This lacy Sea Salt Cowl is a pattern that I picked up at Knit Purl on a trip last year to Portland, OR. Like most everyone lately, I’ve been avoiding the sweets and baked goods to recover from the holidays. To keep my hands busy and from popping all the Christmas leftovers into my mouth, I’ve been doing more knitting. The pattern comes in two widths (this is the shorter one) to accommodate the skein of yarn which I also got at Knit Purl. The yarn is a beautiful Silk Fog yarn (Wisteria color) by SweetGeorgia Yarns. It’s mostly silk with a little bit of mohair so it has beautiful shine and a little fuzziness and it was a pleasure to work with. The pattern is a fun one, too. It’s easy enough to knit but entertaining enough that it doesn’t get boring. The cowl is knit in the round and there are 3 pattern sections across the cowl in the short version. It’s a little challenging to photograph!
Blog-checking lines: For the month of December, Andrea from 4pure took us on a trip to the Netherlands. She challenged us to take our taste buds on a joyride through the land of sugar and spice by baking three different types of Dutch sweet bread
Thankfully for my busy baking schedule this month, this month’s Daring Bakers’ challenge was a pretty easy Dutch quick bread called ontbijtkoek (breakfast cake) or peperkoek (pepper cake) which is apparently a favorite in Holland. Ontbijtkoek is traditionally served at breakfast with a thick layer of butter on top, as a replacement for bread. However due to its sweetness it’s also served as a snack. The traditional base flour is Rye, but the recipes we were given for this challenge used whole wheat which I stuck with as I had that on hand.
Though Andrea provided us with three different recipes (Peperkoek, Kruidkoek and a natural-sugar Peperkoek), I only had time, ingredients (and calorie budget) to make the standard Peperkoek recipe. The Peperkoek bread is flavored with a homemade Gingerbread Spice Mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, white pepper, coriander, ginger, anise and mace. It really doesn’t taste anything like an American gingerbread though and the flavor is pretty strong, especially when using freshly ground spices. A little butter really helped temper the flavor for my palate. Texture-wise, it’s more like a moist sandwich bread loaf than an American quick bread (which is really just cake if we’re being honest) Though it looks dry, the bread is actually surprisingly moist. The spices do a good job of masking any whole wheat flavor so this is a great way to sneak some whole grains into any reluctant family members.
- Gingerbread Spice Mix
- 6 tablespoons (40 gm) cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons (10 gm) nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon (5 gm) cloves
- 1 teaspoon (5 gm) cardamom
- 1 teaspoon (5 gm) ground white pepper
- 1 teaspoon (5 gm) ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon (5 gm) ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon (5 gm) ground anise
- 1 teaspoon (5 gm) ground mace
- Peperkoek Cake
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) cane sugar syrup (or dark corn syrup or honey)
- 1 cup less 2 tablespoons (220 ml) lukewarm water
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) (½ oz) (15 gm) ground gingerbread spices
- 1¼ cup (300 ml) (8¾ oz) (250 gm) brown sugar, firmly packed
- 2 cups (480 ml) (8¾ oz) (250 gm) whole-wheat flour
- 1¾ teaspoons (8 gm) baking powder
- Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 and line a 30cmx12 cm (12“x5“) baking tin with parchment paper. (I used a 9"x5" bread pan as I didn't have one the specified size).
- Measure all the ingredients.
- Put the egg, syrup, water, spices and brown sugar in a bowl. Whisk until everything is dissolved.
- Add the whole-wheat flour and the baking powder into the bowl and mix all the ingredients with a wooden spoon until the flour is wet. It doesn’t matter if there are some lumps left.
- Pour into the baking tin and bake in a preheated moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 oven for 70 minutes. (35-40 minutes if using a 9"x5" bread pan)
- To check if the sweet bread is done, stick a wooden skewer or toothpick into the middle. If it comes out clean the sweet bread is ready.
- Take the cake out of the oven, allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes
- After the 5 minutes take the cake out of the pan and let the cake cool down to room temperature before serving.