Coronavirus chemicals update, 18th December 2020

Dear Friend,

Happy Friday! It’s Day 270 of Lockdown, and I know a lot of readers will be going off on holiday today, so if this includes you, I hope you have a really good break. Goodness knows, after this year, we all deserve it.

Coronavirus news

Yesterdays announcement of a review of the Covid-19 tiers in England resulted in many areas moving from Tier 2 to Tier 3, and only a few areas dropping down a tier. Yorkshire remains in Tier 3. There is also talk of another Lockdown after Christmas .

Brexit state of play

Negotiations are continuing, with the possibility of No Deal on the table, but whether this is political posturing or not remains to be seen.

While all this goes on, chemical regulations for after Brexit are slowly being published. Nicola Kaye writes:

The latest UK REACH Amendment has been published on

The weekend read

Angus Keddie has just written another thoughtful blog about something which he has noticed, which is shorter HAZOps are not being carried out during the crisis. This may have long-term consequences for businesses, and with Zoom and other technologies it is possible to hold short HAZOps remotely just like longer ones.


The weekend recipe

More Christmas recipes today, and after last week’s vegan recipe from Aaron, I thought we should have some non-vegan ones for balance.

You may wonder why I’m so keen on “free from” recipes, and the answer is that with a sister who can’t eat chocolate, and a niece who’s lactose intolerant and vegetarian, and at one time thought she might be gluten intolerant, another niece who was vegetarian for a while (about 5 minutes, as it turned out) trying to keep everybody happy in the family takes a bit of working out. At least my nephews will eat pretty much anything!

Coffee Yule Log

This is something I invented for my sister, so she wouldn’t feel left out at Christmas. Her chocolate intolerance occurred after she had the flu, it seems to be some kind of response in her body to it. She’s been like this for probably 10 years now, and her children have responded sensitively to her disability by asking her to make chocolate cakes and other chocolate food whenever possible, even though it makes her feel nauseous!

Sponge Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 3 oz sugar
  • 3 oz self raising flour, sifted twice to aerate
  • 2 tablespoons Nescafe Azera (or Gold Blend, if you don’t like the ground coffee bits)

Sponge method: Heat your oven to gas mark 6 before you start. Prepare a 12 inch x 9 inch baking tray or swiss roll tin ready – grease it lightly with butter, cover with greaseproof paper, and lightly grease the paper as well. Place a heatproof basin over a pan of simmering water (don’t let the water touch the bowl), and break the eggs into it. Whisk the eggs really well with the sugar until pale and creamy and slightly thick, then add in the coffee and whisk some more. You will either need a balloon whisk and a lot of patience, or a mechanical whisk, in which case you won’t need to do it over hot water. Take the bowl off the pan of hot water, and spoon the flour into the egg and sugar mix, folding in carefully to keep the air in as much as possible. Pour carefully into the swiss roll tin, smooth out flat and put immediately in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

When baked and still warm, place the tin upside down on some fresh greaseproof paper, remove the tin, and remove the hot greaseproof paper from the sponge carefully, so as not to tear the sponge. Trim the sponge edges to make a rectangle, and remove any stiffer bits (eg slightly burnt bits) – this helps the sponge roll up more easily. Then about 1 inch from the short edge of the sponge, cut about half to 3/4s down into the sponge, fold the edge over, and roll the sponge round that, rolling the greaseproof paper with it. Leave until completely cold. (See this video for how to do it:

In the meantime, make the filling and topping.

For the filling, simply whisk 1/4 pint (5 fluid ounces) double cream to stiff peaks. Set on one side.

The topping is caramel icing. At this point, you can cheat by using pre-made caramel in a tin (recommended, Carnation do one), or if you want to make caramel, use the caramel recipe from here: (but note that this recipe has been pinched from a food blog which no longer exists, and the journalist forgot to say that when the sugar is nicely brown, take it off the heat, add the cream (it will boil up, be careful), and mix to get your caramel sauce. If making the caramel sauce from scratch, allow it to cool while you make up the icing. (Personally, I wouldn’t add salt to caramel for this recipe).

Make a buttercream icing by beating 1/4lb butter until smooth, then beat in 1/4 lb sifted icing sugar. Add in a couple of spoons of caramel, to taste (you need to make sure it’s not too sweet).

Then make up your Coffee Yule Log – the fun part! Carefully unroll the sponge and greaseproof paper, and take the paper off the sponge. Cover the sponge with a nice thick layer of the whipped cream, and roll back up again into the log shape. At this stage, you can be fancy and cut off a piece to make a “branch”, or just leave the log whole. Then cover the log with the caramel icing, and draw the tines of a fork through it to make “bark”. You can also sprinkle a dusting of fine coffee powder (bash up in your mortar and pestle), and/or icing sugar for artistic effect. This is what my version looks like: Coffee yule log.pdf (with the pale icing, I tried to make it look a bit like a silver birch log).

Chocolate Yule Log

I do like a chocolate yule log at Christmas, although it’s not really compatible with my low-carb diet – but then again, it is Christmas! The recipe I use is from an old M&S cake book I was given many years ago, and it’s very similar to the one above (OK, I admit it, I used it as a base for my coffee yule log recipe!).

Instead of 3 oz self raising flour, use only 2 1/2 oz, and 1/2 oz good quality cocoa powder (not drinking chocolate). I use Bourneville cocoa powder at the moment, but prefer Rowntree’s cocoa powder if I can get hold of it (difficult with the baking shortages this year). Sift the cocoa powder and flour together twice to get out any lumps and make sure it is really well aerated.

Fill with cream, as before, and top with a chocolate icing. The M&S book recipe for this is 4 oz plain chocolate, 2 oz butter, 2 egg yolks and about 4 oz sifted icing sugar. Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water until chocolate melts, and beat until smooth. Beat in the egg yolks and sufficient icing sugar to give a thick smooth spreading consistency.

I haven’t made this icing with egg yolks for many years, tending to just melt the chocolate (in the microwave) and beat it carefully into the butter. Make your usual butter icing, and add melted chocolate to taste, my own notes are 4 oz butter, 8 oz icing sugar, 2 oz melted chocolate, although you can vary this to taste. I use Lindt 70% chocolate, or even 85% which are both quite bitter. If you use a sweeter dark chocolate, you may want to use less icing sugar (you could start with 1:1 butter to sugar before adding the melted chocolate carefully – you can always add more icing sugar if you need to).

Reasons to be cheerful

Today’s Gavin and Stacey clip is Christmas dinner with the Wests and Shipmans

, a scene all too familiar to those of us in the UK.

You may also like the differences between a UK and USA Christmas

. For any USA readers, I’m sorry, but you are wrong and we are correct, especially about what to leave out for Father Christmas’s visit, because, as we know, Santa’s a Scotsman (sorry, couldn’t resist putting it in again!)

Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to the newsletter today and throughout the week. As usual, if you have anything you’d like to share, please email me and I’ll do my best to include it in the next newsletter.

Happy Christmas to our readers who are going off on holiday, like Sarah. I will be working next week until lunchtime on Christmas Eve, so the newsletter will still continue.

I hope you have a lovely weekend, and that you, your family, friends and colleagues all stay safe and well, because that’s the most important thing.

​Kind regards,


Janet Greenwood

TT Environmental Ltd