Shepherd’s Macaroni Pie

Happy 2018 everyone!
(let’s just pretend the last 10 days didn’t happen :p)
I hope you guys had a wonderful winter break. My sisters are back in school and I’m home alone again in an early-January post-resolutions funk.  I hope you are having better luck keeping track of your resolutions. My ‘eating healthy’ one got stumped on day one.
No surprise there.
I have been trying to get back into a somewhat balanced diet routine after gorging on waffles and carrot cake all of last week, and I have started going on regular walks with my mother, so that feels good.
My work/study perspective still needs sorting out and I still need to decide on what I want to do with my life.
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.
But other than that it’s going okay.
I have a good feeling about this year. I really do. 😀
 This Shepherd Macaroni Pie is warm, hearty, and super comforting: the makings of a perfect wintertime comfort dish.  #Pie #ShepherdPie

 

This bleak and dreary weather calls for some serious comfort food and starting off the blank slate of the year with something rich and indulgent just feels right.

And what could be more indulgent then a bowl of creamy mashed potatoes + macaroni + rich meat filling all together in the form of a pie.

 

 

This Shepherd Macaroni Pie is warm, hearty, and super comforting: the makings of a perfect wintertime comfort dish. #Pie #ShepherdPieThis Shepherd Macaroni Pie is warm, hearty, and super comforting: the makings of a perfect wintertime comfort dish. My family loved it and I’m sure yours will too.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is my over-the-top version of the classic British Shepherd’s Pie

It has three parts to it:

  1. The meat sauce

  2. The mashed potatoes

  3. The macaroni

This Shepherd Macaroni Pie is warm, hearty, and super comforting: the makings of a perfect wintertime comfort dish. My family loved it and I’m sure yours will too.

It does take time to put the entire pie together but the end result will be well worth the effort, trust me.

And it’s super customizable too! You can:

  • Add in sweet corn, mushrooms, olives, jalapenos

  • Make it more/less spicy

  • Use chicken mince instead of beef

  • Leave out the macaroni layer entirely and you’ll be left with a traditional shepherd pie instead

 

This Shepherd Macaroni Pie is warm, hearty, and super comforting: the makings of a perfect wintertime comfort dish. #Pie #ShepherdPie

This Shepherd’s Macaroni Pie is warm, hearty, and super comforting: the makings of a perfect wintertime comfort dish. My family loved it and I’m sure yours will too.

If you do make it, don’t forget to share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #spatulainmypocket

Cheers!

Shepherd’s Macaroni Pie

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

Meat Sauce
¼ cup cooking oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
½ kilo ground beef (Qeema)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon red chilli powder
4 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 Tablespoon ketchup (optional but I like it saucy)
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon cornflour (cornstarch)
Mashed Potatoes
2 large potatoes, boiled till tender
1 Tablespoon butter
½ cup milk
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
Macaroni
1 ½ cups boiled elbow macaroni
2 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
½ cup chicken stock or water
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon mustard powder
2 Tablespoon shredded cheddar cheese

 

Directions

Meat sauce:
In a pan, heat the cooking oil and fry the chopped onion till golden brown.
Add in the carrot and beef. Cook, stirring constantly till the beef turns pale.
Add in the salt, black pepper, and red chilli powder. Mix well.
Cook on high heat for another minute then add in the tomato paste, flour, cornflour, and 1 ½ cup water. Mix well.
Cover the pan with a lid and leave to cook on low heat for 15 minutes or until the beef is fully cooked, and is thick and saucy.
Mashed Potatoes:
Mash the two boiled potatoes along with the butter and milk.
Mix in the seasonings.
Add in more milk if needed to reach a smooth consistency.
Macaroni:
In a saucepan, melt the butter.
Add in the flour, salt, black pepper and mustard powder. Mix with a wooden spoon.
Add in the milk and stock and mix constantly on a low heat.
As soon as the sauce starts thickening and bubbling, turn off heat and add in the cheese and the cooked macaroni. Mix well
Assembling:
Grease a large oven-proof casserole dish. Pour in whole of the meat sauce.
Ladle on top the macaroni.
Spread the mashed potatoes over the top of the macaroni layer or you may pipe the potatoes with a piping bag fitted with a star tip.
Top with a little cheese.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 20-25 minutes or until the top is a lovely golden brown.

This Shepherd Macaroni Pie is warm, hearty, and super comforting: the makings of a perfect wintertime comfort dish.  #Pie #ShepherdPie

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Banana Nut Muffins

anana Nut Muffins. The squishiest, most delicious muffins you’ll ever eat.

Kindly excuse my sporadic blogging schedule. I have been all over the place this year; the first half of which went by so quickly and the rest…excruciatingly slow.

Nothing remotely exciting happened in 2017 apart from the fact that I graduated from my university and was left at a tailspin of what to do next. Bouts of depression, tears, and heartbreaks is what tainted the last couple of months.

To say I’m looking forward to 2018 would be an understatement.

I hope it brings the much needed miracles, smiles, and opportunities.

anana Nut Muffins. The squishiest, most delicious muffins you’ll ever eat.

It’s fitting to end with a blog post featuring a recipe I found and fell endlessly in love with this year.

anana Nut Muffins. The squishiest, most delicious muffins you’ll ever eat.

A combination of sheer boredom and moldy bananas is what led me to first make these muffins.

I’ve gone on to make these many more times since then, and I can safely say my family and I are hooked!

They’re soft, not overly sweet, full of nuts and O so moist! There is simply no other way to describe how soft and delicious these banana walnut muffins are.

You won’t be able to have just one.

 

anana Nut Muffins. The squishiest, most delicious muffins you’ll ever eat.

 

And they’re highly adaptable too. Add in a swirl of peanut butter, a giant dollop of Nutella

anana Nut Muffins. The squishiest, most delicious muffins you’ll ever eat.

anana Nut Muffins. The squishiest, most delicious muffins you’ll ever eat.

anana Nut Muffins. The squishiest, most delicious muffins you’ll ever eat.

…or leave them plain.

They’re delicious either way!

anana Nut Muffins. The squishiest, most delicious muffins you’ll ever eat.

These muffins are best served fresh out of the oven with a cup of tea.

Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container and warmed in the microwave before serving.

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If you make these muffins, do share a picture with the hashtag #spatulainmypocket on Instagram. I’d love to see your creations 🙂

Banana Nut Muffins

Prep Time: 15 minutes                                                                        Yields: 12
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
Ingredients:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt1
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1¼ cups mashed ripe bananas (about 4-5 bananas)
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
¼ cup milk, at room temperature2
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
Directions:
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Line a standard-size muffin pan with paper liners, set aside.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into a large bowl. Mix well.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, brown sugar, granulated sugar, melted butter, milk and egg. Pour over the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Add half of the chopped walnuts to the batter and fold gently until just combined
Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining chopped walnuts.
Bake until golden brown about 20-25 minutes. They should spring back when lightly touched. Let cool in the muffin pan before devouring.
Notes:
1.       If using salted butter, omit the salt
2.       Make sure that the milk is at room temperature or even slightly warm. Cold milk will cause the butter to solidify.
Recipe adapted from the Brown Eyed Baker

Banana Nut Muffins. The squishiest, most delicious muffins you’ll ever eat. #muffins #bananamuffins #banana #breakfast

2nd BLOGIVERSAY + Favorites

Since I last posted over a month ago, Spatula in My Pocket’s 2nd blogiversary came and went– and with it, about a gazillion other things. I feel as if this year is just whizzing by. It’s been a summer of endings, pending beginnings and a whole lot of baking.

It’s still hard to believe this blog is two years old. When I first started out, I had no idea it would turn into a business, a career. With time, I feel I have deviated from why I first set out to blog.  With this post I hope to become regular again.

Here’s to a fresh comeback, sticking to promises and loads of love & happiness to everyone.

Below is a list of some cake trends and things that I have been obsessed with over the summer. Hope you enjoy!

Naked Cakes

The naked cake trend is by far my most favorite cake trend. I’ve always played for the more cake; less frosting team and when these cakes started trending last year, I was game!

 

 

The thin frosting layer with the slightly exposed cake underneath gives beautiful rustic look. Though I think a lot of people don’t appreciate the understated elegance of naked cakes. A simple naked cake adorned with fresh roses looks and tastes way better than the swirly ruffly over-frosted cakes people still opt for.

Tiered Cakes

Tiered cakes are another recent obsession. After the first disastrous attempt about a year ago I’d let go of all hope of ever stacking cakes and not having them look as if they are about to slide off. Fast forward to 10 months later and that fear has poofed away! Stacking cakes is so much fun!

 

I’ve made 4 (almost perfect) tiered cakes this past month alone. I wish every order is a tiered cake order from now on 😀

Russian Piping Tips

I’d seen Russian piping tips all over the internet, bought a set about a year ago, and promptly forgot about them. It wasn’t until I saw this tutorial by iambaker that I remembered I had a set lying forgotten in the kitchen drawer. They have become my newest favorite thing ever since!

Russian Piping Tips

Russian tips are piping tips with intricate cut outs resembling different flowers.

 

They result in beautiful delicate flowers that look like they might have taken you hours of work but instead take you just seconds. You do need a lot of practice and patience and gobs of frosting.

Wilton Burgundy Gel Food Color

This tiny bottle of food color yields the most exquisite shades of pink; bubblegum pink, to my favorite Barbie pink, to the hottest color of the year, ‘millennial pink’.

 

It is stronger and works way better than normal pink food color. I’ve been sneaking it onto cakes in the form of flowers, swirls, blobs..any way I can 😉

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

reeses-peanut-butter-cups-copycat-recipe

 

Picture credits: https://topsecretrecipes.com/reeses-peanut-butter-cups-copycat-recipe.html

 

I blame Always Hungry for this obsession -.-

She-Wolves: England’s Early Queens

A few months back, I stumbled upon an Instagram account featuring Princess Diana’s most iconic looks and that was it. I was hooked.

I have since then seen every video there is about her on Youtube, every documentary on Netflix. I’ve made my sisters sit through her funeral show twice, sobbing the entire way through.

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Credits: http://princessdiana-legacy.tumblr.com/

 

And when it seemed like I’d researched everything there is about Diana, I moved onto the other British Royals. First the Crown (second season come quick!) and now Helen Castor’s miniseries, She-Wolves: England’s Early Queens.

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I’m halfway through the second episode and, guys, I am seriously considering taking up British History as a major for Masters studies next year o.o

Jojo

This one here is a forever favorite of mine but gets a special mention because she is 6000 miles away and I MISS HER MORE THAN EVER.

Summer wasn’t summer without our Vigo rides, peach iced teas, stalking and Community sessions.

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Love you, Jojesmojes! 😥 ❤

And thats it!

What have you been loving this summer? Let me know in the comments down below, I’d love to know!

Baked Pasta

This Baked Pasta is creamy and cheesy… the ultimate comfort food!

This Baked Pasta is creamy and cheesy,  and is the ultimate comfort food!

 

Stress is mounting high people. So much to do, so less time:

  • Looming college applications

  • Cursed personal statements

  • Corporate law stress

  • People problems

  • Diet fiascos

…amidst other stuff has me sleeping 8 hours straight, hoarding up on chocolate and peanuts, and procrastinating like it’s the end of the world!

This Baked Pasta is creamy and cheesy,  and is the ultimate comfort food!

pasta tossed in a rich meaty Bolognese sauce, loaded with a béchamel sauce aka white sauce, and then topped with loads of cheese.

pasta tossed in a rich meaty Bolognese sauce, loaded with a béchamel sauce aka white sauce, and then topped with loads of cheese.

Times like these call for comfort food. And nothing can trump pasta when it comes to comfort food. Not in my house.

This Baked Pasta is creamy and cheesy,  and is the ultimate comfort food!

Loaded with cheese and a rich sauce…this baked pasta is hearty and meaty and deliciously satisfying!

This Baked Pasta is creamy and cheesy,  and is the ultimate comfort food!

It involves tossing pasta in a rich meaty Bolognese sauce, loading it up with béchamel sauce aka white sauce, and then topping the whole thing with loads of cheese.

Delicious, right?

I’ve made this pasta over a bazillion times now. At dinners and gatherings, whenever friends are over, or just on days like these…sad gloomy miserable days.

One pan makes about 8 servings, perfect for parties. You can prepare it ahead of time and freeze it until you are ready to bake it.

pasta tossed in a rich meaty Bolognese sauce, loaded with a béchamel sauce aka white sauce, and then topped with loads of cheese.

If you guys love this recipe as much as I do, and most importantly make it yourselves, please let me know. Take a picture and tag it #spatulainmypocket on Instagram. I’d love to see what you guys come up with!

 

Baked Pasta

Serves 6-8
Ingredients:
Tomato-Meat Sauce
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste, heaped
1 carrot, chopped
½ kilo ground beef
1 teaspoon red chili flakes, leveled
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper, leveled
½ cup tomato paste
½ cup sliced mushrooms
White Sauce
2 Tablespoon butter
4 Tablespoon flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon white or black pepper
½ teaspoon mustard powder
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup whole milk
2 Tablespoon shredded cheddar cheese
The rest
1 packet of pasta, prepared according to package directions
Mozzarella cheese, shredded
Dried Oregano

 

Directions:
1.       In a pan, heat oil. Fry the chopped onion till it changes color and becomes soft. Add in the ginger garlic paste and fry till golden brown. Add in the carrot. Mix. Then add in the beef and mushrooms. Mix well on high heat for a few minutes. Then add in the; chili flakes, salt, and black pepper. Keep mixing till meat changes color. Then add in a cup of water along with tomato paste. Mix, cover, and leave to cook on low heat for 30-40 minutes.
2.      While sauce is simmering, cook pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain.
3.      Add drained pasta to the meat sauce, mix and turn off heat. Put the pasta mixture into a large casserole dish and set aside.
4.      For the white sauce: In a small saucepan, heat the butter. Once melted, take the pan off the heat and add in the flour, salt, black pepper, and mustard powder. Mix well using a wooden spoon and bring back to heat. Cook for a minute before adding in the stock and milk. On low-medium heat, mix continuously till the sauce thickens. Remove off the heat and add in the cheddar cheese.
5.      Pour the entire sauce over the pasta. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese and oregano on top.
6.      Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C for 25-30 minutes.

This Baked Pasta is creamy and cheesy,  and is the ultimate comfort food!

 

Pumpkin Nutella Swirl Muffins

It may not feel like fall yet but summer is definitely over. College starts tomorrow and I am, needless to say, already heading towards depression.

Last year of college! Can you blame me?

Oh the jitters. Which would justify why I’ve been hankering down in the kitchen everyday all day long. Nothing like some good fall baking to make everything better.

These pumpkin Nutella swirl muffins are the BOMB. They’re soft, tender, and extremely moist. You won’t be able to stop at one!

 

These pumpkin Nutella swirl muffins are the BOMB. Bursting with fall flavors, these muffins will make your house smell like the most glorious bakery in Italy.

 

Pumpkin and Chocolate were meant to be together and when that chocolate is in the form of luscious Nutella, you know the muffins are bound to be out-of-this-world good.

They’re soft, tender, and extremely moist.

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You won’t be able to stop at one!

These pumpkin Nutella swirl muffins are the BOMB. They’re soft, tender, and extremely moist. You won’t be able to stop at one!

For my fellow Pakistani peeps who aren’t accustomed to the pumpkin ecstasy, let me tell you that it is d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s!

Pumpkin puree makes everything silky, soft and extremely moist. It doesn’t have a very distinct flavor which is why you add spices like cinnamon and nutmeg to amplify it.

I have yet to see pumpkin puree being sold here in the supermarkets of Islamabad, which is why I made my own pumpkin puree from scratch. I’ll do a step by step post on it if you like. It’s very simple, just slice a pumpkin up, de-seed it, and roast in the oven till fork-tender. Cool and then scoop out all the soft bits. Chopperize or blend till smooth. Fill up disposable Ziploc bags with it and freeze. It lasts for up to a year.

Be it the classic Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread or Pumpkin Fettuccine, homemade pumpkin puree can be used for all sorts of things; both sweet and savory.

These pumpkin Nutella swirl muffins are the BOMB. They’re soft, tender, and extremely moist. You won’t be able to stop at one!

These pumpkin Nutella swirl muffins are the BOMB. They’re soft, tender, and extremely moist. You won’t be able to stop at one!

Give pumpkin a try. You won’t regret it. 🙂

Pumpkin Nutella Swirl Muffins

Prep Time: 15 minutes                                                                        Yields: 18 muffins
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (read description above)
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Nutella spread
Directions:
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line a muffin pan with paper liners or grease the tray well with cooking oil.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, sugar, eggs, and oil until well-combined. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon powder, and nutmeg. Add the flour mixture and milk to the pumpkin mixture alternatively, starting and ending with the flour, until everything is just combined. DO NOT OVERMIX.
Spoon batter into the muffin tray cavities, filling about 3/4 of the way full.
Place the Nutella into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 20-30 seconds or until it thins out. Using a teaspoon, drop a spoonful or two of Nutella onto the top of each muffin and swirl with a knife.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until set and golden brown. Best served warm!
*Store leftovers in an airtight container. Warm in microwave before serving.
Recipe source: Inside BruCrew Life

These pumpkin Nutella swirl muffins are the BOMB. They’re soft, tender, and extremely moist. You won’t be able to stop at one!

1st Blogiversary + CHOCOLATE CAKE

Classic Chocolate Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream on Spatula in My Pocket's 1st Blogiversary

This time last year, I sat with my laptop; editing, tweaking, hesitating and finally hitting ‘publish’on the first post on spatulainmypocket.com. *dundundun*

With that one click, I gave permission to everyone in the world to read what I had written and see what I had made. That’s the day Spatula in My Pocket was truly born. It started as a hobby and in the space of an year, has become a part of my identity. A part that I am immensely proud of. So, in this post I am going to indulge myself and talk about my magnificent journey so far (lots more to come, InshaaAllah!)

There is special surprise at the end for you, so start scrolling!

Classic Chocolate Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream on Spatula in My Pocket's 1st Blogiversary

Spatula in My Pocket has opened new worlds to me, found me new friends, a sense of purpose, and above all, it has given me confidence to overcome the crushing fear of failure and TO TRY.

The year has passed by so quickly.

From interviews, shoutouts, being mentioned in Buzzfeed, Parade Magazine, winning the Foona best blogger competition and baking bazillion cakes. This year has been a roll coaster ride.

Classic Chocolate Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream on Spatula in My Pocket's 1st Blogiversary

Some of my favorite posts from this year have been:

This decadent red velvet cake with whipped cream cheese frosting + its Halloween rendition

An all-time family favorite, Chicken Karhai

S’mores. Brownies. PIE. >>> S’mores Brownie Pie

First post, the rich gooey molten lava cake

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, also involving a mention of my first ever attempt at a Wedding Cake

First Bake Stall!! Sigh. Memories.

This to.die.for Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart

The ultimate comfort food…Fettuccine Carbonara

My brother’s birthday cake: strawberries and cream cake

Classic Chocolate Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream on Spatula in My Pocket's 1st Blogiversary

Also can we just admire these pictures?

I threw myself a little blogiversary party.

Nothing much.

Just some mini cupcakes, normal cupcakes, donuts, and a giant pink ombre cake topped with MORE DONUTS. ^.^

Classic Chocolate Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream on Spatula in My Pocket's 1st BlogiversaryClassic Chocolate Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream on Spatula in My Pocket's 1st Blogiversary

Lastly, thank you all so much for your continued support and love!

I appreciate everyone who visits this humble website even when weeks go by without any new posts (guilty as charged).

Spatula in My Pocket is for you guys.

Classic Chocolate Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream on Spatula in My Pocket's 1st Blogiversary

I hope and pray with all my brownie-loving heart that the next year and the years to come bring endless prosperity and joy and rainbows and sprinkles to the domains of Spatula in My Pocket. I vow to be a better blogress and update more exciting recipes and answer all queries diligently!

Classic Chocolate Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream on Spatula in My Pocket's 1st Blogiversary

And now, without any more sentimental words, here’s the recipe for THE CHOCOLATE CAKE my inbox gets flooded with requests for. MUCH LOVE!

Classic Chocolate Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Serves 12
Ingredients:
For the Cake
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup cocoa powder
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
1 ½ cups whole milk, at room temperature
1 cup hot strong-brewed coffee
For the Swiss Meringue Buttercream
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large egg whites
250g softened unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
Directions:
Chocolate Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and flour two 8-inch cakes pans and set aside.
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
  3. In the bowl using a hand mixer, beat together the oil and sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes. With the mixer on, add the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, and almond extract. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
  4. Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl. With the mixer on low, stream in the coffee and mix just until combined.
  5. Evenly divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  1. Place the egg whites and sugar in an extremely clean heatproof bowl. Place over a pan of simmering (not boiling) water and whisk with a hand whisk until the sugar has dissolved completely and the mixture is warm to the touch, if you rub some of the mixture between your fingers it should be smooth and you shouldn’t be able to feel any graininess, this will take about five minutes.
  2. Remove the bowl from the heat and attach it to your stand mixer with the whisk attachment or use an electric hand whisk, whisk the egg whites until it forms a thick, glossy, bright white meringue and is completely cool, the bottom of the bowl should feel cool to the touch, this will take about 10 minutes.
  3. Once the meringue is cold, switch the mixer to a low speed and begin to add the butter, a tablespoon at a time, make sure that each addition is fully incorporated before adding the next; the meringue will deflate a little and may begin to look curdled. This is normal, just keep adding the butter gradually and whipping away and it will come back together. If, once all the butter has been added, your mixture is runny, the butter may have been too soft or the meringue still warm, just put the bowl in the fridge for 15 minutes or so then carry on whipping.
  4. Once the buttercream is completely smooth and silky and all the butter has been incorporated, whisk in the vanilla extract. Keep cool in the fridge till ready to use
Assembling
  1. Place the bottom layer of cake on a cake plate or serving dish. Spread on about ½ to ¾ cup of the buttercream with an offset spatula. Top with the next layer of cake.
  2. Frost the cake with the remaining buttercream. Refrigerate until set, about 15 to 20 minutes.
*For the ombre effect; divide the buttercream into three bowls. Color to of the bowls with varying shades of pink. Starting from the bottom, spread the darkest color frost. Then spread the lighter pink above it. Cover the top layer with the white frosting. With a cake scraper, smooth the sides.

 

Baking 101

Today, instead of a recipe, we are going to do a Bake Like Noor 101. (Three cheers! Woohoo!)

Finding the perfect recipe (only on Spatula in My Pocket, yo) is only the first step in the magical world of baking. Since I know the struggle of a beginner baker, I’ll be guiding you through the basics, There is a lot to know and I am really excited to share all! So, I’ve divided it into various sessions:

  • Basic Baking Tools

  • Bakeware

  • Baking ingredients

  • Baking hacks and DIY stuff

First off, we have the basic baking tools that every single one of you should have; regardless of the fact that you’re a die-hard baker like me or just an occasional one timer. It’s a small list of relatively inexpensive items that will be an investment for years to come. You don’t need fancy equipment for baking, sometimes just a faithful whisk and a good ole bowl does the work. I still use my mum’s shaadi-wala (more than 25 years old) hand beater and cake tins. Plain and simple. Nothing fancy and over the top.

Baking 101

I am not saying that you should go all out and buy all of these tools at once. When I started baking, I admit, I hardly had any of this stuff and didn’t even know about them. It’s with time that I learnt and started investing.

All these tools are brought from either Pakistan, Saudi Arab, and America. I will give you an in-depth detail of each tool. Links to where I bought them and the prices are mentioned at the bottom. Hopefully you’ll find them or even better alternates.

Measuring Tools

Basic Baking Tools

I started off using mugs that we use for tea as the measuring cups and the normal tablespoons and teaspoons that we use to eat as measuring spoons. It is with baking over and over again that I leaned that baking is not art but more of a science. Precision and accuracy in measurements is paramount to a good baked product.

Basic Baking Tools

I used to use the measuring cup for wet ingredients too, and that is so so wrong. Liquids are different from dry ingredients. They weigh different, and if you forget that, it can all go wrong from there. So use a pyrex measuring cup for liquid ingredients. Proper measuring cups for dry ingredients. And for smaller quantities use actual measuring spoons and not the spoons you use to eat dinner with.

Basic Baking Tools

This measuring jug is plastic, which I wouldn’t recommend. It’s near to its end, doesn’t clean up that nice either. A nice pyrex one is on my to-buy-list. It should be on yours too.

Electric Hand Mixer

Basic Baking Tools

An electric hand mixer for all the mixing and beating, yielding perfectly smooth and fluffy frostings and batters. It dates back to before I was even born. It’s my mum’s and I’ve been using it for years, and it works perfectly fine.

Spaaatooolas

Basic Baking Tools

YOU MUST BUY THESE. These beautiful, magical, man-made creations. They wipe your bowls so clean that not a spick of batter is left hanging there. They glide ever so smoothly, making mixing a dream; smoothing and delicious. And they cost near to nothing! My favorite is the orange one. It broke. Split in two. Like my heart.

Silicone Brushes

tbrushes-3

Excellent for greasing pans with butter or oil, perfect for egg-washing and glazing, easy to clean; overall perfecto!

Cupcake liners

Basic Baking Tools

No you cannot grease a cupcake tray and then pour in the batter and bake cupcakes straightaway. You need paper liners. Why? Because cupcakes are not muffins. Cupcakes are soft and moist and much more delicate than muffins. They’ll stick like glue to your cupcake tray and you’ll be left with trying to scour out each cupcake out and scratching it while scrubbing it clean. Cupcake liners not only help make eating a cupcake easier, they also help the make the handling of the cupcakes so much easier. Also how pretty do they look… Tiny polka dot, bright pink ones with hearts, pink check boxed ones… totes adorbs.

Offset Spatula

Basic Baking Tools

An angled or an “offset” spatula is very useful for frosting cupcakes and cakes, and loosening cakes and cookies from their pans. I have a large 10” one for smoothly frosting large layer cakes and a non-stick one of loosening cookie and brownies from the parchment paper.

Basic Baking Tools

A palette knife like seen here is also helpful for the same reasons.

Baking pans

Basic Baking Tools

Baking pans are obviously a necessity. Round pans for cakes. Loaf pans for breads. Loose-bottom pans for cheesecakes. Muffin trays for cupcakes. Donut pan for donuts. You name it, you need it. There a pan out there for everything and IWANTTHEMALL. Baby steps. Start with a basic 8-inch round cake pan, a square 8-inch pan for brownies, and a standard 12-sized cupcake tray for cupcakes. Also, if you’re into homemade pizza, then a round pizza tray would be needed.

Prestige and Wilton are the top-notch brands for baking ware. Prestige is easily available in every big supermarket here in Pakistan. Wilton bakeware can be ordered online (link mentioned at the end of the post).

Parchment Paper

Basic Baking Tools

It not only helps prevent cakes or anything for that matter from sticking to the pan but also for stacking and storing cookies or even frozen parathas in the freezer.

Ice cream Scoop

Basic Baking Tools

An ice cream scoop is not just meant for scooping ice cream. Trust me when I say I’ve hardly ever used it for ice cream. This is the most versatile tool in my baking tool box. I use it for:

  • Scooping out perfectly proportioned cookies

  • Scooping out cupcake batter leading to same sized cupcakes

Sifter:

Basic Baking Tools

For light airy cakes, and smooth frosting without any sugar or cocoa lumps…that’s where a sifter comes in.

Piping Tips and Piping Bags

Basic Baking Tools

Wilton piping tips and plastic piping bags for those beautiful swirls and piped roses on cupcakes and cakes. Bought them from Amazon, got them shipped here through a friend. A set of four basic tips, comes with 12 piping bags. Extremely good quality. I recently bought more piping tips through a Facebook page (I’ll leave the link down below), and let me tell you that even though they are nowhere near Wilton, they are pretty darn good.

Whisk

Basic Baking Tools

One of the most inexpensive tools I reckon in my kitchen and most definitely in yours too. It is the most effective and invaluable. Perfect for mixing both dry ingredients and liquid ingredients. If you don’t have an electric beater, then the whisk is the way to go.

Basic Baking Tools

If you bake, you will need a cooling wire rack. Great for:

  • Cooling cookies and cakes

  • Catching the drips off of donuts and cookies

Wooden spoons

I swear by these. They’re hard and sturdy. Make mixing cookie dough so much easier. Perfect for dealing with hot caramels as well.

Basic Baking Tools

All these products have been bought from either:

  • Al-Fatah, Islamabad

  • Hyperpanda, Madina

  • Amazon, Seattle

  • Baking Tools, Facebook Page

Prices: all below Rs. 1500 excluding the electric hand beater (which in my mum’s time, I’m sure, cost below Rs. 1000…but they’re pretty dang expensive now)

Basic Baking Tools

 

Tamarind (Imli) Chutney

Happy Ramadan to you all! May this month be full of blessings, happiness, and peace for you and your family.

As soon as the holy month of Ramadan begins, I march towards the kitchen with all my cooking books in hand, ready to take on the kitchen by storm.

The first that I do make is this iridescent chutney.

Sweet and tangy; this imli ki chutney is the perfect complement to all your iftari delicacies.

Sweet and tangy; this imli ki chutney is the perfect complement to all your iftari delicacies. Be it samosas, chaats, or just plain fries; this chutney goes with everything.

Sweet and tangy; this imli ki chutney is the perfect complement to all your iftari delicacies.

 

It’s quick, easy and unbelievably yummy! No Ramadan is complete without this accompanying pakoras in my household.

It’s a Shireen Anwer recipe that I swear by. I first made it six years ago, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve made it again since then.

Sweet and tangy; this imli ki chutney is the perfect complement to all your iftari delicacies.

 

It takes literally 10 minutes to make (not including the tamarind pulp part), and makes enough to last the whole of Ramadan.

Pop it into a jar and keep stored in a refrigerator.  Sweet and tangy; this imli ki chutney is the perfect complement to all your iftari delicacies.

Tamarind (Imli) Chutney

Yields 1 ½ cup
Ingredients:
250g tamarind
1 cup boiling water
½ cup shukr *brown sugar
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon red chili powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon minced garlic
Directions:
For the Tamarind Pulp: Soak the tamarind seeds in the boiling water for over an hour. When cool to touch, squeeze the pulp and the juice out. Throw away the tamarind seeds.
You can now sieve the remaining tamarind pulp or carry on without sieving, it’s optional.
For the Chutney: Blend together the prepared tamarind pulp, brown sugar, red chili powder, cumin powder, salt, and garlic. Blend till smooth.
Then transfer to a pan, and cook on a low heat for just a minute till it comes to gentle boil.
Cool, and store in airtight jar in the refrigerator for upto a month.
Notes:
Shukr is the raw unprocessed form of sugar. It can be substituted with brown sugar or even plain white sugar. Or even dates.

 

Sweet and tangy; this imli ki chutney is the perfect complement to all your iftari delicacies.