Of birthdays, breads and cakes

This is one of the posts written to set the record straight. Remember, when the pretend interviewer came to talk to me on my birthday last week and I confessed that oven was cold and it was only the couch that was getting warmed courtesy my backside. Well, since then, I have been on a baking spree. So there! I hauled myself into the kitchen, vitamin deficiencies notwithstanding, and produced bread sticks to accompany the pasta for dinner on Saturday; and the following day, baked a yogurt-cardamom cake to celebrate yet another birthday – that of my sister-in-law’s (also known as birthday kid’s mom BKM) She is my partner in baking crimes, so it is only fitting that I do something for our joint birthday celebrations.

Hot from the oven breadsticks
Hot from the oven breadsticks

Cardamom Yogurt Cake

Rachel Allen had lovingly made this cake (1 of 6) for me, on television, on my birthday. I followed it up with the real deal. My neighborhood greengrocer was quite puzzled though, when I turned up panting at her shop early in the morning, to buy one single orange. Since I did not have the time to explain, I bought two.

The recipe uses yogurt which, I believe, explains its melt-in-the-mouth texture.  The cardamom is quite pronounced and not for the faint-hearted who are scared of spices.  All in all, it is very ‘different’ from your run-of-the mill chocolate cake and the likes. And if you have an orange handy (or an understanding greengrocer), it is fairly simple to put together.

Notes to self:

  • Regardless of whether you are halving the recipe or not, bake for the given time – or at least till nicely browned. Don’t be in a rush to make the lunch deadline and rush the baking process
  • Again, irrespective of time, take your time making the icing. Don’t keep adding liquid in your desire to make the sugar melt faster. Else, the icing will slide off the cake and pool around the sides. Better still, leave the icing off, because, your waistline can do without the sugar
  • If you are leaving raspberries off (as there is only so much one can expect from the greengrocer) – think of other ways to make it pretty and add to the flavor – pistachio or almond slivers?
  • If you do all the above, perhaps it will look pretty enough for a decent photograph, which you can click and upload on to the blog

Breadsticks

For those still taking baby steps on their bread baking journey, I cannot recommend this recipe over at Mel’s Kitchen enough. A) It is quite easy to do B) You will have most ingredients on hand. No oranges or other fruits involved. C) There is very little kneading required Even those with vitamin deficiencies can pull it off.  D) It allows for multitasking and for you to get the pasta done on the side.

Since I made a few  minor changes, writing my version down.

You will need: ¾ cup warm water, ½ tbsp yeast, 1 tbsp caster sugar, a little more than 1 ¾ cup AP flour, ¼ tsp salt (I eyeballed this – will add a tad more the next time); some milk and butter for brushing on the glaze

Mix all dry ingredients together and add the water to make a fairly sticky dough. Knead for a few minutes – about three to five will do; the dough gets dryer, smoother and more elastic, bouncing back at your touch. If the dough continues to feel sticky, add some flour. I used up about ¼ cup more, so 2 cups in total. Rest the dough, covered with cling wrap, for ten minutes.

Roll out dough to ½ inch thickness and cut into slices. Mel recommends using a pizza cutter, which, of course, I had on hand. Use a really sharp knife, if you don’t. You want clean edges! Grease a baking tray with butter and place bread dough sticks on it; about ½ inch apart. I got 10 sticks out of the batch and squeezed the smaller one perpendicular along the edges. Sprinkle on some mixed herbs. I used a mix which had garlic salt in it (a bottle gifted by the dear SIL/BKM). You could also add some crushed garlic to your glaze.  Cover again with cling wrap and let it rise for 30 minutes, till it doubles in volume.

Pre-heat oven to 180 centigrade and bake sticks for 15 minutes.  Brush on the glaze of some milk (with melted butter) and bake for another 5 minutes.

Keep yourself from eating the lot before it hits the table.

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