Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Food...and baking...and food...

Evening all! Now after a promise to try and be a bit more regular in my blogging, I appear to have failed miserably! I do have an excuse that comes in the form of the horrific Research Project 1 that forms part of my course this year; every time I sit down in front of my laptop I feel that I really ought to be tackling it! As well as this, I have been trying (and failing) to revise and most of my weekends have been spent baking, watching rugby and eating too many biscuits! Anyway I really ought to be revising right now but I can’t quite face it so I thought I’d give all you lovelies a bit of an update.

Now as I mentioned, I’ve been doing a lot of cooking and I want to share some of the recipes. The first thing I baked was my first attempt at Irish soda bread. I used a James Martin recipe from the BBC website but as I actually took photos, I want to have a go at writing it out…blog style! I’ll pop the recipe at the bottom but in order to tempt you to carry on reading here’s a picture of the finished product. It was demolished by the end of the evening and literally the best thing ever eaten with butter whilst still warm from the Aga!


I also tried a couple of wonderful Joy the Baker recipes including Lemon, Lime and Thyme biscuits (which can be found in her recipe book) and her Vanilla Almond Orange Cloud Cookies (  I managed to not take any photos really which was a shame but I can recommend both recipes as producing really scrummy biscuits! I did however, have a slight problem with the “Cloud Cookies” which I think was down to the differences between English and American products; the recipe called for almond paste which appeared to be very similar to marzipan according to the wonderful worldwide web. Up to the point before eggs were added it was fine but afterwards the mix became very runny and would not thicken leading to very flat, sticky biscuits. I, being a slight perfectionist, was most unhappy with their appearance but they did taste lovely! Next time I’m going to try fewer eggs, whipped to a tougher consistency, maybe some flour or failing that, make flat biscuits but stick them together with whipped cream! I also found a brilliant recipe for Victoria Sponge by the Hairy Bikers on the BBC website ( which made a lovely moist, dense but somehow still light creation (word of warning: do not put cream and jam in the middle while cake is still hot….does not work out well…). The batter was really thick so I added a drop of milk to thin it out but I’m not sure it was necessary!
Such thick batter!
This is when the best bit of baking occurs...hell yeah I still lick the bowl!

Cake looks good...but you can also see why whipped cream and warm cake don't mix :(
I suppose I ought to stop going about food but just before I do I have a website to recommend…

Right, must stop talking about food (well until I write out my lovely bread recipe!). What else is there that I can discuss? The rugby is obviously fantastic at the moment although I’m getting increasingly nervous for the match on Saturday….Come On England!! Please win the Grand Slam! I feel that at some point I will have to do a women’s guide to rugby; a way to entice the uninitiated into this fantastic sport. Despite growing up with rugby fanatics, I still don’t understand most of the rules or know any of the positions (apart from hooker of course), but I feel that ladies will always appreciate a game with good looking chaps in shorts that must be watched with an alcoholic beverage preferably in the freezing cold whilst wearing a rugby shirt. Such fun!

Chaucer likes rugby!
I’ve just seen how long this post is! Apologies mes amis for this; I’ll stop rambling and just write this recipe and leave you in peace. Once hols start and the dreaded project is complete I shall try to write a proper, non-food obsessed post!

Recipe for Irish Soda Bread (adapted from
  • 170g/6oz wholemeal flour
  • 170g/6oz self-raising plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 290ml/½ pint buttermilk (I’d maybe have a bit extra on hand/ some normal milk and I found the dough I ended up was a little dryer than I could handle!)

Now according to this recipe you have to set the oven to 400F/200C/Gas 6…if it’s an Aga do what I do and ignore this and just accept that you’ll have to keep a closer eye on it!
Of course this is how I always dress when cooking (actually it was Christmas two years ago..)

Tip the flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir. 
Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk, mixing quickly with a fork to form a soft dough. This is when I found I had to add extra buttermilk but you may end up having to add extra flour instead! 

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly. I love this bit because I feel like I’m making proper bread….

Form into a round and flatten the dough slightly before placing on a lightly floured baking sheet.

Cut a cross on the top and bake for about 30 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. It’s recommended you then cool it on a baking rack…however if I were you I’d cut a slice immediately and eat it with lashings of butter. Then cut another slice. Then wrap it in a tea towel so you can have another warm slice later. And don’t tell anyone else you’ve made it…cos they will eat it all! 

  Oh..then wash up.

I’ve also just realised it’s St Paddy’s Day on Sunday so this is the perfect recipe to celebrate, complete with Guinness and lots of potatoes!

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