Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Easter taught me: Baking up a storm

An authentic Caribbean Easter is not about bunnies and eggs. After attending church in the fanciest of Easter hats, children and adults go their separate ways. Children search for the clearest field to fly their kites and adults get suited up for the kitchen.

The kid in me seriously wanted to go kite flying but the winds weren't up to it. Plus I love being in the kitchen. Actually that's where I spent most of the day. I had a new oven to bless and things looked up from there.

Beer and Cheese Bread

This is a super easy bread to prepare. No kneading required. The bitterness of beer complements the cheese and seasoning so well and it's extremely soft. Find the recipe here.

Hot Cross Buns

This is more of a Good Friday favourite. A really basic bun that's not too sweet. Again, extremely easy to prepare and with a baking time of 15 minutes, you have no excuse not to try this now. Find the recipe here.

Chocolate Cake

 It's moist, rich and has the perfect amount of sweetness. The best chocolate cake I have ever made and tasted and it's all thanks to the recipe. Unfortunately, there is no picture. In my excitement, I may have rushed the cake out of the tin, leaving almost half in there :(. Learn from my mistakes. Find the recipe here .

Banana bread

Usually when I make banana bread, I'm left unsatisfied due to the final gray color and that straight up mushy banana taste. I know I crushed the banana but it shouldn't remind me of baby food. On top of all this, most recipes usually call for oil which makes me hyper aware of the greasiness throughout the bread. Thankfully, this new recipe is a real keeper. It originates in St. Lucia, which was my first hint. The bread is moist and the rum smooths out the banana taste and cooks it to perfect flavour and texture.  Find the recipe here.

Coconut Buns

This is first thing I ever baked in Food and Nutrition secondary school class. The recipe was provided by Ms. Wegman and was my go to for impressing the parents and visiting relations. They would be like 'Child, you made that bun like my granny!'. Well, that's the power of a good recipe. I had to alter some ingredients, as usual, but it still remains the best homemade bun you'll ever make.

2 cups flour
½ cup margarine
½ cup sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg (do I ever bake with these two? Nah.)
1 egg
¼ cup milk
1/8 cup water
1 tsp vanilla essence
¼ cup dried fruit like raisins or cherries (I only had goji berries)
1 cup grated or dessicated coconut

1. Preheat oven to 200 C.
2. In a large-sized bowl, sift flour and add sugar, baking powder, salt, spices, dried fruit and coconut.
3. Add softened (but not melted) margarine and use fingers to 'rub' into the dry ingredients until evenly distributed. Mixture should look like crumbs.  Make a well in the center.

4. In a medium sized bowl, mix egg, essence, milk and water together. Pour this mixture into the well and using a spoon. fold ingredients together. Don't over-mix.
5.Your batter should be sticky and a bit thick. Place in a prepared loaf tin and bake for 45 mins at 175 C or until the inserted toothpick comes out clean and the top is golden brown. As you can see mine has that extra tan. 

The good thing about spending the day in the kitchen is the reward of smiling faces on aching tummies with happy spirits. Not the same high as flying a kite but sure comes close enough.