Saturday 29 April 2017

Baking Adventures Continue: Persian Love Cake

Easter Sunday lunch required a special meal, which of course means a special dessert (first things first!).

It was time to resurrect the baking adventures (no Easter puns intended)...

I thought it would be good if we avoided Chocolate.

there being an abundance of it in stock for the season...

Please note, I don't generally recommend avoiding chocolate.  That would be rash.

So what that in mind, I perused my favourite baking book, and discovered Annabel's Persian Love Cake, which I then proceeded to Thermify just a little (only in the interests of saving labour on my part).

If you haven't got it already, you should get it, it's that good!

Special Delivery: Favourite recipes to make and take*

Look away now if you have a nut allergy

I brewed my obligatory baking-cup-of-tea

collected ingredients

milled some almonds according to Thermomix directions.

then proceeded with the recipe

To blend the crumb (of almond meal, sugar and butter):
Turbo 2 seconds 3 times.
What could possibly be wrong with almond, sugar and butter?

Crumb base worked beautifully

To combine the rest of the ingredients:
4 seconds, speed 5, then a 2 sec Turbo.
I find the Turbo good for really moving ingredients around, especially when some seem to be sitting on top.

Fresh nutmeg - a surprising amount!

Everything else was done according to instructions.

The cake turned out beautifully.

The only issues were entirely mine - the texture was a little soggy.  But that was because I used the end of a tub of yoghurt - it contained a lot of whey  Don't do as I did!

I'm not usually good at decorating, but I managed to pull off a heart in the centre.
Can you see it?

The nutmeg gave the most delightful fragrant tang and depth of flavour.

Annabel recommends that the addition of lemon zest is optional, but I would heartily recommend its inclusion.

It provides a contrast to the sweetness of the cake.  I didn't show you the mountain of sugars in it!

Serving with greek yoghurt and segments of orange balanced the flavours beautifully.


I'll be cooking this one again - it's a Keeper!

* the link to purchasing the book is an Amazon Associate link.  If you purchase via the link, I'll get a small commission

Friday 28 April 2017

gratitude & tears

A year ago, I booked high tea.

At my favourite place.

With favourite people.

To celebrate my birthday.

It was late for my birthday, but fell on my mum's birthday a week or so later.

Another reason to celebrate.

It also fell on a weekend of deluge and flash flooding.

My friends mostly, wisely, pulled out.  They made the right choice.  The conditions were too risky.

Except for one dear friend, ready for adventure, determined in her love.

I felt compelled to go though.

You see, my mum.

It was her birthday.

She probably didn't know

She was in the final awful stages of Dementia.

That stole her away from us, little by little, far too fast.

I was convinced

that I had to see her.

I was convinced

that Death must come knocking, when birthdays draw near.

that the cells in her body knew that the day had come

I was convinced

that her fragile grip on life would loosen.

That, having made the next milestone, she would finally let go.

I had to see her.

To give her my love.

So that I didn't miss 'goodbye'

I'm so glad I did.


we were unwise

in the deluge

in the floods

we were lucky

we made it through

never again


She lingered for another month.

And then her body failed

Suffering enough

we told her she could leave us

we would care for her son

she was loved


those memories washed over me as I drove today

confronting me on the road to high tea

and God was kind

different seats, different views, new memories

with another precious friend

ready for adventure, determined in her love

flowers for love

lavender tones to comfort


a posy

gentle, old fashioned roses, in dusky hues

a token of love

for one whom I love

so dearly missed

longings for better things


blessings today, as well as the tears

cosy hand-knit socks.  joy

friends who hear.   healing

wheaten bloom glowing on green hills

chill & autumn leaves afire

shawl for cosy hug of warmth

an embrace filled with understanding

rose-hued dusk

sliver of silver crescent moon

my small boy finds me to say 'i love you'


Monday 17 April 2017

Blocking Knitting: Before & After

I've just recently completed two shawls, both of which have made me Very Happy.

One is for a friend...

The blue Spindrift Shawl from Curious Handmade made from a heavenly Merino/Silk blend (soft just doesn't describe it).

If you sign up for the Curious Handmade email, you can even get this pattern for free.  She has lots of helpful tips about knitting shawls and lace, in the form of a series of emails to guide you through the process of knitting this shawl.

It's an excellent place to start if you've not knitted shawls or lace before.

This was such a lovely knit:  simple, quick, gratifying.

I love the way the lace looks like the foaming of waves on a sandy shore.
The only issue I have is that the neckline is a little tight.  I think this is because silk isn't as giving as wool.  Or perhaps it was my tension.  It was curling over due to the tension.

I was pretty aggressive in pulling it out in the blocking, but really, there wasn't much I could do, as there was no give along the edge of the shawl.   Still it improved a lot by the finished product!

before blocking:  looks a little crumpled and uneven

Doesn't that just look stunning now.
The lace after blocking 

Defined.  Open.  Lace

I also made my daughter the Snowflake Party Shawl by Martina Behm.  This is another simple, fast and gratifying knit.  Another good beginning shawl.  This was also an opportunity for me to experiment with colours and stripes.

I had some leftover CircusTonicHandmade Star Finch yarn, which Princess loves.  It wasn't enough for an entire item, so I matched it with Bendigo Yarns Luxury 4 ply in Coral.  They are a fantastic match.

Before blocking

As the shawl progressed, I gradually introduced stripes of the Star Finch, and gradually decreased the Coral.  You can see the changes in the stripes below.  If you want to see the exact formula for how I did it, the details are on my Ravelry Project Page here.

I added some extra rows to the end of the shawl to give a border to the lace pattern, and an opportunity to create more fabric in the Star Finch yarn.

During knitting, the snowflakes weren't all that defined.

I blocked this fairly aggressively (that means I stretched it quite a bit) - the shawl seemed to grow a lot in the blocking process!

The result?

Lovely, clear snowflakes, dancing over the shawl.


PS.  If anyone has any tips on how to get children to model for you, send them my way!

PPS.  And here's your reward for reading right to the end...

Why be normal when you can be, well, weird?  Dancing? and Photobombing? Why not!