Simplest of chic tops

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It’s been so long since I blogged about anything! Social media is sucking all of my time up like an evil black hole. I’m still making my mums quilt..but there is a light at the end of that tunnel, but in between I wanted to whip up something fast that I was selling in the shop.

I picked probably the easiest thing to make and one of the tops I had on my list of things to do since I went to see Ride in October and wished I had made it to wear then.

I picked Grainline Studios studios Scout top which you can find here. It’s perfect for beginners or if you want to make something straight forward that wont make your brain explode.

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I traced the pattern using the Swedish Tracing Paper, it was the first time I used this properly and it was awesome!!! I fashioned it into a mock up to get the size about right. the beauty is that it’s soft enough to bend around all your curvy bits and you can stick pins in it (I’m sure you can sew it together too) It’s cheaper than using cheap fabric and it means I could re-use the pattern again, double bonus.

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Anyway I wanted to trail it up because A) I always accidentally make stuff too big for some unbeknownst reason and B) the fabric I was working with isn’t the cheapest of fabrics even by my own standards.

But my god what a beautiful fabric!!! It feels like silky luxury but it’s a rayon. It’s Cotton + Steel Zephyr Gust in black, lovin’ it. As I have never worked with rayon before I was nervous..literally crapping, but it was great! I even remembered to change to a smaller size needle so the holes wouldn’t be too big. There’s a point , don’t stick too many pins into this, it doesn’t like it.

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I used a meter and a half of this amazing fabric to make the top, but the with the way the pattern was laid out there was quite a bit left over running the width. (Im sure I can use it  to make a kids skirt or bits of a quilt). The whole pattern was in 3 easy parts, front back, sleeves and bias neckline. The instructions were straight forward and easy to follow, even inserting the sleeves was too easy. I haven’t done a lot of  curved binding so I was pretty flipping nervous…but it turned out awesome….amazingly.

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I’ve got to do some press shots this week, I think I’ll wear this as it’s now probably one of the coolest things I own.

Not to sound like a dirty cheap salesman but you can find everything to make this top in my amazing store The Crafty Mastermind. If you know anyone who would love to make this, or are starting out in dressmaking let them know! Alright sales pitch over.

The hacked skirt

 

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I feel like calling this a peasant skirt as I’m sure this is how my grandmother probably constructed skirts in the 50s cause they were too poor to buy stuff. But that wasn’t the origins for this creation. I ripped this off from my Cath Kidson skirt that I bought 2 years ago. Every time I wear these I always get compliments, even once during an interview.

It looked like a simple construction, two square pieces sewn together with pockets inserted then gather the top held together on top with a coloured elastic band. No problems. I had bought 2 different  kinds of Riley Blake fabrics at least two years ago, it has taken that long  for me to make this.

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Finally with steely determination and the confidence that I could do it in a few hours I embarked. I used a pattern from a chambray skirt I made, inserted the pockets and gathered it. It was looking goods albeit a bit massive, a bit size 16 which I thought would sort itself out once I put the elastic on.

 

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Thus began a painful two days of why the fuc£ is this happening?? The gathering was unravelling, and falling out and it was one of those things where I just made it a whole world worse by trying to sew over the top of it to secure it. That didn’t stop it from unravelling so, I SEWED IT OVER AGAIN. By this stage it was a massive mess of fraying, different size stitches. I should have stopped and thought about it. When I did sew the elastic on, the skirt it was so fluffy it made me look enormous, there was way too much fabric.

An hour of unpicking later I left it for 2 days to rethink the whole sorry affair. In the end I cut off about 20 cm from one side and re sew the pocket, but the elastic was evil, there was no stretch. I left it again.

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Finally decided that I would place the top of the fabric as far down to the bottom of the elastic as possible and stretch it a bit while I sewed it on, it seemed to work, Still putting over my head when I want to wear it. Im going to try it again with some french man fabric to see if I can make it a bit better.

 

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Farewell Thin White Duke

 

For  all the hours  I spent learning to play guitar along to your albums

For all the rotations of the turntable,  for all the clicks of the ipods and all the twists of cassette tapes

For all the sing-alongs wether in the kitchen, the car, the shower, in public at bars or arm in arm in the second row of your concert

For all the hours watching your music videos

For all of the hours spent digging through vinyl bins at record fairs for decent copies of your LP’s

For all the hours in darkened rooms with headphones immersed in and amazed by your music

For going out with boys because they looked like Bowie during the low era

For all the spins on the dance floor

For the lullabies I sang in replacement of traditional fare

For that costume in the Labyrinth

For Ziggy & The Thin White Duke.

Thankyou.

 

 

 

 

this is the dress your looking for.

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After the excitement of my shop launch, it’s all back to business on this blog. Im hardly writing at the moment and when I do it appears to be about Star Wars craft, it’s not going to end I’m afraid as I’ll probably put up some more stuff up later January. Its all Star Wars fever aglow here .

Ages ago I bought Rockette some Star Wars fabric with a view to make a dress for Christmas. I had the idea of a jersey top because all of her favourite dresses are jersey based with this medium weight cotton skirt. But as December approached I still didn’t have any jersey and not having actually sewn with it before, I was scared…. so I cheated.

1 Cheap plain black top from Next and half a meter of fabric later and it was pretty straight forward. I found quite a few tutorials on pintrest but all I did was use one of Rockettes dresses for the sizing and cut the top to the same size as the bodice

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Then I used the full half meter length, cut it in half and then sewed the seams together using a french seam as I hate raw edge’s. I made a gathering stitch along the top.

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This is where I stopped taking photos. It was 11pm and the light in my front room is bad for any kind of photography. I slipped the jersey top head down and joined the two together.

It lacked the shape I was after. I then sewed a thin elastic on top of the seam, which did improve things. But next time I make this I’ll try it with stay tape or bikini tape to make it more lightweight. Med weight cotton and the elastic together made it a bit more bulkier than I would have liked.

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I would have liked a much more defined gather. I thought I had done enough to give it a good gather and make it “fluffy” but I think I lost a lot of it when I sewed the bodice to the skirt. Next time….

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To finish I wanted a cute little pixie collar. All I did was draft the shape on some tracing paper, (including the seam allowance) cut out 4 pieces and 2 bits of interfacing . After sewing then together I left the end at the shoulders open, then tried to fold them neatly under & top stitched. I attached it with a running stitch to the top (running/ slip stitch on the back) . I tried to be lazy and do this with a machine but it turned out awful.

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She was happy she wore it on boxing day and it held together (except the collar which needed resewing).

Thanks for everyone who had a look at my new online shop last week! it’s been great and have had some amazing feedback from some well respected pattern makers, it’s been thrilling. The highlight was the nod from Colette patterns. If you still haven’t had a sqizz come have a look !

www.thecraftymastermind.co.uk

 

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All is revealed, I become a shop owner.

I’ve been blaming my lack of entires due to being busy. I have been, but now I can say proudly that I have opened up an online shop selling amazingly cool fabrics and brilliant patterns. Woo Hoo!

www.thecraftymastermind.co.uk

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This baby has taken over 9 months to come about…it feels like I’ve had a baby really . This all came about for a mixture of reasons, but mainly- a year and a half ago I started moving from quilting to trying to make clothes (well kinda round the start of this blog). I was frustrated to the point of tears that I wanted to make a certain pattern but I had no idea what fabric was suitable,  and then when I found the fabric that was suitable it was only available in America with rubbish shipping costs.I was trying to teach myself and found most online stores incredibly unhelpful. Then my local stores weren’t a lot better.

Enough of that! So I started to plan what I would like out of an online shop for dressmakers, quilters & crafters(as you do).

It had to give amazing customer service, a place where you wouldn’t be ignored or fobbed off because you asked a rookie question. It would also have to suggest what fabrics and haberdashery that would work with what patterns. It would have to be  cool, modern and aimed at up starters, like me as well as experienced sewists .

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It had to offer the rock n roll of fabric , cool, unique and unusual with a zero percentage of twee in it. No old lady flowers, no repulsive novelty prints and no cheap horrible itchy fabric that would tear your skin apart. Along with that modern patterns made by independent pattern makers that are easy to follow and does not assume you know anything about dressmaking. It also needed to offer a decent shipping price. I always hated paying a flat rate of £3.00 when all I wanted to buy was a Fat Quarter.

Things changed with the process, some ideas were unrealistic for now, some just didn’t match what kind of store this was developing into and some were put on the back burner. But the core idea’s above have remained and everything above is what I set out to achieve.

There are stores out there similar but ,I’m trying to take a different approach. Im trying to bring an in-store experience into your homes, we have a playlist that you can listen to whilst you shop, immersing yourself in the CMM experience.

But what I’ve put together was something I never thought I would be able to ever do. It was a massive learning curve in some ways, like trying to get my head around so much tech. But with the help of some trusted friends I’ve built a modern clean looking website , hopefully from the perspective of a geeky, fabric obsessed, slightly awkward and shy, novice maker who can access a website only armed with the basics.

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So please take a look around and let me know what you think. Were in early days and I’m taking baby steps in the launch of this. Giving it a couple of weeks to establish ourselves and iron out any unexpected issues before I go nuts with the promotion. But I would love this to work, so If you could spread the word and share the love it would be amazing!!! We do ship worldwide and not at rip off prices.(which has been a headache to achieve).

We have bigger plans for the future, with expanding ranges for the spring /summer  but for now lets get this off the ground and hope that you love us and what were trying to do.

As you have made it to the bottom were offering 10% off all first orders at the moment just put woohoo10 in the voucher box at checkout. And UK shoppers get free delivery with orders over £50!! (don’t forget to enter the code yofreeship in the voucher code box).

 

I’ll be back soon..with a Star Wars dress.

 

The party crasher

wpid-20151113_184941.jpgI think I  gave up awhile ago trying to dedicate my blog just to sewing. I haven’t touched my machine in such a time because of other projects, I’m worried I forgot all my technique. Oh well hopefully like a bike.

Instead last week I felt like a gatecrasher.

You know when magazines run these competitions, win an afternoon with your favourite band, or have dinner with Bieber or go swimming with Swift, you get my drift. I inadvertently  fell into this on Friday with a band who was not on my top list of artists, but I have their albums and I enjoy their music but aside from their lead singer I couldn’t pick out in a crowd.

By the sea festival was on at Dreamland in Margate on Friday. They has opened the park especially for show goers with the show headliner Hot Chip playing in the Roller Disco rink. Sounds like fun. Got there early (embarrassingly before the gates opened, uncomfortable), went into the park and had the whole place to ourselves. Here’s another myth, how ace would it be to have a whole amusement park to yourself? Answer not very. I felt like I was in an episode of Scooby Doo in a deserted amusement park expecting some villain dressed as a sea monster to attack us.

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We had to wait for the newly opened scenic railway, so we headed towards the dodgems. Hot Chip had the same idea and followed us, It was only us and Hot Chip, nobody else. Whilst their lead singer dj’ed I spent most of my time blushing whilst trying to avoid hitting them, all the while it was filmed. I don’t know why I found this mortifying, but I did. I felt like a gatecrasher and I just wanted the thing to end. They were perfectly nice in the way famous cool music nerds are,  but I just felt like a nerd instead. I couldn’t get off that ride fast enough…except I couldn’t . The guy let us all go round another 2 times…By the end of that I was just going to jump off , even if there was a threat of a third.

Then we waited for the scenic railway, and so did the band. It was like following them in reverse. Honestly I was not being a “fangirl” I’m much too old for that, and after some disastrous meeting of  bands as a teenager (god do not get me started on Sonic Youth) I avoid most people with any degree of fame at all costs. But we went on, thankfully only once round and then after that I split.

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Hot food, cold night. i didn’t eat the sausage.

The ground was still deserted. The staff was great for a chinwag as they had no other customers. It was a shame as I’m sure they would think twice about opening that up again for about 20 people.

It got cold, real cold but once I got to my beloved 2p arcade machines I was happy, lost £2 but it was the joy I had in losing it. We did collectively get enough prize tickets to get Rockette  (who was at home in bed) some rubbish Frozen activity pack, winner!

Band were great, but woe of woes the crowd were not. I feel like resident complainer of crowds. The only image I’m going to impart is people dancing, quite vigorously with raised glasses of wine. Yeah wine.

Velma Dinkley

I had to get out, I was squashed, hot and not having a good time. I stood in a bar cue for 20 minutes trying to buy a coke and dancing there. I had much more fun. Maybe I’m just Velma from Scooby Doo?

 

During the band interval break, news had been breaking about what had been happening at the Bataclan in Paris at the same time. It changed the whole mood. It was shocking, these people were just doing the exact same thing we were, but they were killed for it. Its fucking horrible, and terrifying.

 

 

 

 

 

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May the felt be with you.

wpid-20151104_135218.jpgI’m sorry I didn’t realise how long it had been between posts. Hopefully this will be only for a short time and in a few weeks we can get back to normal. While there is still a lot of planning going on at Crafty Mastermind towers I have forced myself to not to work 24/7 and take a few hours away to do something relaxing and requires little effort.

I still have my mum’s gift to finish (yeah it’s now October so almost 3 months overdue) and there had been progress. But then a friend of mine was getting rid of an unusual craft book called Star Wars craft from his collection, and as Rockette is such a fan I thought I’d give it a crack.

But in the end I just took inspiration from the book and from Pintrest.  I started with a Wampa. In the book this was meant to be made by face cloths. I do have a ton or Ikea wash cloths, but I am also partial to a bit of felt so I just made it up, yes his rough and his horns are sewn badly but his cute and angry and quite a lot of comedy.

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Inspired I took to Pintrest for ideas. Rockette loves Chewbacca so I found something kinda similar and then just cut in to the felt. Yeah I had no template or anything I just reckied the whole thing. I’m impressed they all turned out the same size (after a few cutting errors). Especially as they were mostly done after 11pm.

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Princess Leia is my favorite, after I attached that roll neck, she looks weird without it.

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Ok and my Ewok, bless him isn’t perfect but his cute.

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They were all made with normal felt and sewn with normal thread all with a dodgy blanket stitch. They really didn’t use up a lot of felt at all .Rockette did try to sew some stuck the stitches in the wrong place and then got bored, maybe when shes a bit older..(and I’m not so precious about how they need to look) .

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Now I’ve got the itch to make more, but time poor. I’ll get round to Yoda next.

While on Star wars stuff I was in Carnaby Street yesterday and went past my favorite shoe shop in the whole world. (even though I haven’t actually bought anything from there yet, I need an occasion) and saw an amazing window display.

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Yeah R2 D2 heels! God knows how your supposed to walk in them. I wouldn’t except on carpet only. There were more delights inside…

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Oh I can’t afford the likes of them (£110 for ballet pumps!) but for sheer creativity they are boss.

She’s got a ticket to Ride

wpid-20151014_200305.jpgI’m not going to go on, but I feel I should put some closure on previous Ride posts which was here

Ride had finally announced another show at Brixton Academy, for a few reasons I’m quite glad that fate shone badly down on me the day I tried to get tickets for the Roundhouse and couldn’t. Firstly  the floor is slanted in Brixton and you can actually see if your short , it can be tough going on the thighs standing on an angle, and as I’ve discovered, even worse if your dancing .But I could still see …this I feel is a major benefit.  Secondly as mentioned in previous posts I did have the video of Ride Live in Brixton in 1992 so it was a deal, a big deal.

I was hesitant and not really excited before I got to the venue. I was worried about them being disappointing or playing a bad set etc etc. I tried to deflate my hopes so I wouldn’t be disappointed. I tried to avoid all new live footage and what I did see from field day was ok but didn’t fill me with complete joy. I think I was still upset about the Roundhouse fiasco (I know still..get over it!)

Not sure why I worried really…..

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Seeing the venue , and their name in lights , electric currents rippled through me. After 23 years I was finally here. My brain was having trouble processing it all. Yeah I know this sounds dramatic, (but it really was).

They started at 8.15, holy crap I wish that warning was put up somewhere on social media. I was still in Stratford at 6.30 deciding if I wanted a bubble tea or not. I’m glad I didn’t or I could have missed the start. We got there with about 15 minutes to get settled, not even enough time to get a beer.

On they came and that was it. The opening to “Leave them All Behind” was enough to project me back, oh it was all very emotional. All the love I had for them all came to the forefront, not quite the giddy teenager still lusting over Mark Gardener, But  like a switch was flicked on.

Then I danced, I danced like I didn’t give a shit, like there was no one around. I haven’t done that for years and it felt so liberating (I highly recommend it). I felt like I was back in the  early 2000’s when I used to dance all night in a Carlton at a nightclub called Supermarket  which would play British indie all night, Ride would always be played for me. So strange, like time had slipped away. It felt amazing.

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There were 2 sets , the first one the “hits” and then the second set was “Nowhere” in full for its 25th anniversary this year. The set lists were amazing, knowing well they couldn’t play everything they did cover a lot. Some of it sounded messy, how much was feedback, how much was a dodgy speaker system and reverberation I’m not sure. It didn’t bother me that they missed a few notes or a line was sung out of turn, I just kept on dancing trying to stop people getting into my personal dance circle or pushing past me carrying beers.

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And then they were finished, and it went so fast! I really didn’t want it to end . I didn’t want to go back on the tube and then on the very delayed high-speed home. I didn’t want to go back, I was happy in that suspended time bubble.

Reluctantly I left the venue with my ears ringing (they were very fu$king loud in parts) , and in true 90’s style bought an illegal T-shirt outside the venue that was lying on the floor for a tenner off some geezer.

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If you haven’t heard of these shoegazers before ,  try them out.

The whole experience was just amazing and it has made it into my top 6 shows ever, along with A Nick Cave solo show, Suede playing Dog Man Star in full , The first time I saw Kiss (and only the 1st time), Beasts of Bourbon at the hi-fi when Tex Perkins played a whole set with a massive gash on his head and the Chemical Brothers in Sydney in 2000 or something. (This is the top of my head list it would probably be different if I thought about it.)

In more 90’s news I’m going to see  a reunited Lush play at the Roundhouse in May…I’m not setting my hope too high for that one either .

Just a bit of show and tell

wpid-20151011_104848.jpgIt was that time again, I prepared myself with a shit pair of boots, a bag that was too small, a phone with only half a battery and a sandwich that resembled a squashed wafer. Satisfied that I was well equipped ,off I took myself over to the knit and stitch show. I wasn’t expecting lots, which was good

I got there later (1pm) on a Thursday because I hate crowds. I hate throngs of people, I hate personal space invaders. Trying my best to avoid , but my best wasn’t not good enough, I was still crushed against haberdashery stands and  suffered bruising from aggressive Nan’s who hang out in gangs . But things began to settle after 3pm (My guess was some people needed getting home, countdown was just about to start ).

By about 3 I was bored, my eyes were overexposed, I had already criticised a self embroidering sewing machines and I hadn’t bought anything except some ruler grips..I know “gripping”.

Problem was it was all the same as previous years. Other than the odd new stall replacing the odd old stall, everything was a replica of last year. Aside from being proper impressed with the Merchant and Mills stand, which I’ve taken no photo of, almost everything else was uninspiring. Maybe I’m hard to impress.

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Loving the movement of this liberty lawn

But the main purpose I mainly go to this mainly white ,female, over 30s show.. (snooze, doesn’t anyone else sew?) Is for the Eternal Maker and  Alice Caroline stalls. (http://www.alicecaroline.co.uk/) Alice Caroline trades in liberty  and I am all about the scraps for a  quid each. I also  bought some Alice in Wonderland fabric off bolt in very small measurements, it suits my tight arsed life model.

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As I’ve been collecting bits over the last few years to make a quilt (and I only refill when I’m at the show) this was mainly my whole reason for going. They’re very nice too. Wish I’d spent more regrettably.

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soz, should have ironed them.

 

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ahhh all silky like

Like I said It was all a bit meh, anything else I went there for had already sold out (boring) I did pick up my Tiny dancers by Heather Ross finally. Which I plan on making a cheats fast dress whenever I can find a spare five fu*king minutes. That’s not happening soon. (Should I be doing that instead of this?..probably).

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All in all it was a good day, even if the coffee was awful, I did meet a few nice stall holders, did buy some fabric and I did look at haberdashery which is the whole bloody point . It just needs some glitter or something to make it a bit more exciting..Magician maybe?

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Brownie Love

For as much as I love cake, and I do love cake in all their disguises, I can’t really eat a lot of it in one sitting. In that case my stomach is quite sensitive and I can’t have too much of a good thing (it’s smarter than my brain).

But if anything has to come close to me polishing off a tray, it has been the River Cottages Beetroot Brownies. I make a whole tray which I could easily demolish in a day. My other weakness is Jack Munroe’s Vegan banana bread from her book a girl called jack, that never stands a chance.

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But back to Brownies…
Mr CM has claimed that this is more cake than brownie and he would like to think he knows as he is a self-appointed brownie expert (or so he thinks.) Actually off subject again. Last year I was requested for his birthday to make him a cake of such monstrosity that I’m certain it would be something you would only see on an extreme baking. Instruction were as follows.

A layer of Nigella’s devil’s food cake, a layer of fluff, then a layer of Hummingbird’s American style Brownie, followed by another layer of fluff and then topped with Nigella’s Christmas Rocky Road.

No one has even seen anything so decadent (probably). The sugar content alone should have given it a health warning label. It struggled to stay up. But after a few days of the layers melting into each other he made the bold statement every baker wants to hear, “That Brownie was the greatest thing I’ve ever eaten”. ( I wish I had taken a photo of this)

So Back to this cake style brownie. My ,my, my it’s the bomb! The beetroot gives the cake a moisture you really wouldn’t expect (even after being left in the fridge) and it goes on for days and days and is still perfect…if not a bit better!

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I  I reduced the eggs to two because of Mr CM’s allergies (he claims it still affected him anyway) and I didn’t notice a difference in the quality. I also did not add any substitutes to it. I did have to leave it a bit longer in the oven (30 mins, but that could just me my crap oven)

It’s no angel, it has lots of sugar in it,,,,but it also has beetroot so that’s good! I wonder if you could make a sugar free version of this?

I’ve lifted the recipe straight from River Cottage, I’m sure Hugh wont mind.

http://www.rivercottage.net/recipes/chocolate-and-beetroot-brownies

  • 250g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 250g dark chocolate (about 70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 250g caster sugar
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • 150g self-raising flour (wholemeal ideally but white works well too)
  • 250g beetroot, boiled until tender, cooled, peeled and grated

Method

Grease a shallow baking tin, approximately 20 x 25cm, and line the base with baking parchment.

Put the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Set the oven at 180°C/Gas Mark 4 and put the bowl in it for a few minutes until the chocolate and butter start to melt.

Stir, then put back in to the oven for a few more minutes to melt completely. Of course, you could melt them together in the traditional way, over a pan of hot water, but it is a shame not to exploit the warming oven.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a large bowl until combined then beat in the melted chocolate and butter until smooth.

Combine the salt with the flour, sift them over the chocolate mixture, then gently fold in with a large metal spoon. Fold in the grated beetroot – be careful not to over-mix or it will make the brownies tough.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes; when the brownies are done, a knife or skewer inserted in the center should come out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it.

Don’t be tempted to overcook them or they will be dry. Remove the tin from the oven and leave on a wire rack to cool before cutting in to squares.

I’m already missing  the Great British Bake Off now It’s finished. I’m trying to fill the gap with Australian Masterchef, but it’s just not the same. Its a bit like comparing a Great Dane to a Chihuahua.