Converting an American recipe to British is tougher than you think!
Posted on September 22, 2009 by peacefulyorkshire
Firstly, I’d just like to thank the amazing ladies of SNFY for once again allowing me to contribute as a guest blogger and get some of my frustrations off my chest. Beats anger management classes anyday! You girls ROCK I tell ya.— REDLILOCKS
Hey did anyone notice those couple of days of sunshine we had over the past few months? Yes, that is what they call here The British Summer. I know, I know, I almost missed it as well. I have to admit moving from Southeast England to the Northwest, I never realised that when people said it was cold and rainy in Manchester that they actually meant it! I just figured people were exaggerating (I mean, the whole country rains, right?). Well, much to my surprise, they weren’t. Dreams of pretty cotton dresses and drinking Mojitos in the sunshine never entirely materialised but as the weather turns, I find myself with new fantasies to occupy my time. Warm knits, knee high boots with opaque tights, snugly scarves and that cool nip in the evening air that tells you that autumn is well and truly upon us.
Despite our rather sorry stint of truly warm weather, I actually quite like the cool crisp September weather and having a taste of home the other day, I decided I wanted to make a Zucchini Cake. There’s nothing like a bit of baking to warm up the house and remind you of cozy nights in with hot mugs of tea and a bit of baking from scratch. As you probably know, they are called ‘Courgettes’ here (we Americans use the Italian word, the British use the French) but as it is, after all, an American recipe, I decided it’s only right to use its proper American name.
Now I do quite a bit of cooking in this country but it was first time I was going to actually attempt to BAKE. With my fabulous boyfriend’s (we’ll call him Mr. Lovely) vast array of culinary equipment and ingredients to hand (he’s a great cook) I decided it would be a nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
I knew, of course, the ingredients would be in imperial measurements but I was confident that with a bit of conversion using metric kitchen scales, I could easily manage the recipe – no problem. Well, the issue wasn’t the conversion. It was the ingredients.
My conversation with Mr. Lovely went something like this:
Sitting in the living room, I called out to Mr. Lovely in the kitchen, “Can we get ‘All Purpose flour’ here?”
Mr. L responded, calling back, “What’s ‘All purpose flour’?”
“I don’t know, I guess it’s just regular flour.”
“Umm. Yeah I would think so. Is that the same as Self-Raising Flour? I have some of that.”
I didn’t like the sound of flour that rose on its own willpower. “Self-Raising flour? Hmm. I don’t think so.”
Mr. L, already tired of the exchange, assured me, “It’s okay, we can nip to the shop and get some.”
“Ok…” I went back to my recipe but only for a moment. “What about Baking Soda?” I called again.
“Do you mean Bicarbonate of Soda?”
I thought about it for a second. I know I’ve heard of Bicarbonate of Soda but I’d never eaten it. “I think so. Aggy and Kim use it to clean everything; I think it’s the same thing…” I went back to the ingredient list.
I called again, “What about Baking Powder?”
It was at this point that Mr. L, realising this may be an extended conversation, came into the living room. “What’s Baking Powder?”
“I think it helps the cake to rise. Or wait, is that what Baking Soda does?”
“Well, that’s what self-raising flour does.”
“Ahh right. Do you think I can skip both of those then if I use the self-raising flour?”
“I’m sure you can. It’ll be fine, just use the self-raising flour,” he assured me. He’s good like that.
I pondered this for a second. “Wonder why we don’t use self-raising flour in the States? Seems a lot easier….” Back to the ingredient list again. “What about white sugar?”
Mr. L crinkled his brow. “What do they mean by white sugar?”
I shrugged. “I think they mean just regular sugar.”
Mr. L went back into the kitchen and brought back a white packet. “I have caster sugar,” he announced.
I looked inside the packet, examining the tiny crystals. “Hmm – this is a bit finer than regular sugar. Do you think it’ll be okay if I use this?”
“Yeah, it’ll be okay.” (I swear that should be his motto, he says it to me so often.)
“Ok, I’m sure it’ll be fine,” I said, reassured. “Oh wait, the frosting takes confectioner’s sugar. Can you get that in this country?”
“Never heard of it. What about icing sugar?”
“I don’t know. This is a soft icing, it’s not gonna go hard is it?”
By this point Mr. L put his hands on his head. “ Arghhh I don’t know…” and walked out of the room.
It was clear by this point, I was on my own!
Now, my dear readers, let me tell you that in the end, despite all the guessing and against all the odds, the cake came out rather fantastically well – I know, no one is more shocked than me. Turns out all my substitutions worked a treat. However, next time there’s a chill in the air and I fancy a bit of baked scrummy goodness, I might just save all the hassle and go to Greggs instead.
Want to see Redlilocks other popular guest post? Click here