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Brown Soda Bread

In Ireland flour is typically made from soft wheat which have starchy kernels and less gluten. The many American visitors who come to learn how to cook traditional Irish food at my cookery school in Dublin, or come on my Irish gourmet tours, once they try to recreate the recipe at home have to find a cake or pastry flour (made from soft wheat), which has lower levels of gluten than an American bread flour.

The division between Ulster and the rest of Ireland is so profound that in Ulster soda bread that is made with wholemeal flour is known as wheaten bread and normally sweetened, while the term "soda bread" is restricted to the white savoury form, whilst in the rest of Ireland soda bread is normally brown. This has led to some pretty serious misunderstandings with Ulster born chefs and restaurant managers in some of the places around the World where I have given Irish food demonstrations! This is the version of soda bread that I like best.

500g wholemeal flour 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda 1 tsp baking powder 1 tsp brown sugar 120g walnuts, chopped 900mls buttermilk

Pre-heat oven 190oC/380oF/Gas 5. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Add the butter milk. Shape into a round, cut across on the top and place on a floured baking tray. Cook for 45 minutes, it should sound hollow. For a soft crust, wrap in a clean tea-towel while hot.

Devil’s Chocolate Food Cake

This is a cake I make for all occasions – quick, easy, foolproof and much loved by my family. Traditionally the name comes from the fact that, being dark in colour, it is the antithesis of the white or yellow angel food cake.

250g plain flour
1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp vinegar
225g butter
250g caster sugar
60g cocoa
290mls milk
2 eggs

500g icing sugar
60g butter
1 egg yolk
60g cocoa
150mls milk/cream
Pre-heat oven to 150oC/300oF/Gas mark 2

Line your baking tin with melted butter and flour. Sift dry ingredients. In a jug, place your milk, vinegar and eggs and beat with a fork, add to the dry ingredients (the mixture should be very runny). Bake in oven for 1 hour.

Sift icing sugar and cocoa in to a bowl, add melted butter, egg yolk and 2-4 tbsp milk.