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Why My Mother Was Right

May 31, 2013

It took 4 boxes of flour before the bottom of the sieve stopped wriggling.

 I’d never previously understood why my mother always taught me to sieve the flour first when making a cake.  I know that it’s supposed to make the cake all light and airy, but I’ve conducted some pretty intensive research and the cakes that I’ve eaten with un-sieved flour were remarkably similar to those made with sieved flour.  I repeated the experiment a few times and, if blindfolded and forced to eat yet more cake (in the interests of full and comprehensive study) wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. 

That was until I came to Pakistan.  I can now tell you the difference.  Cakes made with un-sieved Pakistani flour are more likely to hatch than those made with sieved flour.  There were some quite fascinating ecosystems living in boxes 1-3 of my Formula (TM) Self Raising Flour.  Box 4, however, was bereft of life, and so we shall eat cake.  Hurrah.

It’s the same with eggs.  My mother always taught me to crack an egg into a cup before adding it to a mixture in case it was bad.  I’ve never, ever seen a bad egg.  In the UK they are so pasteurised that the Lion Mark eggs will be keeping the cockroaches company in any post-apocalyptic world. 

Until today.  Today, I found 2 bad eggs.  They were nestling, quietly biding their time, in a box I purchased all of 2 days ago. 

Mother dear (she reads my blog), you were right.  

That will be all. 


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  1. Hi, I’ve just speant a lovely half an hour reading through your blog and wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed it (best fire engine cake ever!). Love the thought of Randell as Jesus…


    • Thank you so much! That’s a very lovely comment which I approved very swiftly!


      • We make a balls cake in this house which is essentially chocolate cake covered in malteasers with the appropriate age picked out in m and m’s… Have you read Bridget keanon diplomatic baggage (that might not quite be her name but its a long way to the bookcase). Some of the things you’re talking about remind me of her.

        I’d use the flour sans grobblies…


  2. abbeyjones permalink

    I’d never used my sifter as much as I have since I moved to Islamabad!


  3. Does this mean that you then use the flour? I had a bit of a dilemma. Because I was making the cakes for someone else I threw it all away until I had a clean batch with no grobblies in the sieve, but I wonder if there’s any harm in actually using the flour, given that you’ve already got the grobblies? Thoughts?


  4. Was Living Down Under permalink

    Don’t throw the flour out. Sieve out the grobblies and use it. They’re in almost everything that is free of preservatives, chemicals, etc. I learned this living is Australia when I left my broccoli on the counter… and found the eggs hatched and little wormy looking things were crawling away from the broccoli (needless to say I NEVER eat broccoli raw anymore!). My Indonesian nanny would wash the broccoli in salted water to encourage the crawlies to crawl out before being boiled 🙂

    Also, invest in some airtight containers if you can (Lock’n’locks work really well) – prevents them from getting in and if they’re already in there, it prevents them from hatching 🙂

    Also in summer, store as much as you can in your fridge – I grew up in the middle east and apparently it was standard practice – EVERYTHING – including your spices…

    This is all leaving me a little queasy…


  5. Thanks for the top tip! I shall, in future, be using the flour rather than throwing it out (after sieving it maybe 2 or 3 times…). I am, however, NEVER, going to eat raw broccoli, at least not whilst I’m living in Pakistan. That’s just nasty! We put all our vegetables in Milton (TM) anyway, but even so, it’s not worth the risk.
    Don’t worry – I’m the world’s biggest fan of tupperware/Lock’n’Lock. I have cupboards full!
    And spices? Really? What on earth lives in spices? Actually, don’t tell me…I don’t think I could take it if I knew…


  6. I have just made the world’s best biscuits (no seriously) WITHOUT sieving the flour (even though the recipe said I should) and as I did, I thought:

    “Silyoj says I’m only doing it to get rid of creepy crawlies. If I find a creepy crawly i’m going to take it back to Sainsbury’s where it came from and complain loudly. I am however, going to take the risk – thanks Sainsbury’s”.

    If my biscuits are ruined for lack of sieving, I will blame you…

    ps though with eggs I do do that – but then I grew up with our own chickens and you never quite knew how long an egg had been hiding in the hedge you found it in… You can float them too if you don’t want to risk the smell – they should sink if they’re good.


  7. Don’t leave us on a knife-edge….how were the biscuits?


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