Thursday, June 19, 2014

Knit Socks and Plum Coffee Cake Recipe

I'm tip toeing through the tulips.  Well not exactly but I'm feeling fanciful in my new socks.  If you have yet to knit a pair of sock I have only one question.  What are you waiting for?  You'll never know what you are missing until you've given them a try and once you do you will be hooked.

I have been knitting socks for many years and so I rarely have occasion to purchase socks but I have been tempted a time or two and I'm always disappointed in both the fit and how quickly they wear out. There is nothing to compare with a pair of custom knit socks as far as cushy comfort, pretty colors, and cool designs. As far as the durability that is highly variable depending on the yarn you choose.  Many yarns labeled as "sock yarn" are really better suited to shawls, hats, and other small accessories because the twist is insufficient or the yarn is too fine.  Simply put the caveat when choosing sock yarn is, as with many things, "buyer beware."  So choose wisely grasshopper.

The yarn that I used for these socks is Twist Sock Yarn from Hedgehog fibers and it is specifically designed for, and uniquely well suited to, knitting socks.  It has a firm twist, is made from blue faced leicester wool (a wool that is less stretchy and a lot less soft than merino wool) and it has a 20% nylon component all of which are important ingredients for socks that will last. Ironically I've lost more socks to moths than I have from actual wear.  Never forget that moths are the enemy of knitters.

Particulars:  Cable Rib Socks by Erica Alexander (blog-less); US 1 needles; 1 skein Hedgehog Fibers, Twist Sock Club; and my only modification was to do 6 fewer repeats on the leg as I prefer having my socks at the midcalve length.  I love these sock and I have a feeling they will wear forever.

N.B. Someone asked me about my shoes pictured above.  They are made by Naot and the style is Matai in black sued (Amazon link).  While they are expensive they are also the most comfortable walking shoe I've ever worn.

Plum Coffee Cake Recipe

With all the summer fruits once again in the markets I thought it was a good time to share one of my favorite coffee cake recipes.  When we lived in the Midwest near the great lakes we would regularly take off to one of the many small towns surrounding lake Michigan and spend the weekend at a bed and breakfast. And one of the best parts of staying at a bed and breakfast is the many wonderful treats they serve both for snacks and for breakfast.  This recipe for a plum coffee cake comes from The South Cliff Inn a charming bed and breakfast in St. Joseph Michigan and it's a perfect coffee cake for breakfast or brunch.  I just have to say that I've stayed in many bed and breakfasts all over the world and I can say without question that the towns surrounding lake Michigan have the absolute best bed and breakfasts and never fail to provide warm hospitality, delicious food, and romantic settings.

Plum Coffee Cake Recipe, slightly adapted from recipe from South Cliff Inn:

1 1/4 C plus 1/3 C flour, divided (the 1/3 C flour is used later for the topping)
3/4 C. granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
6 TBS plus 2 TBS unsalted butter, softened and divided (the 2 TBS butter is used later for the topping)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/4 C. milk
1/2 Tsp almond extract
5-10 ripe plums (I use Santa Rosa and only need 5 large plums)
4 TBS organic brown sugar
1/2 Tsp cinnamon

1 TBS butter, melted
1/2 C powdered sugar (sifted) 
3 Tsp milk (approx.)
1/2 Tsp almond extract

Preheat Oven to 350 ~ bake approx 40-60 minutes; use an 8 Inch springform pan.  If you don't have a springform pan you can do what I did.... simply line a pan with parchment paper leaving an edge to lift from the pan.  Just make sure you don't leave too much paper (above the pan edge) or it may catch on fire.

1.  Combine 1 1/4 C flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, and 6 TBS butter and combine with a pastry cutter until consistency becomes similar to corn meal;
2.  In a separate bowl combine egg, milk, and almond flavoring.  Add to dry ingredients and quickly mix until just combined;
3.  Prepared plums by pitting and slicing evenly and spread evenly over surface;
4.  Combine remaining 2 TBS butter, brown sugar, remaining 1/3 C flour, and cinnamon with pastry cutter - and sprinkle mixture over plums.
5.  Bake until cake tester comes out clean (I bake mine 45 minutes).  Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before removing from pan.  Pour glaze over cake (glaze is made by combining butter, powdered sugar, milk and almond flavoring). 

Until next time be well and love well and why not plan a trip to your local farmer's market!  Now is the perfect time to plan a trip because the markets are brimming with lushes plums, peaches and other stone fruits as well as succulent tomatoes,sweet corn on the cob and other tasty vegetables. With all the bounty during the summer season it is easy to eat healthy and delicious food with hardly any effort at all, plus or minus a coffee cake or two.


Andi said...

Fantastic socks! The color is quite perfect for the pattern. Oh goodness the Plum Coffee Cake recipe is making me drool.

SissySees said...

Oh my. I may need to bake! The socks and the bloom are lovely too. It always delights me to see a post from you in my reader.

Tanya2 said...

Plum coffee cake!!! Couldn't pass that up :-) I will have to try those shoes when my current pair of Merrells wears out - although that might be quite a while....

Willow said...

I'm sad that our old old plum tree is again not producing any plums this year. I'll have to buy some plums...
Knitting socks is a favorite activity here too. (And knitting hats...)

Renee said...

one of life's greatest luxuries is hand knit socks :-)

Your plum cake reminds me of the one my grandmother used to make, Yum!

kaetrn said...

I just discovered your blog and I love reading it! You remind me to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life and to enjoy bringing the old world into our modern world! I was wondering, as an advanced beginner knitter who has never successfully knit a sock, what is the best book or resource to learn?
thanks so much! keep up the amazing writing, it is such a treat to step into your world!

Unknown said...

Your socks are gorgeous. Tell me, if I cast on 66 stitches, and knit K2, P1, that is an odd number on each needle. How do I make it work?


Claudia Bugh said...

Hi. Since I've recently had a couple of questions I thought I would address them here (you are probably unaware that comments left on the blog do not include a reply email address for me to respond to.

Sherry F. Unfortunately I recently did a purge of old patterns/magazines. Without seeing the pattern and having a better understanding your question I can't give you any advice. I will say that generally a single stitch won't make a huge difference and I would be inclined to either add or subtract a stitch to make it work with a pattern. Good luck!

TheheartofItall: I left a suggested pattern on your blog (congratulations on your marriage) but for other reads who might have the same question I would recommend a basic pattern such as this one from Susan B. Anderson:

My other advice is to start knitting socks in a light colored yarn so it is easier to see your stitches. Have fun :)