Swiss Black Forest Cake | The Novice Housewife

All over US , people celebrate July 4th as Independence Day, but in our family it is celebrated as my dad’s birthday. And 18 years back for that very occasion I baked my first cake.

I was in 7th-8th grade then. We had just moved houses in Jodhpur, and two of my friends had come for a sleepover. After my parents had gone off to sleep, we girls decided that it would be a great idea to bake a cake for my dad. Of course, none of us had baked one before. Since we wanted it to be a surprise for both my parents, we decided not to ask for my mom’s help and were confident that we will manage. I had seen my mom bake a countless times before, but that was the only experience I had. I was not much of a kitchen person growing up. I was a bit of feminist and thought if my brother isn’t cooking I do not need to as well. But, I knew where her recipe book was and we took out one of the cake recipes I knew she used quite frequently.

Having hardly ever entered the kitchen for anything, I had no clue where she had kept most of the ingredients and had no luck finding the all purpose flour. I did find the can with whole wheat flour, and thought I will just bake the whole cake with whole wheat flour (those days whole wheat flour cakes weren’t a thing). We ended up with a pretty dense cake, thanks to the whole wheat flour. The taste wasn’t anything like what mom made. To amend our error we decided to frost it a lot. The frosting surprisingly saved the cake a bit. My dad did not mind it at all and my mom thought it was a very sweet gesture. In fact, today when I asked her if she remembered the cake, she said as far as she remembers it came out quite well and the frosting was really nice. She particularly remembered the frosting. So do I.

Swiss Black Forest Cake | The Novice Housewife

Somehow life made a full circle yesterday. 18 years back when I made my first cake on dad’s birthday, I had a dense, dry cake which to some extent the frosting saved. Yesterday I made a Black Forest cake (specially requested by my dad) that I have made a few times before with excellent results, but ended up screwing it up for my dad. As a result, I again served a dense, dry cake to my dad for his birthday which surprisingly was saved only because of the frosting. I did figure out what went wrong- I had oven issues, and an error on my part to blame, but lessons learnt nonetheless.

People still went for seconds, but having baked it before and having it not failed me any of those times, I was a little disappointed that the screw up happened with my dad’s birthday cake.

Swiss Black Forest Cake | The Novice Housewife

 

No matter how it tasted, my dad loved that I made him a cake. And I know for him its the thought that counts. And I know he is reading this post  (he reads all my posts), so I just want to tell him that I love him. Yes, there are times when he doesn’t understand me and times when I don’t understand him, and its ok because I know there is no other man who can love me the way he does. And I am so glad that I have him as a father- his personality, efficiency in work, knowledge, sensitivity to my mother’s needs, thoughtfulness has shaped me and my brother to what we are today. And for that both my brother and I will always be grateful.

We also have been spoilt a lot by my father. Every wish of ours has always been his command. We just have to utter the words and he tries his best to make sure that our work is done. And that’s why we have named him Super Papa. You want something done, you ask Papa. Yep, spoilt we are.

And now he is retiring. He turned 60 yesterday. And in a month he retires from the Indian Air Force. He has had a wonderful tenure (touch wood) and deserved every bit of success that has come his way. He worked hard, so that we could enjoy. With the help of my mom, he has made sure we had the best years growing up, and now I hope we can fill the the next chapter of his life with as much joy as he has been filling ours.

Happy 60th, Papa. Love you.

Swiss Black Forest Cake | The Novice Housewife

Click here for the Swiss Black Forest Cake recipe. 

And while we celebrated my dad’s birthday, I hope you all had a happy and fun 4th of July!

And,  if you are looking for some holiday food inspiration, head on over to Raise.com  (a platform to buy and sell gift cards) where they are featuring some of their favorite festive 4th of July recipes .

Sinful Chocolate Pavlova Recipe |The Novice Housewife

In our small mining town, we have a group of ladies who meet every Friday over coffee, drinks, tea and some cake, and cookies. It is a pretty eclectic group and had been my biggest support system in the US. For a short while we had an Australian in this group as well. I am sure I had tasted pavlova before, but it was the first time at her coffee that I truly started appreciating this meringue based dessert. She had made a traditional pavlova with strawberries and whipped cream and it was every bit lovely.

Ever since then I have wanted to try to make it at home, but somehow haven’t been able to. I have made something similar earlier (a msacarpone meringue layer cake) as well which was absolutely delicious, but that’s about how close I got to making a pavlova.

Sinful Chocolate Pavlova Recipe |The Novice Housewife

Even though an Australian/New Zealand dessert, it is named after the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova, when it was made in her honor, probably during one of her visits to these countries.

For the most part Pavlova is an easy to make dish. Only tricky part is the low temperature long baking and of course the whipping of the egg whites.

Here are a few tricks and tips that I keep in mind whenever I whip egg whites:

  • Whenever you whip egg whites remember fat and water are the enemies. So make sure all utensils, tools that come in contact with the egg whites are grease free. Wipe your beaters, bowls completely dry. It always helps to take a paper towel soaked in a little vinegar and wiping your bowls and utensils with it to be doubly sure that it is grease free.
  • When you separate the eggs make sure no part of the yolk is in it. Separating cold eggs is easier than room temperature eggs. I always try to separate eggs the moment I take them from the refrigerator and then let them sit on the counter, covered, to come to room temperature. Always whip room temperature egg whites.
  • When separating more than one egg I recommend to keep 3 containers/bowls in front of you. Break the egg, separate the white and the yolk in two different bowls. And then transfer the clean, yolk-free white in the third bowl. Repeat process. This helps in cases where you screw up with one egg, and land a part of the yolk in the egg white while separating, you do not spoil the other separated egg whites.

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The  almond croissants at L'Opera, Khan Market, Delhi

The almond croissants at L’Opera, Khan Market, Delhi

 

The last few days had been  slightly busy, my grandfather got sick, then there were other things to attend to, plus my internet connection sucks making it even more difficult to put up posts and as such no GMT happened this week and I haven’t been able to post anything after last week’s GMT. Getting this post live, even though for most parts it was ready, has also been a task. I don’t have a recipe to share today but instead will share some of my gastronomical experiences when I was in Delhi for 10 days.

Since Delhi is the capital of India, each of India’s 29 states has a government run house for its affairs, called bhavans. These bhavans have guest houses for its states officials and also run a canteen/restaurant in their premises. Some of the bhavan’s canteen/restaurants are open for the general public, providing a taste of their authentic regional cuisine at quite an affordable price.

When V had come down to India for his MBA course, and with  him being busy during the days with his course classes and with my in-laws busy with elections in Firozabad, and my friends busy during the day, I was mostly left to eat lunch out alone in Delhi. I hate eating out alone. I can’t do it. Its too boring. I would rather get a to-go, switch to PJs in my room, put on TV and watch something while eating. So even though I had made a list of going to all the State Bhavans for lunch and trying out their food I was only able to brave it once and soon realized eating out alone is just not my cup of tea. In theory it sounded great, and I was all excited about it but when I sat down to eat, I made a note to myself never again.

The chicken curry at Assam Bhavan, Delhi | The Novice Housewife

The chicken curry at Assam Bhavan, Delhi

Assam Bhavan, Delhi | The Novice Housewife

Assam Bhavan, Delhi | The Novice Housewife

My first tryst with Bhavan food was when I was pursuing my bachelors degree in Delhi. Friends of my parents were regular at Sikkim House and loved the food served there and insisted we try it out as well. Though the place was a little gloomy decor wise, the food was exceptionally good. I am not sure whether Sikkim House’s restaurant is still open for general public, because my dad’s driver recently told me that it was not open for outsiders any more. Since I haven’t personally checked it I can not confirm it. If any one of you has been there in the recent past do let me know, I would definitely like to go try their dishes again.

Dal, Assam Bhavan, New Delhi | The Novice Housewife

Dal, Assam Bhavan, New Delhi

Fish Tenga, Assam Bhavan | The Novice Housewife

Fish Tenga, Assam Bhavan, New Delhi

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