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May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day!


Ray's aunt & uncle own a condo in Gulfport and they're in town visiting from Chicago, so the whole clan is driving over today for a little Memorial Day shindig. I love a good celebratory dessert, so I whipped out my Mary Jane pan and put together a buttery cake, filled it with some homemade custard cream, and topped it with strawberries. Yum in my tum.

A Mary Ann pan is simply one with a small indentation in the middle so that you can fill a small area of the top of the cake with ganache, custard, etc. (see this photo for a better idea). I bought my pan from Williams-Sonoma a few years ago, but I believe Wilton has them online under a different name. You could also probably use a 12" Springform pan and then cut out a piece of the top yourself.

Here are the recipes I used...

Mary Ann Cake
from Williams-Sonoma

  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 1 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a Mary Ann cake pan or other similar, deep 12" pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter on medium until smooth and creamy (about 1-2 min). Reduce speed to low and gradually add the sugar, beating until blended. Increase speed to medium-high and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy (3-5 min), stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and stopping to scrape down the sides. Beat in the vanilla.
  4. Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour. Beat until just blended and no lumps of flour remain.
  5. Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool 15 minutes. Turn out cake and let cool completely.

Custard Cream

  • 2 cups whole milk (it's best not to substitute for a lower-fat milk)
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. In a non-aluminum pan over medium heat, warm the milk until tiny bubbles appear on the surface (about 6-8 minutes). Stir occasionally while heating to make sure the milk doesn't scorch.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Add the cornstarch and salt.
  3. While whisking the egg mixture, gradually pour in half of the hot milk (to temper the eggs).
  4. Whisk in the remaining milk and return entire mixture to saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens to a firm consistency (about 5-8 min). Note: One minute you'll be stirring and the mixture will be normal, and then almost if by magic the next second it will be thick as pudding and slightly curdled looking. Don't panic - that's what's supposed to happen! Once it gets all thick and lumpy, remove the custard from the heat and follow the next step.
  5. Scrape into a bowl and whisk in the vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the pastry cream. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

May 17, 2012

Sneak Peek

  1. Finish quilt for Moda Bake Shop. *check*
  2. Take pictures during lunch break. *check*
  3. Write tutorial.
I'm off to write up the free pattern and get my posting date...I'll let you know when to expect it on their site as soon as I know!

May 11, 2012

Bookworms Unite

Kindle Cover

I've barely darkened the door of my sewing room the past two weeks, because I have a new addiction. After arguing with Ray that I didn't want a Kindle for the better part of a year because I "prefer the feel of a book in my hands", I finally caved. He was right *sigh*...I don't know when I'll finally accept that he knows me better than I know myself.

So yes, I got a Kindle. And because I have mutant reading powers + a propensity toward tunnell vision, I've read 7 books in the past two weeks. Which is why my sewing room has cobwebs it in...and I haven't even felt tempted to blog...and I don't feel guilty about it at all...

Sewing and books are tied for 1st place as my most loved hobby, and frankly, I owed books some backlogged quality time. I've burned through Insurgent, Bitterblue, City of Ashes, City of Glass, City of Lost SoulsPrincess of Mars, and Last of the Mohicans (did you know ebooks of Classics are free? FREE I TELL YOU!? God bless public domain books...now I can download and read all the Classics I've been meaning to get to for years...because they're FREE!!!!!)

Kindle CoverThe only thing I've made recently is this cover for my Kindle....and I'll warn you the photos are kinda crappy because I was in the middle of a particularly riveting plotline and couldn't be bothered to worry about the lighting outside or taking extra time for decent photos.

I scoped out dozens of online Kindle cover tutorials before settling on this tutorial from Clover & Violet, because I liked how clean & neat & professional it looked. They makes the cutest things, and the binding looks so much better than birthed edges! I know I'll sound like a jerkface saying this, but I think most (but not all!) handmade iPad/Kindle covers look handmade - lumpy and kinda sloppy - but it sure beats being ripped off and paying $30-$40 (!!!) for a manufactured cover.

  Kindle Cover

I made a few minor modifications because my Kindle was a different size than hers, plus I wanted something a little sturdier since I planned to keep it in my purse at all times (where it was bound to be jostled around quite a bit...I'm rather violent with my purses).

I eliminated the pocket on the right and instead cut two panel pieces for the lining (so I could hide the ends of the two lefthand elastic strips in a seam). I also added a very thick and sturdy piece of interfacing (Pellon Peltex II Ultra Firm) under the right lining piece so my Kindle would rest on a stiffer surface. And then I quilted the front & lining together (stretching the elastic pieces out of the way) before adding the pocket on the left. I love that they included that pocket for cords and whatnot so I can keep everything in one place :)


Kindle Cover

And in case you're wondering about the fabrics, the exterior is one of the Viewfinder prints from Melody Miller's Ruby Star Rising, the interior is Essex Linen in Sand, the pocket is a navy dot print from Joann's, and the binding is a Houndstooth print from Denyse Schmidt's Aunt Edna line for Joann's (it looks AWESOME paired with Melody Miller's collections!)

(P.S. If you have the basic Kindle like me and don't feel like doing the math, shoot me an email and I'll send you the dimensions I used for all the cutting!)


Kindle Cover (back)

May 2, 2012

Testing, Testing....1, 2, 3

I couldn't help myself. I'm a sucker for pleats, so tested a second bag (there are 4 variations...see my first bag here) from Michelle's soon-to-be-released Pretty Pleats Tote pattern. I actually finished it at our girly weekend, and have been toting it around town ever since.

This time I went for the pleated center panel, and finally broke out my long-hoarded Echino Sunglasses print. I always knew I wanted to make a summer bag with it, but couldn't settle on a pattern. But you know what they say - good things come to those who wait! I honestly couldn't be happier with how this bag turned out...and I've been getting mad requests from friends & fam for one just like it (which is no surprise, because Michelle is a bag-designing genius!)

Oh, and in case you're wondering, I used "Woven in Navy" from Lotta Jansdotter's Echo line for the lining.

Pretty Pleats Tote


Pretty Pleats Tote
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