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While garam masala is a much used spice blend in most gravies and curries in Indian cuisine, this recipe from My Food Story convincingly adds it to cake batter to give an unusual twist to your classic apple cake. Baked in a pretty Bundt pan, this dense spicy cake is good to serve on a cold winter afternoon and you do not even have to worry about making masala chai to go with it. The browned butter rum sauce is for those who dare to add a bit more sugar and complexity to the winter flavors of this warm and cozy tea time apple bake.

GARAM MASALA APPLE BUNDT CAKE

Ingredients:

For the Apple Bundt Cake

1 cup almond milk

1 teaspoon white vinegar

2 large apples, finely chopped

2 lemons, zested and juiced

2 1/8 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon garam masala powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

3/4 cup light muscovado sugar

1/2 cup mild vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Brown Butter Sauce

1/4 cup unsalted butter

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2-3 tablespoons milk

Method:

  • In a bowl mix together almond milk and vinegar and set aside. Add lemon juice to chopped apples.
  • Grease a 4 cup Bundt cake pan well, making sure to get the crevices. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees.

  • In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, garam masala, cinnamon, ginger and lemon zest.
  • In another bowl, whisk together almond milk-vinegar mixture, muscovado sugar, oil and vanilla.

  • Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix till combined, then fold in chopped apples.
  • Spread the mixture into the greased Bundt cake pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden brown.

  • A skewer inserted in the middle of the cake will come out clean. While cake is baking, make glaze.
  • Heat butter in a pan till it starts foaming and frothing and will start browning. Remove from heat.

  • Whisk in sugar, vanilla and milk till the mixture is smooth. Set aside until the cake finishes baking.
  • Once the cake is baked, invert it onto a plate or baking sheet. Drizzle the glaze over the warm cake.

Garam Masala Apple Cake

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Traditionally eaten on Good Friday, the hot cross bun is a small sweet yeasted bread roll marked with a cross on top. It is usually baked in batches and flavored with spices like cinnamon and cloves as well as mixture of raisins, currants and dried or candied fruit. The cross on top is traditionally piped using a batter made of flour and water but the recipe, from Bon Appétit Magazine, marks the buns with thick sugar paste after baking. The glaze gives an attractive, shiny bakery-style finish. I did not bother with this as I did not have any apricot jam on hand and felt that the buns could do very well without the added stickiness. The sweet aroma of spices and baked bread that wafts through your kitchen as soon as you take them out of the oven really draws one into the mood for Easter celebrations, way more so if you need some extra energy before going on the hunt for chocolate eggs and bunnies. Happy Easter, dear readers!

HOT CROSS BUNS

Ingredients:

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

2 tablespoons honey or golden syrup

1 cup plus 4 teaspoons whole milk, warmed

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

3 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 cup mixed dried fruit

1/2 cup apricot jam, warmed

3/4 cup powdered sugar

Method:

  • Whisk yeast, honey, and 1 cup milk in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, butter a large mixing bowl and a 13-inch x 9-inch rectangular baking dish, set them aside.

  • Whisk egg, egg yolk, brown sugar, oil, zests, and vanilla into mixture. Add cinnamon and cardamom.
  • Add 3 1/2 cups flour, beat with dough hook on low speed until mixture starts to form a shaggy dough.

  • Add the salt and beat on medium until dough forms a ball around the hook for about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Continue beating until dough is smooth and slightly tacky about 5 minutes more. Add 1/2 cup butter.

  • Add butter 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing dough to absorb each piece before adding the next piece.
  • Beat until dough is supple, shiny, and elastic, about 5 minutes. Turn out dough onto a clean surface.

  • Knead to incorporate remaining 2 tablespoons flour till dough is very supple and tacky but not sticky.
  • Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic. Sit in a warm place until doubled in size, 40 to 50 minutes.

  • Turn dough out onto a clean work surface and pat down to 1/2″ thick. Scatter dried fruit over surface.
  • Roll up into a log, starting at the end nearest you. Divide into 12 equal pieces, a little less than 3½ oz.

  • Roll each piece into a smooth ball and arrange in prepared baking dish, spacing equally in a 4×3 grid.
  • Cover with plastic and let sit in a warm place till they are nearly doubled in size for 30 to 40 minutes.

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat the remaining egg with 1 teaspoon water and brush it over tops of buns.
  • Bake buns until tops and bottoms are deep golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan.

  • Brush jam onto warm buns, then let it cool until set. Whisk the powdered sugar and remaining milk.
  • Whisk it until smooth and transfer to a pastry bag or plastic bag. Cut a small opening in one corner.

  • Pipe crosses over each bun. Let sit till icing is set, at least 15 minutes before serving. Makes 12 buns.
  • Dough, without fruit, can be made one day ahead. Let rise at room temperature, then cover and chill.

Happy Easter folks!

Envi ene bon ti salade melanz? While the average Mauritian is not a huge fruit eater, he/she will hardly ever say no to a freshly prepared fruit salad topped with tamarind sauce and disel pima/ chili salt. A colourful meli-melo of tropical fruits including mangoes and pineapple, our traditional fruit salad is not a homemade entity but derives its popularity from the road side sellers who usually extend their fares to markets and beaches on Sundays and holidays.

It will not be an uncommon sight if you come across one today on our crowded public beaches, which are always so on the eve and the day of a public holiday. And as we are celebrating our Independence Day today, there is, I’m sure, no better occasion to do a post on something we can proudly call as our ‘national’ salad. As the official celebrations unfold this afternoon in Champ de Mars in the attendance of eminent personalities, many will undoubtedly gather in more informal surroundings with the same feeling of being fier d’etre mauricien/ proud to be a Mauritian.

MAURITIAN FRUIT SALAD

Ingredients:

2 semi ripe mangoes

1 medium pineapple

1 small cucumber

10 jamalacs/ love apples

1 carambole/ star fruit

2-3 dried red chilies

1 teaspoon kitchen salt

3 tablespoons tamarind

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Method:

  • Peel mangoes, pineapple and cucumber. Cut each fruit into bite size pieces or chop into thick slices.

  • Cut the jamalacs into halves and slice the carambole thinly. Place all chopped fruit in a large bowl.

  • Crush the dried chilies and salt together in a grinder or in a mortar until it turns into a fine powder.

  • Remove any seeds from the tamarind and soak the pulp in 2 tablespoons warm water for 5 minutes.

  • Combine the tamarind pulp with 1 tablespoon of chili powder. Add more water and grind together.

  • It should form a sauce of slow dripping consistency. Toss this dressing over the bowl of fruit salad.

  • Mix till well combined and leave to stand at room temperature for at least one hour before serving.

  • Top with extra tamarind and serve in plastic cups along with extra salt and chili powder. Serves 4.

Mauritian Fruit Salad

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