Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Boiled Fruit Cake/Christmas Fruit Cake Cheaters Style

"Here's a big piece for my favourite lill one", with these words heaven descended on a plate and was handed over into my tiny hands, Principal Uncle was the god handing over a piece of heaven to me, a piece of Christmas Fruit Cake. At that tiny age it was hard for me to think beyond eating that cake but Principal Uncle who was my Grandpa's friend and elder to my Grandpa, used to make this wonderful and heavenly Fruit Cake All By Himself. All I knew about him that he was a Christian by religion and was retired principal of Rosary High School, predominantly a boy's school during his term, hence we all kids called him "Principal Uncle". He was a social fixture at my Grandpa's locality and all kids loved him as he bore a cuddly teddy bear exterior and jolly personality beneath. Grandpa and I had a very special bond, I used to tag along with him every time he stepped out of home, we used to visit all of his friends, which was kind of "all male tea party". He too was a teddy bear kinda fellow with a distinct hearty laughter. They all used to talk about their good old days, shared their heroic stories, crack jokes, ponder over political issues & local problems etc while we kids sat munching our Fruit Cakes & Sandwiches. This was almost 24-25 years ago, time passed and people disappeared, I never knew how or when Principal Uncle passed away or what was his real name, now I can't even inquire about it as my Grandpa too passed away in 2006. But since last few days I kept remembering Grandpa and Principal Uncle which made me crave for that Decadent Fruit Cake, so I decided to try my luck making it by myself.

Searching on web I came to a conclusion that authentic Christmas Fruit Cake was a laborious task involving pre-planning, making candied fruit peels and worst of all it involves brushing it with brandy or rum while it ages, now thats the problem, this country being a non-alcoholic I can't find brandy or rum out here and waiting while the cake ages, COME ON, WHO DO YOU THINK P IS?!! His least accessible virtue is patience, especially when it comes to sweet edibles. So I opted a cheat version of Christmas Fruit Cake, Boiled Fruit Cake, adopted from the site www.joyofbaking.com
Behold............. the pearly heaven doors have opened and there's a sale, yup, a BOILED FRUIT CAKE SALE. LOL. Kidding aside I just completed my first fruit cake and my home smells like heaven. Right now the cake is duely photographed and done with the taste test, all I can say is its just AAAAWWWESOME and tastes very much like Principal Uncle's Fruit Cake, although not exactly but I can do away with the minor taste differences.
So here's to you Principal Uncle and to you Dada (Grandpa). Christmas has come much much earlier this year for me. :)


1 cup warm water
1 cup light brown sugar or 1 cup refined sugar + 1 tbs molasses
1/4th cup unsalted butter 
1/2 tsp salt (if using salted butter add just 1/4 tsp of salt)
1/2 tsp cloves powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger/ ginger paste
2 cups seedless raisins 

Bring all the above ingredients to a boil and keep boiling them for 5 minutes on a medium to low heat. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool down to lukewarm.

While the mixture is cooling down, take a large bowl and seive in
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour/maida
1 tsp baking soda

Mix 1 cup of chopped candied orange peel and 1 tsp vanilla powder/extract to the flour mixture. 

Lightly beat 2 large eggs or 3 small eggs in a bowl and keep aside.

Preheat the oven at 180 degree C. Lightly dust a bundt cake mould or a rectangular 9" x 5" mould and keep aside.

Once the mixture is lukewarm add it to the bowl of flour mixture along with the lightly beaten eggs. Mix them properly and transfer it into the baking mould/tray.
Bake the cake at 175-180 degree C for 45 to 60 minutes or untill the toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Once done let the cake cool in the mould for 10 mins, run a knife along the edge of the mould. Remove the cake carefully and place it on a wire rack to cool it down evenly.

After it has cooled thoroughly store this cake in an airtight plastic container.
This cake ages very well, the flavours enhances after a day or two, hence this cake can be prepared in advance and stored for any occasion later on.
This cake can even be frozen and stored for longer terms.
I had prepared candied orange peels a day before, I shall be posting the recipe soon.
You can use candied fruit peels of various other fruits of your choice.
You can half the quantity of raisins and add in equal amounts of other dry fruits like chopped almonds, walnuts, cashew etc. Just make sure all the dry fruits should not add up more than 2 cups in total. I used only raisins becoz that was the only thing available on hand for me. I'm planning my next batch of boiled fruit cake with dry fruit mix of walnuts+almond+raisins all equal amounts.

This recipe is a keeper, although this is my first fruit cake, it turned out pretty well, it has lovely moist texture, nice aroma of all those spices and a nice punch of orange peel candies. A sure surprise with every bite.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Ghaun Na Loat No Sheero/Gehun Ke Atte Ka Halwa/Whole-wheat Flour & Almond Dessert

Gujarati's are born with sweet tooth, well I might be exaggerating a bit, but for my family this stands totally true, my father, my hubby, my grandfather-in-law, infact my whole in-laws bunch are crazy sweet toothers. I have heard mind boggling stories about how my mother-in-law along with my grandmother-in-law and aunt-in-law used to prepare huge quantities of kansaar (sweet dish prepared from broken wheat, jaggery & water) and eat it as LUNCH, imagine just a sweet dish as lunch. These days we all laugh about it mentioning as old habits.
P hates sugar in his everyday meals but he is a die hard fan of sweet dishes. When it comes to choosing his favourite sweet dish, it comes down to roshogulla, soan-papdi, wheat flour halwa, sukhdi, mysore pak, gajar ka halwa etc etc, trust me the list is quiet long. I can surely say that he has one favourite sweet from every state of India.
I remember ghaun na loat no sheero was prepared by my mom on almost every other sunday, my sweet tooth dad devoured almost half of it in one sitting. After meeting P, I came to know he too enjoyed it, so just like my mom I too prepare it once a month atleast.
The best thing about this is that it is prepared using whole-wheat flour- good source of calcium, iron, fiber and other micro & macro nutrients and minerals like selenium, Jaggery- which is considered as wholesome sugar which contains more minerals and lesser chemicals than refined sugar, Ghee-which is clarified butter, milk, water, cardamom and dry fruits like almonds.
P and I both prefer it to be mild in sweetness.

3/4th cup Whole-wheat flour
1/3rd cup ghee/clarified butter
1 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
1/2 to 3/4th cup jaggery/gol/gud, crumbled
3 pinches of cardamom powder
5-7 almonds roughly chopped

Heat ghee in a deep heavy bottom pan and add whole wheat flour, mix well. Keep stirring and roast flour on medium heat till it is nice golden brown and releases lovely roasted aroma.
Now add warm milk and warm water to roasted flour, mix well on low-medium heat breaking all the lumps and stirring it till it is nice smooth. Add in jaggery and cardamom powder.
Keep stirring occasionally till jaggery has melted, at this stage do a taste-test and see if you need more sweetness to the dish, if yes add more jaggery. 
Cook for 2-4 minutes more on low-medium heat till sheero starts to separete from the sides releasing ghee.
Garnish it with chopped almonds and serve warm.

You can add 1/2 tsp dry ginger powder/sunth powder along with cardamom powder, it tastes best during wintery months. Dry ginger powder has medicinal properties from combating cold & cholesterol to treating nausea, sea sickness and help thinning blood.
Powder of ginger root gives a nice "aahh whats that?" taste to the dish.
Always remember to use warm milk and warm water or else the roasted flour will turn up in unforgiving lumps.
If you are planning for a low fat version of this dish just replace milk with same quantity of water, ie 2 cups of warm water instead of 1cup warm water and 1 cup warm milk.