Nigella Lawson’s Baby Bundts + Making Allowances

Does the world need another recipe for a lemony cake? I suppose not. But is this one worth sharing? Yes. I think all cake is worth sharing!

I’ve been baking quite a lot from Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess over the past two months. It’s a book I’ve owned for over 2 years, but it’s only now getting some quality time in the kitchen.  I’ve made a few of her recipes before- cherry-almond loaf cake, store-cupboard chocolate orange cake, Victoria sponge cake, and some others, with pretty good results.

The new cover  image courtesy | nigella.com

The new cover
image courtesy | nigella.com

The old edition, which I have image courtesy | unibooks.co.au

The old edition, which I have
image courtesy | unibooks.co.au

The thing with me is, I try new recipes often enough, but when it comes to baking something for a potluck or dinner party, I always end up baking the same few recipes over and over again. There’s Nigella’s chocolate olive oil cake, a simple vanilla sponge cake, or a lemony loaf cake. I get nervous about busting out something new that I’ve never baked before.

I am also hit with a slight sense of anxiety: invariably, there will be someone in the party who detests a particular flavour; and it is near impossible to please everyone. When I bake, I pretty much choose between two broad categories: is it going to be a chocolatey cake, or a fruity one? (This could be anything from a citrusy oil-based cake to banana bread or a strawberry/apple cake.) If I decide to make a fruity cake, there will be someone who detests Granny Smith apples, cannot stomach strawberries or hates bananas.

And with chocolate- yes, there are plenty of people who really do not like chocolate. Being a chocoholic myself, I used to find it absurd. I couldn’t understand how people could dislike the taste of chocolate, or caramel, or dislike dessert altogether. I’d feel bad if someone passed up dessert, or said, “I don’t eat chocolate, I’ll pass.” Even though they had a perfectly valid reason- I’d still feel a bit let down. They don’t like cake. They don’t want my cake. When cooking and gathering around the table to feed friends and family is your happy place, you have a tendency to be blind to smaller appetites and cautious eaters.

And then I looked at my own eating habits. I am not a big meat-eater. If there’s mutton masala, fish curry or fried prawns on table, I’ll eat a small amount. I usually don’t take seconds, and even with biryani, I end up taking a single piece of chicken or meat, while the rest of the party is digging in for more. Being less enthusiastic about non-vegetarian food- this behaviour could very well be perceived as strange by the host/hostess, right? S/he could be thinking: Meenakshi doesn’t like my mutton masala.

So when it comes to personal taste, one really can’t judge.Some of us don’t enjoy meat. Some people just really.hate.chocolate. And while my 20-year-old self would have gotten all high-pitchy with a chocolate-hater and argued “How can anyone NOT like chocolate?,” now I’ve learnt to just let it be. Create with love and serve everyone: if they enjoy it and get themselves seconds, wonderful. If they’d rather not indulge, it’s all good. Make allowances. Be accepting of tastes not aligned with your own.

http://instagram.com/p/qoXcxMuIbr/?modal=true

This recipe is also about making allowances. It’s a recipe for baby bundts- except I don’t have a bundt pan, baby or XL. I do own a mini donut tray, so I used that instead. So it’s not a baby bundt- but maybe we can pretend it’s a baby ring cake?

We had a family potluck last month and I decided to make this instead of my standard chocolate cake or fruity loaf. I figured it would be easy to eat and portion out or carry home. And if someone didn’t like it too much- they’d have to endure only 3-4 bites in total!

The way the ingredients are mixed is muffin-like: wet and dry mixed separately, then combined. Considering the amount of yoghurt in the batter, I expected a moister cake, but this one was quite springy. The glaze, of course, helped. All in all it’s a fun and agreeable little cake- not too fancy, not too shy.

I don’t have a picture of the glaze- but don’t leave it out- it’s not as nice without it 🙂

NIGELLA LAWSON’S BABY BUNDTS (From How To Be A Domestic Goddess.)

INGREDIENTS

The Cake

  • 125 ml natural yoghurt
  • 75 g butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 150 g flour
  • 125 g caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt

The Glaze

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 200 g icing sugar

METHOD

The Cake

  • In a measuring jug or bowl, mix the yoghurt, melted butter, eggs, and lemon zest until combined.
  • In a separate larger bowl, lightly whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, folding until everything is combined.
  • Pour the batter into baby bundt moulds (in my case, mini donut moulds!) and bake at 170 C for 25-30 minutes.
  • Once cooled, ice the cakes with the sugary glaze.

The Glaze

  • Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl, and slowly pour in as much lemon juice as you need to make an icing that is thick enough to hold shape but drizzle down the sides.

 

Banana Blondies, Kind Of Cakey

I made another batch of banana blondies. These didn’t have a crust to hold them up, but they didn’t really need one either. I used the recipe from Smitten Kitchen and added half a cup of mashed banana like Deb suggested.

The post itself talks about how adaptable blondie batter is, and all the diverse add-ins that complement it. Nuts. Bananas. Peppermint extract. Cranberries. Coconut. It’s a pretty forgiving batter that way…takes really well to diverse flavour combinations 🙂 And you can’t really go wrong, whatever you put in. (Unless you get totally freaky and add harissa paste or garam masala, then nothing can save your blondies.)

Banana blondies

Banana blondies

The original post was published in November 2006- a while ago. Just made me realize how long Deb has been cooking and sharing and tempting us with her versatile recipes and beautiful images. But if you look towards the bottom of the post, you’ll notice that she added an update as recent as May 24th, 2014- yes, less than a month ago- so I stand by my statement that there is a blondie renaissance happening in the blogosphere. Her update swaps melted butter for brown butter like Melissa Clark, a toning down of the brown sugar, and the addition of flaky sea salt. (Also- I feel the salty-sweet combination is majorly on-trend right now! Maple-bacon, chocolate-sea salt, and of course, classic salted caramel.)

...a little cakey inside.

The blondie batter is simple, and not very different from Melissa Clark’s, except for the proportions and the use of melted butter vs brown butter. Baked as plain blondies, they appear to be quite chewy…but that half cup of mashed banana brings on the fluff. So while this recipe yields a shiny, crackly top, beneath, it’s more banana bread than fudgy. Continue reading

Blondie Ambition : Melissa Clark’s Chocolate-Crusted Banana Blondies

I have been on a blondie-baking spree. Is it just me, or are blondies having a moment once again? Sizzling brownies are not going off dessert menus  in India anytime soon (and honestly, in most restaurants, what you get is a burnt brownie, not a sizzling one,) but I can’t help but notice how blondies have been doing the rounds on the blogosphere. Just look here,  here,  here  and here. And each adapted in a fun, eat-the-batter-with-a-spoon way!

http://instagram.com/p/o5gtynOIcD/

I know blondies are nothing new, they have been around for ages now. I was re-introduced to them via Melissa Clark’s NYT column, A Good Appetite. (I absolutely love her recipes and innovations- and her use of good-quality pantry ingredients to make an everyday meal special.) I was suddenly in the blondie fast lane. I looked them up on every possible online food publication and blog, read and re-read recipes from magazines and cookbooks, was kind of shocked when I learned Nigella’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess didn’t have a blondie recipe…I even stalked a prominent British food writer’s Instagram stream and point-blank asked her if she had a perfect blondie recipe.

http://instagram.com/p/o5sDD1uIZ2/

After browsing recipes for a while, it was the variations in sugar combinations that struck me most- with each recipe using some form of brown sugar.

Ina Garten: Lightly packed light brown sugar + granulated sugar

Alice Medrich: Tightly packed light brown sugar

Bobby Flay: Light brown muscovado + dark brown muscovado

Deb Perelman: Dark brown sugar

Pooja Dhingra: Light brown sugar

But the recipe I’m sharing today is none of the above, it’s what got me interested in blondies in the first place: Melissa Clark’s Chocolate-Crusted Banana Blondies. Continue reading