Dilli ke Pakwaan Festival, 2013

The Dilli ke Pakwaan Festival is on at Baba Kharak Singh Marg in CP.  We headed there this afternoon with a single point agenda – to eat Daulat ki Chaat, a delicacy that I had read about and not managed have to on my last trip to Old Delhi.  Of course, I was rather open and eager to eat dozens of other things! The idea of the festival is very attractive. It saves one multiple trips of congested Old Delhi and other parts and brings the best of chaats, kebabs, and curries, all on one stretch. It is definitely worth a trip. 

Daulat ki Chaat

Daulat ki Chaat

DSCN0697A little research is necessary to make the most of this festival. We learnt it the hard way. There were plenty of stalls selling chaats, chillas, and tikkis and we made our way to one which looked reasonable populated. We ordered a plate of papri chaat (Rs 50) and moong dal chilla (Rs 50). Both, were largely inedible because of the green chutney that was slathered over them – it was spicy and bitter. This was by far one of the worst things that I’ve ever eaten. The bitter taste lingered even after I returned home.Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name of the stall. What would work here is to ask people around if they like what they are eating and accordingly decide about the chaats. We ended up eating not as much as we would have liked to, but clicked loads of pictures. The highlights for me were the daulat ki chaat, which indeed leaves up to the description of “God’s own street food”, jalebi, and the bajra roti thali.
So, here goes:Inedible Chaat

Moong dal chilla, daulat ki chaat, and papdi chaat

Moong dal chilla, daulat ki chaat, and papdi chaat

Sweet Clouds – Daulat ki Chaat

Daulat ki Chaat

Daulat ki Chaat

The jalebis being whipped up in one of the counters were huge and cost Rs 50 per piece.  It resembled a murruku and was really yummy.

Yummy Jalebis

Yummy Jalebis

  

Jalebiiiii

Jalebiiiii

Chicken shawarma @ Mahir Qureshi Biryani  – On a friend’s recommendation, we decided to order one shawarma roll. I asked the guy making it what masalas had gone into it. He looked me and said “Is ke liye machine chahiye hota hain”, to suggest that I could not make this at home. I persisted with my query to only receive a broad smile and no response. One bite into the roll and it was clear that these was chicken tikka chopped into smithereens. Easily avoidable!

Chicken Shawarma/Tikka Roll

Chicken Shawarma/Tikka Roll

The Bajra Roti Thali takes at least 20 minutes to be put together and I was informed by the lady running the stall “is not for people who have no patience”. I saw her turn people away without a qualm who said they couldn’t wait that long by simply saying that “our food is not for you”. Honest and attractive 🙂  

Nomadic Thali

Nomadic Thali

The Chulha

The Chulha

The meal was definitely worth the wait. The bajra roti is made on a clay tawa, cooked over wood fire, and then served with lahsoon chutney, onions, jaggery, gate ki sabji, and raita.

Bajra Roti Thali

Bajra Roti Thali

Roti being cooked

Pictures that follow now are of food that I did not eat. My friend had the Chicken Biryani @ Mahir Qureshi and said that it was okay and nothing spectacular.

Chicken Biryani

Chicken Biryani

Chicken bathed in oil

Sheermal priced at Rs 100 a piece!

Sheermal priced at Rs 100 a piece!

Moong Dal Chilla stuffed with alu and paneer

Moong Dal Chilla stuffed with alu and paneer

Tikkis

Tikkis

Paan

Paan

Rajasthani fare

Kulfis

Kulfis

Fried Chicken & Fish @Naseem Chicken & Fish Corner

Fried Chicken & Fish @Naseem Chicken & Fish Corner

Kachoris

Kachoris

American sandwich!!

American sandwich!!

Frenches, anyone?

Frenches, anyone?

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Amma Mess, Madurai

I know I haven’t blogged in ages. Hope to be more regular now. The past few weeks have been interesting. I have simultaneously experienced extreme bliss and sadness. I could not imagine that meeting my niece for the very first time could bring with it inexplicable peace, joy, and happiness.  At the same time a spate of bad news from close friends and family had dampened my spirits. But, taking inspiration from the positive message in Life of Pi, I’ve decided to blog.

This post captures our annual visit to the village for Pongal 2013 as well as a spectacular meal at Amma Mess in Madurai. I think Amma Mess in Madurai can be compared to Karim’s in Delhi in terms of fame and hype.

Kamal Hassan, Rajnikanth, and Mallya at Amma Mess

Kamal Hassan, Rajnikanth, and Mallya at Amma Mess

Last Saturday, we walked in for dinner at around 7.30 pm or so. The decor is quite plain. We were profiled as soon as we sat down as a Mineral water bottle was placed on our table before we even asked for it. The servers figured that we were not locals and were interested in sampling the menu. I asked them if they had mutton kola and they responded by immediately serving us two kolas each. These were fabulous. The sweetness of the coconut and the heat of the spices lent it a very distinct flavour. I was quite excited by the addition of coconut to the mutton mince. On my request, Akka made this on the day after pongal. The recipe follows below.

Mutton Kolas

Mutton Kolas

We scanned through the menu and were intrigued by the mention of rabbit, pigeon, and emu on it. 

Menu

Menu

In the specials, bone marrow omlette caught our attention and we ordered for it.

Specials at Amma Mess

Specials at Amma Mess

The omlette had a meaty flavour to it and we quite liked it.

Bone Marrow Omlette

Bone Marrow Omlette

It was also interesting to note that the only vegetarian stuff they had are actually meant to be accompaniments with the meat – idlis, dosas, and idiappams, for instance, are served with chicken curry or fish curry.

I ate rabbit for the very first time. It appeared and tasted like a very tender chicken.

Rabbit 65

Rabbit 65

The chicken dosa was served with chicken curry and was decent.

Chicken Dosa

Chicken Dosa

We tried the Veechu Parota next. This was like a Mughlai Paratha and was served with chicken curry.

Veechu Parotha

Veechu Parotha

Even though we were quite stuffed, we decided to try a fish dish. Mahesh ordered Ayrai Fish Curry with Idiappams. The fish curry was really tangy and spicy and went well with the idiappams.

Fish curry with idiappams

Fish curry with idiappams

Akka’s  Mutton Kola

250gms boneless mutton/mutton mince

4-5 green chillies

1/4 coconut

2 tablespoons ginger-garlic fees

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

12-15 sambhar onions

1 sprig of pudina leaves

2-3, cardamom pods

2-3, cloves

1 inch cinnamon

2-3 tablespoons ground channa dal

pinch of turmeric

salt to taste

Ingredients for the Mutton Kola

Ingredients for the Mutton Kola

Method

1. Grind the boneless mutton in case you are not using mince. Then add all the above ingredients except the ground channa dal and grind into a semi-fine paste. if you are using mince then you can proceed to grind it with the spices.

2. Add the ground channa dal, one spoon at a time in order to bind the mixture. Shape into round balls and then deep fry them.

Mutton Kolas

Mutton Kolas

The coconut flavour in Akka’s Kolas were not as pronounced as the ones in Amma Mess. I think a tsp of coconut oil and some more coconut may enhance the flavour of the kolas. The menu on the day after Pongal was meat all the way. Along with the Kolas, we had mutton biryani that Mahesh made, chicken curry, and mutton dalcha.

Chicken Curry

Chicken Curry

Mutton Dalcha

Mutton Biryani

Mutton Biryani

I am already looking forward to Pongal 2014!

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Mutton Biryani

Each city has its own sense of humour, often displayed by shopkeepers, rickshaw-wallahs, and those you meet on the road. I was at the receiving end of something of the caustic variety recently. We had gone to GK-1, M-Block market for pre-Diwali shopping. It was around 10.45am or so and for some strange reason both Mahesh and I were quite hungry. The Chaat guy near Prince Paan looked very inviting. They were just setting shop when I walked up to the guy and pointed to a container with paani (for paani puri) and asked him “Bhaiya, yeh kal ka hain ya aaj ka” (Bhaiya, is the water from yesterday or today’s). With a deadpan expression on his face he told me “Yeh do teen mahine purana hain” (This is two-three months old). I laughed out loud and told him “phir toh khaana hi padega” (Then,  I will have to have it). Mahesh, told me I deserved it. I guess, I did 🙂

Diya painted by Mahesh

Diya painted by Mahesh

The menu for Diwali was simple this time – biryani and raita. Mahesh would learn how to make Biryani from his friend James’s mother  – Sakkammal Aunty. Aunty suggested that he watch her make the biryani and note the recipe. Armed with a notebook and almost tempted to carry a tiffin box to bring the biryani back, Mahesh set out early on a Sunday morning for his masterclass. Not only did he eat some biryani there he also brought back loads. We had to make a trip to Rama Stores in Munirka as Mahesh was very particular about the biryani rice. A day before Diwali was a bad time though as the shop was super crowded. After waiting for what seemed like forever to get someone to hear our order, Mahesh decided to go inside and procure what we needed. Soon, people started waving at him and asking them to hand them certain items! With all ingredients in place, Mahesh set out to make the biryani all on his own.

Here is the recipe that has been tried, tested, and perfected by Sakkammal Aunty. It is highly recommended:

Ingredients

1. 750 gms mutton

2. 1/2 kg jeera rice

3. 4 onions, thinly sliced

4. 5 medium sized tomatoes, chopped

5. 1/2 packet Biryani Masala (Aunty gave Mahesh a packet of masala she got from Tuticorin)

6. 1.5 tsp fennel seeds

7. 1 inch cinnamon stick, 2 nos

8. 6 cloves

9. 3 cardamoms

10. 1 star anise

11. 1 tsp ghee

12. Water

13. 2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste

14. 1 bay leaf

15. Handful of curry leaves

16. 1 tablespoon chilli powder

Method

1. Dry roast one stick of cinnamon and spices 7-10, let it cool, and then grind into a fine powder.

2. Heat a tablespoon of ghee and toss the rice in and stir continiously. Do not let the rice colour. This step helps ensure that each grain of the rice remains separate.

3. Heat a tablespoon of oil, add 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste and let it cook. Add 2 thinly sliced onions and fry till the onions turn glossy. Add the mutton in and fry for about 2 minutes or so. Next, add 3 chopped tomatoes and 4 glasses of water or enough water to submerge the mutton. Pressure cook this – two whistles are sufficient.

4. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in another pan. Add cinnamon, curry leaves, bay leaf, 1 tablespoon of ginger-garlic paste, and 1 thinly sliced onion. Fry well and then add one finely chopped tomato and 1 tablespoon of chilli powder.

5. In a cooker, add the fried masala (Step 4), roasted and powdered masala (Step 1), boiled mutton with spices, water (double the quantity of the rice- you can use the water in which the mutton was boiled), biryani masala, rice, salt, turmeric powder,  and stir it for about 10 minutes or so on high. Then turned the flame on sim, cover the cooker, place the weight, and cook for 8 minutes (no whistle). Wait for at least 15-20 minutes before you open the cooker.

This biryani is so delightfully yummy that I ate it without any raita. I was amazed at how tender the mutton was and surprised that just 2 whistles did the trick.

DSC04574

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Heritage Walk and Street Food in Old Delhi

A trip to old Delhi to sample the kebabs and chaats has been on our agenda for a long time. When a friend forwarded a link to Delhi Heritage Walks, it sounded a perfect way of sampling the best the streets had to offer. The heritage element was an added bonus. Priced at Rs 900 per head, the walk entailed 3 heritage stops and 4 food stops. We were all meant to assemble at Gate No.1 of Jama Masjid. Mahesh and Megha were horrified to hear that only vegetarian fare was part of the deal – a fact I shared with them only after we got down at Chawri Bazaar. We hopped on to cycle rickshaws outside the station and decided to head to Karim’s first. We go-karted along the crowded lanes to reach our destination. The rickshaw I was on collided with 1 scooter and 3 rickshaws on the way. As our guide told us later, in this part of Delhi “you are always in someone’s way”.

Whose Way is it Anyway?

We were lucky to find a place (not really a table as we shared our table with 6 others) for 4 and were seated immediately. We ordered 2 rotis, 1 plate of Mutton Qorma, and 2 pieces of seekh kebabs.

Mutton Qorma

While the qorma gravy was delicious, the mutton was hard and chewy. The yeasty rotis were wonderful. We also liked the soft and sleek seekh kebabs. The plan was to pack dinner from Karim’s a plan that remained unexecuted on this trip.

Seekh Kebab

Our first stop on the heritage walk was Jama Masjid. The mosque is breathtaking from the inside. Unfortunately, Mahesh and I were not very impressed with the heritage aspect of the walk. Our experience with Bangalore Walks had raised our expectations.  We were looking forward to anecdotes and fun trivia along with a dose of history.

We also hoped that the food aspect of the walk would also capture the history of the shops and their creations. Unfortunately, this was missing. A quick online search on all our food stops revealed that there were interesting stories behind most of them. Sharing that with the walkers would have definitely enhanced the experience. Our first stop was the Jain Coffee House. The entry into this place was a dark narrow lane which added to its mystique. We were informed that most of the shop-keepers around the area ordered their lunches from Jain Coffee House. The USP of this joint was its elaborate fruit sandwiches. We sampled chikoo and pineapple sandwiches. The fruits were sliced, placed on the bread, topped with paneer, butter, pomegranate seeds, and jam. You can read more about this place here and here.

The Assembly

We also sampled the samosa sandwich that was topped with paneer and pomegranate and was a tad too salty. The sandwiches are very reasnably priced. The fruits ones were Rs 35 each and the samosa sandwich Rs 40.

Our next food stop was the Hiralal Chaat Corner. This place really blew our mind away with its Watermelon Kuliya Chaat. The fruit is cut in cylindrical shapes and the flesh is scooped out to create a pocket which is then filled with boiled channa, pomegranate, chaat masala, rock salt, lemon juice, and other spices. It reminded me of a tangy golgappa minus the crunch of the puri. The contrast of the sweet watermelon and the tangy spices was unbelievably good. You can read more about this place here.

Watermelon Kuliya

We also tried the potato kuliya and the cucumber kuliya, but they were no match to the watermelon. They have several varieties of kuliya – tomato, banana, apple, and weet potato. We also had the fried potatoes and the alu tikki which were ordinary.

Potato Kuliya

Cucumber Kuliya

Our next stop was Ashok Chaat Corner which was bang opposite the Metro Station. By this time we were quite full. We only sampled a piece of dahi puri chaat. This was again regular stuff and nothing out of the ordinary.

Our last stop was Kuremal Mahavir Prasad Kulfi Wale. The first kulfi we sampled was the Mango Kulfi. This was no ordinary kulfi. The stone had been removed carefully and luscious kulfi was filled into the cavity of the mango and frozen. I was amazed at how deftly the stone had been removed by hand. You can read more about this place here.

Mango stuffed with kulfi

Sliced up

We also sampled other flavours such as falsa, jamun, sitaphal, chiku, and paan. The texture of the fruit flavoured kulfis were like that of a sorbet.

Jamun

Falsa

Paan Kulfi

Mahesh and I loved the paan kulfi and the mango one. We intend on coming back for the kulfi and the watermelon kuliya and of course Karim’s!

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Baklava Muffins

I’ve baked lots of things in the last few weeks but have simply not posted it on the blog. Recently, I sampled varieties of baklavas at Kunafa in Delhi. I never knew there were or could be so many types of baklavas. The owner, a genial man, offered us samples of baklava as well as kunafa – a crisp pastry stuffed with cheese and coconut. We finally picked up a 300 gm box of assorted baklavas that was priced at Rs 1000. It was absolutely sinful!

I had noticed a recipe for Baklava Muffins in Nigella’s Domestic Goddess. After having eaten baklavas, I was very keen on trying this.

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 100g chopped walnuts
  • 75g demerara sugar (I substituted it with light brown sugar as I had run out of demerara)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • 45g butter, melted

for the muffins:

  • 210g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 45g unsalted butter, melted
  • 250ml buttermilk (or 175g yogurt and 75g semi-skimmed milk)

12 bun muffin tray lined with 12 paper cases

for the topping:

  • 125ml runny honey

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200°Celsius/gas mark 6.

2. Mix all the filling ingredients together in a small bowl, and then get on with the muffins. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarb and sugar.

3. In a wide-mouthed measuring jug, whisk the egg, melted butter and buttermilk (or yogurt-milk mix). Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the liquid and mix lightly and gently, remembering to keep it bumpy rather than going all-out for smooth: anything more than the gentlest handling makes for heavy muffins.

4. Fill the muffin papers one-third full, add a scant tablespoon of filling, then cover with more muffin mixture until two-thirds full. Sprinkle any remaining filling on top of the muffins.

5. Bake for 15 minutes, by which time they should be golden-brown and ready.

6. Put the muffins, still in their papers, onto a rack and drizzle with honey. You may find it easier to warm the honey a little before pouring.

While this was supposed to yield 12 muffins, I managed to stretch it to 18 🙂 What I did not do, however, is pour the honey on top of the muffins out of fear that it would make the muffins overly sweet. This was a mistake. The honey would have made them moist and given it a nice baklavaish flavour.

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Indian Accent – An accent you’d have never heard before!

After watching Chef Manish Mehrotra create imaginative dishes on Foodistan that wowed the judges, Mahesh and I had decided that we needed to make a trip to Indian Accent. The opportunity presented itself in the form of Restaurant Week India where we would be served a three course meal at Rs 1000 per head. The bookings opened at 6.00am two weeks ago. I called my friend Megha who has a Citibank card (bookings opened early for Citibank card holders) at 6.30 am and both of us sat and booked our table at Indian Accent.

On Saturday, five of us walked into The Manor eagerly looking forward to our meal. The decor of Indian Accent is quite simple. The focus here is rightly on the food and nothing else distracts from that.

The dishes on the restaurant week menu were super exciting. Take a look at the options:

Starters
(choose any one)
potato sphere chaat, white pea ragda
khandvi ravioli, mixed cheese mash, khakhra crisp
foie gras stuffed galawat, strawberry green chilli chutney
soft shell crab, flame roast coconut, tomato pickle chutney

main course
(choose any one)
tadka vegetables, baby spinach, roasted sesame salan
masala wild mushrooms, water chestnut, paper roast dosai
soft centred murgh nargisi kofta, roomali roti crisp
tamarind chutney glazed tandoori ribs, steamed potato chilli salad
kadhai tiger prawns, xo balchao, masala prawn crackers
served with indian accent kulchas and black dairy dal

Desserts
(choose any one)
mishti dohi cannoli, amaranth ladoo
jaggery & banana sticky cake, ginger ice cream, phantom sweet cigarette
warm doda burfi treacle tart, homemade vanilla bean ice cream
‘old monk’ rum ball, 70% valrhona chocolate sauce

As you can see, this is such a creative menu. The chef has fiddled with each and everything on it. And what made it even more spectacular were the little surprises after ever 15 minutes or so. After we placed orders for the starters, we were served a portion of blue cheese naans. The blue cheese was strong as expected.

Blue Cheese Naan

After about 10 minutes or so, came the amuse bouche in the form of a pumpkin and coconut milk soup with a cheese naan. The flavours were extremely delicate and comforting.

Pumpkin and Coconut Milk Soup

Since we were a group of 5 we managed to sample all the starters.

potato sphere chaat, white pea ragda

The Khandvi Ravioli was the star of the starters. We all loved the idea as well as the execution.

khandvi ravioli, mixed cheese mash, khakhra crisp

The galawat with foie gras and strawberry chutney was also interesting. This was the first time I tasted foie gras. I think it is an acquired taste. I found the texture too slimy for my liking. The chutney was really good though. 

foie gras stuffed galawat, strawberry green chilli chutney

The soft shell crab was my pick. Honestly, I was a bit disappointed with the lack of flavours in this dish. The vegetarian starters were far better than this. The dish had the crunch but could do with a little more spice and flavours.

soft shell crab, flame roast coconut, tomato pickle chutney

After we were done with the starters and before we moved to the mains out came a palate cleanser in a mini cooker. The presentation brought a smile on all our faces. Inside was a mango and cranberry sorbet.

Mango & Cranberry Sorbet

Some of us tried to play with the cooker and found that it is firmly stuck on the plank that it is placed on 🙂

For the mains, three of us opted for the tandoori ribs, one for the murgh nargisi kofta, and I opted for the tiger prawns. We were each prodding the other to try a vegetarian dish, but none of us yielded!

Shobha had the murgh nargisi kofta. As she cut into it a surprise oozed out.

soft centred murgh nargisi kofta, roomali roti crisp

It was a soft boiled egg 🙂

Surprise!

According to me, the tandoori ribs was the dish of the day. The ribs were really tender and the flavour combinations were bang on. The potatoes weren’t that great though.

tamarind chutney glazed tandoori ribs, steamed potato chilli salad

The kadhai prawns were juicy but I wish they had served with a little more rice. By themselves, the prawns had too much masala and were difficult to appreciate.

kadhai tiger prawns, xo balchao, masala prawn crackers

The mains arrived with kuchas which were far from ordinary. There were four types of kulchas on our table – applewood smoked bacon, hoisin duck, wild mushroom, roast pumpkin and cheddar. Each one of them was unique. We loved them all, especially the bacon.

Assorted Kulchas

We were also served a portion of dairy dal with the mains. Another surprised arrived after we were done with the mains. They called it School Break wali Charpoy. It came laden with aam papad, anardana, rose petal chikki, and fatafat.

An argument broke over the desserts. 4 options and 5 of us – we were unclear about the one that we would repeat.  Our server helped us out of it by offering to surprise us. We decided to go with it. First came the dessert platter which had the mishti doi cannoli, doda burfi treacle tart, old monk rum ball, and a cheesecake.

mishti dohi cannoli and warm doda burfi treacle tart, homemade vanilla bean ice cream

The dessert of the day was hands down the warm doda burfi treacle tart. It got me wondering if I could replicate it at home. Would definitely like to give it a shot. The old monk rum ball was laden with rum and too bitter for my liking. But those who like rum loved it.

 

Cheesecake and Old Monk Rum Ball

We were eagerly waiting for our fifth dessert and were pleasantly surprised to see it bubbling away as it landed on out table. At first glance, it appeared as though steam was rising and we warned Mahesh to handle it with care. Turns out that it was dry ice and cold as cold can be. It was teh Haji Ali inspired Custard apple cream – a creation which we had seen on Foodistan. It was single handedly polished off by Mahesh.

Haji Ali inspired custard apple cream

This was the best meal we had ever had in a restaurant. We all pledged to be back very soon with our families. The only downside we will be comparing all other restaurants to the supremely high standards set by Indian Accent! Bytway, the service matches the quality of the food.

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Swedish Summer Cake

Believe it or not my husband doesn’t like chocolate based desserts that much (rolling eyes!!). I’ve been wanting to make this appealing Swedish Summer Cake for a very long time. The prospect of a three layered cake with cream, custard, and strawberry sounded inviting. I decided that this would be his birthday cake. The only hurdle was where would I find strawberries in September!  Frozen ones were the only option. After all, there is a reason why this is a “summer” cake! I bought frozen strawberries from INA market and on D-day realised that they were sour as tamarind. I could have easily made a strawberry rasam.

I deliberately showed Mahesh the picture of the cake so that he wouldn’t accuse me of doing a sloppy job! The cake is meant to look sloppy 🙂 This cake is very easy to put together. But, next time only with fresh strawberries. The cake would taste and look a lot better with fresh ones.

Here is the recipe as it appears in Nigella’s book Kitchen. Red Panda who blogs at http://redpandabakes.blogspot.in/ saved me the effort of typing the recipe.

Swedish Summer Cake

Vanilla Custard

2 egg yolks
2 x 15ml tablespoons caster sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour or potato flour
250ml full-fat milk
½ vanilla pod or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

If using the vanilla pod, put everything in a pot over a low to medium heat, stirring non-stop, until it starts to thicken. Do not let it boil. If using the vanilla extract, put everything in except the extract and proceed as above.
When it starts to thicken – just over 3 minutes at medium heat, but just under 5 if you keep the flame cautiously low – take it off the heat. Remove the vanilla pod, if using.
Transfer to a cold bowl, mix in the vanilla extract, if using, and continue stirring until it is a little cooler, then cover with clingfilm – touching the surface of the custard – to stop the custard getting a skin when it’s cold. Or wet a piece of baking parchment and place that right on top of the custard. I had to whisk in a few teaspoons of sugar before assembling the cake to make up for the sour strawberries.

The Cake

3 eggs
250g caster sugar
90ml hot water from a recently boiled kettle
1½ teaspoons baking powder
150g plain flour
butter, for greasing

1 x 23cm spring-form or other round cake tin

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and line the bottom of the cake tin with baking parchment and butter the sides.
Whisk the eggs and sugar together briskly until pale and moussy and more than double in volume, then, still whisking but slightly more gently, add the hot water.
Mix the baking powder and flour in a separate bowl and gradually whisk these in, making sure there are no lumps. You may need to stop once or twice for a scrape-down.
Pour and scrape the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until it is golden, well-risen and a cake tester comes out clean.

Let the cake stand in the tin on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes before – carefully – unmoulding and leaving it to cool on the rack.

Out of the oven

To assemble the cake
750g strawberries (I used 600 gms)

2-3 teaspoons caster sugar, depending on sweetness of berries (Used a lot more :()
500ml double cream* (Used about 250-300 gms)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract*

Put 250g strawberries to one side, and start preparing the remaining 500g. Hull these, halve the smaller berries and quarter the larger ones, dropping them into a bowl. Sprinkle with sugar – how much depends on how tart or sweet the berries – shake and leave until they glisten: 10 minutes will be just fine, though 1 hour would make them juicier and glossier.
Whisk the double cream and vanilla extract until it holds its peaked shape when the beaters are lifted out.
Fold a third of the whisked cream into the fully cooked vanilla custard you made earlier.
When the cake, too, is thoroughly cool, take out a bread knife and, courageously, slice the cake horizontally into 3 layers. I used toothpicks to mark the points and then proceeded to slice two layers.

Marked out

The layers weren’t too bad.

Put on cake layer on its serving platter or stand, and top with half the vanilla-custard-cream, then arrange half the macerating strawberries on top, concentrating more on the outer edges of the cake than the center. Top with the second layer of sponge and repeat as before with the rest of the custard-cream and cut berries.


Now set the third cake layer on top and cover with the waiting whipped cream, arranging the 250g reserved strawberries as desired.

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