Post #628 Of the Self Rising Kind

February 17, 2019 at 12:58 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

We’re very into the British cooking shows in our house.  Well, actually, we’re very into almost any cooking show that is broadcast in English in our house.  We love seeing the flavor combos other chefs come up with, and we really love the competitions other countries come up with.

Lots of times, we take the recipes that intrigue us the most and make them for ourselves, adapting them to our tastes and means.  So recently, Partner/Spouse to make a cake he’d seen Mary Berry make on Great British Bake Off Master Class called a Tunis Cake.  It had been one of their technical challenges, and she was showing viewers how to make a foolproof version.

It’s basically a light sponge cake tasting of orange with a thick layer of chocolate ganache on top.  The chocolate sets into a fudgy topping while the cake has a wonderful, citrusy orange punch.  I don’t have to tell you about chocolate and orange, do I?

So he picked a weekend to try it and ran into a roadblock.

“We don’t have any self rising flour, do we?”

“Nope,” I said, “But it’s easy to make.  One cup of flour, a half teaspoon of salt, and one and a half teaspoons of baking powder mixed really well, and that’s it.”

“Cool!”  And off  goes.

It didn’t turn out well.  For some reason, the cake was as dense and fudgy as the chocolate (which turned out great!)  But the flavors were intense and delicious.

Several hours later, he looked up and said, “Oh!  I forgot the baking powder!”

So, a week later, we’re in the grocery store to make sure we have all the ingredients needed to remake the cake.  We want a small bag of self-rising flour.  The store we were in didn’t have any.  It had every other kind of flour imaginable, but the one we needed.

The same happened at the next store we went to.

And the next.

In fact, every store we went to that day in search of the elusive self-rising flour ended in dismal failure.  Yeah, I know, first world problem.

But that got me thinking.  I remember from my childhood in Arizona seeing bags of this stuff in every store, and in my mom’s pantry.  So much so, that it wasn’t even thought about except the caution, don’t use that when it calls for AP flour.  So where was it now?

So, I turned to the internet to help puzzle out this mystery.  Where the heck was the self-rising flour?

Turns out, it was in the South.  I don’t live in the South anymore, so it’s not on my grocery shelves.  It’s almost entirely a regional thing.  I guess Arizona is considered the South, but I always thought of it as more the West.  Go figure.  But, self-rising flour is facing a decline, which may be the real reason it’s not as easily accessible as I seem to remember it.

Of course, ferreting out where to find the stuff led me to consider what to use the stuff for, except for British baking.  The Brits seem to use the stuff like salt.  And that makes sense since many of the things they bake are similar to or exactly the same as what is cooked in the South.

The shining product for self-rising flour is biscuits (in America) or scones (in Great Britain.)  I remember when I was still in Arizona as a kid and working at the gas station, and a younger kid used to come in and talk because he was bored.  He lived in the apartments right behind the gas station so he could stay for quite a while with no trouble.  One day, he brought in some biscuits his mom had made that she called 2 Ingredient Biscuits.  It was a cup and a half of self-rising flour mixed with a half cup of mayonnaise.  The dough was very tender so needed to be gently patted out to about a half inch thick.  She used a two inch round cutter to form the biscuits, then baked them at 425 until they rose and turned golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.  When they came out, she brushed them with melted butter.

They were so good.  And I don’t like mayonnaise.

When he was telling me about them, he said it was important to use self-rising flour.  That makes sense, because otherwise, there would be no lifting agent at all.

Another popular use for it is in fruit cobblers, and I remember my mom using it that way.  She would pour frozen berries into the bottom of an 9×13 baking dish and sprinkle about a half cup of sugar over them.  Then she would mix SRF (got tired of typing it out each time) and buttermilk together with a little sugar and dollop that over the fruit and bake it.  Just as an aside, when she didn’t have SRF, she would mix sugar and flour and sprinkle thickly over the top, then pour a half cup of melted butter over it and bake it.  THAT was delicious!

Who’s heard of Bisquick?  Remember the famous Bisquick coffee cake?  That’s just coffee cake using SRF because Bisquick is essentially SRF with chemical stabilizers.  So coffee cake is another success story for SRF.

Quick breads like muffins, banana bread, and Irish soda bread can all be made with SRF.  But if you do, remember to omit the extra baking powder called for in the recipe.  Quick breads are so called because they don’t need to sit and rise from the yeast in regular bread.  It rises from the addition of baking powder and baking soda.  But SRF already has baking powder in it.  I’ve even seen recipes for waffles and pancakes using SRF that looked every bit as delectable as those not using it.

So, back to the Tunis Cake.  Partner/Spouse made up the SRF he needed, and made the cake again.  He got a great rise out of the sponge, and it was a wonderful cake.  But oh! so rich.

Here’s the recipe but I didn’t do the conversions.  Sorry.

  • 8 oz softened butter
  • 8 oz sugar
  • 8 oz self rising flour
  • 2 1/2 oz ground almonds
  • 4 large eggs
  • Zest from one large lemon and one large orange
  • 10 floz heavy cream
  • 14 oz plain chocolate broken into pieces

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and line an 8 inch round cake pan with parchment paper.  Add butter, sugar, flour, ground almonds, eggs, and zest to bowl.  Beat on high speed for one minute until batter is smooth.  Spoon the batter into the cake pan and level the surface with an offset spatula.  Bake for 45 minutes then cover with foil to prevent over browning and bake another 15 minutes.  Cool completely on a wire rack.  This will take a couple of hours at least.  When the cake is completely cooled, pour the cream into a small ban and bring to a simmer.  Do not allow it to boil.  Removed from heat and add the chocolate pieces.  Stir until chocolate is completely combined.  Allow to cool, but do not allow it to set.  While still in a liquid state, pour the chocolate over the cake in the tin.  Allow to cool completely.  Decorate in any manner you like.  On the GBBS, they used marzipan to form holly leaves and berries since this is traditionally served at Christmas, but since that’s not usually readily available here in the States, I left it out.

So!  Anyone got any insights on self-rising flour?  I’d love to hear it!

As always,

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