Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Baking with Saptasri Parswanath, J W Marriott | Add Style to the Festive Season

Come the Christmas & New Year season people and I mean serious bakers start planning months in advance. The soaking of fruits, making wines and planning the festive menu has become a part of the modern life. Each one wants to do something unique or different and add their own twist. 

Recently I attended a Dessert Baking Workshop By Chef Saptasri Parswanath, dessert chef , J W Marriott. It was conducted at  Godrej's Nature Basket, Koramangala courtesy J W Marriott. The young chef who had been trained in a pastry institute in  Malaysia displayed her skills to the audience by baking the unique Vanilla Kipferl and also mince pies. 

Vanilla Kipferl is a crescent shaped vanilla cookie, native of Austria, though well known across Europe. They are a part of Christmas traditions in Europe and it definitely takes a pair of skilled hands to bake the fragile cookie dough into a horse shoe shape. 

Chef Saptasri easily turned these into perfect cookies, all the while patiently answering the audience queries, regarding baking. The chef also demonstrated to the audience how to make quick fruit mix for making mince meat filling. 

 Mince meat is a mix of dried fruits, spirits and spices. This in olden times used to have beef suet and hence the name. The modern version has only dried fruits mixed with spices soaked in brandy/rum and even orange juice for non alcoholics for atleast two days upto a month. Now you know why the preparation for Christmas baking starts in advance.

The chef displayed the making of the mince meat pie from scratch and also served mini mince pies baked in muffin cups.Its unique way and kudos to the the chef for avoiding the very common fruit cake.

Given below is the Vanilla Kipferl recipe. 

1050 Butter
500g Castor Sugar
1 tsp Salt
2.5 tsp Cinnamon Powder
Lemon zest of 5 lemons
10 numbers of Vanilla pod
1400g flour
500g hazelnut powder toasted

Cream the soft butter until smooth. Add sugar, salt, lemon zest and scrapped seeds of vanilla to it and mix well. Add the flour and toasted nut powder. Knead/pat  gently into a dough. Rest it in the fridge for 45 minutes. 

Take ut and knead it wel. Divide it into 20g balls and gently roll it out into crescents. Do not overwork the dough. The dough is fragile and you should just lightly touch it. Bake att 190C until light golden brown.  

Dust with icing sugar while still hot. 

What are you waiting for , Its just few more days for Christmas, Put on your baking hat and get on with it. Make something different yet traditional.

J W Marriott conducts baking workshops mostly at their hotels or our sponsored locations. Do keep an eye on their web site and keep yourselves updated. 

Baking workshops for kids are also conducted. Their 'Cutest Crismiss Party' for kids is also today. Other Christmas activities and events are also happening.  

J W Marriott
24/1, Vittal Mallya Road,Bengaluru -560 001

Monday, December 15, 2014

Kashmiri Kahwa | December 15 - International Tea Day

As the winter sets in we spend more times indoors. Its too cooold to go outside. Its colder in Bangalore but nothing beats a cup of hot tea to blow away the chills. 

In my apartment complex, there is a commercial part and one section is mostly food joints - be it street food, chinese , vada pav, pizzas, bakeries etc. We can definitely pick and choose if we decide not to cook one/any time. The most popular among these is a tea point . Its always full and we have to wait in queue for our turn. 
But yes, the cutting chai or adrakwali kulhad chai with a plate of pakodas and company of friends makes life warm. 

Speaking of tea, it is topmost beverage consumed in India. Though South India has traditional and patented filter coffee and beautiful coffee plantations, there is a sizeable portion of tea drinkers also. 

As for myself, I am the only tea drinking child born to coffee consuming parents and married off in a tea drinking family -is it karma !? 

Well whatever it is I enjoy a hot cup of masala chai in the morning and occasional hot/iced green teas and of course a cuppa with friends too. 

Recently I tried and liked  the Kashmiri Kahwa and thought of posting it today being the International Tea Day

Kahwah/Kahwa is a traditional green tea consumed in Afghanistan,northern Pakistan and Kashmir Valley. Its rich in anti oxidants and is a popular breakfast tea along with breads. Its is made in big brass "Samovars" by boiling tea leaves along with spices and saffron and also roses and served with sugar/honey and crushed/chopped walnuts/almonds. 


Water: 3 cups

Cardamoms: 3
Cloves: 2-3
Cinnamon: 1 inch piece

Sugar: 3 tsp + as per taste

Green Tea Leaves: 2 tsp

Saffron: few strands
Almonds: 3-4 chopped/flaked 

Bring water to boil in a saucepan.

Add the spices and sugar. Reduce the heat and stir until the sugar dissolves.

Cover with a lid and let it simmer for few minutes. 

Add the tea leaves and take it off heat. Let the tea leaves steep in the water for a minute atleast or more if you prefer a stronger taste. 

In small serving cups, add safrron strands and chopped almonds. Strain the hot tea into these cup and serve the tea hot.

You can sea the tea turning into a fresh yellow as the saffron flavours it. You can also add saffron strands while boiling tea along with dried rose petals.

Its perfect to beat the winter chills as well. Make sure you serve it warm. More more details you can check out the original source here. I had simply loved the detailed post and have followed the recipe verbatim.I had used Chinese gunpowder/ green tea. It will be more authentic if you could get the Kashmiri green tea. 

Meanwhile sip on...

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Black Pepper Breadsticks | Peppery Winter Charm

I love breadsticks. My family too. But for past one year or so we buy our breadsticks. This happened after I tried one particular recipe and it came out nought. Ofcourse I can go for tried and tasted Grissini but somehow I keep on trying new recipes and once they flop then I become disheartened and give up completely. This was until I came across this peppery breadsticks and now yeah, I wont be buying these again but baking them.

Warm Water: 1 cup
Yeast: 1 tbsp
Bread Flour 3 cup + 2 tbsp 

Solid shortening / Vanaspati : 3/4 cup or 12tbsp
Salt:  4 tsp 

Fresh ground Pepper: 2-2.5 tsp 

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C. 
Combine water, yeast and 2 tbsp of flour and let it stand till foamy. If you do not have breadflour you can go for all purpose itself or make your own bread flour by adding 1 tsp of vital wheat gluten to 1 cup of flour to get 1 cup of bread flour.

Add the remaining flour mixed with salt and pepper along with shortening, and knead at medium speed till we get a smooth elastic dough. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and let it sit for 15 mnts. You can reduce the salt a bit if you like. 3.75 tsp works well 

Turn the dough onto an unfloured counter and divide into quarters or 4. Cut each portion into 8 pieces. Roll each into a 9 inch  x 1/2 inch rope. 

Arrange on a bakingsheets and adjust the length of each portion to 8". This is to keep all the sticks at the same length.Bake for 45 minutes in a preheated oven at 350F/175 until golden and firm shifting the pans halfway through baking. You can bake one tray at a time and turn/spin the tray so that the breadsticks are equally brown.

Transfer the breadsticks to racks and cool completely before serving. You can serve these as snack with/without dip and/or along with soup.

Crunchy breadsticks full of pepper. You can play around with different spices and create your own snack stick.You can also check a wheat version of thin grissini as well.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Coconut Mocha Cupcakes | Coffee+ Chocolate+ Coconut

The chocolate coffee combination is very good. But I never thought that coconut when tried with this combo taskes the taste a bit higher. I have tried coconut in several bakes - but as an addition to the dry mix in cookies or rolling in coconut in the end like that. But never before I have used coconut milk while making a cupcake dough. Since I wanted to see the changes it brings I tried the tasty recipe from How Sweet Eats for mocha coconut frappuchino cupcakes. There was a triple dose of coconut - in the batter, frosting and drizzle. If you feel this as an overdose, then please do test it, -its irresistible. 

Egg: 1 OR Ener G Egg: 1.5 tsp pd + 4 tbsp of water
Sugar: 12 tbsp

Coconut milk: 12 tbsp
Butter: 8 tbsp melted
Vanilla: 2tsp

All Purpose Flour: 18 tbsp (16+2 tbsp)
Cocoa: 4tbsp
Coffee Powder: 2-3 tbsp
Baking Soda: 1 1/4 tsp
Salt: 1/2 tsp

Sour cream/ Yogurt: 2 tbsp

Choco chips/Chopped Nuts /Combo: 8 tbsp

Coconut Frosting: 
(You can check the detailed coconut buttercream in the original source. My version is given below.)
Butter: 1 cup
Powdered Sugar: 3 2/3 cups 
Vanilla : 1 tbsp
Coconut Milk (thin/lite) : 1 -2 tbsp 

Coffee Coconut Syrup/Drizzle:
Powdered Sugar: 2/3 cup
Coffee Powder: 1 tsp
Cocoa Powder: 2 tsp
Coconut Milk: 1-2 tsp


Whisk egg and sugar until smooth and no lumps remain. Add coconut milk, butter and vanilla and mix well.

Sift the dry ingredients together in another bowl and add to the wet mix. Mix until the batter is smooth and then stir in sour cream /yogurt. 

Fold in the chocochips/nuts and mix.

Line the muffin pan with liners and scoop almost 1/4 cup of batter in each cup. 

Bake for 15-20 minutes in a preheated oven at 350F/175C. reversing the tray after 7-8 minutes. Bake until a tester in the middle comes clean.

Frost with coconut mocha frosting and drizzle the coconut-coffee syrup. You can also garnish with toasted coconut flakes. 

The cupcakes turned out a tad softer than I would have preferred. But tastewise they were perfect. They are perfect even without the frsting or drizzle but more enhanced with these . Loved the combination of coconut milk , coffee and chocolate. 

The coconut flavour is subtle but there.  The coffee hits you when you bite into it, followed y chocolate and then finally coconut. Chocolate is the dominant flavour and its definitely hard to believe the batter has coconut milk. Garnish of toasted coconut is needed as it would add a crunch and enhance the coconut flavour.

The cupcake can be veganised easily by substituting butter with earth blance or choice of vegan butter and sour cream with cashew yogurt or similar vegan versions.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Bread | Fall Special

I was not familiar with fall or autumn.It was not considered as a season here. Atleast not where I grew up in South India. We were taught there are 4 seasons -Summer, Monsoon, Spring and winter. Actually even when I read books that mentioned autumn I confused it with winter. For me the trees shedding leaves meant onset of winter. When I understood and experienced fall it also showed that my other favourite tuber  "Sweet Potato" was in abundance .

Sweet potatoes for me were something that were easily available. I didn't know they were seasonal. Even now here I see that they are available all the year round, but in abundance from October onwards. Now I calculate fall on the basis of their arrival in the grocery store. I have already tried differenct things with sweet potatoes, but what really puts me in a good mood is a slice of sweet potato bread. Make it a whole wheat bread and you can chomp on it guiltlessly . I have adapted a recipe from Breadworld to make fall special bread given below.

Whole Wheat Flour: 1 and 3/4 cup
Bread Flour: 1 1/4 to 1.3/4 cup  (All Purpose Flour + Vital Wheat Gluten)

Salt: 3/4 tsp
Nutmeg: 1/4 tsp
Yeast: 1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp)

Sweet potatoes: mashed 1 cup
Water: 2/3 cup
Honey: 4 tbsp
Soft Butter: 2 tbsp

Egg: 1 or EnerG Egg: 1.5 pkd tsp with 3 tbsp of water


Combine flours, salt, nutmeg and yeast in a mixer bowl. Mix together .

Combine mashed potatoes, water, honey and soft butter. Heat to warm and make sure they mix well together.

Add to the flour mix and beat . Add egg. Beat two minutes more.

Add enough remaining flour to get a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes till smooth and elastic. Cover and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Shape it into a loaf and place in a greased loaf pan. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm area for 30-45 minutes until double. Bake in a preheated oven at 350F/180C for 30-45 minutes. 

Cover with foil after 25 minutes to prevent over browning.

Remove from the pan and brush with melted butter if desired.


Filling and comforting bread. The whole wheat and sweet potato ensures that you are you feel full after eating one slice. I sliced it before it cooled  completely as I couldn't wait to see how it tasted.

Serve it warm with butter or any gravy. The bread is perfect with anything.

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