easy baking

Banana-less Banana Puri???

Banana Puri

Banana Puri

Could someone please tell me why this is called Banana Puri??? I have no idea but these are actually banana-less puris! Someone once told me that they look sort of like a banana so I stared at them and quite honestly didn’t agree…back in the day, you just couldn’t disagree with the old ladies…so I remained silent. How things have changed?

These pastries remind me of Diwali in Isipingo…..there was a lady, Mrs Nowbuth, who made the best puris ever and it was the talk of our little town. Her husband, Mr Nowbuth, was a teacher at our primary school and he was quite the terror! The pastries were sent out in strict rations…one per household…placed on an flimsy paper plate. Slim pickings for the youngest kid and this meant that I never got to try them. It made me resentful…I really wanted to tuck into one and eyed them greedily! I promised that I would learn how to make these and eat them all on my own!

I first tried making these when I was in high school. Armed with the ‘Bible’ of traditional cooking, ‘The Indian Delights’. It wasn’t the recipe that was a problem…just lack of experience…how thin do I roll out the pastry…what should the syrup be like…how long should I boil it? The answer was mainly pure guess work and impatience.

What a disaster??? The pastry was soaked in oil and what was supposed to look like a rose, resembled a garden snail. This was definitely a lesson in ‘how not to find a good husband’ My first encounter did not deter me – in fact, they were so bad that I was determined to get them right. I persevered and am proud to say that I think I have perfected them…the secret is in resting the dough which I discovered by accident about fifteen years ago….I had been baking all day…and hit the wall. So, I wrapped up the puri dough in cling film and tossed it on the kitchen counter. I got up the next morning and rolled the dough out…the banana puris turned out perfect.

Getting these right takes practice…and the most important ingredient is a super dose of patience. Oh, and one more important lesson….perfecting these delicate pastries did not help me hook the perfect husband…not the first time round, ANYWAY!

I would love to hear about your Diwali memories…post a comment!

Banana Puri

500ml Spar cake flour, sifted
2,5ml ground cardamom
75ml Spar buter
Pinch of salt
2,5ml baking powder
5ml lemon juice
200ml iced water
200ml Spar butter, melted
Cornflour for sprinkling
Spar sunflower oil, to fry banana puri
Tinted roasted almonds, to garnish

For the sugar syrup:
250ml Spar sugar
200ml cold water
1 cinnamon stick
25ml rose syrup

Here’s how

Mix the sifted cake flour, ground cardamom, salt and baking powder in a mixing bowl.
Slice the butter into little cubes and rub into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add the lemon juice to the iced water.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add enough iced water to make a stiff dough.
Leave the dough to rest overnight (8 hours).
Divide the dough into eight portions and mould into smooth balls.
Use a rolling pin to work each portion into a paper thin round.
Dust the work surface with flour to prevent the dough from sticking.
Dust a large baking sheet with flour and place the first round on it.
Brush the round with melted butter ghee and then sift a tablespoon of cornflour over.
Pile the rounds on top of each other making sure that both sides of the rounds are brushed with butter ghee and dusted with cornflour except the top of the last round.
Gently roll out the pile and trim the edges.
Brush the top of the dough with melted butter ghee and then dust again with cornflour.
Roll up the dough tightly to form a swiss roll and slice the dough into 12 portions.
Place the sliced dough with the layers facing up and flatten at a 45 degree angle.
Roll the dough into an oval and fold the open edge over and press firmly to ensure its does not open when being fried.
Heat oil in a small pot on medium heat.
Fry the banana puri one at a time and gently spoon a little oil over the pastry. This helps to puff up the layers in the pastry.
Turn the pastry over and continue spooning oil over.
The banana puri should still be pale in colour when cooked.
Drain on a wire rack.

To make the syrup:
Combine the sugar, cold water and cinnamon stick in a pot. Cook on a medium heat stirring continuously until the sugar dissolves. Simmer until a thick syrup forms. Pour in the rose syrup and leave aside to cool slightly. Drizzle a little syrup over the banana puris and garnish with flaked almonds.

Yudhika’s Tips

The sugar must dissolve before it comes up to the boil as this would cause the syrup to crystallise.
If the puris start to open, use a slotted spoon to hold the pastry against the side of the pot. Once the pastry holds its shape it can be turned over.
Dust the banana puri with icing sugar instead of sugar syrup.

Troubled by True Love

True Love Feature May 2013

True Love Feature May 2013

I love photo shoots…which girl doesn’t? So my True Love troubles began as this shoot was scheduled for the day after the Hobby X expo!  I had just done two expos back to back and was feeling completely knackered.  The panic began to set in.  It was not my finest moment when I realised that I was not paying attention to the 400 grams of Lindt chocolate being melted.  What was supposed to be a glorious, silky chocolate topping turned to an unsightly volcanic lava mess as the Lindt overheated and split.  My heart broke and I was too tired to even cry!

Rocky Road Cake aka 'The Messy Chocolate Cake

Rocky Road Cake aka ‘The Messy Chocolate Cake

I decided to call in the armed forces….my neighbour and really good friend, Mechelle Theodosiou!  She has a home that is like a treasure trove….she arrived with armfuls of goodies to set the table with!  What a trooper!  My mom was like the foodie fairy godmother – she was my kitchen co-pilot as we worked our way through the list of dishes that we needed to prepare.

Behind the scenes with True Love - Table setting by Mechelle Theodosiou

Behind the scenes with True Love – Table setting by Mechelle Theodosiou

My mind was buzzing and I warned Alexa Wilson that I was in need of  some serious ‘cosmetic panel beating’.  Alexa and I started working together on the set of ‘Sugar ‘n Spice’.  Much to my delight, she arrived with a few large cases of ‘equipment’ – 90% of it to camouflage the bags under my eyes.  She did a fantastic job and had me looking like a star in a flash.

The Star of the Show - The Mothers Day Cake

The Star of the Show – The Mothers Day Cake

The menu included my Home Style Lamb Curry with Velvety Potatoes, Crab in a Spicy Sauce and a selection of cakes that left the team breathless!  Red Velvet, Rocky Road aka the Messy Chocolate Cake and the star of the …’The Mother’s Day Cake’.  It’s a five layer cake dressed in lashings of the most decadent chocolate cream cheese frosting.

Mokgadi Itsweng - True Love's Food Editor

Mokgadi Itsweng – True Love’s Food Editor

…’The Mother’s Day Cake’.  It’s a five layer cake dressed in lashings of the most decadent chocolate cream cheese frosting.

Just a few tips about this cake…I use the Spar branded Cream Cheese for this recipe.  This blog is not sponsored by Spar but after a few run ins with dodgy cream cheese which covered split to watery frosting, I can’t help but recommend the Spar Cream Cheese for the job!  The measurements are in grams – I recommend an electronic scale for baking as every gram counts to achieve perfection!

IMG_3035

Here is the recipe:

Mother’s Day Cake

Ingredients for three layers:

360g cake flour

360g sugar

22,5ml baking powder

1ml salt

125g butter, room temperature

375ml full cream milk

3 eggs

10ml vanilla essence

Few drops of pink food colouring

Here’s how:

Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees celsius.

Grease and line 3 x 20cm cake tins.

Place the cake flour, baking powder and sugar into a mixing bowl.

Add the butter and beat until the ingredients are combined – the mixture should look quite gritty.

Gradually add the milk and vanilla essence while beating continuously.

Add the lightly beaten eggs and beat again until the batter is smooth.

Divide the mixture into three bowls and tint two batches with a few drops of pink food colouring.

Spoon the mixture into cake tins and bake for 20 – 25 minutes.

Remove the cakes from the tin and then leave on a wire rack to cook completely.

Ingredients for the chocolate layers:

200g cake flour

15ml baking powder

45g cocoa powder

225g sugar

85g butter, room temperature!

240ml full cream milk

2 eggs

5ml vanilla essence

Here’s how:

Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees celsius.

Place the cake flour, baking powder, cocoa and sugar into a mixing bowl.

Add the butter and beat until the ingredients are combined – the mixture should look quite gritty.

Gradually add the milk and vanilla essence while beating continuously.

Add the lightly beaten eggs and beat again until the batter is smooth.

Spoon the mixture into 2 x 20cm cake tins and bake for 20 – 25 minutes.

Remove the cakes from the tin and then leave on a wire rack to cook completely.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting:

200g butter

400g sifted icing sugar

90g cocoa powder

2 x 230g tubs Spar cream cheese

60ml fresh cream

Cream the butter until light in colour and gradually add the icing sugar.

Sift the cocoa into the creamed butter and continue beating.

Add the cream cheese and cream the mixture until the ingredients are combined.

Pour the fresh cream into the frosting and beat for a few seconds until light and fluffy.

To assemble the cake:

Sandwich the cakes with the chocolate cream cheese frosting starting with a chocolate layer, then pink layer which will leave the vanilla sponge in the centre.

Then place a pink layer over the vanilla cake and sandwich with a chocolate layer.

Frost the top and sides of the cake and garnish with maraschino cherries.

*Special thanks to: Alex Wilson and Mechelle Theodosiou