Pattern | Angel Lace Shawl by Evelyn A. Clark
Yarn | Knitpicks Alpaca Cloud in Peppermint Heather
Needles | 4.5mm circulars (very loose cast off by using 7.5mm needles)
Modifications | A sprinkle of beads here and there…
When I first started this shawl, it was with the intention of wearing it to a friend’s wedding, but after several days of frantic knitting, I realized that I couldn’t make it in time so instead, it became a gift to my mother. A sort of going-away present from me, you could say; this and the pair of socks that I’ve just completed last night.
Angel Lace Shawl was a new pattern that I purchased. I seem to have a fond liking for Evelyn Clark’s patterns and am looking forward to the opportunity to purchase her latest book, Knitting Shawl Triangles. The lady has a knack for coming up with very feminine yet easy shawl designs…timeless pieces, IMHO.
Now that this is done, I’ll have a little bit more time to concentrate on my own designs, stock up my library…and of course, how could I forget? The big move. Can’t you believe it? I’m leaving in another 20 plus days!!!!!!!!!!!!1
Pattern | Wendy’s Generic Toe-Up Sock with a short row heel
Yarn | Sirdar Town & Country 4 Ply Sock Yarn
Needles | 2.25mm DPNs
The socks which I frogged and restarted last year is now finally complete!!!!
To be honest, it wasn’t my best. I made a huge mistake by piping blue beads instead of sticking to white and my instructor wouldn’t let me graduate with just using Level II flowers. Hence the funny looking colour combination which made everything look oh-so…topsy-turvy. Yes, this is the trouble when you go with the “I’m just winging it” style.
Thankgawd it won’t be the same when it comes to the actual wedding cake! Speaking of the wedding cake, I need to get started on the royal icing filigree pieces now but suddenly with the lilies and everything else (fondant/royal icing bead bottom – red/gold – plus ribbon), I think it might be too much. Aiiiihhh…I can’t seem to make up my mind.
I really ought to blog about something but I’m too tired from the packing, cleaning and painting (plus getting all my other stuff sorted out like banking, etc) to actually bother putting my mind to getting upset over things that are not directly related to my move to Fondue-land.
Perhaps after tomorrow or the weekend, when I’ve come up with more things, and ultimately, more time to relax and actually come up with something meaningful.
Sometimes I have a love-hate relationship with baking. You see, I can never stick to a recipe and follow it to the T. I make modifications here and there, choosing to add a bit of this and a bit of that…it all depends on my mood really. Sometimes it turns out great, other times it’s just so-so.
This time, it turned out just fine…fine enough to become a wedding cake. The recipe is as per below:
750gms mixed fruits
100gms green glaced cherries – quartered
70gms dried apricots – chopped
300gms mixed nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, macadamias) – chopped coarsely
30gms mixed peel – chopped
150gms strawberry jam
2 tbsp honey
1 cup brandy
50gms plain flour, sifted
125gms soft brown sugar
1/2 tbsp dark treacle
2 tsp vanilla essense
5 egg yolks
Combine and sift:
175gms plain flour
75gms self-raising flour
1 1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
5 egg whites
1/4 tsp salt
50gms castor sugar
- Combine fruits and nuts in a container. Add jam, honey and brandy, and mix well.
- Cover and allow to sit for at least 7 days. Stir the mixture with a clean & dry wooden spoon every day.
- Before use, add 50gms plain flour to prevent the fruits & nuts from sinking to the bottom of the cake.
- Grease a deep 10″ round cake tin with butter and line the bottom of the pan with 3 layers of baking paper.
- Wrap the outside of the tine with brown paper and secure well. This is to prevent 1) the edges from cooking too quickly, and 2) the top to curve over (dome shaped).
- Mix the butter and sugar until well-combined. Then cream the mixture with essence and treacle until pale and light.
- Add the egg yolks one at a time and ensure that they are mixed well after each addition.
- Add creamed mixture into the fruit & nut mixture by hand and mix well.
- Fold in the sifted flour and mix evenly.
- Beat egg whites with salt until soft peaks form and gradually add sugar (1 tbsp at a time). Continue beating until it forms a meringue. All utensils must be free of fat (butter, shortening, oil, etc) otherwise the meringue will not form. You’ll know when it’s a meringue if you turn the bowl over and it doesn’t dribble out. The key is to look out for stiff peaks!
- Fold the meringue into your batter and mix thoroughly. Remember to be gentle as meringue is fluffy (due to all that incorporated air) so you don’t want to “deflate” it.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, level evenly and bake in a preheated oven at 150 C for 1 hour. Do place a pan of water at the bottom of the oven to keep the cake moist.
- Lower temperature to 140 C and continue to bake for 2 hours or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. In the last hour, remove the pan of water.
- Once removed from the oven, brush the top evenly with either brandy or apricot glaze, and wrap up the entire cake with a clean tea-towel.
- Leave to cool for approximately 1 hour. Remove, turn out cake, remove lining paper and wrap with foil.
- Store the cake in the fridge. It will keep for up to 3 months.
The fruitcake is now sitting in the refrigerator – all four batches of it!!!! Yes, I had to double up on the recipe because I felt one batch wasn’t enough. It was a nightmare mixing everything though. I’m just not equipped for double batch productions…especially of this magnitude. Well, lets just say that the fruitcake had 5 eggs, 1 cup of brandy, and nearly 1.5 kg of nuts & fruits in it! So imagine doubling up on that! @_@
As for the flowers, I’ve decided to stick with royal icing instead of fondant (remember what happened previously?) and fresh flowers. The little “blank” ivory templates were piped out several days ago and after a coat of pearl shimmer, they were ready for the paintbrush. I knew I wanted tiger lilies on the cake but I didn’t want to stick to pink so I search around the Net and come up with some dark red and very golden yellow looking lilies.
Now, you have to remember this – the last time I picked up a paintbrush was in high school. That would be like ten years ago! And even then, I wasn’t exactly a Van Gogh at it. I just followed the pictures I got and after about two hours of painting, break-time and more painting, I’m glad to say that it’s over.
The red-orange tiger lilies were painted with a mix of orange red powder, a tiny pinch of golden nugget powder and naturally, Wilton’s No Red icing colour gel. The yellow lilies on the other hand saw a coat of paint made with heaps of golden nugget powder and Wilton’s Golden Yellow icing colour gel. The dots are made by mixing a tad bit of Wilton’s Brown icing colour gel with the colours. I won’t even get into the technique but lets just say that it involved at least three coats of paint!
Now that this component is done, I’ve to get started on the side panels. Gawd, remind me please…how did I get myself into this?
I just love royal icing flowers! Clean-up is also easier too; no more greasy stuff to soap and wash! YAY!
Been busy churning out these delicate blooms since 8pm (and I’m continuing with a darker shade of blue tomorrow)…there are more though. I have a whole row of ivory lilies sitting pretty. Will be painting them once they are dried and hopefully all will turn out well. Otherwise, I have to resort to making sugarpaste flowers in my air-conditioned room. Bleh.
Just in case you’re wondering, these are for Dad’s cake. I thought blue would be nice for him and well, non-flower cakes didn’t go down too well with Mum. *shrugs*
I don’t really know what made me decide to cook today’s main lunch dish. The packing had tired me out, my parents are great cooks and well, I’m always insecure when it comes to cooking for them. But surprisingly, they liked this…and so did I.
Marinated pan-fried mackerel in spicy sauce
Serves 4-5 people
6 medium to small whole mackerel fish
Some oil (for pan frying)
Ground nut brittle for garnishing
Kaffir lime leaves + stem
Thai basil leaves + stem
Mint leaves + stem
Coarse black pepper
Approx 2 to 4 tablespoons of water
* These were premade and stored in the freezer/fridge.
- Clean each fish, leaving the head and tail intact. Marinate with pepper and salt.
- Crush and stuff the leaves into the belly of the fish. Crush and tear some kaffir lime leaves, and rub it all over the fish.
- Leave to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours or preferably overnight to several days (in the freezer).
- When preparing this dish, take the fish out to thaw (if it has been sitting in the freezer) and/or dry with a paper towel (if it’s straight from the refrigerator).
- Heat the work with a medium to high fire and drizzle some oil to prevent the fish from sticking. When the wok begins to smoke, place the pieces of fish on its side and cover the wok.
- Turn down the wok to a medium fire and allow the fish to cook (wok remains covered) for approximately 5 minutes.
- Gently flip the fish onto its other side and cover the wok again for 5 minutes.
- When the fish is done*, remove and put aside in a shallow dish.
- To prepare the sauce, dump all of ingredients (B) and fry on a medium-low fire until fragrant.
- Turn off the flame and spread over the fish.
- Sprinkle the ground nut brittle over and serve.
* To see if a fish is fully cooked, take a fork and pierce the thickest part of the flesh. Twist the fork gently. If the meat flakes, the fish is cook.