This page is intended to serve as a bit of a UK translation guide for both measurements and ingredients and a resource as to what I tend to use in my kitchen and where I buy hard-to-find bits and pieces from. I’ll update it as I go along but let me know if you want me to include something in particular.
Baking by weight
Converting ingredients between metric measurements (which I use) and imperial is bad enough; throw cups in there and it’s a total nightmare. Clearly, I think that everyone should bake with a scale (particularly if you’re baking gluten free) but I appreciate that I’m probably not going to change the world especially as better people than me have tried before.
Although I give ingredients in grams and cups, I can only be 100% sure if the gram ingredients. I do try and test the measurements as I’m baking in cups but I can’t guarantee that they are totally accurate. How can anyone when it is so dependent on how you scoop your flour?
That said, these are the general conversations that I work with:
1 cup of flour = 125g
1 cup of ground almonds = 100g
1 cup of demerara sugar = 225g
1 cup of brown sugar = 180g
1 stick of butter = 115g
Baking powder – I use Dove’s Farm baking powder generally as it’s certified gluten free (baking powder should be but is sometimes contaminated or bulked out with a bit of flour).
Bicarbonate of soda – Otherwise known as baking soda. I tend to use Dove’s Farm as well (because I like things to match) although will buy cheaper versions if I’m using it to, eg, clean the oven.
Buckwheat flour – Buckwheat flour is gluten free in itself (it’s nothing to do with wheat despite the name) but can easily be contaminated. For this reason, the current batch of Dove’s Farm buckwheat flour (the most widely available in the UK) cannot be considered gluten free as tests showed it had more than 20 parts per million (“PPM”) of gluten which is above the limit. I use it for myself but won’t use it for coeliacs. For a gluten free brand in the UK, I buy from Infinity Foods via Amazon.
Butter – Where would we be without butter? I use unsalted butter and normally am pretty loyal to President butter as I’m stereotypically middle class. The type of butter I use would probably be called ‘European style’ in the US – there’s less water in it and a higher % of butterfat so you may get different results if you don’t use something similar.
Buttermilk – Buttermilk is starting to become more widely available in the UK. The real thing is pretty good but you can make an adequate substitute by putting a squeeze of lemon juice into some milk and waiting for it to curdle.
Chocolate – If I use chocolate in a recipe, it will almost inevitably be Lindt 70% chocolate. Sometimes I use their 85% chocolate and sometimes their creamy milk chocolate depending on the recipe. I really don’t like the taste of Green and Black’s chocolate (the other widely available type) and I also like Lindt for purely practical reasons as it’s quite thin and melts easily. Also their caramel and sea salt bar is amazing.
Cocoa nibs – Little bitter nuggets of the outer shell of the cocoa bean. They are vaguely chocolate-y but not at all sweet. They are great thrown in granola or in place of chocolate chips for something a bit more sophisticated. I use Naturya brand cocoa nibs (available at Holland & Barrett or via Ocado). They’re a bit pricey but you get a fairly big bag.
Cocoa powder – I’ve never come across the description of cocoa powder as ‘dutch process’ in the UK; it seems to be the default here therefore no distinction is ever drawn. They’re not really a one-for-one substitute as they react differently to baking powder and baking soda but I always use Green and Black’s so you can assume that everything I make will work with any other dutch process cocoa powder.
Coconut oil – Most coconut oil in the UK is unrefined (or ‘virgin’) as opposed to being refined which appears to be more usual in other places. You can use them interchangeably but unrefined coconut oil has a slightly coconut taste which may or may not suit the recipe. It’s fairly widely available these days – even my local Tesco Express stocks it.
Corn flour – Corn flour = corn starch. I’ve always used it to make a roux in preference to plain flour (in fact, it was a shock to me that most people didn’t). Also useful to create a bit of softness and lightness in baked goods.
Cream – The fat % in US vs UK cream differs but, as a general rule, double cream = heavy cream. I don’t tend to use whipping cream much so you’re pretty safe with just double cream.
Ground almonds – Ground almonds = Almond meal. There also exists a slightly more finely ground version – almond flour. You don’t really see it for sale in the UK so I just use ground almonds for everything. You can make it yourself in a food processor if you are so inclined (this goes for other nuts too; I particularly use ground hazelnuts).
Milk – We generally have semi-skimmed milk in our house for no other reason than it’s what I grew up with. I have no aversion to whole milk but I just am not in the habit of buying it. I’d never bother with skimmed milk.
Olive oil – I’m not a particular connoisseur of olive oil. I use Filippo Berio extra virgin olive oil in my baking as it’s easy to find and not too strong-tasting.
Rice flour – I tend to use brown rice flour although I’ve noticed that Dove’s Farm sell a generic ‘rice flour’ which is a blend of white and brown. I don’t think it really makes a difference though. I like it as it’s a fairly plain and basic replacement for flour and fairly widely available. I buy brown rice flour from Holland & Barrett.
Salt – Despite having more different types of salt than I know what to do with, I almost always use Maldon sea salt (or smoked sea salt). I normally crush it up in my fingers before throwing it in.
Sugar – Ah sugar. So much fun. I normally use demerara sugar because I like the flavour and it’s easy to work with. Turbinado sugar is a pretty good substitute if you can’t find it. I get annoyed by brown sugar and the way it all clumps together. We also generally use caster sugar rather than granulated sugar in the UK but it’s all much of a muchness. I prefer to use golden caster sugar (apart from when making caramel) because I like the taste.
Yoghurt – I like it with the ‘h’ in there thank you very much. I use full-fat plain (or greek-style) yoghurt in my recipes and in my eating. I tend to just buy mine from Tesco.