Maybe I should have made some New Year resolutions…….if nothing else, they would have guilted me into keeping up with them, even if for a short while. This year was supposed to be about me being more diligent about posting recipes on the blog and yet here I am, well into February and finally with a post. Truth be told, it would have been even longer had it not been for the excitement of sharing a recipe from an absolutely stunning cookbook!
I had been waiting with eager anticipation for this debut book by my friend and uber-talented blogger, Asha from Food, Fashion Party. Having followed her blog for many years and always in awe of her creativity at pairing cuisines and flavors, I knew this book was going to be special. And it lived up to all my expectations! Flipping through the pages, I could not but drool over all the recipes and stunning photography by Alanna of The Bojon Gourmet. And be overcome by nostalgia by the beautifully evocative stories strewn throughout the book, like little gems, giving context to the recipe and making them even more special.
This is a true labor of love with recipes tested many times over a couple of years and covering everything from appetizers to drinks to mains to desserts. I have bookmarked so many of them and can’t wait to cook my way through the book…….like the Jaggery Crepes with Cashews and Coconut, Peppery Cumin Buns, Fried Banana Bread, Chutney Sandwiches with Whipped Goat Cheese Spread, Sweet Potato and Paneer Galette and Tomato-Dal Soup. Written in an uncomplicated way, each recipe feels very doable. The book also has sections for meat and fish dishes and some substitutions can easily make them vegetarian-friendly. Like swapping chicken with tofu in the Chicken Soup with Vegetable-Stuffed Wontons.
The Honey Cake caught my eye almost immediately. Because no matter how many fancy pastry shops I have visited, the cakes from India bakeries hold a very special place in my heart; simple, unpretentious places that make the most delicous cakes and biscuits and bread.
And one bite of the honey-soaked cake topped with powdered coconut, a speciality of the iconic Iyengar Bakeries in India immedediately took me back in time. Tasting exactly like the one sold in India, I could not believe the recipe could be so perfect. A sponge that bakes to a glowing, golden brown, over which is poured a topping of coconut cooked in a honey syrup that is flavored with cardamom and fresh orange juice. And I felt not the least bit apologetic for having cut out a slice before photographing, leaving a gaping hole in the pan 🙂
The recipe asks for the coarsely powdered shredded coconut that is unsweetened but my packet had disappeared in the black hole of my pantry, so I used the shredded one instead. I would recommend using the powder though, simply because it would help the cake cut into neater slices and helps the syrup soak through much better. In a pinch, you can also powder some coarse shreds in the blender….an idea that came to me only later.
I know this book will be coming into the kitchen with me very often, the pages will be well-worn and splattered while cooking, the stories will transport me back to my childhood and the food will warm the heart and belly.
And in the interest of full disclosure, I bought my copy and this post is not a sponsored one :). Asha has generously offered a copy of the book and I am doing a giveaway that will run on the blog and Instagram. All you have to do leave a comment telling me which is the food/foods that brings back special childhood memories. You can comment here and/or on Instagram and if you do both, they will counted as two entries :). The winner will be randomly selected and contacted via the email address given, and will have 24 hours to respond to claim their prize. This giveaway is open to residents of the USA, Canada and India (because of shipping logistics), and will close on Febuary 12 at 10 pm EST. Winners will be announced on Feb 14, 2018.
Recipe Source: Masala and Meatballs by Asha Shivakumar
Reprinted with permission from Masala & Meatballs: Incredible Indian Dishes with an American Twist by Asha Shivakumar (Page Street Publishing, 2017).
Honey CakePrint Recipe
- 1 1/2 cups( 355 ml) water
- 1 cup ( 320g) orange blossom honey *
- 1 cup (100g) coconut powder
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh squeezed orange juice
- Drop of red food coloring (optional)
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground cardamom
- 1 cup (22 g) butter
- 1 cup (200 g) sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) milk
- 2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp (8 g) baking powder
Prehea tthe oven to 325 degrees F(170 degeees C or gas mark 3). Grease an 8-inch cake pan.
To make the syrup, combine all the ingresients except for the cardamom in a pan over medium heat, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the cardamom and let it cool.
To make the cake, in a mixing bowl, whip the butter until it is light and fluff. Add the sugar, 1/4 cup (50g) at a time, and beat well after each addition. Add the eggs, one at a tim, along with vanilla and milk; beat well.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Fold it into the butter mixture, being careful not to overmix. Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake for 40-50 minute, until a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 20 minutes.
Randomly pierce the cake with a wooden toothpick, give the syrup a good stir because the coconut tends to float. Pour the syrup over the cake. Let this sit for at least 2 hours before serving.
* You can use any honey you have available.