Thursday, March 21, 2013

Pish Posh. I'm too cool for school!

A few months ago, a little bundle of joy was delivered to a blushing and somewhat surprised young mother.

My cousin Mithuna, younger to me by three years defied modern thought and got married when she was 19. She was always the mature one among us cousins and the girl who would tread a path differently.

At 22 she became mother to beautiful Aradhana.

Ms. Aradhana Sriram
Sounds so established already.

Aradhana is a special little one.

She's merely 7 months old and already her characteristics can be firmly predicted. For one - she's in a great hurry to see the world. If you're wondering why so, well... Aradhana was born in August when her due date was in November. So basically 6 months in her mother's womb and she decided she had stayed indoors too long already! She doesn't trouble her mum much by getting cranky and teary eyed, in fact one of the few situations that do bring cries of annoyance is when she's carried around. It almost seems like she's saying 'Hey! Please don't carry me around, I'll get around to walking very soon. Thank you very much.'
Miss Independent!
She enjoys her daily bath time unlike others her own age. When her grandma washes her down with warm water and soap instead of soapy tears and hiccups grandma gets to hear soapy giggles. 'Bring it on grandma, I'm going to be a spa person when I grow up anyway.' She also seems to love music and more so when somebody sings to her albeit in a tuneless tone. We probably have to wait a few more months to decipher her attention to the singer not as appreciation but rather as mockery. 'That's what you call singing? Really?'

When I first met Araa, I was miffed with her mother as she had now made me an aunt. Being the eldest girl among my cousins - the 'akka' or 'big sister' to all was quite a weary title and now Mithuna had bestowed another - 'Perima' or 'big aunt'. I told Mithu that Araa could call me 'Megha' and no 'perima' business will be heard of. I'm too young to be a big aunt! Then I started spending time with little Aradhana and realized that it would be a privilege to be a 'perima' to her. In fact the title would probably be saving grace for me as I really think I'm more baby and she is more mature and divine.
It seems like she almost told me so herself...

For the beautiful Araa, here is a Lemon and Poppyseed cake from the Hummingbird Bakery. The cake is amazingly moist and tangy. Those who love a good lemony zing this is the perfect tea-time companion.

85g unsalted butter
245g caster sugar
grated zest of 1 1/2 lemons
15g poppy seeds (plus extra to decorate)
165ml whole milk
235g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 a teaspoon of salt
3 egg whites
Lemon Syrup
juice and zest of 1 lemon
50g caster sugar
Lemon Glaze
Juice of 1 lemon
250g icing sugar

Cream together the butter, caster sugar, poppy seeds and lemon zest in a large bowl.
Slowly add the milk in stages and beat well. It may look slightly split. Not to worry!
In a separate bowl sieve the flour, baking powder and salt. Add this to the butter mixture in 3 stages, beating well after each addition.
Then beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold this gently into the cake mixture.  Don’t beat or you will lose all of the air that makes the cake light.
Pour into mould and bake for 30 - 35 mins until golden and the sponge bounces back when gently pressed.
Whilst the cake is cooking make the lemon syrup by mixing the sugar, lemon zest and juice in a saucepan and gently boiling it until it has reduced by half and a thin syrup has formed. When the cake is cooked remove from the oven and spoon over the lemon syrup whilst it is still in the tin and still warm.  This makes the cake wonderfully moist and forms a sugar crust on the bottom.  Leave to cool in tin for 10 minutes.
Turn out onto a wire rack.
Make the icing whilst the cake is cooling by mixing the icing sugar and lemon juice together until smooth and glossy. Once the cake has cooled, spoon over the glaze and let it run down the sides of the cake.  
Sprinkle with a few poppy seeds.


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