Wednesday, December 14, 2011

7-up cake

I saw the recipe for a 7up cake a number of times while browsing recipes over the net. The recipe always intrigued me, as the liquid content in it was 7up. 7up has a very distinct tangy taste. It also is very bubbly, and I was kind of fascinated by the use of 7up in a cake recipe.

On researching about this recipe, I found that there is not one but three different recipes that can be made with 7up. One is something like a pound cake. One uses instant pudding, and one uses coconut. I used the one that used a basic pound cake recipe.

The result was surprising. The cake was moist, slightly tangy, lemon flavored, not overly sweet. This is something I would definitely love to make (if only my family would buy me a small bottle of 7-up instead of the 1 litre one, that sits in the refrigerator and loses its tang in a couple of days). Do men in your family do that too, buy large amounts when a smaller quantity can suffice? This is a big problem in mine. I always get double the amount of any product I ask for :S.

Back to the cake, I even thought of the variations. What about a fanta cake or even a pakola one? But frankly speaking, the mere thought was revolting :O. So I am sticking to 7up for this recipe.

The glaze I used for this cake comes from The Guide to Cake Decoration by Lucienne Newman which is an amazing basic cake decoration book.



3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 eggs ( I beat one egg and use half of it, you can try using one yolk)
1 1/2 sifted cup flour
1 tsp lemon juice ( I didn't use it)
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup of 7up

1 tbsp boiling water
5 rounded tbsp finely seived icing sugar
pinch vanilla powder

Preheat the oven at 180 c/ 350F.

In a bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add eggs one at a time and beat again.Fold in flour with a light hand, taking care not to lose all the incorporated air. Add lemon juice, vanilla and 7up and fold them in too.

Bake for 1 hr 30 min. Cool to room temperature. When the cake is cold enough make the glaze.

For the glaze: 

Mix the water and sugar in a bowl. The consistency would be thick but beatable. Stand the bowl in a saucepan containing 1 inch of hot water and stir continuously for a couple of minutes. The icing will become thinner with heat. More sugar should be added to maintain a coating consistency (it means that glaze should coat and slowly drop of the back of the spoon). Make sure not to overheat the glaze as it can become dry and crusty. The heat can be tested by removing the bowl from water and touching the base, which should never be too hot to handle. As soon as the desired consistency is reached, pour glaze over cake and spread quickly before glaze sets.


(Pssssst, the cake tastes better the next day)

Happy baking!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Apple Pie

Apples are in season. Maybe apples are always in season. I am actually bad at keeping track of what comes in which season. For someone who loves to bake, that's actually a shame. My workaround? I ask my mom what will be available in the market before planning to experiment anything. I just might be known to ask for an unavailable fruit or vegetable and getting a hopeless sigh in return.

This is a pretty busy time of the year for me. If any of you know about my other blog Periodic Reflections (ok, I haven't told you about it, but go ahead take a look), you would know that I am studying at a business school. I also am on a full time job as a lecturer at a local private university. With my MBA hourlies next week, exams to invigilate at my workplace and then paper checking, life is kind of hectic. A girl needs something to cheer her up, doesn't she?

So I cheered myself with this easy apple pie (the recipe came from a facebook group). The crust isn't the traditional crust, which uses cold butter, iced water and delicate handling. This quick crust uses oil and cold milk, is used immediately and the pie is covered with a kind of crumbly top. The pie isn't too sweet, the crust turned out to be nice and flaky. I halved the recipe and baked it in a 6 inch pie plate. The apples can be cooked a little if you like a softer and sauce like pie filling.



For the crust:

1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup oil
2 tbsp cold milk
1 1/2 tsp white sugar
1/2 tsp salt

For the filling:

6 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt

For the topping:

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter

Preheat oven to 350 F/ 180 C. Mix all ingredients of filling and keep aside.

Mix all ingredients of crust. They will come together to form a dough. Press the dough with fingers into a 9 inch pie dish. Pour the filling onto crust.

Mix all ingredients of topping. It will be a bit crumbly. Sprinkle it over the filling. Put in oven for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Serve warm or cold. Goes best with icecream. You can also serve it with whipped cream or caramel sauce.

Happy Baking!!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Soft Cottage Cheese

I am back with another recipe, now going for a somewhat healthy option. Who says healthy and yummy don't go together?'s good for health and tasty as well. Cottage cheese is a very basic form of cheese, which can easily be made at home. The recipe I am sharing here uses dry milk powder.

I have a very stron dislike for the gawale wala doodh, how much ever people stress upon its health benefit. For my non-desi readers gawale wala doodh is the raw milk that a milkman delivers at your doorstep or you can go and purchase it from a milk shop and it is supposedly fresh and healthy (I have objections to both descriptions). No offense meant, but it stinks. I can't bear the smell of this raw milk when it's heating up. I have always been a packaged milk loving person.

Somehow my family has gotten convinced that the packaged milk variety available in my country is not healthy enough, so the fall back product is dry milk powder.

You can use any dry milk powder for this recipe. I used the instant kind, and that is the only kind I know. If you know any non instant milk powder, you can also give it a try, but I can't guarantee results.



1 cup hot water
3/4 cup dry milk powder
1 1/2 tbsp white vinegar (or fresh lemon juice)
Salt , to taste - optional

Put water and milk powder in a blender and blend until well mixed. Make sure there aren't any lumps in the mixture. Pour milk into a saucepan foam and all, and put on medium low heat. Pour vinegar slowly down the sides of the pan. Stir slowly and heat until curds separate from whey (it would take around 2- 3 minutes). Remove from heat. Let it sit for one minute. Pour into a colander or a muslin cloth. Wash first with hot water and then cold water. Remove all water by pressing the cheese with hands (in muslin cloth) or with the back of a spoon. Scoop out the cheese into a jar or a bowl. If it is too dry add a teaspoon or so of milk or buttermilk and mix.

Add salt if you like it. You can also add fresh herbs like parsley or corriander leaves . Enjoy on a toast for breakfast or on a salad for lunch. Store in refrigerator. Use with in 3 days.

Happy cooking!!!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Fruit yogurt

Fruit is healthy. So is yogurt. Combined together this dish should be healthy squared, right? I like to think so. Originally fruit yogurt is made with heavy cream. To make it healthy, I used milk. It turned out slightly runny, unlike the solid texture of the cream version. On the good side, it isn't as heavy as the cream one.

This fruit yogurt is a brilliant mixture of sweet and tart. You can use a fruit cocktail tin, or any fresh fruits that you like. Ok, not any, watermelon or persimmon might taste a bit weird in this fantastic yogurt base. So, yes, please avoid watermelon and persimmons, maybe a couple of other fruits whose name I can't remember right now. I used fresh bananas and mangoes.

This isn't overly sweet; the sweet content can be adjusted by changing the amount of condensed milk. This can be a healthy breakfast, or in my case, an after dinner sweet dish.

300 gm of yogurt (more if needed)
1 packet jelly (preferably strawberry or pineapple, but mango works too)
1/2 tin of condensed milk (around 200gm)
Fruit, as required
1/2 cup milk

Mix all ingredients except fruit and milk. Add milk in small quantities until desired consistency is reached. Add fruit and refrigerate for several hours. Serve. Dwell in the heavenly bliss.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Dhokla - A gujrati dish

Baker's Canvas is back after a long break (with another vow to be more regular) and wishes her readers a Happy Ramazan. The month of Ramazan is here and a whole new set of cookery begins in this month, the preparation of Sehri and Iftar. So what is one dish that you can't do without on your table for Sehri and Iftar?

I introduce here the Dhokla, a very beautiful name for a scrumptious Gujrati dish, which can be served at Iftar. Originally, dhoklas are steamed in a basin of water. I tried to find out whether it can be baked or not, but the best teacher is experience, so here is the baked version of Dhokla. I'll include the steaming method as well, but since I haven't tried it myself, so no guarantee if it works or not, even though there is plenty of evidence in Gujratis that it does work. Even my quest on the baked dhokla among Gujrati friends came up with the answer that they always steam it.

The recipe is adapted from Manjula's Kitchen.


1 cup sooji (semolina flour)
1 cup yogurt
1/4 cup water as needed
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp lemon juice
Pinch of turmeric (haldi)
1 green chili finely chopped
2 ttbsp fine chopped cilantro (hara dhania)
1 tsp baking soda

Seasoning (The bhagar or tarka):
2 tbsp of oil
1/2 tsp black mustard seed
2 green peppers chopped into about 1/4 inch pieces

Mix the sooji, yogurt, salt, lemon juice, green chili, and cilantro together in a bowl and make a smooth batter; add more water if needed. Mix well so that there are no lumps and the batter is of pouring consistency. Allow batter to rest for an hour.

After 50 minutes (of resting batter), preheat oven at 150 C/300 F. Grease a cake pan and set aside.

After the batter has rested for an hour, add the baking soda and mix. The batter will foam up. Quickly pour into the cake pan and put in the preheated oven. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes or until done (a skewer inserted comes out clean ). It may take more depending on your oven. When done, let cool to room temperature, cut dhokla into diamonds or triangles.

Prepare seasoning. Heat oil and add the mustard seed and green chilli. Heat until aromatic. Pour over the dhokla. Serve with green mint chutney.

Dhokla can be refrigerated, before serving heat dhokla in microwave oven.

Steam method:

While the dhokla batter is resting take a pan larger than the cake pan. Put a cooling rack (or a small bowl of the same height) in the pan, pour some water (should just reach touch the top of rack or bowl) and bring it to boil. Reduce heat to medium. Mix baking soda in the batter, pour in cake pan and place pan over the cake rack or bowl. Cover the complete setup so as not to let the steam escape. Cook for 10 minutes or until skewer inserted comes out clean. Follow rest of the steps as above.

Happy Ramazan!!!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mango Sorbet

Summer is at peak. Along with heat and lots of humidity in Pak land, mangoes are in season. As a nation, I think we could live on mangoes forever, but this phenomenon is changing with time and generation. With a health and taste conscious generation mangoes need to be hidden in something healthy, light and tasty. So here is my recipe for mango sorbet, my answer to heat laden, electricity missing days of summer.

A sorbet is something between and icecream and a slush, made with water flavored with fruit and frozen like an icecream. I have made the sorbet using yogurt. I also added half a teaspoon of orange zest powder (which I made in winter, when oranges were available) for the additional zing. I think lemon zest would also enhance the flavor.

This dish is very versatile and very creative. You can add other fruits that complement mangoes. You can change the amount of sugar, you can even change the sweetener or may be remove it altogether.You can also increase or decrease the amount of yogurt. For a more mangoey flavor, add more mangoes. This is also an answer to those ripe mangoes that no one wants to eat and are not yet bad enough to be thrown away.



3 ripe mangoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup yogurt
Sugar or honey, to taste
Vanilla powder, a pinch (if required)

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until thoroughly mixed. Cool the mixture in the refrigerator for 4-5 hours. If you have an icecream maker, follow directions and turn the mixture into a frozen delectable mass or follow my directions if you don't own an icecream maker.

Put the mixture in the freezer for 3-4 hours or until it starts getting frozen on sides. Take it out and beat braking the frozen parts of the mixture. Repeat this after every 3-4 hours for about 4 times. At this point , the mixture will resemble a soft serve icecream. Serve it immediately or freeze again to harden.

Serve with diced mangoes, strawberries, bananas etc. You can also pour some strawberry syrup/sauce over it. If you are a laal sharbat aka Rooh afza, you can also pour a tsp or two over the sorbet. Or enjoy it alone without compromising the refreshing taste of this summer delight. It can mark the end of dinner, or can be dinner itself on those hot days when even the sight of food is unbearable :).

Happy Summers!!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Shepherd's pie

Shepherd's pie, also known as cottage pie has many versions on the net. The version that seems the most original, is a bit bland for our Pakistani taste. So here is my version. All spices can be adjusted to taste, but if gets too spicy, it would be a very desi shepherd's pie. Cheese sprinkled on top may be completely omitted or increased/ decreased as required. I added cheese because I love cheese.



2 tbsp oil
1 small onion diced
250 gm Minced meat
3-4 large tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup peas
1/2 tsp garlic paste
Salt, to taste
Red chilli powder, to taste
A pinch turmeric powder
Milk, as required (around 1 cup)
3-4 potatoes
200 gm Cheddar cheese, shredded

Heat oil in a saucepan. Add onion and stir until it changes color. Add mince meat and stir until mince changes its color. Add tomatoes, peas, garlic, salt, red chili powder and turmeric powder. Mix and reduce heat. Tomatoes will release water, but if you feel the need add a little water. Cover and let cook. Every 15 - 20 minutes, add 2 - 3 tbsp milk. Let the mince meat cook for 1 hr or so. The mixture should look a bit creamy. If using immediately, add 2 tbsp of shredded cheddar cheese to the mince meat mixture.

In another pan, boil potatoes until soft. Peel and mash potatoes thoroughly. Add some milk and 2 - 3 tbsp of cheddar cheese to potatoes while mashing. The mixture should have a spreadable consistency. Season as per taste.

Preheat oven at 180 C/ 375 F. Lightly grease a baking dish. Put the mince meat mixture and spread in the dish. Spread potato mixture over the mince meat with a knife or spatula. Sprinkle remaining cheddar cheese (you can reduce the amount if it seems too much). Put in oven and bake until cheese is melted. Grill it if you want cheese to be browned.

Enjoy warm with tomato ketchup.

Happy Baking!!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Back again with yet another sweet recipe. Please don't blame your weight gains on me. After reading a lot about blondies, I decided to try them the other day.

Blondies are the white version of brownies. Made with lots of white chocolate, this soft, dense, fudge cake kind of delicacy will be an absolute hit, specially with those people who do not like the brown color of chocolate and hence have an aversion towards brownies (weird, right? How can anyone just NOT like chocolate?)

The recipe I found also included chocolate chips, which I did not use. So this is my adaptation without a trace of chocolate. I will try adding almonds or walnuts next time I make blondies.



240 gm white chocolate (broken into pieces)
1/2 cup butter (at room temperature)
2 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
a pinch of vanilla powder
1 1/4 cup sifted flour
3/4 tsp salt

Boil water in a saucepan. Reduce heat to a simmer. Place a heatproof bowl over simmering water; the water should not touch the bowl. Put white chocolate and butter in the bowl and melt, stirring occasionally until completely melted. Remove bowl as soon as melted.

Preheat oven at 180 C/ 350 F.

In another bowl, beat eggs until foamy. Keeping the mixer on, add sugar gradually and beat to mix. Drizzle in the melted white chocolate. Mix flour and salt. Fold in the egg mixture with a light hand. If using chocolate chips, fold them in at this point.

Pour mixture in a greased baking pan (9 inch square pan or equivalent). Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Tasty when served warm, tastier when allowed to rest overnight.

Happy Baking !!!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Gulab Jamun

Nothing can beat a couple of hot, soft, dripping sweet and homemade Gulab Jamuns any day. Gulab Jamun is a traditional desi sweet, an important part at various occasions. I made Gulab Jamuns with dry milk powder. The taste is very different from what you can get from the sweetmeat mart. This delicacy isn't heavy at all, and the recipe allows you to control the amount of sweetness.. The ones you get from the market are too sweet for me.



1 cup dry milk powder + some more (if reqd)
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp flour (maida)
a small pinch cardamom powder
1 egg (beaten)
1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
Oil to fry
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
1 cardamom pod

In a large saucepan boil water, sugar and the cardamom pod until sugar is dissolved, reduce heat to a very low flame.

Heat enough oil in a pan to deep fry the gulab jamuns. Leave on moderately low heat. The oil should not be very hot, or gulab jamuns won't cook through; or very cold, as that would harden the gulab jamuns.

While the oil is heating, in a bowl mix dry milk powder, baking powder, and the cardamom powder. Make a well in the center and put ghee and egg. Start to mix in the dry milk powder and knead into a dough. If the dough is very sticky and balls a re hard to form, add some more dry milk powder.

Work quickly. Make small balls and put in the oil to fry. Keep moving balls with a slotted spoon. When they turn the desired shade of brown, remove balls and put in the sugar syrup. The Gulab Jamuns will increase in size in the sugar syrup as well. After a few minutes, remove from heat. Store Gulab Jamuns in the sugar syrup. Best served warm, but taste good cold too.

Happy cooking!!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Surprise cookies

Ok, everyone, may I have your attention please? Ah, that's better. Here is a surprise cookie, which like a desi twist on the cookies. My mom made some gajar ka halwa (carrot halwa) yesterday. And I filled up that in my cookies! I am kind of over excited, let me take a deep breath.... aah, that's better.

I used a cookie recipe I got from a local food channel. It is really easy to make, does not require any refrigeration and the dough doesn't melt when working to make cookies. It isn't overly sweet and bakes to perfection. I just love it, when I need cookies in short time.

The gajar ka halwa was made by my mom, a little different from the traditional one, but you can use any gajar ka halwa recipe for this. You might want to keep sugar low if you are not too keen on sugar.



150 gm butter
1/2 tin condensed milk (it is around 4/5 of a cup)
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Beat butter in a bowl until fluffy. Add the condensed milk and beat again. Mix flour and baking powder together and add to the butter mixture. Knead dough.

Take tennis ball sized amount of dough (around two tablespoons) pat the ball into a disc roughly 2 1/2 inches in size. Place 1/2 - 3/4 tsp  of gajar halwa, fold the dough over and roll into a cookie.

Bake in oven preheated at 160 C/ 325 F for 15 - 20 min.

Gajar Ka halwa:

2 kg carrots (shredded or you may chop them finely in a food processor)
3 - 4 cardamom pods
2 - 3 tbsp ghee
Sugar , to taste
2 eggs (optional)

Put carrots in a heavy based pan. Open cardamom pods and put both the cover and seeds in. Add around a cup of water (you may add milk at this point, but if you prefer a lighter version of halwa, use water). Heat carrots until water is boiling, reduce heat to a simmer.

When carrots are soft, add ghee and sugar, mix and cook until sugar is dissolved. Now on high heat, reduce water until it is almost dry. With a wooden spoon, start stirring the halwa rather vigorously (bhoonify it) until it is dry and ghee separated from sides (It might not if there is very little ghee in it, which is kind of ok if you are me).

Beat the eggs, and pour over the halwa , reduce heat, and cover. Let the eggs cook for 2 - 3 minutes. Then with the wooden spoon, stir halwa again, breaking egg into small pieces. The halwa is ready. Garnish with almonds and pistachios for eating halwa, or use it as a filling in your cookies.

Happy Baking!!!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter

I had this packet of peanuts sitting in my cupboard for more than a month. I have tried making peanut butter which is very good in taste, but I could not reach that creamy consistency that is a staple of the store bought ones. So I could not bring it to myself to make peanut butter again. Then I found this chocolate peanut spread at Smitten Kitchen, just reading the post made my mouth water.

It is something like Nutella, but made of peanuts. Smitten Kitchen rightly declares, its hard to put the spoon down after tasting it.

This should be made with peanut oil, but I used vegetable oil, which is fairly tasteless and did not impart any unpleasant taste or odor to the chocolate peanut spread. You can also adjust the amount of sugar, salt and cocoa powder according to your taste. The end result depends upon the quality of peanuts and cocoa powder.



2 cups peanuts (shelled and skinned)
1 1/4 cup icing sugar
2 - 4 tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt (optional if peanuts are already salted)

Start by roasting peanuts ( I got mine roasted). Preheat oven to 400 F. Put peanuts in a single layer on a baking tray. Roast in oven for 10 minutes, rattling them a bit halfway through.  (You can do this step for pre-roasted peanuts too. Put your peanuts in the oven for 5 minutes to deepen their flavor, taking care not to burn them.)

Put the peanuts and 1 tbsp oil in a food processor. Grind the peanuts for around five minutes. Initially the peanuts will be very coarse. If the mixture seems very dry, add a some more oil and keep grinding until the peanuts become paste. Yes, peanuts will turn to a paste if they are continued to be processed. Scrape down the sides as required.

Add the sugar, cocoa powder and 1 tbsp oil and grind again. Keep processing until the sugar and cocoa powder is mixed thoroughly. You may add more oil if the mixture does not mix properly or is too thick.

Store in a clean glass jar in the refrigerator. The mixture might become a little hard on cooling. Enjoy with bread in breakfast.

Happy cooking!!!