Monday 23 February 2015

Lemon Elderflower Cupcakes

Every little girl loves a cup cake. I'm not sure our little blossom has actually eaten very many beyond the frosting, but the decorations are always irresistible! I made these some time ago, hence the raspberry decoration; I made our own elder flower cordial this year, but the commercial stuff is available in good supermarkets. Thanks to the lovely, and very clever Jo Grams for taking the shots of the finished cup cakes! 

Lemon Elder flower Cupcakes

125g butter
2/3 cup caster sugar
zest of a lemon
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup elder flower cordial

Preheat the oven to 175deg. C. and lay out approximately small paper cupcake cases. 

Cream the softened butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the lemon zest. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. 

Fold a third of the sifted flour and baking powder into the butter mixture, followed by a third of the elder flower cordial. Continue to fold in the remaining thirds until a soft batter is formed. 

Half fill the cup cake cases. 

Bake them for approximately 12 to 15 minutes until they are well risen and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Leave to cool. 

Elder Flower Frosting

200g softened butter
1 cup icing sugar
3 tablespoons elder flower cordial
the juice of a lemon

Beat all the ingredients using an electric beater until it is pale and fluffy. 

Use a piping bag to pipe rosettes onto each cup cake. Decorate as required. 

If our Little Miss is having buddies around I leave the frosting un-decorated and put out little dishes of Hundreds and Thousands, chocolate pieces, sweets, marshmallows and fruit so they can decorate their own. Happy faces! 

Tuesday 17 February 2015

Yummy Cinnamon Oyster Recipe

I do love a good old-fashioned Cinnamon Oyster. Almost as much as the great bargain vintage find I used to make them in. I couldn't believe my luck to find a cute pair of old-fashioned molded trays, on sale for the paltry sum of $4 each at the Darfield second-hand store (it's on the main street at the west end of town - small town, you can't miss it). I thoroughly recommend popping in if you happen to be out that way. 

My late Grandmother used to make excellent Cinnamon Oysters. She was a superb cook who took great care and pride in her craft. So when I found these beauties I knew exactly what to make with them. This recipe makes 12. If you don't have a fancy tin, any standard muffin tin will do the trick.

Cinnamon Oysters

2 eggs - at room temperature
100g caster sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
60g flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

For the filling:
1 cup cream
3 tablespoons icing sugar, plus extra for dusting

Preheat the oven to 200deg. C. and grease or spray 12 oyster or muffin tins well.

Beat the eggs and sugar until pale, thick and at least doubled in volume. 

The mixture should fall into ribbons when the beater whisk is raised. 

Shift the dry ingredients twice to ensure no lumps remain. 

Using a spatula fold the dry ingredients into the egg and sugar, taking care not to deflate the mixture. 

Put tablespoon lots into the greased molds. 

Bake for 10 minutes until they spring back when pressed in the centre. 

Leave to cool for just 2 or 3 minutes before removing from the tins and placing flat side down on a cooling rack. 

Once cold cut in half and fill with the whipped cream and icing sugar. Dust with extra icing sugar and serve. Yummy! 

Sunday 15 February 2015

Delicious Roasted Summer Stone Fruits

Despite the darker mornings, there is still time to 'stretch out' summer by making the most of the lovely selection of stone fruit that's currently available. This is a super easy, quick and light dessert option that everyone will love. You can use whatever firm stone fruit is available. This recipe is for 4 people. We served it with a ball of vanilla ice cream.

Roasted Summer Stone Fruits

2 peaches
2 apricots
2 nectarines
2 - 3 tablespoons liquid honey
a sheet of cooking foil

Preheat the oven to 200deg. C. 
Wash the fruit. Taking extra care to de-fuzz the peaches. Slice the fruit in half around the stone, then rotate each half in opposite directions to release the stone. Cut the peaches and nectarines into quarters and the apricots in halves. Place the fruit into a foil lined roasting dish. Drizzle the warmed honey over the fruit. 

Bake for about 20 minutes until the fruit has softened and browned. Leave to cool a little before serving with vanilla ice cream. Delicious. 

Saturday 7 February 2015

Spiced Fresh Apricot Loaf Recipe

I love this time of year. The garden is bursting with produce and all the stone fruit is gorgeous and plentiful. I'm also quite partial to making sweet loaves. They are tasty, quick to mix and don't require any sort of fussy finishing off. Here's one that takes advantage of the current cheap and fabulous supply of central Otago apricots. This loaf is delicious warm from the oven, or keep until the next day to allow the bold spices to mature. 

Spiced Apricot Loaf

2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground mace
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup oil
1 egg
3 medium sized apricots - the recipe will also work with dried apricots, just use a handful
2 tablespoons raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 175deg. C. and line a standard loaf tin with baking paper.

Into a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and mace. 
Set aside. 

Place the brown sugar, milk and oil into a small saucepan and melt together. 

Just heat it until the sugar is dissolved. Don't let it boil. 

Set aside to cool while you prepare the apricots. 

Once cooler, whisk in the egg.

Wash and dry the apricots. Slice them in half, then cut each half into six pieces. 

Set aside a few slices to decorate the top of the loaf. 

Stir the warm sugar and egg mixture into the dry ingredients. 

Lastly stir the apricots into the batter. 

Place into the lined loaf tin. 

Lay the apricots that had been set aside along the top of the batter. Lastly, sprinkle the raw sugar over the top and bake for 1 hour until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. 

Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before lifting out and onto a cooling tray. 

This loaf can also be served as a pudding with a ball of ice cream. It is delicious warm from the oven or leave it to cool completely and serve spread with lashings of butter. 

Happy Baking xx

Wednesday 4 February 2015

A pretty and practical new pencil case for Year 2 - pattern and tutorial

At this stage in the year the holidays start to seem like an increasingly distant memory. The weather is consistently hot, work is well underway for the year and Little Miss is back to school. Moving into Year 2 has its perks, like being allowed your very own pencil case. Year 1 girls have an open container (just imagine the sound of a class full of year 1's opening and shutting their new pencil cases constantly throughout the lesson, and you will realise that lid-less ice cream containers have their advantages). I wanted to make her a case that would be pretty and practical, and match the theme of the reading bag I made her previously. Like the reading bag, all that is required is a couple of complimentary fat quarters, as well as two heavy duty zips. In this case I used open-ended zips and sewed the ends shut; only because they were the only chunky, plastic ones available at the time. 

I designed the case so it has a small pocket for the more frequently used items, and a large main compartment for coloured pencil, felts, glue stick and so on. I got the outer fabric from Bolt of Cloth in The Tannery in Christchurch, and the lining came from my stash. 

Start by drawing out a pattern: 20cm x 30cm for the main panels, and 12cm x 30cm for the side pocket. 

Cut 2 main panels from the heavier Kokka fabric and two from the lining fabric, and cut one pocket panel from both the heavy fabric and the lining. 

If you have a directional pattern, think about how it will flow around the pencil case and ensure you cut accordingly. 

 If you are using open ended zips, start by sewing the ends so they don't undo later.
Starting with the smaller side pocket pieces, pin and stitch the zip onto the main fabric panel.
Now sew the lining fabric, right sides against the back of the zip so that the zip seam is enclosed.

Finish the process by under-stitching the seam: to do this sew the lining fabric onto the seam. This will ensure the lining is held back from the zip.

Press the whole lot into place and set aside while you sew the main side panels.

Attach the second zip to the main panels. Pin and sew the zip and fabric right-sides-together to the zip as shown. 

At this stage I sewed a printed cloth name label onto the outside of the case.

Leave each end of the zip/main fabric seams sewn 1cm short of the edge of the fabric.

Do this on both sides of the zip. 

Now attach the lining by placing it right sides towards the back of the zip so all the seams are enclosed.

Also leave the ends of the zip/lining seams short by 1cm at each end.

Iron into place. 

Repeat for the other side of the zip.
Now attach the side pocket onto the main side panel by placing both panels right-sides-together in a position where the bottom seam of the case will match when the pocket is folded back. 
Sew into place and fold back and iron. 

Fold the main fabric panels and the lining panels right-sides-together with the zip in the middle. Pin into place. Starting sewing from 1.5cm below the closed end of the zip as shown. 

Sew around the lining bag, leaving a 10cm gap at the bottom of the lining. This is to turn the whole case in the right way once your finished.

From the lining, sew over the open end of the zip as shown, and around the main panels of fabric until you arrive back at the closed end of the zip. Finish 1.5cm from the zip, (as shown in the previous picture) back-tack, leaving a gap where the end of the zip will poke through the end of the bag once it is turned in the right way. 

This picture shows the gap left in the lining; use it to turn the whole pencil case out to the right side, thus enclosing all the seams between the lining and outer fabric.

Ensure the corners of the main fabric are trimmed and well turned out so they form nice sharp points.

Pin and sew the opening in the lining shut. Then push the lining into the main bag.
Turn the closed end of the zip out so the corner sits square and the end of the zip remains inside the lining of the bag as shown.
Fold the open end of the zip together and the lining inside as shown and zip up the case. 
Press the pencil case seams nice and flat, and voila! One very practical little girl's pencil case. 
Happy sewing and happy school days everyone!