Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sharing some treats

Just wanted to share some of my recent treats.

 First up is this 1 person pizza. Yummy! Pizza is so easy to make. I generally use wheat flour to make the bottom so it's good for your digestive system. As a sauce I just use tomato puree, adding garlic and Italian herbs. I like the puree because I hate runny sauce on my pizza. Then some nice serrano-ham, some cheese and after it's baked, top it off with rucola lettuce. Yum!!

Plum Strawberry Pastries
 Plum season has started again, or at least they are selling them in the supermarket again. To make these sweet treats take a square of puff pastry and cut out two opposite corners. (Take a close look at the picture if this confuses you.) Prick a few holes in the pastry between the two cuts. Cut your plums in pieces and add some cut up strawberries. Sprinkle with sugar. If your plums and strawberries are really sweet you won't even need this, unless you like your pastries really sweet. Put a bit of the fruit lengthwise between those two cuts. Now fold the loose corners over the fruit. Lay all the pastries on a baking sheet on a wire rack. Scoot into the middle of the oven which you preheated to about 380 degrees (190 celsius). They'll stay in there for about 20 minutes. With 5 minutes to go you can sprinkle some coarse sugar over the top.
After I took them out of the oven I glazed the fruit with a bit of diluted raspberry jam. Just to make the top fruits a bit moist.

Plum pie (which tastes surprisingly like rhubarb pie)
I had a few plums which were threatening to turn bad so I made a pie. The crust is cookie dough, easy and yummy. I rolled it out and pushed it into a small tin (about 6 inches/ 16 cm) using the leftovers to make the wire top. The filling contains mostly plums, a handful of cranberries and a few blueberries. I added about a teaspoon of cornstarch just to bind those juices. You have to adjust this amount when your plums are really juicy and/or when you make a larger pie. I also added a crumb topping under the wire top. It's made of a handful of crushed walnuts, the same amount of oatmeal, some sugar (depending on your sweet tooth, I'm not a great sugar eater) and a bit of butter to bind the crumbs. You could add a little bit of juice if you have it, that will give it a little more fruity flavor but it's no biggy if you do not.

Bake temp is about 360 F (180 C) and bake time ?? hmmm don't really remember. I think it was 35 minutes. Just check once in a while. Fruity pies like these are done when you see some of those juices boiling up thickly at the edges. Take it out of the oven and leave it on a wire rack to cool. You need it to cool down considerably so the juices will set. If you have a hubby like mine, who wants to eat everything the moment it's made (flattering but not always handy ;) try to make it when he's not home hahaha. Or remember to put a deep enough plate or dish under the pie when you cut into it. If you are able to wait, wait until it is lukewarm. That will give you a pie that can hold itself but is still that nice warm out of the oven taste. And otherwise eat it at room temp, also very nice!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

How to make a raincoat

Ok it's been a while. But good news: I finished the raincoat and it works! So here is the rest of the how to. Read the first raincoat entry to see my original idea.
Btw, this is not for the novice sewer! Though it is quite easy to sew the coat, pinning it is not and you cannot rectify mistakes.

First find a coat pattern you are familiar with to use. I took the pattern for this coat which I already made twice. It's very important to take a pattern you know because you do not want to make a mistake while making a raincoat. It leaves a nice row of holes which do not vanish as you can see in the picture below and you want to keep the amount of holes to a minimum in a raincoat! Also, when choosing your pattern, try to keep the pieces it consists of to a minimum and no tiers. The fabric is very sturdy so it doesn't hang down the way other fabric does. This is especially important to note when you're thinking about making a tiered bottom like me. THAT DOES NOT WORK!! It will look weird, trust me I tried it! To make a skirt like bottom for your coat, just take one piece of fabric and make flat pleats. Because the fabric is so sturdy it will poof out with just a few.

I would recommend a coat pattern which contains a hood (obviously), mine didn't so I added one myself. As I wasn't quite sure what I was doing I ended up getting this nice row of holes right under the hood, oops.


Second, find the thinnest needle you are comfortable using and some polyester thread. To me it seemed logical that the raincoat would be most watertight (watertighter..?) if I kept the thread holes tiny. You need polyester thread because it repels water, so no cotton! Because that will soak up the water and pull it through those tiny holes. I tested this first (so you don't have to ;)) and the picture proves it works! (amazing my own ideas actually turned out right ha!)

Third, read these tips before you start:
- Make some tea and get some cookies, making a raincoat can be horribly frustrating (though not super hard) so you need some comfort food near you. Not too near though, you don't want to test the watertightness (?? these are not the right words hahaha) of your coat with tea.

- Get acquainted with your pattern. Know what your doing, it's very important.

-  Always keep in mind that every hole you make in your coat is there to stay. This means that I do not recommend putting ornamental stitching on your coat or any amount of stitching that is not absolutely necessary.

- Use a short stitch so everything is stitched strongly together with the least amount of space in between when you open up seams.

So are you ready to start?

Place your pattern on your fabric and scotch-tape it on there. DO NOT PIN IT because that will leave holes where you do not want them. Trace your pattern and measure on the seams. Now pin around your patterns within the seams. This way you don't have to cut out all the pieces separately but you can fold the fabric.

Now you can sew the coat together as you're used to doing. You do not need any extra stuff to seal the seams. There is rubber tape you can tape over all the seams, but I didn't and my coat works fine. Do remember that you can only pin on the seams, not anywhere else!

To make the seams extra sturdy but not have a row of stitches on the outside of the coat, I double stitched all seams like you can see in the picture below left. I did flat-stitch the bodice seams because I figured the water would flow off easier if the coat was as flat as possible (right picture). I only did this for seams that I was afraid would catch and hold the water while being rubbed while walking. Rubbing the seams with water on them makes them take in water and makes you wet.

All right, so your pinning your pieces together in the seams and sewing like your used to. Keep trying out your coat to see if it fits, either on a doll or on yourself. If it's too small, you have to start over, sorry. It happened to me too, if it's any consolation :)

 Below you can see the bodice which turned out just as I hoped. After that I spent quite a while fixing on the bottom half. As I said, I tried the tiered bottom first and it was a disaster! I'm sorry I don't have a picture of it, it looked awful hahaha. But after a few tries and a considerably shorter bodice I got the skirt-like bottom I wanted. To close the coat I used a plastic zipper. I really wanted one of those invisible zippers because it would have been just that, invisible, but I couldn't find one. Instead I used a pink zipper as an ornamental addition to the coat. I made sure the zipper was of good quality so it didn't leave holes when closed.

And here is the end result in use at Walt Disney World's Christmas Party. Where sadly it was pouring rain which made it the most expensive cocoa and cookies I've ever had :)
 I hope you find the tutorial at least partly useful. I might have forgotten to mention something so if you get confused or have any questions or comments just post them here and I'll answer as quick as I can.

How to make wood pattern fondant and scones :)

I love baking :)
I just made some scones. It's been 15 years since I did that. The last time was in middle school and they tasted awful! My friend and I got the amount of salt wrong, yuk! I decided to make these because as I already said I love baking, and because there's a pot of lemon curd in my fridge which just screamed SCONES! The recipe wasn't the best in my opinion so I'm not posting that. You can google and find much better.

Btw if you read my last post, the cake turned out fine. Actually better then I expected and everyone loved it. Plus it tasted great, or so I heard. That's the only downside to making cakes for other people, you can't taste them ;)
It was my first try using buttercreme instead of ganache. I'm not wildly thrilled. It works a lot easier and quicker but jeez that has trouble with temperature fluctuation! Every time it got a little warmer bubbles started to appear and I hate it when a cake doesn't look absolutely neat. For this cake it was ok to see the layers but generally I want those to be invisible. Maybe I wasn't using the right recipe buttercreme, it was nutella.
I did spend a while trying to find out how to make fondant look like wood. Eventually I just winged it. It worked out really well!

To make fondant look like wood:
You need a base color (I used chocolate brown). Take enough to cover the whole cake, because you're using just a little of the other colors.

Now take about a sausage roll of a much darker color (I used black) and the same amount of a much lighter color (I used white). You need these colors to deviate enough from your base so when you're kneading all of them together they don't vanish into your base color.

Now knead your base fondant a little, push it down so it makes a rectangle the same length and a little broader than your two sausage rolls (the other two colors). Lay the two sausages on your base, not touching each other. It's very important not to start kneading like you're used to or you're just going to mix everything together. Instead fold your base lengthwise in half with the sausages on the outside. Pull it apart and fold it the same way again. It's like pulling taffy. Repeat this about 5-10 times, depending on the amount of fondant. Don't make the lines of dark and light too thin because you also have to roll it out so they'll get even thinner. If after you rolled it out, it doesn't look right, you can just start afresh with two new sausage rolls of dark and light fondant.

I hope it's clear. If not, don't hesitate to ask in the comments! 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


I just spent a few hours working on my woodwork cake and am now totally discouraged. It has to be done the day after tomorrow and it's not going so well. I had to back the 4 layers separate because I don't have a square deep dish pan. I also had to make the batter from scratch which I never do. This resulted in two layers being ok, I hope and two being totally ruined because the batter didn't mix well and the cake sagged. Sigh. Now I have to bake more tomorrow. Also it has to become a box, with dove-tail joints and I just noticed that I already iced the bottom two layers without cutting the cake and it's corners are round.... aaaah! This is the last time I agree to make a cake with just 3 days to do it in.
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