February 3, 2009
I decided to bake a cake. It was our aunty’s birthday. We were off for live opera sung amidst a three-course meal and a rowdy group of 10.
Now curries I can cook. Sweets I can make. Cocktails I can mix. But baking is one art that has so far escaped me.
Still, I have a collection of cake trays from my efforts over the years. I even bought a retro black lacquer cake stand in the recent winter sales. One divine-looking recipe on the internet later I was ready for yet another attempt.
The warning bells went off when the chocolate orange cake batter didn’t taste remotely orangey. It failed to rise and go fluffy in the oven. And promptly collapsed into a biscuit on the wire rack when left to cook.
I bravely ganached the top and took it to the party anyway. The birthday girl hurt her elbow trying to cut the darn thing. The elderly uncles nearly chipped their teeth trying to eat it. And then, the bottom fell off the cake stand.
I might throw the rest of the cake at the next person who calls me a domestic goddess.
It was time to reinstate my faith in sweet things by trying my hand at something more in my comfort zone. I made a batch of Nariyal Burfis, soft and delicately-sweetened little coconut bites that are perfect for any occasion. They were divine. A few candles and perhaps it’ll be the perfect present for next week’s birthday girl.
175gm dessicated coconut (unsweetened)
1 tin (397ml) condensed milk
2 tbsp ghee
Soak the dessicated coconut in just about enough hot water to cover it. Bash the cardamoms with the flat side of a knife and crush the seeds.
In a medium pot, bring the ghee to heat over a high flame. When it’s hot, stir in the dessicated coconut and roast for 10 minutes until very pale cream in colour.
Then stir in the condensed milk, the cardamom powder and stir violently for another 10-15 minutes until all the mixture is dry. You need to make sure it doesn’t get stuck on the bottom of the pot.
Tip the whole mixture into a shallow square oven safe dish and leave to cool for a bit. Then stick the whole lot in the freezer to set for about half an hour. When the time’s up, loosen the edges and the bottom with a sharp knife, tip into a flat plate and cut into even-ish squares.
Refridgerate for later or eat immediately. If you’re feeling fancy, decorate with almond slivers and more crushed cardamoms.