February 2019

Illustration

I’m delighted to have found a local printer to produce some greetings cards for me. These tea and biscuit themed cards, along with a Painted Lady butterfly printed card are now available from my online shop The Museum Shelves  along with my handmade pop-up/3-D butterfly cards.

In the meantime, I’ve almost finished the illustrations for my ‘Tulips’ pop-up book and am about to start on the calligraphy. Once that’s done, I’ll have time to start making up my ‘British Butterflies’ pop-up book which I collected from the printers in January!

Gardening

I’m often asked to recommend plants for shade. This sweet scented shrub is a great choice being trouble free, evergreen – and scented! Furthermore, these flowers are out at a time of year when their modest floral display isn’t overwhelmed. A single sprig, if brought indoors, will perfume a room wonderfully. Known as sweet-scented box or Christmas box, Sarococca hookeriana looks good throughout the year.

I plant most of my crocus bulbs where they’ll get plenty of sunshine so that the beautiful colouring on the inside of the petals is revealed as the flowers open in the light. However, these ‘Cream Beauty’ bulbs from The Clare Bulb Company happily flower each year in quite considerable shade, their pale colour glowing in the gloom.

Finally, some early flowering irises. Iris reticulata ‘Pauline’ is a bulb, again purchased from the Clare Bulb Company, that produces lovely, dramatic early colour. I first encountered the pale blue versions of these early flowering irises in the gardens of Anglesey Abbey but I particularly liked this dramatic purple version.

Recipes

Hooray, I’ve at last worked out how to set up an index for my recipes – look for it in the menu. I’ll be gradually populating it as I post the recipes in my Blog. This month I’m re-issuing the recipe for Lemon Drizzle Loaf Cake as it was one of the recipes requested from my ‘The Art of Baking’ website – and has been described as “the best lemon drizzle cake ever!”. I think it’s perfect for this time of year when citrus flavours work particularly well.

Lemon Drizzle Cake

(makes 8-10 slices)

Ingredients

175g self-rising flour
1 tsp baking powder
150g caster sugar
finely grated rind of 1 large of 1 1⁄2 smaller lemons
125g soft butter or baking margarine
2 medium eggs
1 tsp lemon extract
2 tbsp milk

For the topping

juice of 1 large or 1 1⁄2 smaller lemons
75g granulated sugar

You will need

a 2lb / 900g loaf tin
non-stick liner or butter and greaseproof paper a cocktail stick

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4.
  • Lightly grease and line the loaf tin or use a non-stick liner.
  • Measure all the cake ingredients into the bowl, sifting the flour and baking powder in together.
  • Beat the mixture with an electric hand mixer for 2 minutes.
  • Turn the mixture into the tin and level the surface.
  • Bake for about 50 minutes until the cake is well risen and springs back when the surface is lightlypressed with a finger.
  • While the cake is baking, mix the topping ingredients together.
  • As soon as the cake is taken out of the oven, deeply prick the top all over with the cocktail stick andspoon the topping evenly over the surface.
  • Leave the cake to cool in the tin.