Gotta Share This – Torta Caprese

A couple of weeks ago, Saturday afternoon, I was watching America’s Test Kitchen on PBS. Among the dishes they made was a Torta Caprese – “an Italian flourless chocolate cake with finely ground almonds (which breaks up the heavy fudge crumb of most flourless chocolate cakes)”. They’re right – it does.

I went to the website to find the recipe: America’s Test Kitchen – Torta Caprese. I saved it, and printed it out. (If you can’t get to the recipe let me know because I created a PDF from the “print” pages and can pass that on.)

Torta Caprese

I was anticipating a very chocolate-y, light cake and it is.

Here is my torta caprese – I must explain why it doesn’t look like the one above (from America’s Test Kitchen).

Torta Caprese

First, there’s an ambiguity in the recipe – it calls for 2 cups (7 ounces) of almond flour – well, which is it? 2 cups or 7 ounces (and BTW my cup = 8 ounces, not 7, but I ignored that discrepancy.) I added 1 cup of almond flour at the appropriate place in the recipe, mixed it into the batter, and I thought the batter looked reasonably thick at that point but to be on the safe side, I added another 1/4 cup scoop of almond flour, just in case the batter really needed more. I’d say, having sampled the cake, that it’s just a tad on the dry side and next time I’d only add a single cup of almond flour.

Second, my springform pan is 9 1/2″ – I could have used a smaller diameter which would make the cake taller, or I could have baked it in a 8 1/2″ parchment-lined cake pan which would also have produced a taller cake.

Third, the recipe recommends turning the cake around half way through the baking. I did that, but had an accident! I was baking the cake in my convection toaster oven which is large enough for my spring form pan. I pulled out the rack to be able to reach  the cake pan when the rack tipped toward the back of the oven, the cake pan tipped spilling some batter into the oven. I managed to right the pan and the rack and get both back in position. I left the mess in the bottom of the oven hoping I’d be able to clean it reasonably easily if it didn’t bake on too badly. So the top of my Torta is kind of wonky having been disturbed half way through baking.

But I have to say the cake tastes “right some good” as folks say in this part of the country. Served warmed (I’d zap a slice in the microwave for, say, 12-15 seconds), with a spoonful of a good vanilla ice cream – a lovely dessert for guests.

I’m planning on cutting the cake into small portions, freezing each separately, and eating the whole thing myself – preferably over a period of weeks.

At Last – A Quilt On The Go

Since I finished Black Rock Beach (a week ago) I’ve been struggling to get a quilt going. I’d hauled out groupings of fabric several weeks ago for some ideas I wanted to try but in each case I was missing either contrast or background fabrics to make the idea work. I ordered some possible pieces online but I’ve had to wait for them to arrive – two have but I’m still waiting for two more to show up before I can start on either of those possible projects.

I’d also thought about working on a diamond/triangle lap/throw quilt based on ideas in Jan Krentz’s book “Quick Diamond Quilts And Beyond“. I pulled out some scraps, cut some triangles and diamonds and tried assembling them – my accuracy was nowhere close. Part of my problem was actually cutting – I used a template for the triangles, cutting from a strip the height of the triangle but as careful as I tried to be when stitching I could not manage to combine four triangles into a larger triangle with the edges matching! I need more practice – with cutting, stitching, and pressing. I will get back to that idea but not at the moment!

I moved on to something else. I’d picked out a scrap bag of grey batik fabrics (twelve 9″ cuts) and then some much brighter batiks to use as contrast.

The idea is to sew four grey 2 1/2” strips together, cut into blocks, split the block off-centre, insert a contrast strip, then add two more rows to one side to square off the block.

5 Completed Blocks

I’ve completed five blocks so far. The first block was an experiment to figure out how to construct the insert collection. Also, because my grey fabrics are 9″ WOF cuts I can’t get 2 1/2″ strips from it – just 2 1/4″ – so all my other measurements had to be calculated to accommodate that difference.

What I’m seeing now, is a 4 block by 5 block quilt, with some additional complementary piecing at the top and bottom to extend the length of the quilt relative to the width. I plan on adding an outer border, as well, to make the lap quilt/throw just a bit larger overall.

I pieced all the insert strips today. I’ve cut enough 2 1/4″ grey strips for 22 blocks, as well as pieces for the two longer outer strips. I’m ready to go with chain piecing the blocks tomorrow.

Life now feels more normal with a quilt on the go!

Black Rock Beach – Completed

Just finished. Unfortunately, the photo doesn’t do the piece justice – I’ve tried lightening the blue of the frame and can’t get close to the real colour without distorting the body of the  piece.

Black Rock Beach

I’m happy with the balance of the whole. The piping, which doesn’t show well in the photo at all, pulls out both the orange of the vest and the blues of the water.

Now to find a place to hang it in my apartment – there isn’t obvious wall space in any room. I’m going to have to walk around and decide what to take down so I can display this piece of art.

Mountains & Fjords

Finished this pair of socks last evening. A Regia sock yarn from their Arne & Carlos collection – Mountains & Fjords.

Regia – Mountains & Fjords

I found this spread out pattern calming to knit with. I have another ball in the series in shades of blue and I’ve just ordered three more in brighter shades.

Spring Is Here

Yesterday was a lovely day – sunny, not too cold, just a bit windy. I took my usual walk slowly enough to notice the plants responding to a couple of warm days. I recorded many images along my way to the high school and back.

Coltsfoot – Tussilago farfara

Lungwort – Pulmonaria officinalis

Willow – Salix

Alder – Alnus?

Maple – Acer

I was happy to see the vegetation opening to spring.

Black Rock Beach – IV

Day before yesterday I took apart the stitching of the water near the shore. Yesterday I stitched in new wave lines which run more parallel to the beach. I stitched in small wavelets as they reach the beach. I also stitched the rubble at the beach line and at the bricks at the bottom right.

Thread Painting Finished

Today, I stitched around the rocks and pebbles on the beach. I worked in the bits of vegetation and wood debris amid the rocks.

Finally I added David.

David Up Close

I very carefully stitched the shading of his clothing and around the edges of the fused appliqué.

The last thing I stitched was my signature in the bottom right.

Auditioning Fabric for Framing

I’ve stopped for today, but I’ve cut and laid out fabric for an inner border. I auditioned several fabrics for the piping including both bright and muted orange pieces but they pull the eye away from the vest. I think I’ve settled on a dark teal solid which will allow me to use a mottled grey print for the wide outer framing.

I’ll do the framing tomorrow.

Black Rock Beach – III

I spent several hours yesterday working on the thread painting on Black Rock Beach – the sky, the distant shore, the black rocks point, the water near the shore.

Black Rock Beach

I closely stitched the Black Rock Point

Black Rock Point

Then I worked my way toward the foreground

Black Rock Beach III

Standing back from it I can see the curvature of the waves is jarring. The piece would feel more calm were I to straighten out the water movement. That’s a challenge – because I’m not sure I won’t be left with stitch marks I won’t be able to eliminate once I’ve taken that stitching out.

However, I’m going to give it a try because I’m not happy with how the water near the rocky beach is flowing.