One year ago, today. A group of 15 people from my batch, including me, fresh into the first year of post graduation studies at NICMAR took our oaths as the new Students’ Council. We were thrown together, each of us with a different personality and skill set. I could say we were a bunch of misfits put together to form a team. To work towards the ‘Student Activities’ of the college.
I remember how it was those first few days. We didn’t know each other at all. How we worked, how our equation was and would be with each other. All unknown. We were at the start of this journey with so many milestones to achieve along the way.
But I don’t want to talk about the journey or the milestones. Everyone around us has experienced that with us. Today we ‘officially’ handed over our posts to our successors. Suddenly, it feels like the year never happened. The crazy laughter, the long endless nights of work, the anger towards each other and the whole world, that feeling we got after every milestone. I think each of us did have these thoughts at some point or the other. I’ve been asked several times ‘Why did you decide to get into the council anyway?’. I can’t figure out what to answer such people. I asked myself the same question too. But today, being here I know the answer. I know that this one year is nothing when thrown into perspective with the rest of our lives. But those who weren’t in the council will never realise what they missed out on. We are all going to have to work for the rest of our lives. But this was one job, one responsibility that was given to us solely because there was just this feeling in each of us that this was something we WANTED to do. Not something we HAD to do. That is an incredible feeling. We have been a bunch of misfits who found a way to make things work beautifully even at the worst times. We’ve become the people who can pull off events flawlessly. There are so many things I would do differently if I got the chance to repeat the year. But I don’t want to. Because then it wouldn’t be the year that was.
I keep thinking that there is something more I need to say to say goodbye. But words are not enough right now. I think the rest of the ex-council will agree with me. 🙂
On a totally unrelated note, I made this Blueberry Cornmeal Butter Cake from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook a few weeks back and I was totally floored by what a perfect tea-time cake it is. Not too sweet, so crumbly and a perfect bite. It is THE tea time cake. The cornmeal adds another dimension to the texture of it. Also, all that yummy jam from blueberries. Oh, blueberries, I wish could basically have them all year around. What perfection in berries! I was saving 2 frozen packs of them for something special and I couldn’t think of anything better to use them in. I think any type of jam-ey fruit would work with this cake. Bookmark this recipe for strawberry season, please. Though the next time I make it, I will add some more butter in the streusel for a better bite and crunch. I suggest you make this cake for when guests come over for tea. Or maybe just so that you could have an amazing tea time treat!
Blueberry Cornmeal Butter Cake
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature, plus more for pan
- 1 cup all-purprose flour, plus more for pan
- ½ cup cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
- ⅓ cup sour cream or yoghurt
- 2 cups blueberries, rinsed and patted dry
- ½ cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of table salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of an 8-inch square pan with parchment, then either butter and flour the bottom and sides or coat them with a nonstick spray.
- Whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, set aside. With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between additions, then add the vanilla and lime zest. Add 1/3 of flour mixture, all of the sour cream/yoghurt, and another third of the flour, beating until just blended. Mix the remaining flour with the blueberries. Fold the blueberry-flour mixture gently into the cake batter.
- Spread the cake batter in the prepared cake pan. Using the original dry-ingredients bowl, combine the streusel ingredients with a fork. Mash in the butter with your fork, fingertips, or pastry blender. Scatter topping over the batter.
- Bake the cake about 35 minutes, or until top is golden brown and toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for about 5 minutes, then cut and serve!
Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Cinnamon Chimney http://www.cinnamonchimney.com/
You know how you grew up with certain foods or dishes cooked by your mother which were so characteristic of her? There were these special things that she cooked on some special days, and you would just wait till it got done. Especially the desserts. For festivals. Or birthdays. Or the ones made for no reason at all. There were days made special only because something wonderful was made.
The funny thing is that my mother had some typical desserts perfected to the T. Everytime she made it, it would be just like the last time she made it. Perfect. But even if my brother and I had eaten it so many times over the years, we would still relish it every single time – never getting bored. That’s the magic of things your mother makes for you. Those typical desserts which always take you back to your childhood. Those desserts which no matter how much you eat outside, you will always think of how your mother made it.
My brother and I grew up with some very simple things. A chocolate and vanilla marble cake – We would always ask her to save us some batter to lick before the cake went in the oven. And the cake would be devoured by within half an hour of being out of the oven. Nankhatai – a rich, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth cookie. Gaajar ka halwa. Fruit salad – Typical fruits in a thin, milky custard. These are some of the desserts which I will probably never make for my future kids because I wouldn’t want to change the perfect memories of them from back then. I am just going to have to think of different desserts. Different memories.
This cake will definitely be one of those desserts that my future kids grow up with. The one which will make an ordinary day special. The dessert which will make them wait impatiently while it gets prepared.
Tres Leches means Three Milks in Spanish. It is a light airy sponge cake soaked in 3 kinds of milk and topped off with whipped cream. I made the Tres Leches Cake for the first time in March last year for my belated birthday party. After that, I made it about 8 or 9 times. It is the cake I think of making when I have friends coming over, especially ones who haven’t had it yet. It is one of my mom’s favorite things made by me – she requests(!!) it every time I go home. And even though I have given her the recipe a couple of times, she still will want me to make it for her! It is beautiful. A subtle, different flavor that just melts in your mouth. Although I enjoy eating it so much myself, I love making it now because I love watching the reactions of people who eat a piece for the first time and then immediately reach for a second helping. And then a third. I don’t know one person who hasn’t reacted that way after tasting it. I could go on. But you get my point.
The sponge itself is made with a stiff whipped egg whites mixed with beaten pale yolks. It has no butter or oil which keeps that lightness intact. I have topped the cake off before with fresh mangoes (Which pair up wonderfully with that whipped cream!) or strawberries. Even some grated chocolate. But even just like that, the cake is wonders!
Yeah, okay. I am just going to put it out there, I am kind of crazy when it comes to this cake. I strongly urge you to make it if you have even the tiniest interest in baking. You won’t regret it.
My future kids will be so lucky! 😛
Classic Tres Leches Cake
- 1 cup All-purpose Flour
- 1-1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 5 whole Eggs
- 1 cup Sugar, Divided
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- 1/3 cup Milk
- 1 can Evaporated Milk (I just reduce one litre of milk to 400ml)
- 1 can Sweetened, Condensed Milk
- 1/4 cup Heavy Cream
- 1.5-2 cups Heavy Cream, For Whipping
- 3 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan liberally until coated.
- Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Separate eggs.
- Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until yolks are pale yellow. Stir in milk and vanilla. Pour egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.
- Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry.
- Fold egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and spread to even out the surface.
- Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn cake out onto a rimmed platter and allow to cool. I usually just leave the cake in the pan I bake it in.
- Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream in a small pitcher. When cake is cool, pierce the surface with a fork several times. Slowly drizzle all but about 1 cup of the milk mixture—try to get as much around the edges of the cake as you can.
- Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for 30 minutes. To ice the cake, whip the heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of sugar until thick and spreadable.
- Spread over the surface of the cake. Decorate cake with mangoes, strawberries or chocolate. Cut into squares and serve.
- Evaporated milk isn't easily available in India. I usually just boil a litre of milk and then simmer it for about 2 hours - regularly checking on it and stirring till it is reduced to about 350 to 400ml.
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
Cinnamon Chimney http://www.cinnamonchimney.com/