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With Pooja Dhingra's book, baking is a piece of cake

Cookies, bars, cakes, tarts and macaroons — the simple recipes in Pooja Dhingra’s book, The Big Book of Treats, make you want to give baking a serious shot, finds Phorum Dalal

The last time I baked was during my summer vacations after Class 10 board exams when two friends and I signed up for a baking class. While we gorged on all the yummy delights the instructor baked for each session, I ended up making only the butter cookies with burnt bottoms.


Pooja Dhingra puts icing on cupcakes at her kitchen in Lower Parel. Pic/Emmanual Karbhari

I picked up the Big Book of Treats, with the idea that baking is a tough art. But, right from the first section of the book I was at ease, as Baking 101 solves the initial hurdles — ingredients, equipments and techniques. Most recipes require basic ingredients found in every Indian kitchen such as cream, Amul butter and castor sugar.

“Ingredients are a bigger worry than the method itself,” said Dhingra when we visited her kitchen a Lower Parel last week. The first tip she gave us was to buy a weighing scale. “Indians are intimidated by baking because ‘yaha andaze se nahi chalta’. To get the right consistency, you have to measure accurately and use the right utensils,” adds Dhingra, who learnt the art at Le Cordon Bleu, Paris.

One snag every new baker experiences is burning the top of a cake or cupcake, while the centre remains uncooked. “One can adopt a more gentle form of baking here by covering the top, almost cooked part with a foil and continue cooking,” said Dhingra.

Test drive
Charged up, I decided to bake the Chai Cake and Dark Chocolate Fudge Bars. I had no idea that simple ingredients such as chocolate, condensed milk, sugar, butter and flour could create such magic. Thanks to the easy-to-follow steps and definitions of baking terms in the book’s beginning, I finally discovered the baker in me.

The book is published by Penguin and costs Rs 699
Those interested can sign up for workshops on www.studiofifteen.com

Dark Chocolate Fudge bar

Dark chocolate fudge bars 
Ingredients

>> 100g butter
>> 75g dark chocolate
>> 2 eggs
>> 250g castor sugar
>> 2 tsp vanilla
>> ½ tsp baking soda
>> 200g flour
>> 75g roasted almonds, chopped
>> 75g white chocolate chips

Method
>> Melt together the dark chocolate and butter. Set aside to cool
>> Whisk the eggs, castor sugar and vanilla till light and fluffy and add into the mixture and whisk
>> Sift together the flour and baking soda and fold into the mix till combined
>> Pour into an eight-inch lined baking tin and bake at 180°C for 20 minutes
>> Let it cool in the tin and then cut into bars and store in an airtight container for up to seven days 

Dark Chocolate Fudge Bars and Chai Cake

Dark Chocolate Fudge Bars and Chai Cake

Chai Cake
Ingredients
>> 200g condensed milk
>> 125 ml chai (make with milk but without sugar)
>> 100g butter
>> 15g castor sugar
>> 125g flour
>> ½ tsp baking soda
>> 1 tsp baking powder

Method
>> Whisk together butter and castor sugar till light and fluffy
>> Add the condensed milk and chai and whisk till mixed
>> Sift together the flour, baking soda and baking powder and fold into the batter with a spatula
>> Bake at 180°C for 20-22 minutes in a lined six-inch cake tin

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