The Return of the Blog + BUTTERMILK PANCAKES WITH STRAWBERRY COMPOTE

Hello world!

A lot has happened since I last talked to you.

For starters, I am well into the 3rd week of final year at college. Weeeeirddd. I know.

They aren’t joking when they say that your college years fly by, are they?  First year feels like just yesterday. Nothing has changed – except that a lot has changed.

Most of you might know that I’ve been gaga over donuts for the last three months or so. What started off as a class project has now turned into (dundundun) my life. Nuts about Donuts, a small homebased business selling artisan style donuts.

I’ve made over 500 donuts since I started Nuts about Donuts o.o (Check out its insta and Facebook and give it some love) 🙂

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My life has been pretty much donuts all day every day. I legit don’t have time for anything else. And that my lovelies is why I have been missing from Spatula for so long.

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I first started food blogging to share my love for food but over time it started to feel like a chore. The editing, the photography, the writing; all started to become too planned and systematic. It felt like too much for me to handle, what with the donuts and school work. This blog was all about doing and sharing something that I love.

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I took a self-proclaimed 5 day holiday from Nuts about Donuts just yesterday, announcing on the page ‘we’re closed for a bit’, just so I could do something else, like STUDY maybe!

And it’s during this so-called break that I decided that I shall return back to thy blog.

I MISS YOU GUYS. 😥

And what better way to make a grand return then on NATIONAL PANCAKE DAY.

If you’ve been following along for a while, you might have noticed that there is a fair share of pancake recipes on this blog.

Make use of the fresh strawberries this spring to jazz up your pancakes. Leftover compote is delicious drizzled over ice cream.

These pancakes are made using the same recipe I shared a couple of posts ago.

Make use of the fresh strawberries this spring to jazz up your pancakes. Leftover compote is delicious drizzled over ice cream.

Top those soft fluffy pancakes with a simple 3 ingredient strawberry compote and you have a killer combination.

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The homemade strawberry compote is super simple. Just three ingredients and a few minutes simmering on the stove-top. You can puree the compote for a smoother consistency or you can leave it chunkier as it is (like I did).

Make use of the fresh strawberries this spring to jazz up your pancakes. Leftover compote is delicious drizzled over ice cream too.

Make use of the fresh strawberries this spring to jazz up your pancakes. Leftover compote is delicious drizzled over ice cream.

Tomorrow I’ll be making biryani. Recipe to be posted veeeery soon, I know a lot of you have been waiting for it since ages.

See you in a month then. Just kidding. I’ll try and post a new recipe each week.

Love to you all. ❤

Buttermilk Pancakes with Strawberry Compote

Yields: 13-15 pancakes
Ingredients:
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk1
1 egg
1 Tablespoon melted & cooled butter or vegetable oil
For the Strawberry Compote
250g strawberries, diced
1 Tbsp sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
 
Directions:
To make the strawberry compote: combine strawberries, sugar and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened, about 6-10 minutes. Keep warm; set aside.
For the pancakes: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Whisk in the buttermilk, egg and melted butter, just until all mixed together (small lumps are fine, DO NOT OVERMIX).
Heat a large, nonstick pan over medium-heat and lightly brush with oil or butter. Using an ice cream scoop (or any large spoon) add the batter to the pan. Cook the pancake for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the bubbles begin popping on top of the pancake and it’s golden brown on the bottom.
Slide a thin, wide metal spatula underneath the pancake and gently but quickly flip it over. Cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes, until the other side is golden as well. Repeat with the remaining pancake batter.
Serve pancakes immediately topped with strawberry compote. Enjoy!
Notes
1.  DIY Buttermilk: 1 cup milk + 1 Tbsp vinegar. Mix and let it sit for 10 minutes. Mix well and use.               
*To achieve smooth brown pancakes, don’t grease the pan after every single pancake. Grease it after every third pancake. Hope that makes sense.

Make use of the fresh strawberries this spring to jazz up your pancakes. Leftover compote is delicious drizzled over ice cream.

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Strawberries and Cream Sponge Cake

Today I am sharing a childhood staple of almost everyone I know in Pakistan. Pretty sure it is the first cake we ever tasted. It’s the cake, I believe, we have blown candles out on at our birthday at least once in our childhood. Yuup, I am talking of the ‘fresh cream cake’… Or as I call it: the Mighty Sponge Cake. *drumroll*

Strawberry and Cream Sponge Cake

Those light airy layers of cake, soaked in a saccharine pineapple syrup, filled with chunks of pineapples, slathered with freshly whipped cream, and topped with candied cherries. Sigh.

Sound familiar?

This “fresh pineapple cake” and it’s equally delectable chocolate twin (the “Black Forest”) are my favorite. In today’s culture of double chocolate, triple-tiered cakes, the sponge cake presents something simple and lovely. Or maybe it’s just the sentimental value.

So, when my mother requested this cake over and over again, I was a bit hesitant to make it. What if I created a disaster and spoiled all my happy memories?!

Strawberry and Cream Sponge Cake

But I am not one to skip away from a challenge. I went on a Mighty Sponge research expedition.

I watched lots of YouTube tutorials and found some really interesting facts. (If you are not a baking enthusiast like me, feel free to skip the next bit). The sponge cake is of Japanese descent, and combined with strawberries it’s known as a Strawberry Shortcake. And because summer is here- baskets of fresh strawberries can be seen everywhere- I decided now is the perfect time to battle all sponge cake fears, and make it!

Strawberry and Cream Sponge Cake

One recipe particularly caught my eye. Jon Jon’s beautiful step by step pictures and beautiful description to match made the recipe really easy to follow.

Here’s what I learnt about:

The Sponge Cake

The two things about sponge cakes that completely threw me off the hook though are:

  1. There is no butter or oil involved in the recipe. None at all.

  1. No fats means no greasing of pans! You bake the batter in an ungreased pan and technically the cake is supposed to pop out like a dream… My experience was slightly different.

  1. No leavening agents. No baking soda. No baking powder whatsoever.

Strawberry and Cream Sponge Cake

 *the original sponge cake recipe does not involve any fat in the form of butter nor oil. But other kinds of sponge, like the British version “Victoria Sponge Cake” calls for butter in the batter. So don’t get confused.

The cake rises without adding in any leavening agents or fat, because of all the air you incorporate into the batter, for which the eggs need to be mixed separately:

  • Egg yolks together with the sugar; beaten till thick and pale

  • Egg whites whisked to stiff peaks

The vigorous beating of the two is what incorporates so much air into the batter, making it light and fluffy.

Strawberry and Cream Sponge Cake

Also, the first time I made this cake, it stuck to the bottom of the pan and was a pain to get out. The second time I made it, I lined the pan with some parchment paper. I did NOT grease it, just lined it with paper. And the cake came out perfectly (phew).

The Syrup

I used the pineapple syrup you get from the can of pineapples to soak my cake in. You can substitute it with a simple homemade sugar syrup (reduced sugar and water). Just remember to brush the cakes liberally with syrup. You may think it’s alot when doing so, but trust me, the cake is dry because it is missing the moisture from the fats. It needs all the juice it can get.

The Whipped Cream

Here’s the thing, cream in Pakistan just won’t whip! You have to wait for the peak winter months to get them stiff peaks. Rest of the year? Just forget about whipped cream desserts.

To get it really whipped, here’s what I’ve learnt about cream:

  • Olper’s works better than Nestle (I’ve only just discovered this recently)

  • Make sure your cream is chilled aka VERY cold.

  • Pop your metal mixing bowl and your beaters into the freezer half an hour before whipping cream. The colder everything is; faster will the cream whip.

The Filling:

I’ve used pineapples in between the layers of the cake, and adorned the entire outside with fresh strawberries. You can skip the pineapples entirely and place strawberries in-between the layers instead. And use plain sugar syrup instead of the pineapple syrup. I just happen to like pineapples. Alot.

Strawberry and Cream Sponge Cake

All in all, just remember to:

  • Beat the eggs well

  • Do not overmix after the flour has been incorporated

  • Line pan with parchment paper for easy removal

  • Soak the cakes in syrup well

  • Strawberries can be replaced with any fresh fruit; mangoes, peaches, cherries, more pineapples…

Strawberry and Cream Sponge Cake

This is such a teaching post. I feel really proud of myself. So bake the cake! If you have too many strawberries or are simply nostalgic for the cream cake.

Caution: Make it before the strawberries disappear, and before it becomes too hot to whip cream (Ugh. Not looking forward to the drippy cream season.) Happy summer!

Strawberry and Cream Sponge Cake

Yields: 2 9-inch layer cakes
Ingredients:
SPONGE CAKE:
  • 6 eggs, separated *at room temperature
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cake flour1
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar2
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • ½ kilo fresh strawberries, washed, stemmed and sliced
  • a tin of pineapple chunks
WHIPPED CREAM:
  • 2 cups very cold whipping cream3
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions:
For the Sponge Cake:
Preheat oven to 150 degrees C.
In a large bowl, beat together the egg yolks until very thick and lemon colored. Beat in sugar gradually. Add water and vanilla extract. Beat again. Mix in the flour.
In another clean bowl, beat egg whites until frothy. Then add cream of tartar and salt. Beat mixture until glossy and stiff peaks form.
Fold the whipped egg whites mixture into yolk mixture, gradually and very carefully, so as to not deflate the egg whites.
Pour the batter into two ungreased 9 inch pans lined with parchment paper.4
Bake for 60 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Allow the cakes to cool completely before inverting.
For the Whipped Cream:5
In a large metal bowl, pour the cream and mix on low-medium speed for several minutes. Once the cream starts to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla. Continue to whip on medium-high until soft peaks form.
Assembling:
Place one of the layers on a serving plate. Brush on the pineapple syrup, that comes in the can of pineapples, evenly and quite liberally onto the first layer. Spread spoonfuls of the whipped cream and spread evenly over the cake layer. Arrange the pineapple chunks over the cream. Top with another spoonful of cream and spread once again.
Top with the second layer of sponge cake, and brush with more of the pineapple syrup. Now, using an offset spatula or a plain knife, cover the entire cake completely with the remaining whipped cream.
Decorate with sliced strawberries. Slice and serve. Store any leftover cake, covered, in the fridge. This cake is best served chilled.
Enjoy!
Notes:
1.  DIY Cake Flour: Measure out 1 cup of all-purpose flour.  Remove 2 tablespoons of the flour and place it back in your flour jar.  Replace the removed flour with 2 tablespoons of cornflour. Sift 2-3 times.
2.  Cream of Tartar substitute: ¼ tsp lemon juice or vinegar. You can also completely omit the cream of tartar, it just helps to stabilize the egg whites.
3.  I used and recommend Olpher’s Cream. 2 packs of it; 400ml in total.
4.  Spray a bit of oil on the bottom of you pan, so that the parchment paper sticks to it. But DON’T grease the parchment paper.
5.  The colder the cream, the faster it will whip. See tips above in the description on how to whip cream the right way.
Recipe adapted from: Candid Appetite