Christmas Fruit Cake, step by step recipe

Simple Christmas Cake
My first Christmas cake ever! And what a delight it is 😀
Thanks to my dear friends Aruna , who blogs at ãhãram and Freda, who blogs at Aromatic Essence, for inspiring me with their gorgeous bakes.

Here is my simple Christmas Fruit Cake with a fair amount of fruit and a hint of spice.
A simple step-by-step recipe!

250 grams/2 levelled cups of maida/ all purpose flour + 32 grams/ ¼ cup for coating the soaked and drained fruit
250 grams/ 1 cup softened salted butter (I used Amul)
200 grams brown sugar ( I weighed and powdered it)
4 large eggs ( they should weight around 250 grams)
1 ½ tsp Baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon and ½ tsp ginger powder *
350 grams of mixed fruit soaked in 200 ml freshly squeezed orange juice**
½ tsp vanilla extract

Soaking the fruit
A day before the baking day soak mixed fruit in 200 ml orange juice. I used equal amounts of golden raisins, black currants, dried cranberry, glace cherry, candied orange peel and  candied fruit ( or tutti frutti), Add 2 tsp of rum to add a boozy hint. Two hours before baking drain the fruit well, saving the drained liquid to be used for brushing the cake later.
Add ¼ cup of maida to the drained fruit and mix so that the flour coats the fruit. This will ensure that the fruit does not sink to the bottom while baking.


Preparing the tin
Use an 8 or 9 inch round baking tin with high sides, preferably a springform pan.Line it with parchment. Alternatively use a heavy non-stick cake or bundt pan and grease it well. I used a heavy non-stick bundtlette pan and didn’t need to do any of this 😛

Baking the cake
Pre-heat the oven at 150C.
Sift together 250 grams of flour, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger powder.
In a large pan, whisk the butter. Add the powdered brown sugar and whisk till creamy. Add the eggs one by one and mix after each addition. Whisk in the vanilla.
Add the flour and mix with the spatula. It will be a thick batter.
Stir in the flour-coated fruit. Incorporate to mix evenly.
Transfer to pan and even out the batter with the spatula. Bake for  45- 60 minutes. About 35 minutes into the baking time cover the cake with aluminium foil to prevent over browning. Let cool completely in the pan and remove.
Brush with the leftover juice and serve.
To store, wrap in cling film and store in an airtight box.

* Spices may be skipped if you dislike the taste
** Can used un-soaked fruits if you forgot to soak. Toss them in flour and add. Do not use black currants if using un-soaked fruit. Use raisins, cranberry, glace cherry, candied fruit and tutti frutti

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Fruit and Nut Holiday Cookies

Cookies!! A lot of them are being baked in my kitchen these days. It is December and the weather is nice and nippy and Christmas is almost here. No wonder cookies are calling!
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This is my favourite shortbread cookie dough and I throw in different fruit and nuts to get a variety on the cookie platter. And trust me when I say each variation tastes different

Here is the basic dough recipe (yeah, it is the same I baked the much-loved Hyderabad Karachi style fruit cookies with!) This makes a big batch. It can be halved.
(Makes 45 thick cookies)
450 grams (about 3 ½ cups) Maida/all purpose flour
330 grams (3 cups)  butter, softened at room temperature
150 grams ( 1 ½ cup) of granulated sugar, measured out and powdered in the mixer
1 ½  cups of candied fruit/ chopped nuts/ chocolate chips. I divided the dough into 3 parts and added different things to all.
1 ½ tsp rose extract or any other like vanilla, almond or pistachio. Rose works best.
1 tsp cardamom powder

Beat the sugar and butter with a hand whisk till it is creamy. This takes 2-3 minutes by hand.
Add the rose extract and the fruit and nut mixture.
I split into three and added
-Slivered cashews and almonds to the first lot
-Pistachios, dried cherries and cranberries to the second and
-White and Strawberry chocolate chip cookies to the third
Add the flour and bring the dough together with your fingers. The dough will be crumbly.


Divide the dough into three and make logs and cling wrap them and put in the refrigerator for an hour at least. The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for two days.

Alternatively shape into discs and cling wrap. Chill for 30 minutes and then roll about ½ inch thick and cut cookies.

Preheat the oven at 175C and bake on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes till the cookies start to change colour around the edges. Bake a little less if you want them crumbly. Cool on the cookie sheet for five minutes and then move to a wire rack to cool completely.
Once cooled completely, store the cookies in air tight containers. They stay good for up to a fortnight, if they last that long, that is!

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Jim Lahey’s Chocolate Bread

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This is a no-recipe kind of post, really, another no-knead bread! This time right in the spirit of the festive season with chocolate, cranberry, cherry and walnuts. This is my version of Jim Lahey’s Chocolate Coconut bread. We aren’t big coconut fans here, so I skipped it and threw in some fruit and nut, which we are huge fans of!
Throw in everything, proof and bake- ta daa!! Slice and chomp away 😀
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280 grams (2 cups+ 2Tbsp) Maida/APF
150 grams (1 cup) chocolate, chopped into chunks [Use milk or dark. I used half dark and half milk]
60 grams of cranberries and cherries (optional)
A handful of coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp instant yeast
270 grams (1cup+3 Tbsp) water, at room temperature

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients listed with a wooden spoon or your hand, and leave covered till it is more than doubled up and had bubbles over the surface. It may take anything from 5-24 hours depending on the temperature and humidity.

Gently drop the dough on a flour dusted surface. Be careful not to tear the dough. With lightly floured hands and a plastic scraper, shape the dough into a round ball or two loaves.  Lahey bakes it in a Dutch oven (DO) but I have tried baking both in a DO as well as a loaf tin, and it comes out perfect in either.


To bake in a loaf tin:
Transfer  the shaped loaves into two greased  9×5 greased loaf tins. Cover and leave to rise till doubled. To check if the bread is proofed, gently stick a floured finger in the loaf. If the impression stays, the dough is done, else let it rise for another 15-20 minutes.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees for 35-40 minutes. The bottom when tapped should sound hollow.
To bake in a Dutch Oven:
Take a large  cotton or muslin napkin and  generously dust it with flour. Gently place the dough on the napkin with the seam side down. Cover and leave to rise till doubled. To check if the bread is proofed, gently stick a floured finger in the loaf. If the impression stays, the dough is done, else let it rise for another 15-20 minutes.
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Half an hour before the end of the second rise, place the DO in the oven on the middle rack preheat the oven to 250C for 30 minutes. Remove the DO from the oven and gently invert the dough into the pot. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and lower the temperature to 230C. Bake for another 15-20 minutes.
Cool and slice.

Every time I have baked and served this bread, it has got immense love! Go try it 😀
Have a lovely December!

Love
Garima

 

Cashew Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies

More cookies!! Yes 😀 Coz it’s the season to be merry! I am going to be posting a lot of cookies before I leave for a longish vacation next weekend. I plan to take boxes of them as gifts! Hence, the cookie overload.  Please bear with me.I played around with my chocolate chip cookies recipe and baked these.
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These cashew and cherry studded,bejewelled beauties make for a pretty gift. They are eggless (can be made with egg too) and super easy to put together. I haven’t tried a whole wheat version yet, but I added some oatmeal to kinda add a healthy touch. The oats did good things to the texture!
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1 cup /130 grams plain flour/Maida
½ cup/50 grams oatmeal (grind the regular oats in a mixer-grinder)
½ cup /110 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature ( Skip salt if using salted butter like Amul)
1 cup brown sugar/200 grams, closely packed ( May use white sugar if brown is not available)
½ cup thick curd  at room temperature (or an egg)
1 tsp vanilla extract or essence
½  tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt (skip if using salted butter)
½ cup chocolate chips (dark/milk/milk chocolate or a mixture of all three)
½ cup cashwes
½ cup glace/candied cherries, chopped into halves

In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, beat butter till creamy. Add the sugar and beat till soft and fluffy.
Add the yogurt (or egg, if using) and vanilla and beat till all is homogenous.
Add the flour mix to the wet ingredients and fold in gently.
Add the chocolate chips and mix till they are evenly distributed into the dough.
Cover the dough with cling film or slightly greased aluminium foil and refrigerate for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 180C and line or grease a baking tray.
Taking 1 tbsp of dough at a time (you may use an ice cream scoop) make small balls and flatten them to discs. Stick cashews and cherries on the cookies.
Lay them on the baking tray 2 inches apart.
Bake for  11-14 minutes till the chocolate melts.  Watch for the bottoms of the cookies changing colour. As soon as the bottoms just begin to brown, remove and cool on the tray for 5 minutes. Gently move them to a wire rack and let cool completely. They stay good for a week in an airtight box.


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Quick and no fuss Coffee flavoured Cookies

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Quick,no-fuss and coffee flavoured; what’s not to like! I sometimes bake a batch of these biscuits with our morning tea. Yeah, they are that simple, not to mention crisp and the refreshing espresso flavour. They come together in fifteen minutes (plus the baking time)

Here is what you need to get 25 gorgeous coffee cookies:
(Recipe sourced from Treat N Treat)

130 grams/1 cup Maida/All purpose flour
¼ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp instant coffee powder dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water (I used Nescafe)
85 grams/ 6 Tbsp butter, softened (I use Amul)
60 grams/ eaped ¼ cup of powdered sugar ( I weigh white granulated sugar and then powder it in the mixer-grinder)
¼ tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 160C.
Mix coffee powder in hot water and leave to cool.
Sift together flour and baking powder.
Cream butter and sugar, add coffee and vanilla extract.
Add flour and bring together to get a soft dough.
Make 25 small balls, flatten them and press down a little with a fork. Lay them an inch apart on the baking sheet.
Bake for 18-20 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes and then move to a wire rack to cool completely.
*To bake chocolate biscuits,omit the coffee and add a tbsp of cocoa
** To bake vanilla biscuits- Omit the coffee and increase the vanilla extract to a tsp

Enjoy!

Cheers!
Garima

Coffee Cookies

Fresh Strawberry Jammy Tea Cakes

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Think of a soft buttery vanilla cupcake. Now think of fresh strawberry jam that cooks on top of  the little cake as it bakes! Tempted yet?
The crunchy top and moist crumb of this cake is a scrumptious contrast in textures! And the jam oozing…..mmmmmm
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The first time I ate it, I wished  there was way more surface area on this cake to enjoy the strawberry jam flavoured crunch of the top. So the next time around, I made it as a round cake 😛


This cake celebrates the perfect marriage of strawberry and vanilla. Make it as a 9 inch cake or 12 muffins, it is delicious either ways! And it is such a simple recipe too!

You need
(Recipe adapted from Once Upon a Chef)

190 grams/ 1 ½ cup Maida/APF
1 ½ tsp baking powder
85 grams/ 6 Tbsp salted butter, softened (I use Amul)
220 grams/ 1 cup + 2 Tbsp granulated white sugar, weighed and powdered
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
120 ml/ ½ cup milk, at room temperature
2 Tbsp yogurt/curd
About 300 grams strawberries, hulled, washed and cut into halves ( the sweeter the strawberries, the better it is)

Grease and line a 9 inch round cake pan or a 12 cavity muffin pan. Do remember to line the bottom as well as the sides of the pan, as the jam oozes and may cause the cake to stick to the pan.
Pre-heat the oven at 170C.
Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a medium sized bowl.
Save two tablespoons of powdered sugar and beat the rest with butter till creamy and fluffy.
Add the egg and vanilla and mix well.
Add the flour alternating with milk in three lots. Whisk in the yogurt. The batter will be a thick dropping consistency.
Transfer to the muffin pan and stick one or two  strawberry halves on the top. If baking in a 9 inch cake pan, dot the entire surface closely with the halves.

Dust with sugar ( and top with some strawberry choc chips, if feeling indulgent as I did with some 😛 )


Bake for 25-30 minutes for cupcakes and 45-60 minutes for a cake. Check doneness by inserting a toothpick in the centre of the cakes/cake. It should come out clean.
Enjoy biting into the jammy yumness!

 

Wholewheat Multigrain Pineapple Upside Down Cake with Strawberries

Each time I saw an ‘upside-down’ cake, I was tempted to bake one, mainly because it is such a pretty cake! And when I saw this Pineapple Upside down Cake, I was smitten ❤ Have-to-bake-kind smitten. ( Will do this fully loaded version soon! )Multigrain Pineapple Upside Down Strawberry Cake.jpg
Now, since I am baking so much off late (and because my family needs dessert after dinner every Single night! ) I have made whole-wheat aata my new best friend.
I baked this Multigrain wholegrain pineapple upside down cake last night. Had no cherries, so used up the box of strawberries I had in the fridge. The cake is mildly sweet, with strawberries thrown into the batter for nice texture and flavour. I served it dusted with sugar and a drizzle of low fat cream. The boys cleaned their plates and went for seconds ( and thirds. Sigh…so much for healthy 😛 )

I baked it in a 8 ½ x 4 ½ loaf tin and took almost 40 minutes to bake. The next time around I am baking this is a 9 inch round tin. Although delicious, I felt the cake layer under the pineapples should be thinner.

Preparing the pan and the topping
Line a 9 inch round cake pan with parchment and brush spread 2 Tbsp melted butter all over the base.
Sprinkle 2 Tbsp brown sugar over the butter.
Arrange pineapple slices over the sugar and stick a strawberry (or a cherry) in the middle of each pineapple ring, Set the pan aside and prepare the batter.

The cake
4 Tbsp butter
50 grams brown sugar
50 grams white granulated sugar (powdered)
1 large egg
½ tsp vanilla or pineapple extract
1 cup plus 2 tsp multigrain flour/aata
¾ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1/3 cup milk, at room temperature
½ cup chopped strawberries
3-4 pineapple slices ( I used canned pineapple)

Preheat the oven at 180C.
Whisk one cup of flour, baking powder and baking soda in a small bowl.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the sugars and butter till creamy.
Add the egg and vanilla (or pineapple) extract and incorporate them into the mixture.
Add the flour in two batches alternating it with the milk and mix, Do not over-mix.
Toss the chopped strawberries in 2 tsp of flour and gently fold them into the mixture.
Pour the batter in the prepared tin and bake for 30-35 minutes or till a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then invert in a plate with sides, to catch the caramel drizzle on the top of the cake.
Gently peel off the parchment.
Serve warm dusted with a touch of powdered sugar and a drizzle of cream on the side

 

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Multigrain Mini Loaves with Caramelised Onion and Spring Onions

Caramelised onion bread

I saw this enticing video on my Facebook feed a couple of days back and then watched it again, and again! The loaf looked so pretty and inviting! I knew it won’t be long before I bake it. And I did last night. Two mini loaves in cute little loaf tins I bought recently. I swapped the bread flour in the recipe with a mix of maida and multigrain flour and it came out beautiful and moist.  The caramelised onions and the spring onions infused the loaves with a gorgeous flavour!

Without much ado, here is step-by-step the recipe:
Makes one  8 ½  x 4 ½  inch loaf or two 6×3 inch mini loaves

1 ¼ cup Maida/APF
1 ¼ cup Aata/Multigrain or whole-wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
¼ cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 medium sized onion
2 Tbsp rice bran oil/any other vegetable oil
5 spring onions
1 cup warm water ( to be added while kneading as required)
Chop the onion and the white part of the spring onion fine. Heat the oil an fry the onions till well browned (caramelised)
Chop the green part of the spring onions fine.
Warm the ¼ cup of water, mix sugar and yeast and leave covered for 10 -12 minutes till it is frothy and bubbly.
Meanwhile, in a large kneading bowl, add the flours, salt, greens of the onion and the caramelised onion with all the oil in the pan.
Add the bloomed yeast and mix well.
Knead into a soft and supple dough adding warm water as needed.
In a lightly oiled bowl, leave the dough covered till it doubles in volume. It took me an hour. It may take more or less time depending on the heat and humidity.

Grease a regular loaf tin or two mini loaf tins
Flatten the dough gently and pat down to form a rectangular shape. Roll the dough into a loaf shape wide enough to fit into your loaf tin and transfer the shaped loaf/loaves to the baking tin/s.
Cover and let rise till the loaves have risen an inch above the pan.

Pre heat the oven at 250C for 15 minutes while the loaves are rising and bake for 10 minutes at 250C. Then lower the temperature to 230C and bake for another 15 -20 minutes till the tops are browned and the bottoms of the loaves sound hollow when tapped.
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Remove to the cooling rack and slice upon cooling. We couldn’t wait that long so ended up slicing these fellas while they were very warm, They were dunked into  tomato basil pasta soup and devoured with much relish. It was a good dinner last night  😀
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Enjoy with soups and curries or just as a snack with a smear of butter. They are delicious!
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Soft and Moist Multigrain Orange Cakelettes and muffins with Jaggery and Honey

Aata Honey and Jaggery Orange Muffins.jpg

I am told I bake a lot! Guilty as charged 😛
How do I manage to do it so regularly, I am asked. I don’t buy bread, biscuits and cookies from the store at all, I say. This way I know, I am giving my family good food where I can control the sugar and use fresh ingredients and have them enjoy preservative-free goodies!  And of course baking is such a pleasure (read addiction!)
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Off late I have been increasingly using  aata (whole wheat flour) in my breads and maida (all purpose flour) breads are a rare treat. I had been itching to bake an aata cake, but was sceptical of the outcome. What if it is too dense or heavy and is rejected by the boys totally…..Then I saw these gorgeous mini-cakes on Deeba’s beautiful blog Passionate about Baking and my fears vanished! In fact, I could not NOT bake them. I just had to 😀

I traded the whole wheat flour for multi-grain flour, (a blend I use for making chapatis at home) and added lots of orange juice along with the zest and some yogurt. The little cakelttes were polished with gusto. I am going to be baking a lot more with aata and multi-grain flour now. Thanks Deeba! The honey and jaggery (gud) along with the hint of spices lend  a warm, homey flavour to the cakes. They makes for a perfect snack with a glass of cold or hot milk; or with chai or coffee or with a dollop of ice cream. They are pretty darned good even by themselves!

Alright then! Here is how I made it-

This makes 12 cupcakes or 6 cakelettes

200 grams multi-grain flour/ whole wheat flour (I used a blend of wheat,jowar,bajra and ragi)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
115 grams butter,melted ( I used home-made white butter)
160 grams jaggery (gud)
3 tbsp water
100 grams honey or brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 ½ tsp vanilla
½ cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
2 Tbsp yogurt/curd/dahi
2 Tbsp orange zest
1 tsp cinnamon powder
½ tsp ginger powder
1 pinch of pepper or garam masala powder

Break the jaggery into small chunks and put it in a microwave proof bowl along with 3 Tbsp water. Heat for a minute, stir and heat again. The jaggery will melt completely and you get a golden liquid. Let cool.
Line a 12 cavity cupcake pan and pre-heat the oven to 180C.
Add the baking powder and baking soda to the flour and mix well. Put aside.
In a large bowl, add the melted jaggery syrup, butter, honey, cinnamon, ginger powder and pepper and mix well with a whisk.
Add the eggs one at a time whisking after each addition.
Whisk in the vanilla, orange juice, orange zest and curd.
Add the flour and mix till the dry traces of the flour disappear. Do not over-mix.

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Scoop the batter into the muffin pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the middle of the muffin comes out clean.
If desires, brush with some orange juice and sugar syrup while warm.
Watch the cakelettes/muffins vanish in a jiffy 😀

Happy Baking
Cheers!
Garima
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Sweet and spiced Pumpkin Rolls for Thanksgiving

So I got accepted to this wonderful baking group, very interestingly called ‘We Knead to Bake’ and the bread of the month was these pretty,sweet and spicy pumpkin rolls. They look like little pumpkins,have pumpkin in them, are a little sweet with the warmth of spices….cute little treats!
Spiced Pumpkin Rolls
Here is Aparna’s recipe.  And here is the recipe where Aparna adapted it from.
I just omitted the egg and increased the honey. Here is how I made them.

1 ¼ cups Maida/All purpose flour
½ tsp Instant yeast
½ tsp salt
2 Tbsp butter, softened
2 Tbsp honey
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp dry ginger powder
A pinch of pepper powder
8 pistachios/pecans ( to make the ‘stalks’)
¼ cup warm milk ( add as needed to make a soft dough)

For making fresh pumpkin puree: Peel and boil, 250 grams of pumpkin with ¼ tsp turmeric powder. Then strain and puree it in the mixer-grinder.
Add yeast, salt, cinnamon, ginger power and pepper to the flour and mix well.
Add pumpkin puree, honey, butter and knead slowly adding milk as needed. Knead till you get a soft and stretchy dough. Stretch some dough between your fingers gently. If the show forms a translucent film without tearing easily, the kneading is perfect. ( Window pane test)


Cover and let rise till doubles. It took me an hour and a half.
Knock out the air gently and divide the dough into eight equal sized balls. Flatten each ball and make eight cuts on the edge of each ball at equal distance. Leave the centre uncut. It looks like a flower 😀 How pretty!


Lay the roll on a greased baking sheet and let rise for another 45 minutes or till they are all fluffed up nicely.
Poke a deep hole in the centre of the roll with a floured finger or the the round end of a wooden spoon.


Brush with cream/malai and bake in a pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes at 180C.
As soon you get them out brush them with some diluted honey! Put the pistachios inside the holes to create stems for your pumpkin. What fun ❤
Enjoy!
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Happy Thanksgiving 😀
Love and best wishes
Garima
#WeKneadToBake33