If you are just getting started with baking your own sourdough bread, you might be wondering what to do with your discarded sourdough starter. Nearly all sourdough bread recipes I've seen, just say 'make sure you feed your sourdough starter regularly, by discarding half of your sourdough starter and replacing it with fresh flour and water'.
Chocolate – the nectar of the gods in Latin – is a scare resource. Prices are increasing and the size of the bar itself is getting smaller. Last Christmas, Mondelez, the makers of Toblerone reduced the number of distinctive triangles in its chocolate bars in order to keep the price the same. For many consumers, it simply wasn’t the same.
I always knew that one need quite a lot of cocoa pods to end up with one chocolate bar, but I never actually look into this properly. Until last week, when one of our chocolate courses students ask a relatively innocent question: 'How many seeds are there in a cocoa pod?'
This is quite an interesting question - one that I've been recently asked at our chocolate workshops. I innitially dismissed the idea completely, I mean how could chocolate be possibly a probiotic! But then I thought, let's do a bit of a research and see what happends.
Overall health benefits of dark chocolate
The processes that go into making your average chocolate bar, means that the cacao loses a lot of its natural health benefits. This is on account of the chemicals added during processing, the extreme heat in roasting the cacao, not to mention the introduction of vast quantities of sugar.
Can dark chocolate benefits weight loss? It’s a comment that’s often made and repeated with a question mark at the end of the sentence – either as a definitive statement in itself, or as a hope or wish. After all, wouldn’t it be great if some form of chocolate was good for us. A bit like all those studies that say a glass of red wine a day will help us live longer.
In its raw form, cocoa is very high in a raw plant nutrient called flavonols. Now, research tests seem to point to the flavonol content found in dark chocolate can improve insulin sensitivity in healthy people. What’s insulin? Well, it’s a complex hormone found in numerous biochemical reactions in the body. One of its role is in helping to process whether food is either absorbed into the body or stored as fat.
In our last blog we wrote about the three main types of cocoa beans – criollo, fosteraoro and trinitario. That may be a little bit specialised to all but the most ardent chocolate enthusiast. So this time we’d like to move the conversation on to the finished product.
Hot chocolate is just the perfect warm and satisfying drink to enjoy over those long winter months.
It can also be enjoyed practically any time – whether for breakfast, as a mid-morning or lunchtime drink – or later in the day, for tea or just before you go to bed.
And the basic recipe can be spiced up by adding a hint of nutmeg, ground pepper or cinnamon.
One great way to make Hot Chocolate that little big extra special is by making it with Nutella or any other hazelnut spread.
Ah Nutella! If you’ve never come across this gift of chocolate goodness, then indulge me (literally) with a few words by way of explanation. For many chocoholics, Nutella is the best thing since sliced bread. Actually, Nutella is great on sliced bread but that’s another recipe!
There are so many different recipes for sourdough starter. And because of that, it's hardly surprising that when you are just starting to bake your own bread, it can be very confusing to know which recipe is the best one to choose.
I have to admit that although sourdough bread baking is a bit of a science, I've never been too worried about the exact proportions, ingredients and optimal temperatures. Sure it all helps, but it's more important to understand what's behind all of this, and not to worry too much about the perfect recipe for successful sourdough starter. My own sourdough bread starter, which is about 15 years old, is a mixture of all different flours and we always use it in my sourdough bread baking course.
I'm not really sure when exactly the unicorn craze started, but these days, unicorns seems to be everywhere. And they are not just for the children. There is definitely something mystical about unicorns - they might or might not be real, they have wonderful flowing hair and they love rainbow colours. If you like me, think that we could all do with some magic in our lives, here is a little something to bring that rainbow into your day...
Unicorn Hot Chocolate Recipe
Here is what you need:
White chocolate, chopped in small pieces (or white chocolate drops)
Food colouring - pink, blue or purple
Rainbow sweets or any other pastel coloured sweets