Monday, 21 October 2013

Dipping Biscuits

I like to dip things in my cup of tea. The idea of a biscuit eaten without being dunked first just isn't appealing to me. A couple of weeks ago whilst teaching a child piano, I was given a cup of tea and some biscuits (one of the perks of going to pupil's houses!) which were a long rectangular shape with chocolate on the bottom half. It was like they were designed to be dunked in my tea. Why are biscuits round anyway? Many a time my digestive hasn't fit into my mug, very disappointing. So I decided to make my own 'dipping biscuits' on my next baking day.

The biscuit recipe I used was:

250g butter/margarine softened
300 plain flour
140g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla essence

  • mix the softened butter and caster sugar together. 
  • add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat to combine.
  • sift in the flour and mix until incorporated.
  • chill in the fridge for 30 mins
  • roll out the dough to 1/2 cm thickness and cut into fingers 2 cm wide and 9/10cm long.
  • bake at 180c for 15 mins.
This biscuit dough does make a lovely buttery but slightly crumbly biscuit, so I think I would use a recipe with a stronger structure when I make these again, however they did stand up to the dipping challenge.
I melted some white and milk chocolate to spread over the biscuits, leaving a few cms at the end to hold them. I also made some caramelised sugar to crunch over the top of the milk chocolate ones, by melting some brown sugar in a pan and pouring over greaseproof paper. When it's completely cool, smash it up with a rolling pin and sprinkle over the biscuits.

I really love the idea of serving these in a jug or small jar alongside a cuppa, or with hot chocolate. In fact I'm thinking of including some in my Christmas hampers this year, alongside Jamie Oliver's luxury hot chocolate mix. More posts on this closer to Christmas! 

Emily Kate.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Perfect Victoria Sponge

This is my idea of a perfect Sunday afternoon.

No points for guessing where I'm from I guess, but who doesn't love a cup of tea and a slice of cake. Anyway I had a craving for Victoria sponge on my way home earlier, which gave me a great idea for a post. I love a good ol' British favourite like the Victoria sponge, and for the last few years I've made one fairly regularly, for friend's and family's birthdays and refreshment for concerts. I've always aspired to make one as good as my granny's cakes, and nowadays I think I've cracked it, so here are my tips for a perfect Victoria sponge.

  • Weight the eggs first, in their shells, and then use the same weight for the margarine, flour and sugar.
  • Always use caster sugar, it's finer so makes the sponge fluffier. I usually just put granulated sugar in a food processor for a few seconds rather than actually buying caster sugar specially. (yes I am that cheap...)
  • I use self-raising flour, but also add a desert-spoonful of baking powder to really make it rise so the texture is nice and light. 
  • Use 2 separate tins, rather than one and then slicing in half, it never rises as well. 
  • Don't open the oven if you can help it whilst the cake is cooking, constant checking and temperature changes makes the middle sink.
  • I love vanilla buttercream icing with raspberry jam in the middle. For the buttercream I always use proper butter rather than margarine, the consistency is much better and thicker, and salted butter rather than unsalted like many recipes suggest. Although if it's too thick adding a dash of cream helps. Unsalted butter makes the icing very bland. 

Get baking!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Exciting Announcement!

At last I have finally gotten around to making an Etsy shop! So for those of you who are geeky musicians like me, or fancy giving a mini musician to someone who is...they can now be found at
If you like the look of these guys but not sure you want to commit to owning one...soon there will be some greetings cards featuring them on the shop as well...for all those times you wanted to give someone a musical card and just couldn't find one. (no? just me then.)

And here's the latest guy, modelled on a friend of mine. Making the french horn wasn't as tricky as I thought once I had an idea how to do it.

So if you know someone who might like one of these, or just think they're pretty cool, please share share share!

Also, I'm not entirely sold on my shop name, so if anyone has any bright ideas for a better one, don't be shy, please drop me a comment.

Emily Kate

Friday, 4 October 2013

Machine Embroidered Cushion

So I've been practicing my free motion embroidery, or thread stitching, or whatever you fancy calling it, for a weeks now and finally felt confident enough to start a new project.
Since I hand embroidered my London skyline cushion back in January, I've been itching to do some more cushions along the same cities/buildings line. Although I wanted to see if I could speed the process up by doing it on the sewing machine, so that I could think about selling them online.

Now for those of you who don't know where/what Bristol is, it's a city in the west country of the UK. It's most famous landmark is the Clifton suspension bridge, and it's famous for holding a hot air balloon fiesta every year. So I decided to do a design based on the balloons flying over the bridge, so I could incorporate a little bit of colour into the otherwise black thread picture.

I've discovered the easiest way to transfer a design from a sketch on paper to the fabric, is to go over the design in black pen which you can then see reasonably clearly through the fabric when it's held up to a lightbox, or window. I then traced the design onto the fabric with a bright blue water soluble fabric marker. it's just like a felt tip pen, so is easy to use and see when you're sewing, but just washes straight out with a small amount of water.

I've found with free motion sewing the best thing to do is not to get too hung up on the small imperfections, as it is difficult to sew a straight line, and very difficult to unpick. Once I stopped trying to fix every tiny wobble in the lines on the bridge, I was much happier with it!

Emily Kate