Perfect Party Cake

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After a one year hiatus, I am back into the blogging world.. My world has changed a lot in the  past one year… A new job  ,a handful of very special friends , the many beautiful moments  filled with fun and laughter I spent with them .. and the good byes to a few of them , which is always  the hardest part in a friendship. Though life separates us from our dear ones through distance, they will always hold a special place in our hearts which cannot be erased by  space or time..

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And last year I met a few of my dear friends after a gap of many years.. It was like we had met just the other day. Nothing seemed to change, the fun , the warmth, the special bonding..I have often noticed that food plays an important role during get togethers .. like how my best friend cooked biriyani especially for me  when I went to visit him.. or how my friend had particularly asked me to bake a vanilla cake for her when she would visit me for the first time after 15 yrs.. Food and friendship.. it sure does go hand in hand 🙂

On another note, the stats show that my blog has crossed  200,000 hits.. and this blog post is kind of celebration post too.. and a dedication post.. dedicated to all those wonderful friends, who stood by me during the low phases.. who pushed me to continue blogging when I had totally lost interest in it,  who had more faith in me than I had in myself.. whose motivating words kept me going.. Thank you guys, for being there for me..

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This was the vanilla cake I had made as per my friend’s request. This is a bit sturdy cake , with a slight lemon flavour.  To make it a bit more moist I added used sugar syrup . The recipe is pretty simple, not with many complicated steps. After the cake cooled down, I sliced it into layers and sandwiched with whipped cream, topped it with ganache. I must say this cake is quite a party pleaser. So go ahead and try it out..

PERFECT PARTY CAKE

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE CAKE

(Recipe source- Baking from my home to yours)

  • All purpose flour – 2 cups
  • Cornflour – 4 tbsp
  • Baking powder – 1 tbsp
  • Salt – 1/2 tsp
  • Whole milk or buttermilk – 1 1/4 cup
  • Egg whites – 4 large
  • Sugar – 1 1/2 cups
  • Grated lemon zest – 2 tsp
  • Unsalted butter – 1 stick (113gms)

FOR THE SUGAR SYRUP

  • Sugar – 1 cup
  • Water – 1/4 cup

FOR THE WHIPPING CREAM 

  • Dreamwhip – 2 sachet
  • Cold Milk – 1 cup
  • Vanilla Essence – 1tsp

FOR THE GANACHE

  • Semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces – 8 ounces (227 grams)
  • Heavy whipping cream – 3/4 cup (180 ml)
  • Unsalted butter – 1 tablespoon (14 gram)

METHOD

FOR THE CAKE

  1. Sift together the flour, cornflour, baking powder and salt.
  2. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl
  3. In another bowl, put the sugar and lemon zest in a bowl and rub them together with fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
  4. Add the butter to the sugar and beat with egg beater ,till the butter and sugar are very light
  5. Add one third of the flour mixture, beating at medium speed
  6. Beat in half of the milk egg mixture .
  7. Repeat adding the flour and milk alternately till all the flour and milk is incorporated well.
  8. Pour the batter into the pan . The batter should fill only till 2/3 rd of the pan . Bake at 180 degree for around 30 to 35  minutes .
  9. To test whether the cake is done, insert a tooth pick. If the tooth pick comes out clean ( without any crumbs on it) , then the cake can be taken out of the oven .
  10. Let the cake cool to room temperature .

TO MAKE THE SUGAR SYRUP

Stir the sugar, water and essence in a small saucepan and bring to boil. Simmer till the sugar has dissolved, and cool completely.

TO MAKE THE WHIPPING CREAM

Mix the contents in 2 small sachets of Dreamwhip with 1 cup cold mix and a teaspoon of vanilla essence. Beat on high speed for 5-7 minutes till you get light fluffy peaks. This will give about 4 cups whipped cream.

TO MAKE THE GANACHE 

  1. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized stainless steel, or heatproof bowl. Set aside
  2.  Heat the cream and butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil.
  3. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth.
  4. When Ganache has completely cooled, beat until soft and fluffy. Then spread the frosting on top of the cake.

HOW TO ASSEMBLE

  1. When the cake is cooled, use a long serrated knife and cut off the top to make it straight. Slice the cake horizontally into 2  or  3 equal parts..
  2. Pour one-third of the sugar syrup on the first cake layer .
  3.  Spread the whipping cream over the first layer.
  4. Take the second cake slice on top of the first layer . Pour one third of the sugar syrup and spread the whipped cream.
  5. Repeat the process with the third layer.
  6. Cover the whole cake with whipping cream.
  7. Pour the ganache over the top of the cake and spread it . Spread the ganache to the sides of the cake .

Foodgawker-5 blog

PINATA CAKE

Pinata Cake

As kids’ bdays neared in November  , I asked them what cake would they want me to bake this time…and both of them had the same reply.. They need a cake with lots of M n M s .. like the Kit Kat cake I had baked last year for their birthdays .

That’s when I remembered about the Pinata Cake picture Azna had sent me a a few months back. Hiding M n Ms inside a cake – the boys were surely going to love it !!! 🙂 The  Ultra Moist Chocolate Cake I had posted  before would be the cake in which the M n Ms would hide.

Now a days my  kids want to handle all the cake mixing part.  So I handed the measured ingredients to the birthday boy and he did all the mixing and stirring. But after baking the cake, when the icing part came, I didn’t allow the kids to enter the kitchen ..  couldn’t spoil the surprise element 🙂

I was eager to see  the surprise  on the boys ‘ faces  when the Mn M s fell out, but they were more busy .. Were the birthday boys and friends surprised when the cake was cut ? Well, not exactly.. the friends were more busy smearing the cream over the birthday boys  🙂 But on the plus side, the boys did enjoy the cake.. Yummy and awesome was the verdict from them !!! 🙂

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Pinata Cake

Here’s the method to hide the M n Ms inside the cake… 

Pinata Cake

Divide the cake into 3 equal parts. Keep one layer aside

Pinata Cake

Make a hole in the middle of the first layer using any cookie cutter .  Pour sugar syrup over the layer . Spread whipped cream over the layer.

Now make a hole over the second layer.  Place the second layer over the first layer. Pour sugar syrup over this and spread whipped cream.

Pinata Cake

Place the M nMs into the hole made by the 2 layers. Now place the layer that was kept aside over the 2 layers.  This 3rd layer will hide the M n Ms .

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PINATA CAKE

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE CAKE

  • Powdered sugar – 2 cups
  • All-purpose flour – 1 3/4 cups
  • Cocoa powder – 3/4 cup
  • Baking powder – 1 1/2 teaspoon
  •  Baking soda – 1 1/2 teaspoons
  • Salt – 1 teaspoon
  •  Eggs – 2
  • Milk – 1 cup
  • Vegetable oil – 1/2 cup
  • Vanilla extract – 2 teaspoons
  • Boiling water – 1 cup
  • Whipping cream , for frosting

FOR THE SUGAR SYRUP

  • Sugar – 1/4 cup
  • Water – 1 cup

FOR THE WHIPPING CREAM 

  • Dreamwhip – 3 sachet
  • Cold Milk – 1 1/2 cup
  • Vanilla Essence – 1tsp

METHOD

TO MAKE THE CAKE:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3.  Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed of mixer. Stir in the boiling water last.
  4. Batter will be thin. Pour evenly into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the cake tests done with a toothpick.
  6. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

TO MAKE THE SUGAR SYRUP:

Stir the sugar, water and essence in a small saucepan and bring to boil. Simmer till the sugar has dissolved, and cool completely.

TO MAKE THE WHIPPING CREAM:

Mix the contents in 3 small sachets of Dreamwhip with 1  1/2 cup cold mix and a teaspoon of vanilla essence. Beat on high speed for 5-7 minutes till you get light fluffy peaks. This will give about 5 cups whipped cream.

TO ASSEMBLE

  1. Divide the cake into 3 equal horizontal layers. Keep one layer aside
  2. Make a hole in the middle of the first layer using any cookie cutter .  Pour sugar syrup over the layer . Spread whipped cream over the layer.
  3. Now make a hole over the second layer.  Place the second layer over the first layer. Pour sugar syrup over this and spread whipped cream.
  4. Place the M nMs into the hole made by the 2 layers. Now place the layer that was kept aside over the 2 layers.  This 3rd layer will hide the M n Ms .
  5. Apply a thin layer of frosting over the cake (crumb coat) . Refrigerate for 1-2 hours
  6. Apply a thicker coating of the frosting to get a final smooth finish.

Chocolate Pudding

Chocolate Pudding

This was one pudding that I used to make frequently years back . Later as I got more interested in layered ( or complicated, as my friends would say 🙂 ) , this pudding recipe remained forgotten among the recipe books.  After a long time , made this pudding again last month, when elder son’s friends had come over .  Kids loved it and the pudding disappeared real fast.

This is a fairly easy pudding with few ingredients  – milk, cocoa powder, condensed milk, whipping cream and gelatine. The step by step procedure is given below.

chocolate pudding ingredients

Add 4 tbsp cocoa powder to 1 cup of warm milk in a bowl . Stir well. Double boil this cocoa mixture ( To double boil – Heat a pan filled with water and place the bowl over the pan without touching the water ). Stir till the mixture gets thicker.

chocolote pudding cocoa powder

Remove the bowl when the mixture is thickened. Add 1 cup milk and 1 tin condensed milk.

condensed milk

Soak 2 1/2 tbsp gelatin in 1/2 cup water for 10 minutes. Double boil the gelatin mixture.

gelatine double boil

Add gelatin to the cocoa mixture. Fold in the whipped cream .  Keep the pudding in the freezer for 3/4 hr and then keep in the fridge for 3-4 hrs.

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CHOCOLATE PUDDING

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 15 min
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • Milk – 2 cups
  • Cocoa powder – 4 tbsp
  • Condensed milk –  1 tin
  • Water – 1/2 cup
  • Gelatin – 2  1/2 tbsp
  • Whipped cream – 1  1/2 cup

METHOD

  1. Add 4 tbsp cocoa powder to 1 cup of warm milk in a bowl . Stir well. Double boil this cocoa mixture ( To double boil – Heat a pan filled with water and place the bowl over the pan without touching the water ). Stir till the mixture gets thicker.
  2. Remove the bowl when the mixture is thickened. Add 1 cup milk and 1 tin condensed milk.
  3. Soak 2 1/2 tbsp gelatin in 1/2 cup water for 10 minutes. Double boil the gelatin mixture.
  4. Add gelatin to the cocoa mixture and beat well.
  5. Fold in the whipped cream .  Refrigerate the pudding for 4-5 hrs.

No Bake Dates Cheesecake – for 3 years of blogging and 100,000 hits

Dates Cheesecake

3 years of blogging !!!  I had started this blog  on a whim . A gentle prodding from a couple of friends and relatives .. and I entered into the world of blogging.. It definitely helped me learn new things – be it decorating cakes, baking breads or food photography.  And it has helped me connect with people who share a passion for food .

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There were times when I was not happy with my photography and kept away from posting because of the poor quality of the snaps.  Submitting photos to the food sites, foodgawker and tastespotting , and the photos getting rejected many a time. During those times, my friends and family would keep pushing me. Thanks to all you wonderful people who kept inspiring and encouraging me

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We’ve got one more reason to celebrate – the blog has crossed 1 lakh hits  !! Definintely something sweet , for this double celebration !!   I got this recipe from hubby’s aunt  (Elemma) who is a superb cook. I have been making this dates cheesecake for the last 10 years and it has never failed to get the wow feedback .And it is a fairly easy recipe too .
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It is better to prepare this  about a day in advance so that the flavour of dates is well absorbed by the cheesecake layer . Here is the step by step procedure. You can find the full recipe at the end of the post.

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Heat a pan. Add 2 tbsp of butter . When it melts add 6 tbsp of sugar. Let the sugar caramalise on medium flame. step1

Add the chopped dates to the caramalised sugar . Stir and mix in the dates. Add abt 1/4 cup of water and continue to mix till the water evaporates and you get a soft paste of dates. Spoon the dates paste to the pudding dish or individual glasses

step2

To make the cheesecake layer – Mix 200ml fresh cream and 2 tins of Nestle cream and 2 tbsp sugar .Soak 1 tbsp of gelatin in 5 tbsp of cold water for about 10 minutes. Double boil the gelatin till it is completely dissolved. Add the gelatin to the cream mixture. Add 1 tsp vanilla essence.

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Pour the cream over the dates layer and refrigerate it for 3-4 hours.step4

Beat 1 sachet of dreamwhip powder with 1/2 cup of milk and few drops of vanilla essence using an egg beater for 5-8 minutes. Pour the whipping cream over the cheesecake layer.

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NO BAKE DATES CHEESECAKE

Recipe Source – Elemma

NO BAKE DATES CHEESECAKE

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS

FOR THE DATES LAYER

  • Dates, deseeded and chopped – 400 gm
  • Butter – 2tbsp
  • Sugar – 6 tbsp
  • Water – 1/4 cup

FOR THE CHEESECAKE  LAYER

  • Fresh cream – 200 ml
  • Nestle cream – 2 tins
  • Gelatin – 1 tbsp
  • Sugar – 2 tbsp
  • Vanilla essence – 1 tsp

FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM LAYER

  • Dreamwhip  – 1 sachet
  • Milk – 1/2 cup
  • Vanilla essence – 1 tsp

METHOD

FOR THE DATES LAYER

  1. Heat a pan. Add 2 tbsp of butter .
  2. When it melts add 6 tbsp of sugar. Let the sugar caramalise on medium flame.
  3. Add the chopped dates to the caramalised sugar . Stir and mix in the dates.
  4.  Add about 1/4 cup of water and continue to mix till the water evaporates and you get a soft paste of dates.
  5. Spoon the dates paste to the pudding dish or individual glasses

FOR THE CHEESECAKE LAYER

  1. Mix 200ml fresh cream and 2 tins of Nestle cream and 2 tbsp sugar .
  2. Soak 1 tbsp of gelatin in 5 tbsp of cold water for about 10 minutes.
  3. Double boil the gelatin till it is completely dissolved.
  4. Add the gelatin to the cream mixture. Add 1 tsp vanilla essence.
  5. Pour the cream over the dates layer and refrigerate it for 3-4 hours.

FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM LAYER

  1. Beat 1 sachet of dreamwhip powder with 1/2 cup of milk and few drops of vanilla essence using an egg beater for 5-8 minutes.
  2. Pour the whipping cream over the cheesecake layer and refrigerate for 2 hours

Note:  The cheesecake tastes best the next day, as it gives enough time for the dates flavour to be well absorbed by the cheesecake layer.

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No Bake Strawberry Ripple Cheesecake

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My first cheesecake post !!  I have tried a few no bake cheesecakes in the past, but they were all too ‘cheesy’ for me..  after the few failed attempts I had not ventured in to cheesecakes for sometime..

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Recently as I was skipping through one of the new cookbooks I bought, came across this cheesecake recipe.. Actually it was the snap that caught my attention, all pink and heart shaped !! And  the recipe didn’t have loads of cheese . One of my favourite puddings is the one with yogurt and cream. This cheesecake recipe had both these along with the cheese.. So this was something that would be suitable for my taste palettes !!

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The original recipe calls for raspberry.. but as strawberries are in season, I thought of trying those.. And while browsing through the foodgawker site, came across this beautiful heart shaped swirl patterns at Tracy’s culinary adventures ..  I love these swirls, don’t you??

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NO BAKE STRAWBERRY RIPPLE CHEESECAKE

[ RECIPE SOURCE – ADAPTED FROM COMPLETE BOOK OF DESSERTS, GOOD HOUSEKEEPING ]

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE BASE

  • Chocolate bisuit crushed – 225gm ( I used Good day biscuits)
  • Butter (at room temperature) – 100 gm

FOR THE FILLING

  • Strawberry puree (sieved) – 1/2 cup + 3 tbsp for the swirl design
  • Yogurt – 300 ml
  • Low fat soft cheese – 150gm (I used Puck cream cheese)
  • Gelatine – 1 tbsp
  • Whipping cream – 2 cups
  • Icing sugar – 100gm
  • Mint leaves – to decorate

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METHOD

Grease a spring release cake tin

For the base

  1. Mix the crushed biscuits and butter .
  2. Spoon the mixture into the base of the cake tin .
  3. Chill while making the filling

For the filling

  1. Mix the yogurt, cheese and strawberry puree in a blender.
  2. Sprinkle the gelatine over 2 tbsp pf water in a small bowl and leave to soak for 2-3 minutes.  Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until dissolved.Leave to cool for 2 minutes and add to the cheese mixture .
  3. Fold the whipping cream into the cheese mixture with a spoon.
  4. Pour the cheese mixture over the biscuit base.

For the swirl pattern

Spoon in the puree into a piping or sandwich bag with a small hole at the tip . Pipe in small circles on the cheesecake in a swirl pattern.  Run a toothpick , beginning from the outer circle through each dot all the way to the center , without lifting the toothpick . Or you can just put in random dots all over and swirl them with the toothpick.

Refrigerate the cheesecake for 5-6 hours… Decorate with mint leaves and serve .

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Mango Layer Pudding

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I love puddings… and I love to cook them too… Actually I am always on the look out for new pudding recipes, it’s kind of my weakness 🙂 …During one vacation in Kerala , while I was searching recipe books for pudding recipes , Zareena (my sister in law) said that she has got  a new recipe from her friend – it is a five layer pudding.. Five layers? Now I got really excited. So  Zareena and I got to work and made the pudding, both of us really eager to see how the layers would turn out. While we were whipping it out, my brothers would peep in asking “Is it ready now?” … And finally the pudding was in the fridge. Now my brothers got really impatient, asking every now and then “Why is it taking so long?”  The result – we had to take the pudding out before it was fully set.  We never got to see the layers 🙂  Back in Abu Dhabi , I tried the pudding again and called up Zareena to say that this time I did see the five layers 🙂

I  made this pudding recently at a get together and it got awesome responses.. So check out the recipe and try it out..


Recipe Source – Zareena

INGREDIENTS

For the first layer (Biscuit Layer)

  • Marie Biscuit – 100gm
  • Butter (unsalted)- 50 gm
  • Sugar – 1tbsp

For the second layer (Butterscotch Layer)

  • Caramalised sugar – 2 tbsp
  • Butter  (unsalted) – 50gm
  • Sugar – 25 gm
  • Condensed milk – 1/2 tin

For the 3rd layer (China grass Layer)

  • China grass (Agar Agar)- 5gm
  • Water -3/4  cup
  • Condensed Milk – 1/2 tin
  • Sugar – 1tbsp
  • Milk – 3/4 tin( measured in the condensed milk tin)
  • Vanilla essence – 1 tsp

For the fourth layer (Mango Layer)

  • Mango – 2
  • Sugar – 1/2 cup
  • Water – 1/4 cup

For the fifth layer (China grass Layer again)

  • China grass(Agar Agar) – 5gm
  • Water -3/4  cup
  • Condensed Milk – 1/2 tin
  • Sugar – 1tbsp
  • Milk – 3/4 tin( measured in the condensed milk tin)
  • Vanilla essence – 1 tsp

PREPARATION

For the first layer (Biscuit Layer)

  • Crush the Marie biscuits . Mix the butter and sugar to make a dough. Spread this on a greased tin.Keep it in the fridge to set for atleast half an hour.

For the second layer (Butterscotch Layer)

  • Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan and boil for 5 minutes. You will get a thick caramel flavoured mixture. When it cools down a bit, pour it over the biscuit layer.Keep the pudding back into the fridge.

For the third layer (China grass Layer)

  1. Soak the china grass in water for 30 minutes. In a saucepan , boil the china grass with water till you get a clear liquid. Remove from fire and sieve.
  2. Boil the milk, condensed milk and sugar. Take it off the fire.
  3. When both the china grass mixture and condensed milk mixture are of the same temperature, mix the two .
  4. Return this mixture to the stove and heat on medium flame stirring continuously. Stir for around 5 minutes till the mixture thickens.
  5. Remove from fire, add the vanilla essence. When it has slightly cooled down, pour it over the butterscotch layer.
  6. Keep it back in fridge to set.

For the fourth layer (Mango Layer)

  • Puree the mangoes with the sugar  in a blender. It should be of a thick consistency. Add water as required and blend once more. When the china grass layer is set, pour the mango mixture over it. Keep back to refrigerate.

For the Fifth Layer (China Grass Layer)

  • Repeat the process as in the third layer. Pour the cooled mixture slowly over the mango layer. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours

That’s it.. You can top the pudding with whipping cream or pralines.(That will make it a six layer pudding 🙂 )


Sending this to Bookmarked Recipes- Every Tuesday hosted by Aipi and Priya

and to Kerala Kitchen hosted by Magpie’s Recipes

Bread Pudding

As summer is nearing, its time for cold puddings 🙂 … This is an easy and simple pudding, actually one of my first attempts which was successful . The plus factor is that preparation time is less than  fifteen minutes..All you need is bread slices,milk, cream, condensed milk and pistachios or nuts of your choice.  This pudding is made in 3 layers and you have to use a rectangular tray for arranging the bread slices. So here goes the recipe…


Ingredients

  • Bread slices – 20
  • Milk – 1 ½ cups
  • Condensed Milk – 1 tin
  • Whipped Cream – 2 cups
  • Chopped Pistachios – ½ cup
  • Vanilla essence – 1tsp

Method

  1. Mix the milk , condensed milk and vanilla essence.
  2. Trim the edges of the bread slices and cut them into half .
  3. Dip the bread slices into the milk and lay them on a rectangular tray. Continue this till you have made one layer.
  4. Take about one third of the cream and spread  it over the bread slices.
  5. Spread some chopped pistachios over the cream.
  6. Top this layer using bread slices dipped in the milk mixture, followed by cream and pista.
  7. Repeat once more so that finally you have 3 layers.
  8. Chill for a few hours and serve

Note : If the milk mixture is remaining pour it on top of the bread slices and then spread the cream .