A culinary weekend

I spent a lot of time in the kitchen this weekend, making Italian-style pasta sauce for my eighth blog challenge recipe and traditional English barley and berry pudding for my nineth.

As well as these two scrumptious recipes, I made falafel using this recipe from Nade in the Kitchen. Nadine (aka Nade) has a fabulous food blog which I highly recommend.

And on Sunday, while the pudding was baking in the oven, I popped a loaf of bread in to bake too. For the results, see the photo below!

Tasty, golden, delicious bread — mmm!

What did you cook or bake this past weekend?

Blog challenge recipe #1: Irish soda bread

If you read the post below this one you will know that I am working on a blog challenge: to cook or bake a recipe from each one of the countries which my blog visitors come from. Here is uimhir a haon (‘number one’ in Irish Gaelic) of my challenge recipes.


Soda bread


I used this recipe from http://www.food.com as a rough guide but I made some changes which I have given after the recipe (see below)

Irish rye soda bread (recipe below is reproduced from this source and no copyright infringement is intended)

  • 4 cups rye flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 2 cups milk


  1. First, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5 (180C).
  2. Now, mix the first three ingredients, the dry stuff.
  3. Then, mix the next two ingredients into the flour mix, and stir quickly with a wooden spoon. Try not to over work the mixture – just combine it. Add more milk if it’s not working.
  4. Pop this into a lined 2lb loaf tin. Then, just before putting into the oven, throw some ice-cubes onto the bottom shelf of the oven to create a little steam. This helps make the loaf rise before the crust sets.
  5. Bake in the centre of the oven for around 45 – 50 minutes. The loaf should sound hollow when it’s tapped underneath. Cool in the tin for 10 mins, then finish cooling on a rack.
My alterations:
1. Instead of using baking powder, I used cream of tartar which is one of the traditional raising agents for soda bread, along with baking soda (bicarbonate of soda). And instead of using 4 tsps of baking soda, which is too much in my opinion, I cut the measure by half, so I used 2 tsps of baking soda and 2 tsps of cream of tartar.
2. I used 6 cups of flour because I wanted to make two small loaves. If you only use 4 cups of flour as the recipe states, I would recommend you to cut the quantity of milk because even when using 6 cups of flour and 2 cups of milk, I had to add some more flour as my mixture was too gloopy.
3. I rubbed a small amount of butter (approx. 50 grams) into the flour after step 2 of the recipe.
4. I glazed the top of each loaf by brushing it with a little milk before baking but this is optional.
5. Finally, my last alteration. Instead of using a loaf tin, I divided the mixture into two pieces and baked it on a baking tray after I shaped it into round loaves. I cut a cross into the top of each loaf. According to tradition, this is to let the devil out! According to food science, it allows the bread to better expand and rise in the oven. Whether you believe the former or the latter, I think it’s always best to cross the soda bread before baking.
If you wish, you can swap the rye flour for whole-wheat flour or for white flour (or a mixture of both). That would result in a lighter bread since the rye loaf turned out fairly dense and substantial. It’s your choice!