Mini Cherry Galettes

These Mini Cherry Galettes are the perfect treat for all you home chefs and bakers who’d rather cook up a storm raging with delicious flavours than spend hours having something look restaurant worthy! Don’t get me wrong, I love making desserts that look super pretty. But some days, I just want good ol’ sweet, fruity, pastry-perfect dessert that doesn’t require too much effort. Dessert that can be prepared relatively quickly; dessert that doesn’t leave a tonne of dishes for me to clean up later! 😛 And these Mini Cherry Galettes tick all those boxes! 🙂

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Egyptian Basbousa

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I spent most of last week in bed, sick to the bone, unable to lift my head off the pillow, getting eaten up by antibiotics. It was not pretty. All I did all day was sleep, eat meagerly thanks to my dead taste buds and crave sweets. I lay in bed thinking about warm chocolate croissants – their buttery flaky pastry, chocolate oozing through; creme brulee – its crackling bittersweet crust and the luscious custard; and Basbousa – its sticky crumbly texture dripping with sweet syrup. (That’s what happens when you love baking; you dream of sweets all the time!)

Basbousa is a traditional Egyptian dessert – it is a moist semolina cake, made with desiccated coconut, soaked in a rose flavored sugar syrup. It is made with several variations in different parts of the Middle East – sometimes the syrup is flavored with orange juice, other times the cake is only made with semolina, leaving out the desiccated coconut.

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Here, in Oman, Basbousa is available in every department store and sweet shop, all year round. But there’s something about the store bought variety – they are sickly sweet, way too doused in syrup and no longer retain the crumbly texture of the semolina. Like all store bought things, they are a let-down as compared to homemade versions.

After spending a week craving Basbousa, I decided to make it on the occasion of Eid ul Adha, which is being celebrated by Muslims all over the world, this weekend.

IMG_3652Here’s what you’re going to need:

For the cake:

  • Semolina – 350 g
  • Yogurt – 200 g
  • Sugar – 100 g
  • Butter – 150 g
  • Baking Soda – 1/2 tsp
  • Baking Powder – 1 tsp
  • Desiccated Coconut – 50 g
  • Salt – 1/4 tsp
  • All Purpose Flour – 75 g
  • Almonds – 20 to 25, peeled
  • Vanilla Extract – 1 tsp

For the syrup:

  • Water – 1 cup
  • Sugar – 1 and 1/2 cup
  • Rose Water – 1 tsp
  • Lemon juice – 1/2 tsp

This is how you make it: 

  • Mix semolina, sugar, baking powder and soda, desiccated coconut, flour and salt in a bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, melt butter. Beat together yogurt, butter and vanilla essence.
  • Add the yogurt-butter mixture to the dry ingredients and beat well. The batter will be thick and dry-ish.
  • Preheat oven to 160 degree Celsius.
  • Line a square baking tray with parchment paper. Pour the batter into the pan and smooth out into an even layer.
  • With a knife, cut it into squares or diamonds (whichever you like) and lay an almond on each square, pressing slightly into the square.
  • Bake at 160 degree Celsius for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Take it out of the oven and let it cool.
  • Bring water and sugar to a boil on high flame. Once sugar dissolves, reduce the flame to low heat and boil for another 3-4 minutes.
  • Take the syrup off the heat and add lemon juice and rose water to it and mix well. Let it cool slightly.
  • Pour the syrup over the warm Basbousa and let it seep into the cake.
  • Serve at room temperature.

I was pleasantly surprised at how the Basbousa turned out. I had never tasted homemade Basbousa before and making it myself gave me insight about how artificial and monotonous-tasting the store bought variety can be. The cake is moist and has a course granular texture courtesy of the semolina and the coconut. The syrup is stickily sweet and gives the cake a warm, juicy feel and the decadent flavor of the rose water comes through perfectly. For someone who has cake so often, this dessert is a breath of fresh air – the crumbly texture melting in your mouth and the different essences which come through, play fantastically on your taste buds.

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I have always loved Basbousa, and now I only love it more. I packed some in a small plate and tied a festive ribbon around it and carried it to a good friend’s place when visiting her family for Eid and I’m still awaiting feedback. The boyfriend’s family enjoyed it and even more shocking – the boyfriend loved it! I didn’t think he would like it much ’cause it wasn’t his kind of dessert – it was not chocolaty and it had coconut – yet he was raving about it which had me pleasantly surprised. And as for the parents? I had kept a box-full of Basbousa in the fridge and was out for most of the last two days, only to come home last night and find just one piece remaining! They absolutely loved it!

A little tip: Use only as much syrup as you want, depending on how sweet you like your desserts to be.

Bring some Arab flair and Eid festivities into your home with this homemade Basbousa. My family, friends and I thoroughly enjoyed it and so will you!

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Here’s wishing you and your family a blessed Eid! 🙂

Egg-less Marble Cake

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I’ve been baking for over seven years and I cannot believe that I’ve never baked a Marble Cake before. But gosh, am I proud of my very first attempt! This is my favorite snack-time cake ever! It beats all the chocolate cakes and coffee cakes I’ve baked till date.

Until a couple of months ago, I had never tried baking egg-less cakes, and I must admit, I’m still very shaky when it comes to trying out an egg-less recipe. But in the few times I have tried them, I’ve found that only once did my attempt at baking an egg-less cake completely flop – all the other times, I’ve been pretty successful. But this egg-less cake blew my mind. I did not expect it to come out this good. It was moist and crumbly and it was just my most perfect attempt at baking an egg-less cake.

I don’t normally advocate cake as being good for your health – it’s not. But I don’t recommend staying away from cake either. (How is that even possible?) However, for the health conscious people out there, I will say, this cake is on the healthier side. I know you’re probably thinking its got chocolate and its cake and its sweet, how could it possibly be remotely healthy? Well, here’s the thing – no butter is used in this cake, there are no eggs and the sugar is of a small quantity. All the really heavy, fatty things don’t go into this cake – hence I give you a healthier-than-other-cakes Marble Cake.

IMG_3071So here’s what you need:

  • All Purpose Flour – 210 g
  • Baking Powder – 1 tsp
  • Baking Soda – 1/2 tsp
  • Hot Water – 140 ml
  • Sugar – 180 g
  • Vegetable Oil – 125 ml
  • Yogurt (Curd) – 125 ml
  • Vanilla Essence – 1 tsp
  • Cocoa Powder – 25 g

This is how you make it:

  • In a bowl, mix all the dry ingredients – the flour, baking powder and baking soda – thoroughly.
  • In a separate bowl, melt the sugar in the hot water, until completely dissolved. Add oil, yogurt, and the vanilla essence and whisk well.
  • Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and beat until a smooth batter is formed.
  • Divide the batter into two equal batches and add cocoa powder to one batch and beat until fully incorporated.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  • Grease the cake pan with butter.
  • Spoon the batter into the pan alternatively. Then use a knife to swirl up the batter. Make sure you don’t overdo it, or you’ll end up with a consistent chocolate cake.
  • Bake at 150 degrees Celsius for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

This cake is heaven to your taste buds. When I popped the first piece into my mouth, it melted in my mouth and it made me ridiculously happy. It was just the right amount of sweet, the two flavors – both vanilla and chocolate –  came through beautifully and the cake was decadent, moist and hearty. It was absolutely delicious. My mom loved the cake, she was pleased that it was not too sweet. My dad, who usually does not eat the cakes I bake, enjoyed this Marble cake. The boyfriend couldn’t get enough of it, and his family enjoyed it too. All those who tasted it, absolutely loved it and for those who didn’t try it, well, they really missed out!

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If you love a piece of cake with your tea or coffee, this is the perfect cake for you. Its not a lot of fuss to make either. Give it a try and you’ll be mighty pleased!

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