Posts Tagged ‘Birthday’

Apple Cardamom Cake

Something has been on my mind for a few weeks now. I’ve been pondering over it for some time. Should I, should I not? Will I succeed? What will Akber and Maryam think? Are they going to be open minded and accepting? Or will they scoff at me and turn up their noses? 

You see, the reason I’ve been so hesitant is because I’ve been thinking of breaking a marriage, a union, a relationship. A longstanding one that has stood the test of time. A marriage with no fights and arguments. A marriage that is an example, one that everyone looks up to. One that is ideal and perfect but also boring and ordinary.

But the urge was too great and so I did it. It felt good…. I was relieved and at the same time apprehensive but when I got the nod of approval from Maryam and Akber, I knew I had done the right thing. Just in case you’re wondering, I’m talking about the harmonious alliance that once existed between apples and cinnamon.

The two have always gone hand in hand. But I have found a better partner for the apple. A match that may be unconventional but still comfortable- apples and cardamom. They form a happy family in this cake that I adapted from this Pear and Almond Cake I have made numerous times. Out with the old and in with the new and everyone who ate a slice agreed. Apples and cardamom are very content with one another, they compliment each other. 


Click recipe card to print.

What more could you want from a relationship? Roasted almonds and custard played happy friends with this delicate cake. Try this new combination and you won’t be disappointed.

Have you broken a longstanding (food) relationship? Were you happy with the results?

Apple Cardamom Cake:
2 Fuji apples
3 tbs butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1/4 cup roasted almond flakes plus extra for serving
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Centigrade. Grease and flour an 8 inch pan. Core apples and cut thin slices. Place apple slices in water and squeeze half a lemon into the bowl to avoid discoloration.
Using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer and at medium speed, beat the sugar and butter until light and creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping the bowl when needed. Reduce the speed to low and add the rest of the ingredients except roasted almonds. Gently stir in the roasted almonds and pour batter into cake pan. Arrange sliced apples in a circular fashion and press gently into the batter. bake for approximately 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out nearly clean.
Let the cake stand for 5- 10 minutes on a rack before turning it out. Serve with a drizzle of custard and sprinkle roasted almonds on top. This recipe will serve 12 people.

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A Birthday Weekend in Ras al Khaimah, a New Life and a Banana Cake With Passion Fruit Cream Cheese Frosting

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We have never been big birthday celebrators. In fact, to date I can only remember two birthdays that have stood out for me- the first was in my early teens when my Mum planned a surprise party for and as cliched as it may sound, I have never been so surprised and overwhelmed. The second was fairly recently when I received some shocking news regarding my health on my birthday. 

But this birthday was different. We decided to spend the weekend relaxing, eating and playing- and resting. We’ll definitely be needing the rest in just a few months time. You see, I’ve been wanting to share this news with you all for quite some time. But I waited…..and waited.

Until now I can no longer fit into my regular clothes. I eat at odd times, have unusual cravings. I’m constantly hungry, sometimes irritable, always grateful though- grateful to feel the vibrations of tiny kicks inside me, kicks that make me toss and turn at night, kicks that reassure me everything is OK.

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Me and Akber are so excited to welcome a new little lamb to our family very soon and Maryam can’t wait to become a big sister. She talks to her new sibling everyday but isn’t excited at giving up her crib or high chair just yet.

So since traveling abroad is no longer an option, we decided to load up the car with family and spent a lazy weekend in Ras al Khaimah. We started the day with a pancake cake that I had made the night before. As usual, Maryam assumed it was her birthday and insisted on blowing out the candles. I promise to share that recipe soon but I couldn’t get any good shots with all the commotion in the morning.

On arriving in Ras al Khaimah, the views from our hotel were breathtaking, magnificent. The hotel is perched on a cliff and scenes of endless blue seas beckon at its feet. We headed straight to the beach- sunk our feet into the hot clammy sand, built sandcastles and collected shells. When Maryam wasn’t busy burying herself in the sand, she was splashing in the pool, playing with the gentle break of the waves. We rested lots and played cards.

In between all that, there was lots of eating- we had fresh fish, cheesecakes, paper thin crepes filled with maple syrup, pear and almond tarts and exotic Lebanese platters. All washed down with the freshest juices. And of course ice cream to cool off.

We had a fabulous weekend, a birthday to remember. And of course, my last as a mother of one. Today I’m sharing with you one of my latest cravings- a homely banana cake. It really is the best recipe for banana cake I have ever eaten or baked. Try it- you must!

And be sure, that in the coming few months, many sweet cravings will be shared in this space. Can’t wait for another wee baker to join our family.

Banana Cake With Passion Fruit Cream Cheese Frosting

3/4 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/12 cups buttermilk
2 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas

For the frosting:
225 gms cream cheese
3 tbs butter
3/4 cup icing sugar
3 tbs passion fruit pulp (optional)

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Centigrade. Grease and flour 2 loaf tins or one 9×13 inch pan. Mash bananas mixed with lemon juice and set aside. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla extract. With the mixer speed on low, add the flour mixture alternating with the buttermilk. Stir in the mashed bananas.

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 1 hour or so or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake. Place the cake into the freezer as soon as it comes out of the oven for 45 minutes. Frost when completely cool.

To make the frosting, mix all the ingredients together and beat on high speed until light and airy.

Banana Cake Recipe minimally adapted from

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Cappuccino Cupcakes With Whipped Cream Frosting

What did you want to be when you grew up? Me….. well, that depended on what age you asked me. When I was around six or eight, my most favorite thing to do was gather all my play china, build a tent out of bed sheets and play families with my neighbor. Funnily enough, I always wanted to be the Mummy who would cook and bake and make exotic things in the play kitchen.

All that changed when I was twelve or thirteen. Summers were spent in London with my grandparents and besides strawberries, trips to Alton Towers and Trafalgar Square, there was also the lure of Wimbledon tennis. I got my first crush……..on a tennis player!

I became obsessed with tennis. I bought my first racket, my first white skirt and wanted to be a tennis player. Even a ball girl would have been ok. I spent hours in front of the television and begged and pestered my grandparents to take me to watch a game live.

Then came the modeling years. I was always tall for my age and towered over the rest of my peers at school . My family would tease me that I should become a model and the idea stuck in my head. I spent hours locked in the bathroom trying on my mum’s make up and pinning my hair in different styles. I even cut my own fringe and threw the hair out of the window. That phase ended when I forgot to lock the bathroom door and my mum caught me looking like a drag queen.

Finally came the time to choose my ‘real’ career. I was excelled at English Literature at school and loved looking for hidden meanings and messages behind words. However, my parents weren’t too keen on me studying Literature at university so I finally settled on Optometry.

And so I have had many such phases in life where I’ve constantly felt like reinventing myself, learning new skills, craving new aspirations, discovering new talents and…….just enjoying life. I wrote all this because even though I have never met Emma in real life, I am so proud that she is following her dreams and aspirations- to become a pastry chef.

Emma, I wish you all the best. You have achieved so much in a short space and I can see many wonderful things in your future. I hope you enjoy these coffee cupcakes with a light whipped cream frosting. Airy and spongy…….with just the right amount of kick.

You can find the recipe for these scrumptious cappuccino cupcakes here.  Also the worldwide giveaway for the Braun hand held blender is still running so if you haven’t taken part yet, you can do so here.

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Lemon and Blueberry Layer Cake and a Baking Birthday Party

Maryam celebrated a very special 2nd birthday last week and we had a perfect party for our little ray of sunshine. It was a beautiful, albeit hot day and we had the best of times with family and friends. There was love, laughter, lots and lots of baking (both before AND during the party), fun presents, plenty of little grubby hands and of course- cake!

My inspiration for the party was a beautiful cake I saw at Sweetapolita which I have very minimally adapted. The bright yellow was the perfect color for my very own sunshine. And the royal purple suited Papa’s princess to a tee. The day didn’t begin very well with Maryam down with a fever and a sense if deja vu hit me. The very same day last year, as we celebrated her first polka dot themed party, she had a fever too.

But she wasn’t going to let a slight temperature spoil her day. She had a busy day planned for her little friends. We began with cupcake decorating followed by something slightly healthier with fruit skewering. Our healthy intentions didn’t last very long as the fruit skewers were promptly dipped in chocolate. But a party isn’t a party without chocolate, no?

We finished off with a spot of pizza assembling before she cut the cake with a little help from Mummy and Papa. And of course, Dadu and Dadi (her grandparents). The day before, Maryam helped me in the kitchen with lots of cooking and baking for the party. We made juicy beef puff pastry rolls, fluffy pancakes, gourmet beef burgers, Dadi’s samosas and some very special potted plant puddings.

These may look like plants but they’re not really. Maryam is known for being rather cheeky and loved fooling everyone into thinking they were potted plants This is a chocolate pudding recipe from Maryam’s Nani (my Mummy). This is our favorite pudding and we decided to jazz it up for the party to make them look like potted plants. She was feeling rather generous too and so we decided to share the recipe with all our friends as a party favor. Since Maryam knows how messy it can get in the kitchen, she graciously gave everyone an apron to keep them clean. And a spatula as well.

We had such a memorable and fun day. I wrote Maryam a letter as part of her present- a letter to tell her how much I love her, what she means to me, a letter to embarrass her when she’s a teenager but to also remind her what a joy she was as a baby, a letter to thank her for picking me and Akber as her parents and for being our sunshine.


Dearest Little Lamb

It was just two years ago that you came into our lives and I loved you more than anyone the moment I laid my eyes on you. I still remember the first time I saw you. You were a little dot on the ultrasound. And your heart was beating away like the thud of horses hooves running on a track. I have watched you grow from that little dot to a beautiful ‘little lamb.’ We always tease you that now you’re two years old, you’ve become a ‘big lamb.’ But you do know that you’ll always be Mummy’s ‘littlle lamb’ right?

 In these two tears you’ve given us so many moments of joy, there is no way I can write them all down. Every day is a beautiful memory, every time we eat together is a memory, every time we build a tower together is a memory, every time I put you to sleep is a memory, everything you say is a memory. A beautiful memory. A memory to forever be cherished and never to be forgotten. 

I still remember your first word- balloon. ‘Ba, ba’ you squealed as you crawled behind a red balloon that was almost twice your size. I love listening to your baby talk- when you say ‘strawbido’ and cumbala and ‘kabaat’ and ‘bibi’ and ‘dinosauce’. Words that only you and I can understand. And I miss listening to those special words as you’ve grown older and mastered your speech.

And how I can I forget the first time you walked at fourteen months. I felt like you had won the marathon as you walked between two sofas and cheered with excitement as you reached the other end. The bribe we left you on the sofa helped you waddle across. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone.

There are countless first times I can write about- the first time you smiled, the first time you ate real food, the first time you said ‘Mummy’, your first birthday, your first pair of shoes, your first Eid celebration, your first day at school. These firsts will never come back but their memories will forever be etched in my heart, And I know that, Inshalllah, there will be many more firsts to come.

I love you little lamb and thanks for being my sunshine.

All photos in this post are courtesy of Ugly Duckling Photography and the party set up is from me&riley.

Lemon and Blueberry Layer Cake


2 cups + 6 tbs all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon zest
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Centigrade. Grease and flour 2 9 inch round pans. In a bowl, toss the blueberries in 6 tbs of flour. In a separate bowl, sift together the rest of the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, mix together the milk, sour cream, vanilla extract and lemon zest. Using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Stir in the flour mixture on low speed followed by the milk mixture in turns, starting and ending with the flour. Fold in the blueberries and divide the batter evenly between the two pans. Bake in the oven until a tooth pick comes out clean (about 45 mins) and cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely. When completely cool, out it into the freezer for 30 minutes before frosting.

Zesty Lemon Frosting

1 cup butter, room temperature
2 tsp lemon zest
6 cups icing sugar
60 ml fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons whipping cream
2 tbs water
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
yellow gel coloring

Using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer, cream the butter and lemon zest until fluffy. On low speed, gently add the icing sugar. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat on high speed for 3-4 minutes.

Lemony Whipped Cream Filling:

10 tbs whipping cream
3 tbs icing sugar
1 tsp lemon zest.

Whip the cream and sugar on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the lemon zest.

This cake will serve around 20 adults. Cake and frosting very slightly adapted from Sweetapolita.You can find frosting tips and advice there as well.

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