Wherever I Go, There Will Always Be Cake.

It’s been a long, long time, blogosphere. Way too long. Close to half a year of no posting! I am alive. I am well. I just moved.

Both city and url.

On the domestic front: we’ve moved from Bombay to Pune! I miss Bombay, (a city I took a while to get used to!) and the convenience of having everything delivered and knowing exactly where to look for an ingredient. I miss the bustle and energy, and I miss Gajalee and Britannia and Indigo Deli and Le15 Patisserie and warm fresh challah from The Baker’s Dozen.

I also miss my friends!! Though the preceding paragraph suggests otherwise, I do miss people, not just food and drink. Putting it out there since I’ve only spoken about food so far. I miss my friends, the chats and the chasing of children and the sitting at a cafe in Bandra for hours. But thanks to social media and social apps, we are but one sharing button away from what is happening in anyone’s life. (When I read that sentence back- it sounds equal parts reassuring and disturbing.)

But Pune has plenty of positives, too. For one, more space! More trees! A bigger kitchen! TWO BALCONIES! It feels quite nice to look out the window and see this,

as opposed to my neighbour’s clothesline.

We found a home that’s a perfect fit. Lots of space and natural light, quiet neighbourhood, leafy and beautiful all around, and my sister-in-law and her family next door.

We found our son a lovely preschool nearby…and he LOVES it.

Off to school
Off to school

I’ve figured out where to buy my veggies from; where look for  baking ingredients; finally found organic buckwheat flour and pearl millet that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg; (Dorabjee’s, I love you,) and which number to dial when I need some kitchen staples home-delivered. SORTED. Oh, and the fruits and berries are much nicer- plumper, juicier, more flavourful. (Once again- it all centers around food!)

20140419_104528
Making a fig and strawberry frangipane tart

It wasn’t too bad. This is the first move we’ve made as a family, and I did get a little worked up when I heard stories about losing belongings and breaking furniture and organizing clothes- but it was’t too overwhelming. I guess I owe it to my parents. They brought me up on the philosophy of  ‘make it work,’ long before Project Runway was even conceptutalized- so I didn’t get myself all tangled up. The move, in fact, gave me a chance to donate a lot of possessions we weren’t using, and just stick to the things we actually do use and wear. With our possessions now pared-down, I know that there aren’t any ‘cram drawers’ filled with junk I’m scared to open. (A cram drawer or cupboard is the kind of space where you just dump stuff you don’t know what to do with. I am happy to report that I no longer have stuff I don’t know what to do with.)

But the little things can make you irritable. I’m talking about the little things- unloading, cleaning, the nitty-gritty taking-things-out-of-boxes-and-physically-placing-them-in-their-new-space. I found that the kitchen was the one room that took the longest to pack, unpack and organize. I don’t know if it’s like that for everyone, but clothes, books, toys and linen didn’t take all that long to sort out and pack. Which is why when I unpacked, I started with the kitchen. The sooner you get that done, the sooner you can start getting on with the fun stuff. Like baking cake. And cake makes everything better.

The unpacking didn’t take too long, but it took about 2 months to get all the living details down- some new furniture, framing and hanging more art, small repairs, a table for the entryway, a new crockery cabinet for the kitchen…but cabinet or not, I baked.

I do think that cooking is the best way to break into a new home; and baking is the best way to make it feel like home. Even in the middle of boxes and curtain rings and bubblewrap, making something and sitting down to enjoy it is a sigh of relief on a plate. Brings forth a sense of contentment. With a warm slice of cake in hand, the boxes don’t matter and the shelves will sort themselves out.

As you can see, I gave my  blog a new look and a new name. Why? Because I just needed to start over. Well…I liked Masala Art, but when I thought about it…I don’t seem to create too many masala-filled recipes here, do I? This blog is less curry, more cake. So I felt that Sugar, Spice, Etc would be more apt. There’s sugar (oh yes there is!!) and ample spice, and random ramblings, which constitute the ‘Etc.’

So as I re-blog my way back in, rest assured, there will always be cake. And chocolate chips, too.

Whole-wheat chocolate chip banana bread
Whole-wheat chocolate chip banana bread

Lemony Loaf Cake 2: Vanilla Bean & Lime Zest Loaf | Easy, No-Fuss Lemon Cake Recipe

DISCLAIMER: I know I have used limes in this recipe- I honestly do not know whether our desi nimbus are more lemon or lime- but I’m calling it lemony cake because it does indeed taste lemony!

Powdered sugar snowfall!

Powdered sugar snowfall!

Ever since I got my new loaf pan, I’ve been using it to make the lemon syrup loaf cake I tried out on World Baking Day. It’s just that loaves are so easy to dress up, slice and eat. I like going back to the kitchen to slice away thin slivers and eat them. Those thin slivers are numerous and not-so-far-between, and there is something I enjoy about sneaking little bites rather than sitting down with a large chunk of a cake and a fork.

The previous loaf cake I made had a syrup poured over it; and though it was very good I wanted to switch things up a little.

Since I attempted the Le15 vanilla cupcake, I have gotten very comfortable with their recipe. I decided to follow the same method; but added some zest and juice to the batter.

Like last time, I used desi nimbus or limes. I had a particularly bright green one lying in my fridge. I was hoping that the lime zest, combined with a scraped vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract, would give a nice speckled effect. The lime zest didn’t turn my batter green or pop out as such; but yes, the vanilla bean did lend its charm.

Love the peek-a-boo bits of vanilla bean :)

Love the peek-a-boo bits of vanilla bean 🙂

VANILLA BEAN & LIME ZEST LOAF (Inspired from here!)

INGREDIENTS

  • 110g butter
  • 200g castor sugar
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • Seeds of one vanilla bean, scraped out
  • 2 eggs
  • 150g flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tbsp lime juice

METHOD

  • Preheat your oven to 180 C.
  • Sift the flour and baking powder and keep aside in a bowl.
  • Cream together the butter, sugar and lime zest until light, fluffy and fragrant.
  • Add the scraped vanilla seeds to the mixture and mix a bit more.
  • Next, beat the eggs in one at a time until fully incorporated.
  • Next, add the flour-baking soda mixture and the milk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour.
  • Add the lime juice to the batter and combine well.
  • Pour into your loaf till 3/4 full and bake at 180 C for 25-30 mins.
  • Allow to cool completely before unmoulding.

Makes 2 6-inch loaves.

I have tried to lemony cake recipe; however I need to try one more  before I decide which one I like best! Post coming soon.

Carmela’s Lemon Loaf Cake | World Baking Day Challenge

20130520_164455

So I’m posting this a day late, but I guess baking enthusiasts will agree that every day should be celebrated as baking day! The concept is fun- you log on to the website http://www.worldbakingday.com, choose a recipe posted there based on the difficulty level, grab the badge and bake!

image courtesy | worldbakingday.com

image courtesy | worldbakingday.com

There it is- difficulty level 67- Carmela’s gorgeous lemon loaves. I recently bought some loaf pans, plus, I had plenty of lemons (desi nimbus) in my fridge- which is what made me choose this beautiful, fragrant lemon loaf cake. Those two reasons, plus the fact that ever since I saw Julia from MasterChef Australia S4 bake her lemon syrup loaf cake, I’ve wanted to try it. (Remember her? The Princess Of Pastry who barely smiled. I mean she did smile the odd smile, but it seemed so forced. I liked her desserts much more than her. I was always rooting for Andy!)

Anyway, snap back to reality after reminiscing  about MC Australia. I followed the recipe with a few minor tweaks, because I did not have access to some ingredients. (Substituting butter for margarine and desi nimbus for lemons.) And you know what? Even though most lemon cakes I have come across use Meyer lemons, our desi nimbus work pretty well- they are quite fragrant and manage to give off that floral undertone. Which got me thinking- if this cake could turn out so well using nimbus, imagine how amazing it would be with larger, juicier Meyer lemons!

The batter was a little runnier than I expected and I feared it would not bake properly, but I was wrong. This recipe calls for creaming the eggs, sugar and lemon zest; then adding in the dry ingredients followed by more wet ingredients- milk and melted butter.

Ready for the oven! (I love saying that.)

Ready for the oven! (I love saying that.)

While the cake is baking, you make a quick lemon syrup- just lemon juice and sugar slowly boiled on a low flame till it reaches syrupy consistency. Once cooled, poke some holes in your cake and drizzle over! Just make sure you use your skewer to poke all the way through, so that the syrup permeates evenly and well.

20130520_162741

Whether you have access to Meyer lemons or not, do try this cake. It’s simple enough and requires so few ingredients- in fact, I did not even need a trip to the grocery store.

CARMELA’S LEMON LOAF CAKE (Original recipe here.)

INGREDIENTS

  • 160 g castor sugar
  • 1 1/2 medium eggs (for the half, take one egg, whisk it in a cup and pour only half the whisked egg into your batter. A tip I learned from  Thanh!)
  • 175 g flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 125 ml milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 100 g butter, melted and cooled
  • Zest of 3 regular sized nimbus

For The Syrup:

  • 50 g castor sugar
  • Juice of 2 nimbus

METHOD

  • Preheat oven to 170 C
  • In a large bowl, cream the eggs, sugar and lemon zest.
  • Add the flour and baking powder and beat well.
  • Pour in the milk and vanilla extract and combine well.
  • Add the melted butter and beat a little more.
  • Once your batter has come together and there are no lumps, pour into your loaf tin and bake for 30-35 min at 170 C till the top becomes golden.

For The Syrup

Heat the castor sugar and lemon juice in a pan for 5-7  minutes on low heat until everything is dissolved and the mixture becomes a light syrup.

Assembly

Once the cake is ready, allow it to cool a little. Then pierce some holes on the surface and spoon the syrup over the cake.

This is a perfect tea-time cake, and would be great with a dollop of fresh cream or vanilla ice cream. I didn’t have any decorative lemon slices to garnish the cake with, so I dusted it with powdered sugar instead. It’s a no-fail decorating tool!

There is something quite comforting about a loaf cake- they can be so delicious, without being intimidating for the baker or the consumer. Plus, you can dress it up or down with whatever you like, making it one of those creations which fits at a  party or a picnic. Personally, I like having a slice of loaf cake first thing in the morning, still in my pajamas, with a cup of coffee.

Am I- gasp– turning into Nigella?

20130520_164241

Hope all you bakers out there had fun on World Baking Day. Here’s to more happy baking round-the-year!