Saturday, 26 April 2014

Simple Smock Apron

I was whiling away my time on Pinterest t'other day (time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time, right!) when I came across this gorgeously simple sewing pattern from a Portugese blog

I mean, what's not to love! Ok, so I already have three four lovely aprons, but they're as boring as a buff envelope compared to this beauty. Which is ironic, because most of my clothes are bold and bright, and this is a very sedate, subdued colour.

So I checked the blog out, but the picture above was all the instructions they had. Then I checked my fabric stash, and of course I didn't have any charcoal linen ~ bolds and brights, remember? So I thought Oh well, never mind, I need to clean the oven anyway.

I didn't clean the oven.

I dug out a gorgeous vintage sheet and I started cutting. I tweaked the pattern, of course, and this is what I came up with.

You will need:

1 piece of 125 x 100 cm fabric
2 pieces of 50 x 15 cm fabric

Start with your large piece of fabric and hem the shorter side edges by turning over about 1cm twice. Then hem the top and bottom - turn up and pressing about 10cm, then turn under about 1cm from the cut edge, pin and hem.

Next make the straps. Fold the smaller pieces of fabric in half lengthways and sew a seam about 1.5cm from cut edge. Open out the seam and press the strap so the seam is in the centre. Turn right side out.

Mark the centre of the top edge and pin each strap 10cm either side of the centre. Sew in place.

Pin the other end of each strap to the opposite corner (see my sketch above) and sew in place. I sewed mine at an angle, as my buxom bosom caused the apron to hang at a very unflattering angle otherwise!

And that's it! Your apron is finished!

Not quite as chic as the original that I attempted to copy, and of course everything looks better on a slender Japanese model, but I love it just the same!

I hope you were able to follow these instructions, if you make one yourself I'd love to see a picture ~ why not share a photo on the Cheery Chicken Facebook page.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Simnel Cupcakes

It's the Easter Holidays in the UK! And here in the Cheery Chicken household things have been a bit hectic ~ we are moving house soon (exciting!) so boxes, newspapers and bubblewrap have dominated. But today I took time out for a little baking. I've always fancied making Simnel Cake, but for some reason I never got round to it . . . until now that is! Simnel Cake is a type of fruit cake which is traditionally served around Mother's Day or Easter. It's lighter than most fruit cakes, and has two layers of marzipan, one of which is baked into the centre of the cake. It is traditionally baked as a large cake, and topped with a disc of marzipan and 12 marzipan balls to represent the 12 apostles, but little cakes suit us better so I made Simnel Cupcakes instead! And this recipe makes 12 cupcakes, so symbolism is maintained :)

100g butter or margarine
100g soft brown sugar
2 eggs
175g self-raising flour
pinch salt
1 tsp mixed spice
50ml milk
1 tsp golden syrup
450g dried mixed fruit
25g glace cherries, chopped
400g marzipan

Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / Gas 4

Line a muffin tin with paper cases.

Cream the fat and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time with a spoonful of flour, beating well between each addition. Mix in the salt, spice, milk and syrup with another spoonful of the flour and beat well. Mix the remaining flour with the dried fruit to coat it, then fold it all into the creamy mixture.

Sprinkle work surface with a little icing sugar and roll out the marzipan to about the thickness of a £1 coin, approx. 3mm. Cut out 12 two inch circles and 12 two and a half inch circles.

Spoon about a dessertspoonful of the cake mixture into each cupcake case, add one of the smaller discs of marzipan, then top with another spoonful of cake mix.

Bake for about 10 minutes then reduce the heat to 140C / 275F / Gas 1 for a further 20 minutes. Top each cake with one of the larger marzipan discs then put back in the oven on a high heat for a further 5 minutes, or until the marzipan is golden.

These make a lovely alternative to the more usual fruit cake. The marzipan in the centre gives a layer of melt-in-the-mouth sweetness, while the layer on top cooks to a crisp and sweet topping. And there's so much fruit in them I'm pretty sure they count as one of your five-a-day*

*DISCLAIMER ~ they probably don't