Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My new design "Gilding the Lily" - please vote for me at Spoonflower!

Here is my latest design/illustration called "Gilding the Lily" - a title I think is self explanatory!
 I originally hand painted this in watercolour on paper and then scanned, cleaned and Photoshopped the files ready to be uploaded both to my Society6 and Spoonflower shops to make it available as iPad and iPhone cases, framed and stretched prints, tote bags, fabric, wallpaper and so much more.

Here are pictures of some of the items with links to purchase them below the images:
Indoor and outdoor pillows available with and without inserts HERE
Shower curtains available HERE

Women's and men's t's are available HERE in a plethora of colours.
 Kids t's are available HERE and Baby Onesies HERE

Allover printed tote bags HERE
Samsung Galaxy S4 and iPhone cases HERE
Mugs are HERE

Rugs are a brand new item at Society6 and they are available HERE
Stationery cards are HERE
For other items and designs in my Society6 shop please click HERE 

Gilding the Lily is also available as an archival print, hand signed by me - with personailzed signature if requested - from my ETSY shop

Coincidentally this weeks recent competition at Spoonflower was a call for Lilies so I created my original design into an allover repeat and entered it into the competition - I would be ever so grateful if you would be kind enough to vote for me by clicking on this
You can only vote once, I can't tell you where my design is as it shuffles for each person voting, you click on the tick/check mark upper left, the border goes green and then put in the code at the bottom of the page!
Here's the design to look for:
 and here is that design in repeat:
I think I'll be trying this design out with perhaps a blue ground to see how it looks as an alternative/addition to the black.

Thanks for stopping by - next up is an interesting twist on Hot Cross Buns for Friday IF they work out - well I've changed my mind since I wrote this post (I think I'm doing a very lemon cake instead for Easter) but it you want gorgeous Hot Cross Buns please check out my friends Anne blogpost about such at Carrington Lane Bakery. Here's a pic of her perfect buns:

 In the meantime if you would like to bake a faboo cake for Easter why not try a Simnel Cake bursting with dried fruit and oodles of marzipan - click HERE for my recipe.
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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Simple sublime Maple Syrup Tarts

What a little beauty this is - simple, elegant, unassuming in the looks department but packing a complex wallop with it's flavour - another one of those wonderful recipes that belies the simplicity of it's ingredients and method. These Maple Syrup Tarts are marvellous! They are like a cross between an English custard tart and a pecan pie minus the nuts. They are creamy, buttery, custardy, chewy and sweet without being cloying. If you like Maple Syrup make them as soon as you can. I found this recipe at
Kitchen Vignettes by Aubergine 
and decided to try a half recipe because I don't have much syrup and felt, and rightly so hooray!, that this might work well as mini pies.

Once again this year I have made my own maple syrup with sap from my one big old maple tree - it has been a strange sap season thusfar - it started really late because of the never ending cold and there's only been one day so far with it really flowing, the last 2 days it hasn't flowed at all even though it seemed like the conditions were right - above freezing and sunny but narry a drop has dripped so perhaps my syrup making days are already over for this year.
Sap freezing on the way to the pail. 

So - to the recipe: Enough for 10 small delights

PASTRY: Please do weigh your ingredients if you can - the result will be much more reliable!
Start with everything cold, cold, cold - I even put my flour and sugar in the fridge for at least 1/2 hour before I start making the pastry!

5ozs/ 1 1/4 cups of white flour 

4ozs salted butter - hardened in the freezer  

2oz/heaped 1/4 cup of sugar 

about 2 to 4 fluid ounces/1/8 to 1/4 COLD water - the amount will vary depending on the weather and your flour 

METHOD: This is by hand and not in a cuisinart but if you want to use a machine adaption should be easy - you just swish a couple of times for each step until the dough comes together in a ball. 

1. Sift the flour and add the sugar and blend.

 2. Grate the hardened butter into the flour:
3. Gently work butter into flour until it resembles coarse meal or swish in a food processor to achieve the same.
4. Add some of the water and start squushing the pastry and keep adding bit by bit of water until it can be formed into a non-sticky ball - less water is better so squush hard until it comes together: 

5. Put into the fridge to rest for at least one hour - or as long as you like. 

6. Remove your dough from the fridge and allow it to warm slightly for a few minutes then roll out to about a 10" circle, cut as many circles as you can and then reroll the rest to end up with 10 circles - I am making these tarts in small muffin tins and used a 4" diameter glass to make my pastry circles to fit into the tins as seen below - note the pastry does not go all the way up the sides of the tin.
7. Now pop the pastry back in the fridge while you make the heaven that is the filling. By the way - I only have one muffin tin with six holes so I made mine in 2 batches of 6 and then 4. 

Have your oven at 325F
Enough for ten mini tarts but double this if you want to make a single 9" tart

2oz/ 1/4 cup of salted butter

4 fluid ounces/ 1/4 cup half and half/light cream

1/2 tablespoon white flour

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1 large egg whisked

6 fluid ounces/ 3/4 cup maple syrup

1. Gently boil the maple syrup for a few minutes to thicken.

2. Take off the heat and whisk in the butter until it is melted. 

3. Mix in the cream.

4. Put the flour into the measuring jug you had the maple syrup in, and add some of the maple butter mix and whisk until smooth:
5. Then add the egg and whisk some more, then add the rest of the maple butter mix and the salt and whisk until smooth.
6. Take the pastry cases out of the fridge and pour the filling into the pastry cases all the way to the top.
 7. Bob into the pre heated oven and bake for about 35 minutes turning the tin around half way through to get an even bake.

8. Your tarts should look like this and if you jiggle them a little the centres should still have a bit of a wobble.
 9. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before running a palette knife around the edge of each tart to make sure they aren't stuck, then allow to cool completely in the tins.
As usual get the kettle on, kick your shoes off, put your feet up and enjoy a few of your new favourite recipe tarts!
Chewy top, creamy centre, slight weep as in most custardy tarts but a nice weep, yummy pastry - an all around delight!
I do hope I get some more maple sap so I can enjoy these again with my own syrup.
BTW if you like my Blue Rhapsody napkins as pictured in the background of these pics you can find them HERE!

Finally, finally, finally the seemingly never ending winter is over (better keep my fingers crossed there just in case) and nearly all the snow has gone - although you can see some in the background of this pic of my favourite ancient apple tree bare as can be
and the daffs are starting to show through the leaf mulch in the woods beside the house - I cannot wait for the first balmy day and the first blooming flower, this spring and summer I am going to absolutely, undeniably, cross my heart enjoy every single second of every day!
Happy Baking - please be in touch if you make these tarts and feel free to post your pics of such on my 
Facebook page - thanks!!!
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My next post will be about my latest design
"Gilding the Lily"
Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Irish Marmalade Cake for Saint Patrick's Day

 This is a lovely simple, elegant cake to celebrate Saint Patrick's - it surely does have a wonderful Gaelic bent as I used Scottish marmalade which has a nice deep flavour. I used the recipe from this book by Ruth Isabel Ross - one of my 'go to' favourite books for Irish recipes.
These last few weeks I have been eating a lot of organic tangelos and realized - wait why am I throwing away the peel when I can so easily make candied peel on the ever cranked wood burning stove - it has been wicked chilly these last few weeks, nary a day above freezing so the old stove has been doing a fine job of keeping us toasty! Anyway when I decided to do the Irish Marmalade Cake I decided a topping of home made candied 'orange' peel would be a good addition to the simple cake - and boy was I right - was a lovely extra. On the first day when it is poured atop it is shiny and delicious but the next day when it has dried a little and crystallized - it is that much better, as is the cake itself, it is one of those cakes that improves in flavour with a couple of days keeping.

So if you'd like to add your own candied peel to the cake here's what to do:
2 oranges or 3 tangelos - maybe 4 tangerines if you use them

1 cup/8oz  of sugar approx

1/2 cup/8 fl oz of water approx

My method is not very scientific - I chop the peel into small pieces - maybe 1/4" square - and then I boil them in plenty of water for 10 minutes, I drain them and then repeat that process 3 times which helps to debitter the peel.

Then I add the sugar and 1/2 cup/8 fl oz water and boil gently until the peel is somewhat transparent and very shiny - then I taste to see how they are - if they need more sugar I add more and also add more water if the syrup is too thick and then I boil them a little longer. Basically I get them to where they are soft, taste good and have some syrup left for me to use on the cake - it usually takes about an hour or so to get them right. 

Please have all your ingredients at room temperature - makes a much better cake!

Have the oven at 350F and butter and flour a small cake pan - I always use my 6" round that gives a nice high cake - but if you only have a bigger pan then use that and expect a lower cake - keep your eye on the timing too as a shallower cake may take less time to bake.

4oz/125g/1 stick of butter (I always use salted in my sweet recipes - I like the taste it gives)

4oz/125g/ 1/2 cup sugar

4oz/125g/ 1/2 cup marmalade - as you can see I used Dundee - a good strong flavour but Ruth suggests a whiskey marmalade and if you can find one, which I couldn't , why not use it?

8oz/250g/ 2 cups white flour
(in the UK use self raising flour - in the US add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda to your flour to make it self raising)

2 large eggs beaten

2 UK tablespoons/ 2 1/2 US tablespoons of milk
(I don't know for sure as I am not a scientific or technical baker - I do my baking for fun BUT you may be able to exchange the milk for whiskey without changing the recipe but I'll look into that and see if I can find any info on that matter)

1. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Add the marmalade and beat in well.

3. Sift the dry ingredients together and add the milk to the eggs. Add one third of the dry to the mix and fold in well, then add half the wet - fold well, then one third of the dry and fold well...then the rest of the eggs/milk and end with the last of the flour and fold well until well blended and smooth.

4. Now dollop the batter into the cake pan and smooth the top with a wetted palette knife or spoon, the water stops the batter from sticking to the utensil - to leave a well in the centre - this cake rises a lot so making it lower in the middle helps it not to crack so much when baking.
5. My cake got brown really fast so next time I make this I will make sure to put a circle of aluminium foil over the pan at the beginning and then check for colour half way through - I think it will brown well enough without removing the foil but you will have to check. The marmalade in this cake makes the whole cake go nice and dark as in the pictures below.

6. Bake for about 1 hour until a skewer/tooth pick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the pan.
Incidentally if you like the background fabric "Rolling Star Quilt" you can purchase it at my Spoonflower shop HERE
 When the cake is nearly completely cool rewarm the candied peel, remove the cake carefully from the pan, set on your prettiest plate and spoon the candied peel and luscious syrup over your cake thusly:
You can eat this cake right away, as above, or leave for the next day for better flavour as below - if you wait the candied peel will have lost it's shine but gained in texture and the syrup will be wonderfully crystallized and YUMMY!!!!!
And here's a close up of the inside texture:
So off with you now and bake yourself a lovely cake for Saint Patrick's Day!

The first time I made this cake there was not a jar of marmalade to be found in the whole of Belfast, Maine so I used Bonne Maman's Yellow Plum jam - it came out beautifully - I did add the candied peel to that one too - what's surprising though is that cake did not go brown - it stayed a really light yellow so the marmalade does make for a very dark cake. I am sure you can use any jam or marmalade to good effect in this cake and I'd love to try it soon with ginger preserves and candied ginger atop - what do you think would taste good?

Here are some other recipes I have made for this special day, CLICK ON THE NAME TO GO TO THE RECIPE:

"Friends Forever"

 Meanwhile in Maine the sap is slowly beginning to flow - stopping ad starting because we have one warm day and then lots of cold ones - still I am hopeful buy this time next week I'll be having maple syrup on some nice thin crepes!
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This Marmalade Cake is part of the Tea Time Treats Challenge for April being hosted by Lavender and Lovage and The Hedgecombers

Tea Time Treats

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Wall Clocks, Shower Curtains and more free worldwide shipping from my Society6 shop - hooray!!!

My Pink Cupcake on a rather grand scale
I am having so much fun right now designing shower curtains for my Society6 shop
I just love the new products they are adding to their repertoire over there at a nice slow doable pace, so you can catch up on your designing without feeling overwhelmed - each time a new product is added I, as one of their stable of designers, need to go back through the designs I have posted there and make sure they look good, or even work at all, for the newly listed product. So for the next few days I will be checking and uploading new layouts specifically for the curtains - they don't all have their shower curtain added - if you are interested in one of my designs that doesn't have it's shower curtain yet please E-MAIL me and let me know which one and I'll have it done in time for you to avail yourself of the free shipping.

Of the one's already ready to go, with free worldwide shipping no less, until March 9th 2014 - I am really chuffed with the oversized versions of my Pink Cupcake, Monarch Butterflies and Cuppa - I am always a fan of oversized images.
My Monarch Butterfly with Strawberries - also available on a golden faded background
Giant Cuppa and a cookie made by Carrington Lane Bakery

Pretty Iris Nouveau
And dynamic Europa
FREE worldwide shipping is available on all these shower curtains and the clocks below with THIS SPECIFIC LINK.
(In fact everything in my shop EXCEPT for framed prints, stretched canvases and pillows WITH inserts is available for this shipping offer :)
To see all the designs for a specific item in my shop - follow the link above and then look in the menu on your left for the products you are interested in, click on the name of the product, then you can see all of those items together - thanks!!
As you can see the wall clocks - which are 10" in diameter and !.75" deep - are available in three different  frames - natural wood, white and black.

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