Thursday, January 8, 2015

Utility cake and quilt

I took my finished quilt out to the middle of the property, over by the old chicken coop.  The sky was white and hazy, like someone was shining a light through a glass of milk.  It made me squint.  But this quilt is so bright, especially those red blocks, I think you could find it in a snowstorm.
I started with 6 log cabin blocks, mostly made with Kaffe Fasset shot cottons, then added some Denyse Schmidt, a Phillip Jacobs floral, a pink and white seersucker, and an old plaid shirt from the Goodwill.  I was shooting for a Gees Bend/utilitarian kind of quilt made from recycled cloth. I didn't have a pattern in mind, I just figured I'd see what went together.  But while playing around with different block combinations I discovered something.
It's hard to re-create frugal, make-do quilts when you're picking from a fabric stash the size of Texas.  I had way too many choices in my cupboard. Utility quilts were usually made from Granny's old floral dress, Pa's worn work shirts, or tablecloths, or feed sacks. Whatever was handy. Because sometimes, that's all they had.  At first I threw everything I had at those log cabin blocks. It was a scrap orgy.  A scrap feast.  A scrap circus.
It looked like crap scrap.
After going back to study pictures of older utility type quilts, I realized my mistake. 
The work shirt, tablecloth, and floral dress would have been saved and put to use when there was enough to make a quilt.  Those few fabrics would have been repeated over and over throughout the quilt. I was trying too hard. As soon as I narrowed down my choices to a small handful, I got closer to the look I was after. It measures 54 x 60, and the backing was some old yardage of Robert Kaufman "Sakura" which I thought about giving away a few years ago. How silly of me.
It's not the prettiest, or most favorite quilt I ever made, but I think it was a good "lesson" quilt.

Now, have you got two apples, some flour, sugar, and cinnamon?  Of course you do.

Here is the recipe for an Apple Cake

Here are the pictures
Here are my modifications to the recipe....

It calls for a springform pan.  I have one but it would have required me to drag a chair across the kitchen to the highest cupboard and while on my tiptoes, on the chair, root around until I found it. There would have been lots of sweating and loud cursing, followed by assorted pans falling about my head.
Instead, I used my enamel baking dish which was within arms reach.

I did not have any buttermilk, so measured out 1/2 tablespoon of vinegar and added it to the 1/2 cup of milk.

I used bread flour instead of All Purpose Flour, because that's all I had.  The higher protein content in bread flour is the kiss of death if you're using it to make a cake.  But it still turned out great. (Can you tell that I really, really wanted to make this cake immediately?)

Before putting it in the oven, I sprinkled the top (generously) with raw sugar, then added sliced almonds.  This baked up to a sweet and crunchy crust.  I followed with a squirt of whipping creme right from the can. I ate some for breakfast and lunch, repeatedly.   I have no shame.


  1. I love your utility quilt. And thanks for sharing your process and lesson. I needed that. The apple cake looks delish! I love baking, so now I want to bake one for the house.

  2. Lynne, the quilt is fabulous! I have missed so many of your posts! I am glad I didn't miss this one!!
    And now....I........want.........cake!!!!
    xo Kris

  3. So the lesson for today is to use what you have (unless you have too much!). I can be inventive with quilts, and with "food" cooking (main meals) but I'm envious of your creative ability with cake!

  4. I do admit, I didn´t fancy your scrap blocks in the last post very much, but now I do like how the quilt turned out. Thanks for telling us what you learned in the process.

  5. Very fun! I love how bold and unique your quilt is. If it's not a favorite, it will certainly be a happy quilt to having hanging around for a good cuddle.:) I totally agree that it's hard to create those make-do quilts when our stash is so plentiful!

  6. What a great finish! I think you have got the feel right for this quilt now... very interesting reading about how you got there! Linda

  7. This quilt is amazing.....I just love how contempory and zingy it feels, a really burst of energy for the start of 2015! :) xxx

  8. I like it! It looks so cozy and like it has been around a long time : )

  9. Oh, I do love this--your process, with hits and misses and rethinks and getting anthropological; the beautiful finished quilt, looking like fireworks; apple cake using stuff I already have around the place. Brilliant. I am (do I still have to say this?) madly inspired. :)


You guys are awesome! Thank you for the comments!