Suffolk Puff Quilt and Christmas Cake

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When we moved back into our flat last February I was forced to confront exactly how much fabric I had, I resolved to make serious inroads into it (which I didn’t) but I have been using my scraps more. The Suffolk Puff Quilt from Jane Brocket’s The Gentle Art of Stitching was the first project I started to make a dent into my scrap pile and with lots of stops and starts, I’ve just finished it.

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It’s 15 suffolk puffs by 15 suffolk puffs, so a total of 225 suffolk puffs, some of the fabrics in the quilt repeat 2 or 3 times, I don’t have that much scrap fabric!

The quilt is surprisingly heavy and quite warm due to its bulk. Due to its heaviness you have to really make sure that when stitching the puffs together that the start and end of the stitching is securely tied off, as I’ve regularly had to mend puffs that have come apart over the months. Even being careful, the piece does feel on the fragile side and it’s purely decorative. I’m not sure which side I like the best, the ‘suffolk puff’ side or the back. I’ve always tended to think of Suffolk Puffs as being a bit fru fru, so why I’ve just spent 11 months working on a Suffolk Puff quilt I’m not sure but I think it’s testament to Jane Brocket’s book, as the Suffolk Puff quilt looked so attractive when photographed in the book and I liked the contrast between the puffs and the gaps in between. It certainly has been looking attractive over the months as it’s been draped over the headboard of my bed or over my desk chair, waiting for me to work on it some more. However the real incentive to finish it was that I have another hand quilting project I want to start (one I confidently predict will probably take me all of 2014) and I was determined not to start that one until I had finished this one.

And now onto the Christmas cake, which has taken me considerably less time to make.

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(Decorations from the mother-in-law).

No this probably took me a bit less than a month to make with the various stages, when I normally make Christmas cake I use a Nigella recipe, which is pretty reliable but I thought I’d risk it this year (I’m not sure why, every time I’ve experimented before and deviated from Nigella’s Christmas cake it’s been a disaster) but you can’t go far wrong with Mary Berry. The recipe is here. It’s the first time (I think) I’ve attempted to make Royal Icing, which I think went quite well, although when we just cut into the cake I was all “ooh the icing hasn’t set properly”, that’s because (as I later Googled), the recipe calls for glycerine which makes it a soft set icing and there I was just blindingly following the instructions ….

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The actual cake is delicious, I unfortunately forgot to put the black treacle in but I just think that’s resulted in a slightly lighter colour. Taste wise it’s fragrant and Christmas-y and it’s extremely moist. Sorry Nigella (and I know you’re having a tough time at the moment (sod off Sun)) but Mary Berry’s Christmas cake is now my new go to.

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