Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Malt Loaf and a Cup of Tea

Ahhhhh... one of my most favourite treats today!  And another recipe I can't believe I have never posted on here!  Malt loaf.  Moist, delicious, fruit loaf - perfect in the afternoon, sliced and buttered with a cup of tea.  Thanks Mum for your recipe!

Once again, I did a double batch!  It really was the best thing when I received two new loaf tins for my birthday :-D 

I'll get going on this malt loaf recipe now, and there are a bunch of savoury recipes coming soon to the blog.  I can't wait to share all of the dinners we have been creating using seasonal vegetables from our CSA Winter Box!  Watch this space for some non-baking blog posts soon!!

Ingredients (for just the one loaf!):

8oz self-raising flour
1/2 cup demerara sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup milk
4oz dried fruit (I used raisins and sultanas)
1 egg
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tbsp black treacle


1.  Soak fruit with a cup of black tea overnight in a jug/bowl.  Enjoy a cup of tea seeing as the kettle is boiling!

2.  Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and grease and line loaf tin (or tins if you are doing a double batch like me!)

3.  Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl.

4.  Put the batter into the prepared loaf tin and place in centre of oven.

5.  Bake for 1 hour, until a cake tester/skewer comes out clean.

6.  Leave to cool, then slice and enjoy... With another cup of tea of course!!

That's all for today folks! 
Hopefully I'll be back next week with some vegetable inspired recipes for once :-)

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Estonian Skirt for Baby Amelia!

It has been a while since I blogged, but WAY longer since I blogged a sewing project!  The last bit of sewing I did was the easy DIY burp cloths that was before our baby daughter was even born and now Amelia has arrived (and that we now know she is a girl!) I got to make her very first skirt for her! 
In the Summer this year we visited Estonia - a great trip, visiting the old town of Tallinn, exploring the countryside, and having big family reunions with my husband's extended Estonian family!
Full of cultural heritage, Estonia is divided into regions each with their own national dress - rahvariided!  Always beautiful fabrics, intricate embroidery and really wonderful handmade outfits, I knew I wanted to come home with some fabric to one day do something with for our soon-to-arrive little one!  We chose this beautiful red fabric, with blue and green stripes running down it which was from Mustjala - an area where one of Jonathan's grandmother's is from.
And so, this past Sunday - with the Saarte Hommik service at church - celebrating the islands of Estonia with music and national dress from those islands I knew it was the perfect opportunity to try and create something for our little girl to wear.  Saturday afternoon was the time for my first try at naptime sewing :-)  Luckily my husband was home to, to help me out, and also to have some great Daddy-daughter time!!
I used this online tutorial as a base to help me out with making this (it was my first baby skirt after all!) so thank you to Delia Creates for this, and do check out her great blog with SO many wonderful tutorials to try out. 
Using a blue stretchy knit fabric that I already had in my stash (and was SO lucky it was the perfect colour) I started out making the waistband.

So for my 5 1/2 week little girl, I measured her waist, and also went with Delia's 0-3 month size guide and cut out a rectangle for 17.5 x 12" with the stretchiest part of the fabric running across the long length (I chose to do a fold-down waist with a single seam).
Folding from the left, right sides together I sewed along the right hand edge and then turned it back around, creating a tube that could be folded down like so, for her itty bitty waist! 
Please do follow Delia's great tutorial for more info!  I took pictures as I went, but I'm definitely no professional sewer, and she explains it much better!
Then take your chosen fabric for the body of the skirt and measure what you will need.  For this I did two pieces of 18 x 8" material.  I chose to do a two seam version, only because the length of my fabric was 22" across so it worked out better to cut two pieces rather than one longer piece, and also added 1 inch to the length to see if perhaps she will get a few more wears out of it at other Estonian events in her near future!
Both pieces cut out, wrong sides together and edges pinned - I sewed them both together along the edges with a straight stitch.
Now for the part that went a little wrong, and I don't know if it was my fault, or the material's - or both!  It was time to do the two rows of stitching across the top of the skirt (right sides out now).  The instructions said to stitch with high tension, and long stitch length along the top, but I made the error of using zig zag stitch here resulting in a long time unpicking tiny stitches and then going again with straight stitch!  OOPS!
Two parallel lines of straight stitching, it was time to try and pull the stitches from the ends of the thread to gather it together.  Seems easy right?!  But I had a really hard time gathering the fabric together, perhaps because it is such heavy fabric? ... After a break for a feed I got back to it and kept pulling until it had gathered enough to fit the waistband! ... Can't wait to try this again on another material and see if it was me and my errors, or perhaps just the fabric that was hard to work with for the gathering! 

Taking the waistband and lining up where I wanted the seams to lie, I folded the waistband down over the top edge of the skirt and pinned it together before sewing - this time correctly WITH a zig zag stitch (to add a little stretch) around the edge.

And there it was - pretty much complete!  I put the skirt on my sweet little baby girl to test the waistband size and it was perfect! ... Phew!

A quick hem later and it was DONE!  After some struggles figuring out how to make some parts of this work, I am more than happy with how it turned out, and she looked so wonderful in it on Sunday!

I can't wait to make more of these little skirts for her, now I've done it once I figure I will be able to sew these much more quickly in the future, and can't wait to try it out with other fabrics and designs :-)

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Thanksgiving Apple Loaf with Maple Syrup Buttercream

A little late to the blog this week, but I haven't been able to write about the Apple Loaf I baked for Thanksgiving, mainly due to being busy with the thing I am most thankful for in the whole world... Our little girl arrived safely on Wednesday 1st October, and we are just the most happy little family and life couldn't be better. 

So now perhaps baking isn't the baby in my life anymore!  But I have successfully baked, and one-handed baking is now a thing I should probably get used to, but it couldn't be more fun :-)

I had a bunch of apples to use and Thanksgiving dinner at my cousin-in-laws so I wanted to find a relatively easy and quick loaf recipe to bake in between feeds and changes that would work for the post-dinner, post-dessert, coffee and cake course of Thanksgiving!

I found this Apple Loaf recipe and thought it looked like just what I was looking for... As usual a few tweaks and it was just perfect!  Very moist, which meant it also kept really well too.  Give it a try this Fall!


175g unsalted butter, softened
175g sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
225g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
25ml milk
2 medium apples, peeled, cored and grated


1.  Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F and grease and line a loaf tin with parchment paper.

2.  In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

3.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition and add the vanilla extract with the last egg.

4.  Sift in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice and mix together until combined.

5.  Add the milk and stir in.

6.  Add the grated apples and fold through so that they are evenly distributed. 

7.  Transfer the batter to the prepared tin and place in the preheated oven for 1 hour - 1 hour 15 minutes, until a skewer or cake tested comes out clean. 

8.  Take out of the oven and leave the cake to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

For added deliciousness I took some plain buttercream I had leftover that was in the fridge, and added 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, mixing it together to make a maple buttercream that I didn't decorate the cake with, but put in a bowl ready to be spread on the loaf (kind of like bread and butter) for people to have as much or as little of a wee bit of sweetness with their slice of apple loaf!

It has been the best October so far, and I can't wait to post more baby related crafts, sewing projects and one handed bakes soon :-)

Monday, 13 October 2014

Vanilla and Chocolate Marble Cupcakes

Not very seasonal for this Fall/Thanksgiving time of year, but I wanted to share these cupcakes I made a few weeks ago as it was a try at marble cupcakes that I had never made before.
I was SUPER excited to also first be using my new 24 cupcake baking pan that I got for my birthday this Summer.  So much easier to make lots of cupcakes, and bake them evenly and quickly.  We had the youth group over for a back-to-school but also housewarming event so I needed cupcakes for that, and then the following day my choir threw me a really nice 'baby day' celebrating together with cake and sunshine so this was my sweet treat that I took along for us to all share... especially as I'm not at choir rehearsals this semester so no snacks to take there each Tuesday!
I wanted to make cupcakes, and the marble idea just popped in my head!  I've never tried it but have seen it many times and thought it was time for me to try it too.  I had one other idea of cupcake flavour but thought I would wait until Autumn really hit to try that, so I went with basic vanilla and chocolate flavours but to make it more exciting it would be marbled.  I decorated it with a vanilla buttercream and milk chocolate curls. 

I whipped up two batches of cake batter... Here's the recipe...


For the vanilla ~
4oz unsalted butter
4oz sugar
2 eggs
4oz self-raising flour
1 tsp vanilla essence

For the chocolate ~
4oz unsalted butter
4oz sugar
2 eggs
4oz self-raising flour (minus 2 tbsp)
2 tbsp cocoa powder

Method (for both batches):

1.  Preheat oven to 375°F. 
2.  Cream together the butter and sugar in mixer until light and fluffy.
3.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.
4.  Add vanilla essence *if on the vanilla cake batch*
5.  Sift in self-raising flour *and if on the chocolate batch, take out 2tbsp flour and replace with cocoa powder)
6.  Mix well until all combined.
7.  When both batches are made, take a small cookie scoop and place one scoop of vanilla cake batter, and one scoop of chocolate cake batter into each cupcake liner.

8.  Using a cake tester/skewer, swirl the two scoops together to achieve the marble effect.

9.  Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until cooked through and spring back to the touch.

10.  Cool on a cooling rack and admire the marbled effect, and how cool and unique each cupcake looks!

11.  Using a 18oz icing sugar, 12oz unsalted butter, 1.5 tsp vanilla essence and 1.5 tbsp milk mixture, make buttercream to frost the cupcakes. 

12.  I used a large Wilton closed star tip to pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes.  I was sad to be covering up the marble design of the cupcakes!
13.  Using a potato peeler, a few curls of chocolate later and these cupcakes were ready to be eaten!

Thanks Mum for this amazing new cake server you got me for my birthday in August, it's my new favourite!  I love it :-)

So next time I make cupcakes, I'll try the more Autumn-y recipe I had in mind, so watch this space for more baking soon!