Thursday, 28 October 2010


I found a great tutiorial on an American blog called purl bee. It was for a wreath made from felt in a pale cream/off white colour. They had used luminous embroidery thread to add detail to their flowers but I'm not sure that'd look right in my house so I have decided to use silvery thread and a few coloured beads instead.

So far I've cut out most of the flowers, just a few more centres to do and then I can get assembling.
I've got no idea where I can hang it yet!
for some reason I can't link to the site at the moment so I've posted the address below if you want to take a look.

Here's the wreath before it's assembled:


I can't remember ever cooking a savoury scone before but I think it's a recipe I'll definitely try again.
This one came from the November edition of the Sainsbury's magazine. There is a page dedicated to different versions of the delightful scone (although not one for the purists!) and this is the first one I had a go at.
I had one with some leek and potato soup for lunch and I'm hooked, I can see these taking the place of ham and cheese muffins in my freezer this winter.

275g natural yoghurt
25ml double cream
25g caster sugar
400g plain flour
2tsp creme of tartar
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g cold butter, diced
100g cold shredded fried bacon
4 spring onions, sliced finely
handful of chopped parsley
a handful of grate cheese
beaten egg (or yoghurt) to brush the top with

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C, or 200 for a fan assisted oven.
Stir together the yoghurt, cream and sugar and leave for a few minutes so the sugar can dissolve.
Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, creme of tartar and 1/2 tsp salt into a large mixing bowl and lightly rub in the butter.
Add the cooked bacon, parsley and spring onions to the flour and mix.
Add the toghurt mixture to the flour and stir using a blunt knife until it's all mixed together. Work it together until if forms a sticky douhg (it's easier to use hands at this stage).
Scoop out the dough onto a floured surface and pat it out to a thickness of about 2.5cm.
Cut out the scones with a 6cm cutter (remembering not to twist it as this stops the scone rising so well) and place on a tray covered in baking parchement.
Brush the tops with beated egg and add a bit of grated cheese to the top.
Cook for 12-14mins until it's turning golden ontop.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010


After shopping for the Christmas cake ingredients this morning, I got home and had a desire to bake something Christmassy. The biscuit tin was empty and calling out for cookies so I turned to Nigella!
I have made a couple of changes to her cookie recipe as I had no pecan nuts and didn't want to use the dark brown sugar so I opted for just caster sugar for a lighter biscuit.

150g plain flour
1/2tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
75g rolled oats
125g soft butter
175g caster sugar
1 egg
1tsp vanilla extract
100g dried cranberries
175g white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Weigh out the flour, baking powder, salt and oats in one bowl and in another bowl put the softened butter in. Add the sugar to the bowl with the butter beat until creamy. Add the egg and vanilla extract.
Put the dry ingredients into the bowl with the butter and beat together, then fold in the cranberries and choc chips.
Roll a tbsp full of dough into a ball and put onto a baking sheet lined with parchment and squash the cookie slightly using a fork.

Cook for 15mins.
Leave the cookies to harden for a couple of minutes on the baking tray before transfering to a wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010


These are the gingerbread men I've been making recently. They are based on the template in the Tone Finnanger book Crafting Christmas Gifts. Although I have used a different fabric that the one she recommended as I couldn't get hold of any linen.
The gingerbread men are the same style as her Tilda characters with rosy cheeks and pin prick eyes.
I have a few more to make so that I can string them together in a garland ready to hang over the fireplace at Christmas.


Yesterday evening was spent making up a batch of plum jam.

1.8kg plums
1.8kg sugar
1 pint water

First you need to give the plums a rinse and then wipe them. Chop them in half and put into a preserving (or large) pan with the water.

Simmer gently until the fruit becomes soft and pulpy.

Next you need to add the sugar to the pan.

Bring to the boil and remove the stones as they rise to the top. Boil rapidly until you have reached setting point.
I find the easiest way is to put a plate in the fridge/freezer and once it has been boiling for 10mins or so take the plate out, put a small blob onto the plate and if it has reached setting point then the jam will wrinkle when you push it.
You can also test by lifting some liquid on the spoon and tip it off so the liquid runs down the back of the spoon. If it has reached the right temperature the liquid doesn't drip off in several drips but rather coagulates into one clot as it runs off.
This batch of jam seemed to take forever to reach setting point, more like 20mins.

 Skim any scum off the top of the jam.

 Pot your jam into clean and sterilised jars and seal with wax discs or tight fitting lids.

I had a small amount left over which I put in the fridge to test out this morning, we all ate it for breakfast and it tasted lovely, can't wait until toast time tomorrow!

Monday, 25 October 2010


A few weeks ago I got this idea from the MSE forum. Elf clogs - how cute!! Straight away I found out my stash of felt and made up a pair in green with red embroidery silk for the blanket stitch around the edges.
I raided the button tin to find some tiny red buttons to sew onto the front, but they were still missing something.
After a quick search on ebay I found the perfect little bells in silver and gold which I'm going to sew on the end of the shoe.
I want to make a few pairs in a variety of Christmassy colours so I've been busy on some white and green ones (which I love!).
I can't believe I'm already making Christmas decorations but I suppose it'll be here before we know it.
Here's the link to the elf shoe pattern if you fancy having a go

Here they are, I still haven't got around to sewing the bells on yet though!


Tuesday, 19 October 2010


Hubby got the pumpkins in from the garden yesterday in preperation for Halloween, unfortunately one had been eaten away on the bottom so I'm left with one. Not to worry though as the one we have is HUGE!! I'll get a couple more at the local farm shop this week, but the most important thing is deciding what to go on them!
These are the pumpkins I've done in previous years:

I started off very basic with the first pumpkin I did a couple of years ago. Last years spider web was the trickiest but I loved it. I'd like to do a haunted house this year but other than that I'm stumped!

Monday, 18 October 2010


As promised a basic recipe for chocolate truffles.
50g unsalted butter
100ml cream
200g milk chocolate broken into pieces.
140g dark (or milk) chocolate
cocoa powder
100g white chocolate, melted
2tbsp alcohol of your choice (optional)

Put the butter and the cream in a pan and put over the heat until the butter has melted and the mixture is bubbling. Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk choclate pieces.Stir until the chocolate has melted.
(If you want to make liquors then now is the time to add 2tbsp of alcohol, something like Grand Marnier would be lovely!!).
Put the bowl into the fridge and leave until it has set and is firm (takes about 3hours).
Once it has firmed up you can get a spoon full of the mixture and roll it into a ball using the palms of your hands. This can get quite messy so it's useful to have a cloth to hand!
Next you need to roll each of the balls in some cocoa powder to give it a light dusting.
Put the truffles back into the fridge to firm up again (if you need to do these quickly you can put them into the freezer for a short time).
Melt the dark chocolate over a pan of simmering water.
You can now dip the truffles into the melted chocolate using a cocktail stick. Let the excess chocolate drip off and then leave to set on a plate or tray covered with baking parchment.
Allow the truffles to set again in the fridge and then using some melted white chocolate and a disposable piping bag, pipe over 3 or 4 lines on each truffle.
If you don't have a piping bag you can drizzle some melted white chocolate over using a spoon.


Well now the family birthdays are done for this year, thoughts turn to Christmas. I love this time of year and always look forward to Halloween and Bonfire Night celebrations in the run up to December.
I have a few Halloween bits and pieces to be getting on with but other than that most of my up and coming makes will be all things festive.

Things I need to do:
Christmas cakes
Christmas puddings
Pickled onions (not really a make or a bake but I need to write it down to motivate myself into spending hours peeling those pesky onions!)
Stocking for the Little Man
Gingerbread Men garland
Elf shoes/clogs
Christmas Wreath

Things I'd like to do:
Teacup candles
Penguin family from Sew Pretty Christmas Homestyle - so cute!!
Reindeer hobby horse

That should get me started but I'm sure I'll be adding to the list as I find some more gorgeous things in my Christmas sewing books.

Saturday, 16 October 2010


It's been a baking week again in the house as I've been planning a birthday cake for my dad.
It wasn't too complex but took a little time to make the truffles to go ontop of the cake as they had to set at each stage.
The cake is just a chocolate sponge (from Rachel Allen's bake) sandwiched with chocolate buttercream and coated in the same cream to allow the fingers to be stuck around the edge. The top was decorated with the handmade truffles and a ribbon around the edge kept all the fingers in place and finished off the cake nicely. I wouldn't recommend a lot of this cake at once, it's very rich, saying that though my husband managed to polish off a large piece with no trouble but then he's more of a chocaholic than me!
I'll post the recipe for the truffles later on.

Monday, 11 October 2010


Well it's been a while since my last post and the reason for this is I've been so busy with the Little Man's birthday cake. He'd requested a fire engine cake and having never made a cake using sugarpaste before I had a lot of research to do. I learnt a lot along the way and it was well worth it in the end.
I chose to use a maderia cake as it's quite a dense sponge which can support the stacking of the loaves and the decoration ontop. It also tastes better after a day or two which meant I could get ahead by baking the loaves on the Thursday.
After the loaves had cooled I levelled them off and cut one loaf and stacked these pieces end on to make the cab of the engine.
Later that night the next stage was to crumb coat the cake, which sounded very complicated but just meant covering it in buttercream. I used a red paste to colour the cream rather than a liquid food colouring and a small amount of this gave the right shade of red. I have to say that I would have been lost without my new pallet knife at this point!
The day after I rolled out the icing (I cheated a little here and had bought pre coloured red icing) and after the third attempt managed to cover the cake and smooth down the sides.
Then came the best bit!! I was really good fun to add all the little bits of detail on the cake and I mixed up lots of different colours using food colouring and white icing to make the lights, hose, water etc.
The real test came on the Saturday and I'm pleased to say that my son loved his cake, he wouldn't let us cut it until the next day as he wanted to look at it. But after he found ot you could eat the oreo cookie wheels the cake was devoured!

Thursday, 7 October 2010


Today was defintely a day for one of my all time favourite bakes.
Now as much as I'd love to take credit for this one it came from an old Good Food Magazine.
As a fan of Lemon Drizzle cake I wasn't sure this one would come up to the mark but I'm pleased to say it's just as good.
It's the same principle of pouring over the fruit juice and sugar as the cake comes out of the oven, giving you a lovely mosit sponge full of flavour.

The added bonus with this loaf cake is that it has melted chocolate drizzled over the top.
I've posted a link so you can give it a go!!
I also used the butter and flour method to line the tin for this cake and it worked brilliantly giving the cake a nice edge.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010


With my sons 3rd birthday fast approaching I decided I wanted something home-made to go with all the plastic fantastic toys he'll be getting this year. He loves his little kitchen and is often asking for a bib (by which he means apron!) when he's pretending to knock up his dishes of pancakes and pasta.
I ordered some lovely fabric from fabric rehab which I thought would be perfect. I was slightly nervous about getting started as I went it alone with this make. Up to now I've been following patterns religiously so I was pleased with the outcome.

My sewing machine decided it preferred to chew up the fabric rather than sew it whilst I was attaching the straps so I ended up stitching that part by hand. I made a matching tea towel to go with it and phew it's all ready to wrap. I hope it fits!!

Friday, 1 October 2010


My 2 year old was sitting watching one of his favourite cartoons yesterday - Ben and Holly's Magic Kingdom - when he announced that he wanted a magic wand like Holly's.
Another excuse to get out my felt - hooray!! So today I set to work cutting the felt stars, sewing together and filling with soft toy stuffing. As an added bonus the cute little bells I ordered from ebay for my Christmas elf shoes arrived this morning so for an extra bit of magic one of those has been added to the wand too. All in all I think it was one of the easier makes as it only took about 30mins. I'm pleased with the result, I just hope he is when he sees it in the morning.

He told me today that elves don't fly, they have a ladybird instead, I'm not sure how I'll manage to create that one, but I'm working on it!


For me it's the only way to go with brown bananas! I've been a fan of the Tana Ramsay and Bill Granger banana loaves for a long time but I decided to break with tradition and try one from The Hummingbird Bakery. I'm so glad I did as it tastes just perfect. It went down well with my 3 year old too who isn't a big fan of bananas. His words were "delicious Mummy!" so I think this one will become a firm favourite in the future.
270g soft brown sugar
2 eggs
200g peeled bananas, mashed
280g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
140g unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C.
Using a handheld electric whisk beat together the eggs and sugar. Beat in the mashed banana.
Add the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and ginger. Mix it until all the ingredients are incorporated into the egg mixture.
Pour into a loaf tin and bake for about 1 hour until firm to the touch.
Leave to cook slightly in the tin and turn out onto a rack and leave to cook completely.
The recipe did say to prepare the tin by greasing and dusting with flour, I used baking parchment to line my tin but I will definitely use their method next time to get a nice smooth edge to the loaf.


After a lovely Saturday afternoon collecting elderberries and apples from a friends farm I have almost used up the bumper crop. I have already made jam, so the next thing on the list was jelly. The rest of the berries have gone to hubby and Dad to make some wine. I'll look forward to that later on in the year!
I followed a recipe in a book called The Right Way to Make Jams by Cyril Grange The recipes look nice and simple but you need to read the chapter in full to understand the process before you begin. I am after the River Cottage Preserves book now as that one has come highly recommended.

1kg elderberries (on the stalk)
1kg sliced apples
450g sugar to each 600ml of juice

Put the berries and apples in seperate pans with just enough water to cover them. Leave them to cook. (I cooked them until the apples were quite mushy - about 30mins).
Using a jelly bag strain the juice from the berries and the apples into a bowl, this takes at least 8 hours, but I left mine overnight.
Once you have the juice extracted you need to measure the amount of liquid left and put it into a preserving pan. For every 600ml of juice you have you need to add 450g sugar, this then needs to be brought to the boil and boiled for about 10-12mins.
Clear the scum off the top with a slotted spoon and put into sterilised jars. Seal with a waxed disc and leave to cool before adding cellophane. You can also use a twist lid in place of the wax disc and cellophane.
You need to be quite quick to pot the jam as it does start to set in the pan, leaving you with a messy jelly (as I found out when potting my sage jelly!).