Archive for May, 2012

Guest Post! Sour Dough Baps, by Clarinda @


As I’ve mentioned in previous posts my OH’s Mum, Clarinda (, is a keen baker with a particular knack for sour doughs – I have fond memories of sour dough hot cross buns one Easter! So I am delighted that she has agreed to do a guest spot here at Interestingthymes, and with no further ado I’ll hand you over to Clarinda:

Sourdough” Baps

 I feel very honoured to have been asked to do a guest spot on Interestingthymes, I just hope my efforts live up to the rest of the content. Having baked all the family bread for over 30 years, I recently came to sourdough and it opened a new chapter in my bread-making career. The other day, I made baps using a “sourdough” starter – although I have to say that I prefer the term “natural starter”, especially as the one I was using – which came originally from Russia but which I acquired in powdered form from Sourdough International and which has served me faithfully for two or three years – is not at all “sour”. I have made these baps often from a recipe I adapted from one in the “Associated Bread Book” – they have never let me down and freeze well which means that there is always something in the bread line in the freezer.


I mostly use American cups as I find them easier, so have set the recipe out in cups as well as lbs and ozs. Because my kitchen is on the cool side and I have no airing cupboard, I use a plant propagator to keep the dough warm.


1 ½ lbs or 6 cups strong white flour

approx 8 fl oz or just under 1 cup cool water

2 oz lard or other shortening

2 tsp salt

8 fl oz or 1 cup milk

1 cup or 8 fl oz of sourdough starter


Starting in the evening a couple of days ahead, mix the starter with ½ cup (4 fl oz) of the water and 1 cup (4 oz) of the flour. The base-starter now needs feeding – so an extra cup of flour and ¾ cup of water is beaten into the jar of starter and put to keep warm for a couple of hours before going back into the ’fridge. The bap starter now rests in the propagator for a few hours and then I turn the heat off until I give it another lot of flour the next evening – again, 1 cup (4 oz) flour and ½ cup (4 fl oz) water. This leaven then rests in the same way until the next morning, by which time it is good and active and smells lovely.



Next rub the lard/shortening into the rest of the flour with your fingertips as for pastry. Add the leaven, salt and the milk – no need to warm it – but be careful not to overdo the liquid at this stage. Add the milk slowly so that you get a soft but not at all sloppy dough. Turn it out on to a work surface and kneed it until smooth, then form it into a soft, white cushion. The board should only be floured at this stage, unless the dough is too wet! It takes a bit of practice to get the baps just right at this stage – but keep going as the results are worth it!



The dough is then popped back into the bowl and left to rise in the warm for about 4 hours – time enough to go into town knowing that the dough will be quite happy! The next stage is gently to turn out the risen dough – no punching down, that just toughens it – onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll it into a sausage and divide it into portions – this can depend on the size you want your baps to be. Then using floured hands form the pieces into flat-ish buns. Baps should be flat, but I feel that you never want a roll of any sort to be too deep – it’s the filling that counts, and deep rolls can get to be a bit chewy in my opinion.



The baps should then be left on a greased tray to prove again for about 1 hour, and then baked in a fairly hot oven for 15 mins. Ovens vary, but I set my fan oven at 170 centigrade – about 190 non-fan or gas mark 7.



After they are cool, all there is to do is fill and enjoy them.

And no doubt we will! I have a feeling these may well be on my to-bake list this coming weekend 🙂 Many thanks to Clarinda for this article, and I look forward to inviting her back in the future. In the mean time please check out her fabby blog on life in the Scottish Highlands – lovely observations of, and insights into, life in and around Loch Inver.







Ardbeg Whisky and Chocolate Cake; A grown-up dessert!


Last time I was home Dad handed me some Ardbeg whisky and asked me to make something with it as he found it a bit heavy for drinking. Understandable as this is something of a ‘heavy hitter’ on the peaty/smokey front!

I am not a whisky drinker, so I’ll admit that this was something of a challenge for me. I did a bit of research, looking at the tasting notes for this whisky. One that stood out as ideal was bitter-sweet chocolate (i.e. 70%ish). Given the complexity of the whisky I wanted to keep the other flavours as simple as possible! One thought I had (which I mentioned in a previous post) was using tobacco chocolate ( but I suspect that given how smokey the whisky was itself it would be pointless adding more to this, but I think it would work beautifully with a lighter whisky.

So what I ended up with was a dense dessert-cake which is a total treat for those who like their dessert rich but not sickly sweet. With this in mind, I’d be inclined to serve it with poring cream to lighten it slightly, and give it a bit of a sweet contrast.

The photo is a little bit of a white-lie: I didn’t have any whisky left so I hauled out a bottle of my home-made orange and cardamom rum (which I happened to have stored in a whisky bottle). Thinking about it, this is something which would also work very well as an alternative to whisky in this cake.

The recipe comes from:

Ardbeg Whisky and Chocolate Cake (recipe says it serves 6, but this will do much more as it’s so rich!)

1/2 cup peaty whisky
2 tbsps peaty whisky
6 ozs bittersweet chocolate (chopped 70% cocoa)
2 tsps espresso powder (instant, dissolved in 6 tablespoons hot water)
1/3 cup ground almond (lightly toasted about 2 ounces)
6 tbsps plain flour (divided)
4 cup unsalted butter(room temperature divided)

7 tbsps caster sugar (divided)
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 eggs (separated)
1 pinch fine sea salt
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F Butter and flour 8-inch-diameter spring form pan.
Boil 1/2 cup whisky in small saucepan until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 2 minutes. Combine bittersweet chocolate, espresso powder mixture, and 1/4 cup boiled whisky in small metal bowl. Place bowl over saucepan of simmering water; stir until mixture is smooth. Remove bowl from over water. Mix ground almonds with 2 tablespoons flour in a separate bowl.
Using electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup butter and 6 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl until fluffy. Beat in egg yolks 1 at a time, then sea salt. Fold in chocolate mixture, add vanilla essence, then ground almond mixture. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1 tablespoon sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Fold whites into batter alternately with remaining 4 tablespoons flour in 3 additions. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 30 minutes. Remove pan sides and cool cake completely.
Combine semisweet chocolate and remaining 2 tablespoons whisky in small metal bowl. Place bowl over saucepan of simmering water and stir until smooth. Remove bowl from over water. Add remaining 1/4 cup butter to chocolate mixture, 1 small piece at a time, whisking until each piece is melted before adding next. Place bowl over larger bowl of ice water. Using electric mixer, beat icing until thickened to spreadable consistency, about 1 minute. Spread icing over top and sides of cake.

I didn’t add the icing at the end as I felt the cake was probably rich enough as it was, so I simple dredged it with icing sugar. Here’s hoping a) Dad doesn’t mind that I taste-tested it, and b) he likes it!

You put the lime (curd) in the coconut (yogurt scone)!

Everything has gone Diamond Jubilee mad recently; Union flags every where, Tesco has started selling ready made Victoria Sponge cake mix (?!), and cream teas are popping up out of the woodwork. Frankly it’s starting to do my nut – I have a very low tolerance for shows of patriotism, especially when it’s so commercialised. Throw in the Olympic froth and I’m going to be a grumpy moo-face all Summer (if that ever happens…).

Having said that I do like cream teas… quite a lot, actually…

So this is my not-so-British (also, not so fattening!) version of the Cream Scone


Coconut Yogurt Scones with Lime Curd

The basic scone recipe I stole from BBC Good Food website and adapted it slightly:

  • 350g self-raising flour , plus more for dusting
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 85g cold butter , cut into cubes
  • 3 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 150g pot natural low fat yogurt (You could use coconut flavour yogurt for ease!)
  • 4 tbsp semi-skim milk (or low-fat coconut milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 25g dessicated coconut (I used creamed coconut but I don’t think I used quite enough)
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp milk, to glaze
  1. Put a baking sheet (or baking stone) in the oven at 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Put the flour, salt, butter, coconut, and baking powder into a food processor, then whizz in the butter until it disappears. Pulse in the sugar, tip into a large bowl, then make a well in the middle.
  2. Warm the yogurt, milk/coconut milk and vanilla together in the microwave for 1 min or in a pan; it should be hot and may well go a bit lumpy-looking. Tip into the bowl and quickly work into the flour mix using a cutlery knife. As soon as it’s all in, stop.
  3. Tip the dough onto a floured surface, then, with floured hands, fold the dough over a few times – just enough to create a smoothish dough. Press out to about 4cm/1½in thick, dip a 7cm cutter into more flour, then stamp out 4 rounds, flouring the cutter each time. Squash the remainder lightly together, then repeat until the dough is used up. Brush tops with egg wash, scatter flour over the hot sheet, then lift the scones on. Bake for 12 mins until risen and golden.

The original recipe makes 9 large scones, but I like them a bit smaller and got 20 out of this batch.

The Lime Curd recipe is from BBC Food :

  • 112g/3¾oz plus 1 tsp golden caster sugar

  • 25g/1oz plus 1 tsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • juice of 2 limes

  • freshly grated lime zest of 1 lime

  1. In a heavy saucepan cook the sugar, butter, eggs and lime juice over a moderately low heat. Whisk frequently, until it is thick enough to hold marks of whisk, about 12-15 minutes.

  2. Immediately pour the curd through a sieve into a bowl. Stir in the zest of one lime and cool. Lime curd can be made up to a week in advance, its surface covered with cling film.

This makes really quite a lot of curd! And rather than use clotted cream I’ve served it with low fat creme fraise.

The OH has given his seal of approval on these 🙂 I think I will make a batch of the full size ones at some point!




A not-quite-Beltane Cake! (Rosehip Yogurt Cake with Lime Icing)

The weather in Scotland at the moment is pretty wretched, to say the least – dreich! Which is somewhat disappointing given we’ve just hit the Beltane festival (, traditionally marking the triumph of Spring over the Winter. I’m sure that’s a very mangled understanding of the actual meaning, and no doubt I’ll get a telling off from my Beltane Fire Festival friends, but all I know is a lot of folk head up onto Carlton Hill in Edinburgh, either carrying flaming torches or vast amounts of body paint and not a lot else! It’s a beautifully choreographed and costumed event, and if you ever find yourself in Edinburgh in early May, it is well worth trying to see it.

However spectacular the festival, however, it has not brought us any better weather sadly. So, I’m doing my own version in cake form! A kind of anti-rain dance, as it were. Rosehip Yogurt Cake with Lime Icing.


The basic yogurt cake is from The Smitten Kitchen (, and I have simply replaced the lime juice and zest in the cake with 80g of Rosehip Syrup and a few drops of orange oil, and then iced the cake with a lime icing. Nowt fancy. But my goodness it tastes of Spring! The Rose flavour is very delicate, so if you want a more distinct flavour then use more of the syrup. The additional sugar from the syrup will give the cake a slightly chewier ‘crust’.

1 cup plain yogurt (I use low fat)
1/3 cup vegetable oil (I used ground nut oil)
1 cup caster sugar
80g Rose Hip Syrup
2 eggs
1 2/3 cups plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the sides of a 9-inch round cake pan or springform pan with oil or butter, and line the bottom with parchment paper if the pan is not springform.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, oil, sugar, rosehip syrup. Add the eggs one by one, whisking well after each addition. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together, right over your yogurt batter. Stir with a spoon until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let stand for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the pan to loosen. If you’re using the springform pan, unclasp the sides. Otherwise, flip the cake onto a plate and flip it back on the rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Rosehip syrup is a bit difficult to come by, unless you make your own. I never remember to gather the rosehips in time, but fortunately Lakeland Plastics, purveyors of *everything* kitchen, have this:

And I have just now remembered that we have a bottle of violet syrup kicking around, which I think would work very well in a yogurt cake with a vanilla cream icing, or a lemon icing perhaps.

Bonus bake! Scottish Oatcakes

On Saturday I bought 3kg of oats for porridge, but decided to reallocate some of this for home made oatcakes for lunches this week. Very simple recipe with very tasty outcomes! So here’s a little bonus bake 🙂

Ingredients (it says makes 14, but I got 25 out of it at approx 60 cals per cake)

  • 225g oats (I used whole jumbo oats)
  • 60g wholewheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 60g butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 60-80ml hot water


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190C.
  2. Mix together the oats, flour, salt, sugar and bicarbonate of soda.
  3. Add the butter and rub together until everything is mixed and has the consistency of large bread crumbs (I mixed in a blender, which also grinds the oats to a more manageable size).
  4. Add the water (from a recently boiled kettle) bit by bit and combine until you have a somewhat thick dough. The amount of water varies; depending on the oats.
  5. Sprinkle some extra flour and oats on a work surface and roll out the dough to approx. 1/2cm thickness. Use a cookie cutter, or top of a glass, to cut out shapes 
  6. Place the oat cakes on a baking tray and bake for appprox. 20-30mins. or until slightly golden brown

Bank holidays, Rosehips and Tobacco: Planning!

Well, I hope everyone is having a lovely Bank Holiday weekend, and have managed to avoid the miserable weather! It has been peeing it down all day here, so the OH and I have sorted out the DVDs and CDs at last – not the most productive use of time, but frankly neither of us care :-p

So, plans for future creations. When I was last visiting the family I told them about the blog and various experiments I’ve been trying. The Earl Grey and Orange Maderia Cake went down very well indeed, and I was asked to make another for a bake sale, along with some of the Pfefferneuse. In the interests of science, Dad produced a bottle of Ardbeg whisky and asked me to make a cake using some of it. If you don’t know Scottish whiskys, Ardbeg is very smoky/peaty, and Dad just finds it a little on the heavy side for drinking. Not being a whisky drinker myself I don’t know a lot about them, but just from the nose on it you can tell that this is a very rich tipple with a lot of complex tones to it.

I was at a bit of a lose as to what to do with it, but I found a recipe for a whisky and chocolate cake which sounds pretty good. But, of course, I couldn’t do anything the straight forward way, could I… Near us is a fab independent chocolate shop (Coco of Bruntsfield, Edinburgh), and when in there buying a gift for a friend recently, I noticed they had chocolate flavoured with tobacco! So, Tobacco Chocolate and Whisky cake is on the cards; I’m hoping the sweetness of the chocolate will lighten the peaty whiskey, and the smoky flavours from the tobacco chocolate will marry up pleasantly with the whisky. I will report back results (and tasting notes from Dad) soon!

My other plan for the near future may involve me having to learn to decorate, possibly using an icing bag *sigh*. I’m not a fan of doing complicated icing myself (because it ALWAYS goes wrong) but I think this is a recipe that may well demand to be pretty. I’ve mentioned previously that I make yoghurt cakes reasonably regularly, and am trying to branch out, but I think that Lime Yoghurt Cupcakes with Rosehip Buttercream Icing might well be a good reason to go back to a classic base recipe. I keep meaning to make my own rosehip syrup, but always forget until it’s too late. However, Lakeland currently have bottles of the stuff available, which will allow me to have a go at using it until I actually get around to making my own. If you’ve ever used it, you’ll know that Rosehip Syrup is super sweet, and I think it would be best contrasted with something quite fresh and sharp to lift it, hence the lime. The other option would be to flavour the cake with the rosehip and do a lime icing, but that may have to be a water icing rather than buttercream. I may even do both, just to see what happens!

Anyway, those are my thoughts at the moment – will report back soon 🙂

A Highland Diary

A Highland Diary

Clarinda (my OH’s Mum) – a Londoner by birth, but a Scot by choice and location – has had a blog for a while detailing the various goings on in and around the area of Loch Inver in the North West of Scotland.

Life in the modern Highlands is quite different from the romantisised image many people might have; it is rural but highly creative, sparsely populated but community oriented, tranquil but very active! From Gaelic choirs to country dancing, from internet based art enterprises to tigers, and from soaring mountains to national Geoparks. Clarinda sets out to give a locals-eye-view of life in the Assynt area over the course of the year.

It is wonderful to read about active communities in rural areas. I am originally from a small community (at the other end of the country), and my mother was always a great example to me of a person who gets involved in community activities (quilting groups, WRI, Macmillan Cancer Support fund-raising group, etc etc). There always seems to be something going on if you’re willing to look for it! And this goes some way toward dispelling the media’s belief that community is dead – oh no, it is alive and kicking in Assynt and the Borders, if no where else.

Clarinda is also a very talented baker who has introduced me to the world of sourdoughs. I had no idea about the different sourdough cultures and how they impact upon the taste and consistency of the bread, but I am now a big sourdough convert and am very much looking forward to Tim’s Russian Black Bread (which involves a hefty whack of treacle, so I’ve doubly happy!) With any luck I can start getting over whatever issue yeast and I have with baking (i.e. it doesn’t like me, for some reason) and start experimenting in breads too. All in good time.

But for now I can report that the next post (OH’s birthday cake!) has been baked and partially consumed – I will report in full over the weekend 🙂

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