Eid Recipes: Zaffran Milk Cake and Labneh

Celebrate Eid ul Fitr with a taste of Middle Eastern cuisine from Chef Ajay Thakur.

Zaffran Milk Cake

Servings: 3-4 portions

Ingredients

For the sponge cake

  • 350 gm castor sugar (a kind of finer sugar manufactured by top baking brands)
  • 6 egg whites
  • 150 gm cream cheese
  • A pinch of sea salt, if unavailable you can use regular salt
  • 280 gm maida or all-purpose flour
  • 9 gm baking powder
  • 100 gm butter
  • Butter for greasing the cake pan

For the caramelised pistachio

  • 200 gm pistachios
  • 175 gm sugar
  • 25 ml water

For the saffron milk

  • A few strands of kesar or saffron 
  • 600 ml milk
  • 85 gm sugar

Assembly

  • 65 gm of the sponge cake
  • 20 gm cream cheese
  • 150 ml of the saffron milk
  • 5 gm of the caramalised pistachio

Method

For the sponge cake

  • Using a channi or sieve placed over a bowl, sift flour and baking powder.
    Keep aside.
  • In a bowl, whisk the egg whites along with the sugar till it forms soft peaks.
    Fold the flour and baking powder gently into the egg and sugar mixture.
    Keep this batter aside.
  • In another bowl melt the butter. Add in the cream cheese and whisk well.
    Add the butter and cream cheese mixture into the batter and fold gently.
  • Butter a square baking pan and line it with butter paper.
    Transfer the batter into the pan and gently, using a spatula, spread it.
  • Bake in an oven at 170° C for 8 to 10 minutes.
    Insert a toothpick in the centre of the cake to check if it is done. 
    If it doesn’t coat the toothpick it’s done. Take out of the oven and place to cool on a baking rack.

For the caramelised pistachio

  • Arrange the pistachios in a baking tray and roast in the oven at 160° C for 9 minutes.
  • In add sugar and the water and warm over medium heat.
    Stir until sugar dissolves.
    Add the roasted pistachios and stir well so that the nuts are well-coated with the sugar syrup.
    Keep stirring over low heat until the the nuts begin to turn brown.
    Take off heat and using a spatula quickly transfer the pistachio and sugar mixture on to a non-stick mat and leave it to cool to room temperature.

For the saffron milk

  • In a saucepan heat the milk over low heat.
  • Add the saffron and keep stirring until the milk reduces to half.
  • Add the sugar and stir until it dissolves.
  • Let the milk come to a boil once again and take off heat.
  • Cool and store in the refrigerator.

Assembly

  • Cut the sponge cake into small squares. 
  • Place one square in a bowl and pour some of the chilled saffron milk over it.
  • If the cake soaks up all the milk, pour some more saffron milk (please see the picture above).
  • Put the cream cheese into a piping bag with a nozzle, and pipe the cream cheese on the sponge cake.
  • Break the caramelised pistachio into small pieces and add a few on top of the cake.
  • Garnish with a few strands of saffron and serve chilled.

Labneh

Serves: 5-6

Ingredients

  • ½ kg hung curd
  • 10 gm or more garlic, minced 
  • 50 ml olive pomace oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for the garnish
  • Mixed herbs, for the garnish
  • Pita for serving

Method

  • In a bowl, combine all the ingredients, except the extra virgin olive oil, and whisk to a smooth paste with a hand blender.
    Taste and adjust the salt if needed. 
    Refrigerate.
  • Transfer chilled labneh into a bowl.
    Garnish with extra virgin olive oil and herbs and serve with pita bread.

Chef Ajay Thakur is the corporate chef at Bayroute, Mumbai.

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