* I have combined the happenings of the last week and the current week in a single post. So much has happened and somehow in my mind, I cannot make a distinction about when the previous week ended and the current set pace.
The past week (6th -12th March)
The weather here is Bahrain is changing rapidly. The nip in the air has disappeared and it is getting warmer by the day. You can tell from the way, the flies buzz around and the people have a skip in their step. Spring is upon this part of the world but it is unlike any spring season I have ever seen. There are no flowers blooming, no humming birds singing, and no larks chirping. In this part of the world, Spring is ushered in by a Spring Cultural Festival which stands cancelled due to the current political and sectarian problems that plague this tiny pearl of a country. Spring is here, and I know because, people have shaken their ennui of the desert-winter and decided to attach more furore to their askings from the their Government.
The week was not as clueless like the last. My mind was occupied with plenty. It was Namit’s birthday on the 9th of March and I took a lot of time to decided which cake I was supposed to bake. Finally I had to choose from the Caramel Cake and the Devil’s Food Cake. I flipped a coin to decide and Devil’s Food Cake won. So most of the week I was consumed by the preparation of this cake. The recipe is as follows:
Devil’s Food Cake
as adapted from David Lebovitz This dark glistening cake is a mean feat considering I did not follow the instruction to the tee. I did not have 2 spring form cake tins as instructed in the recipe. I made it in a single one and then cut the cake into half to make it a layered cake. The chocolate ganache is the literally the icing on the cake. It is the ganache that pushes the cake to the next level. But it was a joy to bake this one and I had my fingers crossed all the while. When I finished it, I knew I had a winner in my hands. My effort paid off when Namit enjoyed a huge piece of the cake and demanded to take all of it home.
THE RECIPE FOR THE DEVIL’S FOOD CAKE
For the cake:
9 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ cups cake flour*( don’t worry if you do not have cake flour on you. I did not too. I made it like this
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 stick or 4 ounces or 113 grams of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
½ cup strong coffee (or water)
½ cup whole or low-fat milk
For the ganache frosting:
10 ounces or 285 grams bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup water (or cream)
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter
1. Adjust the oven rack to the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Butter two 9″ x 2″ cake pans and line the bottoms with circles of parchment paper.
3. To make the cake layers, sift together the cocoa powder, cake flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a bowl.
4. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, or by hand, beat together the butter and sugar about 5 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. (If using a standing electric mixer, stop the mixer as necessary to scrape down the sides to be sure everything is getting mixed in.)
5. Mix together the coffee and milk. Stir half of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, the add the coffee and milk. Finally stir in the other half of the dry ingredients.
6. Divide the batter into the two prepared cake pans and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.( Alternately, what I did was to make a single cake and then cut it in the middle to make it into two layers)
7. To make the frosting/ganache, melt the chopped chocolate with the water (or cream) in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until melted. Remove the bowl from the pan of water.
8. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk them into the chocolate until completely melted and the ganache is smooth. Cool until spreadable, which may take about 1 hour at room temperature.
To frost the cake: Tilt cake out of the pan, remove the parchment paper from the bottom and invert it back onto a cake plate. Cut the cake into two with a large knife carefully. Spread a good-sized layer of icing over the top. Top with the second cake layer and spread the top and sides with the remaining icing as decoratively as you want.
I also used chocolate sprinkles and dark chocolate shavings to give it the final touch. The cake looked divine when all the candles were lit. Stunning without a doubt.
I would highly recommend this cake if you are thinking of baking a birthday cake. It is chocolate heaven for serious chocoholics.
We were such a happy lot on Namit’s birthday and spent so much time trying to figure out what all we can do together over the weekend. We came up suggestions like going to the traditional Souq market and doing an indepth research on what produce is sold there so that we get to know the culture even better. I was to come back and write about it on my blog. We also decided on watching some movies like we did the previous week. So far we completed a movie marathon of Anjana Anjaani, Band Baja Baraat and Aisha. Band Baja Baraat was a fun movie and I realized I missed Delhi more than ever. We also watched Phass Gaye Obama which is a rib tickling comedy and I laughed the whole time over home popped pop corn and onion rings. It is one of the better movies that has been cleverly made but put down my poor production value. I cannot say anymore about production value as it is something I stole from the discussion that my hubby was having with our friend, Namit.
The current week (13th – 19th March)
* I had typed a whole lot of emotional stuff under this note but for some reason it all got erased. I tried to retrieve it desperately but couldn’t. Maybe it was not meant to be out there. I felt drained after the emotional out pour and decided to scrap the post itself. But my hubby asked me keep it and said he will write the current week section for me. I was too upset and shrugged to his proposal. But he kept his word and the extract below has been written by my hubby.
The week started on a surprising note. On Sunday morning after late night viewing of Avataar (the series) Amit received call from Namit informing him about the unrest. Protesters who had been protesting across the road from Amit’s office have decided to come “on-road” and stop all the traffic. With Ofiice literally out of bound there was no choice but to stay put at home and enjoy the remaining episodes of Avataar.
Feeling – Holiday Yipee!!!
Monday – No improvement in the situation. The protester were staying put in their position and even when police force tried but they did not budge. TV stations were playing in loop the confrontation between protesters and police. Twitter world was buzzing with tweets of claims and counter-claim. Amit was busy checking with colleagues and friends about the situation and also some cricket gossip thrown in good measure. With No Avataar to watch ( we completed viewing all episodes) a sense of being trapped in the house overcame us. However with maid and cook arriving and super market open gave the feeling of life in normal mode.The only surreal part was lack of cars on the roads.
Feeling – Holiday Yawn!!!
Tuesday- The day of great political moves.
With govt declaring an 3 month martial law/national emergency along with arrival of forces from neighboring countries made it clear to us that situation has gone from bad to worse. We kept oscillating between staying-put and flee options. The roads were deserted and the whole place was giving an eerie feeling. The supermarket was closed for a brief period but still no matter of concern. Then we heard a small arm fire and teargas shell being lobbed just 100 meter from our house. That was too close for comfort . With teargas slowly wafting through our window our decision was made. It was time to pack bags. Hastily tickets were scrounged and concerned people were informed. The major concern that day – “how will we reach the airport”?
Feeling – Mild concern!!!
Wednesday- Overslept and got up to find the mobile network was down. Alarmingly checked internet , but thank God it was working, albeit slowly. We received an email from Amit’s colleague stating that he had reached the airport, first in the morning. He was supposed to travel to the airport with us and that kind of left us in a lurch. Nobody knew if the route to airport was open and how long it will remain open. The luxury of get-up-and-leave is not available to people with kids. Kids arent much concerned with the polictical situation but they can create their own situation far worse than political one , if not peoperly planned for. All moms will agree travelling with kids need meticulous planning , you need to plan for their feeding, sleeping, changing and entertainment needs. All these needs meant that we could not leave in a huff but the phone kept ringing. Concerned Parents from either side, Colleagues who had already reached airport , Friends planning to join for the trip to airport & Arrangement for transport further complicated the issue. All this, in addition to the minor anxiety of the possibility that we might be offloaded at the last moment, if the airlines decided there were too many people. Finally at 2pm the packing was completed and transport arrived and we left for airport ( still 6 hours before our flight). The streets were deserted although traffic lights were working.
Then came the roadblock.
With exposure to so many Hollywood movies we thought we have seen all kind of weapons and guns. However the actual sight of an M113 Armoured personal Carrier(APC) with the lead gun man pointing a gun towards you gives you a chill. This as the first time I’d seen a gun pointed towards me ( though I knew it was a general direction) and I can say I just stopped short of giving a peace sign to him with atleast one of my finger refusing to give the support and I ended up with a finger salute. Men with fingers on gun trigger are not supposed to have good humour and I was in no mood to test that hypothesis.
Fact of the matter, we were waived off and after some unnecessary diversion reached the airport. After that point the sense of relief was over-powering and the only thing capable of ruining the feeling was the customer service of our airline.
Due to travel warnings there was mad rush at airport with smart alecs checking in for flight 24 hours ahead. Due to such smart people airport was teeming with people and airport resembled ISBT Delhi on a lean day.
Now we are safe and typing this post from comfort of my mum’s home. I am glad we took the decision to fly back as soon as possible. Still sitting here, my mind keeps going back to the protestors and the families of the deceased. All I can pray for is that better sense prevails and peace is restored.
Further plans have been suspended for a while till the situation abates.