Kitchen notes

Kitchen notes

Sarah Coates
1 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
Chris Middleton


My rebellious streak refuses to bow to the conventional wisdom that unsalted butter should be used in baking. I like salted butter – it’s what I put on my toast, so that’s what I use. If you’re using unsalted, no dramas, just be generous with any additional salt!

Chocolate and cocoa

When it comes to chocolate it definitely pays to shop for quality. This is one of those instances where you definitely get what you pay for. Always go for at least 70 per cent cocoa solids in dark chocolate, and at least 35–40 per cent in milk chocolate and shop around to find your favourite brand. For unsweetened (Dutch) cocoa powder, I think the darker the better. I tend to go for an organic brand, which is almost black and full of flavour.

Coconut oil

The two kinds of coconut oil you’re likely to see at the shops are virgin and refined. There’s a lot of debate about the relative health merits of each. I use coconut oil, not for health reasons, but because it solidifies at cold room temperature and has a great taste. Virgin coconut oil tastes strongly of coconut, while refined oil has a much more subtle, nutty flavour. Either one will work for the recipes in this book.


… is the funnest! But it’s also, obviously, not something that you want to muck around with. My tips for deep-frying are as follows:

Pick a heavy, sturdy pan to deep-fry in

Use an oil with a high smoke-point, such as canola or grapeseed

Put your pan on a burner at the back of the stove, not the front

Make sure any handles aren’t hanging over the side of the work surface

Invest in a thermometer to measure the temperature of the oil

Never fill your pan more than a third full of oil

Leave the oil to cool completely before disposing of it

Use common sense!


All eggs are large, free-range and organic in my kitchen. I’m happy to pay a little more if it means that one less chicken has to live a horrible battery-cage existence. Organic eggs taste fantastic and they’re better for you, but any large eggs will do.


The two main types of flour used in this book are plain (all-purpose) flour and strong flour (sometimes called bread flour). Strong flour has a little extra protein, making it better suited to bread baking. I recommend that you use strong flour, where it’s mentioned, for the best results.

Lining a tin with acetate

Acetate is a food-safe plastic, which you can use to line a cake tin when you want a really tall finish, or are working with liquid fillings that need time to set. You can buy it from specialty cake stores. Simply set up your springform tin as usual, and then line the plastic inside the tin, using masking tape on the outside to hold it in place. You may need to use two pieces to get a high enough rim. True confession – I have been known to use clear A4 pieces of stationery plastic in a pinch.


In almost all of my baking I use caster (superfine) sugar. It is exactly the same as regular white granulated sugar, just a little finer. I find that it dissolves more readily and evenly in a batter or dough, making it ideal for baking. But in most cases, regular granulated sugar would be a fine substitute.

Vanilla bean paste

I have a major crush on this stuff. Ground vanilla beans suspended in a thick syrup is a much more aromatic way of getting vanilla into your food than using an extract or essence. It’s pretty expensive, but less so than buying beans constantly. Feel free to substitute good-quality natural vanilla extract.

Recipes in this Chapter

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