Thursday, November 14, 2013

Baking..I've got the tools!

It’s been a busy cooking time for me….for a while now! Diwali was simple this year for us…thanks to a 7 month baby at home who crawls all over the place following me, which makes cooking quite a task! Last year during my pregnancy I managed to make 4-5 items for Diwali in Bangalore; this year my husband asked me to avoid getting into any elaborate cooking. Still I decided to make Obbat …puran poli in Marathi.

My Oster hand  mixer
Since I got the baking craze in my mind, I had been looking for an electric mixer. The cool branded ones cost about $350-400 which is way too much to cater my new found hobby. I looked online for used mixer which still cost about $250. I was ready to shell out some $50 max. After a lot of research and review reading online, I shortlisted Oster’s clean start hand mixer. Typically baking mixers have 3 attachments – dough hooks, whisk, beater. I was looking for a hand mixer that came with all these attachments. My idea was that if I can’t afford the expensive mixers at least the hand-held mixer should have the attachments. And then identifying the features and speeds eventually brought me to Oster’s clean start mixer. Another reason I trusted the brand is because I have a regular cooking kitchen mixer/blender of the same brand which works well for my needs of dosa/idli batter, sambar, Aarav’s food purees etc.

I take part in online surveys that give some money; I had mentioned this in my recent post. I was waiting for my first paycheck of about $40, which would cover my hand mixer costing $29.92. I was eager to earn this mixer! Well by the time my paycheck came, it was Diwali time. We were in Walmart for some shopping and I just wanted to see if the mixer is available in store, coz it is available online. Searching through the appliances aisle, we found it! So my husband forced me to buy it off then itself than delaying it for my paycheck. And then came Diwali Padwa..for which I thankfully accepted this hand mixer as a gift.
Cake rusk for tea time

So the first item I made using the hand mixer was cake rusk; I realized that the Biscotti I made before was more dense than the store bought rusk, which lead me to realize they are slightly different. So I followed the cake rusk recipe, and in 10mins I had the cake ready and then getting the pieces roasted took some 30mins…but it was all so easy and they got over in 2 days…straight! So now I will make a bigger batch!
Off late I keep watching only cooking videos, especially breads! I have been watching Croissant making for a long time now; I am just too lazy to kick start as it’s a 2 day process. In the mean time I saw simpler recipes of banana bread, zucchini bread, sponge cake etc.

First ever Banana Bread
So after a long wait I finally was all ready to make my first banana bread yesterday. Ready in the sense you need really ripe bananas, which generally isn’t the case! Luckily the recipe I followed didnt need an electric mixer. So once I put Aarav to his nap, I started off with a spatula and whisk. Two hours later the bread was ready. I had never eaten one, so I was too eager to taste it; didn’t bother to wait until my husband returned from work. I was busy taking pictures of it when my husband called, right when I was thinking of him. He was excited to know it’s done and ready! So quick!

Slice of the nutty choco chip banana bread

Next week my husband has a potluck at work (meaning everyone bring a food item to share with all). So my plan was that if he likes this bread, I’ll make the same for his colleagues. When we lived in Spokane 5 years ago, one of his American colleague’s wife would sent baked goodies to work and he’d mention it then. I would wonder back then that I can’t make any baking dishes; the least I could do is Indian sweets like Gulab Jamuns…serving that to American colleagues would be a task with the sticky syrup and cups and spoons..I never sent any back then!
Now I am excited I can share some food that I can make and they can eat easily..and most importantly, they’ll like it!
One of these days I have to actually take up making croissants; I love them! Same goes with puff pastry, I never knew I could make our Indian khari using puff pastry – thanks to no baking knowledge!

This week I got to know about Tarla Dalal’s death. I never knew she had a cooking show of her own. I searched for her on youtube; watched how to make jalebi and rasgulla…never knew rasgullas where SOOO EASY to make! At least that’s how it looked in the video. I have never followed her cook books or recipes; but from her video she reminds you of your grandma, the way she talks so sweetly and convincing you that nothing is difficult to do! I might watch more of her videos to learn some of the very basic Indian food delicacies! RIP Tarla Aunty.


  1. I ,recently said on rachna's blog that my concern always is Atta v/s maida.
    And yes,talking of Tarla Dalal..way back I did a short commercial video with her titled " What's Cooking"

    1. True Sir. My concern is the same. Normally in our Indian cooking at home, we hardly use Maida. We are taught how it is bad for health. The first time I started off into baking recently, I tried whole wheat Pita bread and they turned out to be disaster....not entirely. But ideally the breads should have puffed and mine were flat as a board! I read a lot about baking with wheat flour and understood that wheat flour generally is difficult for baking. It requires different quantity in baking inputs and temperatures also vary in cooking them. Above all, the richness and quality of bread/bakery item that comes is due to use of maida, the gluten factor....So as much as I am also inclined towards having healthy foods....Maida is a blocker when it comes to baking. My conclusion to all this is, baking is going to be once in a while activity, not daily. So making them once in a while is same as eating them store-bought once in a while. But preparing them at home gives it a whole new satisfying meaning. Learning and joy of making it myself. :)

    2. Also, You should be one of the lucky ones to have met India's first Masterchef. I saw her videos on youtube and she was a lovely lady...full of simplicity and down to earth!