Friday, June 14, 2013

Knock Out Almond Chewy Bar Cake

I love almond flavor !! There I said it..I seriously go crazy when it comes to adding extracts or flavors to my baked goods. It's one of those urges that make me go weak in my knees (or hands specifically ;)...These days it's Almond. But iam sure it's going to be that for a long time. I was specifically looking over internet for a almond based cake and came across one which took me by surprise since it lacked the usual leavening agents..Baking soda/Baking powder that is...I should have better known that it would make a very dense cake, but late night browsing does some weird decision making skills for next day. I bookmarked the recipe even though one of the reviewers wrote "it's "almost" like chewy bar" ....zzz..whatever..zzzzz

So next day I got ready with my pans and cups and spoons and was a one bowl cake,just mix everything together and dump in pan and bake. I did just that. And lo and behold !...the cake turned out exactly like a "chewy bar" :-( ...but wait.....
After the cake cooled , .... (did I say, the whole house was smelling heavenly good with the almond flavor?? mmm) , I cut a tiny "tasting" slice for myself. It tasted like some exotic culinary perfume bursting in my mouth craving for more cake :-) BH and Bubbles loved it too :)....It was not too sweet , just the way we like it here in my home. I smeared some pie filling on top of my slice and enjoyed it with my tea :-)


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Homemade Pizza dough

It's not until after you have tried some things that you realize it's value. For me though, this was not the case when it came to making pizza from scratch. I tried and tried in past, but everytime it came out like half baked bread with all the yeasty things and uncooked dough (yuck...), which went straight to trash. I used to sigh with a bit of sadness whenever I used to imagine the endless possibilities of topping I could have added if I had a good homemade pizza base....I used to get so wishful about having a pizza base fairy wave her magical wand on my hand :-P ..... Ok now I am going overboard :-)

You can imagine the excitement I felt eventually after my experiments got better and better one of these days. The obvious reasons were, with a toddler in hand, the only few precious minutes I get to experiment something new in kitchen does not give me the leisure time to make an error, because I never know when I can again get another opportunity. So it has to be almost foolproof. Else, in addition to the cranky toddler, I might have to face the hungry cranky husband who returned from office :-\ ....
So the recipes I share here are ones which have a foolproof tag in my home, since I don't make anything and everything for the sake of blogging after Bubbles was born. He rules ! :)) And he inspires :) to keep blogging . I am grateful to my better half who was the recipient of my experiments long before Bubbles was born, since that's when this blog started :-) ....

Here goes my recipe: You will need : For the dough: 1 packet (0.25 ounce) instant active yeast 3/4 cup lukewarm water 2 teaspoons honey 1.5 teaspoons salt 2 cups flour (Bread flour works best , but you can use all purpose flour too. I substituted partially with whole wheat flour) + 1/4 cup flour for dusting (use it 1 tablespoon at a time) - 2 tablespoons oil - 2 teaspoons milk/water - 3 tablespoon cornmeal/coarsely powdered soy granules/semolina Optional: Garlic powder How I made it: - Combine yeast and honey in warm water until dissolved completely. This step is as much important as the rest, so make sure it's well dissolved. Let it rest for say 10 minutes or until it gets frothy and creamy. - While the yeasts bloom, take a big mixing bowl greased well with oil combine two cups flour, salt, oil, and garlic powder. You can even add some herbs like dry basil. - Grease your hands, and add the prepared yeast mixture, mix well and combine to form a smooth dough. If it's too sticky, add 1 tbsploon remaining flour at a time or if the dough is too hard, add one teaspoon milk/water. Knead for 5 minutes to get a smooth dough. Grease your hands if needed to make kneading easier. - Cover dough with plastic wrap and also cover the bowl in plastic wrap. Place it in a warm location away from sunlight. Let it rest for atleast 30 minutes. The dough will double in size. - Prepare toppings while dough is resting. I used onion, capsicum, and loads of cheese :-) The toppings options are endless, but make sure that if you are adding meat based toppings, it is first cooked all way through before adding to pizza. Also I don't recommend adding vegetables that need a longer cooking time, if you must do, then cook them until they are tender. Next time I plan to add tofu/paneer. - Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Take dough out of plastic wrap, and push down to remove the air bubbles a little. - Grease your rolling pin, and board. Dust a little flour if needed. All this to make rolling dough process, easier. Flatten the dough , until it's around 1/2 inch thick. - I then greased my pizza pan well. Evenly sprinkled the coarsely powdered soy granules (cornmeal is the traditional thing used, but I did not have it handy). Make sure you don't skip this step. It's vital for the even cooking of your pizza, especially if you don't own a pizza stone. These little granules get heated along with the pizza pan in oven and distribute heat evenly under the dough to cook it evenly. Got the importance? :-) - Transfer the dough to pan, and with rolling pin or hands , roll it to fill it towards edges. Crimp the edges to create a border. At this point I think it's a good idea to use a fork and prick few holes in the dough , though I have not tried it. I believe it can make the dough less bread like texture and more pizza base like texture when it's pricked. - Brush with a pizza sauce, either homemade or store bought. Don't use too much sauce, though you will feel tempted to, can make your crust soggy. Top with shredded cheese. And then followed with other toppings and then finishing off with cheese. - Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, then lower temperature to 375, and bake another 5 minutes. - Take out pizza pan, and slice it into your hearts desire :-) ..... Enjoy ! :-) Love, MK

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