Angoor Panna / Grape Juice Concentrate

Angoor Panna/Grape Juice Concentrate I Boxofspice

I’m a movie buff. If I could live in a movie, I think I would. At which my detractors would gleefully say, aha, she doesn’t like reality. Who cares! Right?

Growing up, we didn’t have much exposure to foreign films so we only watched Hindi movies. If you’ve never watched a Bollywood movie you’re definitely missing out. Every Bollywood movie has a healthy dose of love, tragedy, sex, laughter, sorrow and loads of moralistic messages thrown in for good measure! There was, therefore, something for everyone. Sometimes it didn’t even make sense but we loved it all just the same. Its a popular adage that Indian films are not made for the sophisticated. This was definitely true and maybe still is. The common man, the man that is poor, does not want an ending that is going to remind him of his own miserable life but wants a fantasy that will let him dream about a life he could’ve had or still can. I think the true objective of films in India was to inspire or encourage a hope for a better tomorrow. There is everything good with that.

We used to look forward to Sunday nights the whole week because that’s when the movie got aired. On a general scale we were only allowed 30 minutes of television so Sunday was very special. I guess any more time wouldn’t have mattered since there was nothing on television anyway. Broadcast only used to start at 6pm! Unimaginable to think of in our over stimulated world today. I know my ten year old is going to roll her eyes at this but those were more charmed times. There was a joy in the wait. There was no instant gratification and there certainly was gratitude at the little that we did get.

The movie for the upcoming Sunday used to get announced on Sunday itself. Which meant being excited the entire week for the upcoming movie. The movie was aired with a break in the middle just like they do in theaters to this day in India. Maybe because the movies are so goddamn long! Understandable when you think of all that drama that they had to squeeze in! It was in the break that we used to get the yummies. I sit here salivating as I think of that time. Mom used to come gliding in with the samosas, pakodas and the home made fries and the nimbu paani (lemonade). And I guess it was not so much about the movie as it was about sitting together in all that delicious coziness. So we sat together in close huddle, just the three of us, my sister, me and the lioness that is my mother. Army dude dad was always away protecting the country from this and that!

By the time the snacks got freshly made, it was time for the movie to begin again, after the break. And that is how we sat, leaning forward, chomping away at the fries and what not, licking our fingers, oohing and aahing at whatever happened on our small dinky toy of a black and white television. They were magical times.

Mango panna is very popular in India. It is made from raw green mangoes and really is mango water with some spices thrown in. I’ve just made it with concord grapes. And it tasted mighty fine. And if any of you love sitting by the television eating fries with your favorite movie. Go with this drink. Will keep in the refrigerator for a month too. Just make sure you sterilize the bottle you put it in.

Angoor Panna/Grape Juice Concentrate I Boxofspice

Angoor Panna/Grape Juice Concentrate I Boxofspice

Angoor Panna/Grape Juice Concentrate I Boxofspice

Angoor Panna/Grape Juice Concentrate I Boxofspice

Angoor Panna/Grape Juice Concentrate I Boxofspice

Angoor Panna/Grape Juice Concentrate I Boxofspice

800 grams concord grapes
1/4 cup honey
50 grams gud/jaggery
2 tsps black salt
1 1/2 tsps cumin, roasted and finely ground

to prepare
Remove the grapes from their stems and wash well. In a pan, bring the grapes, the jaggery and the honey to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 15-20 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and then sieve out the juice from the grapes. Use the back of a spoon to press out as much juice as you can.

Add the black salt and the roasted cumin powder and mix into the concentrate. Bottle and refrigerate. Depending on how sweet you like pour some into a glass (like you would any concentrate) and add water.

Serve chilled with some masala fries!


Rainbow Cake

Rainbow Cake I Boxofspice

Usually when Charlize’s birthday is a month or two away, we sit together at the computer and decide what we’re going to whip up for her birthday. We will sit for hours searching for that perfect cake. And there are so many out there. Its a fun process.

Now she was turning 10 this year. If you have a nine year old you know this is pretty big of a deal. Not in a I-want-a-big-party kind of way but definitely mentally, its huge. At least for this monkey it is. Its going into 2 digits after all. Never again, I joked, are you going to be a single number C! So she struts and preens, feeling oh so grown up at the idea of ten! How wonderfully innocent she is, how delightfully pure.

One day while it poured in Rotterdam, as it has been doing almost everyday, I left the house to pick up Charlize from school. As I approached school, it suddenly cleared with the most beautiful rainbow on show. I needed to take a picture for Charlize before it disappeared. I quickly whipped out my phone, but after taking some 5-6, I gave up. My iphone 4 is just not up to speed. And then I looked up to see my baby girls face as she left school to witness that spectacular scene.

We both marveled and walked away.

That rainbow must’ve left quite an impression because a few days later, she asked for a rainbow cake! SO, if a rainbow cake is what she wants, a rainbow cake is what she gets. I can never say no to cake requests from my baby! <3

I really wanted to make a monster of a cake and I certainly succeeded! And don’t let the way it looks fool you because this cake is easy. Very tedious but easy. If you have oodles of time and are super patience, love baking, then you will enjoy making this cake. Because its just a regular cake with colors at the end of the day!

The ingredients below are for 5 layers, so if you want you can stick to just 5. However, I wanted to make at least 7. I mean a rainbow has 7 colors. In fact I made 8 layers because I so wanted a pink layer but then realized the cake wouldn’t fit in the refrigerator!!!

All in all the birthday was a success thanks to a cake Charlize was very proud of. SO, Happy Birthday again baby girl. I certainly didn’t know what love was before I knew you…


Rainbow Cake I Boxofspice

Rainbow Cake I Boxofspice

Rainbow Cake I Boxofspice

Rainbow Cake I Boxofspice

Rainbow Cake I Boxofspice

Rainbow Cake I Boxofspice

for 5 layers of cake (I doubled these ingredients)
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups granulated sugar
170 grams unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp vinegar
food coloring ( you really need just red, blue and yellow to make all the colors)

buttercream frosting (recipe adapted from here), this is for 7-8 layers
675 grams butter, softened
8-9 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1 tsp salt
3 tbsps vanilla extract
9-10 tbsps heavy cream

to prepare
Beat butter 5 minutes with a mixer (I use a hand held one). Add around 7 cups of powdered sugar and mix on the lowest speed (so the sugar doesn’t blow everywhere) until the sugar is fully incorporated with the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and 7-8 tablespoons of cream and beat for another few minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining cream 1 tablespoon at a time.

to prepare
Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C. Butter and flour 7-inch round baking pans. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl add flour, baking soda and salt. Sift in cocoa powder then mix mixture 20 seconds, set aside.

In another bowl whip together sugar and butter until pale and fluffy. Mix in vegetable oil. Blend in the eggs one at a time, mixing just until combined after each addition. Mix in egg yolks.

In a pan whisk the buttermilk with the vanilla extract and vinegar. Working in three separate, beginning and ending with flour mixture, add 1/3 of the flour mixture alternating with 1/2 of the buttermilk mixture and mixing just until combined after each addition. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure everything is incorporated.

Divide mixture evenly first in bowls so you can mix the color. Make a color of your choice, in this case it was red, orange, yellow, light green, dark green, blue, and purple. Once you have mixed in the colors to your satisfaction, pour into the prepared baking pans. I did 300 grams of each color separately and it worked out just right. If you want thinner layers you could do a little less.

Even out the batter in your pan and bake in the preheated oven for 25 – 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool in cake pan, invert onto wire racks to cool completely. Once cool, you slice of the top if it is domed.

to put the cake together
Place the first layer of cake (according to the color scheme you have chosen), on a cake stand. Spread a thin layer of the frosting on (in my case it was around a cup). Place the next layer on top and repeat with all the layers.

Frost the cake on the outside, putting a thin layer all around. I don’t have a rotating stand so this was difficult to do with such a tall cake and even though I wanted a cake that was just smooth, I totally messed up! If this happens decorate with frill, swirls, whatever you like! :)



Lauki Kofta {Vegetarian Meatballs} Curry

lauki kofta I boxofspice

Its been a weekend filled with birthday celebrations. My baby girl (who is not such a baby anymore) turned 10. And just the day before hers, my mother celebrated her own. For everyone who knows me intimately, birthdays are just not my thing. But I make exceptions for this darling bonsai of a person in my life. She is so modest in her needs and never really asked for anything for her birthday. (Which might be a trick because then I tend to shower her with more!) But, she did request a rainbow cake. And a rainbow cake she got! (on the blog soon)

It is a pleasure to see a person form into themselves. And that you might play a small part in who they become. I may have pooh-poohed ideas Ma floated to me decades ago but internally they formed me and I am so grateful. My streak of independence and rebellion I owe solely to her. She gave me my self worth. Of always trying things myself before asking for help. Of being strong. Of questioning traditions that apply only to women and have no meaning. It was she that taught me to question things in general and not to accept them blindly.

She also taught me to love lauki! Or ghiya or bottle gourd. It is the most hated vegetable in the fraternity of kids. :) Many a parent will use it to blackmail with great success. But I loved it. Maybe because ma made it so well.

Lauki is also unbelievably good for health. Drink its juice first thing in the morning, and you could lose weight and get a ton of healthy nutrients inside like Vitamin C, Vitamin B, sodium, iron and potassium. It is supposed to be fantastic for high blood pressure and to calm down liver inflammation too. It really is a super food hiding in the skin of a vegetable given such a bad reputation.

I will share the recipe for a super healthy lauki juice another time but today it is going to be a delicious delicious curry just the way Ma made it. We use the juice for the gravy anyway. Try it and you will not be sorry.

lauki kofta I boxofspice

lauki kofta I boxofspice

lauki kofta I boxofspice

lauki kofta I boxofspice

lauki kofta I boxofspice

lauki kofta I boxofspice

for kofta
1 cup lauki/bottle gourd, peeled and grated
3 tbsps gram/besan flour
2 tbsps bread crumbs
1 tsp turmeric powder
2-3 green chilies, add more or less according to taste
1 tbsp ginger paste
1 tbsp garlic paste
1 medium onion, finely chopped
salt to taste
oil for deep frying

to prepare
Peel and grate the lauki/bottle gourd. Since this vegetable is 95% water, squeeze out as much juice as you can and keep separately.Do not throw away. We are going to use this juice for the gravy.

Take the grated lauki in a large bowl and add the gram flour, bread crumbs, turmeric powder, ginger garlic paste, finely chopped onions and chilies and salt. Mix well with hands. The consistency should be thick so that you can form balls. Work fast, as the lauki will continue to shed water and you don’t want soggy balls. Grease your palms with a little bit of oil and divide the mixture into about 9-10 portions. Take each portion and form into a ball.

Heat oil at high in a wok. When the oil is hot, reduce heat to medium and add 3-4 balls at a time. Stir occasionally  and deep fry until golden brown. Drain excess oil using a slotted spoon and place on a kitchen towel.

for gravy
3 medium  tomatoes, skin removed
2 tbsps cashew nuts, soaked for at least 30 minutes
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp ginger paste
1 tbsp garlic paste
2 medium onions, pureed
2 tsps coriander powder
1 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 cup thick yoghurt
1 cup water
2 tbsps oil
salt to taste

to prepare
Heat the oil in a wok. Add the cumin seeds and cook until they begin to sputter. Add the ginger garlic paste and stir fry for a 3-4 minutes. Add chopped onions and stir fry till they become transparent. Puree the tomatoes and cashews together and add to the onions on the fire. Stir fry for another 10 minutes.

Add all the dry spices and cook for a few minutes till the spices are nicely incorporated. Add the yoghurt and mix well. Cook for around ten minutes or till the raw smell of the tomatoes and onions is gone.

Add the lauki water (which we kept aside from after squeezing the grated lauki). Add the water and cook for another 5-8 minutes. The gravy should reduce a little. At this point add the kofta balls and cook for some 5-6 minutes. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve hot with naan or basmati rice.

note: deep fry the koftas on medium heat. If the oil is too hot, they will brown too quickly but the inside will remain raw.

Celebrating Summer


Life is wonderful. I think we forget that. All the time. But when you open your eyes, its all around you. And summer is a time for more joy than normal. The last couple of days have been brilliant in terms of the weather. Sure its humid but its so wonderfully warm and I can’t get enough of it. The backyard is full of spiders desperately spinning away, making their temporary homes before someone comes and disrupts their solace, the flowers are bursting out of every nook and cranny and when the warm wind kisses my skin, I can’t not be happy.

Plum Pie and Berry Tartlets I Boxofspice

This weekend my baby girl requested some cakes for a barbecue she was invited to for her hockey team. Well! I live for moments like that. I was beaming with joy of course. More happiness. I set off on my bike early Saturday morning to go to the farmers market to get some inspiration and before a ton of people arrived. Not a morning person at all, I was proud when I hit the market as early as 9 am! The market was peaceful as I’ve never seen it. No jostling, no screaming and the sellers happy to serve you. I think I know where I am going to be early Saturday mornings from now on. :)

Plum Pie and Berry Tartlets I Boxofspice

Plum Pie and Berry Tartlets I Boxofspice

The fruit and the variety available was unbelievable. I saw 3 different varieties of plums. I’d never seen them before and had to have them. Then came the strawberries and the blackberries and the raspberries and it just kept coming. I came back with bag fulls of fruit I didn’t know what to do with.

So, here is what I decided to make after some hours of brainstorming with myself! A chocolate cake. Where there are kids there has to be a chocolate cake, don’t you think? (I will share the recipe for this later) and of course with all that fruit, it had to be a fruit pie. Two sort in fact.

Plum Pie with Saunth/Ginger and Rosemary Butter

Plum Pie I Boxofspice

for the crust
2 1/2
cups all-purpose flour, plus flour for dusting
3 tbsps sugar
1 tsp sea salt
225 grams unsalted butter, cold and cut in cubes
6 to 8 tbsps ice water
1 egg, lightly beaten

for the filling
1 kilo plums, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch-thick slices (I used three varieties but you could go with whatever is available)
2 tbsps unsalted butter
3-4 sprigs of rosemary
1/2 cup sugar + 1 tbsp for sprinkling
3 tbsps plain flour
zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2
tbsps saunth or ginger powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder

to prepare
To make the crust, combine the flour, sugar, and sea salt in a large mixing bowl. Gently mix in the butter into the flour with your fingertips. Work the flour till it resembles bread crumbs and then gradually drizzle in ice water, folding with your fingers, one tablespoon at a time. Add just enough water to hold the dough together. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gather into a mound. Divide into 2 discs and wrap each with plastic wrap. Chill dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

For the rosemary butter, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the sprigs of rosemary and and turn the heat to low. Steep for 20 minutes. Remove sprigs and set butter aside.

Position oven rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 425°F/220° C.

Butter and flour a 9-inch pie dish. On a lightly floured surface, roll one of the discs of dough into a 14-inch circle. Roll dough onto your pin and unfold into the prepared pie dish. Press dough into sides and bottom, and trim all but 1-inch of the overhanging dough. Set pie dish in the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the rest of the pie.

Prepare the filling by combining peaches, sugar, flour, lemon zest and juice, ginger powder, cinnamon and sea salt. Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the second disc of dough into a rough 10- by 15-inch rectangle. Use a pastry cutter or sharp paring knife to cut six 2-inch strips.

Spoon the filling into the chilled pie shell and drizzle with the rosemary butter. Lay 3 dough strips parallel across the pie. Weave in the remaining 3 in the other direction. Trim any excess dough, fold the bottom crust up around the edge, and crimp as you wish. I used a fork. Brush top of crust with the egg and sprinkle with one tablespoon of sugar.

Set the pie on a baking sheet and slide into oven. Bake pie for 15 minutes. Rotate pan, turn heat down to 350°F/175°C, and bake for another 35 to 45 minutes, or until pie is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. (If edges browns too quickly, tent with foil.)

Allow pie to cool completely, 3 hours or more.

Plum Pie I Boxofspice

Plum Pie I Boxofspice


Mixed Berry Tartlets

(makes 6-8 mini tartlets)

Mixed Berry Tartlets I Boxofspice

Mixed Berry Tartlets I Boxofspice

Mixed Berry Tartlets I Boxofspice

for the crust
Same as the plum pie. You can do a lattice top for these too or any pattern you like.

for the filling
Same as the plum pie. Use around 50 grams each of berries of choice. Omit the ginger powder and cinnamon and the rosemary butter.

to prepare
Same as the plum cake. Except that these are smaller tartlets. Let them sit in the oven for around 10 minutes before reducing the temperature and then bake for another 20-25 minutes or until the crust is beautifully brown and the fruit is bubbling.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or eat just because you need a pie piece or a tart to start or finish your day!

Enjoy… <3


Two Bean Salad with Wild Rice, Blackberries and a Spicy Tahini Dressing

two bean salad I boxofspice

I went away this summer and I think the highlight of visiting the many countries I touched was visiting their local grocery stores. I obviously couldn’t come back with perishables but I did manage to bring back these absolutely stunning pink beans. Well the beans themselves were not pink but their shell was. I was lazy getting their picture but I looked online and they look a lot like what are called cranberry beans. They look awfully like what we Indians have been making rajma from. Say rajma to any Indian in India and abroad and you will see their faces light up! I think the only thing I can compare it to is chili but without meat. It used to and still is my favorite thing. Ma used to make every Sunday as we grew up and I remember making myself sick with it. Eyes being bigger than my tummy etc.. :) I intend to post it on the blog one of these days. My moms recipe because no one and I mean no one made it like she did.

So you can imagine my excitement when I saw these. And these were fresh beans. Never before seen by my eyes! I had to have them even though I knew they might go bad by the time I got back. And on some minor research work on the net and it turns out these beans are the fresh version of my childhood favorite dried chitri beans or rosecoco beans. I loved the idea of using them in a salad since I didn’t buy enough to make rajma with.

So this salad is so pretty isn’t it? And it is so fresh and sooo healthy too. I love garbanzo beans or channa and the cranberry beans or rajma beans as I call them are just delicious with a lovely nutty taste. This salad is just perfect for lunch and very filling. So if you are looking to be healthy and get some important nutrition inside of you, this is a wonderful salad. And super super easy to make.

You can replace the cranberry beans with red kidney beans if you like or just add them on.

This post has two versions of this salad. One without some Indian ingredients and one with. Both are delicious. both have the same basic ingredients. So you get to pick which one you’re going to make!

two bean salad I boxofspice

I’ve also never used tahini paste before. I saw it at my grocery store and decided to use it for this salad. I’m Indian and just cannot not use a spice we use in our kitchen almost everyday! I adapted the recipe for the dressing from one of my favorite bloggers here. I’ve used ingredients from a famous Indian dish, the bhelpuri. You could say this is a modern day Rakhee’s twist on the bhelpuri. The ingredients for bhelpuri are easily available at any Indian store.

two bean salad I boxofspice

two bean salad I boxofspice

two bean salad I boxofspice

two bean salad I boxofspice

two bean salad I boxofspice

for the salad
1 cup cooked wild rice
120 grams garbanzo beans (from a can, drained)
120 grams cranberry beans (cooked – I cooked them in a pressure cooker and gave one whistle. They turned out perfect)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
3 green chilies (add more or add less according to how hot you like it)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
handful of blackberries

bhelpuri ingredients
1/2 cup deep fried sev
1/2 cup puffed rice
1/4 cup papdi
handful of roasted peanuts

for the tahini dressing
6 tbsps tahini (white)
juice from half a lemon
juice of half an orange
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsps olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp hot sauce
water to thin out the dressing

to prepare
Combine all ingredients for the salad, except the blackberries, the bhelpuri ingredients and the chopped cilantro. Refrigerate for around 30 minutes.

Whisk all ingredients for the dressing together. Add water only if needed to thin out the dressing and one tablespoon at a time.

Spoon out in individual bowls and top with blackberries and the chopped cilantro. Sprinkle the dressing generously.

two bean salad I boxofspice

note: You can totally leave out the bhelpuri ingredients if you want to. The salad will still be gorgeously delicious! If you do use them add them only before serving otherwise they will become soggy.


Tri-Colored Lamington Cake

lamington cake

I can’t believe it has been weeks since I was here. It’s because I have been sitting on my couch, with my thinking hat on.

To think about life and my place in it is not a new thing for me. I have questioned my existence for as long as I can remember. But several years ago, seven to be exact, it went into hyper drive. Was it an early advent of middle age or was it the realization of true love? That I will never know. I would like to believe that it was both. I’ve always been far older in thought than my peers yet the dearest person in my life would say I never matured further than 15. Both are true I’m afraid. I treasure greatly the idea of my self declared multi faceted personality. I am hardly concerned with others discovering me, apart from the one that I hold closest to my heart. Self discovery keeps me plenty busy. My older readers will surely understand this.

I come from a country that imposes every possible social conditioning onto the female gender. I have always been determined to break them all. It proved harder than I thought. It is so deeply ingrained in my rebellious body. How insidiously it entered my brain. But I live every day in the hope of crushing those voices in my head telling me to judge a situation by what someone decided was right or wrong. In essence there is no such thing. There is no such thing as a blanket or generalized right or wrong. And, let me point out, I exist because of my principles. I exist because of the rights and wrongs I created for myself. And, I believed I created them myself. But its not true. Any which way I look at it I was not the creator of my own values. That’s a hard blow. One I am reeling from.

It happened when my best friend asked me why I keep some principles alive. What do they bring you, he asked? Keep the ones that keep you happy and re-evaluate the ones that bring you only pain. Because isn’t living all about making ourselves better versions of ourselves? Versions that we are happy with? That can only come with constantly looking into the mirror and perhaps often having to say, “hey, I think I went wrong there for myself” For myself, because no one else matters. THAT is progress.

In the end I’m a mortal and one day this will all end. I wonder how many of those useless principles I continue to hang on to will make my journey pleasurable. Love is the only thing, as cliched and as stupid and mushy as it may sound… love is the only thing that gets us through. Love not principles. By no means is it a cake walk, that today I say “hey stupid principle, go bite the dust” and miraculously tomorrow I wake up skipping. Quite the opposite. Its a deep struggle with myself which results in me slowly scraping out the true version of me.

As I combat this deep seated malaise, and this reorganizing and reinventing of my being, it is important not to sink into myself. Easier said than done. Cooking not only saves me from sitting on my couch for weeks on end not noticing the world go around me but it is an important part of my self discovery.

This cake, the Lamington Cake, is an Australian delight. It is usually served as square sponge cake bites, drowned in melted chocolate and then rolled around in coconut. Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? I can’t resist anything with coconut in it anyway! I decided to make a cake out of it. Three layers of sponge cake. Each layers soaked in a different sort of sweetness and then covered with toasted coconut deliciousness. This is an extremely easy cake, laborious for me since I don’t own a kitchen machine but if you have one, this is as easy as it gets.

lamington cake

lamington cake

lamington cake

lamington cake

lamington cake

lamington cake




for the sponge cake
320 grams fine sugar
320 grams self rising flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsps baking powder
6 eggs
150 ml milk
220 grams butter

3 cups toasted shredded coconut (for decorating)

to prepare
Preheat your oven to 170°C/350°F. Butter and flour 3 cake tins. I used 7″ round tins.

Over a pot of slightly simmering water, heat the sugar and the eggs in a double boiler until they are hot to the touch. Using an electric hand whisk, whisk for around 25 minutes on a medium/high speed until the egg mix is pale, fluffy and can hold a peak. If you have a kitchen aid this will take roughly 8-10 minutes. While you are whisking, heat the butter in a saucepan over low heat until the butter starts to turn a toasty brown. Remove from heat, add the vanilla and set aside.

Gently scrape the egg mix into a wide, large mixing bowl. Sift over half the flour/salt mix and gently fold in with a spatula. Fold in the remaining sifted flour until it has been fully incorporated. Slowly pour in the warm melted butter mix and fold in. Lastly add the milk.

Scrape and divide the mix into the prepared tins and smooth the tops a little.

Bake until lightly bouncy in the center and golden brown about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean.

Cool completely.

Once cool, trim the tops so you get and set aside.

chocolate sauce
200 grams icing sugar
50 grams cocoa
35 grams water
50 grams butter
50 grams heavy cream
1 tsp coffee

to prepare
Stir the icing mix and cocoa together in a bowl. Heat the water, butter and cream until boiling and pour into the bowl. Whisk well to make a smooth icing. Set aside.

pink sauce
200 grams icing sugar
35 grams water
pink food coloring

to prepare
Mix the icing sugar with the water. Whisk well to make a smooth icing. Set aside.

white chocolate sauce
200 grams white chocolate
100 grams heavy cream

to prepare
Melt the chocolate and cream in a double boiler. Whisk and mix till a smooth icing forms. Set aside.

to put cake together
Dip each layer of cake in each of the sauces. You can set the layer on a wire cooling rack and just pour on the sauce and then flip the layer to cover the other side. Once you have the layer fully covered, dab the coconut on generously.

I put the chocolate layer on the bottom, the pink layer in the middle and finally the white chocolate dipped layer on the top. Stack them on however you like though. I also used some extra large coconut chunks on the top. You can skip this if you like. Let sit for a while and then cut your slice and go to heaven!

I don’t like refrigerating sponge cakes, and I think they are best eaten right away.

lamington cake

lamington cake

Chocolate Coffee Cake Topped with Dried Rose Petals

chocolate coffee cake

With spring/summer in full force here in Holland, flowers are everywhere. Holland is known for its flowers, not only flowers you get at a store but also flowers people plant outside their homes. There is such a burst of color everywhere you look. It is virtually impossible not to feel some sort of joy when looking at the beauty.

This season I have suddenly fallen in love with roses. I never did like roses because of  everything cliched that they represent. Looking around me, seeing how wildly beautiful they grow at every street corner, I have fallen in love with them. The roses in a store have a different appeal, but these that grow so free are so incredibly irresistible.

chocolate coffee cake

It all started when Charlize and I started smelling all the roses we saw around us. Her idea, to find the most beautiful and the most fragrant rose. As beautiful as they all were or are, and had the promise of the delicious fragrance that a rose must possess, they all disappointed. Till we suddenly saw a pale orange rose desperately trying to show itself amongst the bush of other flowers in our very own tiny backyard. By now we were quite sure this rose, as beautiful as it was, would not have the fragrance we were so desperate to find. I plucked just one of it luxurious petals and held it gingerly to my nose. I was knocked off of my feet when the fragrance, so sweet and so intoxicating wafted into my senses. The rose in hiding or should I say in plain sight, was our perfect rose.

And then I left the petal on a table and forgot all about it.

Several days later, I saw that pale orange petal transformed to a flaming dried red one. How the color changed I have no idea. It was as if that lone petal sucked all the color around it. In death, it became yet more beautiful. Nor did it sacrifice its scent.

This event was too beautiful to not try again. Maybe it would not happen again. So I tried with yet one more petal. The exact same thing happened again.

For me roses go perfectly with chocolate. This cake happened because of that rose and not the other way around. I love that because of the way it surprised me. I patiently looked at all the petals from 2 roses from the backyard, turn to a flaming red.These are the petals you will so on top of this cake.

chocolate coffee cake

The rose also gently reminded me of how love, beauty comes to us in the most unexpected ways, by accident and most often by things or people right under our noses.

chocolate coffee cake

chocolate coffee cake

chocolate coffee cake

chocolate coffee cake

chocolate coffee cake

chocolate coffee cake

I found this cake on Vogue Living and it really is a deep rich soul satisfying cake

for cake
85 grams Dutch cocoa powder
320 ml sour cream
4 large eggs
1/3 cup strong coffee*
3 tsps vanilla extract
320 grams plain flour
2 cups fine sugar
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
400 grams unsalted butter, softened (should be very very soft and not just room temperature)

for the coffee ganache
2 cups icing sugar
1/3 cup Dutch cocoa powder
1/3 cup cold espresso coffee**

to prepare cake
Preheat oven to 175° C/350° F.

Grease a bundt cake pan of your choice. Lightly dust with flour.

Using an electric mixer, beat the cocoa, sour cream, eggs, coffee and vanilla extract until just combined.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Add half of the flour mixture to the cocoa mixture and beat until just combined. Add half of butter to cocoa mixture and beat until combined. Add remaining flour mixture and butter, in batches, beating until well combined. Pour mixture into prepared pan.

Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Set aside for 20 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool.

to make coffee glaze
Combine icing sugar and cocoa in a medium bowl. Gradually stir in coffee until mixture reaches a pouring consistency.

* I made the strong coffee by mixing 2 tbsps of instant coffee granules into 1/3 cup hot water.

** For the cold espresso coffee, mix 1 tbsp instant coffee into 1/3 cup cool water.

chocolate coffee cake