Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Baking with Saptasri Parswanath, J W Marriott | Add Style to the Festive Season

Come the Christmas & New Year season people and I mean serious bakers start planning months in advance. The soaking of fruits, making wines and planning the festive menu has become a part of the modern life. Each one wants to do something unique or different and add their own twist. 

Recently I attended a Dessert Baking Workshop By Chef Saptasri Parswanath, dessert chef , J W Marriott. It was conducted at  Godrej's Nature Basket, Koramangala courtesy J W Marriott. The young chef who had been trained in a pastry institute in  Malaysia displayed her skills to the audience by baking the unique Vanilla Kipferl and also mince pies. 

Vanilla Kipferl is a crescent shaped vanilla cookie, native of Austria, though well known across Europe. They are a part of Christmas traditions in Europe and it definitely takes a pair of skilled hands to bake the fragile cookie dough into a horse shoe shape. 

Chef Saptasri easily turned these into perfect cookies, all the while patiently answering the audience queries, regarding baking. The chef also demonstrated to the audience how to make quick fruit mix for making mince meat filling. 

 Mince meat is a mix of dried fruits, spirits and spices. This in olden times used to have beef suet and hence the name. The modern version has only dried fruits mixed with spices soaked in brandy/rum and even orange juice for non alcoholics for atleast two days upto a month. Now you know why the preparation for Christmas baking starts in advance.

The chef displayed the making of the mince meat pie from scratch and also served mini mince pies baked in muffin cups.Its unique way and kudos to the the chef for avoiding the very common fruit cake.

Given below is the Vanilla Kipferl recipe. 

1050 Butter
500g Castor Sugar
1 tsp Salt
2.5 tsp Cinnamon Powder
Lemon zest of 5 lemons
10 numbers of Vanilla pod
1400g flour
500g hazelnut powder toasted

Cream the soft butter until smooth. Add sugar, salt, lemon zest and scrapped seeds of vanilla to it and mix well. Add the flour and toasted nut powder. Knead/pat  gently into a dough. Rest it in the fridge for 45 minutes. 

Take ut and knead it wel. Divide it into 20g balls and gently roll it out into crescents. Do not overwork the dough. The dough is fragile and you should just lightly touch it. Bake att 190C until light golden brown.  

Dust with icing sugar while still hot. 

What are you waiting for , Its just few more days for Christmas, Put on your baking hat and get on with it. Make something different yet traditional.

J W Marriott conducts baking workshops mostly at their hotels or our sponsored locations. Do keep an eye on their web site and keep yourselves updated. 

Baking workshops for kids are also conducted. Their 'Cutest Crismiss Party' for kids is also today. Other Christmas activities and events are also happening.  

J W Marriott
24/1, Vittal Mallya Road,Bengaluru -560 001

Monday, December 15, 2014

Kashmiri Kahwa | December 15 - International Tea Day

As the winter sets in we spend more times indoors. Its too cooold to go outside. Its colder in Bangalore but nothing beats a cup of hot tea to blow away the chills. 

In my apartment complex, there is a commercial part and one section is mostly food joints - be it street food, chinese , vada pav, pizzas, bakeries etc. We can definitely pick and choose if we decide not to cook one/any time. The most popular among these is a tea point . Its always full and we have to wait in queue for our turn. 
But yes, the cutting chai or adrakwali kulhad chai with a plate of pakodas and company of friends makes life warm. 

Speaking of tea, it is topmost beverage consumed in India. Though South India has traditional and patented filter coffee and beautiful coffee plantations, there is a sizeable portion of tea drinkers also. 

As for myself, I am the only tea drinking child born to coffee consuming parents and married off in a tea drinking family -is it karma !? 

Well whatever it is I enjoy a hot cup of masala chai in the morning and occasional hot/iced green teas and of course a cuppa with friends too. 

Recently I tried and liked  the Kashmiri Kahwa and thought of posting it today being the International Tea Day

Kahwah/Kahwa is a traditional green tea consumed in Afghanistan,northern Pakistan and Kashmir Valley. Its rich in anti oxidants and is a popular breakfast tea along with breads. Its is made in big brass "Samovars" by boiling tea leaves along with spices and saffron and also roses and served with sugar/honey and crushed/chopped walnuts/almonds. 


Water: 3 cups

Cardamoms: 3
Cloves: 2-3
Cinnamon: 1 inch piece

Sugar: 3 tsp + as per taste

Green Tea Leaves: 2 tsp

Saffron: few strands
Almonds: 3-4 chopped/flaked 

Bring water to boil in a saucepan.

Add the spices and sugar. Reduce the heat and stir until the sugar dissolves.

Cover with a lid and let it simmer for few minutes. 

Add the tea leaves and take it off heat. Let the tea leaves steep in the water for a minute atleast or more if you prefer a stronger taste. 

In small serving cups, add safrron strands and chopped almonds. Strain the hot tea into these cup and serve the tea hot.

You can sea the tea turning into a fresh yellow as the saffron flavours it. You can also add saffron strands while boiling tea along with dried rose petals.

Its perfect to beat the winter chills as well. Make sure you serve it warm. More more details you can check out the original source here. I had simply loved the detailed post and have followed the recipe verbatim.I had used Chinese gunpowder/ green tea. It will be more authentic if you could get the Kashmiri green tea. 

Meanwhile sip on...

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