OK! Firstly I wanted to share some GOOD NEWS with EVERYONE! It was a lot of back and forth with my literary agent Leigh, and the publisher Countryman Press, as to what name to go with for my FIRST EVER COOKBOOK, that is going to be published in FALL 2021! We all had to agree on a name, that was catchy, fun and yet conveys the essence of the cookbook, in very few words! My awesome agent Leigh, came up with the name MUMBAI MODERN! SO That is the name of the book! It will read as MUMBAI MODERN : Vegetarian Recipes Inspired by Indian Roots and California Cuisine. Here is the placeholder link on Amazon, and you can PREORDER THE BOOK NOW! PRE-ORDERS play an important role because they can help to make a book successful. From the bookseller perspective, the pre–order quantity is a good early indicator of a book’s success, and can lead to retailers increasing their initial orders. I am SO EXCITED , and I cannot wait for YOU – my readers to get your hands on the cookbook, that I have put my heart and soul into! Cliché – but it is a labor of love! PUB DATE is November 2nd, 2021!
The book is an amalgamation of childhood foods that I grew up with, there are traditional Gujarati recipes, that I cannot tweak, to keep the culture alive, there are modern fusion recipes, Mumbai street food recipes, and a whole dessert section with some beautiful, elegant desserts and cocktails that I am quite proud of! It is influenced by the beautiful California produce that we are surrounded by. It is full of stories, childhood stories and stories with my family, now in California. It is nostalgic, will take you down memory lane, but yet with a modern flair. I hope you will PRE-ORDER IT and enjoy the book as much as I have enjoyed creating it!
Now onto the blog post for these very delicious mini cakes!
Blood oranges are in season, and this is perhaps my favorite citrus, next to cara cara oranges. The blood oranges have a wonderful deep magenta/red color inside. It can vary and it can be a deep orange-ish red color as well. They are sweeter and less tangy than its cousin – orange. I love the skin color as it is a very pretty orange-red hue. Every blood orange season, I create a new recipe or recipes with these beauties. They are in abundance in the market right now. They make a really delicious marmalade too, which I will be sharing in my upcoming book release in Fall 2021.
Recently I was contacted by an nut flour company, for a project, for recipe development and social media engagement. I worked with them to create these absolutely wonderful mini cakes! Whenever I get an opportunity to make cakes, I jump on that opportunity, because otherwise, I make them only when it is one of our birthdays in the family. I mean who is going to eat a whole cake otherwise?!
MAKING A SHEET CAKE:
The cake is a blood orange and cardamom cake, with a hibiscus buttercream, in the middle and outside, ruby ganache drip and some decoration to complete the cake look! I made a 13×18 sheet cake, flavored with blood orange juice, blood orange zest and floral cardamom. Tangy citrus and floral cardamom are an awesome combination and go really well together. When I was running my Jam Lab jam business, I used to make an Orange and Cardamom Marmalade, which was so very popular! The cake is made with a mix of all purpose flour and almond flour, giving it a very beautiful, moist texture and flavor as well. I have been using almond flour in my bakes for a very long time, and I love how it ever so slightly alters the taste of the cake in a good way! I use a 3.5 inch cookie cutter, to cut out 12 rounds of the cake(to make 4 mini cakes) from the sheet pan, once it is cooled. I cover the cake layers in plastic wrap and store it in the fridge for a few hours for it to set.
SOME TIPS FOR BAKING IN A SHEET PAN:
- First use cooking spray to spray all over the baking sheet.
- Use a pre-made cut out parchment paper that is available on Amazon, linked here. These are very useful for baking and I use the different sizes all the time for cookies, cakes for all the sheet pans, rectangular pans and square pans.
- After adding the parchment paper, spray cooking spray all over the paper as well. This way the cake will not stick and will come out well, once baked.
- Use an offset spatula to smoothen out the cake, into an even layer for an even bake, so you can get even cake layers.
MAKING THE HIBISCUS BUTTERCREAM:
I love using dried edible hibiscus in my bakes. I buy the dried hibiscus, along with water, and heat it up to release the pretty flavor and color of the dried hibiscus. The hibiscus opens up slightly. It is sour and floral in taste. The hibiscus is steeped in the water for a few minutes for maximum magenta color of the tea. After it is cooled, you can use the brewed tea, to make the buttercream. It gives a beautiful natural pink hue to the buttercream, which I love. I love the taste of the hibiscus buttercream as well, and it complements the blood orange cake beautifully.
The Hibiscus Buttercream is pipped between the cake layers, and also on the outside of the cake, first for the crumb coat and secondly, to make the smooth layers on the outside. I also use the hibiscus buttercream to pipe on the top for decoration as well.
For the assembly, I use mini cake board rounds, 4 inch in size for the base, to help with lifting the cake back and forth. The first layer is put on the board, with a little bit of buttercream at the bottom so it adheres to the base. Put the cake board onto a rotating turntable as it will help with the piping and other tasks. I put the buttercream in a piping bag, without a piping tip, and cut the base off by 1/3 to ½ inch, such that I can pipe around the cake, for an even layer. I use a small offset spatula to level the icing out. I put another layer on the top, upside down, with the flat side up, and press gently and make sure that the cake is even from all the sides. Repeat the piping of the buttercream on top of the second layer. Add another layer on the top, again with the flat side up. And repeat the buttercream piping process, and leveling the icing out with an offset spatula. Now pipe the buttercream evenly, all around the mini cake, upto the top. Using a bench scraper, keeping it perpendicular to the cake, scrap the excess buttercream off the cake, turning the table simultaneously, putting the excess into the buttercream bowl. This will help to create a nice crumb coat on the cake. Crumb coating is a process of securing the crumbs on the cake, such that the outside of the cake will be smooth, upon the application of a second layer of buttercream on the cake. As you keep smoothening out the outside layer, the cake will look bare but that is ok.
Repeat the process for the other cakes, and store in the fridge for half an hour atleast for it to set. We then go onto the second buttercream coat on the cake. Use the same piping bag with the cutout hole to pipe around the cake, from bottom to the top, turning the table as you pipe around the cake. Pipe on the top as well. Now using the bench scraper, smoothen the cake out, again by turning the table. It takes quite a few iterations to smoothen the outside of the cake. I also use the technique of keeping a glass of hot water on the side, and a towel. And then I dip the offset spatula in the hot water, clean it on the towel and immediately use it in a perpendicular manner to the cake to smooth the outside layer. I keep doing it until I get a nice smooth layer on the outside. For the top of the cake, keep the offset spatula at a 45 degree angle to the cake, on the opposite side of you, and swipe inwards, on the cake to smoothen out the edges. Keep repeating until you get a nice smooth layer on the top. Repeat the process of piping and smoothening for the other cakes too.
I used ruby ganache in a bottle, to pipe all around the cake, for that cute drip effect look! Ruby Chocolate is available on Amazon. I used the Valrhona brand, which is really so good! I pipe buttercream on the top using the French star tip, all around the cake, and finally decorate with some cute sprinkles! Sprinkles are a must, it just makes the cake look so very festive!
These mini cakes would be so adorable to give to your friends and family, just because, especially in these pandemic times, when we are at home, and a little cake would brighten up someone’s day! I hope you get a chance to make these mini cakes! Actually I will be re-making these cakes, but as a sheet cake! I will use a 9×13 pan to bake the cake, and cover it with the hibiscus buttercream frosting, and loads of cute piping on the top! Now I think this would be a fabulous Valentine’s Day cake too! Don’t you think so?!
If you do make this cake, please do not forget to tag #thejamlab on Instagram, and/or comment on this blog post! I seriously hope you love it as much as we did!
Hope you are all doing well!