How to make a Sourdough Starter

Intro to Sourdough Starter What is the point of a sourdough starter? Sourdough starter is a culture of ‘wild’ bacteria and yeasts which are grown on a mixture of flour & water. They digest the nutrients in the flour by fermentation, pro…

Intro to Sourdough Starter What is the point of a sourdough starter? Sourdough starter is a culture of ‘wild’ bacteria and yeasts which are grown on a mixture of flour & water. They digest the nutrients in the flour by fermentation, producing by-products such as lactic acid, acetic acid and carbon dioxide. The acid produced …

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How to make self-raising flour – Baking Basics

Self-raising flour (a.k.a. self-rising flour in the US) is a common ingredient in English baking recipes, typically used for scones, pancakes and Victoria sponge cakes. It is simply a pre-mixed combination of raising agents and flour so that you don’t need to add baking powder or bicarbonate of soda to your recipe. Here I’ve provided an alternative to shop-bought self-raising flour which you can make using 2 simple ingredients: plain flour and baking powder How much baking powder do you need to make 100g self-raising flour? The ratio for self-raising flour is that for every 75g plain white flour you must add 1 tsp (4g) baking powder. As 1 tsp of baking powder = 4g, mixing it into 75g of flour gives you 79g of ‘self-raising flour’. This can make calculating quantities for your recipe a bit tricky so, to make things simpler for your conversions, I’ve calculated that to make 100g of self-raising flour you must combine 95g plain white flour and 1 ¼ tsp (5g) baking powder Shop-bought self-raising flour vs. DIY self-raising flour I tested a small batch of a standard Victoria sponge cake recipe using my homemade replacement flour mix vs. shop bought. I used all […]

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A bowl with homemade self-raising flour substitute, a sieve, some baking powder in a jar and a tub of plain flour

Self-raising flour (a.k.a. self-rising flour in the US) is a common ingredient in English baking recipes, typically used for scones, pancakes and Victoria sponge cakes. It is simply a pre-mixed combination of raising agents and flour so that you don’t need to add baking powder or bicarbonate of soda to your recipe.

Here I’ve provided an alternative to shop-bought self-raising flour which you can make using 2 simple ingredients: plain flour and baking powder

How to make self-raising flour

How to make self-raising flour

Yield: 100 g
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

How to make DIY self-raising flour from baking powder and plain white flour.

Ingredients

To make 100g self-raising flour

  • 95 g plain white flour (all-purpose flour)
  • 1 ¼ tsp (5g) baking powder

OR To make 1 cup (US) self-raising flour:

  • 116 g (1 cup minus 1 ½ tsp) plain white flour (all-purpose flour)
  • 1 ½ tsp (6g) baking powder

Instructions

  1. Place the flour into a metal sieve (strainer) set over a bowl. Add the baking powder on top and sift both together into the bowl.

Notes

  • Make sure you're using level teaspoons
  • 1 tsp = 5ml

If using volume measurements for the flour, use the spoon & sweep method to measure: fluff up the flour first, spoon flour into the cup until it is above the rim then and sweep the excess away with the back of a knife. Do not tap/shake the cup nor press the flour into the cup.

How much baking powder do you need to make 100g self-raising flour?

The ratio for self-raising flour is that for every 75g plain white flour you must add 1 tsp (4g) baking powder.

As 1 tsp of baking powder = 4g, mixing it into 75g of flour gives you 79g of ‘self-raising flour’. This can make calculating quantities for your recipe a bit tricky so, to make things simpler for your conversions, I’ve calculated that to make 100g of self-raising flour you must combine 95g plain white flour and 1 ¼ tsp (5g) baking powder

Shop-bought self-raising flour vs. DIY self-raising flour

Cross sections of two small cakes using homemade self-raising flour and shop-bought self-raising flour
LEFT: cake made with DIY self-raising flour. RIGHT: cake made with shop-bought self-raising flour

I tested a small batch of a standard Victoria sponge cake recipe using my homemade replacement flour mix vs. shop bought. I used all the same ingredients (apart from the flour, of course) and baked the mini cakes in the same oven at the same time. You can see that they look pretty similar in rise, crumb structure and colour. There was no difference in flavour either.

Why use self-raising flour?

  • The advantage of it is that if you bake infrequently, you won’t need to buy raising agents separately so you can save some money and some cupboard space. The flour and raising agents are also pre-mixed for you so you don’t have to worry about the raising agent incorporating properly into your other dry ingredients.
  • The disadvantage is that you don’t have the same level of control over the rise of your bakes as self-raising flour has a standardised level of ‘rise’ it produces. Because of this, you can only use self-raising flour in recipes which specifically call for its use. I usually don’t bake with self-raising flour as it takes up too much room in my pantry so I prefer to just have plain flour (which is more versatile than self-raising) and baking powder to hand and mix up a DIY self-raising flour when needed.

What is in self-raising flour?

Typically in the UK, self-raising flour contains plain white flour (usually with a low protein content i.e. ‘soft wheat’) with chemical raising agents mixed in. In most cases, the raising agents used are a mixture of monocalcium-phosphate (an acid) with sodium bicarbonate (an alkali) which will react together in a neutralisation reaction in the presence of liquid, producing carbon dioxide gas. This gas is what produces the bubbles needed to make cakes and biscuits rise.

What happens if I use plain flour instead of self-raising?

If a recipe calls for self-raising flour it is doing so because it is relying on the raising agents in that flour to make the baked good ‘rise’. If you use plain flour instead and don’t add any raising agents you will most likely end up with a very flat, dense bake! However, if you add baking powder to your flour in the proportions given above you won’t have that issue.

What is self-raising flour used for?

Mainly sweet baking recipes where the raising agent is needed to provide lift e.g. Victoria sponge cake, scones, Scotch pancakes, biscuits. It is also used in some flatbread recipes. However, it shouldn’t really be used in recipes where yeast is included as the yeast is meant to provide the ‘rise’, not the flour.

Does self-raising flour go off?

Self-raising flour can expire due to the raising agents within becoming inactive. This doesn’t make it unsafe to consume but it does mean that your baked good won’t rise. This is why I like to make my DIY self-raising flour just before I’m about to bake something – that way if I know that my baking powder is a bit old, I can test it before mixing it into my flour. ‘Testing’ your baking powder just involves mixing it with some white vinegar and seeing if it fizzes. If it does, you’re good to go. If not, the baking powder is expired and you’ll have to throw it away is it will no longer be useful. You can also check the expiry date given on your baking powder packaging as this should tell you if it’s super old (and thus likely to be expired!).

Have you made this recipe?
I’d love to see how it went! Tag me on instagram @izyhossack and hashtag it #topwithcinnamon so I can see your beautiful creation & reshare in my stories!

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Eccles Cakes

Thanks to Stoves for sponsoring this post If you haven’t lived in the UK, you might not know what an Eccles cake is. They are a very traditional bake, made up of a filling of currants & spices encased in flaky pastry. The name comes from the town of Eccles which is near Manchester. They’re very moreish and go extremely well with a cup of tea, of course. You can eat them warm from the oven or at room temperature. Stoves, began as a manufacturer of gas heaters when founded in 1920 on valentine’s day! They moved on to make gas cookers and eventually range cookers which they are still a leading manufacturer of in the UK today.  To celebrate Stoves’ landmark 100th year, I was tasked with making a recipe from a 1920s cookbook. Although there were many classic pastries in the book, the Eccles cakes were something I had always wanted to make so I settled on that recipe. The ingredients are quite basic, a lovely buttery flaky pastry is made, rolled out and cut into disks. A filling of currants, mixed peel, cinnamon, nutmeg, butter and sugar is stirred together and spooned onto each circle. The edges […]

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Thanks to Stoves for sponsoring this post

If you haven’t lived in the UK, you might not know what an Eccles cake is. They are a very traditional bake, made up of a filling of currants & spices encased in flaky pastry. The name comes from the town of Eccles which is near Manchester. They’re very moreish and go extremely well with a cup of tea, of course. You can eat them warm from the oven or at room temperature.

Stoves, began as a manufacturer of gas heaters when founded in 1920 on valentine’s day! They moved on to make gas cookers and eventually range cookers which they are still a leading manufacturer of in the UK today.  To celebrate Stoves’ landmark 100th year, I was tasked with making a recipe from a 1920s cookbook. Although there were many classic pastries in the book, the Eccles cakes were something I had always wanted to make so I settled on that recipe.

The ingredients are quite basic, a lovely buttery flaky pastry is made, rolled out and cut into disks. A filling of currants, mixed peel, cinnamon, nutmeg, butter and sugar is stirred together and spooned onto each circle. The edges of the circle are gathered at the top and pinched together to seal the filling within a layer of pastry.

These are little pastries, similar in size to a cookie, as they are quite rich from all the butter & dried fruit! This batch makes quite a few Eccles cakes, and although they’ll keep well for ~5 days in a sealed container, you can also freeze them if needed.

Although it is traditional to use lard in flaky pastry (in place of all or some of the butter), I go for all-butter. So yes, these Eccles cakes are vegetarian, but some that you might buy from traditional bakeries will contain lard.

Eccles Cakes

Eccles Cakes

Yield: 20-22
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

Flaky pastry:

  • 226g (2 cups minus 2 tbsp) white bread flour
  • 1/2 tsp fine table salt
  • 170g (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 70ml (1/4 cup + 2 tsp) very cold water

Currant filling:

  • 120g (3/4 cup) currants (or raisins)
  • 40g (1/4 cup) chopped mixed peel
  • 40g (3 tbsp) caster sugar (superfine sugar)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 40g (3 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Demerara sugar (raw sugar), for sprinkling

Instructions

For the pastry:

  1. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the cubed butter and rub in with a pastry blender/a pair of butter knives/your fingertips until the majority of the mixture has a breadcrumb-like texture with some pea-sized lumps of butter remaining. (If you have a food processor or stand mixer with paddle attachment, you can also do this step in there, pulsing to combine until you reach the consistency mentioned).
  2. At this stage, drizzle in the cold water and gently toss to combine. Give it a bit of a knead in the bowl until the dough starts to come together then tip the shaggy mass out onto your work surface. (Again, if doing this in a food processor/stand mixer, just pulse until the mixture starts to come together then tip out).
  3. Gather the mixture into a mound and use a rolling pin to roll it out into a smallish rectangle. It will likely seem very messy and might stick to the rolling pin, this is fine! Just scrape any dough off the rolling pin and add back to the rectangle. Fold the rectangle into thirds like a business letter. Rotate the dough 90 degrees then roll out into a rectangle again. Fold into thirds again. Then use your hands to press down to compact it into a nice little package.
  4. Wrap in a resealable sandwich bag and chill for at least 1 hour.

For the filling:

  1. Mix the currants, mixed peel, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Stir to combine then pour over the melted butter. Stir again to incorporate and set aside.

Roll out and shape:

  1. Preheat your oven to 200°C fan (400°F) and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Remove the chilled dough from the fridge and from the sandwich bag. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface, dusting with flour on top as needed to prevent the dough sticking to the rolling pin. Also make sure you’re checking underneath the dough as you do this by gently lifting the edges up and dusting flour underneath as needed to prevent it sticking to the work surface. The dough should be about 3 to 4mm thick.
  3. Use a 4-inch (10cm)round cutter to cut circles from the dough. Place a teaspoonful of filling in the centre of each circle. Wet the edges of the circle with a fingertip dipped in some water. Gather the edges up at the top and pinch together to seal the filling within. Flip over so the seam side is underneath and place onto a lined baking tray. Repeat with all the circles, re-rolling pastry scraps as needed until you’ve used all the filling/pastry.
  4. Cut 3 slits into the top of each Eccles cake with a sharp knife. Brush with the beaten egg and then sprinkle with some demerara sugar.
  5. Bake for 15 to 20minutes until well browned.


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Easy Sushi Rolls

Learn how to make sushi rolls (maki rolls) with this easy homemade sushi recipe.  The fillings and toppings here are 100% up to you, so choose whichever ingredients you love best! Guys, have you ever tried making homemade sushi rolls? ♡ It’s actually much easier than you might think.  And of course, the best part […]

Learn how to make sushi rolls (maki rolls) with this easy homemade sushi recipe.  The fillings and toppings here are 100% up to you, so choose whichever ingredients you love best!

Guys, have you ever tried making homemade sushi rolls? ♡

It’s actually much easier than you might think.  And of course, the best part of making your own sushi rolls is that you get to decide exactly what goes in them.  Yyyyyum.

Since all of our favorite sushi restaurants have been closed these past three months, Barclay and I have gotten in a rhythm of making ourselves a big batch of homemade maki rolls here once a week.  (Sushi Sundays!)  And I have to say — it has been so fun!  We prefer to keep things super no-frills around here, and usually just make our sushi with a few simple fillings plus a drizzle of spicy mayo.  But holy yum, these simple rolls have totally satisfied our sushi cravings during these weeks of staying at home.  And now that we have our assembly-line routine down, the two of us have found that we can make a big batch in just 30 minutes or so.  Not bad!

Now I will be the first to admit that our techniques for making maki rolls are not 100% authentic or traditional.  But that’s kind of the point — we just use the equipment that we already have and keep our ingredient list super-minimal, and this recipe works really well for us!  And best of all, it yields so much delicious sushi. ♡♡♡

So if you are also missing your favorite restaurant sushi right now, I thought I would offer a quick tutorial on how we make homemade sushi here in our house!  This recipe itself is not hard, but it does require a bit of extra time to prep all of those ingredients and make the maki rolls.  If you have a buddy (or in my case, a very enthusiastic sushi-loving husband) in the kitchen to help, the process can go much faster.  But however you make them, I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly, easily and affordably you can make your very own homemade maki rolls.  Plus, it’s just fun!

Here’s everything you need to know…

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Taco Seasoning

This DIY taco seasoning recipe is quick and easy to whip up, and works great as a seasoning on everything from tacos to veggies, meat, seafood, rice, beans, soups, salads and more. Getting ready to make a recipe that calls for taco seasoning, but don’t have a jar on hand? No worries — just mix […]

This DIY taco seasoning recipe is quick and easy to whip up, and works great as a seasoning on everything from tacos to veggies, meat, seafood, rice, beans, soups, salads and more.

Homemade Taco Seasoning Recipe

Getting ready to make a recipe that calls for taco seasoning, but don’t have a jar on hand?

No worries — just mix up a quick batch of this homemade taco seasoning! ♡

All you need is a handful of spices that you likely already have in your pantry.  Simply whisk them all together, store in a sealed spice jar, and use whenever you are ready!

This homemade taco seasoning is — of course — fantastic when used to season the meat, seafood, veggies or beans in your favorite taco recipe.  But don’t forget that it can also be used a million other ways as well!  I’m especially partial to using taco seasoning to flavor Mexican rice or a side of black beans.  It works great as a rub for steak, chicken, fish or shrimp, especially during summertime grilling season.  I also often sprinkle it in soups or add it to a vinaigrette when I’m craving a zesty salad.  And if you’re feeling adventurous — trust me on this one — it’s actually surprisingly delicious when sprinkled on popcorn too!

However you use it, this homemade taco seasoning recipe is a great one to have in your back pocket.  So go raid your spice drawer, and let’s make a quick batch together!

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How To Cook Farro

My favorite method for how to cook farro!  Plus tips for how to toast and season farro, how to freeze farro, and a collection of my favorite easy farro recipes. Our series on pantry staples continues today with my all-time favorite whole grain — farro! Guys, are you already doing lots of cooking with farro?  […]

My favorite method for how to cook farro!  Plus tips for how to toast and season farro, how to freeze farro, and a collection of my favorite easy farro recipes.

How To Cook Farro

Our series on pantry staples continues today with my all-time favorite whole grain — farro!

Guys, are you already doing lots of cooking with farro?  If not, I sincerely can’t recommend it enough.  Farro has long been a staple in my pantry and one of my favorite whole grains to toss into soups, salads, grain bowls, stuffed peppers, fried “farro” rice, risottos, porriges, and so much more.

I’m especially partial to farro because of its oh-so-satisfyingly chewy texture and toasty, nutty flavor.  But I also really love that this whole grain is packed with nutrients, including lots of fiber and protein, plus a generous serving of vitamins and minerals.  It’s easy to substitute farro in any of your favorite recipes that call for rice, quinoa or other grains.  It’s quick and easy to cook, and also keeps well in the refrigerator or the freezer.  And if you happen to have an Instant Pot at home, you can also pressure cook it too!

Seriously, there are so many good reasons to incorporate this whole grain into your diet.  So here are all of my best tips on how to cook farro — including various options for how to season it, if you would like — as well as some of my favorite farro recipes to give you some inspiration.

Let’s cook some farro! ♡

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How To Cook Quinoa

The best method I’ve found for how to cook quinoa!  Plus tips for how to toast and season quinoa, how to freeze quinoa, and a collection of my favorite easy quinoa recipes. For too many years, I cooked my quinoa the way that everyone else on the internet seemed to recommend it — with a […]

The best method I’ve found for how to cook quinoa!  Plus tips for how to toast and season quinoa, how to freeze quinoa, and a collection of my favorite easy quinoa recipes.

How To Cook Quinoa

For too many years, I cooked my quinoa the way that everyone else on the internet seemed to recommend it — with a 1:2 quinoa to water ratio, simmered with the lid on, then drained and briefly steamed.  And for too many years, I found myself dealing with unpredictable and far-too-often mushy batches of quinoa — which simply will not do!  I tried experimenting with the amount of water, I tried cooking my quinoa both covered and uncovered, and I tried a dozen other ideas that the internet recommended.  But still, I couldn’t quite seem to figure out the elusive formula for consistently perfect light and fluffy quinoa.

Enter Bon Appetit. ♡

About a year ago, I happened upon an article from their Basically team for how to cook quinoa and popular grains “perfectly, every time.”  I was officially intrigued, and dove in ready to memorize yet a new round of ratios and cooking instructions.  But as it turns out, their solution was incredibly simple — just cook quinoa like pasta!

It’s as easy as it sounds and it actually works.  Simply bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add the quinoa and cook until it is perfectly tender, drain and let the quinoa steam for a few minutes, then enjoy!  No more crossing your fingers that the quinoa will be perfectly cooked, no more overly-dry or overly-mushy quinoa, no more having to memorize different ratios for differently-sized batches.  All you’ll need is a fine-mesh strainer to drain the quinoa once it has been cooked, and you’re ready to go.  Brilliant.

If you are interested in boosting the flavor of your quinoa, I have also included a bunch of different options below for various aromatics you can add to the water.  (Or if you have an extra 3 minutes, I highly recommend toasting the dry quinoa before it is cooked.)  Plus, I’ve also included lots of tips for how to store or freeze quinoa, as well as lots of my favorite easy quinoa recipes to put this superfood to delicious use.

Alright friends, let’s make some perfectly-cooked quinoa!

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How To Freeze Cookie Dough

How to freeze cookie dough — either in individual dough balls, larger dough disks, or in cut-out dough shapes. Plus tips for which types of dough do/don’t freeze well and how to bake frozen cookie dough. For all of you fellow cookie bakers out there, I thought I would pop in with a quick tutorial […]

How to freeze cookie dough — either in individual dough balls, larger dough disks, or in cut-out dough shapes. Plus tips for which types of dough do/don’t freeze well and how to bake frozen cookie dough.

How To Freeze Cookie Dough

For all of you fellow cookie bakers out there, I thought I would pop in with a quick tutorial today on how to freeze cookie dough.  Because in my opinion, frozen cookie dough is pretty much the best.  ♡  Why?

  • It’s easy to make.  It hardly takes any extra time to double the ingredients in your favorite cookie recipe and make a double batch!  Then you can freeze the extras for later and keep the cookie goodness going and going.
  • It’s great for small-batch baking.  With individually frozen cookie dough balls, it’s easy to bake just a few cookies (versus a dozen) at a time.  It’s super helpful for portion control, and also works especially well when you are just serving one or a few people at a time.
  • It’s super-convenient.  Especially when you are in the midst of a busy season (hello, holidays!), or have unexpected visitors stop by, or are hosting a dinner party and don’t want to leave the table long to fuss with dessert, it’s always so helpful to have pre-made cookie dough ready and waiting in your freezer.
  • It makes for a great gift.  Oh my word, people love receiving homemade frozen cookie dough as a gift.  I regularly bring a small bag over to friends’ houses as a hostess gift or as my contribution to a girls night, which is always very happily and eagerly received.  Or frozen cookie dough can also be a really lovely gift to bring to friends who have just had a baby, or who are home sick, or who just may be going through any kind of hard stretch.  It’s a simple gift that always seems to bring a smile to people’s faces, especially when they get to bake up a batch of warm cookies from the comfort of their own home whenever they would like.

There are so many good reasons to freeze cookie dough.  So whether you are freezing individual dough balls (like for chocolate chip cookies or molasses cookies), large dough discs (like for roll-out sugar cookies), or cut-out dough shapes (like for gingerbread cookies), here are a few of my best tips for how to freeze cookie dough properly.  Plus everything you need to know about what types of cookie dough do/don’t freeze well, the one scooping tool I highly recommend, and how to bake frozen cookie dough.

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