Lunchtime Lusting- Silicone cat moulds from Muji!

Look at these, look look look! Look what you can get, moulds to make little chocolate cats! I need them, honest I do, I promise I’ll use them all the time…

Muji are so good, the have a little booklet for you to download with recipes. They show you how to make teeny cat cheesecakes:

I’m not sure I could bare to eat one of these chocolate cats; especially not the sleeping one, it would seem rude:

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Oscar’s Bunting

The arrival of a new nephew last October prompted me to attempt some proper bunting. Just over 3 months later and it’s done! I got the Kirstie’s Homemade book for Christmas, which helped a lot- I mainly followed those instructions.

Shopping list:

  • Material
  • Cardboard
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Spray Starch
  • Sewing machine/the patience to sew by hand
  • Cord or something to thread your flags on

The first thing you’ll need, of course, is material. A few years ago I bought what I thought at the time to be a lovely pair of blue and white striped trousers (£5, Mango, bargain). They went into my wardrobe and there they stayed until about two weeks ago, when I began cutting triangles from them. The bunting in the book was made from vintage fabric, with plain fabric for the backing. As I had plenty of the material I was using, I used that for everything, opting for horizontal striped one side and vertical on the other.

Now, you’re supposed to spray starch your fabric and iron beforecutting the triangles out, but I got carried away and ended up ironing each triangle separately afterwards. It was fine though!

You want the triangles to be even and matching in size; other than that, I really think it depends what you want the bunting for and ultimately how big you want it! Cut yourself a template from cardboard. Mine was roughly 18cm x 12cm. Then use it to cut triangles from your material; again, it really depends how much bunting you want. You can figure it out by the length of triangle tops and how much space you think you’ll be leaving in between.

Next job is putting a front with a back and sewing them together. If you’re going for a shabby chic look (as I usually am) then sew them with the backs together. If you like neat, you can sew them right sides together then turn them right way out- just make sure you don’t sew the short side beforehand!

So… where was I… sewing. Do up each of the long sides, meeting at the point, but stopping a good few centimetres from the top. (If you’re being  neat, this is the point you’d turn it right way out). Then sew across the top of the short side, so you’ve got a gap between this and the side seams; this is where you’ll thread your cord through.

Now it’s time to string them all together! I used thin rope type stuff, that I found in my craft box. I’ve no idea where it came from, I’m afraid, but I thought it looked nice. I used a big blunt needle to thread mine through. Another way is to wrap tape round the end, so it doesn’t fray and can be pushed through easier. Just make sure they don’t all fall off the other end!

All that’s left to do then is decide how far apart you want them, the put a couple of little stitches in each to hold them in place.

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Weekend Baking- the best lemon bar things ever

EVER. Seriously. The husband and I had people round for dinner and I made a batch of 12 lemon bars; we each sampled one before the guests arrived, of course, but the other 10 we ate between the four of us quite quickly! They were just too nice, if I do say so myself; I had my proud face on all evening.

Here’s the recipe- lots of steps but simple enough and so worth it.

Pastry base:

  • 140g/5oz plain flour
  • 60g/2oz granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 115g/4oz cold unsalted butter

Filling:

  • 1 lemon, unwaxed and scrubbed
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 200g/7oz granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

Before you begin, grease and line a roughly 8-inch square baking pan (mine was rectangular and about 7″ x 10″!) and stick the oven on to preheat at 180 C.

First up, the pastry base. Start by stiring together the flour, sugar and salt with a whisk until evenly blended. Cut the butter into cubes and combine with the dry ingredients. I did this by hand; one of the benefits of having constantly cold hands is that I have the power to make great pastry 🙂 The consistency you’re after is mostly coarse crumbs, but still a bit chunky. Basically, I would make sure there are no huge lumps of butter and then not worry about it too much. Press this mixture evenly into your prepared baking pan.

This goes in the oven for 15-20 mins until lightly golden, giving you the perfect amount of time to prepare your filling.

Zest and juice the lemon. You’ll need 1 tsp of the zest (or more, if you like it zesty) and 2 tbsp of juice. Put these in a big bowl and add the eggs and sugar. Beat these together until well mixed (I recommend an electric whisk, if you have one) then speed things up for about 1-2 mins, until themixture is pale and foamy. Combine the flour and baking powder and then whisk into the lemon mixture.

By now your base should be ready. Pour the topping evenly over the crust and pop it back in the oven for 25-30 mins, until lightly golden on top.

Once you’ve taken it out of the oven, DO NOT get over excited and try to take it out of the pan to cool. Leave it in there. After it’s nice and cool you can turn it out, cut it up and enjoy!

 The recipe suggests dusting with icing sugar, however, while it looked pretty and tasted nice, it tended to just fall off when you picked them up; which is a shame as I spent ages dusting little stars!

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It was the cover that caught my eye… #3

Beautiful as book covers are, when they’re all lined up on the shelf you can’t see them. That’s why this book cover post is decicated to one of my favourite book spines.

The little ship on this edition of King Solomon’s Mines makes me smile every time I see it on my bookshelf.

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Knitted things- now on Folsky!

Yes, I finally have something listed on Folksy- whoop woo! Check out these ever-so-cute knitted arm warmers.

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Weekly Inspiration- Paper, paper and more paper

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Lunchtime Lusting- Williams-Sonoma cookie cutters

I know, I know; I’ve done one of these posts about cookie cutters already; it would seem I’m always lusting after them. But, oh, Williams-Sonoma, yours are too wonderful not to bring to people’s attention.

The Star Wars Heroes & Villains set I have already. They are AWESOME, if a little pesky to ice.  But I just discovered yet more excitement.

Star Wars Vehicles!

Marvel Heroes!

SPIDER MAN COMIC BOOK!!

In two months time team Craft Fantastic will be heading to Florida, where there is an actual Williams-Sonoma shop, and we CANNOT WAIT.

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Weekend Baking- Cornflour ribbon cake

This is something I found in my grandma’s recipe notebook and thought it sounded interesting. The notebook is a little scrappy one, with no cover (shock horror! If Grandma Wheeler were still alive, she would have recieved a fancy new notebook for Christmas) and the contents are often equally scrappy, meaning there’s often a small amount of guess work. Here’s the recipe as it stood, word for word:

Beat 4oz marg and 5oz caster sugar together. Add 2 eggs and beat until smooth.

Sift 4oz S.R. flour and 4 oz cornflour tog. and add to ingredients with 1 tbsp milk.

Divide mixture into sections and to each add a diff. food colour, or cocoa to one mix. 

Grease a 7″ baking tin and drop a little of each coloured mixture into the tin, till all mixture used up.

Bake at mark 4 for 3/4 to 1 hour.

Now, this seems quite straightforward, but if you are going to attempt this, here are some handy tips…

DOs: Use butter instead of marg if you wish, it’ll be fine. Really make sure the flour is mixed in well; there’s a lot of it! Thus, when it says ‘drop a little of each mixture’ what it should really say is ‘thwack it off the spoon’. Seriously, with all that flour it’s never going to be dropping consistancy. I made a MESS doing this.

DON’Ts: Be careful what kind of tin you use. I used a round one, which was fine, but it meant that the mixture went in lumps side by side; I think it would be much easier to use a loaf style tin, and try to layer the mixture. If you do dollop, (which does provide a nice effect still) when you’ve dolloped the mixture into your tin, don’t just leave it; I was in a rush and made the mistake of leaving mine in dollops, and ended up with a… textured surface… I think perhaps trying to level it would have been a good idea.

However, once it was cut up it did look rather pleasing.

Due to the cornflour, the taste and texture was a bit different to regular sponge cake; however, not at all stodgy or heavy, which was my worry. It was in fact rather tasty.

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It was the cover that caught my eye… #2

There’s not much I can say about the cover of this edition of H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine. I think it’s clear why I love it:

The spine is equally exquisite:

The fact that this book is clearly old and worn just makes it all the better for me. A well-loved book is a happy book. Just don’t bend the spine back or I’ll slap you on the wrist.

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CAKE POPS

I made 40 cake pops, they lasted  just 11 hours when shared with work colleagues and friends.  Apparently once you eat one, you just can’t stop.  Here is how it all happened.

It all starts with the very normal baking a cake…

Make a basic chocolate cake recipe.  I made mine by mixing 250g salted butter (at room temperature) with 250g caster sugar.  Slowly add 4 medium eggs, continuing to beat the mixture.  Sift over 250g self-raising flour and 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder.  Mix everything until combined.  Pour into 2 x 8 inch cake tins, bake in a preheated oven at 160ºC for 25 mins.  Test it with a skewer, it cooked the skewer comes out clean.  Leave the cake to cool.

Now things start to get a bit crazy, it’s time to destroy the cake, yes, really…

I know it seems so terribly wrong, but it has to be done.  Put the cake into a food processor and process until you get a crumb consistency.  I do not have a food processor, so I had to go with the slower method of breaking the cake until a big bowl, and then using a fork to break it up into a crumb-like consistency.  Yes, this takes quite a bit more time, but if you do it whilst sitting in front of the TV watching ‘The Big Bang Theory’ then the time passes by quickly.

In a seperate bowl mix together 140g full-fat cream cheese and 280g sifted icing sugar until smooth.  Add this to your cake crumbs.  Stick your hands in and combine together.  You should be left with a moist mixture. 

Time to make some balls…

Weigh out 30grams of the mix and roll into a ball, push in a lollipop stick, and place on a tray.  Do this about 39 more times and you should have used up all your mix.  Put the tray into the fridge for a few hours (if short on time you can put them in the freezer for about 10 minutes).

Now for the fun part, it is time to decorate…

Melt some chocolate or candy melts, I used Cadbury milk chocolate as it is my favourite.  Dip the naked cake pop into the chocolate, ensure it is fully coated, tap the excess chocolate off.  Decorate with sprinkles, glitter, sugar stars/hearts etc, whatever you fancy.  Place into a stand to dry.  You can buy proper cake pop stands online, but they can be a bit pricey.  I used oasis (the stuff that is used for flower arranging) and found it was a very useful substitute.

And the result is…

A very pretty, cute and tasty treat, something that is almost like a chocolate truffle.  Seriously, they were eaten so quickly by my work colleagues and friends that I did not even have time to eat one myself, I found myself making another batch a few days later, and I got to eat my first cake pop, and it was delicious, worth the time and effort for a special occasion/treat.

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