Rosemary and Cayenne Soda Bread

Rosemary and Cayenne Soda Bread

Week 3 of Great British Bake Off 2015 was ‘Bread Week’ with the contestants starting off with a Soda Bread, before moving onto the technical baguette and then the more elaborate show-stoppers!

Rosemary and Cayenne Soda Bread

Rosemary and Cayenne Soda Bread

So naturally I started off with the easiest option of soda bread. Not a bred I’ve made before so I turned to my trusty ‘bread book’ Short and Sweet by Dan Lepard for inspiration. This cook book doesn’t have a huge amount of photos but more than makes up for this with tonnes of recipes! I once saw Dan Lepard showcasing his bread making techniques at a food festival so have admired his bread making since. An Aussie version of Paul Hollywood!

The basis of this recipe is Dan Lepard’s ‘Breakfast Soda Breads‘ which recommends putting together the ‘dry’ ingredients and storing them for when you want to bake up some fresh rolls. Not a bad idea since I often struggle to eat bread before it starts to go stale. However this time I wanted to bake a whole loaf so I used the same basic recipe but added used some rosemary from my kitchen garden, then threw in some cayenne and chilli flakes for a bit of a kick! I also topped the loaf with some sunflowers seeds because they were closer than the rolled oats.

The great thing about baking this soda bread is that there is no kneading and proofing involved, so it’s really a quick bread!

For ease of reference, I’ve copied the recipe below:

For the dry mix

  • 450g wholemeal flour
  • 3 level tsp baking powder
  • ½-¾ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp muscovado sugar

For every 75g of dry mix (per bread roll)

  • 50-75ml cold whole milk (390ml in total)
  • 30ml plain yoghurt (180g in totol)
  • 15cm square of baking paper
  • Rolled oats, to finish (Or any seeds you have to hand)
  • Extra flavours- 3 sprigs Rosemary (finely chopped), 1 tsp Chilli Flakes, 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper


  • Sift the dry ingredients together, so the baking powder and salt are evenly mixed. Add any herbs and spices you want at this point.
  • Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan-assisted)/400F/gas mark 6.
  • Stir the required quantity of milk and yoghurt into your dry mix.
  • Position squares of baking paper over each pocket of a muffin tray, then spoon about 150g into the centre of each. Gently press the mixture and paper down into the pocket.
  • Sprinkle a few rolled oats (or seeds) over the soda breads and bake for 25 minutes, until puffed and brown. Serve warm. If baking one large loaf, then bake for 50-60 minutes or until done.

I baked this loaf twice as the first time it was slightly under-baked in the middle, as I didn’t slash the loaf in the middle. The second time I baked it I added some extra rosemary and reduced the amount of salt but felt that the flavour of the first loaf was better. I think I’ll try other soda bread recipes to see how they compare!

Rosemary and Cayenne Soda Bread

Rosemary and Cayenne Soda Bread

In another ‘Short and Sweet’ recipe for ‘Ale House Rolls’ he suggests part baking the rolls before freezing them then baking them from frozen for 10-12 minutes when required. I like this idea and reckon it would work with any breads! Worth a try…

Looking forward to week 4 of Great British Bake Off 2015! 🙂

Salted Butterscotch and Almond Shortbread Biscuits

Salted Butterscotch and Almond Shortbread Biscuits

The Great British Bake Off is bake on British TV and, like thousands of others, it has reinvigorated my interest in baking! My sister and her colleagues have decided to each choose a week to bake some goodies and take them along to the office to share. The idea is that they bake something that was on the programme that episode. However I’ve made it easier on myself and just stuck to the theme. The idea is to challenge myself to bake a new recipe or come up with a new idea.

This week was biscuit week (week 2)! There was lots of shortbread being made, so this inspired my first attempt at these ‘Salted Butterscotch and Almond Shortbread Biscuits’.

You may be wondering why I’m starting with week 2, and what happened to week 1! Well I’ve started late so I’m kind of cheating and counting a previous bake (from 4 months ago!) as my week 1 contribution: Black Forest Cake.

I’m also on Twitter @wangsamsin so feel free to follow my progress!

Shortbread Ingredients: (Original recipe from Tesco website)

  • 125g butter
  • 55g Caster sguar
  • 150g Plain flour
  • 50g Ground almonds
Salted Butterscotch Sauce

Salted Butterscotch Sauce

Salted Butterscotch Ingredients:

  • 125ml double cream
  • 30g butter
  • 4 tablespoons demerara sugar
  • 2 tsp sea salt

Butterscotch Method:

  • In a small pan, bring cream to the boil and stir in butter.
  • Turn down the heat to low then the sugar, stirring until the butterscotch becomes smooth.
  • Add the sea salt and mix thoroughly
  • Allow to cool to room temperature so it becomes spreadable but not too thick (if it thickens too much then re-heat to loosen)
  • Left-overs can be stored in a sterilised jar in the fridge for up to a month. Use as a sauce for ice cream or pancakes!
Salted Butterscotch and Almond Shortbread Biscuits

Salted Butterscotch and Almond Shortbread Biscuits

Almond Shortbread Method: (I made two batches for these double layered biscuits)

  • Heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Beat the butter and the sugar together until smooth with an electric mixer.
  • Stir in the flour and almond to get a smooth paste. Turn on to a work surface and gently roll out until the paste is 1/2 cm thick. For the second batch, I cut a small hole in the centre of each biscuit to allow the butterscotch filling to show through.
  • Cut into shapes, place onto a baking tray.
  • Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until pale golden-brown. Set aside to cool on a wire rack. Make sure you bake the ‘holes’ too as they make really cute mini-shortbreads!

To Assemble:

  • Think of a ‘Jammy Dodger’ and you’ll not go wrong!
  • Using the plain biscuit as the bottom layer, spread a layer of butterscotch filling on it then ‘sandwich’ it with a top layer that has a hole in it. Simple!
  • Decorate with some extra sea salt flakes to give a hint of what’s inside…
Salted Butterscotch and Almond Shortbread Biscuits

Salted Butterscotch and Almond Shortbread Biscuits

Courgette and Lemon Loaf

Courgette and Lemon Loaf

Courgette and Lemon Loaf 

This bit of baking was inspired by my glut of, rather oddly shaped, courgettes in my tiny little veg garden. Having sewn the seeds and transplanted the seedlings before I headed out of the country for a few months, I was amazed that so many of them survived! Thankfully my house-mates did as promised and watered the plants as often as they could. After a couple of hours of tidying up and weeding I managed to get my little kitchen garden back on track.

As a dedicated cake fan and a member of the Clandestine Cake Club I went about setting up a cake club in Yangon, and to my delight I found a lot of other cake-eating friends wanted to join in too! For the second event we had twinned with my original cake club, CCC Manchester Central, and held a joint event. For this event I made a ‘Courgette and Lime’ cake which turned out quite good considering I hadn’t made it before!

So with some lemons in the fridge and a couple of huge home grown courgettes, I set about making a cake destined for the bellies of some family members who are currently visiting from Hong Kong (the motherland!). What better way to welcome people than with a home baked cake?


  • 1 large courgette, grated and with as much liquid squeezed out as possible (I ended up with 240g)
  • zest of two lemons
  • 160g sugar
  • 200g plain flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 140g butter, softened
  • Juice of the two zested lemons (for the syrup)
  • 2 tbs icing sugar (for the syrup)

(n.b. The recipes is based on a pound cake one with some amendments. I’d say I had slightly too much courgette and I reduced the usual amount of sugar and butter since Chinese people generally don’t like very sweet and buttery cakes)

Ready to go into the oven

Ready to go into the oven


  • Use an electric beater to whisk the eggs and sugar to ‘ribbon stage’ to get as much air in as possible to get a better rise in the cake. Then whisk in the softened butter at the last minute trying not to undo all your hard work in getting the bubbles in…
  • Mix the courgette, baking powder, flour and lemon zest all together
  • Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients
  • Pour the batter into a lined 2lb loaf tin and bake at 160 degrees C for about 50-60 minutes (or once a skewer stabbed through the cake comes out clean). Check it at 45 minutes just in case you have a super duper efficient oven!
  • Allow the cake to cool in the tin for a few minutes, in the mean time make the lemon syrup by thoroughly mixing the icing sugar and lemon juice.
  • Use your skewer to poke wholes all over the cake and slowly drizzle the lemon syrup all over, trying to get as much into the holes as possible. Leave the cake in the tin until it is fully cool.
Courgette and Lemon Loaf

Courgette and Lemon Loaf

As I didn’t want to waste the second courgette I decided to chop it up for my lunch. One vegetable (or is it a fruit because it has seeds?!) and two completely different recipes!

Courgette and Tomato Wholewheat Spaghetti

Courgette and Tomato Wholewheat Spaghetti

Culture of Waste: Skipchen response to French supermarket law

An interesting take on the food waste debate. I’ve seen much of the ‘donated’ foods going into bins after supermarkets have donated them due to these charities lacking correct storage facilities or because the food was already going mouldy… Surely reducing the amount of waste to begin with is a better solution?

Culture of Waste: Skipchen response to French supermarket ban on food waste.

In May France made headline news for taking the lead in the battle against food waste.

The legislation bans supermarkets over 1000 m2 from deliberately spoiling unsold edible food with chemicals and bans any edible food from going to landfill.

Instead, unsold edible food must be donated to local charities and redirected back into the human food chain or composted, fed to pigs or anaerobically digested to produce biogas.

The new law has been celebrated by many as an historic turning point in the fight against global food waste.

In a similar move, Tesco announced in June that they are trialling a scheme where charities can pick up unsold edible food for ‘free’ using an app.

However, we feel it is important to look beyond the click bait headlines and ask some important questions.

Does the legislation address…

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