Category Archives: Sweets


Chutney 1
Strawberry Picking is like a family ritual for us. Its a great time of the year to enjoy the dazzling red berries which are ripened to perfection in the farm fields. We had some relatives home and I decided to take them last week for this fun experience. We picked berries to our hearts content and paid about $1.72 per lb, which I though was reasonable. The whole activity is so addictive that you don’t feel like stopping. We didn’t even realize that we picked over 10 lbs in less than 30 minutes.
Its a great experience and I highly recommend everyone to try especially with kids. Always make sure to call up the farm before heading there. Also pick up only the red berries, the green or pink wont ripe later. Don’t miss out on your camera!
chutney 2
With so many berries I really had to come up with something quick. I was expecting to freeze some but not the entire lot. I made some Low Fat Strawberry Crisp ; strawberry infused water and some Spiced Chutney. My original idea was to actually make some jam but there was already a big bottle of Smuckers starring at me in the refrigerator:(. I wanted some thing Tangy and Sweet so decided to make Chutney, that too a spicy one. I used chili powder which gave the much required heat, jaggery added to the sweetness, nutmeg and cardamom for flavors and lemon juice gave the tartness.
chutney 3
Before starting, taste a berry to determine their sweetness. Wash the berries and cut them into quarters; mix powdered jaggery and lemon juice. Since I wanted the natural sweetness of the berries to set in I decided to keep it covered for about 40 minutes or so. But in between I had to step out so the 40 mins became 90 minutes. The Berries had released all their juices and along with the jaggery water I was left with a lot of liquid. Now the only problem was that it would take more time to cook.Towards the end it might stick to the pan so be careful.

Spiced Strawberry Chutney


  • 6 cups strawberries, washed and quartered
  • 1 cup jaggery
  • 2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder ( increase or decrease as per taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • salt as needed


Take the chopped berries in a large bowl, add powdered Jaggery and lemon juice. Mix well and allow it to rest for about 30-45 minutes.

Heat oil in a pan, add cumin seeds. When it turns golden add the Berries along with the juice. Add the remaining ingredients and cook on low heat until it turns thick. Keep stirring in between.

Once done allow it to come to room temperature before you fill it in a bottle. Keep it refrigerated. I started with six cups of berries but still ended up with just a medium mason jar full of chutney.This tasted great with some crackers and cheese, bread, tortillas/rotis. I liked them even on Pancakes:)



bread 2
For the month of May, Aparna chose an easy bread which is loaded with flavors – An Orange and Cinnamon Swirl Bread. This bread was originally adapted from 500 Breads by Carol Beckerman.
bread 3
It’s an easy bread to knead,shape and bake.This Bread is a typical American style sweet breakfast bread.
We enjoyed this bread for breakfast as well as evening snack. Apricot, Orange and Cinnamon put together makes a flavorsome bread!

Orange & Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Yield: 2 loaves


  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • The juice and finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • 5 tablespoon apricot preserves
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • Oil for greasing


Grease two 8”x 4” loaf tins with a little oil. Dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar in the warm water and sprinkle the yeast on top. Leave it for 10 to 15 minutes till frothy.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and the 3 tablespoon sugar. Add the liquid yeast, the eggs, the juice and the zest of orange and work into a somewhat firm dough.

Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, and turn so it is coated all over. Cover and put it in a warm place for about 1 1 /2 hours, until doubled in size.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and punch down. Knead for a few minutes until the dough feels firm. Roll into to 6 x 13-inch rectangles.

Spread each rectangle with apricot preserves and sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar. Roll up each triangle like a jelly roll and place in the loaf tins. Put in a warm place for about 30 minutes, until double in size.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 F and bake the loaves for about 30 to 35 minutes until the top is golden brown and the bottom of the loaves make a hollow sound when tapped. Cool on a wire rack. This recipe makes 2 medium sized loaves.

Thanks Aparna for the recipe!



Melon Pan 1

Melon Pan is a Japanese bread which is made as buns. They are soft, rich and somewhat sweet bread covered by a layer of crunch cookie. Pan is Japanese for bread but there is definitely no melon of any sort in this bread. I read about this bread only when Aparna posted it on FB for the “We need to Bake” event. I believe there are a couple of suggestions as to where the “Melon” in Melon Pan comes from. The sugar cookie topping is usually scored in a crosshatch pattern similar to the Japanese presentation of a melon wedge which is also cut into a crosshatch pattern, and bent backwards for serving.  The other suggestion is that appearance of the cracked surface of the cookie dough layer resembles a rock melon/ cantaloupe, and hence the name. Apparently, some Japanese bakers also use melon extract in these buns to add fragrance.

Melon Pan 2

Usually the buns are left plain, though chocolate chips can be added or it can also be filled with cream cheese,custard or pastry cream. Aparna mentioned that if you don’t eat egg, you can leave them out, but substitute for it in the bread dough with a tablespoon of yogurt or milk. However both doughs are made with egg as this gives the bread a better texture. The original recipe was adapted from A Bread a day .

Melon Pan 3

Melon Pan are best eaten the day they’re made. This recipe makes 8 burger bun sized Melon Pan. You can bake a half batch or even make smaller Pan by dividing both doughs into 10 or 12 instead of 8. Like I mentioned above these buns are mildly sweet, soft inside and has wonderful crunchy top. Please watch this video before you start making the bread,so you a good idea on how to shape the Melon Pan.

Melon Pan


  • For bread dough:
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra as required)
  • 2 tablespoon milk powder
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 25gm butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • For cookie dough:
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • A large pinch of salt
  • 60gm butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup castor sugar (increase to 1/3 cup for sweeter dough)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Castor sugar for dusting (granulated sugar will do too)


Whisk together the flour, powdered milk, yeast, and salt in the bowl (or the bowl of your machine if using one). In a smaller bowl, beat the egg and cold water together with a fork till well blended. Add this to the flour mixture in the bowl.

Knead (on low speed in the machine) till it all come together as a dough and then (on medium speed) until you have a somewhat stiff dough. Add the sugar and knead well.

Now add the butter and knead (first at slow speed and then on medium) until the butter is completely incorporated into the dough and the dough becomes smooth and elastic. The dough should well-kneaded to develop the gluten.

Shape the dough into a round, and place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let it rise till double in volume (about an hour or so).

During this time make the cookie dough. In a bowl, cream the soft butter and sugar till fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat till combined. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and add this to the bowl. Also add the lemon zest. Beat together until just combined.

Shape the dough into a cylinder (this will make the dough easy to divide and flatten out later), and wrap in cling film. Refrigerate the dough until required.

Now go back to the bread dough. Once it has doubled in volume, place it on a lightly floured work surface. Lightly grease your baking sheet or line it with parchment. Deflate the dough gently and divide it into 8 equal portions.

Shape each portion into a smooth ball like for bread rolls. Work with one portion and keep the others covered so they don’t dry out.

Unwrap the cookie dough. It should be reasonably firm now and easy to work with. Slice the cylinder of cookie dough into 8 equal portions. Use two pieces of plastic sheets or cling film to flatten the cookie dough. Place one slice/ round of cookie dough on a piece of plastic sheet/ cling film. Cover with another piece, and using a flat bottomed pan, press down on the dough to flatten it, until it is reasonably thin but not very much so.

Carefully take on ball of bread dough (it will have puffed up a little so don’t deflate it), and place the circle of cookie dough on top of it. Gently press the cookie dough edge to the bread dough ball so that it covers the top and sides of the ball, but leaves the bottom open. Gently, holding the covered bread dough by the underside, press it into some castor sugar. Then using a scraper, or the blunt side of a knife, mark the top of the cookie dough side of the bread roll with a cross hatch/ diamond pattern. The pattern should be deep enough (otherwise it will disappear when the bread rises and bakes) without cutting through the cookie dough layer into the bread.

Place this on the greased or parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat this with the remaining cookie dough and bread dough balls. Let them rise for an hour.

Bake them at 350F for about 25 minutes, until the tops of the Melon Pan just start turning brown. If you let them brown too much, the underside of the bread will burn. Transfer to a wire rack to cool thoroughly.

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!




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