Monday, February 24, 2014

New Batteries

My camera batteries died last week and I finally got around to replacing them. So a little catch up is in order.

First up, progress has been made on "Two of Us", the 2013 TQS BOM. This project has been re-energzied thanks to Lori at Inbox Jaunt. Her quilt notebook suggestion is already reaping rewards for me. This project has been moved from UFO to WIP status.

 I am currently sewing the dark backgrounds to the orange and purple pieced arcs. There are thirty-six to do, so it's a bit slow going. Supposedly there are techniques whereby this can be done with only one pin and at lickety-split speed. Not! At least I can't do a decent job of it. The amount of reverse sewing involved quickly negates any time gained in going fast. Anyway, as previously mentioned, I do slow quilting unless working to deadline on a baby quilt.

My evening TV project is inspired from this Pinterest post. So far, only two diamonds have been completed. Remember, this is slow quilting.

The lower diamond was made from hexies cut using a friend's die cutting machine. It's fast, but the look is monotonous to me. The upper diamond was cut by hand from a bag of scraps I keep under the ironing table and which will be used to for Victoria Findlay Wolfe's "15 Minutes of Play" workshop our guild is hosting in July. It's a lot more interesting - at least to me.

Yesterday our family celebrated January and February birthdays. There are nine celebrants, down from eleven, due to deaths in the family. One of those was Dad's birthday on January 2. His favorite cake, which I always made for him, was Black Forest Cherry Cake (Schwarzwaelder Kirsch Torte) made from a recipe in Mimi Sheraton's "German Cookbook." It is now out of print, I believe, and my copy is well worn. I spent a year in study in Tuebingen, Germany while in college and the recipes are authentic, but calibrated for American cooks using non-metric measurements. My friend's mother, born and raised in Germany, would consult it from time to time when she wanted a recipe for something. She also declared it authentic.

This is not the devil's food cake with maraschino cherries that you find in our bakeries here. It is a traditional German torte with no flour in the cake layers. Lots of eggs, separately beaten and folded together with grated bittersweet chocolate, cinnamon, and nut meal to provide the structure that flour would normally provide. The recipe calls for chopped candied citron, which I have always omitted, as no one in our family likes the stuff and in the middle of January is nearly impossible to find in the groceries here. The layers are liberally doused with Kirsch after they have cooled, then layered with chocolate buttercream and dark cherries. Finished off with a cloud of Kirsch flavored, gelatin-reinforced "Schlag" - whipped cream. Delectable. Very rich and only 8" in diameter, it packs a wallop of flavor.

How I ever made this thing 40 years ago without the aid of a food processor is a good question although make it I did. The buttercream is tricky because 5 egg yolks and two whole eggs are beaten until almost white in color (a good five minutes on my Kitchen Aid stand mixer). Sugar syrup boiled to the soft ball stage (238 degrees and yes, I use a candy thermometer) is incorporated into the eggs in a thin stream while the mixer is running. Failure to adhere to this protocol will render sweetened scrambled eggs.

 When the egg mixture is nearly at room temperature, softened butter (1.25 cups) is beaten in along with melted chocolate.

The sugar syrup makes a bit of a mess on the sides of the bowl and on the paddle, but a ten minute soak in warm water fixes that during cleanup. With chocolate added:

The finished product:

All that was left to bring home was a small sliver which DH and I will share with our afternoon cup of tea.
As I reflected on the cake last night, I realized that it is gluten free, too.


  1. Holy crow that cake is a lot of work! But when everyone enjoys it, I think it seems worthwhile. Good thing that being gluten-free makes it healthy, at least. ;)

    1. Well, not as much as you might think. The layers are made ahead and can be frozen, although I don't do that. The next day - the day before the cake is served - I make the buttercream. Whipping the cream for the top is easy - the mixer does all the work. I have made this so many times over the years that I know all the tricks and having a food processor and stand mixer makes all the difference.

  2. your two of us does look complicated, love the colours you are using.I do like the diamond hexie. have a sissix machine and use it to cut the 1" cards but cut the fabric in rectangles by rotary cutter.Wastes a little fabric but is so much quicker. Lucky you going to a workshop with Victoria, think her book is one of my favourites, have you made a signed block for the quilts she is making? I have posted one hope it arrives.

  3. That cake is a work of art and love. I am learning that patient, diligent cooks are often quilters too--and they get the greatest joy in sharing the works they make!

    1. I love this cake as much as anyone. Though gluten free it is decidedly not healthy. What with all the eggs, cream, and butter it is a treat to be sampled only rarely, to be sure. But so worth the effort. It's not real sweet either. More rich than sweet.

  4. What beautiful projects to look at! My mouth is watering from the sewing to the epicurean!