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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mary Berry's Banana loaf

Yesterday I had the rare pleasure of having a whole day at home to myself. What to do?  Spinning and knitting were at the forefront of my mind I will admit, however, I quickly shelved those thoughts and decided to catch up on household chores, a spot of gardening was also quickly shelved because of the intense heat outside (it got to 27 degrees), so once I had caught up with the mundane stuff I decided to spend the afternoon baking. 6 bananas past their best in the fruit bowl, no way was I going to waste them.

Banana loaf ~ my favorite recipe is a Mary Berry one. It's quite adaptable and keeps and freezes very well. Not too sweet as I use a little less sugar than the original recipe calls for, moist, cakey, and not at all heavy as I find a lot of banana loaf recipes are. I made 3, 1 for now and 2 for the freezer. Here's the recipe:

115g soft butter
2 very ripe bananas (about 200g peeled weight) mashed very well.
125 g soft brown sugar (original recipe calls for 150g)
2 large eggs
225g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons milk (I sometimes use buttermilk)

1 loaf tin 900g/2lb capacity, lined with baking paper

Oven 180 deg/160 deg fan/350deg f/gas 4

Put everything except the banana into a large mixing bowl and whisk with an handheld mixer for 1 minute, or beat with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Stir in the banana and add any add-ins you may like.

I added 100g of chopped walnuts, half of a pack of white chocolate chips and a few handfuls of dried cranberries to mine, but that was for 3 times the mixture.

Spoon into the lined tin and smooth the top. Bake for about an hour until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean, if you press the cake lightly in the centre it will feel pretty firm and should be a nice golden brown colour.

Cool for 10 minutes in the tin then turn out onto a cooling rack.

The original recipe has honey icing but I don't make this as I think the cake is sweet enough as it is:
25g icing sugar
2 teaspoons clear honey
1/2 teaspoon cold water
Mix all the ingredients together and drizzle over the cold loaf.

Then I hung the new curtains I made for my bedroom last week:

The fabric I chose is a chocolate brown washed linen, these are lined with a thermal block out lining which will keep the heat in through the Winter. The heading is a 20cm pencil pleat. I'm really happy with them, I wouldn't normally choose such a dark colour for soft furnishings but they go so well with the pale gold colour of the wallpaper.

I'm currently working on a package for a Christmas mini swap, I've learnt myself some new skills but I can't say too much until the package has been received :-)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Spring Green Handspun Merino, finally finished

Finally finished my experimental skein:
950 metres
Commercially combed 20 micron merino top
Hand dyed by me
Randomly spun
Weight: Lace
Grist:10,555 mtrs per Kg
WPI: 36
Plies: 2
Singles: Z spun
Plied: S spun
Wheel: Ashford Traditional
Drive ratio: 40:1

This is the first yarn/skein I spun using my new Ashford Lace Flyer. I really really like it. Spinning seems effortless, because of the higher ratio I no longer treadle like a mad woman to get enough twist into the singles. Cross lacing the singles across the flyer does work, it slows the take up of the yarn onto the bobbin. I soon got a feel for it.

One error I made, when I came to ply the singles I used a lace bobbin, I should have just used a normal one. I will know next time!

Now I've just made a start on this beautiful stuff:
This is a braid of merino from Heavenly wools, a lovely surprise sent to me by a swap partner this week. It has a long colour change, so a gradient spin is in order.

I originally planned to spin onto 2 bobbins and 2 ply the singles, but I had a change of heart and decided to spin it all onto one bobbin and Navajo ply for a 3 ply gradient yarn. The blue is much more teal/peacock in reality. I'm halfway through the first colour of 4.

The peonies are all coming into bloom in my garden and I cut the first vase full today. The roses are just about ready to bloom but we are still getting cold frosty nights. I cover over the potatoes and other frost tender crops at night, it seems rather late in the year to be doing that.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Merino, ready to ply

I finished spinning the merino singles last night. 2 bobbins, now ready to ply. The colours are quite a bit more vivid in real life:
Greens into blues, random spun into singles as fine as I could, it was a braid of merino I dyed a very long time ago. I hope for 1000 mtrs of laceweight!