Palm Oil – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be suspicious of any product that lists palm oil in the ingredients. Production of this crop has been responsible for ravaging tropical rainforests in our never-ending pursuit of cheap food. However, not all palm oil is bad and in one of my occasional series on ingredients, I give you sustainable palm oil. 


Baking Tips 1: Flour

Ingredients | 30th October 2009 | By

Whatever flour a recipe states, I tend to substitute a different one! This is mostly because I try to turn rather decadent baking offerings into something that can be as healthy as possible whilst still remaining delicious. I very rarely use plain old white flour when baking. Nor do I use self-raising flour as I prefer to add a good quality gluten free raising agent myself.


Duck Eggs

Ingredients | 2nd July 2009 | By

People keep asking me why I use duck eggs for baking. Well, when it came down to it, I knew that duck eggs were meant to be much better than chicken eggs, but didn’t exactly know why. Where did I pick this up? I couldn’t exactly say, it’s just something I seem to have always known. Having been asked the question, I’ve had to think about it. Is it because the duck yolks seem to be much bigger in proportion to the egg whites? Cakes do seem to be a little richer, a little lighter. Am I imagining this? I think some investigation is called for.

It turns out I wasn’t far wrong, the yolks are larger and richer with a higher fat and nutrient content. To boot, duck eggs also have more protein in the white, which gives cakes a bit more structure and a higher rise. They have the added bonus of a longer shelf life as the shells are much thicker. For a complete nutritional comparison take a look at this website.
I’m very fussy about eggs and will only use eggs from poultry that are truly free ranging and are preferably raised organically (see Ingredients are the Key). I’m lucky enough to have several outlets for local organic eggs where I live and I’ve seen the birds scratching about more than happily on the farm where most of the ones I buy come from. Bright yellow or orange yolks are what you need to look for – these are usually a sign that poultry have access to fresh grass. For further information about the benefits of eating products from grass-fed animals try reading Jo Robinson’s Pasture Perfect.
If you can’t get access to good duck eggs, just substitute large hens eggs instead. If you find the concept of duck eggs novel and challenging, how about trying goose eggs? This picture comes courtesy of Walter Jeffries of Sugar Mountain Farm in Vermont. Goose eggs are meant to be the real business when it comes to baking – I haven’t tried them yet!

Ingredients are the Key

I’m probably kidding myself, but I like to think my baking is actively good for folk as well as tasting pretty damn good. Good quality ingredients are crucial for making tasty and nutritious fare. With this in mind I try to use certified organic ingredients where possible, although locally sourced and fairly traded are also important.