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Monday, October 11, 2010

Thoughts of Spring... Spinning Fiber and a Cake....

I was getting so used to the milder weather we have recently been getting, nice sunny warm Spring days with longer evenings as we are now into daylight saving. Then yesterday it all changed and I feel as if Winter as come back to bite us yet again. Most of the tulips and daffodils in the garden have been blown over by the strong winds. Since the quake the house seems very draughty ( maybe because we have a lot of brickwork on the outside missing?), the interior doors and roof rafters rattle every time there's a strong gust of wind and my dog Ruby takes cover under the coffee table or jumps onto my lap in fear. My other dog Molly sleeps through anything and everything.

I was very organised today - up with the larks, tonight's dinner is all prepared and I have the afternoon free - I'm going to get my spinning wheel out. I have some gorgeous fiber samples from my August Phat Fiber sample box that I would like to spin up:

From the back left we have:
Superfine Alpaca, Merino & Bamboo blend

On the right of this is 23 micron merino

At front left is Hand Pulled Clouds of Corriedale Cross wool, Kid Mohair & Angelina

Centre is Blue Faced Leicester Top

Next to that - the black and white one is Black Alpaca, Mulberry Silk & Angora Blend

Front centre is a Shetland & Merino blend

The small braid front right is Merino, Silk & Firestar
The wispy white at the very front right is crab fiber which I find interesting. I don't know which I would choose as my favorite of all, they are all nice in different ways but I think the first one I will spin will be the braid of Merino, Silk & Firestar because it's calling to me.

My newest wheel - I bought this second hand recently and could not believe my luck in finding it. It was well worth the long drive to collect it. It had been used only twice and the owner decided spinning was not for her and sold it on. It's an Ashford Traditional:

That's my Ruby sneaking into the photograph. She can probably smell the Alpaca fiber I was previously spinning - she is drawn to alpaca.I was knitting a cardigan from some last year and every time I got it out she would lay down by the ball of yarn and constantly sniff it over and over. We are seriously considering getting a few alpaca's, there's a place just over the road from us who breeds them and later in the year they sometimes have some up for sale.

Then there's a cake - I baked it early this morning and the house smelled wonderful. It's a Double Ginger Cake (I love love love ginger) - the first time I have made this recipe yet if I was to bake it again I would add more ginger to it. The cake also sank a little in the middle which didn't surprise me considering the amount of syrup in it. In the description Jamie calls it a teatime cake with attitude.
It is lovely - stickily moist, not too heavy and tastes heavenly. I think if I were to wrap it and store it until tomorrow the top would soften right up and go sticky, but I doubt it will last that long with 3 men in the house and a dog who goes absolutely crazy over cake. The recipe is from Jamie Oliver and is made in a food processor:

Double Ginger Cake

8 pieces of stem ginger in syrup drained, plus 4 tablespoons of the syrup reserved
150g soft unsalted butter
200g golden syrup
100g dark muscovado sugar
250g self raising flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
200ml milk
100g light muscovado sugar (for sprinkling on the top, I omitted this because it's sweet enough)

Preheat the oven to 180 deg C/gas 4.
Grease and line a 20x10cm loaf tin.

In a food processor with the blade attachment chop the ginger pieces finely. Tip this into a large mixing bowl.

Put the butter, golden syrup, ginger syrup and muscovado sugar in the processor and pulse until pale and creamy then add the flour, spices, eggs and half the milk. Process again until thoroughly mixed. Add the remaining milk and blitz again.

Pour the cake mixture into the bowl containing the chopped ginger and stir well. Pour into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Sprinkle over the light muscovado sugar if using.

Bake for 50 minutes until a skewer poked in the centre comes out clean.

My cake took 65 minutes to bake  and my oven is usually a bit on the hot side. The skewer will not come out looking clean because this is a very sticky textured cake. I tested mine by gently pressing in the middle, if it springs back it will be cooked.

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