Ep6: Bread, Cake, Doughnut, Pudding by Justin Gellatly

I’d really badly wanted to cook from Kirsten Tibballs’ Chocolate. But when I asked around, people seemed apprehensive because the recipes looked very tough. Since I last discussed doing Chocolate for a cookbook club meet, I’ve made a half dozen recipes from the book. While some are tough, the instructions are crystal clear. And making them doesn’t seem half as much of an ordeal as one might imagine. That said, we might just pick it up for the cookbook club some time later. This time instead, we used a book called Bread, Cake, Doughnut, Pudding: Sweet and Savoury Recipes from Britain’s Best Baker.

Justin Gellatly is Britain’s best baker. He worked with Fergus Henderson (of Nose to Tail Eating: A Kind of British Cooking fame) at St.John as Head Baker and Pastry Chef for several years, and now runs Bread Ahead, a bakery and school in London. He’s also co-authored Nose to Tail Eating, as it turns out. And that got me thinking. So I ran up to my bookshelf and pulled out the Nose to Tail book that I own. Turns out, that’s The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating, by Fergus Henderson. I’m beginning to wonder how different that is from Nose to Tail Eating: A Kind of British Cooking.

Bread, Cake, Doughnut, Pudding  Sweet and Savoury Recipes from Britain’s Best Baker
Bread, Cake, Doughnut, Pudding Sweet and Savoury Recipes from Britain’s Best Baker

This time’s cookbook club meet had a few new faces because a bunch of the usual suspects were busy. Gayatri – a professional baker who has recently moved from Bombay to Pune, her friend Ekta who conducts cooking and baking classes for kids, Keya – a friend of Priyanka’s who is a teacher and makes some utterly lovely sweet onion and herb tarts. Among the usual suspects were only Priyanka and myself. We met at Keya’s house because I needed to see a house that wasn’t my own, on Sunday, November 5th 2017, for what was supposed to be brunch (that ended at 5 pm).

The food was a mishmash of good and average fare. I was mighty pleased with the brioche buns I’d baked, but someone they didn’t find many takers over brunch that afternoon. I sent some over to my parents and ate brioche for breakfast over the next couple of days. There was a ginger cake and a steamed marmalade sponge which were a little dense for my liking, but maybe that’s what their recipes intended them to be. Here’s what the menu for that afternoon was:

  • Sweet
  • Savoury
    • Poppy Seed and Black Onion Crisps
    • Sweet Onion and Fine Herb Tart
    • Cheese and Chilli Pops

The cheese and chilli pops were made using a brioche dough, and called for about 50 grams of finely chopped green chillies to be kneaded into the dough. Since we’re in India, my oversmart brain told me to half the quantity of green chillies, because 50 grams seemed a little to much. I was wrong. The buns didn’t taste of any chilli. I also stuck in little cubes of mozzarella in one half of the buns, in the hope that I’d get ooey-gooey cheese oozing out of warm buns when they were torn apart. Again, that’s not quite what happened. The cheese settled inside, not lending it’s typical gooey stringiness to the bread when pulled apart. The top of all the buns were sprinkled liberally with parmesan, as per the recipe and did little to add to the yumminess of the dough, in my opinion.

I also made a chocolate terrine. The recipe suggests that they be served with ginger snaps or chocolate and oat snaps, and I decided on the latter, because Gayatri was already making Justin’s ginger cake. The terrine was divine. So good that I’ve written it out as a blog post here.

Priyanka played safe with a custard tart – the custard was nice and creamy. She says she sprinkled some nutmeg on the top, following the recipe. And I wondered whether we could’ve brûléed it. It was just very mildly sweet and the caramelized sugar would’ve added a whole nother dimension to it, along with some added crunch. The pastry was flaky and buttery and quite delicious.

Gayatri brought in the poppy seed and black onion seed crisps. We had some goat’s cheese and some brie at hand, for the crackers. And also added some smoked cheddar and some edam to the plate. She also baked a ginger cake that she served with a warm cider and caramel sauce. The tartness from the cider made that caramel sauce refreshingly different, and as someone who isn’t the biggest fan of caramel, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The almost fudge-like crumb of the cake wasn’t something that I warmed up to though.

Keya made some Sweet Onion and Fine Herb Tarts that were absolutely delicious. I even managed to snag the last one home for my grandmum. She wouldn’t stop gushing about how much she enjoyed it all evening.

Ekta used oranges from her garden for the marmalade for her steamed cake. Maybe the fact that they were home grown made that marmalade sing! It was hands down one of the tastiest orange marmalades I’ve even had. The cake did feel a tad dense though. And like I said earlier, maybe that’s how the recipe intended it to be.

This was our first entirely vegetarian cook and it was interesting in many ways. I’m all for for picking difficult recipes and seeing (read: hoping) they come to fruition. But I need to know that I can’t expect everybody to think that way. And maybe when we pick a seemingly difficult book, there is more likely to be only one difficult recipe at lunch and several other easier ones. That’s not a bad thing, really. But sometimes I wish there were 5 of me, so that we could do five tough recipes and exchange notes.

I’d love to make doughnuts from this book some day. They’re on the cover and they look challenging and tasty at the same time. Until then, here are some more recipes from the book that were published in The Guardian a few years ago.

Advertisements

Chocolate Terrine with Chocolate and Oat Snaps

I’ve been unemployed for a few months now and my professional life has been more or less of a mess since mid 2016. Some days I spend mindlessly refreshing my Twitter and Instagram feeds, other days I come home and weep because I’ve screwed up another interview. But some days, I try keeping my spirits up, reading the several open tabs on my browsers and making way for a score more tabs of reading. And then, I also read actual books. My reading is nowhere as good as it was a few years ago, when I’d probably do a couple of books every month. But then at least I try. Or I think I do. I’ve been reading Dianne Jacob’s Will Write for Food currently, in an attempt to up my writing skills.

I don’t make very much of the food writing I read here in India. Apart from the odd piece in The Goya Journal, even there, mostly the pieces that involve information and research, I’ve mostly been angered by the poor quality of food writing by Indians. Often, work by foreigners of Indian origin reeks of ignorance and generalization and that leaves me equally irked. But then someone’s has got to change it, right? I’m not saying that I’m going to be the next thing out there on Indian food writing, but I can try. I’m a little confused whether it’s food writing by Indian people that I dislike or writing about Indian food by just about anybody that gets to me. And by reading Dianne Jacob’s book, I hope to find an answer to that. I’m also hoping I can get some good writing done myself. There’s a good chance I will suck at this because that’s one thing that’s not easier said than done. But it’s worth a try or three, right?

At the end of every chapter in the book, is a writing exercise. The first chapter asks that we write about a favourite meal and make sure we use all five senses to describe it. It also asks us to make use of similes and metaphors in our writing, to make it livelier. And lastly, and this is something she stresses on through the course of the book, she asks that we write something in a way that we show, rather than tell. Showing, she says, would be: “Before I knew it, the bowl was empty, with a few shiny kernels rattling at the bottom.” Telling would be “I really love popcorn.”

So, I thought to myself then, bring it on. Put it up on the blog. The half dozen people that DO read, might want to leave some feedback. But then I began to think of a favourite meal that I’d had in the recent past. And for all the cooking I do and as much as I call myself a food blogger (or do I?), I couldn’t think of a single one! There are so many meals I’ve liked! My mum’s three bean and quinoa salad, my lazy night Asian noodles, ramen bowls, South Indian curries… But do I like one more than the other? Or are they all so different, that it’s almost hard to compare…

Since I don’t have a favourite meal that I can remember, but I did enjoy eating the chocolate terrine I made for the cookbook club a couple of weekends ago, I though I should write about making it and eating it. 

Chocolate terrine with candied orange and chocolate and oat snaps
Chocolate terrine with candied orange and chocolate and oat snaps

~~~

It’s always fun to pick a tough recipe when you’re cooking for the cookbook club. It tells you how little you know. It gives you an opportunity to fuck up, I say that like it’s a good thing. And if you have enough time at hand, it also allows you to fix what you’ve ruined in the first place. So then, maybe, sometimes, it gives you another chance. One thing’s for sure, at the end of it, you’re one skill stronger in the kitchen. For me, the chocolate terrine was all of that. And much more.

What’s a terrine you ask? In French cuisine, a terrine is typically made in glazed earthenware (also called a terrine, haha) and is very similar to a pâté, in that it’s almost like a spreadable paste. A terrine, more often than not, is a savoury dish containing copious amount of fat along with game meat such a hare or pheasant.  This one, though, is dessert. How or why Mr. Gellatly decided to make a dessert terrine instead of a savoury one is something I’d love to know. I’m absolutely delighted that he DID come up with the recipe because it’s something I know I will be making again.

Glazed earthenware is expensive and not readily available in markets here in India, and I had to think of an alternate container to set my terrine in. The closest thing I could find was a glass loaf pan. I’ve used it for ice creams and a bread and they’ve turned out fine, so I decided to go ahead with it.

I’ve inherited a shelf full of Pyrex bakeware from a grand aunt. My grand uncle, her husband, used to be in the Indian Air Force and they used to have high ranking guests over for dinner from time to time – which is why she invested in some very good bakeware and other crockery back in the sixties. Or so I’m told. Turns out, no one used any of the stuff after the seventies because a chronic illness confined her to a wheelchair and an oxygen cylinder until she passed away. Last year, when my aunts finally decided to sell the house my grand uncle and aunt lived in before her passing, they told my mum she could take anything she wanted from the house. And that, dear readers, is the story of the Pyrex loaf pan I used for the terrine. It’ll also be the story for the pie crust I post next week, but let’s just pretend we have the suspense built up and an exciting story the next time around as well, yeah?

If there were one word to describe this dessert, it would be decadent. Nothing else. I’m guessing the key to that decadence is using some extremely good quality chocolate. I usually buy a half decent brand that costs about 85 rupees for a half kilo. I went all out and bought some couverture chocolate for this and it cost me about 8 times the cost of my usual cooking chocolate. Well, for someone who’s unemployed, that sort of luxurious spending better have its rewards!

Of course, with chocolate that expensive, I weighed the 115 grams that were required more carefully than I ever would’ve, making sure I’d scraped that last nugget into my mixing bowl. In went some unsalted butter and an idea that I should scrap the terrine plans and make some edible jewellery instead. The recipe then asked that I whisk some egg yolks and sugar in a bowl for about 5 minutes until they’re white and fluffy, so I got to work. Being familiar with the pale yellow colour egg yolks beaten with sugar take on, I wasn’t sure how white a white to expect, but I whisked the mixture for the full 300 seconds that I was asked to and indeed did end up with a pillowy cloud of beaten eggs and sugar. I sifted in some cocoa powder and added the melted chocolate in, and continued to stir hoping to see a lovely creamy chocolate paste. That’s when things went downhill. And right into a pigsty. Because what I was swirling in the mixing bowl was, quite plainly put, a sludge. I wasn’t the least surprised because it was time something should’ve gone wrong anyway. The recipe mentioned that the mixture could be passed through a sieve to get rid of lumps, so I tried my luck with that, but ended up with a gloop floating around in some cocoa butter instead.

Having put many kitchen disasters behind me, I took a deep breath and decided to proceed, to see how bad this could get. I heated some cream and icing sugar in a saucepan, brought it to a boil and hopelessly, yet extremely slowly, added it to the muck, constantly stirring all along. The recipe had stressed that the cream be hot because that was the key to setting the terrine right. So I obeyed. What happened next was nothing short of a culinary miracle. The sludge and the residual cocoa butter coalesced with the cream into a smooth, silky and thick paste. I poured it into my historic Pyrex loaf pan and put it away to set, while sneaking a taste of the leftover batter from the bowl. It was sinful – rich, dark and with just the right hint of sweet.

The tragedy was that I’d have to wait until the following afternoon to cut a slice out to eat. So I decided to head out of the house altogether, lest the diabolic terrine call out to me.

~~~

Chocolate terrine with candied orange and chocolate and oat snaps
Chocolate terrine with candied orange and chocolate and oat snaps

Recipes for the chocolate terrine and the chocolate and oat snaps that it was served with follow. Both recipes are from Bread, Cake, Doughnut, Pudding: Sweet and Savoury Recipes from Britain’s Best Baker by Justin Gellatly.

Chocolate Terrine

Serves 14–16
Suitable for freezing

Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
Chilling time: overnight

Ingredients:

115g dark chocolate (70%)
225g unsalted butter
5 egg yolks
115g caster sugar
90g cocoa powder (100%), sifted
a pinch of fine sea salt
340ml double cream
35g icing sugar, sifted

Method:

  1. Line the inside of a terrine mould measuring 25cm × 8cm × 8cm with clingfilm.
  2. Chop your chocolate carefully into small pieces and put it into a large bowl with the butter. Stand the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and let the chocolate mixture melt slowly.
  3. While the chocolate and butter are melting, put your egg yolks and sugar into a bowl and whisk together until white and fluffy (which should take about 5 minutes).
  4. Whisk in the sifted cocoa powder and salt – the mixture will become quite stiff – then put to one side.
  5. Pour the cream into a heavy-based saucepan, add the sifted icing sugar and slowly bring to the boil.
  6. Add your melted chocolate mixture to the egg yolks, whisking all the time to prevent lumps (you can sieve it later if you do get any, though, so don’t worry too much). It should be like a thick chocolate paste.
  7. Now take your pan of boiling cream off the heat and slowly add to your chocolate paste. Be very careful of the hot cream – it must be just off the boil, as it’s the heat from the cream which will set the terrine. When all mixed in, it will be smooth and glossy – if there are still any lumps, just pass it through a fine sieve.
  8. Pour into your prepared terrine mould and put into the fridge overnight to set.
  9. To serve, unmould the terrine and remove the clingfilm. Then, using a long thin sharp kitchen knife, slice it into thin slices, place on the plate and just run a blowtorch, if you have one, over the slice to shine the chocolate and give it the wow factor.
  10. Serve with fresh cherries, crème fraîche and ginger snaps or chocolate and oat snaps.

Chocolate and Oat Snaps

Makes about 28
Not suitable for freezing

Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus chilling time
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

125g dark chocolate (70%), chopped, or buttons
125g softened unsalted butter
110g caster sugar
85g soft light brown sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
90g jumbo oats
a pinch of fine sea salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Method:

  1. First cut your chocolate into small pieces if you are not using chocolate buttons.
  2. In an electric mixer with a beater attachment, or in a bowl with a wooden spoon, cream the butter and both sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the egg a little at a time, beating as you go, until incorporated, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix together. Put the mix into the fridge for a few hours, until firm.
  3. Preheat the oven to 140°C/fan 120°C/gas 1 and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  4. When the dough is firm, take it out of the fridge and roll it into balls about 20g in weight. Place them on the prepared baking tray, making sure you leave plenty of room (about 12cm) between them as they will spread out a lot (don’t cook more than 6 or 7 at a time), and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Leave to cool on the tray, as they will be too fragile to move straight away.
  6. Great served with ice cream (or with the aforementioned chocolate terrine).

Ep3 : Mango Mia

Well, it’s mango season. Okay, nearly the end of it. So when Sahil suggested in April that we do a mango-themed potluck, it didn’t seem like a bad idea at all. The dinner was planned for almost a month and a half after our last one, and I wasn’t quite sure if people would be enthusiastic enough when it was time to cook.

It started off with 7 people signing up to attend and two backed out eventually, which makes me want to put some more rules in place, about attendance (among other things that I hope to get to later in this post).

Picking up from the numerous questions I’d asked at the end of our last potluck, I cannot stress enough on having enough dinner ware. We met at Raunaq’s home for dinner on May 27th, and as hosts or organizers, you will do what it takes to wash those extra dishes or spoons, when you run out. But a situation like that is best avoided, right? We ran out of quarter plates this time and had to do our dishes from dinner, to be able to serve dessert. As a host, I’d hate for that to happen.

Did we do a better job of serving our food differently/better and taking pictures well enough? Three cooks in, I’m not sure if we have a right answer to this. Our food went cold again, and we had only an induction plate and no microwave. Add to our woes, two of our dishes were pork and lamb. Even the slightest amount of overcooking could (and did) ruin what was cooked. Pranav, who was new to the ‘club’, made lamb chops. He came over to my place before we got to Raunaq’s, so that he could grill the lamb chops. They were perfect, hot off the grill. We were so paranoid they’d end up chewy when it was time to eat, that we took a shot at eating them at room temperature, instead of re-heating them on an induction stove. They weren’t bad at all, just not as awesome as they were hot! Raunaq’s pork went chewy because it was cooked twice (once when he made it and next we he re-heated it). And that was shame. The relish that went with the pork was so good, I imagine the finished dish would’ve been excellent had it not gotten chewy.

Mango Mia - Cookbook Potluck 3
Mango Mia – Cookbook Potluck 3

We started dinner fairly late this time around. We’d planned to meet by 9. But it was close to midnight by the time the last person got in. So we kept ourselves busy by drinking some kombucha that Raunaq’s been making. I’d also carried some Mango Mead from Moonshine Meadery, an upcoming meadery, here in Pune. We had only a sip of the mead and I’m not sure everyone liked it very much at all. I’ve enjoyed some of their other stuff and I quite liked how the mango mead tasted, but I guess it takes a little getting used to.

All of us ran into some prep-time issues, yet again.

I made three batches of pavlova and was happy only with one. I’ve baked pavlova before and the ones I made this time around seemed deflated and weren’t crunchy enough on the outside. Some of them didn’t crisp up at all. And that left *me* deflated. The one batch that did turn out marginally good was packed away in an airtight box and not opened until it was time for dessert because I was afraid it’d go soggy. The pavlova fared well, based on the feedback I got at the dinner table.

Pranav attempted cooking his lamb chops mid week and ruined them. He learnt his lesson and tenderised a fresh batch of chops with raw papaya the night before the final cook. He also thought the recipe didn’t quite work for an Indian palate, so he fixed the spice ratio on the rub he used for his chops. Both him and I LOVED the outcome. I wish everybody else had gotten to eat the chops hot off the grill and enjoy them the way we did. The chops were served with a mango and mint chutney, though most of us felt they tasted good even without a chutney at all.

Sahil was at a beer judging event for most part of the day and his fish and raw mango curry ended up being more of a dry dish. We’re not entirely sure what he did wrong, but I guess he fixed his dish the following day by adding some more raw mango and some coconut milk.

Jomy did a terrible job with timing how long his chicken might take him to cook. He started cooking at 7:30 pm and arrived at Raunaq’s close to midnight, by which time all of us were just plain hungry. The jus from the grilled bird was beautiful. The chicken itself, got mixed reactions. While the outside was great, the inside of the thigh I got was quite pink. Definitely not raw, but quite certainly not cooked all the way through either. The flavours hadn’t quite seeped all the way through and that made me a little sad.

Mango Marinated Roast Chicken
Mango Marinated Roast Chicken

Raunaq, who hosted us that evening, made a cold soup with cucumber and mangoes and also did pork tenderloin with a mango relish. The soup was refreshing and light. The pork, quite a downer. But I guess it’s all part of the game, as long as we learn not to make the same mistakes while cooking these meat(s) again.

Chilled Mango and Cucumber Soup
Chilled Mango and Cucumber Soup

We didn’t have very many leftovers – a handful of chops that Pranav took home, a small portion of the fish and some breast . meat from the chicken. So, I’d like to believe we did okay there.

All of us tweaked our recipes a little, mostly because we’re a bunch of Indians who enjoy cooking and are able to tell (to a small extent) that purely Western/American flavour profiles may not appeal to us. That said, we ended up questioning our choice of book. Indian authors writing for an American audience. We were hoping we’d have gotten an insight into the varieties of Indian mangoes and were also hoping we’d have gotten to use specific mangoes for specific recipes. All of the recipes just said “mango”, and not alphonso or totapuri or kesar.

We had a brief few minutes of pictures, when we laid the table out. But I really do want to do a better job of the pictures, I do. I’m just wary of coming across as obsessive in my attempts to do so.

I was quite pleased with how we went about the feedback for the food – asking questions, speculating why what went wrong and discussing how something was the right amount of sweet or why it was perhaps a little off.

And that brings us to the recipes:

All in all, dinner was fun – talking about what we’d cooked, making jokes and being terribly story tellers, discussing TV shows (where I just stared around blankly for the most part) and a helluva good time.

I’ll end this post with a couple of articles related to cookbooks, potlucks and cooking for people.

The first is an article I’d shared on twitter a couple of years ago and that showed up today while I was running a search for another tweet. It’s about making cookbook clubs work. And I think it’s delightful. Here goes: http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/10/how-to-start-a-cookbook-club.html

A multicourse meal that's not all on you. [Photographs: Tara Austen Weaver]
A multicourse meal that’s not all on you. [Photographs: Tara Austen Weaver]
(Image source: the article linked above)

The second is something I read this morning. A Paella Cookout Competition (of sorts). I’m almost tempted to make the fourth cookbook potluck 5 or 6 of us cooking just 1 or 2 dishes. Not a competition, but an opportunity to see how different people cook the same recipe. Sounds fun?

(Yoghurt) Cheesecake

February 28th, 2014 was the day I last posted to this blog. So much has happened, since. So so much. I’ve been really happy about it, mostly. But then, I never really got around to re-organizing life to make time for blog posts. And that’s not very nice, to be honest.

So, here’s me, trying to make a come back. With the hope that I’ll be more regular now on.

These seven plus months that I went missing, I was cooking. Cooking a whole bunch of good things. I also did a bit of travelling. And a TONNE of work (that’s my usual excuse, isn’t it?). And amidst all of that, I chanced upon a cheesecake recipe that uses Greek Yoghurt, instead of mascarpone. The couple of times I’d tried my hand at no-bake cheesecakes and regular cheesecakes when I was in USA, I’d ended up with fairly disastrous results. This one worked for me. So well! I did the one suggested in this recipe – a lemon blueberry cheesecake. I played around with it a little and did just a lemon cheesecake. Following that, there was a kiwi cheesecake. There was also a Black Forest cheesecake more recently. And a mango cheesecake when I went home for a bit this May. I also used the hung-yoghurt technique to make some pretty darned good tiramisu and I hope to be able to post that recipe soon enough too.

You can follow A Baking Girl’s recipe to the tee. But I’ll quickly go over the small changes I usually make – depending on what flavour I’m using.

Ingredients:
Must-haves:
For the Filling:
2 500g boxes of yogurt (I buy Nestle or Nilgiri’s), hung for a couple of hours until all the whey is drained out – results in 2 cups of hung yoghurt
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of salt
For the Crust:
2 cups muesli, coarsely ground
2 tablespoons butter

Additional ingredients:
For the Lemon-Blueberry Cheesecake:
3 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
zest of one lemon
1/4 cup blueberries, whole
1/4 cup blueberries, crushed or roughly chopped (sieve out the seeds, if you like)
For the lemon cheesecake:
4-6 tablespoons lemon juice
4-6 tablespoons of sugar
A tiny bit of yellow food colouring
zest of 1-2 lemons
For the kiwi cheesecake:
1 kiwi, roughly chopped
1 kiwi mashed to pulp and strained
A tiny bit of green food colouring
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
For the mango cheesecake:
1 mango, roughly chopped
1 cup mango concentrate or mango juice (I used Paper Boat Aamras)
Extra sugar, if required.
A pinch of ground cinnamon
For the Black Forest cheesecake:
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup cherries, pitted and roughly chopped
2-4 tablespoons of cherry liqueur (you can use vodka, in case you don’t have cherry liqueur)
A few whole cherries, to garnish

(General) Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Line the base of your springform cake tin with the coarse ground muesli. Melt the two table spoons of butter and pour over so that the muesli is evenly covered. Bake this for 5-7 minutes, until the crust just begins to brown. Allow this to cool down to room temperature, while you prepare the filling.
3. In a bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, yogurt and vanilla with a hand blender for 1-2 minutes, until you get a smooth mixture.
4. Add cornstarch, pinch of salt, and the added flavours and blend again, for another minute or two. Read more on this in the Specific Instructions section below.
5. Pour filling over the crust, now, and bake for 35 minutes. Check the Notes section below for done-ness.
6. Let the cheesecake cool down to room temperature, by which point the centre will have set and then release the springform.

Notes:
1. When the cheesecake is done, it will be a little jiggly in the centre, though the edges will have started to pull away from the sides of the pan.
2. The disadvantage with over-baking will be a cheesecake that tastes more like flavoured cottage cheese with this slight rubbery texture. 30-35 minutes of baking time will ideally ensure a good cheesecake.

Special Instructions:
For the Lemon-Blueberry Cheesecake:
1. Add the lemon juice and lemon zest in at Step 4 in the General Method above.
2. After Step 5 above, when you’ve poured the filling in, add the whole blueberries, the crushed blueberries and give the filling a little swirl for a pretty pattern.

For the lemon cheesecake:
1. Add the lemon zest in at Step 4 in the General Method above.
2. In a separate pan, cook the lime juice and the sugar, until the sugar has melted and the mixture reduces to a thick sauce. Add a small amount of yellow food colouring. Pour this over the cheesecake, when both the cheesecake and the lime syrup have cooled. Refrigerate for an hour before serving.

(It’s worth noting that my best friend ate a couple of slices without complaining and I made it one more time, the exact same recipe, and this one was gone in 15 minutes flat, 5 people. So maybe it wasn’t *that* lemony, y’know.)
For the kiwi cheesecake:
1. Add the chopped kiwis zest in at Step 4 in the General Method above.
2. In a separate pan, cook a sugar syrup using the water and the sugar. When it has thickened to a sauce-like consistency (though not caramelized), add the strained kiwi pulp and the green food colouring. Pour this over the cheesecake, when both the cheesecake and the lime syrup have cooled. Refrigerate for an hour before serving.
(A few friends were over for dinner when I had made this and we were all too drunk to wait for photographs! Sorry!)
For the mango cheesecake:
1. Add the chopped mangoes in at Step 4 in the General Method above.
2. In a separate pan, reduce the mango pulp and the cinnamon to a thick consistency, adding sugar, if required. Pour this over the cheesecake, when both the cheesecake and the lime syrup have cooled. Refrigerate for an hour before serving.

For the Black Forest cheesecake:
1. Soak the pitted, chopped cherries in the liqueur/liquor for at least 30 minutes.
2. Add the cocoa powder and the soaked cherries in at Step 4 in the General Method above.
3. Garnish the cheesecake with whole cherries.
DSC_0040

And because I’ve baked so many cheesecakes over the past few months, I’ve had some pretty random ideas too:

Bread Pudding

You know when you’re craving something sweet and you don’t have anything fancy at home to make into a good dessert? Until I was in Pune, I’d swear by the cake-in-a-mug. But moving to Bangalore, I could afford only either a microwave or am OTG. I picked the latter. And I’ve found my new go-to dessert recipe. Bread Pudding. Just as easy. And I promise you, this takes only 5 minutes to prep (though you must allow it about 30 minutes of bake-time).

If you remember my bread rant from an earlier post, I have an explanation for bread in my house. @surajmenon. I always end up with extra bread when he’s visiting. And then when he’s gone back to Pune or Jamshedpur or where ever it is that he’s headed, I have a good half loaf of bread in my refrigerator, that I invariably make into bread pudding.

Ingredients:
(Makes two bowls)
3 slices of stale bread
2 eggs
A couple of drops of vanilla essence
A handful of mixed nuts/dry-fruits (chopped almonds, chopped cashews, raisins, chopped figs)
4 tea spoons sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg or cinnamon
2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter

Method:
1. Beat the eggs, milk, sugar, spice and vanilla essence in a bowl and keep aside.
2. Cut the slices of bread into smaller pieces, I usually do a 3×3 grid, making nine pieces per slice of bread, and lay them out in ceramic bowls that you can put into the oven. Alternately, you can double the measures and set everything in a baking tin (and then eventually cut out squares of bread pudding while serving.)
3. Chop the butter into tiny cubes and divide them between the two bowls.
4. Add the mixed nuts and dry-fruits to the bowls too.
5. Now add the egg mixture into the two bowls. Dab the bread into the mixture so that the bread soaks well in the mixture.
6. Bake for 30 minutes in an oven at 180 degrees or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
7. Eat while it’s still warm.