Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sour Cream Streusel Coffee Cake

Though baking is my passion, I'm feeling a little exhausted with all this baking I have been doing for the last few months since Swara was born. With each passing day, she is becoming more demanding and requires our full attention when at home. So I usually pursue my baking/ cake decorating hobby at night after I put her to bed. Although I am exhausted by then, the idea of whipping up new and creative confections puts me back in high gear. Believe me, its really very rewarding to bake your own cakes & nothing tastes sweeter than fruits of your own labor.

Anyways, so continuing with the tradition of celebrating her monthly B'days, I decided to bake this Sour Cream Streusel Coffee Cake from my "The Cook's Encyclopedia of Baking" book for her 11th month B'day. I like the fact that the recipe calls for brown sugar, making it a little different than the other cakes I have baked so far. The layer of brown sugar, cinnamon and walnuts on top of the cake was a little too sweet for us, but nevertheless, the cake turned out to be very moist and delicious.

Time just flies….can't believe my little princess will be 1 year old next month. We have already started planning for her first B'day. Although it's a big challenge, I'm planning to bake and decorate the cake at home.

Ingredients -
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
1½ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup sour cream

1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
4 tbsp cold butter, cut in pieces

Method -
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 9- inch square cake pan with wax paper and grease.
2. For the topping, place the brown sugar, cinnamon and walnuts in a bowl. Mix with your fingertips, then add the butter and continue working with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
3. To make the cake, cream the butter with an electric mixer until soft. Add the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy.
4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
5. In another bowl, sift the flour, baking soda and baking powder together 3 times
6. Fold the dry ingredients into the butter mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the sour cream. Fold until blended after each addition.
7. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle over half of the walnut topping mixture.
8. Pour the remaining batter on top and sprinkle over the remaining walnut mixture.
9. Bake until browned, 60 -70 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes, then unmold and transfer to a cooling rack.

Diwali Snacks - Chakli / Murukulu

Chakli, also known as Murukku or Murukkulu in Southern India is a very popular savory snack item traditionally made during DIWALI . Every part of India has its own version of this delicious fried snack. There is absolutely no other snack that I enjoy more with a steaming cup of coffee than this one. I have made chaklis for every Diwali since I got married. My SIL's MIL is a great cook and I really admire and adore this lady. At 75, she is still active and I’m amazed to see her enthusiasm in the kitchen. I tasted her chaklis for the first time after I got married and have made chaklis using her recipe ever since. This is a simple recipe that uses only rice and all purpose flour and is less complicated than the more traditional Maharashtrian Bhajani Chakli.

In the future, I do plan to make Bhajani Chaklis from scratch and also few other south Indian chakli varieties that I have book marked over the years. So stay tuned ….

Ingredients -
4 cups rice flour
1 cup maida
3/4 cup ghee/ unsalted butter
2 tsp red chilli powder
2 tsp dhana jeera powder
1/2 tsp turmeric porwder
1/4 tsp hing
2 tbsp white sesame seeds
salt to taste
oil for deep frying

Method -
1. Mix 4 cups of rice flour and 1 cup of maida together.
2. Use room temperature ghee/ butter without melting it. Apply ghee/ butter evenly to the mixed flour.
3. Add red chilli powder, dhana jeera powder, turmeric powder, hing, white sesame seeds and salt to it.
4. Make a soft dough by gradually adding cold water like regular chapati dough.
5. Take a small portion of the dough and form a cylindrical shaped log and drop it in the chakli/ murukku mold.
6. Heat oil in a deep frying pan/ kadhai.
7. Using your hands, press the chakli mold to form concentric circles either on the back of a slotted spoon (called "zhaara" in marathi) as shown in the picture. You can also lay old newspaper flat on the kitchen counter and form several chaklis on it. (I love the zaara method as it is much easier to drop the chaklis in hot oil without losing its shape).
8. Deep fry the chaklis in hot oil on medium flame. Fry both sides till they turn golden and take them out on paper towel or old newspaper to drain the excess oil.
9. Allow them to cool and store them in an airtight container.