My friends T, A, S and I have this hyperactive whatsapp group where we keep on disturbing each other throughout the day for various reasons, but mostly for no reason. We are the most active post midnight because that is the time most of us get back home from work, at least A and I. T and S are privileged mortals. Anyway, one such night all of us were discussing philosophy, and by that I mean constructing and deconstructing it to make it fit in the different schemes of things that applied to us and our lives in general. My bad that I chose that very night to ask my friends suggestions for my Christmas special series. Dazed that they were, they came up with the idea of a “Magic Realism Cake”. T said it should be a layered cake with layers of Red Velvet and Green Velvet Cheesecakes stuffed by Cream cheese or whipped cream or basically anything white. A graciously spared me the cheesecake imposition and said a red velvet, vanilla and green velvet layer cake should do fine.
Now I’m not somebody who uses food colours and so I contemplated of beetroot and spinach juice to give the velvet cakes their colour. Too much risk, I realised. What if the colours didn’t stay? What if my cakes tasted of beetroot and spinach? When you’re using as expensive an ingredient like cream cheese, that too for a layer cake, your recipe should at least be foolproof. So out of the window went the ideas of coloured velvet cheesecakes.
The next step was finding out natural ingredients boasting of Christmas colours that could successfully be incorporated in a cake/dessert. For red, you didn’t need to go further than strawberries. And the green element was provided by the exotic presence of pistachios. Now pistachios obviously don’t make anything look as green as green food colouring would, but who cares? Strawberries and pistachios became my armours to whip up my Magic Realism Cake. Not as red or as green as my friends would have wanted, it still looks, tastes and breathes Christmas!
If all these strawberries are not enough for you, hop on to Manjari’s blog For the Love of Food where she has whipped up a mindblowingly boozy strawberry jam. And not just that, she has also made some Napolitain biscuits to go with it. Yes, from scratch. Very Christmassy, I say. 🙂
Recipe partly adapted from Sips and Spoonfuls
Flour: 200 gm
Pistachio meal (ground pistachios): 50 gm
Baking powder: 1.5 tsp
Baking soda: 0.5 tsp
Salt: a pinch
Butter, at room temperature: 100 gm
Sugar: 175 gm
Amaretto: 2 tsp (you can also use vanilla or any pista essence)
Milk: 4 tbsp(or as required)
Strawberries, hulled and chopped into quarters: 12-14
1. In a big bowl, sift flour, baking powder and soda and salt. Set aside.
2. With an electric or a hand-held mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Add amaretto and blitz. Transfer the mixture to another big bowl.
3. Now fold in the flour gradually, alternating with the milk till well combined. Stir in the pistachio meal.
4. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade and grease a round cake pan with butter on the sides and line the base by a parchment paper.
5. Put batter into cake pan and plant the strawberries on top of the batter, pressing them slightly into it. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes before unmoulding.
6. Serve cold or at room temperature with an elegant cup of English Breakfast Tea.
Kickstarting Christmas: Day 4