Friday, 27 September 2013

It's a bit chilly in here...

I have a new cupcake post for you....Chocolate Chilli Cupcakes! Now I did have a bit of an issue with these in the oven, in that they kind of exploded, which I have to say I have never had happen before with cupcakes! I think I filled the cases a little to high, and they ballooned up over the edge, but nothing a little butter icing can't cover up. Anyway despite not looking like much, they taste pretty damn good (if I do say so myself) so I thought I would still share them, despite my slightly perfectionist nature not being completely happy with them.

So here is the recipe:

100g caster sugar
100g light brown sugar
110g butter/margarine
150g self raising flour
2 eggs
100ml buttermilk
100g chilli chocolate
optional: 1 tsp chilli flakes

for the icing:
90g butter
250g icing sugar
1tsp vanilla essence
60g chilli chocolate
1tbsp cocoa powder

This is the recipe I usually use for chocolate cupcakes, but with chilli chocolate used instead. I used Lindt 70% chilli chocolate, which is beautifully rich with a hint of chilli, so adds a reasonably subtle flavour to the cupcakes. If you like a bit more heat, add the chilli flakes to 2 tbsp of water, leave to infuse for a few mins then sieve out the flakes and add the chilli-water to the cupcake mix at the end.

  • Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 12 hole muffin tin with baking cases. 
  • Melt the chocolate over a pan of boiling water or in the microwave in short bursts.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix in. 
  • Fold in the melted chocolate, and the flour.
  •  Mix in the buttermilk, and the chilli-water if using. 
  • Bake in the oven for 20 mins, or until risen and a skewer comes out clean.
  • For the icing, beat the butter with the icing sugar until smooth. Melt the chocolate. 
  • Add some boiling water to the cocoa powder and mix to a thick paste, and add to the melted chocolate. 
  • Mix into the butter icing and add the vanilla essence. Add a little double cream if the icing is too thick.
  • When the cakes are cool, pipe the icing on top, and add a little chilli made of fondant icing if you fancy!

Emily Kate

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Strings Made Of String...

A bit of an apology is in order I think. My aim for a post a week has really slacked off in the last couple of months, due to holidays firstly and then the dreaded start of term craziness. But I have been working on a little something for all you nutters who liked my knitted bassoonist. I've been saying I'm going to knit an entire orchestra for months and not really doing anything about it. Until now. So may I present.... the string section!

knitted cello

There were a few issues in the crafting process...namely that it turns out as a wind player I know literally nothing about string instruments and thought they had 6 strings. I also realised a little late that the left arm of the violinist/violist wouldn't be long enough to reach the end of the violin, so had to do a little emergency surgery and re-knit a new arm, which is significantly longer than the other one. Although I realise now of course that you can't see any of these intricate little details in the photos anyway!

So there you go...some more mini musicians. And for anyone like myself strange enough to want a knitted version of themselves, these will be going up on etsy at some point in the near future... I promise. Do share this post with any musical friends you may have!
I like this last one, it even looks like they're looking up for the photo.

Emily Kate.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Simplicity Basic Top

For my second sewing project, I wanted a simple top pattern, which I could use several times in different fabrics. I also wanted to make a peter pan collar top at some point, so I thought with a plain vest top pattern I could add a collar to it. The pattern I found eventually was Simplicity New Look 6483 with 5 different styles to choose from in one pattern. It says easy, as several of the New Look patterns do, but also '1 hour sewing time'. Now I'm not really sure how long it took me to make it, but it was significantly longer than that, more like 1 day!

The fabric I chose was a gorgeous silvery grey with a pattern of pink and blue flowers on it, from the sewing and craft warehouse in Tooting, only £5.99 for a metre. I used a grey thread with it and chose the pattern for design E (top left corner).

I have to say I made a couple of fairly big (colossal) mistakes with this project, although luckily all of them were quite easily rectified. When I cut out the pattern, I stupidly didn't cut the front piece on the fold as it said so had two seperate pieces for the front and back. Rather than it have a seam or buttons down the front I decided to just buy some more fabric. It's so pretty anyway I'm sure I will use it for plenty of other small projects.

I also somehow managed to sew the bottom together when I did the hem, I've not really got the hang of keeping any unwanted fabric out of the way of the needle yet. I terms of the pattern I found it relatively easy to follow, although I did find I could have explained the back bit with the opening clearer, for complete beginners like me. I'm still struggling to visualise how patterns fit together, I've never really been good at that sort of thing. However despite making mistakes pretty regularly, I just unpick and start again if I'm not happy with it. So here is the finished article!

Originally I felt it was a bit gappy in certain places, such as the back (evident from the photo). But then after wearing it several times I think it's actually better with that amount of ease for a non-stretch fabric. I also made a second one, taking some width out of the back and the front neckline, but it made it much too tight. All in all I'm really happy with my pattern purchase, it fits well (I'm a standard size 10 and made that size) and I can reuse the pattern again and again, and use the four other designs too. So I would definitely recommend it to people for a basic top pattern, especially for beginners, although don't expect it to be done in one hour!!

Emily Kate