Thursday, 3 January 2013

A Hat and a Half

New Year's Day required a quick and easy knit to get my 2013 knitting off to a flying start.  There is nothing like finishing a project to inspire me to investigate all the unfinished objects that are lurking around the house. (More about these later in the year)  When I was 7 I had a pair of mittens knitted in "rainbow wool".  I still adore multi coloured yarns, and chose some Cygnet Seriously Chunky in Macaw for this first project of the year. I've called the pattern "A hat and a half" because it will certainly get you noticed, but there are some tamer prints and self coloured yarns in the Cygnet Seriously Chunky range if you don't feel so bold.

To knit this hat you will need:-  1pair 10mm knitting needles
                                                    2 100g balls of Cygnet Seriously Chunky
                                                    Sewing needle with a very large eye

Cast on 44 stitches.
Continue in Knit 2 purl2 rib until the work measures 8"
Knit 10 rows stocking stitch.

Begin decreasing:-
Row 1: knit 2 together until the end of the row (22 stitches)
Row 2: purl
Row 3 Knit 2 together until the end of the row (11 stitches)
Row 4: purl
Row 4: Knit 2 together until the last stitch, knit 1 (6 stitches)

Leaving a sufficient length to sew up the seam, cut off the yarn, thread it through the remaining stitches and fasten off.

Sew up the seam, remembering to have the seam of the rib on the outside of the hat, as this is what will be seen when the hat is worn.

Fold the ribbing over twice and your hat is ready to be worn.

There will be just enough yarn left over for a pom pom, but only if you feel really bold.

Happy knitting.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Fruity Marzipan Traybake

The weather was so cold and miserable last Tuesday that once I had finished work there was no way I was going to go shopping.  Consequently I spent the evening wracking my brain as to what I should bake for the Woolly Wednesday Knitting Group. Whatever the question, I am a great believer in "sleeping on it", and this simple recipe, made from storecupboard ingredients, was the result.

6oz Self Raising Flour
6oz Caster sugar
6oz Butter or margarine
6oz Mixed Dried Fruit
4oz Marzipan diced
3 eggs beaten
Demerara sugar

Prehead the oven to Gas mark 5, or 180c.  Line a small roasting tray (approximately 14" x 8").  An easy way to do this is to turn the tin upside down and mould a piece of aluminium foil over the outside of the tray. The shaped foil should fit nicely inside the tray and all you need to do is grease it.

Dice the marzipan into dolly mixture sized pieces. I prefer to use white marzipan.

Next make the sponge.  Cream together the butter and eggs untill pale and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs little by little.  Don't worry unduly if the mixture curdles as the fruit and marzipan give this cake quite a heavy texture anyway.  Just "bring it back" by beating in a tablespoon of the flour.  Once all the beaten egg has been added, fold in the flour using a metal spoon and a figure of eight motion.  Finally fold in the fruit and diced marzipan.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared roasting tray and smooth it out, making a depression in the centre. Cakes usually rise more in the centre, so making this depression means the cake should come out of the oven fairly even.  Sprinkle the top with Demerara sugar.

Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Last Rose of Summer

This year summer seems to be drifting straight into autumn, but you can have a taste of summer any time you want with these rose cup cakes.

                 Cakes    6oz Self raising flour
                               6oz  Caster sugar
                               6oz  Butter
                               3 eggs beaten
                               1 tablespoon of rosewater

                Topping 8oz icing sugar
                               4oz butter
                               1 tablespoon of rosewater
                               pink food colouring

You will also need paper cake cases, a bun tray, and a large piping bag and star nozzle.
Begin by pre-heating the oven to Gas mark 5/190c.  Beat the sugar and butter together untill the mixture is fluffy and almost white, beat in the rosewater, then continue beating in the eggs little by little. I prefer to use a wooden spoon to do this.  Once all the beaten egg has been added, fold in the flour. It is best to change to a large metal spoon to do this.  Put paper cases in the bun tray and add about a desertspoonful to each.  This recipe should made 24 little cakes.  Bake for about 12 minutes.
When done, the cakes will be a light golden brown and spring back when you touch them. Cool them on a wire rack.

Make the topping by beating together the icing sugar, rosewater and butter, untill it is soft and fluffy.
Transfer half of the mixture to another bowl and colour it pink.  To get the two tone icing, lay your piping bag on its side and add the plain butter icing. The pink butter icing then goes on top.  When the bag is vertical there will be pink on one side and plain on the other.  Place a swirl on top of each cake.

Don't be tempted to use too much rosewater, otherwise the cakes might taste a little bit "soapy".



Monday, 13 August 2012

Easy Lace Scarf

Beleive it or not, I have great difficulty following a pattern and keeping up with the conversation at knitting groups.  Thursday evenings usually end with me going home to  undo everything that I had knitted during the evening. Stocking stitch or plain knitting is obviously the answer, but this pattern is easy, grows fast and still manages to look impressive.  The grey scarf, which I have just started is a little gift for my daughter, who will be visiting New York in December.

You will need
2 100g balls of Chunky Yarn ( I used Cygnet Grousemoor Chunky)
A pair of 8mm knitting needles
A crochet hook for attaching the fringe

Cast on 23 stitches
1st row     k3 *yo k2tog, repeat from *until the last 2 stitches then k2
2nd row    k2 p to last 2 stitches, k2

Repeat these 2 rows until the scarf measures 60 inches then cast off.  As you knit you will find that the cast on edge of the scarf becomes diagonal.  The cast off edge will also be diagonal.

Block the scarf by dampening it and then pinning  it out on a towel and letting it dry naturally.

Add a fringe.

Happy knitting.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Baby (blanket) love

I have just discovered the joy of kniting baby blankets.  Tension is of no real consequence, and it is the opportunity to try out all the lovely stitches in the knitting guides that we love to buy.  All you need to do is, using a double knitting yarn,  cast on the nearest pattern repeat ( for instance a multiple of 6 plus 4) to 150 stitches plus 6 extra stitches to make a garter stitch border of 3 stitches at each side.  Begin the blanket with 5 rows of garter stitch and then do as many pattern repeats as you feel is necessary to make an appropriately sized blanket.  Simple yet so much fun.
This one, for a special grandchild due in September,  was made from Cygnet Kiddies Couture in Seaside.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Lemon Butterfly Cakes

There was a bit of a panic this morning when I discovered I was out of caster sugar.  Did I have time to dash round to Asda or should I use something else.  I decided to use soft brown sugar, and it made a perfect light sponge cake .  Here is the recipe:-

                    Ingredients     6oz soft brown sugar
                                            6oz  butter
                                            6oz self raising flour
                                            3 eggs beaten

Heat the oven to Gas Mark 6 or 200c.

With a wooden spoon, cream the butter and sugar together, and beat untill it is light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs, little by little.  If you add too much at once the mixture will curdle.  Don't worry if it does, just beat in some of the flour.  The cakes will still taste good, they will just have a heavier texture.

Using a large metal spoon and a figure of eight motion, gently fold in the flour.

Line a bun tray with cake cases ( This recipe makes about 18 cakes so you will need to cook them in two batches.) and spoon in the cake mix.

Bake in the centre of the oven for about 12 to 15 minutes.  When they are done they will have turned a light golden brown and the mixture will spring back if you press it with your fingers.

Cool on a wire rack.

To make the "butterflies" cut a round of sponge from the top of each cake, and cut each round in half.
Fill the hole with lemon curd and put a pair of "wings" on top.  Dust with icing sugar.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Lemon Curd - a prize winning recipe

In Lancashire lemon curd is known as lemon cheese, but whatever you call it it is the most delicious and versatile preserve.  It is also very easy to make.  This recipe was passed on to me by a friend, who also used to win prizes at shows.

                               Ingredients         3oz butter
                                                            8oz  caster sugar
                                                            2 unwaxed lemons - grated zest and juice
                                                            3 eggs - beaten

Put a clean jam jar in the oven to warm.  This recipe makes 1 jar and some left over to eat immediately.

Place all the ingredients in a heatproof bowl and decide how to cook your lemon cheese.  There is the relaxing way, place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir constantly until the mixture is smooth and thick.  Or the quick way, which is keep giving it a 30second zap in the microwave until the mixture is smooth and thick.

If you are making it for your own use, pot it as it is.  If you wish to enter it at a show I recommend that you sieve it.  Judges seem to like a very smooth lemon cheese with no bits of zest.  Also check the schedule as many shows specify waxed discs and celophane as they are quicker to open than metal lids.

Good luck.