Saturday, 24 May 2014

Quiet making and sharing


Life is settling down after the past week’s celebrations. I spent the past few days finishing some projects and posting a few gifts. I can show one, but the other will have to wait a few days until I know the gift has arrived.


Another WIP bag, which I so enjoy making. This is a belated birthday gift for my friend Marianne, who has the lovely Ladybird Diaries blog.


I’ve also started a new stitching project, my eye fancied these gorgeous jewel tones. I’m working on a Florentine embroidery project for the &Stitches blog. More about that next week!


Even though I gave my KitchenAid mixer a rest this week, I want to share some tips for the best buttercream frosting.


I’m a bit fussy when it comes to frosting – it can make or break a cake! I’ve tasted cupcakes topped with a grainy, greasy dollop of goo, I’ve even thrown out a cupcake that featured a salty frosting! Such a disappointment, when it doesn’t take much effort at all to turn out a lovely bake with a gorgeous frosting.

For the perfect, scrumptious, fluffy-as-a-cloud buttercream, just follow these simple steps using a standard frosting recipe (butter, vanilla, icing sugar and a touch of milk):


1. Use absolutely room temperature butter. It should be soft and squishy. An unsalted!


2. Use best-quality vanilla. The fake stuff just isn’t worth it.

3. Whip these two ingredients together a bit before adding the sugar. They should be combined and the butter slathered all round the bowl.


4. Add a tablespoon or so of semi-skimmed milk, then sift – yes, sift, this is absolutely key – the icing sugar into the bowl. It really does make a big difference (believe me, I’ve tried both methods, lazy cook that I am, and it really is worth the extra two minutes to sift the sugar).

5. Mix mix mix...and then mix some more. When you’re finished, mix again for a few more minutes. Honestly. You can’t overmix buttercream frosting. It just gets lighter and more whipped. I usually switch on the KitchenAid then tidy the kitchen, scraping the sides now and again. It will be pale, nearly white, and fluffy and lovely. Mmmm.


I prefer small dollops on top of cupcakes, or just a miserly swirl – the frosting shouldn’t overpower the cake, nor should it give the cake consumer the shakes from too much sugar. (Many cupcakeries should take note of this!) Glitter, on the other hand, well, one can never be *too sparkly*, I think...

I shall leave you with the latest birds to visit the garden:


A second fledgling blackbird is feeding happily, often with its twin. And even more exciting is this:




The woodpeckers are back! I was over the moon to see the female blackbird this week, for breakfast, lunch and supper at the peanut feeder! Today her darling husband came for a snack...

He wouldn't turn his head round so I could snap a photo of his red crown!
...which hopefully means we’ll see a young one soon! We loved watching the family last summer, you can see some photos here and here.

My mother arrived this morning from the States to spend the half term with her granddaughters – which I translate to mean “Chrissie has lots of time to craft!” I have a Coco pattern that beckons...

Enjoy the long weekend, and I hope to share more makes with you soon!

Chrissie x



36 comments:

  1. Lucky you to have been able to make a picture of a woodpecker !!! I hear them everywhere, here in the woods, but they never show themselves...
    Happy crafting this week :-), and enjoy the rest of the weekend !

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  2. Great tips on the frosting! I totally agree with all that you said, especially about there being an overload of it - there should be less on top than underneath if you see what I mean! Hope that you have a great time with your Mom and that you get to do some crafting too! xx

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  3. Enjoy spending time with your Mum. Brilliant tips on the frosting, one of my pet hates is not using proper butter. The WIP bag is beautiful.

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  4. Thanks for the butter icing tips, do you use equal amounts of butter and sugar? Your clematis looks gorgeous! Enjoy your Mum time, Sam xx

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    1. Thanks Sam, I use twice as much sugar to butter, then a splash of vanilla and a tablespoon or two of milk, depending on how much frosting I'm making. Bon appetit! Cxxx

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    2. That's the question I was going to ask! I'm never sure, and different recipes seem to say different things. I will take this on board, thanks! Maria x

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  5. The bag is divine and that frosting look delicious. I really don't like cake much and the whole cupcake thing is lost on me but the frosting is something I so love-typical, I go for the high cal option. I will definitely need to try this.

    Love, love, love the woodpecker and think you are so lucky to have it. Enjoy your crafting and your Mum's visit.

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  6. Wonderful woodpecker pictures, lucky you. A good tip with the buttercream, I'm very lazy about sifting anything I must admit, especially things that send up clouds of dust like icing sugar! I hope you have a good Sunday. CJ xx

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  7. What a gorgeous bag!
    After having sampled many of your delicious cakes I shall be following your buttercream tips ..... DEElish :o)
    Enjoy your crafting time and say "Hi" to your mom from me.
    love Jooles x x x

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  8. How exciting to have a woodpecker in the garden! Thanks for the tips about the frosting too as it's one of the things I feel I never get quite right. And how lovely to have your Mum visiting. x

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  9. What a joy to see those woodpeckers in your garden!
    Those cakes look very delicious...
    Love, Mirjam.

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  10. Gorgeous bag Chrissie, your embroidery is so neat. Look forward to seeing your other embroidery develop. Agree with the buttercream, my youngest announced after she bought home a smothered cake, that she doesn't actually like it...amazing considering she has such a sweet tooth! Have fun with your mum and enjoy your crafting time. Love Sarah xo PS WOW what a treat having Woodpeckers in the garden xo

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  11. Yummy post !!!! And lovely pictures !
    Have a fun week !
    Anna

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  12. Have a lovely, lovely time with your mum.....happy crafting! :) x

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  13. lovely bag and beautiful embroidery. Thanks for the tips for making buttercream.........one day I may start baking again!

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  14. What a fabulous post Chrissie as always, love the bag and the embroidery - just a perfect match. Chrissie I am sorry that I have not been across as regularly lately but hopefully work will calm down a little now and I can visit you every post. Have a fabulous weekend Chrissie. Big hugs, Dorothyxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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  15. Hello lovely....I absolutely adore my gorgeous bag! Thank you so much, such a kind gift. Thank you for sharing your buttercream recipe, I agree that many cupcakes have far too much frosting on! Yours look fabulous...I wish I could pop over for a cup of tea and a cup cake with you! Fabulous photo of the woodpecker too...I have never seen one in "real life" before.
    Marianne x

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  16. I love the embroidery Chrissie, and I will book mark your buttercream icing for future, I think I have always forgotten the vanilla and the milk! Thanks! Heather x

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  17. Pretty WIP bag and that little piece of embroidery looks gorgeous in those jewel-like colours. Thank you for sharing the buttercream tips, will be making cakes this week I think. How exciting to have woodpeckers in the garden, great pictures of him (or her) on the bird feeder - looks a bit precarious though! Have a lovely week with your mum, hope the Coco making goes well.
    Jane x

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  18. Wonderful photo's of the woodpecker, and the bag is lovely, I sure Marianne will be thrilled with it.
    Clare x

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  19. Lovely bag and I love the logo, is it a stamp or embroidered? Looks great either way. The bird pics are super - I love anything birdie! Enjoy the BH. XX

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    1. Thank you Suzanne! I embroidered the logo, maybe I'll try for a close-up to share - if I make many more of these bags I'll order a custom stamp, though I do enjoy the stitching... Cx

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  20. The bag is fabulous Chrissie...I'll look forward to having a peek at the other one...the embroidery it's a lovely touch :-) Have a wonderful time with your mum
    Tracey xxx

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  21. I'm not surprised that Marianne loves her new bag - it's gorgeous - you did a great job Chrissie! Thank you for sharing the lovely bird pics and your more than sweet clematis, it's looking gorgeous too! How nice that your Mum is coming for a visit, enjoy her! xx Sending love, Joyx

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  22. Your bag is really pretty and the florentine embroidery is coming along beautifully. Thanks for the frosting tips, yours sounds just right.

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  23. I don't think I've ever seen a real live woodpecker! What a treat. Enjoy your time with your Mum.

    ukcitycrafter@live.co.uk

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  24. Lovely blog post!
    The project bag is so very pretty and will make the perfect gift.
    Love the embroidery and am looking forward to seeing more of the design. Yummy cup cakes too :)
    Margaret

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  25. Marianne is going to love that bag! Thank you for the frosting tips and the beautiful pictures of those lucky, hungry birds.
    hugs,
    Meredith

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  26. love the bag! we've started feeding the birds, it gets quite addictive and we get v excited when they come and have munchies with us! x

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  27. Oh no, I use salted butter in mine! (The shame!!) But everything else I agree with, except I like my cake slathered in the stuff. Like 60% cake 40% frosting. Yum.

    The bag is absolutely beautiful, and very you. You have such lovely style. x

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  28. I can't wait to read more about that embroidery! The colors are gorgeous and the pattern is fantastic!

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  29. Hello lovely and how exciting that you Mum is here for a visit. I hope you all have a fabulous time together and that you manage to get a little sewing done too. What a gorgeous bag for Marianne, how very special!! Sending you much love xoxo

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  30. Hi Chrissie. Your embroidery looks amazing ... I've run out of floss at the most so nothing is being stitched at the Toadstool! I am nearly salivating over your mixer and scales - pink!!! X have a fab week!

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  31. Hello Chrissie,

    How lovely it is to settle down with a cup of tea and read your latest posts! I've missed being here! And THANK YOU for sharing your butter icing recipe and tips; totally invaluable as far as I am concerned.

    Seeing those bird feeders has brought back so many happy memories of my childhood. I used to love watching the birds, in winter mostly, feeding in my parents' garden. Much to my joy I have found those childhood birds again in our surroundings here in the Loire Valley. Special!

    Stephanie

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  32. Lovely makes....such a pretty bag for Marianne, interesting Florentine embroidery and delicious buttercream :) You are clever, Chrissie, to capture the woodpecker so well! They are amazing birds with their striking markings and how lovely you can get to see one so close.
    Wishing you a happy week!
    Helen xox

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  33. What delightful bag , your friend will be thrilled, it is beautiful .How lovely to have your mummy with you ,enjoy every moment.

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