Ladi Pav – Mumbai’s Favourite Bread

The quest for this bread started in my few years of living outside India. I have tasted some of the yummiest loaves and rolls abroad, but there were those times when I wanted the soft Ladi pavs that the andawalla would get home for pav bhajis, omlette pav and of course the vada pav!

The bakeries there wouldn’t make this variety of bread. Over the years there, I started baking them at home till I came back to India. This lockdown phase meant more time to re-visit those baking bread days.

Here is the recipe for the perfect Ladi Pav:

Ingredients:

500 gms Bread Flour or All-purpose Flour
1 cup + 3 tbsp milk
1 heaped tbsp sugar
7 gms dry yeast
3 Tbsp Salted Butter
Salt – just a pinch or two

Method:
– Warm the 1 cup of milk and dissolve the sugar.
– Add in the yeast. Mix well. Let it stay undisturbed for 15 minutes
– Now add the flour, 3 tbsp of milk and a little salt and bring it all together with a wooden spoon.
– Flour your clean kitchen platform, and start kneading, stretching the dough to activate the gluten well. This is what will make them soft.
– After kneading for 5 minutes add the butter and continue kneading for 10 more minutes.
– Now smoothen it out tucking the edges into to form a nice round dough ball. Coat it, as well as a big bowl with some oil and let it rest for 1 – 2 hours depending on how warm the weather is.
– Once double in size, punch out the gases and knead again for 3-5 mins
– Cut into equal sizes, tuck the edges into small round dough balls and lay it next to each other in a greased and lined baking tray. Brush the tops with milk.
– Cover and let it rise again for 30 minutes.
– Now bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees C for 25 mins. My oven experiments resulted better pavs at 200 degree C. So first understand your oven temperatures very well before baking larger batches.
– As soon as they are out of the oven, brush with some butter and cover it with a damp cloth for 20 minutes to soften up further.
– Serve warm with your favourite accompaniment.

Eid special Saffron-Infused Bread & Butter Pudding

Eid Mubarak to everyone who is celebrating this special day. My neighbour friend Maria and I became closer in the last two years with common stories surrounding our lives. Like most festivals Eid is all about the amazing feasts shared with loved ones. She sends over delicious Biryanis, Saalans and Sheer Kurma every year. This year I baked her a saffron-infused Bread and Butter pudding. This British classic becomes a festive special with all the aromatics that go into the custard base.

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:
10 Bread slices (preferably a day old)
Butter – to butter the slices and grease the pan
350 ml single cream
250 ml milk
60gms + 30gms Sugar
4 medium eggs + one yolk
1 tsp each of cinnamon and cardamom powders
Rose Essence
Lemon zest
Saffron Strands
Raisins, Sultanas, Dried Cranberries, Pistachios

Method:

For the Saffron custard:
– Heat the cream and milk on a low temperature with saffron strands and the cardamom and cinnamon powders.
– Beat the eggs with castor sugar till pale. If you are using the regular Indian sugar add it to the milk as it doesn’t dissolve well with the eggs.
– Now add the heated cream and milk mix to the beaten eggs while continuously whisking the eggs.
– To this custard, add lemon zest and rose essence.

For the pudding:
– Grease the baking dish generously with butter
– Cut the sides of the bread slices and butter both sides. Cut into two halfs
– Arrange them on the baking dish
– Now pour the above saffron custard into the dish and let it sit for around 20 mins so that the bread soaks up some of the liquid.
– Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 160 degrees C.
– Top the pudding with raisins,sultanas and dried cranberries. Sprinkle some sugar and bake for 40 mins.
– After 40 mins shift the baking dish into the top rack, crank up the oven temperature to the highest and grill the top to further brown it for just 2-3 minutes.
– Take it out infuse it with a simple saffron syrup. For the syrup boil 30gms sugar + 30ml water. Add some saffron strands and continue cooking till one-string consistency. Switch off the flame and add some lemon zest and rose essence to this as well.
– Decorate with pistachios and rose petals for the Eid look. Serve warm.

5 Super-Quick Summer Dessert Recipes for Kids

Want to put together a filling sweet treat for your little one but have no time or patience to bake a cake? I have five no-fuss dessert recipes to satisfy those unstoppable cravings.

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Satisfying your kid’s sweet tooth can be a challenge at times. Especially when you are famished after a long work-week or decluttering the home. Instead of reaching out for the chocolate bar or candy, try some of these easy recipes that you can whip up in a jiffy. With a little bit of pre-planning, you will be able to put these together in a few minutes. Most of the recipes are nutrient-rich for guilt-free indulgence.

Fresh Mango Sorbet
A quick recipe, especially for the upcoming mango season. Avoid adding sugar by selecting the sweetest variety of mango available in your local market.

Ingredients
3 cups chopped mango
½ cup pineapple juice
½ cup milk
1 tbsp sugar or honey (optional)

Method
Freeze mango chunks overnight in the freezer. Place the frozen mango pieces and pineapple juice into the blender. If the mango pieces aren’t sweet enough, add a bit of sugar or honey. Halfway through the blending add milk. You can use almond milk instead of regular milk. Scoop into your children’s favourite ice-cream bowls. Top up with freshly chopped mango.

Lemon Strawberry Chia Pudding
Surprise your kids with this bright coloured dessert after a long day at school. Packed with nutrients from chia seeds and dates, this is a delicious pudding for both you and children to enjoy together.

Ingredients
1 cup fresh strawberries
1 cup milk
2 tbsp chia seeds
2 dates
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest

Method
Blend the strawberries, milk, and dates until smooth. You can replace dates with sugar or honey. You can substitute the regular milk with yoghurt, almond or coconut milk. Whisk in the chia seeds, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Pour into individual serving cups and refrigerate overnight or at least for six hours before serving. If your kids do not prefer the texture of chia seeds, blend the seeds along with the strawberries in the first step.

Instant Choco Mousse
This recipe is especially for your impatient chocolate-loving munchkins. It can be whipped up in minutes and served at room temperature.

Ingredients
1 cup marshmallows
1 ½ cups dark chocolate
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp hot water
1 cup whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method
In a double boiler put the marshmallows and let them melt. Add the butter, dark chocolate and water. After the chocolate and butter liquify, stir everything together. Keep aside to cool. Whip the chilled cream and vanilla extract together, till the mixture forms stiff peaks. Gently fold the cooled chocolate mixture into the cream and set in individual glasses. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Crunchy banana-chocolate pops
Who doesn’t love banana? Prepare these pops as a healthy birthday party treat or to fuel the kids up after a swim or dance class.

Ingredients
2 bananas
4 ice-candy sticks
2 tbsp chopped nuts (peanuts, almonds, cashews)
½ cup dark chocolate

Method
Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave or double boiler and pour it into a tall glass. Dry roast and spread the chopped nuts on a plate. If your child is allergic to nuts, replace it with sprinkles or granola. Cut the banana into two halves. Insert the popsicle sticks to the wider end. Dip the banana into the chocolate mixture and shake off the excess. Roll the chocolate covered banana around the nuts. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes till the chocolate hardens and serve.

Apple Coconut Barfi
Make barfis healthier by using fruits, fresh coconut, and homemade ghee. It can be packed into your kid’s lunch box or given as a snack with her glass of milk.

Ingredients
3 cups grated apple
1½ cup grated coconut
1 cup milk powder
½ cup sugar
3 tbsp ghee
2 tbsp chopped nuts
A pinch of cardamom powder
A pinch of salt

Method
Grease a baking tray or plate with ghee and keep aside Dry roast the grated coconut on low flame till it gives out a nutty aroma. Heat ghee in another pan and cook the grated apple till most of the moisture evaporates. Toss in the coconut, milk powder, sugar, cardamom powder, and salt. Mix well. Stir the mixture continuously for around 10 minutes till ghee starts oozing out from the sides, and the mix comes together to form a fudgy mass. Set this mix in the greased tray and smoothen it out with a spoon. Sprinkle the chopped nuts and let it come down to room temperature. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container.

Check out my post on Parent Circle.com
https://www.parentcircle.com/article/5-superquick-summer-dessert-recipes-for-kids/

Christmas Pudding

While we enjoy gorging on plum and fruit cakes during Christmas, the steamed pudding has its own charm. Served with some custard, it becomes a wonderful dessert after a hearty Christmas lunch. Here is an eggless and non-alcoholic version for everyone to enjoy. Check out my Christmas specials feature on Parent Circle.com https://www.parentcircle.com/article/supereasy-christmas-dessert-recipes/

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Ingredients

All-purpose flour- ⅓ cup
Breadcrumbs – ¼ cup
Muscovado / Dark Brown sugar- ⅓ cup
Curd – 2 tbsp
Unsalted Butter- ⅓ cup
Baking Powder – 1 tsp
Grape Juice – ½ cup
Black Raisins – ½ cup
Chopped Dates – ½ cup
Chopped Dried Prunes- ½ cup
Tutti-Frutti- ½ cup
Cinnamon powder- two pinches
Clove powder – one pinch
Grated Apple –  ½
Zest of one orange
Zest of one Lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
Honey – 1 tsp
Salt – a pinch

Method:

  • Soak the raisins, dates and prunes in grape juice for 24 hours in the refrigerator.
  • Grease and line a pudding mould or a deep bowl with parchment paper.
  • Powder the muscovado or dark brown sugar in the blender.
  • Beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the curd and mix well.
  • Now incorporate the steeped dried fruits with the grape juice, tutti-frutti, cinnamon powder, clove powder, grated apple, honey, sugar, lemon juice, orange and lemon zest into the mix. Stir in breadcrumbs.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the wet mixture. Mix well.
  • Press it into the mould and steam it for three hours on low-medium heat.
  • On Christmas day, steam again for an hour. De-mould it and serve with some custard.

Holiday Biscotti

Biscottis are perfect make-ahead Christmas treats. Make a large batch for a festive tea or coffee-time accompaniment over the holiday season. Check out my Christmas specials feature on Parent Circle.com https://www.parentcircle.com/article/supereasy-christmas-dessert-recipes/

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Ingredients
All-purpose flour- 2½ cups
Sugar – 1 cup
Eggs – 2
Unsalted Butter- 6 tbsp
Dried Cranberries – 1 cup
Chopped Pistachios – 1 cup
Tutti-Frutti – 1 cup
Whole Fennel seeds – 1 tbsp
Vanilla Extract – 1 tbsp
Zest of one orange
Baking Powder – 1 ½ tsp
Salt – a pinch

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line a large baking tray.
  • Beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add one egg at a time and beat again.
  • Mix in orange zest, vanilla, and fennel seeds.
  • Sift flour, baking powder and salt.
  • Throw in the cranberries, pistachio and tutti-frutti and mix well.
  • Transfer the sticky dough to a well-floured work surface.
  • Gather it together and form two logs and place them on the tray next to each other keeping enough space to let them flatten out while baking
  • Bake them for 30 minutes. Let them cool for around 8-10 minutes.
  • Now take a sharp knife and cut diagonally into ½ inch slices and re-bake them for 15 minutes.
  • Place the biscottis on a cooling rack. Store in airtight containers.

Puffed Rice Reindeers

Involve your kids while making these cuties. Adding marshmallows keeps the treats chewable, yet crunchy. You can replace puffed rice ( charmuri, murmura or pori) with Rice Krispie cereal for even more crunch. Once you prepare the base of this recipe you can create a lot of fun shapes and decorate it your way. Best way to keep your kids engaged is to let them get creative with the shapes. This is a fun recipe. Make sure having lots of fun is your main focus. Don’t worry about perfect shapes or patterns 🙂 

Check out my Christmas specials feature on Parent Circle.com https://www.parentcircle.com/article/supereasy-christmas-dessert-recipes/

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Ingredients
Puffed rice or Rice Krispie cereal – 2 cups
Marshmallows – 2 cups
Unsalted butter- 2 tbsp
Vanilla Essence – 1 tsp
Candy Eyes
Cadbury Gems
Milk Chocolate – ½ cup
White chocolate – small piece
Lollipop sticks

Method

  • Grease a square-shaped baking tray or dish.
  • Melt the butter on low flame. Add marshmallows and let them melt completely.
  • Turn off the flame and add puffed rice or Rice Krispie cereal into it and mix well
  • Immediately transfer the mixture to the square tray and press well using a greased spoon.
  • Use a sharp knife and cut into squares.
  • Melt milk chocolate carefully in the microwave or double boiler and put into a small plastic piping bag. Follow the same process with the white chocolate. Snip a small hole at the end of both the bags.
  • Put a little white chocolate on the end of the lollipop stick carefully push it into a puffed rice square while still a little warm. Similarly, prepare the other squares.
  • Using the white chocolate as glue, stick on the candy eyes and gems making sure you have a few red nosed ones to indicate they are Rudolph – Santa’s favourite reindeer.
  • Pipe on the antlers using melted milk chocolate.
  • Let the chocolate harden completely before packing it away in airtight containers.

Assorted Chocolate Kulkuls

Kulkuls are part of the traditional Indian Christmas platter that is distributed to family and friends. The traditional recipe is given a little twist by dunking them into melted chocolate.

Check out my Christmas specials feature on Parent Circle.com https://www.parentcircle.com/article/supereasy-christmas-dessert-recipes/

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Ingredients

All-purpose flour – 1 cup
Powdered Sugar – ½  cup
Melted Butter – 2 tbsp
Salt – a pinch
Oil – to deep fry

For the sugar glaze:
Sugar – 1 cup
Water – ⅓ cup

For the Chocolate cover:
White Chocolate – ½ cup
Milk Chocolate –  ½ cup

Method:

  • Sift the flour, salt and powdered sugar into a bowl. Melt the butter and it to the flour. Rub the butter and flour between your fingers to form a crumbly mix.
  • Add very little water and knead the mix into a firm dough. Let it rest for 30 minutes.
  • Take a small cherry-sized ball of the dough and flatten it out on the spikes of an unused comb or fork. And roll it into curls pressing the edges.
  • Deep fry in batches until golden brown
  • Make a glaze of boiling sugar and water till one-string consistency.
  • Throw in the fried kulkuls and glaze well. Cool completely. At this point traditional kulkuls are ready.
  • To make chocolate kulkuls, line a tray with parchment paper.
  • Melt white chocolate on top of a double boiler. Dip one end of the kulkul into the melted chocolate and shake off excess. Place on the parchment paper.
  • Repeat with milk chocolate. Decorate for making it more festive.

Santa Hat Cupcakes

Santa Hat cupcakes are one of the easiest Christmas-themed cupcake frostings. Use good quality gel-based food colour.  Don’t fret about the frosting not being red enough. Gel colours deepen over time. Also, this is an eggless recipe 🙂 

Check out my Christmas specials feature on Parent Circle.com https://www.parentcircle.com/article/supereasy-christmas-dessert-recipes/

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For the eggless red velvet cupcake:

Ingredients:
All-purpose flour – 2 cups
Buttermilk – 1 cup
Vegetable oil – ⅓ cup
Powdered Sugar – 1 cup
Cocoa powder – 1 tbsp
Vinegar – 1 tbsp
Vanilla essence – 1 tsp
Red Gel Colour – 4 drops
Baking soda – ¾ tsp
Salt – a pinch                                                                                                           

For the red buttercream frosting:

Ingredients
Powdered sugar – 3 cups
Unsalted butter – ⅓ cup
Vanilla – 1½ tsp
Milk – 2 tbsp
Red Gel Food Colour – 4-5 drops

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a muffin tray with cupcake moulds/liners of your choice
  • Whisk the buttermilk, vinegar, oil, vanilla and food colour. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Mix well.
  • Scoop the batter into the cupcake moulds. Bake for 20-25 minutes depending on the size of the moulds.
  • While the cupcakes cool down, prepare the frosting by whisking together the butter and powdered sugar until creamy. Add the vanilla and milk. Whisk again.
  • Take ¼th of the icing and put it in a piping bag with a star tip, or a tip of your choice.This will be used for the white parts of the hat.
  • Add the red food colour to the remaining of the frosting and put it all into a large piping bag. You do not need a decorative tip for this.
  • Let the red frosting sit in the refrigerator for a while for the red colour to deepen.
  • Snip the end of the red piping bag and swirl around the cooled cupcakes to form a hat.
  • Take the white frosting and add a blob on the tip of the cupcake and the edges.
  • Let them set in the refrigerator for a bit before serving.

Pineapple Fresh Cream Cake for New Year’s Eve

I had to put together a cake in an hour and a half  for a New Year’s Eve staff party. Luckily I had all the ingredients required.

There are three things you basically need to make the best pineapple cake ever [ apart from love that is 🙂 ] 1) Sponge 2) Cream topping 3) Canned Pineapple slices + syrup

For a super soft Sponge:

Eggs – 8
Sugar – 1.5 cups
Milk – 1/2 cup
Vanilla Essence – few drops
Flour – 2 cups
Baking Powder – 1 tsp
Salt – 1/2 tsp

Fresh Cream Topping
Fresh Cream – 3 cups
Icing Sugar – 1/4th cup
Whipped Cream Stabilizer or Gelatin (Optional)

For assembling
Canned Pineapple with its syrup (Fresh Pineapple wont work for this recipe)

Method:

First things first. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. Grease your baking tin and dust it with flour. I used an 8 x 10 inch rectangle tin for this recipe. Put a bowl into the freezer or fridge in which you will whip fresh cream later. Everything for whipping cream has to be cold cold cold including the whisks of your electric beater.

Once the above prep has been done you can start by assembling all the ingredients for the sponge. Make sure these are all in room temperature. Separate egg whites and yolks into two separate clean and dry bowls. Add the milk and vanilla essence / extract to the yolks. Put in the sugar, little at a time and start whisking till the mixture becomes pale yellow.

Now to the dry ingredients. Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt straight into the egg yolk mixture, combining them together into a thick batter.Now to the dry ingredients. Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt straight into the egg yolk mixture, combining them together into a thick batter.

Finally for the egg whites, take a clean and dry whisk.  Whisk away till stiff peaks are formed. I first finish this step and then wash the whisk and chill it in the freezer to whisk the cream later. It is always wiser to invest in an electric whisk for this job. Done in a jiffy. Else be ready for a solid arm workout.

Once they form stiff peaks, gently fold it into the yolk mixture. Cut and fold the egg whites with almost a feather like touch to maintain the aeration.

Pour the folded mixture into your greased and flour-dusted baking tin and bake for 30 minutes. Remove and cool completely on a cooling rack.

Now comes the fun part. Into the chilled bowl put in your cold heavy  whipping cream and whisk on medium and then high till soft peaks are formed. Add the icing sugar and stabilizer and whisk further till stiff peaks are formed. Keep the cream in the refrigerator till required. In India I had to take a lot of precautions to make this happen. Cold whisk, cold bowl, and  cheffie’s tip of an ice bath under the cream bowl made it all work. Don’t give up on it 🙂

Assembling the cake

Finally comes the Pineapple into the scene

Drain pineapple slices, while retaining the syrup in a bowl.
Cut the completely cooled cake horizontally into two or three layers.

Place the bottom layer onto the cake stand. Add several spoons of the syrup on the sponge. Top it with some of the whipped cream. Place a few pineapple slices. Now add the second layer of sponge. Repeat the steps.

After the last layer is done. Cover the entire cake with cream and pipe some of your creativity into it. 🙂 Arrange the last few pineapples. I didn’t have canned cherries. You can place a few cherries to add a pop of colour.

Refrigerate the cake immediately. In this case it sat in the restaurants’s fridge till it was midnight.

Enjoy your New Year’s Eve making a thousand wishes for 2015. Cheers to you all.

Merry Berry Cobbler

A new friend we met via Leo (Yes dogs can be a reason to make new friends) from one of his  off-leash parks date was visiting me over the weekend for coffee. I wanted to bake something simple with three things in my mind.

  • Bake under one hour
  • Cool off just enough so that it is still warm and gooey
  • Eggless as my friend doesn’t consume eggs.

Food Network is basically food porn for me. I generally don’t note any recipes. Just look at all saliva-inducing food and wish I was eating that instead of a bowl of leftover dinner. But there are times when a recipe hits the spot and you remember every single ingredient, such as this cobbler recipe. This easy version of a fruit cobbler was something I have been meaning to try for a while. So this was the perfect occasion.

As the rules with baking go measurements are the most important aspect. Just remember equal portions of everything. Since it was just for the two of us, I used 1/2 a cup of all ingredients. I started off melting 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, in a mixing bowl, then put in 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of self-raising flour and 1/2 cup of milk. Whisked it well and poured it into a greased baking tray.

I then topped it with the frozen berries we had in the freezer. Before topping them, I rinsed and patted the berries dry. After that, I sprinkled on some more granulated sugar before putting it into a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees F for 40 minutes.

Bake for longer if you are using more than 1/2 cup measurements. And sprinkle more sugar if you want a nice top crust. Don’t overcrowd the berries.

This is a perfect sweet fix to chat over coffee. A dollop of whipped cream would have added more yumminess but also the calories which we both didn’t need. It is one of those easy breezy recipes that can go in the oven while you quickly hide the scattered books, tea cups from last night and random wires before your friend pops over.

Mini Bourbon Cookie Parfait

A bunch of us girls meet once in a month to catch-up on a much needed girlie time. We started this in November 2011 and have had loads of fun till now. This month it was my turn to host. Since it was Ekta’s birthday week, I wanted something dessertie but not a traditional cake. So I made mini parfaits with chocolate mousse, whipped cream and a favorite cookie amongst us Indians – the Bourbon Biscuit!

I am sure I can be neater at layering than this. Someday. Someday

I put around six of these cream biscuit/cookies into a coffee grinder to form a granular powder. You can replace these with Graham crackers or Oreos. For the cream between the parfait layers I used a store-bought spray can version.

Our Indian fix from Seattle’s Apna Bazar includes a pack of these cookies!

For the mousse I followed Nigella Lawson’s (yes yes i do love her) heavenly eggless Instant Chocolate Mousse recipe as one of my girlfriends is a vegetarian.You can also replace it by any favorite mousse or pudding recipe.

To layer the shot glasses, first pipe in some mousse, then add in the cookie powder, whipped cream and finish it off with some more mousse. Sprinkle on the cookie powder and bling it up for celebration with some string. Refrigerate the glasses for at least 2 hours before serving.

Happy birthday to our dearest Ekta. I am glad to have girlfriends like you 🙂

Do you like these glasses?

Kahlua Cocoa birthday cake bliss

Kahlua Cocoa birthday cake bliss

I have always been a Nigella Lawson and Rachel Allen fan for their cake recipes. I wanted to try something new for a booze-loving friend. Decided to get my hands dirty in Kahlua chocolate heaven. This recipe requires usual chocolate cake ingredients and quarter a bottle of Kahlua liqueur for baking and icing. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a cake tin with oil/butter and line with greaseproof paper. Place 1/2 cup of oil in a large mixing bowl and while stirring with a whisk, add 2 cups sour cream, a dash of vanilla, 2 eggs, 2 cups sugar and a pinch of salt one at a time. Sift together a tsp pf baking soda, 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa , 1 1/2 cup of plain flour and add to the mixture. To this, add around a cup of warm water, 1/2 cup of the Kahlua and 3/4th cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Mix well until all combines – the mixture will be quite runny. Pour into the cake tin. Bake for about an hour or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool in tin, then remove and cool completely on a baking rack. Icing was just a glaze of powdered sugar and Kahlua mixed together. Ice the cake and refrigerate at least for an hour before serving. I served it with some whipped cream, but you can leave it out if you are having it with a creamy latte or cocktail. I must admit I left the cake in the oven too long as I slept half way though the baking time!! Lesson learnt. Never start baking a cake at 11:00pm on a work day.  Had to scrape off the top layer :D.  Like every year I ruined the icing as well. Made it too runny. But despite all this we loved the outcome. It was really yummy and boozy!!