Friday, November 17, 2017

Black Forest Cake

My husband's birthday was in the recent past. I try to make birthdays special by making a cake from scratch for each of my family member. Even though we are not much of sweet eaters, my husband would be appreciative of a nicely made cake. I decided to make a Black Forest Cake as it is moist and delicious! Most importantly it is easy to make. This also happens to be one of the first cakes that I attempted 4-5 years ago when I first started baking. I must admit that it has been a learning curve and that I have learnt much since then about baking cakes.

So I made a 4-layer Black Forest cake with fresh cherries in between the layers and whipped cream frosting. I used the maraschino cherries in syrup for the garnish on top. I had only two 6 inch pans so I baked in them and sliced each cake into 2 layers. This batter would easily fill three 6 inch pans. If you do that you don't have to cut the cake into layers.  This batter would also be enough for two 8-inch pans, in which case you will have to slice the cake into 2 and then layer. I wanted something small and tall so I went with 6 inch pan. 

Without sounding boastful, I must admit that my family loved the cake! My kids called it the "best cake ever!" My husband ate 2 pieces and even the neighbor's kids who are picky enjoyed it! I am convinced that the cake was good! 

So without further ado, here is the recipe. The recipe has been adapted from this recipe here. 

Servings: 8-10 

Prep time: 45-60 mins Cook time: 30- 40 mins Total time: 75-100 mins 


For the cake: 

Flour: 2 cups 
Cocoa powder: 3/4 cup 
Instant coffee: 1 & 1/2 tbsp
Powdered sugar: 1 & 1/2 cups 
Baking soda: 1 & 1/2 tsp
Baking powder: 1 tsp
Salt: 1/4 tsp
Cooking oil: 1 cup
Vanilla essence: 1 tsp 
Milk: 1 cup
Hot water: 1 cup
Eggs: 2 large 

For the frosting: 

Whipping cream: 2 cups
Confectioners sugar: 2 cups 
Vanilla essence: 1 tsp 

For layering and garnishing:

Cherries: 1 cup
Sugar syrup: 1/2-1 cup 
Chocolate curls: 1/4 cup 


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Place the bowl and beaters for the cream in the freezer to chill. 

Grease and line three 6 inch or two 8 inch trays with parchment paper and keep ready.

Dissolve the instant coffee in the hot water and keep ready.

Seive all the dry ingredients into a bowl. Mix well. 

In another bowl, beat the eggs well. To this add oil, vanilla essence, milk and mix. 

Now slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Add in the instant coffee and mix.Do not overmix.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pans until 3/4 th full. 

Tap the pans against the kitchen counter before placing it on the middle rack in the oven. Bake at 350 degF. for 30-40 mins or until a toothpick when inserted comes out clean. 

Take the pans out and let them cool on the kitchen counter for atleast 30 mins.

While the cakes are cooling, prepare the whipped cream. 

To make the whipping cream, take the chilled bowl and beaters out. To this add the whipping cream. Whip on medium until soft peaks emerge, around 3-4 minutes. 
Now add in the vanilla essence and the confectioners sugar little at a time. Whip for another 2-3 minutes.

Keep the cream back in the fridge until ready to frost the cake.

Assembling the cake:

Once the cakes are cooled, level each of the cakes. 

If you are using 2 pans, you will have to slice each cake into 2 layers. Keep the layers aside. 

Sprinkle sugar syrup on all the layers. This keeps the cake moist.

Take a cake circle ( the cardboard on which you intend to assemble the cake). Place some frosting on the middle of the cake circle. Place the first layer of cake. Place a large dollop of whipped cream on top of it. Using an angled spatula, spread the cream evenly. Now evenly distribute pieces of cherry on top of the cream. 

Place the next layer of cake and repeat the above process. Do this to all available layers until you have placed the last layer on top. 

Once the last layer is placed, frost the cake evenly in all directions. 

You can pipe peaks of whipped cream on top and make borders at the bottom. I used Wilton tip no: . Place cherries on top of the peaks.

Decorate the middle with chocolate shavings. If you wish you can decorate the sides of the cake with chocolate shavings too!! 

Refrigerate the cake until ready to eat. 


I am bringing this to Angie's Fiesta Friday #198. Her co-hosts this week are two accomplished bloggers and my favorite people, Judi @ and Liz @ Spades, Spatulas and Spoons.

Cooking made easy: 

While baking it is good practice to make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature unless the recipes calls for a specific temperature. This includes the eggs too. 

Tip for healthy living: 

It is better to use as much natural ingredients as possible while cooking. This makes the food much healthier and nutritious. 

Food for thought: 

Silent gratitude isn't much to anyone. Gertrude Stein 

Please do share your thoughts. Your opinion matters!

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Monday, November 13, 2017

Veestro: Organic, plant-based meals , a Review

Ready to cook meal services are nothing new to me. There are several vendors out there who send 1-2 meal recipes with the exact ingredients prepackaged, to your doorstep. I have tried meals  from Blue Apron and Hello Fresh. It is definitely convenient as you don't have to go grocery shopping, you know what you are going to cook on a given day as you place your order atleast a week ahead of time. The ingredients are purported to be fresh and from the best sources and they are literally delivered to your doorstep. The flip side is that this service does tend to be a bit pricey and you still have to make time to cook the meals. I also feel bad that there is so much packaging that is required. 

When Veestro reached out to bloggers via Meatless Monday, to try their plant-based vegetarian food service, I was intrigued to say the least. I cook and eat vegetarian meals most of the time. I do not eat meat. I truly believe  that eating vegetarian food is a healthier way to live. Those who are used to eating meat in all their meals often find it hard to go vegetarian. I usually recommend beginning by switching to one vegetarian meal a day and then going to one vegetarian day a week. Meatless Mondays is a great way to do this. I was very happy when I was one of the bloggers selected to try their meals. 

A week later a big box was delivered to my doorstep with contents packed in a nice freezer pack. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that the meals were already cooked. All I had to do was heat them up as per package instruction and serve it. My expectation was to see ingredients, not prepared meals!! 

In the package that I was sent I had 4 meals and one drink. They were as follows: 

Tuscan Calzone
Veggie Lasagna 
Southwest BBQ chick'n
Golden Chickpea Stew
Hand Grenade

Tuscan Calzone

The Tuscan Calzone was a decent sized one. All I had to do was stick it in the oven for 18-20 mins and Voila!! It was nice and crusty with filling of vegan cheese, tofu and squash. 

Veggie Lasagna 

The veggie lasagna was made from Rice noodles, vegan cheese and  zucchini. It was truly delicious! I don't think that I could have made that at home!! My husband and I enjoyed it.

Southwest BBQ chick'n

The Southwest BBQ Chick'n meal came with a slice  of vegan chick'n breast , a side of fries and a side of sautéed vegetables ( squash and corn). It is a great vegan alternative to the regular BBQ chicken. 

Golden Chickpea Stew

The golden Chickpea Stew was made from chickpeas, quinoa and vegetables such as squash, potatoes and tomatoes. It was more like a curry which was right down my alley. I eat all these ingredients regularly but not cooked together. I make quinoa salad, quinoa dosa and quinoa pilaf but never tried it in a stew! 

Hand Grenade

I simply loved the hand grenade!!! The taste was refreshing with no added sugar. It was made up of apples, celery, kale, broccoli, kiwi and maqui Berry. 

All portions were decent sized and filling. The cooking instructions were simple and easy to follow. The ingredients were clearly listed at the back with the nutrition information. There was no ingredient that I did not know or couldn't pronounce. The meals tasted fresh and  were delicious. 

Veestro would be the place to go for Vegans. Each item listed above costs roughly around $10.00. You get everything that they promised and the convenience makes it worth it especially if you are only now going vegetarian/vegan and are at a loss as to how to substitute for meat! This might give you some ideas for vegetarian/vegan cooking too!!

Happy eating!!

I am sharing  this at Angie's Fiesta Friday #198. Her co-hosts this week are two accomplished bloggers and my favorite people, Judi @ and Liz @ Spades, Spatulas and Spoons.

Please do share your thoughts. Your opinion matters!

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