Thursday, 21 August 2014

Back to School Supplies: Year Seven Countdown #2!

Hey guys! Like I said yesterday, the countdown is ON! Yesterday I gave you guys some delectable Boston cream cupcakes, and today I give you a list of supplies for all you guys joining Years Seven, Six, Five, and more!


This is basic stuff, really, refer to the image above.
Here's the list:

• Water color
• Paintbrushes
• Highlighters
• Mechanical pencils
• Lead for pencils
• Erasers
• Ruler
• Sharpie permanent marker
• Pencil sharpeners
• Glue stick
• 12 #2 pencils
• Post-it notes
• Mini scissors

And that's it!


You'll notice this cute, furry pencil pouch in the picture. I actually stitched this myself a year ago and have been using this since. If you want to do the same, you'll need some base cloth, filler cloth, and a sturdy zipper. The rest is simply in the design.
This is really sturdy and has never failed me once!


And now, for the school bag. Toward the end of Year Six, I began to make myself get used to single-shoulder bag. It's much more convenient than a double-shoulder bag.

I happened to find this one in our 'attic' (no comment). I guess it belonged to one of my sisters, but I still love it. And yes, it says "Let's kill something!" Why not?

I hope this list and these tips help you, and good luck with the new school year!

xoxoxoxoxoxox,
Zoya

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Boston Cream Cupcakes & Year Seven Countdown!

Hey guys! These days I'm always super psyched because... wait for it... I'M GOING TO YEAR SEVEN! That's right, my second year of middle school, first year of the senior side... yikes!


In the midst of everything that has happened during the past few months, I have not changed too much mentally (references: conversations with +Anusha Riaz... she knows the rest...), which is positively screaming "CAUTION: BACK AND CRAZIER THAN EVER!". That’s mainly a caution to everyone who messes with my friends ;). (Cue Return of the Mack)


Well, that actually screaming "JUST DESSERTS" along with that other thing. This year, I wanted to take this up a notch with filling. And you tell me, what better filled thing than Boston cream pie? And what better than the Brown Eyed Baker Michelle's awesome Boston cream cupcakes?


Before we start, I need to announce two things:

1. I'm doing a five-day countdown till the day school starts! (This is #1!)
2. I have now learnt the riff for Safe & Sound, as promised! The video's coming soon!

So stay tuned!




Boston Cream Cupcakes
Makes 12

Ingredients
For the cupcakes,
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup milk
Pinch of salt

For the ganache,
2 cups (16 oz.) dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup condensed or evaporated milk or cream or half-and-half...

For the pastry cream,
2 cups milk (fat content of choice)
3 tsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp all purpose flour
3 tsp lemon juice
1 egg yolk

Directions
1. Make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350°F, 180°C. Line 12 regular size cupcake tins with paper liners. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract. Alternate between additons of the dry ingredients and milk.

3. Pour the batter into your prepared tins. Bake for 10 - 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

4. Make the ganache: Place the chocolate in a bowl and heat the milk in the microwave or over a stove until almost simmering. Pour it over the chocolate and let it sit for a minute before stirring and placing in the fridge.

5. Make the pastry cream: Bring the first four pastry cream ingredients to a boil, stirring constantly, and the mixture will thicken. When quite thick, remove from the heat and add in the remaining ingredients and whisk for 30 seconds. Pour into a bowl and place in the refrigerator, covered, until cooled completely. When cool, transfer to a pastry bag or ziplock.

6. Assemble the cupcakes: using an apple corer or cupcake corer, gently core the center of the cupcake halfway through; the hole should be about 3/4 - 1/2 inch wide. Fill almost all the way with pastry cream and fit the top back on. Freeze for 30 minutes until fairly cold.

7. Dip the tops of the cupcakes into the cooled ganache. Let the excess drip off, then place in the fridge for 10 more minutes until cool once more. Serve.

Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker.

xoxoxoxoxoxox,
Zoya

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Peachy! (Smoothies)

I recently discovered (thank you, +Mahnoor!) that achool is starting on the 25th. This is a "WOOT WOOT!" because of my half-nerdedness. Bloody hell, not just 'cuz of my half-nerdedness, but because I'll be able to bake again, I'll have peace and quiet to practice my guitar (for those of you who don't know, my new ambition is to become a guitarist), and, most of all, my FRIENDS.

ALL MY FRIENDS HAVE THEIR YOUNGER/OLDER BROTHERS AND SISTERS.
Why, I have two of those too, but THEY'RE IN BOSTON!
Not that it's you guys' faults, Sanya, Faryal.

Anyway, besides bein' "All By Myself", I have, have, HAVE to beat this sweltering Pakistani heat! That's right, people! It's HI 99°, LO 86°; literally! Smoothies are still churning in this crib! Last year, I gave you guys a pomegranate-banana smoothie, but this time, we're keeping it peachy!

(Note: my mom freezes peeled bananas for anytime she wants banana bread, so I used one from that stash.)


Ingredients - serves 2
1 banana, peeled (see note)
2 chopped, pitted peaches, optionally peeled
1 cup Greek yogurt or other
6 ice cubes
A pinch of cinnamon (or more...) for garnish

Directions
Whirl everything except the cinnamon in the blender until smooth. Pour into two serving glasses and sprinkle with cinnamon. Serve immediately.

xoxoxoxoxoxox,
Zoya ♡

Challah

As said in The King Arthur Flour: Baker's Companion, Challah must be one of the world's most popular breads.

This various-named bread, traditionally made for the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, is rich with eggs and butter, which gives it its pale-yellow interior and crisp, dark, golden-brown exterior crust. I used a 3-strand braid, but beautiful 4-or 5-strand braids are a good idea, too.

This recipe starts with a basic quick starter called a sponge, a mixture of 3 vital ingredients: water, flour, and yeast. It's this that results in the lightness of the bread, making it completely irresistible. I would enjoy it with breakfast with a hot mug of tea or coffee...


Challah 

Ingredients

For the starter:
• 1 cup lukewarm water
• 1 cup white flour
• 2 1/2 tsp yeast

For the bread:
• 2 eggs plus 1 yolk (save the white for the wash)
• 1/4 cup each melted butter and white sugar
• 4 cups flour, plus more for kneading
• 1 3/4 tsp salt

For the wash:
• the reserved egg white
• 2 tbsp water 1 tbsp sugar
• seeds from 4 green cardamom pods

Directions

Stir together the starter ingredients and leave to sit for 30 minutes.

After the wait, stir together the starter and the dough ingredients and knead to a smooth dough. This dough is silky and smooth, a joy to work with. Place in an oiled bowl, cover, and let it rise for an hour or until doubled in size.

Once risen, gently flatten the dough and split into three parts. Roll each portion into a long rope, about 15 inches long. Braid them together. Place this braid on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cover with a cloth. Let rise for another half hour.

Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C).

Beat the wash ingredients together and brush onto your braided loaf. Place it in the oven for about 20 minutes until well browned. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before slicing.

I'm off to chuck mine in the oven.
xoxoxoxoxoxox,
Zoya ♡

Monday, 4 August 2014

The Perfect Loaf

Ode to the smell of freshly baking bread, the aroma wafting out of thy (that was not a typo) kitchen and to thy soul!

(I think I'll stop being dramatic now...)

Back to the loaf. The staple of the universe. Well, the staple of America, for that matter...

The shmancy first paragraph of this dedicated post (I'm doing it again!) basically tells you that a good, warm loaf of homemade bread can beat that stale, tasteless hunk of flour and water from the grocery store, no matter what flavor. As long as you have a good recipe, nothing stands between you and a crusty warm loaf of bread.

I'd especially like to say this to my friend Anusha: if you could make those awesomely chewy brownie-cookies, then I bet you could make a perfect loaf, too. Please try this recipe! (But use Saif-Lev├╝re yeast that comes in a small tin, for all of you in Pakistan! The yeast in the cardboard box never works!)

If only you could smell this!

The Perfect Loaf

Ingredients
1 cup warm water
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp yeast
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 cups flour
(See? Just a handful of ingredients!)

Directions
In a large mug or small bowl, combine the first four ingredients and stir well. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes until puffy.

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour and oil. Add in the yeast mixture and stir to form a shaggy dough. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth, then place in a well oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for about an hour until doubled in size.

Once risen, gently flatten the dough and press into a well oiled loaf tin. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise for another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F, 180°C.

Pop the dough into the oven gently, without deflating the loaf. Bake for about 30 minutes until the top is golden brown and when you tap the top, it sounds hollow.

Take it out of the oven and remove from the pan. Let cool completely, then brush with butter before cutting snd serving.


xoxoxoxoxoxox,
Zoya

Thursday, 31 July 2014

101 POSTS! WOO HOO! (Top Hit Posts)

That's right, all you awesome viewers, 101 posts written, 101 moments recorded in writing! Here, I'm going to give you a round-up of the best recipes, most accurate guitar tabs, and funniest Honor Updates!

First up, the Funniest Honor Update Awards!

3. The Eighth Honor Update
        Honor: Sorry, the Fairy has memory loss issues...
        Tutor: Oh, man. (rubs eyes) Oh crap. Nick poked me in the eye!

2. The Sixth Honor Update
        Nick: AAH! HELP! MAMA!
        Jill: You are as ugly as the Tutor's feet, Beauty!
       
The winner, #1, is...
  Another HONOR UPDATE!
        Honor: Oh God, Fairy, you fluttering flutterfly of a flashy fishy's flippin flipper!
        Andres: What? Baby camels? Awesome!
        Guard: She looked like Beauty. She was all dirty and ugly!

Now, the Most Accurate Guitar Tab is...
  Safe & Sound - Taylor Swift Chords!
        This tab's main chords/base chords are the Em and the G-major.
        The song is from the Hunger Games' exclusive album Songs from District 12 and Beyond.

Finally, the moment you've all been waiting for...
Most Popular Recipes!
(I'm starting from seven for 'magical' purposes.)

#7: New York Crumb Cake












#6: Double Chocolate Cookies












#5: Melt-In-Your-Mouth Chocolate Cupcakes with Truffle Frosting














#4: Funfetti Cake Batter Frosting

pictur via thedomesticrebel.com














#3: The Hunger Games District 11 Crescent Rolls

















#2: Mocha Cupcakes with Espresso Frosting

pictire via browneyedbaker.com















And the winner is...

#1: THE BEST Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe EVER!

picture via sallysbakingaddiction.com
















AND the best moment:
   Sofie! Our new kitten goes off with a bomb! (Almost literally!)


Thanks to all you amazing viewers from all around the globe who have given me 3,500 views from the U.S., Pakistan, Germany, Ukraine, Canada, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Serbia, Russia, Australia, the U.K., Indonesia, the Netherlands, Argentina, Taiwan, Italy, Poland, France, Ireland, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, and so many more!

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo,
        Zoya <3

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Flippin' Awesome Double Chocolate Frosting

Before we start, I would like to make an anouncemont; I have finished composing my own song! It's based solely on guitar and revolves around the G-major chord.

Last time, I gave all you amazing readers a recipe for the best chocolate cake I've ever had. Today, I'm makin' a match for it with this amazing deep, dark chocolate frosting you'll ever make. Mm-hm. Ever. And any baker worth her salt (no pun intended) should be able to throw together a dessert using this recipe. I used this to frost and fill (but ultimately covered with fondant) my sister's birthday cake, who is now *sniff* gone *sniff* back to *sniff* Boston *sniffedysniffsniffsniff*!

Enough said.



Ingredients

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup melted chocolate chips
1/4 cup milk
2 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup good-quality cocoa, such as Cadbury or Hershey's

Directions

In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat together the butter, melted chocolate, vanilla, and cocoa on high speed for 3 minutes. Slowly beat in the milk and icing sugar. 

Tip: For real chocolate decadence, sprinkle 1/2 cup chocolate chips over frosting if using as filling before adding second layer.


Sunday, 27 July 2014

The Best Chocolate Birthday Cake. EVER.

(Well, it doesn't have to be a birthday cake...)

Last week, we started planning my sister Sanya's birthday. Colored water fights, sparklers, fireworks, firecrackers, and what not. And, of course, cake.

She wanted an extravagant, too-good-to-eat masterpiece. Which wheeled me out of the way. Maybe, just maybe, I jinxed it, but next week, at the dinner table, I was asked to make her cake.

I saw a picture of a cake online; it used a Wilton fondant mold which had indents shaped like flowers, birds, leaves, branches, and vine borders. Luckily, I had that mold on hand and managed to make half the details two days before the party.

On the last day, I made the second tier, stacked them, shaped the last few decorations, and assembled them. In the end, Sanya's friends didn't show up, but we still got to share the cake with our cousins :).


INGREDIENTS
1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup sour cream or yogurt
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp each baking powder, baking soda, and salt
1 cup softened butter
1 cup each white sugar and brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS
In a small bowl, mix the water and the baking powder. Let cool, then add the sour cream or yogurt.

In a separate bowl using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a few seconds after each addition. Stir in the vanilla and sour cream mixture. Fold in the remaining ingredients.

Pour into two greased round cake pans and bake at 350°F until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.