Thursday, 13 February 2014

Knitted Puff Daddy pouffe footstool - DONE!

I know, it might not be pc to call a pouffe a pouffe but in the same manner that fairy cakes have always been fairy cakes then squashy footstools were always called pouffes. I can't remember if it was the chicken or the egg that came first with this. Anyway a Puff  Daddy is a Very Fast Make! I think I had admired the Puff Daddy made up on Clicky Needles' blog or did I see the Sirdar Indie yarn in the exact colours of our curtains and cushions as bargain of the day on Get Knitted's website and then went looking for a knitted footstool pattern?
It was the colour combos in the yarn that did it. There were 13 balls left at sale price, and although the pattern called for 20 balls equivalent, I calculated I'd be OK with 13.
I cast on at Knit and Natter at Get Knitted on Friday 31st Jan 2014 and finished the knitting on Sat 1st Feb and sewed it up and stuffed the blooming thing on Sunday 2nd Feb. A record make, I wasn't knitting that much either!!
The Puff Daddy pattern is not overly taxing, but stuffing it is. For British knitters of a certain age (in your 40s at least) then you can liken the process to wrestling with Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks on a Saturday afternoon! The pattern is to cast on 35 stitches, knit tripled in garter stitch until the yarn runs out. As I had two thirds of the yarn I decided to knit with two strands, on 15mm needles, it worked out fine. Sew up the short seam and run running stitch around the bottom and draw up, shove in an old duvet rolled up and a pillow down the middle to fill it out a bit and I felt like I had gone 10 rounds with Frank Bruno! With a great deal of huffing and puffing and pummelling I finally managed to get a sort of cylindrical ball shape.

Now I can knit with my feet up, total cost £25 as opposed to £80-£150 on trendy websites.

PS I have been delaying posting this to take some better pictures but as it hasn't stopped raining for 2 months I have given up, so here is Puff Daddy

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Brioche for breakfast

Brioche for breakfast
Fresh home made brioche for breakfast is so easy with a bread machine. I have had one for 15+ years and very rarely buy bread as it takes 2 minutes to weigh out the ingredients, as I go to bed, so we wake to a fresh loaf in the morning. I always feel like I am cheating, and not an ethical hands-on baker, but we eat fresh preservative free bread that is a lot healthier/tastier and cheaper than bought. Panasonic are the best bread makers, my first/ current one is 12+ years old (Panasonic SD-252), and I really really want one with a raisin dumper but the basic model just keeps on going! Previous to that I had 3 different cheap ones that all lasted 1-2 years, two were replaced twice under guarantee.

I have known Karen for years on twitter, we have never met, but she owns a beautiful award winning Hopton House B&B on the Shropshire/Welsh borders that I'd love to stay at one day. Her tweets, about the funny side of her life as a BnB landlady, keep me amused. However, it is her pics and descriptions of the breakfasts she serves her guests that always make me drool. Karen is kind enough to share many recipes and I stashed away her brioche recipe and make it in muffin tins as she advises. So here is her recipe, with the brands I use for failsafe bread:

Hopton House Karen's Orange Brioche recipe

1tsp Dove's Farm Quick Yeast (the packets are orange and 125g of yeast lasts a couple of months, keep in fridge in an air tight container, sold in Waitrose)
400g White bread flour (Waitrose Essential Strong White Bread Flour gives brilliant results and is reasonable price for great quality)
1 tsp salt
4 tblspn sugar
Finely grated zest of an ornage
100g butter roughly diced
4 eggs lightly beaten
80ml milk
Extra milk or egg yolk for wash

At least 3 hours before bedtime layer the ingredients in the bread machine pan in the order they are given and put into the machine and set the machine going on the regular dough setting , which takes 2 hours 20 mins on my setting. Go off and knit for a couple of hours!

Once the machine has played its part remove the dough and knock back and divide into 10-12 portions. this is easier said than done as it is VERY sticky! Do not be tempted to add too much flour. Shape and fill a greased 12 hole muffin tin. I weigh them out so they are even.

Place the muffin tin in a carrier bag and "puff up" and tuck the handles underneath so the dough doesn't stick and has room to rise without drying out. Place the tin in the fridge or cold place (garage, cellar, larder) to rise, or prove, overnight. This slow proving makes for holier holes and a very light texture.
The first peep at your brioche dough in the fridge the following morning
Brioche ready for the oven
The next morning pre heat fan oven to 180 degrees C. Carefully wash the brioche tops with milk or egg and bake for 12-15 mins. Cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack and serve with even more butter and home made jam.
Brioche fresh out of the oven
A lovely variation is to enclose a square of chocolate in the dough balls before baking, and you have your own home made pain au chocolate! Sainsburys Basics plain chocolate is fabulous for baking.
Close up of open brioche crumb
After breakfast the weather didn't seem as bad as forecast, in fact it was clear blue skies if windy, so we jumped on our bikes and pedalled down to Bristol Harbourside to wander through the Harbourside Market to browse the stalls and have a coffee (him) and Earl Grey Tea (me). It was a very quick 4-5 miles downhill with a following wind so we worked a little harder coming home. We even stopped off and got some groceries in the village Co Op on the way back, how green were we?! My new panniers hold a lot! After packing the panniers the rain returned, luckily it's only a few hundred metres home from the "coop." Leek and potato soup was quickly made with the stock I made from last weekend's roast chicken, and a cosy afternoon of blog writing, knitting and 6 nations rugby has ensued listening to the wind howling and the rain lashing, again.

Here is a sneeky peek at a very quick knitted project I started yesterday at Knit and Natter and I should finish today or tomorrow. The yarn is Sirdar Indie and super bulky, and I am knitting in garter stitch, doubled up, on 15mm needles!
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