Chocolate Toffee Buttercream – A Yumday Post

I really enjoy baking (or, for that matter, preparing any kind of food which you don’t actually need – cooking sensible dinners because I’m hungry makes me grumpy). So I have decided to introduce Yummy Mondays aka Yumdays. In my Yumday posts, I will show you cakes or muffins or biscuits or truffles or other sweet treats I made.

 


 

The other day, I decided to make cupcakes with buttercream icing/frosting for a friend’s birthday. I had lovely creamy swirls in mind. So I started my quest to find the perfect recipe. Browsed all of my baking books. Naught. Zilch. Abolutely nothing I liked. Next came the internet, but every recipe I found basically just mixed butter and icing sugar. Who wants to eat that? That is pure sweetened butter! So there was only one thing to do: Call granny! My grandmother makes the most amazing buttercream cakes and sure enough she had the answer. I gave her recipe my own little twist and voilà: here is the perfect chocolate-toffee buttercream.

Purlrikas Chocolate Toffee Buttercream

To make the buttercream, you need:

  • 450ml milk
  • 1 packet of vanilla custard powder or, if you are not in Germany and this is hard to come by, 40g of starch
  • 1 packet (ca. 150g) of chocolate-caramel sweets/chocolate toffees. Choose any kind you like, they can be chewy or ‘hard candy’ (I used Milka).
  • 220g butter (at room temperature)
  • some margerine

 

  1. Put 350ml of milk in a pan, add the caramel/toffees and bring to the boil. You have to stir frequently to make sure the sweets dissolve and don’t burn.
  2. Meanwhile mix the remaining 100ml of milk and the custard powder/starch making sure that no lumps remain.
  3. When the milk-toffee mix is boiling take it off the stove to stir in the custard powder/starch mixture. Then put it back on the stove, bring it to the boil once again and let bubble for a few seconds.
  4. Pour the toffee custard into a bowl and put clingfilm over the top making sure that the clingfilm sticks neatly to the surface of the custard (this avoids your custard getting a ‘skin’).
  5. Let the custard cool. If you want to speed this up, you can put the bowl into cold water and pour cold water over the clingfilm making sure that no water seeps down to the custard.
  6. Beat the butter with an electric whisk until it is creamy, then add the custard a spoon at a time, whisking the mixture constantly.

 

You’re done!

Now, you can either spread the cream onto a cake or pipe it. I spooned mine into a freezer bag and cut one of the bottom corners of the bag off to pipe it. But beware: My grandmother says the cream often starts to curdle, probably from touching it with warm hands, so better work with small portions and store the rest in the fridge (it gets quite solid). If your mixture curdles despite these precautions, add a small amount of margerine and stir again. Granny says that will solve the problem.

 

 

Purlrikas Chocolate Toffee Buttercream

I am linking up for the first time with Sweet and Savoury Sunday at Baking in Pyjamas and Mouthwatering Mondays at Southern Fairytales.

 

I Maki It!

I’m back! Actually, I was never really away; I just couldn’t bring myself to blog. I suppose, I kind of burned myself out a little. I was aiming for 2 to 3 posts a week in order to gain a regular readership, but even the simplest post takes me about an hour to write and put together, not to mention the time I need for the pictures. An hour might not seem like much, but with everything else that’s always going on, it started to stress me. So now I’ll aim for one post a week. It’ll either be a finished object, a work in progress or Yumday food post. I think that’ll work better for me.

 


 

Anyway, here’s the story of another ‘hot’ animal I made.

When I showed pictures of the racoon and the cat to a friend, she liked them so much that she asked for a maki hot-water-bottle for her birthday. Well, I first had to google what a maki actually is. They are these funny creatures (as usual, the pictures link back to the pages where I found them):

 

They are better known from the film Madagascar:

And here is my finished chap:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I bought black and white microfibre yarn for this project because it felt soooo nice to the touch and won’t be scratchy when hot. I knit the front, back, arms, legs, tail and nose all separately and later sewed them together.

If you want to make your own, start by knitting the arms and legs. I made longish rectangles to form them (slightly bigger ones for the legs). I then folded the rectangles in half and sewed them together. Don’t forget to add seam allowance, otherwise you will end up with really short stubby arms, like I did here. I didn’t fill them, but you could.

Proceed by knitting the back. Mine is just plain black. I measured out my hot water bottle and knit another rectangle exactly the size of the bottle with hardly any seam allowancebecause I wanted the cover to fit snugly. Don’t bother about the curved edges – you can make a slightly curved seam later to create them. When you’ve reached the neck of the bottle, bind off stitches to the right and the left, so that you’re only left with enough stitches to cover the back of the ‘noozle’ (what on earth is that part of a hot water bottle called?!?) and knit all the way up to the edge, then loosely bind off the remaining stitches.

For the front, start by knitting the same shape in white. Only chage colours after you’ve knit about two thirds of his face. Also, the front needs to be a lot longer than the back so that it can be folded over the top and about half-way down the back.

Now, pin the front, the back, the arms and the legs together and then sew them together from the wrong side. You don’t have to worry about leaving a hole to turn them because you will have the hole at the top anyway. When flat, the head needs to be slightly longer than the ‘head’ of the bottle (I keep changing the name of that part), otherwise the fabric will stretch too much. When you turn the finished ‘skin’ around and put it on your bottle (bit queezy, helps if you roll the bottle to squeeze it into the small hole), you will see that the corners at the top naturally form little pointy ears.

 

maki waterbottle

The nose is best knit in the round on three double-pointed needles. Knit about three or four rounds/rows without decreases then start decreasing 4 every other round. Change colour close to the tip of the nose and proceed making decreases until you are left with 6 stitches. Cut your yarn and thread the loose end through the remaining stitches pulling them together. Then fill the nose with cotton wool or another filling material and sew the nose onto the body using either black or white yarn (I obviously used white). I find that this works better if you do it while the bottle is wearing the skin (that sounds gross ;) ).

You can now sew on the chest hair and the sleepy eyes. (You can actually buy glass eyes which look just like the orange-y maki eyes in the picture above, but I found he looked much cuter like this.) To make the little tufts of hair at the tip of the ears, cut several shortish strips of yarn. Using a large needle pull them through the top of the ear, wrap them around your finger and prick the needle through the ear again, so that you have a loop on one side and all the ends on the other. Put the needle away and pull all the ends firmly through the loop you created by sewing around your finger (kind of like making a tassel – I’m sure there’s a word for this kind of knot, only I have no idea how to google that!).

The tail you can either knit in the round or flat and then sew together and turn (which is what I did). Sew it on and voilà: You have a sleeping cutie!

Knit Maki Hot Water Bottle
FOfriday

 

Finally!

I am done! Fi.Na.Lly. My short-sleeved boxy top has finally come together. I feel like no project has ever taken me this long. This has been an epic story of getting side-tracked.

Bee Stitch Top

I started the project in January and first mentioned it here. This post tells you which patterns I used and the changes I made to them.

Bee Sitch + Ribbing

Once I was done knitting the front and back, I sewed them together leaving holes for the neck and arms. The arm holes are 21cm high and I ended up liking the neck best when it measured 27.5cm across. I picked up the stitches from the arm hole and added about 2cm of simple ribbing (knit 2, purl 1) to avoid the fabric curling inwards at the shoulders.

(Of course, by the time I remembered that I might want to add photos to the post, it was already dark, so I did the classic and took some selfies in the bathroom – my honest excuse is that it somehow is the best-lit room we have.)

The meanest thing happened when I put the top on for the first time: I was immediately reminded of these books!!

While knitting I loved the colour combination and now it reminds me of medical books. (I never studied medicine nor bought books from this publisher’s, but it seems like they have a powerful corporate identity.) I hope the connection between the top and clinics will fade as I wear it…

Talking of books: I am just finishing One Day by David Nicholls. It’s a book I wouldn’t normally have bought, but I was on holiday and the only shop we could find that sold English books had exactly five: two crime stories which looked far too psycho for me (I love Agatha Christie and Conan Doyle, but that’s as criminal as my reading will ever get), a complicated and uber-tragic historical novel, a young adult novel I had read before and One Day, so One Day it was. While reading it, I had the weirdest sensation: There was one scene I was absolutely certain I had seen in a film, but all of the rest was new to me (I could have sworn to that), so I was sure they had incorporated that scene into another film. Only when I read the final chapter and realised that I had surely seen that also did it dawn on me that I must have watched the film at some point. So weird! I’m not particularly good at remembering the details of films and books I’ve read and watched, but it’s surely never happened to me that I completely wiped out all but five minutes of a film.

MMM Logo

PS: The two little icons are links which take you to sites with more fabulous creations.

Und wie immer: wenn ihr lieber auf Deutsch kommentieren wollt oder auf Deutsch Fragen stellen wollt, dann freue ich mich auch und antworte gerne auf Deutsch!

Pink Maxidress

I am back from my holiday (it was gorgeous!) and ready to share another project. It’s a wonderfully flowy pink maxidress. Well, maybe I should say it should have been a flowy dress – mine unfortunately ended up more of a very summery bridesmaid’s dress, but I’ll start from the beginning.

I have a knack for maxi dresses and until about two or three years ago you could find hardly any in the high street. So I was thrilled when I came upon a pattern for this dress in an issue of  Burda Style (the picture links to their webshop, where they still sell the pattern). It looked so summery and also like a speedy project, because the “skirt” is simply made out of rectangles.

The pattern called for “a light dress fabric with a little stand” (“mit etwas Stand”) – I remember this line of the instructions to this day, although I made the dress about three years ago! I had no idea what they meant. Didn’t “light fabric” and “stand” (which I interpreted as ‘stiffish’) contradict each other?!? (To this day I am puzzled why they included the ‘standing’ bit.) But I was determined to do exacty what the instructions called for and was thrilled when I found a pink woven cotton which might be described as having “a little stand”. This time (following the instructions  the T), I washed my fabric before I cut it :)

MaxidressThe dress came together nicely, but as soon as I put it on and started moving around in it, I realised that the fabric hadn’t been the best choice. The dress was wide, veeeery wide. I could well have been six months pregnant and still have worn it. I think with a lighter, clingier fabric the wideness wouldn’t have mattered, but my stiffer fabric made the dress stand around me like a tent.

Maxidress with added beltI decided to add a belt to give it a little more shape, but that made it look rather bridesmaidsy (helped by the colour). Adding insult to injury, the dress was loud! The fabric rustled so much that I was sure to get everybody’s attention when I walked quickly through a hall (hm, typing that, maybe I sould have kept it…).

We sadly ended up parting ways at the next flea market.

All in all I still think it’s a lovely cut and a great dress for super hot summer days, but I’d definitely recommend using a silkier, lighter or more clingy fabric. And a different colour! Top-to-toe pink should really be restricted to bridesmaids and flower girls!

MMM LogoUnd wie immer: wenn ihr lieber auf Deutsch kommentieren wollt oder auf Deutsch Fragen stellen wollt, dann freue ich mich auch und antworte gerne auf Deutsch!

 

Cuddly Cat

I’ll continue my series of warming animals. And today, as promised, it’s the Kirsch-Kern-Kissen-Katze.

The issue of Living at Home that featured the inspiration for my little racoon also showed this cat by Donna Wilson (the picture links to her website). As I needed a second Christmas gift (and for a pink lover at that!) I made a second cherry pip cushion.

Donna Wilson-inspired cuddly catI made and filled the body in exactly the same way as the racoon’s. Only here, as you can see, I folded a bit of nice ribbon and made a kind of tag out of it, which I then sewed in with the seam. I changed the look of the eyes and nose because I find that this way it resembles Pusheen and Simon’s cat a little more:

To make the eyes, I cut out cardboard shapes and wrapped them tightly in yarn before sewing them on. (You can’t wash the cushion anyway because auf the pip filling, so it didn’t matter that the cardboard wouldn’t be washable.)

Googling all of these pictures of cute, warm, purring cats makes me really tired and wanna snuggle up in bed – maybe that’s what I’ll do :)

FOfriday

 

Shorty Short Shorts

After the fail I’ve showed you last week, I’ve decided to show you a few more. After all, fail stories always have a funny side – in hindsight.

I was given some fabric by a friend who had planned on making some shorts with braces for herself (would those be dungaree shorts? shongarees??), but had abandonned the project. Judging by the few pieces she had cut already, I don’t think her finished shorts would have been nearly as terrible as the name makes them sound. But then again: she abandoned the thing – and she new why! The fabric was terrible to work with, it was corse like a potato sack and frayed horribly. As an additional hurdle there wasn’t much of it.

I decided to use this pattern from BURDA Style to turn the fabric into shorts (the picture links to the online shop). Well, now I know why they put it on a dummy in the picture and not on a model. These are so short, which you would notice if a real person wore them. (Again, my wise, retrospect self is wondering why I didn’t compare the pattern to some shorts I already had. I would have noticed that even my shortest ‘street-wearable’ shorts are about 2 inches longer than these!! You live and learn, I suppose…)

Anyway, at the time I thought this was the perfect cut because it was doable with the little fabric I had (I certainly had enough, though, to make the shorts at least a few inches longer!!)

shortsThis is the finished project (before it shrank, I think, but I’ll get to that). I think it doesn’t look all bad in the picture, but still: it really was a fail. The fabric was a pain in the back to work with; it wouldn’t stay in shape and all the seams ended up wonky. On top of that, I had been so keen to get going right away that I hadn’t washed the fabric beforehand. You guessed it: after the first wash, I ended up with some really shorty short shorts. Needless top say, I wore them only once and soon sold them at a flea market.

MMM Logo

Hot Racoon

Over the years, I have made a few hot-water-bottle-cover and cheery-pip-cushion animals (gosh, those are bulky names! Kind of off topic: One I’ll show you next week is a cat and I love the tongue twister cherry-pip-cushion cat makes in German: Kirschkernkissenkatze.) Okay, where was I? Cushions. The first one I made was inspired by these great cushions by Donna Wilson (the pictures are linked to the page in the web-shop where they are sold), which were featured in German magazine Living at Home 11/2010.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The moment I saw them, I knew that they would make great Christmas presents, but there was no way I could afford them. Then again: why buy something when you can make something similar? So I set to work designing my fox-racoon and figuring out measurements. (Just don’t forget seam allowances if you are planning on making something similar – I totally forgot (or underestimated how much I’d lose), giving my guy teensy tinsy arms.)

Donna Wilson-inspired racoon cushion

I simply knit a back and a front piece and to sew them together. I started by knitting the feet, each one on a separate pair of needles. I connected them by knitting across the right foot, then additionally casting on enough stitches to make the stretch in between (basically the racoon crotch) and then knitting across the second foot. I also made the arms by casting on and then binding off additional stitches on the sides. To get the ear shape, I bound off a stitch every row.

I figured that if I wanted to fill the cushion with heavy cherry pips, I’d have to add a non-stretchy layer on the inside. Otherwise the weight would have stretched the knit fabric leaving the poor guy terribly out of shape. I bought a piece of simple woven cotton fabric in a matching colour to do this. Finally, I pinned all four layers (front knit, front cotton + back knit and cotton) together, rights sides facing in, and sewed them together with a sewing machine leaving a hole at the bottom to turn and fill the cushion. (If you don’t want to leave a massive hole, you might have to make a simple funnel out of paper to fill it with pips.)

I knit the nose in the round, making decreases every other round.  I simply made fewer decreases than you would for a hat in order to give it a pointier shape. When I was done I filled it with stuffing material and sewed it on.

I decided against a tail because I didn’t want the cushion to have a nose on one side and a tail on the other, which would have made it difficult to press to the skin when you really need it. (You don’t want a racoon nose digging into your back when it’s sore anyway!)

FOfriday

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.