  • 3 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon butter butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup almonds, sliced


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 way 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 colour. 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 350F for about 25 to 35 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbling. A cake tester through the centre should come out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for abpout 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.

Thanks Aparna for the recipe:)





Jeff Foxworthy says – If you know all four seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction, you might live in Minnesota.  I can’t believe how depressing the winter gets and the impact it has on our daily lives. The weather has to be factored in for every single outdoor activity however seeming simple it may appear. I am so paranoid that the first thing I check every morning is not my mail nor my blog but the weather forecast for the day!  That said, there is an old saying that goes something like this “When winter is here, can Spring be far behind” ? I am optimistic and so looking forward for sunny days ahead 🙂

Baum 3

On that positive note I plan to resume my blogging though I can’t make promises! To start with I am planning to work on all the Daring Baker’s challenge recipes and also recipes from events that I have missed so far. I was quite fascinated with the January’s DB challenge –  A beautiful Baumkuchen(Tree Cake), layered cake. It’s a traditional dessert in many countries across Europe and a popular dessert in Japan. The challenge was to use the Baumkuchen (tree cake) and Schichttorte technique of smearing thin layers of batter on top of each other, and baking them one by one, so creating a layered cake structure.

The January 2014 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Francijn of “Koken in de Brouwerij”. She challenged us all to bake layered cakes in the tradition of Baumkuchen (tree cake) and Schichttorte (layered cake).

Baum 4

I believe a commercial Baumkuchen is cooked layer on layer in a big spit above a large container containing the batter, with a broiler (grill) next to it. The batter is poured over the spit, and when cooked, the next layer gets poured and cooked, this is repeated; until you have 15, 20, or even 25 layers of cake.The little brown lines between the layers of cake are the reason we call this cake “tree cake”. However I didn’t get the distinctive lines as expected – I am pretty sure its because I under-baked each layer.

Now onto the challenge recipe, which is Schichttorte (layered cake, Schicht means layer). This is a simple version of Baumkuchen, with horizontal layers. The layers in Schichttorte are not dipped, but smeared, and the cake is not baked on a spit, but in a baking mould (tin) (pan) producing a flat multi-layered cake.

Baumkuchen(Tree Cake) – January’14 Daring Baker’s Challenge

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 60 minutes

Yield: Makes one 8" cake


  • Batter:
  • 6 large eggs (room temperature)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup marzipan
  • 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup confectioner's (icing) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla sugar
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose (plain) flour (sifted)
  • Glaze:
  • 1/3 cup apricot jam
  • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur (optional)
  • 1 cup dark chocolate couverture chunks
  • 1 tablespoon pure coconut oil


Preheat your oven to hot 450°F. Line your cake tin with parchment paper, grease both paper and tin.

Divide the eggs. Beat the egg whites with the salt until nearly stiff, add the sugar and beat until really stiff.

Crumble finely the marzipan. Beat it with the softened butter, confectioner's (icing) sugar and vanilla sugar until soft and creamy. Add the egg yolks one by one and beat well between each addition. Add the stiff egg whites and flour and gently fold it into the batter. Trying not to lose too much air.

Smear 1/12th to 1/10th of the batter on the bottom of the pan, keep the sides of the pan clean, and bake for (about) 4 minutes in the oven, until it is cooked and brown. Take the pan out of the oven, smear the next portion of batter carefully over the first, and bake for another 4 minutes or until cooked and brown. Repeat until all batter is used. If you need to flatten a bubble insert a tooth pick or similar to deflate the bubble.

Let the cake cool down for a few minutes, take it out of the pan, remove the parchment paper and let the cake cool completely on a wired rack. Trim the edges.

Heat the jam a little, pass it through a sieve, and add the orange liqueur (optional). Cover the cake with the jam and let it cool.

Melt the couverture with the coconut oil in a bowl above warm water. Pour it over the cake to cover completely, move the cake to a cool place and wait until the glaze is dry.

Also the other blunder that I made was – once the cake was baked, I cooled it down and inverted it from the pan. I covered it with Jam and then with melted chocolate. I completely forgot to invert the cake back before I did this step. So my cake was upside down. I realized my mistake only when I took a bite, the base was soft and the top was slightly hard(thanks to the thick coat of chocolate). Nevertheless it tasted great !. The cake had a nice vanilla flavor, it was very soft and moist too. I truly enjoyed each and every bite of it!. Thanks Franscijn for a lovely challenge!





Mawa Cake 1 main

Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen was our August 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to make some amazing regional Indian desserts. The Mawa Cake, the Bolinhas de Coco cookies and the Masala cookies – beautifully spiced and delicious!

I was really kicked about the Mawa Cake and worked on it as soon as I read the post. In a hurry I ended making a stupid mistake. I read 4 cups of milk as 4 litres of milk(that was alot of MILK!!!). Mawa requires patience and lot of stirring. Mine took almost 3-4 hrs; that’s when I felt something was wrong;logged into the DBC site to check and that’s when I realized how dumb I was!!!.Now that I was left with a huge batch of Mawa,I saved up a cup for the cake and added a little sugar to the remaining. Mixed it well and made small flat disc and refrigerated it for sometime. These are called Pedas and they make agreat dessert. But yes…not to forget they are made with whole milk so very very HIGH in calories.

Mawa Cake 2 main Mawa Cakes are a speciality cake that is the hallmark of Irani cafe’s in India. Mawa (also known as Khoya/ Khoa) is made by slowly reducing milk (usually full-fat) until all that remain is a mass of slightly caramelized granular dough-like milk solids. Mawa is used in a wide variety of Indian sweets like Gulab Jamun and Peda, to mention just two. Mawa is pronounced as Maa-vaa; Khoya is pronounced as KhOh-yaa.
Mawa Cake 3 main In this cake, Mawa lends a rich and a caramelized milky taste to this cake which is slightly dense and reminiscent of a pound cake. Cardamom and cashewnuts are typical of a Mawa Cake; but almonds can be used too. I had a whole pack of blanched sliced almonds from Trader Joe’s that came into use. The batter can be used to make Cupcakes as well. They were totally moist and the cardamom flavor was to die for. Even my little enjoyed this cake. Masala Cookies 2 main
Masala cookies are something that features very often at home. So these were not something new; however I just baked them with the flavors I like.The word Masala means “Spice Mix”, they are savory and spicy Indian snack. These were quite spicy because of the chilies and pepper that went into them. They are loaded with flavors and are super crunchy on the outside;soft and flaky in the inside. I used Mint and Dill leaves which added a zing to the cookies. Masala Cookies 1 main I made the Mawa two days ahead of time and stored it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Allow it to come to room temperature before you make the cake. Instead of cardamom you may choose to use nutmeg also.For the Masala cookies I didn’t have curry leaves handy; Cilantro,Dill and Mint leaves did their flavoring magic:)

Mawa Cake

Serving Size: Makes One 8 inch Cake


  • For the Mawa:
  • 1 litre (4 cups) full fat milk
  • For the cake:
  • 1/2 cup unsalted Butter (soft at room temperature)
  • 3/4 cup packed crumbled mawa
  • 1-1/4 cups castor sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 5 to 6 cardamom pods, powdered, (about 1-1/2 tsp powdered cardamom)
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • Blanched Sliced Almonds / Cashewnuts to decorate


First make the “Mawa”. Pour the milk into a heavy bottomed saucepan, preferably a non-stick one. Bring the milk to a boil, stirring it on and off, making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom.

Turn down the heat to medium and keep cooking the milk until reduces to about a quarter of its original volume. This should take about an hour to an hour and a half.

The important thing during this process is to watch the milk and stir it frequently to make sure it doesn’t stick to the sides or bottom of the pan and get burnt. The danger of this happening increases as the milk reduces and gets thicker.

Once the milk it has reduced to about one fourth, 1/4 quantity, lower the heat to low and let cook for a little while longer. Keep stirring regularly, until the milk solids (mawa) take on a lumpy appearance. There should be no visible liquid left in the pan, but the mawa should be moist and not stick to the sides of the pan.

Remove the pan from heat and transfer the mawa to a bowl and let it cool completely. Then cover and refrigerate it for a day or two (not more) till you’re ready to make the cake. It will harden in the fridge so let it come to room temperature before using it.You should get about 3/4 to 1 cup of mawa from 1 litre (4 cups) of full-fat milk.

Now start preparations for the cake by pre-heating your oven to moderate 350°F . Beat the butter, the crumbled mawa and the sugar in a largish bowl, using a hand held electric beater, on high speed until soft and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat on medium speed till well incorporated. Add the vanilla and milk and beat till mixed well.

Sift the cake flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt onto the batter and beat at medium speed and well blended. If you cannot find cake flour, place 2 tablespoon of cornstarch in the bottom of your 1-cup measure and then fill it with all-purpose (plain) flour to make up to 1 cup.

Grease and line only the bottom of an 8 inch (20 cm) spring form pan. Pour the batter into this and lightly smooth the top. Place the cashew nuts (or blanched almonds) on top of the batter randomly. Do not press the nuts down into the batter. A Mawa Cake always has a rustic finished look rather than a decorated look.

Bake in a preheated moderate oven for about 1 hour until the cake is a golden brown and a skewer pushed into the centre comes out clean. Do not over bake the cake or it will dry out. If the cake seems to be browning too quickly, cover it will aluminium foil hallway through the baking time.

Remove from oven and allow it to cool for 10 min in the tin. Release the cake, peel off the parchment from the base and let it cool completely.

Masala Herb Cookies

Yield: Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies


  • 1-3/4 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
  • 2 tablespoons fine white or brown rice flour (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or according to your taste)
  • 1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3 green chillies, deseeded and chopped
  • 3/4 inch piece of ginger, finely grated
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorn, crushed coarsely
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and crushed coarsely
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons finely chopped curry leaves
  • 1 tablespoon each finely chopped fresh cilantro,mint and dill leaves
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons cold yogurt
  • A little oil to brush the tops of the biscuits/ cookies


Put both flours, salt, baking powder and baking soda into the bowl of a food processor and add the pieces of chilled butter. Pulse until the mixture takes on the texture of breadcrumbs.

Now add the chopped green chillies, finely grated ginger, crushed peppercorn and cumin, sugar, the chopped curry leaves and coriander leaves. Pulse a couple of times to mix well.

Then add 2 tablespoons of yogurt and pulse again. Add one more tbsp of yogurt (or two, as much as needed), and pulse again until the dough just comes together and clumps together. You want a moist dough, not a wet one – somewhat like pie dough.

Do not over process or knead. The dough should be just moist enough for you to use your hands and bring everything together to shape into a ball. Flatten it into a disc and cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least hour. You can also leave it overnight (up to about 24 hours) and work on it the next day.

Pre-heat your oven to moderate 350°F and line your baking trays with parchment or grease them with oil.

Lightly dust your working surface and roll out the dough to 1/8”(3 mm) thickness, not more or your biscuits/ cookies will not be crisp. If using Sesame seeds, sprinkle it uniformly over the dough and use your rolling pin, very lightly, to press them in.Using cutters of your choice (about 2-1/4 inch in size), cut out biscuits/ cookies and place them on lightly greased baking trays. Brush a very thin coat of oil over them. This will help them brown while baking. Bake them in a preheated moderate oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or till they’re done and golden brown on the top. Remember the baking time will depend on the thickness and shape of your biscuits/ cookies. Let them cool on the trays for about 5 minutes and then cool them on racks. Once they’re completely cool, they should be a bit crunchy and not chewy.

Note – I was traveling so posting very late. Its better late than never:)

Bon Appétit


BF Cake 1 main

Off late I have been busy with too many things. Sadly, baking and blogging weren’t the top priorities.It was Valentine’s Day celebration all over the blogging world,I saw so many wonderful recipes, posts, photographs and I just couldn’t resist myself in joining the bandwagon. I know I am late, but then what the heck 🙂

BF cake 2 main

I was reading on the net that -In the second half of the twentieth century, the practice of exchanging cards was extended to all manner of gifts in the United States, usually from a man to a woman. Such gifts typically include roses and chocolates.In the 1980s, the diamond industry began to promote Valentine’s Day as an occasion for giving jewelry. The day has come to be associated with a generic platonic greeting of “Happy Valentine’s Day”. Imagine if we women got jewelry instead of flowers and chocolates. Wow…honey I hope you are reading this one:)

I baked my all-time favorite Black Forest Cake again. This is one cake that has made multiple entries in my kitchen. You’ll find this one in my blog too – here. I had baked one for my daughter’s first birthday. It was actually the first time I had baked such a huge cake (12”x18”). By the way, I have never found Black Forest Cake at any restaurants/ coffee shops in the US. I wonder why??

BF Cake 3 main

This time I wanted to use whole wheat. So I baked a Chocolate Whole Wheat Genoise Cake adapted from King Arthur Flour’s – Whole Grain Baking book . Though this cake uses whole wheat pastry flour, it DOES use a lot of eggs. The cake tasted very chocolaty and was slightly dense. I have baked this earlier too but had frosted it with chocolate ganache. You really have to pay attention while baking. Unlike any other cake, this one doesn’t rise much. I over baked my cake when I had made this the first time ( I was hoping it would rise up well, so increased the baking time which resulted in a little hard cake). So watch out.


Makes one 8 ” cake(4 layers)


½ cup( 1 stick) unsalted butter
1 ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa, natural or dutch processed
2 tablespoon unbleached all –purpose flour
7 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ cup granulated sugar


6 – 8 oz Maraschino cherries with the syrup
2 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon corn flour( optional )


1 ½ cup heavy whipping cream
1 ½ tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate shavings, MAraschino Cherries, Chocolate chips/bars for Filigree

Directions: Preheat oven to 325F. Grease and slightly flour the pans lightly with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper. Melt the butter over low heat and set aside to cool at room temperature. Whisk together the whole wheat pastry flour,cocoa and all purpose flour in a medium bowl;set aside.
Combine the eggs, egg yolks, salt,vanilla and sugar in a large bowl. Place the mixing bowl over a larger bowl half filled with hot tap water.Whisk the mixture until it feels just slightly warm to the touch when you touch it in the center with your finger( 3 to 5 minutes). If you want to be precise, use a thermometer – the egg mixture should be at 100F. Warming the eggs and dissolving the sugar this way will ensure they reach the highest possible volume when beaten.
Place the mixing bowl on your stand mixer and beat with a wire whip until the mixture is tripled in volume and a very pale yellow color. This will take 5 to 8 minutes on high speed, depending on the power of your mixer. When done the egg mixture should fall off the whisk and mound for a moment before disappearing back into the bowl.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a whisk to gently fold in the reserved flour cocoa mixture by hand, until no streaks of flour remain. Gently fold in the melted cooled butter, a little at a time, taking care not to mix more than necessary to get the butter to disappear. If you pour in too much at once, the butter will collapse the egg foam, then pool on the bottom of the mixing bowl, making it harder to distribute. The volume of the batter will decrease a bit during this process, but a light touch and quick, confident strokes from the bottom of the bowl up through the batter will see you through.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the chocolate is fragrant and the top springs back when lightly touched in the center, 25-27 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and place on a rack to completely cool before assembling. . Also, slice each cake horizontally into two.

SYRUP: Drain the maraschino cherries from the bottle, reserve the liquid. Crush or chop the cherries. Bring the liquid, cherries and sugar to a boil – stirring until the sugar dissolves. Using a spoon, remove half of the liquid in a cup. Allow the cherry mixture to thicken a little. You may use ½ teaspoon of cornflour,if needed. Set aside and allow it to cool.

WHIPPED CREAM:Place cream in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add sugar and vanilla extract and whip until it thickens and the whip starts to leave tracks as it moves through the cream. Beat until the cream forms medium peaks.

ASSEMBLING THE CAKE – Place one cake layer on a cake board or a plate. Drizzle the syrup all over and put a generous dollop of cream and spread uniformly; and finally spread the cherry mixture. Place the next layer on top, repeat the same for the second and third layer too. After placing the last one, spread the whipped cream on top and sides and frost the cake. Decorate as per your liking-you may use some chocolate shavings/chips/sprinklers and maraschino cherries. For the Filigree – Melt some chocolate (I used 4 Ghirardelli squares) in the microwave. Pour it on a pastry bag or zip lock bag. Make a small hole on the bag and make designs on a parchment paper (measure the height and circumference of the cake and cut the parchment based on this measurement before you start). Allow it too set in the refrigerator for ten minutes or so. Wrap it around the cake and press it gently so that it sticks to the frosting on the sides. Gently peel the parchment.

Usually Kirsch syrup is used which I didn’t have, so chose an easier option for the simple syrup. Also since I was planning to do the filigree, I didn’t want to frost much on the sides as it wouldn’t be seen. Hope you enjoy baking this:)

Bon Appétit


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