Bake

Monthly Archives: April 2013

Anchors Aweigh (yes, everyone thinks it’s Away, but it’s not)

Hi there!

So I’m generally a lazy sewer.  I cut corners where I can and hate putting a lot of fussy detail into every-day-non-special-occasion kid’s clothes.  I’ve been looking around for a sundress pattern for the girl child but everything I’ve been seeing wants you to use buttons, or even worse a zipper!  For a sundress?  You must be out of your damn mind…  Seriously though, I just wanted a simple A-line dress with no zips, buttons, or fussy sleeves. Well, when they don’t make what you want, make it yourself, I always say.

 

DSCF6877

Ta Da!  The Anchor dress!  Perfect for boating, beaches and blowing bubbles.

 

I had done a dress like this for her a year ago so I had the basic idea of it down but I used all knit fabric this time to increase the comfort level.

Start with your tank top/premade shirt/ whatever and figure out where you want the bodice of the dress to end.  Add a little bit for seam allowance and cut.  Don’t worry if your lines aren’t straight, mine never are and things don’t usually turn out too bad…usually….

 

Draw your bottom pattern out.

DSCF6847

I decided I would even use real measuring tools on this one and cut carefully and all that jazz and still this happened..

DSCF6850

So I ignored my pattern and cut along the straight stripes instead.  Ending up with something like this

 

DSCF6853

 

I serged the top and bottom of the piece and then serged the long sides together giving me a tube of fabric

 

I marked the center back of the bodice and matched it up with the long serged seam, right sides together.  Using my handy dandy walking foot I stitched it all the way around.

 

The dress still needed a little something, so I found an anchor silhouette I liked and traced it onto some thin paper then cut one out of white felt.  Before I sewed it down I grabbed some knit stabilizer (at least I think that’s what it is) and put it on the inside of the shirt.  I cut the excess stabilizer off after I had it stitched on.

I attempted to add a rope to the anchor but didn’t really care for how it turned out so I ripped it out and left the anchor plain.

DSCF6884

She didn’t seem to mind much. She loves her new dress and I love that she can put it on and take it off without help from me.  Yay for no zippers or buttons!

DSCF6875       DSCF6874    DSCF6877

I made another new dress for her this weekend that is an all original pattern and I’ll be posting that one later this week.  Stay tuned if you’re a lazy sewer like me…

Mini Mocha Macarons

I just love alliteration, don’t you?

imageIt’s been a rough week.  The little ankle biter (he literally has taken to biting my ankles) is teething hard again and staging an all out boycott on sleeping in general.  The gray hairs on my head are too numerous to pull out anymore, which is really depressing, and my husband is about to leave on a 10 day business trip.  So with all these stressors in my life I decided to take on an easy, low key baking project – macarons!  Ha!  The sifting portion alone of this recipe had me sweating and not because I’m out of shape…ok, not just because I’m out of shape.  Actually, I approached this recipe not with trepidation or fear but with the full expectation that these would come out looking and tasting exactly like urinal cakes.  With the bar set so tragically low, I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome of my first go round.  I ended up with a ruffle (or skirt, or feet or whatever you want to call it) and they weren’t completely hollow inside.  There is, without question, room for improvement but at least I have a starting point now.  As far as taste goes, these are a total win in my book.  How can you go wrong with chocolate coffee whipped ganache sandwiched between two almond cookies?  The answer is, you can’t.

Macarons
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup almond flour
2 large egg whites, room temperature
Pinch of cream of tartar
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Pulse confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a food processor until well combined – the longer you grind, the easier sifting should be.  Sift mixture 2 times.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Whisk whites with a mixer on medium speed until foamy.
Add cream of tartar, and whisk until soft peaks form.
Reduce speed to low, then add superfine sugar.
Increase speed to high, and whisk until stiff peaks form, about 5-7 minutes.
Sift flour mixture over whites, and fold until mixture is smooth and shiny.
Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with large plain round tip, and pipe 1 inch rounds 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.  Try to avoid making a peak with the batter. Bang the bottom of each sheet hard on work surface to release trapped air – twice.
Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.
Bake 1 sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until macarons are crisp and firm, about 10 minutes.
After each batch, increase oven temperature to 375 degrees, heat for 5 minutes, then reduce to 325 degrees.
Macarons are done if they can easily be lifted from the parchment paper.  Pull on one, if the top pulls away from the skirt and comes off in your hand, it’s not done.
Let macarons cool on sheets completely.

image

Whipped Chocolate Coffee Ganache
4 ounces semi sweet chocolate
4 ounces heavy cream
1-2 tbsp Kahlua
1-2 tsp instant espresso powder

Put chocolate in small glass bowl.
Heat cream in microwave just until boiling.
Pour cream over chocolate and allow it to sit for one minute.
Whisk until smooth and silky.
Add in Kahlua and espresso powder to taste.
Allow mixture to cool in an ice bath for 5 minutes or so, or until it is just set – pudding consistency.
Transfer to mixing bowl and beat on medium for 30-60 seconds or until light and fluffy.

Assembly
Pipe a small mound of ganache between two like size cookies and sandwich together. Sprinkle top with cocoa powder.

image

There you have it.  My personal quest to achieve the perfect macaron has begun so check back soon for the next adventure.

April 23rd….you know what I’m talking about, you just don’t remember….

silence

Hmmm…I feel like I’ve forgotten something..Oh well, must not have been important.

Greetings!  I may have mentioned previously that I am quite in love with a certain Doctor. I’ve been carefully rationing my viewing so as not to run out before Netflix puts the next season up.  Yes, that means I am substantially behind the current episodes. Please, no Spoilers!

Anyway, around Christmas time I posted about snow globes and the wonderful present my husband was making me.  Well, it didn’t quite turn out as we intended…in fact, it didn’t turn out at all.  The snow wouldn’t snow properly inside the globe and then the base the figures were on started leaking a weird green cloud into the water (I did have pictures, but they must have slipped through a time crack. I hate it when that happens).  Sigh…

 

Instead of throwing myself on the floor and weeping bitterly at this failure, I let my mind call upon it’s British heritage and think of a new way to display my love for the Doctor.  I liked the idea of having a little moment frozen (or should I say fixed?) in time but I’m a Gemini and I do love change (as long as I’m the one in control). Having 3 beasty children makes it tough to just display the figures by themselves too.  I thought about what could fill these requirements and hit upon a terrarium! Now, I’ve seen one other Doctor Who terrarium on Pinterest ( and I must confess that it isn’t that impressive a specimen…ahem) but I had my idea first so I don’t feel like I’m copying.

So I’ve been keeping my eyes open for just the right succulents and a good container and finally the stars have aligned and the materials are at my disposal (Well, mostly.  Some things broke off when husband took them off the snowglobe base. They need some glue…) Anyway, here it is!

DSCF6797

 

SPACE WHALE!!!!!!!!!!!    I FOUND A FREAKING SPACE WHALE PLANT, HELL YEAH!!!!   (ignore the part about it being a mimicry plant, it clearly isn’t)

DSCF6792

Here are some more shots of the awesomeness:

 

The flag in the back says I love Space Whales.

DSCF6804

DSCF6807

DSCF6808

DSCF6813

 

I had way too much fun doing this.  Why is it so fun to build miniature worlds?

I have a few more things in mind for this little scene and I’m sure some aspects will change. Eleven blends a little too well into the dirt, have to figure out how to fix that and he needs a better stand so he stays upright.  I also need to clean the glass a bit but I wanted to get this post up first.  I’m sure you’ll see more variations on this in days to come.  Cheers!

 

Happy Birthday, Robert!!

image

I couldn’t dream up a better day to be listening to Disintegration and baking cupcakes in honor of Robert Smith’s birthday. It’s cold, dreary and a heavy fog is settling in…quite appropriately depressing.  His birthday isn’t until Sunday but I’m posting early so all you Malcontents out there can plan ahead for your special celebrations this weekend.

I don’t imagine Robert Smith eats many cupcakes (you just cant look morose while eating a cupcake) but I’d like to think he’d make an exception for these red velvet beauties with whipped cream frosting, cream cheese filling and dark chocolate roses.  Dark and brooding on the outside, soft and sweet on the inside…I attempted to embody the very essence of Robert himself…the Robert of my dreams anyway.  The one that will forever look like this:

image

In a weird cosmic sort of way, I have The Cure to thank for meeting my husband and in turn my son.  The first time we met, I was playing (poorly) a Cure song on the guitar and my future husband walked in the room and said “Hey, is that The Cure?”.  I knew it was love.  Who knows, if not for The Cure we might not have struck up a conversation that day that ultimately resulted in a marriage and a child.  Heavy, I know.  Also, I’d like to formally thank Craft for introducing me to The Cure and sparking this obsession in the first place, many moons ago when I was an awkward teenager.

Anyway, Robert if you’re reading this (and I’m sure you are), I hope you enjoy my confectionery tribute and have a very Happy Birthday!

image

Red Velvet Cupcakes:
1 cup plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cups granulated white sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp red food coloring gel
1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 and line cupcake pan with paper liners.

Whisk together flour, cocoa and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter for 30-50 seconds.  Add in sugar and continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.  Add in egg and continue to beat, turning mixer to high.  Scrape down the bowl and beat until thoroughly combined.  Mix in vanilla and food color.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add half of the buttermilk.  Add half of the flour and mix until combined. Scrape the bowl and repeat the process with the remaining milk and flour.  Beat on high until smooth.

Stir together the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl (it will foam, which kind of makes you feel like a mad scientist, which is kind of awesome); add mixture to the batter, and mix on medium speed 10 seconds.

Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners and bake for about 16-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the largest cupcake comes out clean.

Allow cakes to cool completely on wore rack before frosting.

Whipped cream frosting:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
2-3 tbsp confectioners sugar

Pre-chill bowl and beaters.
Beat all ingredients on medium speed until stiff peaks form.

Cream cheese filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, cold
4 tbsp butter, room temp
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups confectioners sugar

Beat together butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy.  Add in vanilla and continue to mix.  Slowly blend in the powdered sugar until well incorporated.

Chocolate plastique roses:
I used this tutorial and here are the tips I can contribute:
-I used a ratio of 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate and 1/3 cup corn syrup.
-Make sure your kitchen is nice and cool while working so the chocolate doesn’t melt in your hands.
-Roll out the plastique as thin as you can and cut out all of your circles.  Place the circles in a ziplock bag and keep in refrigerator.  Pull out one circle at a time to use, keeping the rest in the refrigerator.  My biggest challenge was working quickly enough so that the plastique didn’t start to soften and melt.  I actually worked standing in front of the open freezer which seemed to help.
-Let roses sit in room temp for at least 24 hours before using.

Assembly:
Core and fill cupcakes with cream cheese filling.
Swirl on whipped cream frosting. I used a Wilton 2D tip.
Place the chocolate plastique roses.
I also crumbled a cupcake and sprinkled on the crumbs.  Kind of looks like blood spatter, eh?

image

A Certain English Band…

My beloved sister Bake and I share a love for hot, terribly moody British men.

This is evidenced by my devotion to the Doctor

david-tennant

and Benedict Cumberbatch (god yes!)

benedict_cumberbatch_actor_man_thoughtful_long-haired_shadow_18950_1920x1200-620x387

 

and her passion for Robert Smith (I love you too, Robert!)

robertsmith

 

and David Bowie (you can be my Goblin King anytime!).

dbowie

 

There is just something mesmerizing about these fantastic (shout out to the 9th) men.  Ahem….where was I….Oh, yes.  Well, it happens that a certain Mr. Smith is having a birthday in the next few days so I thought I’d post some pictures of a quilt I made for Bakes birthday a few years ago.

 

photo-(2)

It’s tough to see the details in these pics (even harder to remember what I did) but I’ll give it a shot.  The main panel was put together in a photo program, the fonts were from the interwebz and put on the background layer of grey, the album cover pictures were similarly captured from the internet, the middle picture is a fan drawing I believe.  I used Spoonflower to print the panel.  I want to stress here that I do not believe in making a profit off of other peoples works so I will not sell the panel on Spoonflower.  I made it strictly as an expression of love and fandom.

photo-(3)

I did a wide border in black broadcloth, the corners are interesting because I made them mitered like a picture frame.  It was tricky but I did it pretty well.  The letters at the bottom are hand drawn and cut out of felt and stitched on top of the red felt (so they would show up nice).  The back is all black broadcloth so you can see the quilting I did.  I stitched around each square album cover picture with an accent color.  Red, white, yellow, and electric blue were just some of the ones I used.  I think I remember that they popped nicely on the all black backing.    The binding is just the pre-packaged stuff in bright red.

 

Bake’s husband, Mr. Bake, is also a Cure fan so when I found out they were having a baby I knew just what to make.

rsmith

Plushie Robert Smith with yarn hair and guyliner!

Again, the details are hard to see but  it’s just a really basic doll shape in whitest flannel, polyester stuffing, safety eyes, black fleece shirt with “The Cure” (it’s even in their signature style font, cause I’m a bad ass embroiderer) embroidered on it, denim jeans, felt lips, hand embroidered eyelines and a bit of black felt or fleece set behind the safety eyes for eyeshadow.  The hair is just basic acrylic yarn in black.  I had a lot of fun doing this one and I really liked how he turned out.

Hope Robert Smith has a fabulous birthday and everyone else has a good weekend!

The Other Window…

Hi there!  Yes, I’m still alive.  I’ve been busy over here finishing the other faux stained glass window.  It took even longer than the first one because I actually drew recognizable creatures and things for it.

So I started out with a blank plexi-glass piece like last time and used the same paint pen to make the black lines.  I drew all of my creatures on parchment paper first and then slid it underneath the plexi-glass and traced right over the lines. It worked great!

This is a little look at how the mermaid in the picture evolved.  I did a lot of erasing and re-drawing…

The nice thing about sketching it onto parchment paper first is that you can decide if you like it before you trace it on the plexi-glass.  The first pic is the idea I started with but ended up going in a different direction.

Outlining is your friend.  Kind of like doing royal icing on cookies.  You make a little dam to stop the icing from flowing too far.

DSCF6711

 

 

Sandy bottom all finished. Only 3/4 of the painting left to do…

DSCF6712

 

Started the water, didn’t like the darker colors there on the left, had to remove and re-paint.

DSCF6716

 

Making progress.  Up to the sky.  I left filling in all the creatures till last so they wouldn’t get messy.

DSCF6719

 

WTF??!!  Remove and repaint…sigh…

DSCF6722

 

Ahhhh…done at last….mostly….  The mermaid is going to get a pearl in her hand at some point.  I’m still looking for the right one.

 

A few of close-ups of my favorite parts.

 

 

A few more things I learned this time around:

  • Practice can actually improve your drawing skills, even if they are terrible.
  • A toothpick inserted in the tip of a decorator squeeze bottle gives you better control over the flow of paint.
  • Glitter paints don’t really show up all that well.
  • When you live in a really old house and the floors aren’t level, your puddles of paint will go weird places.
  • Let it dry on its own!  Don’t use a hair dryer….. (I may have tried that on the WTF picture….ahem..)
  • Fingernail polish remover will take off this paint, but very slowly….

 

Phew!  I am glad that it’s done and I can do other things.  One of those other things may be finishing  up this masterpiece (ha!)

DSCF6781

Painted at a lovely bachelorette party for my sweet sister-in-law.  Everyone else painted beautiful flowering tree branches and I painted and off-perspective sad little Tardis…yeah, that’s about right.  See you again soon!

Frosted Animal Cookies

image

You’re probably expecting some adorable story about a precious childhood memory centered around these classic cookies, but I actually didn’t discover them until adulthood. Once I finally got my hands on them I quickly made up for lost time (and calories) by devouring as many as humanly possible and needless to say, I quickly became a big fan. Here is my take on a slightly more adult version (that really only means they aren’t animal shaped) which the husband says actually tastes better than the original. I’m not sure about that, those lovable little circus animals will always hold a special place in my heart, but these come pretty damn close. I wish I could say I was making these for a sweet baby shower or for a little girls tea party (which they would be perfect for!) but the sad truth is that my husband and I will most likely polish off the batch this evening while watching DVR’d episodes of Judge Judy.

image

The cookies
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 and line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat softened butter until creamy. Add in sugar and continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy – about 2 minutes. Add in egg and flavorings and beat until well incorporated. Slowly add in the flour mixture, beating on low speed until combined. Shape dough into two discs, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

After dough has chilled, roll out on lightly floured surface about 1/8 inch thick. If you’re going for authenticity, the thinner the better for a nice crispy cookie. Cut out desired shapes.

For one inch cookies, bake 6-10 minutes or until edges are golden brown. For larger cookies, 10-14 minutes. Allow to cool completely on the pan.image

The frosting
1 package candy melts, vanilla flavored
1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
Nonpareil sprinkles

Melt candy melts according to package instructions. I used the ColorBurst pastels to give them an extra bit of color. Thin out mixture with 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil, until dipping consistency is reached. Dip cooled cookies and place on parchment paper. Add sprinkles while wet. Allow to set up completely, refrigerate for one hour.

And because I just couldn’t resist, here’s a Dino and an Owl.

image

Sneak Peeks

DSCF6675

 

Greetings!  I hope everyone had a good holiday.  We had sunshine and lots of fun!  Holidays always put me behind on blogging so all I have for you is a couple of sneak peaks for a nearly finished project and one that is just starting.

 

The nearly finished one is hung and waiting for its decorative touches.

DSCF6688

 

Any guesses what it might be? (Hint: It might have something to do with sewing and a Madman with a Blue Box)

 

The one that has just started is in its drawing phase.  I’m not even remotely talented at sketching (note the large amount of erased lines), but I keep at it and sometimes I manage to not screw it up totally.  I’m not sure how this will translate to the finished project so we will have to wait and see if it turns out okay.  Keep your fingers crossed….

DSCF6689

 

Other things I did over the weekend:  I finished a wearable skirt (!)  I’ll post pics when I get husband to take some.  I sewed a small Easter basket for the little one, ate way to much chocolate, baked the gluten free cookie bar recipe from Bake (many many compliments were given, I cheated and used a Betty Crocker gluten free cookie mix, Shhhh….)

I think that sums it up over here, back when I have more finished projects to share!