Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 96, Tuesday, December 22, 2009



Christmas Special

Merry Christmas
Here comes another time of the year, when it is all about giving. We give to our families, friends, children's teachers, neighbours, and just about anyone in our lives. It is yet another festival like any other, and the joy of it just rushes over us and takes us captive! It is a time to be merry with a lot of ho-ho-hos. It is…. Christmas.

Even when times get tough and we don't have times for big, elaborate gifts, we can bless friends and family with gifts from our hearts. In this issue, I am giving a few of my tried and tested recipes, some novel ways to package them and also some home decorating ideas for this season. And if you are a beginning baker, some baking hints to help you on your way.

So lets all get busy in the kitchen this season! Here's hoping you give, give, give and in return experience all the joy and magic of this special time of year.
Samina Q.

Pistachio coffee cake
(Serves 4)
225g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
225g caster sugar
4 large eggs
3tbsp strong cold coffee
75g shelled pistachio nuts, very finely chopped
250g self-raising flour, sifted
25g icing sugar, for dusting
For the filling:
300 ml double cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
110g shelled pistachios, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 190ºC, 170ºC fan, 375ºF, gas 5.
Grease a deep, 23 cm (9in) diameter spring-form or loose-bottomed cake tin.
Place the butter and sugar in a large bowl and whisk until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition until well incorporated. Be careful not to add them too quickly or the mixture will tend to curdle.

Add the coffee and chopped nuts and mix well, then carefully fold in the flour.

Pour the mixture straight away into the cake tin, transfer to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and well risen. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes in the tin before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.

For the filling, pour the cream into a bowl and whisk until it forms soft peaks, add the icing sugar and pistachios and fold gently with a spatula until the mixture forms firm peaks, being careful not to over-mix.

To finish the cake, carefully cut it in half horizontally with a bread knife and place the bottom half on to a serving plate. Spread the pistachio cream over the bottom half of the cake, then cover with the other half. Top with a dusting of icing sugar and serve.

Totally chocolate chip cookies
(Makes 12)
125g milk chocolate
150g plain flour

30g cocoa, sieved
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
125g soft unsalted butter
75g soft light brown sugar
50g white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, cold from the fridge
2x175g packets semi-sweet chocolate morsels or dark chocolate chips

Pre-heat the oven to 170 C/325 F/Gas Mark 3. Melt the 125g milk chocolate, in the microwave.
Measure the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl.

Cream the butter and two sugars in another bowl. Add the melted chocolate and mix together.

Beat in the vanilla extract and cold egg, and then mix in the dry ingredients. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips.

Scoop out ¼-cup-sized mounds-a generous-sized ice-cream scoop and a palette knife are the best tools for the job- and place on a lined baking sheet about 6cm apart. Do not flatten them.

Cook for 18 minutes, piercing with a cake tester until it comes out semi-clean and not wet with cake batter. If you pierce a chocolate chip, try again.

Leave the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for four of five minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to harden as they cool.

Cinnamon crumb cake
Crumb topping:
½ cup toasted almonds
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp butter, softened
For the cake:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup granulated sugar
4 tbsp butter or margarine
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2/4 cups strained yoghurt

Prepare crumb topping: In small bowl, mix almonds, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon until well blended. With fingertips, work in butter until mixture resembles marbles.
Prepare cake: Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Grease 9-inch spring-form pan; dust with flour. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until combined.
In large bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat granulated sugar, butter, and vanilla for 5 to 6 minutes or until mixture is fluffy, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Reduce speed to low; add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture alternately with yoghurt, beginning and ending with flour mixture, scraping bowl occasionally, until batter is smooth.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with crumb topping and gently press into batter.
Bake for 40-45 minutes.


On The Cover

It's time to bring out the baubles and the mistletoe as Christmas comes knocking on the door. Whether you share the faith or not, Christmas is the perfect time to break out the baked goodies.

Photos: Sazzad Ibne Sayed

Special thanks to Samina Quasem for arranging the photoshoot.




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