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A popular treat from North India, the besan laddoo is traditionally served as prasad, an offering made to God or to mark festive occasions like birthdays and weddings. Unlike other laddoos which involve painstaking methods of preparation, the technique of making besan laddoos comes as straight forward and relatively foolproof such that you will get it right on your very first attempt. The only catch is to get your besan/chickpea flour perfectly roasted over a low flame until it loses its raw smell and texture without letting it burn.

The rich, characteristic taste of the besan laddoo depends on this crucial step, so roll up your sleeves and make sure that you keep stirring the hot besan until it turns golden and fragrant. Usually a generous amount of clarified butter is required to get that distinctive melt-in-the-mouth texture, so do not skimp on the desi ghee if you can help. The khoya helps to bind the mixture well and make it less crumbly though it does reduce their shelf life a bit. Make this easy yet flavorsome laddoo for your brothers on Raksha Bandhan and share the love!

BESAN LADDOO

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups besan

1/4 cup semolina

1/2 cup ghee, melted

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup khoya or mawa

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1/4 cup almonds, chopped

1/4 cup cashew nuts

Method:

  • Heat 1 tablespoon ghee in a heavy bottomed pan. Add the cashew nuts and sauté on low medium flame.
  • When they turn golden brown, remove from the pan from heat and place cashew nuts in a bowl to cool.

  • Add almonds to ghee, sauté on low flame for 3 minutes. Remove from pan and place with cashew nuts.
  • In the same pan, add remaining ghee and allow to melt and turn warm, not hot. Slowly, add the besan.

  • Roast on low flame till besan turns color and gives lovely aroma after at least 30-35 minutes of cooking.
  • Turn off heat and remove roasted besan to a wide plate and allow it to cool. It can be slightly lukewarm.

  • Melt 1 tablespoon ghee and roast semolina on low flame for 7-8 minutes and add it to the roasted besan.
  • Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon of ghee to the same pan and sauté the grated khoya for some 2-3 minutes.

  • Turn off flame and remove it from pan. Grind the roasted cashew nuts and almonds to a coarse powder.
  • Add the nuts to roasted besan. Add powdered sugar and mix to combine. Finally add cardamom powder.

  • Mix gently to combine and shape this mixture into small, lemon sized even balls. Leave to set on a plate.
  • Place cashew nut on top as garnish. Laddoos have a shelf life of 2 weeks at room temperature. Makes 12.

Besan Laddoos

Like so many people out there, I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. And because it is Harry Potter’s 20th anniversary [since the release of its first book and the start of my love story with the series] I had to bake a cake to celebrate the event. A tall, heavenly chocolate cake with the magical goodness of everything that makes chocolate cake that special something it is to everyone who loves birthdays and cakes. As soon as I saw this lovely chocolate cake on Diamonds for Dessert, I had my heart set on recreating it from scratch with the delicate pink icing and lopsided birthday wish scrawled carelessly across in green. The whole thing cannot help reminding me of the scene where Hagrid comes over to announce to an 11-year old Harry that he is wizard about to join Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

“Anyway — Harry,” said the giant, turning his back on the Dursleys, “a very happy birthday to yeh. Got summat fer yeh here — I mighta sat on it at some point, but it’ll taste all right.” From an inside pocket of his black overcoat he pulled a slightly squashed box. Harry opened it with trembling fingers. Inside was a large, sticky chocolate cake with Happy Birthday Harry written on it in green icing.” – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling

Harry’s birthday cake is also the first cake from the magical world we get introduced to, well before we hear of Bettie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, Chocolate Frogs, Pumpkin Pasties, Cauldron Cakes, and many other strange sweets muggles like us can only dream about. So if you’re having a Harry Potter themed party, this is the perfect cake to have on your table though you could as well bake them into cupcake format, decorate them with the ‘Happee Birthdae’ message and give them away as party favors along with a couple of Hagrid’s rock cakes. And the magic lives on…

HARRY POTTER’S BIRTHDAY CAKE

For the Chocolate Cake

1 1/2 cup granulated white sugar

1 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/8 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon kitchen salt

1 egg + 1 yolk, room temperature

3/4 cup fresh full cream milk

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup boiling water

For the Chocolate Frosting

6 tablespoons butter, room temperature

3/4 cup cocoa powder

2 1/2 to 2 3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup fresh full cream milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Vanilla Frosting

3 tablespoons butter, room temperature

2 to 2 3/4 cups powdered sugar

1/6 cup fresh full cream milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Red and green food coloring

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  • Stir in eggs one at a time. Add milk, oil, and vanilla extract and mix. Now add the boiling water.

  • Spray two round 9-inch diameter baking pans with nonstick spray. Pour batter in the two pans.
  • Place pans in oven and bake the cakes for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

  • Remove from oven and cool in pans for 10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
  • When the cakes are totally cooled, slice them into half so you end up with 4 circular cake layers.

  • For the chocolate frosting, mix cocoa and powdered sugar together. Cream butter till it is fluffy.
  • Mix in 1/3 of the cocoa/sugar mixture to the creamed butter. Slowly, add about 1/3 of the milk.

  • Repeat this until all the cocoa powder, sugar, and milk are combined. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  • The frosting should be spreadable at this point. If it is not, add in more milk or sugar as needed.

  • For the vanilla frosting, cream butter. Mix in 1/2 of the powdered sugar and add 1/2 of the milk.
  • Repeat with other 1/2 of sugar and milk. Add vanilla extract. The frosting should be spreadable.

  • Now scoop out a portion of the frosting into a separate bowl, just enough for the frosting letters.
  • Add few drops of red food coloring to the remainder of the frosting and mix to get pink frosting.

  • In the other bowl, add green food coloring to get green frosting. Keep covered until ready to use.
  • To assemble, spread frosting on the first cake and smooth it out. Place another cake layer on top.

  • Dollop frosting and smooth. Repeat process with third layer of cake and top with final cake layer.
  • Press down to make sure it firmly sandwiched. Apply a crumb coat with the pink vanilla frosting.

  • Continue the crumb coat on the sides of the cake. Chill, then apply a second layer of pink frosting.
  • Place the green frosting in a piping bag and scrawl “Happee Birthdae Harry” on top of the cake.

Happy Birthday Harry!

Welcome to our May Bakealong challenge. Each month, we’ll announce a new recipe for you to try, along with helpful tips and step-by-step instructions here on our blog. We invite you to bake this month’s recipe, Berry Blitz Torte, then share a photo of your creation, tagging it #bakealong. Enjoy! May means graduations. And wedding showers. Throw the potential for birthday celebrations in there, and you’ve got all kinds of reasons to bake a cake. Or multiple cakes, if you’re the designated family cake baker.

Most of us have a go-to cake recipe, one we religiously bake for one party or gathering after another. Maybe it’s a chocolate layer cake, like our Favorite Fudge Birthday Cake. Or perhaps a simple pound cake, such as our Lemon Bliss Cake. For me, that signature cake is Berry Blitz Torte. A wonderful mix of tender cake, delicately crunchy topping, and creamy filling layered with fresh berries, it’s a visual stunner with flavor to match. It is easier to make than it looks and there’s no need to polish up your pastry skills; this cake is reachable by any baker.

BERRY BLITZ TORTE

Ingredients:

For the Pastry Cream Filling

2 1/2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup caster sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup cornstarch

3 large egg yolks

1 large whole egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped

1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh raspberries

For the Cake

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup caster sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup All-Purpose Flour

For the Meringue Topping

4 large egg whites

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon sugar

Method:

  • In a medium saucepan, stir together 2 cups milk, sugar, and salt and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  • Stir to dissolve sugar. Meanwhile, whisk cornstarch, egg yolks and whole egg with remaining 1/2 cup milk.

  • Whisk some hot milk mixture into egg yolks to temper yolks and prevent them turning into scrambled egg.
  • Pour egg and milk mixture back into simmering milk, pouring through a strainer to capture any bit of egg.

  • Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • The mixture will thicken significantly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Transfer to container.

  • Top it with a piece of buttered plastic wrap and refrigerate the filling until it is cool, for up to several days.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two 8-inch round cake pans and line it with baking parchment.

  • To make the cake, beat together the butter, sugar, salt, and egg yolks until well combined. Beat in vanilla.
  • Add milk, baking powder, and flour and beat; batter will be stiff. Spread the batter into the prepared pans.

  • Using an electric mixer or stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until they are foamy.
  • Gradually add 3/4 cup sugar and continue to beat till the meringue is smooth, glossy, and somewhat stiff.

  • Spread meringue on cake batter. Sprinkle almonds over the meringue. Dust the top with cinnamon sugar.
  • Bake the cakes for 30 minutes, until the almonds are lightly browned. The cakes will puff up significantly.

  • Remove the cakes from oven and allow them to cool for 15 minutes. Carefully loosen the edge of each cake.
  • Gently turn out on a rack to cool completely. Now remove pastry cream from refrigerator and stir it gently.

  • To assemble cake, place one of the cake layers, meringue side up, on a serving plate. Spread with the filling.
  • Add a layer of fresh berries. Top with the second cake layer, meringue-side up and serve cake immediately.

KAF May Challenge: Berry Blitz Torte

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PrerrnaMirchi
Mauritius

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