Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Rich Fruit Cake


In my childhood days, during Christmas there would be a cake exhibition with some cool, fancy cake exhibits, we never missed going to. We’d buy the "oh-so-yumm" Christmas fruit cake and return home all happy!  Fruit cakes are a favorite with my family.

One of my favorite thing to do is bake. LIVE LOVE BAKE, right? :) 

However, it was my first time baking a fruit cake. Last year, 4 days before Christmas a friend of mine called and said, she’s hosting a pot-luck party for Christmas. This gave me an occasion to bake,  I was so excited! 

I pestered my sister, who is a Pro-baker, a sweet heart, a tough cookie, a hotel –management graduate, a rising sales professional and my honey bunch sugar plum to give me the best recipe.
I made the cake and oh’ my, that truly was one of my best cakes! This 1967 recipe, she shared was the best. She found it on Pinterest.  
With its two key ingredients, rum and butter--it ought to be a hit!
This morning I saw “100 days to Christmas” in more than a couple of places and I thought I must share this christmaseyy recipe on my blog!
Rich fruit cake (serves 12)
100 grams of fruit and peel mix (I used the Old English fruit and peel mix)
1 cup chopped raisins
1 cup Sultanas
1/3 cup chopped red glace’ Cherries
2/3 cup of blanched almonds, chopped
½ cup Brandy or Sherry
2 cups of plain flour
4 teaspoon of baking powder
½ teaspoon of ground cloves
½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1 cups of butter softened
1 1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon lemon essence or finely grated lemon rind
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
4 large eggs at room temperature
Place currants, sultanas, raisins and mixed peel, glace cherries and almonds in a large bowl and mix well. Sprinkle with Sherry or brandy.
I used Brandy – Thanks to my friend Rashmi who gave me top shelf stuff!
Cover and set aside for 1 hour or overnight to macerate – I let it soak for 2 days.
Preheat oven to 320 Fahrenheit (160 Celsius)
Grease a deep cake/loaf pan and line base and side with two layers if brown paper and a payer of parchment/baking paper. Sift flour and spices.
Beat the butter, sugar and essences in a large bowl until pale and creamy. Add the egg one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately fold in fruit and flour mixtures until well combined. – the mixture should be stiff enough to support wooden spoon. Spoon mixture into prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake for 31/2 to 4 hours or until skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside in the pan to cool completely.
I received some flattering, rave reviews for my cake, the party was great and it was a Merry Christmas for us all!


Undoubtedly, I am making it this year too, Happy Baking to you all!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Back to work!

One of my posts BreakFREEeee was me frustrated and putting into words those feelings, I missed my work life.
All of us need to vent and that one of my venting posts.

Now, I look back and that part of my life taught me a few things.
  • I learnt to be selfless, a better human being
  • To be patient
  • Learn how I was irreplaceable
  • Learnt to develop a new expertise, a new skill. Dancing or Baking!
  • Believe in Magic
  • Peace - Not be torn between home and work

I must say, I enjoyed and  cherished moments of being a full time mommy.

Now, our son Aarav grown up to be a fine 4 year old. I and my husband wonder, how is it possible that out of all the little boys in the whole world.. My husband and I got the best one?!
He never stops to amaze us! It is an absolute joy being his mother.

After a 4 year break, I did rejoin the corporate world.
The journey began March,2015 we filed for my H1 (work permit Visa for those on H4s).
I was picked through a lottery system , that was the first ray of hope!

My next step was face interviews, I started my study to groom myself for interviews, this time not as the interviewer but as the interviewee.
I say this because, 5 years ago, I free-lanced for a company and one weekend, I and a colleague of mine interviewed about 100+ candidates during a job fair. It was a long day!

May, June, July & Aug of 2014 were all about studying, Q&A, taking tests and may be a movie or two! October, I had my work permit, Hurray!
End of the year,  holiday mood was - "ON" and so there wasn’t much activity.

October 2014, I free-lanced as a Business Analyst for a Company, first paycheck was happiness!
I was thrilled to get a full time job in the start of 2015, for today it has been over 7 months and I feel like they went by so fast!
I enjoy my role at my company and love what I do!
Life is uncertain, it's full of surprises, priorities change and pursuing our dreams may not be possible.
I learnt to put them on hold, enjoyed what life had to give me.

Never forget to dream on and pursue them when there is a possibility!
I have been blessed with family who support me in my ventures and I am forever thankful!

                                                                                                                                                                     Signing off
                                                                                                                                                                           ~Happy me

Picture courtesy: Google :)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Aarav turns 4!

When I write this.. 4 seems to be a big number but visions of the first time I saw my son are so fresh!
It was like this.. I lay on the table and saw the most beautiful thing, pink lil hands, feet, with spiked black hair, crying out loud.. I wanted to look, keep looking but the nurses took him away so quick… 4 hours later, I held him for the first time! Wow, 4 years went rather fast!

It makes me so happy when he colors pictures, says his numbers, words, asks questions, shares toys… he makes me proud :)

Aarav and I were home on a rainy day, I was busy looking into my phone. He was playing, I murmured to myself " oh, I am so hungry" soon Aarav comes to me and says, "Mumma, I am sorry" I, very curiously ask him "why are you sorry?", He says… "b'coz, I don’t know how to make food for you."

I was touched.. My lil boy so sensitive, so thoughtful!

From soft toys - barn animals - play doh - dinosaurs - cars - super heroes, a month before his 4th birthday, his happening favorite was Dinosaurs. He would name 10-20 types of dinosaurs!
When asked what cake he would want when he turned 4, perceptibly he said DINOSAURS.

It was a chocolate mousse cake and a old fashioned sugar cake this time! I enjoyed baking all this from scratch and was overjoyed when it was all put together.
With friends, food  and fun it was a memorable celebration.

The chocolate mousse cake was 9*13 inch chocolate cake with chocolate mousse filling, poured with generous amounts of chocolate ganache and bordered with pirouette cookies. I made 3 dinosaur fondant animals and placed it on the silky ganache.

The old fashioned sugar cake was two layered with 9 inch holding the 6 inch layers. The cake was frosted with butter cream and filled with Nutella and fresh cream. The decor on the cake was done with some tinted fondant. 

These memories are precious and writing or reading about them makes me revisit these beautiful moments!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Our Farm Birthday Story!

Aarav, my son loves barn animals and his favorite rhyme is "Old Mac Donald had a farm"
He loved watching this rhyme a 100 times and would be eager for more any time of the day!
For us it was Old Mac Donald overdose!

To cheer his love for old Mac Donald and barn animals, weeks before his Third Birthday, my husband and I wanted to give him a farm themed Birthday party! We thought of farm themed goodie bags for guests, cake, cupcakes and cookies!

I love to bake and wanted everything "Mom-made" for my boy!

I derived inspiration form many sources online! With all those ideas bubbling in my head, I couldn't go to bed, every night I was imagining so many things, what, when and how it should be done.
It was a big project, hopefully a successful one!
 A week before his Birthday, I planned on making the fondant animals, Cows, A horse, sheep, chickens with a nest, ducks and they looked great! Everyday I got to work for 2-3 hours when my son napped. It was important to keep all this a “Shhhh”... Surprise! There was no way I wanted him to see those animals before his Birthday!
It was a joy making these cute animals! The more you work with fondant the more creative you get. As I put together the parts of the animals they looked great! These appealing, cute lil animals were ready to be placed on a cake. The cake!


 I also made about 48 fondant animal faces to be placed on the cupcakes! I enjoyed doing every bit of this. I was so thrilled when they all started looking great together. 
The day before his birthday, I planned on baking the cake and that night my thoughts took over my sleep and I was so restless. I hoped that the cake turns out well and nothing goes wrong! 
Next morning, I baked 5 layers pineapple sponge cake, 2 layers of chocolate magic cake, about 50 cupcakes and 5 dozens of sugar cookies with Aarav's name, flowers and the number 3!
Wow! I had turned my kitchen into a bakery! It was great, the sugary buttery perfume for days!
I primed 3 types of icing. A fresh cream icing with pineapple chunks to get into the layers of the sponge cake, Chocolate hazelnut fresh cream for the chocolate cake and the butter cream icing tinted in colors for decorating the cake.

So now was the BIG, important, final task, putting them all together to make those dramatic thoughts and imagination a reality.
The decorations were looking so fantastic! We used animal patterned balloons and colored paper, it was simple yet festive. My husband did a wonderful job!

It was about 4 pm, on 19th of May, Aarav was napping, I started my assembly, focused. I put them all together and here’s how it looked. It was the most complicated cake I had made till date and with the way it looked and tasted, I was proud of myself.

Aarav woke up and looked at the d├ęcor and the goodies and he said “This is for me! Thank you Mommy and daddy, I love you. I loved the surprise” He hugged us and that moment was pure bliss. It was worth all our efforts! That expression on his face and those precious words he said will always be in our heart forever!

We got ready for our guests and it was a great party with great food and wonderful people!