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Apron

I made this apron a few days ago. It used up the last of some very beloved fabric. It came from HIckey’s a couple of years ago and I made cushion covers and draught excluders with it. I doubt it’s still stocked but will have a look next time I’m in there and keep my fingers tightly crossed. Anyway, the pattern is one I found online, didn’t like the straight straps or length and modded accordingly. In taking the picture, it just would not drape in any aesthetically pleasing way and I had to bother it considerably to just lie across the chair. Think the animals were trying to make a run for it.

The back:

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The back crosses over very nicely. No strap pulling round the neck, just an easy slouch on and off. You can see I lined it. I could pretend this was to create a more professional, finished look to the garment. Sadly, no. It was because I couldn’t be arsed to find, make or stitch biased binding around the edges. Really cack-handed with biased binding. The apron was stitched wrong-sides together and bagged, using the top of the bib, then top-stitched all round with a double needle. It was the easy option. I shall wait until the kitchen is done – NEXT FRIDAY – before I give my favourite fabric it’s first outing. Oh my cake stained slippers, I am so excited!

I actually made two aprons and ordered some material from Amazon especially. I was so disappointed. It was a running hare print. I love hares. The picture showed the hares looking fairly small and ditzy. The fabric arrived and I was confronted by demonic looking rabid lagomorphs, like a still from Watership Down, the movie. Still made the f***ing apron even though it was a bit depressing. If only I could receive an empowering banana message, I thought! If only someone would take a Sharpie to a phallic piece of fruit and write me a message of succour! ‘You are sew wonderfu!’ or ‘You are the perfect sewlmate!’. Then, miraculously I was given a sign of wonder:

The Flying Spaghetti Monster appeared to me! In my living room! Cynics would claim the FSM was merely the disjectamenta of recent apron cuttings and their configuration of the Pastafarian deity’s image arbitrary and serendipidous. I say ‘Yahwe’ or ‘Yahboo’ or something like that to those sceptics.

Princess Cakes

Well, off to finish some small cakes. They’re Swedish Princess cakes. Made yesterday using egg whites only in the sponge (more yolks to use up – omelette for tea!).  I made up a small amount of raspberry goo or pureé, as it’s properly known, which was stirred into Swiss meringue buttercream (the tasting and making of this buttercream is responsible for at least 5 of my arse inches – kryptonite!) and used to fill and cover the little cakes.

They’ve been chilling in the fridge overnight and will be covered with a thin layer of white marzipan and decorated with marzipan flowers and royal icing. Well, that’s the plan. Will be back with pictures if all turns out well.

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Blackcurrant Macarons

If you read the last post, you’ll know I was left with a good quantity of eggs whites after making lemon curd and had decided to make some macarons with them – well, here they are! They are everything you’d want – crisp outer shell, chewy middle and each one has a decent skirt or ‘foot’ as it’s called (the ‘frilly’ edge just below the smooth case).

The blackcurrant ganache was a huge hit! Really delicious, really fruity. I bought freeze dried blackcurrant powder from Amazon. It wasn’t cheap but it promised full-on flavour with as minimal as possible vitamin C destruction. It certainly delivered on the flavour (I have no way or knowing about the Vit C so I’ll believe them unless I develop scurvy).

The almond paste shell was coloured with a concentrated food paste but the ganache was pure blackcurrant powder, double cream and white chocolate.

I was surprised at just how delicious they were. The first flavour hit was the blackcurrant followed by the almond of the macaron. OMG. Too bloody nice. There are times when I think an over-active thyroid could be a blessing….

I made about thirty pairs altogether. Mr Tree has already eaten some of the odd shaped  less formal looking ones. Next door lady would like some (she popped round yesterday and asked what I was making) and Mr T is taking some into work tomorrow so that will help on the damage limitation front if I succumb to temptation….

Little pickers wear big knickers, or so they say…

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Lemon and poppyseed cupcakes

What could be better than having the oven on for a day’s baking session when the temperature outside is -2? I made 24 lovely little lemon and poppyseed cupcakes – froze 12 of them (without any icing on) to use some other time. I’m feeling a bit cakied off since Christmas. I also made a jar of lemon curd which came in useful…

 

I used an apple corer to remove a little core of the cupcake and squeeze in a nice dollop of lemon curd. Ooh la la!

The icing was a blend of buttercream with mascarpone, teeny tiny shreds of lemon zest (organic, unwaxed) and topped off with a sprinkle of poppy seeds.

We were going round to a friend’s so took round a little box of cakes:

The cake box came from the 99p shop or Dealz… one of those brilliant bargain shops … and it dressed the cakes up a treat.

The lemon curd did make for a bowl of egg whites…. I think that calls for a batch of macarons. I bought some freeze dried blackcurrant powder that I’ve been dying to try in a white chocolate ganache.

I shall return with the results and let you see how they went.

Wrap up warm and keep out of the cold as best you can.

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More fondant fancies

I have a confession. This cake is actually the Christmas cake that I didn’t ice in time for the big day. It’s been maturing with lots of brandy sprinkles and feeds since last August and smells divinely fruity, rich and heady. I got to it this morning. It really is a properly rich fruitcake.  with black treacle and lots of dried fruits. It’s covered in marzipan and roll-out fondant (I actually like the Shamrock brand of roll out fondant. Used to hate the stuff for having a plastic flavour but the Shamrock fondant is really nice). The flowers are made from fondant as well and the bibbly-bobblies are piped on using Royal Icing.

Flexilace – The cake topper

A slightly wider view:

The top is a Katie Sue design: Royal Design Mat:

The mat and Flexilace were Christmas presents and today was the first time I’d used them. If you’ve never made Flexilace before, a word to the wise – a little goes a very long way. I made up 50g of Flexilace to 75ml of cooled water and had enough to make all sorts of lace bands and butterflies and other doodahs (another set of silicone moulds received (with joy) for Christmas).The good news is that they keep well in a ‘wallet’ of greaseproof paper. I only intended to make the single mat pictured above, though! I think 12g and 17ml of water would have done.

The lace is a cinch to make. Boil the required volume of water, let it cool then stir into the Flexilace powder. Keep stirring and ‘beating’ for about 3 minutes till it’s blended, smooth and spreadable. Use a spatula to apply it to the mat or fill a mould. Pop into the oven at 160C for about 15 mins or until dry to touch. Let it cool then gently peel the mould away from the set lace. This stuff is fairly resilient but if there are fine lines you need to take a little more care and peel away from the mat very gently.

I used a little squinch of royal icing here and there on the top of the cake to secure it into place then topped it with a final flower. To finish it all off I used a dry paintbrush to flick pearl lustre-dust over the cake to give it a little shimmer. You can see the bokeh effect in the middle picture. They’re not Photoshopped sparkles.

I loved making all the flowers. Very zen, very soothing. Ahhh! So happy it turned out as beautifully as it did.

The two aprons I use regularly are now in the wash so… I’m off to make one of those dead-hip Japanese cross-back aprons that I’ve envied online. I’ve downloaded free patterns and modded them because they were too long or the straps were too skinny and actually made my template from cheap muslin. The template is good and so it’s time to get some of my fabric stash out and make one to wear! More fun!

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Having a ball!

Here’s the cake I mentioned in the last post. The cake is a Victoria sponge with blackberry/raspberry goo buttercream, thickly crumb-coated with the same buttercream all over then covered with roll out fondant icing dibbled and dabbled with nobbly bobbly royal icing and more fondant flowers than the Chelsea Flower Show.

I cut a slice of the cake from the bottom to give it a stable base and it was light, fluffy and delicious. It wouldn’t give Miss Mary and Paul Hollywood grounds to consign it to the ‘soggy bottom’ category.

We had a slice after tea and just so as you don’t think we’re a pair of gannets, I took some round to my neighbour’s as well!

The buttercream is amazing! It’s fruity and sweet, smooth and silky. Definitely is the nicest buttercream I’ve ever made.

 

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