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!


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

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

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.


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.

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

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

Zoya ♡


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...



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


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.
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

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!)

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.