Saturday, 24 November 2012

Quilt books and baking

Oh joy, the postman brought me a parcel this morning, Amazon was quick to send a delicious new quilt book I have been craving since September. Japanese Quilting piece by piece by Yoko Saito. My initial pre order showed a delay on this new to print book, so I cancelled the order and then 8 weeks later it was reduced by £2 and in stock. bargain! I am now looking forward to a pleasant afternoon reading. I was unfamiliar with Yoko Saito's work until I saw this book pop up under the ... people who bought this also bought.. selection when I was browsing the web, I love the subtle colors and there are some sculptural bag patterns with instructions that leave plenty of room for you to fly free with your imagination.

Winter is coming and the squirrel in me is filling the freezer and sorting the cupboards in readiness. I have been baking today, first off a batch bake of a new recipe for orange drizzle cake. A basic 4 flour, 4 fat, 4 sugar, and  2 egg sponge recipe with rind of an orange added, I also introduced some orange essence.  I made the ingredients times two and produced two 1lb loafs and an 8" round sponge. Coated whilst warm with a luxurious blend of the juice of an orange mixed with castor sugar and topped off with a sprinkling of toasted coconut.

I then went onto scones, good old British cream tea ones and some yummy cheese ones to follow.
An old recipe but works well every time.

1 lb plain flour, 4 oz margarine, 1 tsp bicarb of soda. 2tsp cream of tartar, @8 fluid oz of milk  ( I used buttermilk once but found it made a denser scone.)
For a cheese version you add 4 oz strong cheddar and a teaspoon of grainy mustard.

Mix the fat with the dry ingredients until breadcrumb like, add the milk to make a firm but not wet dough.
Roll out on a lightly floured surface to about 3/4" high, i fold the dough in half at this stage and roll again, it makes a scone that splits through the middle with no effort or knife needed. The less handling you do of the dough the better it is.

Cut into rounds, brush the tops with a bit of the milk and place onto a warm baking sheet, into a preheated hot oven my fan oven was cranked to 210 degrees. remove after around 10 minutes or when well risen and a light golden brown.
Serve with cream and jam or as in our house let the kids and husband just eat them from the cooling rack as they are!
The cheese ones are great with soup and small ones made using a 1" cutter and lightly buttered make great party nibbles.
I couldn't be bothered to grate the cheese (chip in the domestic goddess halo here!) Anyway I threw the cheese in the food processor with the butter and flour and pressed the button until it looked like breadcrumbs. It worked like a dream and one bit less washing up.

As I sit here typing the kitchen is filling with the smell of chocolate a couple of trays of brownies are baking slowly and forming a gooey centre with a crispy crackled top.
Easy to make and hard to resist. The secret is to cook in a slow oven so the center cooks but doesn't dry out. I used  225 g castor sugar, 100 g melted butter, 40 g cocoa, 2 eggs, 1 sp vanilla essence, 50 g self raising flour, 50 g chocolate chips  (I hadn't any so I smashed up a 50 g of rich dark 74% cocoa chocolate)
All the above was stirred until mixed then spooned into a 8" square baking tin lined with grease proof paper.
(I take no chances and use those liners that fit in tins and cover the bottom and sides. Nothing worse than a sticking cake! My oven was set to 160 degrees and I left it in there for about twenty five minutes the top wants to be cooked and the centre soft but cooked.

Getting a bit carried away with cooking today and promise to have a crazy patchwork glasses case pattern for you tomorrow. Just right for embroidering over the long nights.
I am off now to curl up with my lovely new book and a nice cup of tea, wishing you all a lovely afternoon.

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