Sunday, 12 January 2014

OOoooooo cake!!

Well , it's a slow flowing Sunday in our home today and  I've finished my chores for the day ( well for now anyway ! ) . There's a beef stew slowly cooking   in the oven ( stew and dumplings for tea , yum yum ) and a coffee and walnut cake sat next to it in the oven ( I must remember to check on it ! ) . In fact my whole weekend has been at a steady pace , which I have thoroughly enjoyed . I'm now sat on the sofa the open fire is crackling and I have my lap top on my knee .

My first working week of the new year has been a good one , I'm pacing myself and taking time to enjoy other things in my life , I've spent quality time with my children and Mr P . and I've especially enjoyed being at home too . I love our little house and I have been doing lots of pottering and baking , I had been getting very grumpy about how neglected the house had started looking before my Christmas break . But I am now back in my happy place where our home is concerned  . I now feel it is back to giving me a big warm and welcoming hug when I walk through the door , where as before Christmas I felt the house just stared at me when I  came through the door saying  " Oh it's you is it  !! " . I truly feel my house has a personality and it let's me know when it's not happy . This weekend I've been moving bits of furniture and bit's and pieces we have , I do like to change things around seasonally to create different looks in the house . So I've taken a little table from our bedroom to put in the bay window in our living room as I've been wanting somewhere that plants and flowers can be sat in the very limited day light we have . This idea had sprung into my head from  a plan for a flower arrangement I had hatched very early Saturday morning .  Whilst stood at the sink washing up the breakfast pots on Saturday morning and looking at my humble back yard dreaming of spring and summer planting projects . I spotted two little pots of Tete-a-tete's from last year( Inever throw them away when they have finished flowering but usually plant the bulbs so they flower in the garden the folowing year , but these I had left in pots ) that I had kept in a sheltered position and they had sprung back into life . Bing !! a flash of an idea  started whirling around my head . The thing is , I do love fresh flowers in my house , who doesn't ? But particularly in cash strapped January there isn't much money for such things . This idea I had was going to create a floral feature in our home for spring with no cost , a result I like !!

First job was I needed a container to put the arrangement in and after dithering over several options I decided on one of my vintage glass cake stands ( actually I think it is a Bon Bon dish ) anyway , I also needed some moss . I've done spring buld arrangements before with dried florists moss but I had none to hand but I knew where I could get some fresh moss, my front garden wall !! Out I went collecting moss from our wall and there was plenty to harvest .
So I had all the things I needed and set too . Firstly I arranged the bulds into the glass container.
                                        Then I started to cover the bulbs and soil with the moss.

               Here's the final result , I am really pleased with the arrangement and it didn't cost a penny !!

I am really looking forward to them flowering !
I am also looking forward to changing the look of my little table with the seasons . However I do think I could do with some stems of Pussy Willow for the galvanised jug , but I will have to see if this weeks budget can stretch to it !
I have also got back into spending time baking which is good , as I have said before I do use it to relax and de-stress . In the last week the family have put  their requests in and they have all enjoyed ........................
 home made Lemon curd .Which I then used to make some delicious, melt in the mouth Lemon curd cookies ( as well as some Cherry jam ones too as the eldest isn't keen on Lemon curd ) .

Here's the recipe if you fancy giving the Lemon Curd Cookies a go .
1 Cup  ( 230 g ) unsalted butter , softened to room temperature .
2/3 cup (134 g ) granulated sugar .
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract .
1/2 teaspoon Almond extract .
2 cups + 2 tbsp ( 264 g) All purpose flour ( Plain flour ) .
Lemon Curd ( or a jam of your own preference ) .
 1 cup (12 g ) of Icing Sugar .
1 tbsp ( 15 g ) cream or milk .
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla or Almond extract .

Instructions :
: Firstly beat the butter in a large mixing bowl until creamy .
: Then add the sugar and beat together .
: Then add the Vanilla and almond extract and beat into the mixture .
: Then gradually add the flour to this rather wet mixture until you have used up all the flour and have a mixture that has formed into a dough .
: Then wrap your cookie dough in cling film and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 & 1/2 hours .
: While the dough is chilling prepare a baking sheet or two if you have them with baking parchment .
: Your Oven will need to be up to temperature @ 180 degrees C (350 degrees F ). Don't have your oven really hot as these cookies will burn .
: Once the cookie dough is chilled take it out of the fridge .
: Divide your mixture into approx 24 equal amounts and roll into small balls .
: Place some of them onto your baking sheet with plenty of space in between each cookies as they do spread . I only put between 6 to 8 on my baking sheets , so it does take a few batches of baking to cook them all .
: Make a small indentation in the centre of each cookie ball using one of you fingers . Then fill this indentation with the Lemon curd ( or any other jam you fancy ) , I roughly used about 1/2 teaspoon and was careful not to over fill the indentation . Try not to flatten the ball of dough too much as they will spread and flatten in the heat of the oven .
:Bake for between 12-14 minute and just as they start to go golden on the edges take them out of the oven and leave to start cooling on the tray . Once they have solidified enough transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling off . Repeat this process with the remaining cookies .
: While they are cooling make the glaze , mix the dry and wet ingredients together.  If the consistency is too stiff to drizzle add a few drops of water a drop at a time until you have a good consistency for drizzling .
: Once the cookies are cold and on the rack get a fork and use it to drizzle the glaze in wavy lines .
: Leave the glaze to set .
: Then enjoy , they are soooooooo very moreish !!

Another bake I have done this week is a Russian poppy seed cake , this is a lovely loaf style cake that is simple and has a delicate flavour .It come out of a much loved baking book called ' easy cakes & cookies ' published by Ryland Peters & Small .  After all the rich food at Christmas this cake is a simple delight . Here's the recipe as I know there are a few of you who are waiting for me to post this one  .

Russian poppy seed cake
Ingredients : Serves 8-12
: 115 g ( 3/4 cup ) poppy seeds
: 160 ml ( 2/3 cup ) milk .
: 125 g or 1 stick of butter @ room temperature .
: 250 g  ( 1 1/3 cups ) caster or granulated sugar
: 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract .
: 2 eggs separated .
: 200 g ( 1 1/3 cups ) plain or All purpose flour .
: 2 teaspoons baking powder .
: 1/4 teaspoons sea salt .
: icing/confectioners sugar, for dusting .

: A 900-g/ 2-lbs loaf tin/pan , greased .( I line my tin with baking parchment which makes it much easier to remove from the tin /pan )

Instructions :
: Put the poppy seed in a food processor or blender , process for about a minute until the seeds are finely chopped and have a damp looking appearance .
Tip the seed into a sauce pan then add the milk and then bring to the boil only stirring once or twice. Remove from the heat and leave to sit for about an hour .
: Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or 350 degrees F .
: Put the butter & sugar in a bowl and beat together until smooth and creamy . Beat in the Vanilla extract the and egg yolks . Add the poppy seed and milk mixture and mix well .
: In a separate bowl combine the flour , baking powder and salt . Then sift it into the poppy seed mixture and fold in .
: In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until stiff , then fold this mixture into the cake mixture a spoonful at a time .
: Put the mixture into the prepared  loaf tin/pan and level the surface .
: Bake for about an hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre come out clear .
: Leave to cool on a wire rack .
: Dust liberally with the Icing/ confectioners  sugar .

: Then serve and enjoy !!

I really am enjoying being more relaxed compared to the pre Christmas stressed me !! I think my family and friends are too .  I have a busy  (  but manageable busy ) week ahead , I may even de -camp at home this week as I have a lot of school interruptions to my working week which is fine but the less tooing and froing I do the better . Now I have a sewing machine at home as well as the studio it really isn't a problem if I have to work around the children and be at home for a few days . Where ever I end up working tomorrow I am eager to carry on working on my Mr Foxes and have a batch finished very soon .
Thanks for popping by and I hope my post doesn't scupper anyone's post Christmas diets .
Have a lovely week ahead and ta ta for now .
Tracy xx


  1. lovely post Tracy and thank you for the recipes which I will certainly be trying very soon. Love your table and the tete-a-tete's in your lovely dish they look very attractive :-) Stay relaxed xx Love Joy xx

  2. Your daffs are beautiful - Martha Stewart would be envious of that arrangement!! I love the idea of your little grouping of things on the table. You are a clever thing. Looking forward to seeing the finished Mr Foxes! xx

  3. I don't know what are prettiest...your food or your bulbs. Loved it all.

  4. The bulbs are a promise of spring.

    The rabbit is cute!

  5. I love the bulbs in moss - beautiful. It's always nice to re-arrange things a bit, especially in the post-Christmas period. What delicious baking, the lemon curd cookies look scrumptious; lemon curd is one of my favourite things. I hope you have a good and productive week, I really enjoyed reading this post. So beautifully photographed as well.

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  7. Love your bulbs with the are a girl after my own heart..."use it up, make it do, throw it out or buy it new"...I grew up with that phrase ringing in my ears. It looks great and so do your desserts! Thank you so much for the recipes and our U.S. measurements too.....twas my lucky day!
    Your home looks so cozy and I know what you mean about knowing when you've gone past the line on your house and it doesn't feel homey anymore. Yes, baking and cooking does it, fresh linens, vacuuming and a little puttering around to freshen things up. I'm glad you're finding some balance's important we all do that. I love your foxes...can't wait to see them all outfitted. Have a terrific week!

  8. You sound blissful. That is wonderful. The arrangement is great. The moss is cool. Your baking is off the chain. The sweets look yummy for a tummy. What does the fox say?

  9. Cannot wait to try the Russian Poppy Seed Cake! Thank you so much for sharing!

    Relaxing work is the best!

  10. There's no end to your talents. I love your bulb arrangement. I treated myself to a couple of £1.00 pots of Tete-a-Tete from Morrisons on Saturday, last year's bulbs are growing in a trough in the yard - now looking forward to them flowering. I bought an amaryllis bulb in November and planted it straight away, the flower stalk is now 25 cm tall I'm looking forward to seeing that flower too. I can definitely recommend your Russian poppy seed cake it's delicious. I now want to try making the biscuits - blow the diet lol. Glad to hear you're feeling happier with your work life balance. Hugs Liz xx

  11. About the pussywillows...any bushes local to your house that you could clip and bring in early to open...for 'free'? Just wondering. Looks lovely the bulbs and moss! The recipes look great too. Helen

  12. Glad to hear that you are easing yourself back in. Love the sound of those lemon curd cookies and I can see a batch of these being made here very soon :O)x

  13. What a lovely bon bon dish arrangement. It looks great. I did skip over the cake recipes because I'm trying to lose a little bit of weight, but I've noted them for future baking sessions!
    Love from Mum

  14. I'm so glad you're finding a good balance between the work at your studio and your family & home life. It really does make things better when you can take your time with projects & chores rather than rushing full steam ahead. Your glass dish of bulbs is truly a work of art! What a beautiful arrangement that will be a joy to watch unfurl into flowers. The moss gives it such a special woodland feel ... how I'd love to have a mossy wall in my front yard! The baking looks delicious, but I'm on post Christmas eating now and won't be able to try it. I love poppy seed cakes & loaves to, so believe me this is very hard to pass by ;) Have a great week! Wendy x

  15. ooh - lemon curd cookies sound delicious - will definitely have to give those a try! your flower arrangement is fabulous!

  16. It's a fresh start to the New Year....your bakes look so yummy....I think I'm going to try the cookies!

  17. Your Spring table is lovely, great idea for the flowers.

    The baking looks yummy

  18. Once I saw your pictures I just HAD to make those lemon curd cookies! Oooooh my they are so delicious! Thanks for sharing!

  19. Thanks for sharing your recipes.. they look lovely... your Spring table is very inspiring such a clever idea :)

  20. Hmmm did you see that quick flash - it was my diet jumping out of the window. Those lemon curd cookies look Amaaaazing and will definitely need to be made and sampled. Loving the little blue unit in your workspace x