Friday, November 18, 2011

Fragrant Quince and Ginger Cake for Thankies!

Quince and Ginger Cake with Poached Quince and delicious Quince 'sauce'

If there were indeed such a thing as a runcible spoon I might perchance know it's whereabouts!
First we begin with the preparing of the Quince - an oddsome looking large pear shaped article which needs must be poached for a goodly amount of time in order to surrender it's roseate bloom and delightful taste which, for me, is very reminiscent of papaya. Quince were frequently (and should still be I think) used to perfume one's linen's in olden times - you can snuggle them in there and they will permeate your delicates with the most enticing aroma which is hard to describe - my whole house smelled of quince as I was given an amazingly generous amount of Maine quince to play with by the ever lovely rug weaver Sara Hotchkiss - thank you Sarah!!
To begin with you need to remove the fuzzy bloom from the quince by washing and then cut the quince in half - I tried a couple of different ways to remove the hard and pithy centres and found the best was with a potato peeler - I dug in around the centres and slowly prized the middles - pips and all - out - this can be quite hard and you must be careful not to slip and hurt your lovely hands.
Next I cut the halves into random cubes about 1/2" squarish as above - now the quince are ready for their poaching.

4 large quince cut up as directed above
(I used a recipe that called for 21ozs of quince which I dutifully acquired only to find it was WAY too much for this one recipe although it is nice to have some leftover to have on it's own or with the cake as I did but still that was way too much - I ended up using 8oz of the quince after it had been poached actually in the cake)
4oz sugar
4oz honey
Juice of half a lemon
Zest of one whole lemon
2 teaspoons of ground ginger
1 teaspoon cardamom
20 fluid ounces water

Place all above ingredients into a large pan, bring to a boil and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours until the quince is rosy pink and soft but not mushy. Drain the quince reserving the liquid. Put liquid back in the pan and reduce until thick, fragrant and syrupy.

4ozs crystallized ginger cut into small pieces
Juice of half a lemon
4 fluid ounces water

Put all above ingredients into a small pan and simmer gently for about 10 minutes. Drain ginger and reserve liquid - combine with quince liquid and save for later.

The Cake: As with all cakes have the ingredients at room temperature
5 1/2 oz softened butter - I always use salted
9oz white flour unbleached
Good pinch of salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cardamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 1/2 oz sugar
3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk whisked together
3 1/2 oz creme fraiche or sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla essence/extract

1. Pre-heat oven to 325F
2. Grease an 8" round spring form pan with butter, line with parchment paper and regrease lightly with butter.
3. Sift flour, salt, spices and baking powder into a bowl.
4. In a separate bowl cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
5. Add the whisked eggs bit by bit (maybe in about 6-7 goes) beating well between each addition to avoid curdling of the mixture.
6. Mix in a few tablespoons of the flour mix, the creme fraiche/sour cream and vanilla until well blended.
7. Fold in the rest of the flour, then the poached quince (8ozs weighed) and then fold in the poached ginger.
Folding in the quince and ginger to the cake batter.

8. Spoon (runcible or otherwise) mixture into the prepared tin and bob into the pre heated oven for about 1 and a quarter hours - check for doneness after one hour by inserting a skewer/toothpick which should come out clean - if not bob back in for another 15 minutes or until ready. If cake is browning too much at one hour mark cover with a hat of aluminium foil.
9. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven pierce the top a few times and spread the poaching liquid over to make a glaze.
10. Leave to cool in the pan for about 20 minutes then remove, take off the paper and leave to cool completely on a rack.

Here is the cake with it's uncooked friends and bereft of the addition of a side of cooked quince and poaching liquid.

If you cannot find or do not want to bother with quince I feel quite sure you could do the same recipe with poached pears - of course the regular pears wouldn't take anything like as long to poach and you would probably poach them in halves instead of smaller pieces as I think they might turn to mush - here's some pear poaching info from the ever wonderful David Lebovitz.

Again this is a cake that improves with age so you could happily make this a couple of days before Thanksgiving and save yourself a little bit of work on the day - keep in an airtight container until ready to eat!

Happy Baking - do let me know if you try this.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cool new products at CafePress...please take a look see.

What I love best about having a CafePress store is that I am free to do more designing whilst they take the unenviable (at least for me) responsibility of applying my uploaded designs to their products, shipping, gift wrapping, payments and everything is done by 'print on demand' ie a product is only created when an order has been placed - each order is made custom - so I have no inventories to worry about and no upfront costs for products which may or may not sell.
The only hard thing for me is to figure how to get people to my store - thankfully social media is helping me do that (this blog, Facebook, Twitter)  and for free - the only currency I am using right now is my time. YEA!!!
Just recently CafePress has added quite a few new, cool products to their range so here is an overview of the ones I like best.
The Sack Pack has a draw string top opening and you can wear on either shoulder or on your back - the Field Bag is a one shoulder or an across the chest deal - both nice and roomy with extra pockets.

A Sippy Cup made from stainless steel so no BPA worries for your wee baby and a Tea Tumbler with a built in strainer and keeps your tea hot or cold - how does it know?

Reusable shopping bags durable enough to carry 50lbs of shopping yet small enough to roll up and pop in your pocket.

iPad2 covers by Brenthaven is a top-of-the line iPad 2 folio with a PU Leather exterior and faux-suede liner in a slim and sleek design and iPad2 cases which are made from hard plastic and help protect your iPad from scratches whilst looking really cool decorated with one of my designs!!

iPad sleeves, Kindle sleeves and Nook sleeves all made from soft, double backed Neoprene.

Protective hard covers for your 3G iPhone (this quilt design is by far my most popular design at this point) and also your 4 or 4S iPhone slider.

iTouch2 and iTouch 4/4S pod hard, protective cases

Laptop skins for a variety of different laptops: PCs (Toshiba, Acer, Dell, HP & Asus), Apple Macbook and netbooks (Acer, Asus, HP Mini & Dell Mini).

Swanky Shoulder Bags in red, taupe or black

...and a Messenger Bag to run around the City with...
Each of these products is available in each of the sections of my CafePress store - unless, of course, it is a dedicated sections like Just Shoulder Bags - :)

Thanks for taking a look, Patricia

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Tracery of Autumn Leaves

It has been a strange Autumn so far here in Maine. The leaves are still on some of the trees and they are still green, many trees are bereft of their leaves and those leaves didn't really turn much of a colour before falling and THEN on Hallowe'en we had a heavy wet snowstorm so there were fully leaved, green trees covered in snow.

There hasn't been much in the way of red leaves or indeed full trees arrayed in their Fall splendour BUT I have captured some glorious pictures of golden, burnished, coppered, yellow, stained glass, creamy pretty leaves which to me all look like textile design repeats waiting to be created for my Spoonflower store. 

I'll look back on these photographs one blizzardy day this coming winter and be reminded of the glory that is Maine in the Autumn - crisp, clear, bright blue shiny skies, THAT Autumn smell, the crinkle of rustling leaves and the cheeriness of the Fall glow....ahhhhh.
Which picture do you think would work best as an allover textile design?








Happy Autumn everyone - have a cosy season....Patricia