This I dedicate to Dorothee who now makes her own bread in Chelsea! And loves it. Go girl!
I have been making soda bread for a while but this is definitely the easiest and most delicious recipe: we can’t get enough of it here! Hope you enjoy it as much!
Plain flour 400g
Salt 1 level tsp
Bicarbonate of soda 1 level tsp
Sieve the flour, salt and bicarbonate into a bowl.
Stir the buttermilk in to make a soft but not too sticky dough- Doro, you can use your Thermomix!
Turn it onto a floured surface and knead it lightly. Roll it around in flour if too sticky. Keep it light.
Shape the dough in a ball and make incisions with a knife.
Bake at 200° for 30 min until golden and springy.
Eat warm with cheese and butter!
This loaf will not keep well but is delicious straight away so don’t hold back…
This is borrowed from a Scottish recipe book lent by my sister-in-law Liz who knows a thing or two about providing and sharing: A feast of Scotland by Janet Warren- one of those old fashioned numbers you can never tire of…
>I couldn’t live without…
….Bicarbonate of soda !
Bicarbonate of soda is one of the best and safest substances to use around the house. It breaks down easily and harmlessly in the environment plus it is cheaper than anything it might replace. Here are some of the things you can do with it:
- Sprinkle bicarbonate into a burnt saucepan and fill with some water. The next day the burnt bits should have lifted off.
- Scrub your sink with a bicarbonate and water paste to leave it gleaming.
- Make a paste with it to whiten your teeth. After all, this is the base ingredient in most whitening toothpaste.
- Clean and deodorise your fridge with it then leave an eggcup-full inside the fridge to get rid of stubborn smells.
- Sprinkle inside trainers to make them smell sweeter overnight – works even on the most revolting teen trainers! Just shake them in the morning…
- A spoonful of bicarbonate into the cooking water helps garden peas or vegetables keep their bright green colour.
- Scrub your wooden chopping boards with a mixture of bicarbonate and vinegar : the board will fizz furiously but once the bubbles subside, brush clean and rinse.
- Use to clean tea bag stains or ink from newspapers off any worktops.
- Use a pinch of it in your egg whites to get them to stiffen quicker when whipped.
- Use as raising agent in bread and baking (soda bread to scones!)
Shall I go on any longer?! Or are you now convinced -as I am- that this is probably the only chemical substance you will ever need to use in your house ?!!
>Nigella’s chocolate cake
Nigella Lawson has this recipe in her yummy mummy book “How to be a domestic goddess”- love the title!- and I have adored this since I started making it because it is both light and strong and does not give you an overdose feeling when you eat lots of it!
To emphasize the strength and lightness of the mix, I make it with twice as much chocolate and a third less butter than the original but I particularly love the tangy taste left by the use of bicarbonate. It reminds me of a moist gingerbread…
Muscovado sugar 260g
Vanilla extract 1tsp
Dark chocolate 200g
Bicarbonate of soda
Boiling water 250ml
Pre-heat the oven to 190° C and line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper. This cake mix will be very runny so this is pretty essential.
Cream the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon then add the beaten eggs and vanilla. Melt the chocolate with a spoonful of water and add it to the mix. Measure the flour with the bicarbonate and add it in batches to the mix with the boiling water until you have them all well combined.
Pour into the tin then bake at 190° for 30 minutes. Turn down the oven to 170 °and bake for another 15mn.
Remove when the cake has raised but is still squidgy inside. It keeps well and like gingerbread is lovely the next day with a cup of tea – while the kids will be running around looking for their eggs under the wet bushes…
>Manille’s melt-in-the-mouth chocolate cake
Eggs 6 (whites whisked separately)
Vanilla sugar 2 paquets
Dark chocolate 200g ( no less than 70% cocoa)
Pinch of bicarbonate
One spoonful of cornflour (optional)
One thimble of good dark rum
One very important point when baking is to take all the ingredients out of the fridge at least 30mn beforehand.
When ready to bake, set your oven to 180 degrees. Melt the chocolate and butter on low heat then set aside. In a large bowl, vigorously beat the yolks with the sugar and the vanilla sugar until the mix turns paler and fluffier. Vanilla sugar is sold in small individual portions in France and is an ingredient I have always seen my grand mother make an ample use of! But it can easily be homemade by putting a split vanilla bean into a jar of caster sugar and forgetting it for a little while in your cupboard.
Now whisk the egg whites with a tiny pinch of bicarbonate. At that point I add a thimble of dark rum so the eggs are flavoured and increase in volume due to the added liquid! According to scientist Hervé This you can make up to one cubic metre of snow with one single egg white! But don’t attempt this now… Click and see the video later if you want to know more! Science is amazing when taught like this: I could even see some poetry in chemistry…
Mix the chocolate and the yolk mixture, add the cornflour (not in the original but I find it a good addition), then gently fold in the whites until you have a light, blended mix.
Pour into a deep, lined cake tin and into the oven for 30mn. The cake is ready when the first cracks form on the surface. Do not overcook it – this is truly scrumptious when still moist and creamy inside.
I shared a bite of this cake yesterday with a few good friends and with a second thimble of rum before heading home in the rain! My thank yous to everybody who came.