Blog - Curry Twist

Wedding Cake In San Francisco

"I Left My Heart in San Francisco" goes the old song and it perfectly expresses our feelings, for so did we! There recently to see our son Rohan wed his lovely new bride Adora, we fell in love with this charming city and the momentous occasion that brought us together.

The ceremony took place in the rotunda of beautiful San Francisco City Hall, with family members from both sides in attendance. Adora has been a part of our lives for many years, during which we have come to know her and love her, but officially welcoming her into our family was an especially joyful moment for us. Another foodie is just what we needed!

A trip to San Francisco is always a good excuse to see the sights of one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The Golden Gate Bridge is such an iconic scene that it is well worth driving out of town to see it. We were even lucky to get some sunshine during our drive!

San Francisco is such a compact city that you can see most of it on foot. The steep hills require you to be in good shape if you are planning to do much walking. Toiling up Powell Street can give you quite a workout, and you still need to have enough energy to skip out of the way of cable cars hurtling down the hill!

The gracious row houses lining the streets are another sight synonymous with San Francisco. The Painted Ladies, a row of historic Victorian houses are the most famous and the most photographed. Their beautiful, intricate painted designs and detailing are worth a trip to Alamo Square.

And for shoppers, the stores surrounding Union Square are an irresistible draw. I was spoiled for choice with so many big name flagship stores in one place! And when shopping gets tiring, there is a huge granite plaza bordered with swaying palm trees and cafes in which to relax and watch the world go by.  

San Francisco also has the largest and oldest Chinatown in North America. It still sprawls over a large area, combining restaurants,  grocery stores and herbal medicine shops with historic churches, buildings and even the famous Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory!
The best known dim sum restaurant, Yank Sing is worth visiting for fantastic food. It is one of few restaurants that still have carts trundling around, filled to the brim with delicately steamed, delicious dumplings.

A joyous wedding is best followed by a memorable meal and our celebration continued at renowned chef Michael Mina's award winning restaurant. His delicious, contemporary, creative dishes such as sesame oil infused ahi tuna tartare, seared fish with mushrooms in dashi broth and succulent beef wrapped in puff pastry filled us with even more joy!

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What's a wedding without cake? Adora, an avid, accomplished baker has created this gorgeous roll cake just for this blog. Easy to make at home, these delicious slices of soft orange scented sponge cake with saffron cream will fill you with happiness!

Orange Cardamom Roll Cake With Saffron Cream Filling

For the filling:

80 ml whipping cream

30g white chocolate chips

A pinch of saffron

For the cake:

25g unsalted butter

1 tbsp fresh orange zest

25g cake flour

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

3 large egg yolks, at room temperature

50g sugar

2 large egg whites, at room temperature

To prepare the filling, warm cream in microwave until scalding, about 1 min. Stir in chocolate chips and saffron until completely melted. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400F. Lightly grease an 8X8 baking pan and line with parchment, creating an overlap on all sides to help lift cake. Set aside an extra 8X12 sheet of parchment, (for later use in the recipe).

To make cake, melt butter in microwave for about 30 sec. Add orange zest.

Combine flour and ground cardamom in separate bowl.

Combine egg yolks and half of sugar with hand mixer until thickened and pale in colour, about 2 min.

In separate bowl, beat egg whites (with clean mixer blades) and remaining sugar, until soft peaks form, about 2-3 min. Add egg yolk mixture and beat until combined, about 1 min.

Sift in half the flour mixture, folding it in with a spatula and lifting it from the bottom to keep it light and aerated. Add remaining flour mixture, folding and lifting to aerate.

Fold in orange zest butter until just combined (melt it again if necessary).

Pour batter into center of cake pan, spreading it into an even layer with spatula. Tap pan on counter to remove any air bubbles.

Bake cake for 10-12 min until golden and spongy to the touch. Immediately lift cake onto work surface using parchment overlap handles (keep parchment under cake).

Working while cake is still warm, place extra sheet of parchment on top of cake, sandwiching it between the two sheets of parchment. Flip cake upside down and peel off top sheet of parchment. Roll cake tightly (like a sushi roll), using bottom parchment as guide. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, whip reserved chilled saffron cream chocolate mixture with hand mixer until stiff peaks form.

Unroll cake and spread cream filling evenly over top, leaving a 2 cm border all around. Roll cake tightly (without squeezing out the filling!) and wrap in parchment, pressing gently to shape it. Refrigerate for 30 min.

Unwrap cake, trim edges and cut into 1 inch thick slices, wiping excess cream off knife for neat edges.

Serves Eight
Many thanks to Adora for cake recipe and photos!

Congratulations Rohan and Adora!

Raspberry Cake In Calci, Tuscany

A mere 9 km away from Pisa lies Calci, a charming little village that will instantly transport you to the Tuscany of your dreams! Here lie sprawling farmlands, olive groves, chestnut forests, tiny villages nestled among green hills and a sense of peace and relaxation you are unlikely to find anywhere else on your trip to Italy.

The highlight here is the famed Certosa di Calci, a former Carthusian monastery built in the 12th century, these days also housing the Natural History Museum of the University of Pisa. This Certosa is also a hub of local social activity and hosts many community events, many of them centered around food!

The grounds are spacious, the buildings majestic and the view breathtaking, making a visit to the Certosa an essential part of your itinerary. It is fascinating to stroll through the rooms and living areas of monks from centuries gone by and glimpse how their lives were lived behind these walls.

The chapels, dining halls, prayer rooms and even the apothecary of the Certosa are beautifully preserved, with murals, paintings and art work depicting scenes from daily life in the days when this Certosa was the heart of the community and nobility came to visit from far and near.

Calci and it's neighboring little villages are also home to some of the finest restaurants in this region. Their proximity to Pisa ensures that they are always full! We had a delicious, authentic meal in a lovely trattoria in the village of Montemagno. The Testaroli col pesto - seared chestnut flour pasta with fresh pesto, was like nothing I've had before. I wish I spoke Italian well enough to get the chef's recipe!

Then there was the experience of dining at Agriturismo Il Colibri. This charming little vegetarian restaurant also in Montemagno, specializes in chef's tasting menus, showcasing the creativity of the chef in many delicious courses. My favourite was an unusual eggplant dish, batter fried in chickpea flour and layered with tomato sauce. Reminded me of a pakora!

The best place to stay in Calci is a B&B called Il Molendino. Run very capably by Fabiola and her husband Stefano, it is charming, serene and very comfortable. The breakfasts here are legendary with Fabiola serving fresh home made croissants, cakes and pastries each morning. We had an amazing apple cinnamon cake and a soft, moist raspberry cake that made me completely forget all about my diet!

Here is Fabiola's fantastic and easy recipe for raspberry cake, handed down by her grandmother. The final touch of the brown sugar cardamom crust is mine, giving this cake an Indian flavour, somewhat reminiscent of suji halwa (Indian semolina dessert)!

Raspberry Cake With Semolina,Yogurt And Cardamom

1 1/2 stick (180g) unsalted butter, melted

1 cup (250g) plain, full fat Greek yogurt

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 cup (185g) fine semolina or semolina flour

1 cup (185g) granulated white sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cardamom, divided

Pinch of salt

1 cup (170g) fresh raspberries

1/3 cup thinly sliced almonds

2 tbsp brown or cane sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8 inch round springform cake pan.

Combine butter, yogurt and vanilla together in large mixing bowl. Whisk well until smooth.

In another bowl, combine semolina, granulated sugar, baking powder, 1/2 tsp of the ground cardamom and pinch of salt. Mix well.

Gently fold semolina mixture into the yogurt mixture until just combined.

Spread half the batter in bottom of prepared cake pan.

Scatter raspberries evenly over top.

Cover with remaining batter.

Sprinkle sliced almonds evenly over top of cake.

Combine brown or cane sugar and remaining 1/2 tsp cardamom in small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over top of almonds.

Bake for 45 - 50 min, testing with a toothpick or skewer to make sure cake is cooked through.

Cool 30 min, remove carefully from pan, then slice and serve.

Serves six

Cardamom Halwa Blondies In Dresden

 

Dresden is famous for the exquisite ceramic figurines that were traditionally manufactured there, and in some ways the entire city seems to have been handcrafted out of delicate porcelain. From the ornate fountains to the manicured gardens, every detail seems to have been carefully and painstakingly planned.

The city centre stretches along the banks of the Elbe river, with rows of elegant buildings overlooking the waterfront. Dresden was the capital of the kings of Saxony and their sprawling palace is still a major tourist attraction. 

It is hard to believe that almost all the buildings you see today are reconstructions of the originals, most of which were badly damaged due to bombing during the war. Over the decades, Dresden has been painstakingly rebuilt with such care that it is almost impossible to tell where the original sections end and where the reconstructions begin.

The great church in the centre of town, the Frauenkirche, is one of the landmarks of the city. We had the good fortune to be in Dresden on Easter day and had the opportunity of hearing the church choir perform Bach's music. Hearing their voices soaring under the great dome of the church was an unforgettable experience.

Dresden has an age old culture of serving coffee and cake. Some of the first coffee bars in Germany were opened here in the 17th century, although sadly, women were not allowed in. They started having their own coffee parties at home and served cake as well. This tradition of serving cake with coffee in the middle of the afternoon, known as Kaffee und Kuchen soon spread all over Germany, although It was not until the 20th century that women were finally allowed into coffee bars! 

We had some really fantastic cakes and pastries at many of the riverside cafes in Dresden. One of my favourites were blondies, which were great as a little sweet treat with coffee to revive us after a day spent sightseeing. In my version of blondies, I have added in some very Indian flavours which go surprisingly well with coffee!

Indians love halwa and often make it with flour, ghee, cardamom and sugar, with some chopped nuts folded in. In this recipe, I have folded halwa into the batter, infusing it with the lovely aroma of ground cardamom and the delicious nuttiness of browned ghee. You can taste the wonderful cakey - halwa fusion in every bite!

Cardamom Halwa Blondies

For Halwa:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

3/4 cup light brown sugar

2 tsp ground cardamom

1 egg

1/3 cup all purpose flour

For Blondies:

2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped and toasted

To make halwa, melt butter in small heavy saucepan set over medium low heat. Stir occasionally until butter foams, then subsides and starts to brown, about 5 min.

Remove from heat and cool 15 min. Add sugar, cardamom and egg, mixing well. Add flour and mix again till well blended. Reserve at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 13X9 inch baking pan with parchment and spray lightly with cooking spray.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Reserve.

Combine brown sugar and butter in large bowl, beating well with a hand mixer until light and fluffy, about 5 min. Add eggs and vanilla, beat again till well blended. Add flour mixture by the spoonful, blending well after each addition. Fold in half the walnuts.

Spoon two thirds of the batter into prepared pan, smoothing it evenly to the edges. Add alternating dollops of prepared halwa mixture and remaining batter over top. Swirl with a knife to create a marbled effect. Sprinkle remaining walnuts over. 

Bake for about 30 - 32 min until blondies are golden and firm, with gooey centres. Cool completely, then cut into squares and serve with coffee.

Makes 24 Blondies

Recipe inspired by Bon Appetit magazine