Friday, May 30, 2014

Jacobean Journey Quilt - Block C5

I've completed quite a few blocks now for this quilt and we just ended month 4 and I have to say so far so good.  Being fairly new to sewing and embroidery I have to give kudos to Hoopsisters.  They're instructions are well written, show pictures of each step and are very accurate.  I can't tell you how many patterns I've purchased where the instructions were not very descriptive or even accurate and for someone new to sewing its pretty important.  I've said many a power word after realizing my tote bag was missing something because the instructions just thought I knew to do something after step 4 and believe me I read all the instruction before any project and I read each step prior to doing it.  And after actually paying money for these patterns only to find out someone with half a brain put it together will make anyone angry.  So, I have to say that if you were wondering about how good the instructions are for this quilt or would you be able to figure this out at home without the instructor, the answer is yes.

So on to block C5.  C5 and C6 are mirror images and we had to do 4 of each but I'm only going to go over block C5.  This one was fairly easy and went together just fine. There was one tiny little piece at the end of the rays that you might miss but otherwise the block is easy to do.  You can watch me put this block together below.

I've also been working on the inner border.  The inner border is made up of 2 blocks.  There's the straights and then the corners.  I've almost got the corners done but the other's will take a while but eventually I'll get them done.  I've got the next months class to go to soon and get more block patterns.

Video of Block C5

Friday, May 23, 2014

Yeast Doughnuts

I haven't blogged about any food recipes at all yet so its time I started. I wouldn't classify myself as a great cook but we have several cook books from Julie Child (who doesn't?), Jacques Pepin, Alton Brown just to name a few and I watched Food Network for years until we got tired of the cable monkey on our backs and cut him loose.  Oh, Ina how I miss you but we survive without cable just fine.

I have never deep fried foods.  Ever. I've never wanted to dump my Thanksgiving turkey in a vat of superheated peanut oil and I've never tasted the deep fried goodness. I'm sure its good but that's just too much for me to consider. Whenever I see that much oil, I can feel my heart tighten and not in a good way. But sometimes my massive sweet tooth gets the better of me and I want to try to make cream filled doughnuts at home. I buy doughnuts only a handful of times per year but I'm always thinking "I could make a lot more doughnuts at home and they'll be better than store bought" and so began my doughnut experiment.

So first up, I needed to find a recipe. No problem. The internet is chocked full of recipes but I admit I don't just go to any old website. I usually try foodtv,  allrecipes or epicurious first. If I can't find it there I do try smittenkitchen or mybakingaddition blogs.  I found a yeast doughnut recipe on foodtv from Alton Brown and it got really good reviews and it was simple enough.

The reviews indicated that the dough was way too wet and they needed more flour which I too found out to be the case.  It was still a loose mess when the flour was added and so I probably added at least 1/2C to the dough before I felt it had enough in it. I also added another 1/3C of sugar then the recipe called for.  Many others suggested the dough wasn't sweet enough. I did knead the dough little and it was really soft.  I placed the dough in a large stainless steel bowl and let it rise.

After an hour or two it was huge.  One thing about proofing dough. You should put your dough in a warm, draft-free location. I almost always put mine in the oven. I let the oven heat to 100 or 105 then turn it off. We're not baking after all just trying to achieve a warm box for our dough.  On nice sunny days, I've also set my dough outside in the sun. As long as you cover it with a clear wrap and its not too windy its fine. Just don't forget about it or your dough will grow so large it will walk out of your bowl. Ask me how I know.

After your dough has risen, you need to roll them out and cut out your shapes. I used a water glass for a round shape dusted with flour but it doesn't matter what you use or what they look like. The only thing you need to watch is how thick you roll out your dough. After all you want to have some depth to your doughnuts for filling if you fill them. You can make them all into little round balls for doughnut holes too.

After you get all the dough used, place them somewhere where they can rise. Leave several inches between them because they need to go through a second rise for at least 30 min. Do not skimp on the second rise. It is important to the fluffiness of your doughnut. While you wait, you can get your cinnamon sugar, powder sugar, icing whatever ready to coat your doughnuts. I did fill mine with icing but without a doughnut filling tip its not easy to get the filling inside your doughnut and I was less then successful.

Heat a deep heavy pan with oil to 375 degrees.  I used two wooden skewers to help me flip my doughnuts over and I admit I did one at a time because they cook very fast.  It was literally 30 seconds per side.  I lifted the doughnuts out of the oil with a wire spider strainer and placed them onto some paper lunch bags I had. The doughnuts were light and fluffy and really good. This recipe makes a lot of doughnuts and the frosting recipe would have to be doubled at least. They also don't keep well. No preservatives means hard doughnuts the next day but thankfully they freeze well if you not going to each them all in one day or a few seconds in the microwave will help too.  And no, I didn't get a final photo of the cream-filled, chocolate topped doughnuts I made. But hey, my fingers were covered in cream filling and chocolate and my mouth was full of doughnut to worry about taking a final picture. I'll do better next time.

Yeast Doughnuts
Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown


1 1/2 cups milk
2 1/2 ounces vegetable shortening, approximately 1/3 cup
2 packages instant yeast or 4.5 tsp
1/3 cup warm water (95 to 105 degrees F)
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
23 ounces all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting surface
Peanut or vegetable oil, for frying (1 to 1/2 gallons, depending on fryer)


Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the shortening. Place the shortening in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and shortening mixture, first making sure the milk and shortening mixture has cooled to lukewarm. Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment, combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined. Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well. Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch thick. Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch doughnut cutter or pastry ring and using a 7/8-inch ring for the center whole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.

Chocolate Doughnut Glaze
Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown


1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup whole milk, warmed
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted


Combine butter, milk, corn syrup, and vanilla in medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until butter is melted. Decrease the heat to low, add the chocolate, and whisk until melted. Turn off heat, add the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Place the mixture over a bowl of warm water and dip the doughnuts immediately. Allow glaze to set for 30 minutes before serving.

1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 tsp. clear vanilla extract
2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
1 tbsp or more of milk (depends on consistency)

Cream butter and shortening, gradually add sugar 1/2 cup at a time. Add milk and vanilla, beat until light and fluffy. Will keep for 2 weeks in airtight, refrigerated container.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Jacobean Journey Quilt - Block D5

Block D5 of the Jacobean Journey quilt is a block that goes in the center of the quilt. There's a large accent design (the darker melon petal) in the center of the quilt with a circular medallion around it made up of rays of 2 different colors. This block isn't hard it just has a few tiny little pieces that could easily get missed and then you'll have to either un-sew a lot or just start over which is a pain.  I goofed one of my blocks when I put the wrong color of thread in the needle but I had the right thread in the bobbin. Not sure how I did it but I noticed it was wrong and had to do it again.

I also got the border CD from my local quilt shop and got all the instructions printed for the inner and outer borders.  Now I just have to read through them and then get started.  I'd like to get a few border blocks done per month so that I won't have 100 of them to do at the end.

Block D5

Here's a good tip for everyone. I used elmer's washable glue stick after each bit of fabric was sewn down on the outside of the block (the rays) to help stick them to the batilizer.  I had some issues were the foot would fold the fabric over and then sew on top of it. Not good.  Another good tip is when you start piecing the rays, you start with fabric 4 and you end with fabric 4. Just keep switching between fabric 4 and 3 and line up you fabric rights sides together and you shouldn't have a problem. Here's the front and back of the block and of course the video of entire block is below.

Here is the video for block D5: