Monday, 28 March 2011

THE SECRET OF BAKING A PERFECT CAKE

We Indians are generally  fantastic cooks and unlike the west we do not rely on ready to eat foods for our day to day meals but baking is something which we steer clear out and prefer buying ready made cakes or other baked products rather then baking it our selves .  I have fond childhood memories of  my Moms wonderful cooking, but have absolutely no memory of her baking me a birthday cake usually it used to always be something that was store brought , but the during 70’s and the 80’s having a Oven  in a middle class Indian home  was literally unheard of I remember just seeing  those  in the houses of foreign returnees   to be specific Gulf returnees and even then the Oven was just a equipment that was  placed proudly in the kitchen as a show piece and rarely ever used , in fact commercially also I have rarely seen any baked delicacies in the markets those days the closest to a cake that  I remember seeing was the ghastly pink and yellow colored  butter cream cakes or pastry found in the local bakeries .
Baking in India relatively started catching up mid 90’s where OTG’s that is the oven toaster grilles started being freely available in the market but  still baking is quiet an virgin concept to most Indians  and they are still quiet vary about it .  Even though I have been in this food industry for quiet some time now and I really I love my food, I have tried out many different cuisines quiet successfully but baking was something that was alien to me and I never really had the guts to try baking now when I look back I find my entire attitude so silly.  I guess then I had this fear called the fear of the unknown since I never really tried baking I always thought baking for me would be a recipe for disaster until the year 2006   I finally decide to try my hand in baking and patisserie so took up a course In Le Cordon Bleu London and there I realized the Joys of baking and I guess that is the also the same problem with most Indian home cooks in our Indian Cuisine we rarely have anything to bake so we haven’t really tried our hands at it and this makes us so vary of baking .

Delia Smith a very popular British cookery book author once quoted.  A cake is a symbol of love and friendship-if someone actually goes to the trouble of baking a cake especially for family, they can’t fail to feel spoiled & cared for”. I completely agree with this quote baking a cake for someone is simplest way of showing someone you care.  So seriously if you care for some you can use this recipes get over your fear of baking and come up with the perfect cake.
There are two things to remember when you want to bake any thing though they are the simplest of things most of us ignore this and end up having disastrous results and they are
WEIGH YOUR INGREDIENTS:
I really cant stress enough the importance of this point, correct scaling of ingredients , usually disaster happens while baking people  have the attitude of throw-it-all-in-and-lets-see-what happens affair, though this attitude may work quiet well with  cooking  but with baking this will never work even the most seasoned of the pastry and bakery chefs rely on the humble weighing scales for each of their products.
Always follow the Rules
I know I sound like a elementary school teacher here but this is how it is, now this means first and fore most  find a reliable recipe and stick to it for example a recipe says Mix the batter in slow speed then  you need to mix the batter in slow speed do not attempt to mix on high speed other wise you will just end up with a over mixed batter
Now both this rules are the simplest of all the rules but believe me following it is the most difficult thing to do now after keeping this thing in mind lets start baking our Perfect cake.

CARROT CAKE
For Starters let’s start making some thing which is a very simple preparation but a huge favorite with lot of people. It has an added advantage also for being quite a healthy form of cake.  The carrots in this recipe are also a rich source of fiber plus it can be made healthier by adding whole wheat flour to it rather then the refined flour.  I like making carrot cake in muffin pans rather then a cake tin.  Also in this recipe I have added a bit of Rose Mary I think this gives the carrot cake a wonderful flavour but this can be optional.




Ingredients





140 ml vegetable oil


2 eggs
200 gms of brown sugar
300 gms grated carrots
100 gms raisins
75 gms walnut
180 gms whole wheat flour/refined flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1tsp cinnamon pwdr
½ tsp grated nutmeg
5 gms of dried rose mary. (Optional)
Method


In a bowl take  eggs and brown sugar








 Beat the eggs and brown sugar till its light and fluffy






Add oil







Now mix together all the dry ingredients that is the flour, spices , rose mary , salt, baking powder, baking soda, walnuts and raisins.




With the help of spatula mix the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients.




Line a muffin pan with muffin paper







I prefer using a ice cream scoop for evenly pouring the batter in the muffin pan but if you do not have a ice cream scoop you can also use all purpose spoons.






The tray is ready for the oven.  Preheat the oven at 160 degrees C







Place the muffins in a preheated oven for 15 mins








You can serve the muffins either hot or cold.  This can go as excellent lunch box dish for children plus this is any time healthier then the store brought muffins.  After cooling the muffins completely they can also be easily frozen and reheated as an when required.