No Fat Tea Bread – Bara Brith

My mum made this the other day – it is really delicious.

For conversion to cups please click here

350g mixed dried fruit (raisins, sultanas, dried apricot, mango, mixed peel whatever you have)

140g light muscovado sugar

300ml hot black tea

300g self raising (all purpose) flour

1 egg

Put all the mixed fruit and sugar in a mixing bowl and stir in the hot tea.

Cover and leave for 24 hours.

Next day: Heat oven to /150c/300 f/gas mark 2

Grease and line a large loaf tin with baking parchment.

Beat the egg and stir it and the flour into the fruit and tea.

Pour into tin and bake for 90 – 100 mins.  It is ready when it is well risen.(If you put a skewer into the centre it will come out clean.)

Allow to cool slightly then remove from the pan and cool on a rack.

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March 21, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . Food & Drink. 2 comments.

‘Stack and Whack’ Quilt – guest post by CraftyRoo!

hello!

Crafty Roo bringing you this week’s make – a stack and whack play quilt for a baby.

I have been making quilts for some time and wanted to try a new method.  I had a birthday last week and received many crafty books, one of which was Kirstie Allsop’s Craft.  In this book, one of the first projects is a stack and whack quilt.  It looked quite easy and interested and I wanted to see if I could use this technique as opposed to cutting blocks or strips which is how I usually piece my quilts.

Anyway, the book suggested making a template. I didn’t do this and wanted to get straight on with my cutting.  I made a stack of five fabrics.  I then cut two squares through all five layers, each six inches by six inches.  Then I made four cuts into each square, giving five smaller piles of fabric for each square (10 in total).  I labelled these carefully.  Each pile of fabric was cut slighly differently, giving different shapes.


You then leave pile one as it is, take one piece the top of from pile two and put it on the bottom, take two from pile three and put it on the bottom, take three from pile four and put them on the bottom, put four from pile five on the bottom.  Do this carefully and you will end up with five unique squares. Sew these together so you end up with ten complete squares.

Lay these out so that no two of the same  fabrics are next to each other.  You will have one square left over, which you can use on the back, if you like, or to make a matching cushion.

If I was going to do it again, I would cut bigger squares to start off with.  Using only six by six squares made it very fiddly!

That is as far as I’ve got! I’ll try to update this with my next steps.

March 14, 2012. Tags: , , , , , . Fabric. 1 comment.

59. Another Birthday Card

It is my friend Julia’s birthday on Monday.  She loves dogs, so I thought I’d make her a personalised card.

Those of you who followed this blog in its first year will recognise the method – it is a papercut.  I drew a design in pencil then cut it out with a craft knife. I then stuck the design on to a contrasting backing paper with Spray Mount.

It would probably have been better to have drawn the design on the reverse of the paper so I didn’t have to erase the pencil marks; but being no Leonardo Da Vinci, my brain power does not stretch to mirror writing.

March 2, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , . Paper. Leave a comment.

58. Fabric Mice

Before I start this make, I’d like to say hello to the 1st Tunstall Brownies.  Their  leaders have been in touch to say that they have managed to work out nearly the whole of next term’s programme from ‘makes’ on this blog.  Please send me pictures of how you get on and I’ll post them here.

This week’s make was just too cute for me to resist.  It is featured in this month’s ‘Mollie Makes’ magazine, which our library subscribes to.

All the instructions of how to make are in issue 11 and a pdf pattern is free to download at the magazine link above.

I had a lot of fun making these two.  They will be raffled off at our next library bake sale to raise funds.  I’m calling them ‘The Library Mice’

Here are some pictures of them. The first one before clothing and the second after they were dressed.

They were a fantastic way to use up bits of scrap fabric and wool.  You will see my first attempt at knitting something in a long, long time above too.

February 22, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , . Fabric. Leave a comment.

54. Lion Hat – guest post by Sierra Lima November

This is a guest post from Sierra Lima November

This Christmas, I decided to make all the presents to give to my friends and family.  This spilled over into January. Some time ago, my brother had a Lion Hat which got lost/given away, so I decided to make one to replace it for his birthday.

Here’s how I made it.

1. First I got my brother’s girlfriend to measure his head.  She did a great job of measuring while he was asleep.

2.  Then I got a pattern from the excellent website www.fleecefun.com and thought about how I could modify it to make the Lion Hat I wanted to make.  The pattern itself can be found at http://www.fleecefun.com/halloween-hat-pack.html .

3.  I then had to decide whether the Lion had more bear-like ears or more cat-like. With the help of one of my son’s toys, I decided they were more bear-like.

4.  Then cutting the pieces.  I added for the lion some triangles of felt for the mane.

5. I then sewed all the layers together

6. Then I pinned and sewed the bottom, which was actually really cool as it made the mane stand up.

7. The final hat….

Thank you so much to www.fleecefun.com   for the original pattern – it is amazing and so easy to make and for allowing me to post this with my modifications!

Here is the hat in action on the slopes in France

January 18, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Fabric. Leave a comment.

51. Fabric Bag With Lots of Pockets

I cleared out my fabric stash cupboard this week and found quite a few projects that were started but not finished. Fortunately, not as many as there were at the beginning of the year and not all of them are mine. However, when I tried to give them back to their creators, they were all returned with, ‘oh, you can finish it or make it into something’ Some even denied having anything to do with them. (Could this be next year’s blog?)

This week’s make was a project I started ages ago.  I was going to make a matching cushion for some curtains I had made. You can tell how long ago this project was started by the fact that the curtains were put on freecycle last year and are long gone.

I still like the fabric and as I’d already quilted a huge piece of it, I decided to make it into a bag with lots of pockets.  It might be useful as a diaper/nappy bag or for lugging around crafting bits and pieces. The piece I’ve started with is a rectangle measuring 92cm x 41cm.

So, I finished the quilting off then added a pocket to the inside.  For this I folded a piece of contrasting fabric 25cm x 25cm in half, and sewed it to the inside of the bag along 3 sides. I then made this into 2 pockets by stitching along its height with contrasting thread.

Then I started to make the pockets on the outside.  This turned out to be a bit trial and error as I was making up how to do it as I went along.

For a large front pocket, the yellow one below, I used 2 squares of fabric 25cm x 25cm.  Sewed them right sides together on 3 sides, turned them right side out and sewed the top closed with contrasting stitching.

Then I made a run of pockets around the bottom of the bag using  a strip of the main fabric, 106cm x 40cm. I folded the strip in half lengthwise and placed the open edges along the bottom of the bag.  As this strip is slightly wider than the bag, I pinned it in place so that the pockets stuck out a bit like pouches. Hopefully this will mean that it will hold bulky items. At the front, I made a pleat in the strip in the hope that it might lie flat when nothing is in that pocket.

I then sewed the strip to the main part of the bag attaching it at the sides and bottom.

(The pocket didn’t lie flat so I slipped a piece of elastic into the top fold.)

I made the straps by using two strips of fabric folded over some batting and then stitching along the length.

I also used an old duffle coat toggle to the front and crocheted a strip of yarn as a loop fastening.

I was going to add this to the blog as make number 46 but have decided to give it to one of my lovely daughters so will save this make and publish it after Christmas.  As it is now Friday, I’m going to have to make something very quickly to get it in for this week.

December 29, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Fabric. Leave a comment.

50. Italian Nut and Chocolate Christmas Cake

Make number 50 already!  I can’t believe the year has gone so fast.

This week I’ve made Italian Nut and Chocolate Christmas Cake.  I don’t remember where the recipe came from originally but I’ve been making this version for at least 10 years.

It serves 10-12 and you will need a 20cm loose bottomed cake tin. (Or as I’ve done this year, 2 x 20cm regular cake tins)

  • 450g of nuts (I use hazelnuts and walnuts.  This year I didn’t have quite enough so made up the balance with pecans)
  • 225g dark chocolate
  • 5 drops of vanilla essence
  • 65ml brandy
  • 1 level teaspoon cinnamon
  • 25g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • Finely chopped zest of 1 large orange
  • Unsalted butter and breadcrumbs to prepare the tin/s.

Preheat the oven to 180/350/gas 4.  Line the cake tin with greaseproof or baking parchment, then lightly grease this with a little unsalted butter.  Sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

Like this:

Whiz nuts and chocolate in a food processor or liquidiser until they are finely chopped but not ground. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in vanilla, brandy, cinnamon, butter and sugar.

Beat the egg yolks with a fork and then blend them in a little at a time to the mixture.

Add the finely chopped orange zest.

Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff peaks and then fold these into the mixture gently a little at a time.

Pour mixture into one or two already prepared cake tins and bake in the centre of the oven for 45 mins for two tins or around 75 mins for one tin.  Test the cake by sticking a cocktail stick in the centre.  If it comes out without cake mix on it, the cakes are ready. (It will likely have melted chocolate on it, that is ok).

Rest the cakes for a five minutes in the tins, then turn out onto a cooling rack.

You can either store the well wrapped cakes in the fridge for 2 weeks or freeze them.

Dust with icing sugar and its ready.

December 20, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Food & Drink. Leave a comment.

48. The Best Fudge Ever

I think all the makes from now until the end will be suitable as gifts as I’m busy, busy, busy making things for friends and family for Christmas.

This week I’ve made fudge.

This recipe uses:

  • 125g butter
  • 1 can evaporated milk (410g)
  • 4 tablespoons double cream
  • 500g caster sugar
  • 250g soft brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper or baking parchment.

1. Heat butter, milk and cream together in a large, heavy saucepan until it just starts to boil.

2. Turn the heat right down while you stir in the two sugars.

3. Turn the heat up again and bring the mixture to a rolling boil.  Keep stirring or it will stick and burn to the pan.  Boil it for about 25 minutes until it is roughly this colour:

4. You can test if it is ready to set in two ways.  (There may be more but these are the ones I use.) Either pull the spoon across the bottom of the pan and if it makes the mixture part so you can see the bottom of the pan it is done. Or, drop a small amount into a dish of cold water.  If it forms a soft ball that, if you push with your finger and it wrinkles, it is ready.  I’ve tried to take some pictures of this below.

Sorry, the second one is a little out of focus.

5. When it is ready, take it off the heat and beat in the vanilla essence.

6. Pour into the baking tray and leave to set.


7. After about 30 mins, cut the fudge into small squares – this is easy done when the fudge is still not completely set.

8. When it is set, remove from the tray, place into small cellophane bags and tie with a pretty ribbon.

December 8, 2011. Tags: , , , , , . Food & Drink. 2 comments.

46. Gift box made from Used Stamps

I’ve just got in under the wire with this week’s make.  All will become clear in a couple of weeks time.

I’ve collected stamps since I was a little girl. I had stamp albums that I inherited from my mum and dad and also collected used stamps for Blue Peter Christmas Appeals.  Old habits die hard.  I still can’t throw and envelope with a stamp away.  Nowadays the stamps go to whatever charity is collecting them.  The batch I used for this make included some that were damaged and of no use to collectors.

I started by taking the paper off the back of the stamp.  To do this, soak the stamp in a container of water.

This takes a few minutes.  When you can peel the paper off the stamp easily, dry the stamp by placing it face down on a towel, J cloth or paper towel.

While the stamps are drying find a suitable container that you can use to stick the stamps to.  I used a plastic container that had contained frosting.

When the stamps are dry fix them to the container one at a time. I used acrylic gel medium but you could use PVA glue or varnish.

When you have covered the whole container.  Paint over the stamps with a layer of your fixative.  Again, I used acrylic gel medium.

And here it is.  I’ll probably use it as a Christmas gift box.

November 25, 2011. Tags: , , , , , . Paper, recycled. Leave a comment.

45. Paper Cut Design for a Card

I’ve been experimenting with paper cutting and wondering what to do with the finished product.   This week I’ve made one into a card for a family member’s birthday.

Firstly, draw a simple outline onto some scrap paper.  Once you are happy with your design, either copy or draw it onto some coloured paper.

Using a craft knife and a self healing mat, cut around your design. This is quite fiddly and requires some care.

Once the design is cut out, stick it onto a piece of contrasting paper and then onto a blank card.

Or, you could paint a background and then stick the papercut on to it when it is dry – depends on what time you have and how arty you are feeling.

November 18, 2011. Tags: , , , , , . Paper. Leave a comment.

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