Saturday, March 03, 2007

Miraculous Chana Masala and Butterscotch Layer Cake

This morning I made uppma for the third time this week. I am hooked! Today's version had bell pepper and peas and I forgot the cashews. I chopped a few and sprinkled them on after the fact, but I much prefer the texture when they're sauteed early on.

I spent much of today reading food blogs, trying to learn a thing or two. There are so many great writers out there! I've always loved Orangette, surely one of the best of the best: lovely writing, beautiful photos, tempting recipes, and a format that is easy to navigate. While visiting there today I looked up a chana masala recipe from some time back, gave it a try and I was not disappointed. It was easy enough to make and turned out absolutely delicious over steamed basmati rice. That would have been enough for me but an actual miracle occurred when I placed it on the table. Neither boy turned up his nose. There were no disparaging comments, and no one went off in search of the peanut butter. They actually ate the richly sauced chickpeas, "weird" spices and all.

That unexpected blessing put me in a fine enough mood to tackle a cake I've long wanted to make. Butterscotch Layer Cake (another Nigella Lawson item) always sounded divine but that bit about making caramel always threw me. I've done it before, but I always find it ridiculously stressful as you stand over the stove and wait and wait and check to see if it's dark enough yet but it's not and you wait some more and then it's burned and you have to start all over again. That whole routine makes me grumpy.

I guess I felt unusually strong this evening. I held out until the caramel just barely smelled burnt and the resulting sauce was delicious and disaster free. The cake itself was not spectacular, it was rather nondescript. Also, while I was certain that I had 8" cake pans, they were nowhere to be found. There's probably a box of baking items somewhere that failed to return from Passover exile--it happens every year--but I foolishly thought I could wing it in 9" pans. And, of course, the cakes were thin and skimpy looking. I was trying to think some way to improve the height factor when bananas came to mind. Nigella even suggests the option of inserting dead ripe bananas between the layers but I decided that bananas sauteed in butter and a sprinkle of brown sugar might be perfect. It wasn't--it was all too sweet and cloying but perhaps I'd simply done too much sampling of the splendid cream cheese-caramel icing. Everyone else was pretty happy with the cake.

1 comment:

Molly said...

I hopped over here from a comment you left on my site, and what a lovely surprise to find your kind words about my little Orangette! So sweet. Thank you! I read your post to my fiance Brandon, and he is thrilled, too, to know that the chana masala recipe he developed was so warmly accepted in your house!

Cheers to you and yours.