Bake desserts with a traditional touch for Diwali this year
If you are not planning to make any traditional sweets this Diwali, why not try your hand at baking western desserts this year? Chef Sandhya Seshadri gives us some excellent gifting ideas, which involves some baking and much innovation.
When I started my journey of baking initially, it wasn’t perfect from the start. I made many mistakes, and since neither my family nor my friends were from a baking background, I pretty much didn’t have anyone to guide me. So, you can pretty much say that I learnt from my mistakes by trying over and over again.
After relentlessly baking and experimenting in my own kitchen, I decided to hone my skills and so I went to Le Cordon Bleu Paris where I learnt a lot on the dos and don’ts in baking.
Elevating this year's Diwali, we at L'Eclair Studio decided to honour the festival's gifting tradition. I wanted to pay homage to the traditionally gifted Dry Fruit Box while still keeping the products modern and novel. I came up with the idea of a dry-fruit inspired box with eclairs and tarts.
The box consists of time honoured flavours such as Orange with Cranberry, Almond with Apricot, Hazelnut and Rose with Pistachio along with eggless tarts such as Banoffee and Chocolate Hazelnut. We can also customise flavours available based on the customer's choice.
As we all know baking is both science and art, every baking ingredient has a purpose and has to be used in the right proportion to get the best results.
I have put together a list of must dos that have helped me become a better baker and hopefully helps you too.
Get your ingredients right
Read the recipe first and make sure you have all the ingredients before you start mixing. Pay attention to the instructions as sometimes you need to use an ingredient in two different parts, for example, a part of sugar might be used in egg whites and the other part in the yolk to create volume.
Always use your ingredients at room temperature. Remove your ingredients from the refrigerator about an hour or so before baking. The only exception will be when making pastry (tarts or pie crust or cookies), you have to start with cold butter.
If you start the recipe with cold ingredients, your starting temperature of your cake batter will be cold, it will not mix properly and it will take longer than expected to bake in the oven. As a result, you will end up under baking the cake with the outside done and undercooked in the centre, causing the cake to collapse while cooling.
Also never compromise on the quality of ingredients that you use as it changes the texture and taste of your cakes.
Measure your ingredients carefully
This is the most crucial of all steps when baking. As I mentioned earlier, baking is a science and every ingredient needs to be measured precisely and methodically, so that you get the same result every time you bake. You also need to use the right tools for measurement.
Try and find recipes that use grams instead of cups. Cup measurement is not always reliable and can cause problems in the product. Look for conversion apps that you give exact grams for dry ingredients and ml for wet ingredients. Be very careful while using teaspoon and tablespoon, you don’t want to add a tablespoon of baking soda to your cake.
Mix your ingredients well
There are 3 ways of doing this:
Creaming method – You start by blending sugar into the butter for several minutes to create air bubbles. This is important as the air bubbles expand further while baking to give you soft airy cakes. This process is usually followed by incorporating egg and then add the other ingredients.
Muffin method – Mix all the wet ingredients together (sugar acts as a wet ingredient here) and then all the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in three parts to avoid over whisking.
Pastry method – Rub cold butter cubes and flour together till you get a crumbly texture. Then, add the wet ingredients and gently knead the dough till it comes together.
Prepare your pan well before baking
When baking cookies, always use a sturdy tray with parchment paper as cookies tend to burn when baked directly on the tray.
For cakes, always butter the pan and add a small amount of flour, then tap the excess flour so that you are left with a fine coating of flour.
Preheat the oven, unless the recipe calls for a start in cold oven. You want the oven to be nice and hot when you place your batter inside it.
Check the progress of your cake/cookies a few mins before the suggested time for baking. Make it a quick open-close process as you don’t want hot air to escape the oven.
To check if the cake is done, use a toothpick in the centre of the cake if it comes out clean your cake is ready, if it still has crumbs on it then let it bake for few more minutes
Baking is really not that hard once you get the hang of what you are doing, and understand the properties of the ingredients you are working with.
I hope these tips help you as it helped me.
CHOCOLATE TART RECIPE
75g unsalted butter
50g icing sugar
Put 150g plain flour and 75g unsalted butter in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Mix in 50g icing sugar and a pinch of salt followed by 1 egg yolk. If the pastry feels too dry to form a dough, add 1 tbsp water. Shape the dough into a ball, flatten it out into a disc, wrap it in cling film, then chill for at least 30 mins before rolling.
Butter and lightly flour the tart pan with a removable bottom.
Once the pastry has chilled evenly roll out the dough with some flour (be careful not to add too much flour as that will make the pastry too fry)
Now place the rolled dough onto the tart pan and press evenly on the side to form the shape on the pan. Cling wrap the tart pan and refrigerate it
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
Once the dough is nicely chilled lightly prick the bottom of the tart with a fork (this will prevent the dough from puffing up as it bakes)
Bake the crust at 175 degrees for 25 mins
180g Dark Chocolate
160ml Whipping cream
Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized stainless-steel bowl.
Heat the cream in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil.
Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes or until melted. Stir until smooth.
Putting it all together…
Pour the chocolate ganache into the baked and cooled tart shells. Top with sea salt and decorate with raspberries and serve.
MasterChef star Sarah Todd reveals the toughest part of running a successful business in India