I had a hectic couple of days last weekend which included a fair bit of baking so thought I’d share what I’d been up to.
On Saturday night I was going to my uncle’s 60th birthday and didn’t want to turn up empty handed. A birthday cake had already been arranged so I thought I’d do something a little different. I was flicking through Lilly Higgins’ Make, Bake, Love and came across a recipe for Honey Cake. Thankfully I had most of the ingredients already and it’s easy to make. If you don’t have the book it’s well worth getting, it’s a lovely collection of recipes and pictures and well written. I was a little rushed for time so the pics aren’t great but it’s a nice, simple tasting cake that would go great with a cup of tea.
Man Date Alert! I had invited a friend up from work on Sunday and I woke up late (slightly hungover) to missed calls, texts and facebook messages from him wondering if I was cancelling on him. “I’m up, I’m up, come on over”. I’d encouraged him to come up for an afternoon emersed in two of my passions – rugby and food. My friend, Kev, is a Yank from Virginia and knows next to nothing about rugby; I go on about it non-stop in work and wanted him to catch the bug. Kev and I sit next to each other in work so he’s also the front line taster for nearly everything I bake and was keen for me “teach” him a thing or two.
I showed Kev how to make pizza from scratch as I whipped up sauce and dough, followed by buttermilk pancakes and icecream. We also enjoyed the rugby as well, Ireland beat England 100-0 in a classic game that was error free and full of beautiful rugby…(seriously, it was so bad Kev may never watch a game again!)
Pizza (dough recipe from Jamie Oliver http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/uncategorised-recipes/pizza-dough)
Buttermilk pancakes following the recipe from Kitchen Complements with a couple of tablespoons of cocoa added to half the mix and a side of Honeycomb icecream. (Pancake recipe: http://www.kitchencomplements.ie/kc/main/recipe.asp?iRecipeID=33)
It really had been an afternoon of Man vs Food but Sunday night was upon me again and one of the things I’m trying to practise at the moment is making bread. I’ve resolved to stop buying the bread for my lunch every week and this week I made a soda bread this which is adapted somewhat from my Mum’s recipe: 250g Strong White and 250g of Strong Wholemeal bread flour, 1tsp bicarb of soda, 1tsp salt, 1tsp sugar mixed together with 60g of margarine rubbed in and 350ml of buttermilk added at the end (which I had left after the pancakes).
I love making soda bread, it’s so easy and involves no proving time. Traditional recipes wouldn’t call for strong bread flour or use as high a proportion of buttermilk to flour. I find using the bread flour allows a thinner slice and the loaf doesn’t crumble as much as a plain flour recipe. This dough is also very moist so won’t form as free-standing loaf; I always use loaf tins but I find the more buttermilk in the mix the longer the bread keeps.
Soda bread also freezes really well and I always cover mine in a teatowel when finished to soften the crust 🙂
This week I decided to add in spring onions and cheddar to mix things up a bit. I added a standard bunch of spring onion, finely chopped and 70g of cheddar, gratted as fine as my gratter went. If I’m adding cheddar again I’m either going to add more or pick a stronger cheddar as the flavour didn’t come through the soda and onion that well. It was very nice though and I ate it during the week with some butter and a slice of ham.
I’ve planned to do more soda bread experimenting this afternoon, I’m going to try a black and white pudding loaf and a pesto loaf (really not sure about the pesto but I’ve a jar in my fridge!). I’m also going to make my first attempt at bagels and I’ll hopefully be posting about all of them during the week ahead. Before I do any of that I have to go out for a worryingly long run. I’ve made a Lent resolution to run a total of 26 miles a week to improve my fitness and get back in to running. I’ve not started very well and somehow need to get at least 10 miles done today…oh dear!