perfectly plain

Dear Annie,

I am developing a burgeoning affection for the apparently humble loaf cake. It began when I rather extravagantly (or so it seemed to me) splashed out on some loaf tin liners. I suppose that it doesn't really take long to grease and flour or to line a loaf tin. Nevertheless, using a liner feels like streamlining the whole bake, and it also makes for a more even appearance to the loaf. Strangely, using a liner makes me feel that the baking of a loaf cake can be almost the work of mere moments.

As you know, Marmalade Loaf was my most recent bake, but today the imminent arrival of some very dear friends called for something to be nibbled with a cup of tea. I chose the Hummingbird Bakery's Chocolate and Coffee Loaf Cake, from their Cake Days book. I was not disappointed. It is a dark, dense and deeply plain cake ... and it is all the better for it. There is always a place for fancy cupcakes with gaudy icing, but sometimes -for everyday- what is needed is something simple. The flavour is pure chocolate, intensified by a hint of coffee; the crumb is springy and soft; the colour is ebony pitch. A perfectly plain cake.

Plainness also has its place in knitting. Some people call a knit stitch a 'plain stitch' (as in plain and purl) Strictly speaking, I think that 'plain knit' is a more old-fashioned term for what is now often called Stockinette stitch. I have been doing what I see as plain knitting- knitting every stitch- which is of course now called Garter stitch. I've produced a squashy garter stitch square, which is destined for an old shale edging. I'm using Ysolda's pattern to create a Hap Blanket .

I've found that the plain simplicity of the stitch has really allowed the texture and colour of the yarn to shine. I'm finally making use of the lovely greeny blue alpaca yarn that I showed you in this post last year. No one appreciates a blanket more than sweet little R, my constant companion. He calls for a 'bla bla' whenever he sits down- be it for a cuddle, a story, or an episode of Abney and Teal. As you may have spotted from the very first picture, he has a fondness for cake, too. Hand knit blankets and home made cake- truly an appreciation of the finer things in life!

Love from,


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  1. ooooo...I love a loaf cake. I will definitely try this recipe as I have a couple of the HB books. I agree with you re the lining cases and I think it makes for a better looking cake.....especially if you are giving it to someone

  2. Not surprising your little chap is reaching for the cake, it looks delicious. Love your knitting, those colours are so pretty and I think you're right, simplicity is very often best!
    Happy day to you, another cold one I expect.

  3. oh i must put some loaf tin liners on my shopping list - what a great idea, might have to give that recipe a go too, i love a good tea loaf & still use my mums passed down recipe {but think it was a Mary Berry one originally!}
    the blanket looks very cosy, i love knitting in garter stitch, as it's easy to do whilst watching telly! i'm planning a garter stitch baby blanket for my sister in laws baby, really looking forward to getting started on it

  4. I'm rather partial to a loaf and a hap shawl too - yours are beautiful! I've got a Nigella chocolate loaf recipe on my shelves, I haven't made it. I wonder if it would be similar? I'm thinking it is going to be rich - I might have to track down that hummingbird one. Simple sounds good!


Thank you so much for commenting, we love to hear what you have to say.
Annie and Laura x

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