Recipe, photography and styling by Tanya Zouev.
kitchenalia : “miscellaneous kitchen utensils, pieces of cooking equipment, and other items typically found in kitchens”.
Those who know me well know that I am somewhat nuts about kitchenalia and use any excuse to go off rummaging in op-shops in search of it. I have a peculiar penchant for vintage kitchen items and am always on the look out for additional pieces (as if my burgeoning collection needs more).
Another thing I am equally nuts about (aside from Game Of Thrones and the little white socks on my cat’s paws) is icing, particularly buttercream icing. There is something about the creamy butter in combination with powdered sugar and vanilla that works magic on cake, and that is indeed a wonderful thing. My four year old son agrees whole-heartedly with this statement. In his books, icing and cake go together like cheese and lasagne.
This week I decided to bring two of my favourite things together in the same post, so in addition to a recipe I would like to introduce to you a fantastic range of vintage kitchenalia-inspired tea towels by Kookery, designed and owned by the lovely Amy Palmer-Millin. I met Amy a couple of months ago at a Sydney trade show she was exhibiting at and we hit it off immediately. We found we had a mutual love of vintage kitchenalia, tea towels, baking and coffee so how could we possibly not get along?
Amy told me how she draws inspiration from vintage graphic design and kitchenalia, pairing her designs with food-inspired witticisms so that everyone can “quirk their kitchen”. I was immediately drawn to the Two Scoops Are Better Than One design, screen-printed onto gorgeous Russian linen which softens and becomes more beautiful with each wash. Her designs come from pieces of found kitchenalia photographed then rendered into silhouettes to show off their vintage shapes. In her own words, the (in my opinion) very clever quotes come from “a mind that is as smitten with humour as it is with souffle.” A kindred spirit indeed.
Now as much as I adore spending time in the kitchen, cooking (and gazing at my kitchenalia collection), sometimes I like to get things done quickly. Ever since I discovered that mothers of small children can’t always gourmet around in the kitchen as long as they would like to, I have developed certain techniques to cook with speed and efficiency that can get the job done faster.
For example, I used to labour over buttercream icing. I won’t settle for mixing a little icing sugar with water and dribbling it over a cupcake. I want the real deal and I want it to taste like it came from a really good cupcake bakery, like New York’s Magnolia Bakery. Ever since I saw an episode of Sex and The City where Miranda and Carrie bite into their huge fluffy cupcakes, I vowed I would one day do the same. But until I actually have the opportunity to visit the bakery in person, I will have to be satisfied with their cookbooks alone.
I have made Magnolia Bakery’s buttercream icing many times. You see, it’s a process: cream the butter, add the sugar and alternate with a little milk, add a little more sugar then a little more milk and so on. On one particular day I was feeling impatient. It was late evening and the next day was my son’s birthday. His preschool had asked me to bring in cupcakes for all his little friends so they could celebrate and sing happy birthday. It wasn’t the actual cupcakes I was baking that were testing my patience, it was the buttercream icing.
So I went against convention and decided to bung it all in the Thermomix, turn the machine on and throw caution to the wind. What happened next you ask? Minutes later I was making perfect little swirls of buttercream icing on my son’s cupcakes and I couldn’t have been happier (and ditto for Marc and his buddies the next day at morning tea). The only thing that perhaps could have made me happier would have been to stumble across another fabulous kitchenalia find, or buying more Kookery tea towels.
On that note I’m signing off this week to go op-shopping. Or maybe I’ll “quirk my kitchen” some more at www.kookery.com.au. After all, two (or more) Kookery tea towels are better than one.
3.5 cups icing (powdered) sugar
225 grams room temperature butter (salted or unsalted is up to you, I like salted)
4 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
If you want chocolate buttercream add a 1/2 to 2/3 cup cocoa. I used Dutch cocoa to create the chocolate buttercream icing in the photographs above.
Place all ingredients into the jug of a Thermomix, mix at speed 5 for three minutes.
* Please note that I have also made this in my stand mixer with almost the same results (the Thermomix icing was a little smoother), hence the decision to leave the sugar measurement in cups rather than grams for those who don’t own a Thermomix.
It was only natural that I team Amy’s gorgeous tea towels with some of my kitchenalia pieces (or props as I like to call them, it seems more professional and then I can convince my husband that the fifty-fifth vintage tea cup I brought home is for work). All of the props came from local op-shops and out of council hard rubbish collections. The only light used in the images is window light. A big thanks to my neighbour who let me use his ancient Hills Hoist washing line (much to his amusement) for the shot of the Two Scoops tea towel.