Friday, June 29, 2012

What's Cooking?

What a quiet week it's been on the blog! I've had a busy week in my new job but am looking forward to the weekend ahead. Here's a sneaky peek of tomorrows Chloë Bakes Cakes recipe for almond and rose petal biscotti...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Colourful Bracelet DIY

This blog is named after one of my favourite books - Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. I love how the heroine, Flora Poste takes everyone in hand and solves their problems one by one. One of my favourite lines is a piece of advice Flora gives to Elfine 'do for heavens sake, avoid orange linen jumpers and hand wrought jewelry'. Wise words but this weekend I decided to ignore them after stumbling across this brilliant bracelet DIY tutorial over on Honestly WTF. They're so cheery and colourful I had to have a go myself.

How great are these? I bought the supplies from Beadworks in Covent Garden. This place is a quiet little haven of craftiness right in the centre of the west London. I'm glad I went in with a specific project in mind or my magpie tendencies could have meant that I ended up with half the shop.

The tubular beads are gold filled - similar to gold plated except the gold is bonded on with heat so is tougher. The little round beads are brass and the thread is waxed cotton. All in all they worked out at £2.80 each. Round here that's what we call a billy bargain! I'm glad I managed to steer myself away from the neutral colours I was eying up and literally forced myself to take the orange, turquoise and pink thread, they're a nice little hit of colour during this particularly damp summer.

I can't wait to try this bracelet DIY next and then this one! Here is the original inspiration from Honestly WTF...

Image from Honestly WTF

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Fringe

Last Thursday night I was invited to come along and take a sneak peek at The Fringe - an exciting new pop up members club located just a hop, skip and long jump from the Olympic stadium in Stratford (must have been for my jokes).

The Fringe is 'popping up' in an enormous four storey Victorian warehouse which, interestingly, was originally used to stable horses after long days pulling boats along the canal (the horse riding nerd inside me was pleased to note the original markings of the stalls still visible on the second floor). Visit the website here to get an official run down on what each part of the building will offer: expect buzzing lounges and bars, big screens, street food, workspaces and sumptuous private suites.

We hopped on board a Water Chariot canal boat at Limehouse dock and cruised along the canal towards the Olympic stadium. Water Chariots will be running boats too and from The Fringe throughout the games and will have sole access to the canal system for the duration.

Upon arrival we crowded into the ground floor bar where we sampled some fantastic cocktails created especially for the The Fringe by Sweet & Chilli (the Ginford Christy, as the name suggests, was a clear winner) before embarking on a tour of the four floors and courtyard that will make up the venue. The building is currently bare bones but I think when it’s finished it will have an amazing, eclectic vibe - industrial, temporary and arty (as befits the area) with a lux finish. Artwork by Tim Flach nods to the buildings equestrian past but when it's finished it will also boast work by Charlotte Cory, as well as furniture by Swiss designers Vitra and some humongous crystal chandlers by Baccarat.

The courtyard and first floor spaces will be a mixture of bars and lounge areas with space to work and dine whilst watching the games via LCD screens. The third and fourth floors are available for private hire (for a cool £15,000 or £50,000 a day respectively). The third floor comprises three interconnecting rooms and the emphasis is on a fully customiseable space which can be re-dressed to cater for any situation be it a sit down banquet or a disco. The fourth floor houses the Penthouse suite. Flanked on three sides by large windows which can be opened up if the sun has his hat on or (as was the case on Thursday night) bolted against the freezing wind the view of the stadium is incredible. When the crowd inside is roaring I couldn't imagine a better place to watch the games.

Here were able to sample some truly delectable canapes by Rhubarb (who will be providing all the bespoke catering for the duration of the games) that I will remember until the day I die. These guys are truly knock out and will be on hand to dream up bespoke catering solutions.

I was really glad to get the chance to see the space before it's fully transformed - The building has so much character on it's own I think it's going to be breathtaking when finished. I lived in a warehouse in Hackney Wick for a few months back in 2010 (when I started blogging in fact) so I know the area a little. This whole area of London fascinates me because you can visualise it’s industrial past so clearly. The canal system which carves up the River Lea is lined with some beautiful bricks and mortar warehouse buildings, a legacy of the various chemical companies that were based in the area. These warehouse buildings belong to a bye gone era and are unlikely to be be replaced with anything but flats built from breeze blocks so I was pleased to see one being re-purposed for something so modern and ambitious.

There is going to be some serious partying and sports watching taking place here this summer!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Chloe Bakes: Rhubarb Cake

This cake did not disappoint - I love how all three components (light, lemony sponge, tart rhubarb and crumbly topping) merge beautifully in the oven but you can still taste each delicious layer separately. The cake is sweet and soft but punctuated by the odd tart burst of rhubarb.

I scaled down the recipe to fit the only square cake tin I own which happens to be 8 inch x 8 inch. For tricky conversions like this I use a handy online tool (which can be found here) that does the hard work for me - you just enter the dimensions of the original cake tin and ingredient quantities then select your new cake tin size and it will spit out the new quantity. Simples! I then tweak the numbers a little, usually rounding them up or down to the nearest 10 (my scales are on the large and clumsy side).

Rhubarb Snacking cake from the Smitten Kitchen (adapted to my teeny tiny 8x8 inch cake tin and tendency to go heavy on the spices)...

For the cake...

310g Rhubarb
150g Soft brown sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Large egg
100g flour
60g Butter
1 tsp Baking powder
Pinch of sea salt
40g Sour cream
1/2 tsp Ground ginger

For the topping...

70g Flour
30g Light brown sugar
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 tsp Ground ginger
30g Butter

To make the cake: Grease and line your cake tin with a long strip of greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 180c. First slice the rhubarb into 1/2 chunks on the diagonal - place them in a bowl and sprinkle with 130g of the sugar plus the lemon juice and set aside. In another bowl sift together the dry ingredients for the topping - flour, sugar, salt and ginger. Melt the butter and whisk in with a fork (the mixture should resemble crumbled up digestives). In an electric mixer (or with a good old mixing bowl and wooden spoon) beat the butter, lemon zest and remaining sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat again. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and ground ginger together in a separate bowl. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and beat until just combined, at 1/3 of the sour cream and beat again. Add the remaining flour & sour cream in stages in the same way until it's all mixed in.

Pour the batter into your cake tin and spread out evenly. Sprinkle the rhubarb over the top in an even layer then top with the crumble. Bake in the oven for around 45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out free from cake batter.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Saturday's recipe: Rhubarb Snacking Cake

For this weeks Chloë Bakes Cakes recipe I'm going to yield to my summer rhubarb cravings and whip up this Rhubarb Snacking Cake from the Smitten Kitchen. The gorgeous photos over on the Smitten Kitchen blog sold it to me straight away and I love the fruit to cake ratio (high, very high). This sounds like a perfect summer cake to take to a BBQ or picnic! Take a peek at the recipe here if you want to get stocked up in preparation!

Image via Pinterest.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Camping's calling...

Image via Pinterest.

Image via Pinterest.

Image via Pinterest.
Our camping trip to the New Forest last year.
Midsummer's day is fast approaching (though weather wise it feels more like early Spring here) and for me that means time to dream about campfires and camping. I think planning a camping trip in England is a little like planning a wedding. If it's sunny it will be utterly amazing but you shouldn't count on it in order to have a fun time. As long as you've got a decent tent, plenty of woolen socks and jumpers you can still take pleasure in sleeping under canvas, grilling your supper and retreating under a pile of blankets with a good book if the heavens open.

If sleeping under the stars isn't quite your bag but you still fancy a dreamy escape into the wilderness then take a peek at Canopy and Stars. They have hundreds of beautiful and unusual places to stay in the UK - from shepherds huts and yurts to gypsy caravans. Or how about the beautiful tipi over at Freshwinds Camping that I was lucky enough to stay in a couple of years back? (read all about our adventures here).
I've got a horrible feeling (actually that's not true, I know for sure) that our tent was not in such good shape when we packed ourselves up and left Shambala festival last year and that we're going to have a lot of dried mud to shake off before we can snuggle up inside it again. We'll find out in four weeks time when we go to Latitude festival!

Keep your eyes peeled for my Festival Fashion guide popping up over the next few weeks. In the meantime you can read a couple of posts I wrote about camping last year here and here.

Monday, June 18, 2012

What's Occurring?

I had to share this photo of Ciaran and I that arrived in the post last weekend. We were at our good friends Gareth & Marianne's wedding in April tearing up the dance floor - look at those expressions! Equal parts concentration and euphoria. Gareth & Marianne went to Svalbard in Norway for their honeymoon (I know I thought it was a made up place from these books too!) where they got chased by a polar bear, I can't wait to hear all about it now they're home in one piece!

You might have noticed I've had a bit of a re-jig here on the blog. I just felt that it was time for a change - something a little more springy and warm perhaps?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Banana & Walnut Bread

This isn't really a bread at all - it's a cake! Deliciously moist from the bananas with a crispy outer crust this is a super simple recipe that can be varied as much as you like - a handful of chocolate chips perhaps, a tablespoon of honey, a few thinly sliced plums? Or if you don't like walnuts then why not substitute them with Brazil nuts or macadamias? Perfect with a cup of tea on a Sunday afternoon!

The quantities here are for a 9 inch loaf tin, I only own a 6 inch loaf tin so only made 2/3 worth. I've put the quantities for a 6 inch tin in brackets in case your loaf tin comes up short too.

125g (85g) Butter
175g (115g) Caster Sugar
2 (1 big) Egg - Mine turned out to be a double yolker :)
3 (2) Large Bananas
90g (60g) Walnuts roughly chopped
250g (165g plain flour)
2 tsp (1 1/2 tsp) Baking powder
1/4 (tiny bit) Bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp (1/2 tsp) Conman
1/2 tsp (1/4 tsp) Mixed spice
1/2 tsp (1/4 tsp) Ground mace
1/2 tsp (1/4 tsp) Salt

Preheat the oven to 108c, grease up your loaf tin and line with a strip of baking paper. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mash about 2/3 of the bananas with a fork, slice the remaining banana into thin slivers and mix them in with the walnuts. Sift in the dry ingredients and fold in with a metal spoon. Pour the mixture into your tin and pop in the oven for 1 hour (45 minutes if you're making the smaller loaf).

This banana and walnut bread is lovely when eaten fresh but I find that most cakes containing fresh fruit are even better a day or so later. In the unlikely event that it hangs around enough to get dry and sad you can toast a slice and smother it in butter.

Next time I might try using 1/2 white flour and 1/2 wholemeal flour for added goodness!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Recipe announcement

Just a quick note to say that due to reasons of injury I'll be posting this weekends recipe for Walnut & Bananna Bread tomorrow instead of today as planned. I may have slightly over estimated my roller skating ability last night, resulting in a swollen right jaw (currently being soothed by an ice pack) and a bruise on my left butt cheek that looks like a galaxy.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Happy Weekend

It's been many, many years since I last attended a roller skating Birthday party but tonight I'll be getting my skates on one last time. Our buddy Graham is turning 30, a time to be sensible and mature put on colourful spandex leotards and tear up the floor of the Renaissance Rooms at Vauxhall.

Last night, after a couple of glasses of red wine,  I had the genius idea of painting my nails then dipping them in gold glitter with the intention of looking more roller disco-ish. I'm quite pleased with the effect, though my bed, clothes, face and desk have also received a liberal coating.

Have a happy weekend everyone - it's going to be a quiet weekend for me after the excitement of tonight. Walnut & Banana bread baking on Saturday followed by a cosy Sunday filled with tea and films.

P.S I've lost the source for this roller skating Cher pic, any info welcome!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Saturday: Chloë Bakes

I'm excited to announce that I'm going to be starting a regular feature here on the blog - every Saturday will be baking day and I'll be posting a different recipe every week! It might be for a cake, a pie or a pudding but all the recipes will be baked goods packed with delicious, seasonal ingredients and will have been tried and tested by me! Some of the recipes will be my own, some will be borrowed from friends and family and some will be by other cooks that I love and have become a regular part of my repertoire.

I'll tweet the ingredients list mid-week to give you plenty of time to get stocked up ready!

This Saturday I'll be kicking things off with my Mum's amazing Walnut and Banana Bread recipe. I love banana bread - so quick and simple to make but packed with delicious fruit. It's so versatile too - you can vary the recipe endlessly. Just think if you cook along with me this Saturday, on Sunday morning you'll find yourself propped up in bed with a pot of coffee beside you tucking into a slice of toasted Banana Bread smothered with butter (and maybe honey too if it's a particularly rainy and miserable day).

These quantities are based on using a 9 inch loaf tin. Don't worry if you've only got a smaller tin, I'll show you how to reduce the quantities accordingly.

You will need...

125g Butter
175g Caster Sugar
2 Large Eggs
2-3 Large Bananas
60g - 90g Walnuts
250g Plain flour

Plus some baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, cinnamon and mixed spice.

Meet me back here on Saturday for the recipe!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Midweek Supper: Hot and sour chicken soup

Here's a lovely, light, midweek supper to clear your head - perfect if you've got leftover roast chicken from Sunday lunch.  It looks like a lot of ingredients and a lot of work but I promise it's easy peasy and you might have all these items (or at least good alternatives) lurking in your fridge already!

Serves 2 as a main meal.

For the stock:

1 x Organic, free range roast chicken carcass (plus as much meat as you can salvage from it)
1 x small onion, peeled and kept whole
Approx 8 whole cloves
Approx 8 peppercorns
2 x bay leaves
2 x carrots split in half lengthwise
2 x sticks of celery split in half lengthwise
Stalks from a small bunch of parsley

For the soup:

1 x Quantity of fresh home made chicken stock
A few shreds of chicken to taste
1 x bunch of noodles (I like these ones)
1 x thumb sized piece of root ginger peeled and shredded into matchsticks
1 or 2 fresh red chillies (depending on how hot you like it - I like it blistering)  sliced, seeds and all
4 x spring onions
Any vegetables you happen to have to hand - e.g thinly sliced mushrooms, pak choi, spring greens
2 x limes
Leaves from a small bunch of parsley, finely chopped

First make the chicken stock - strip as much meat as you can from the carcass, shred at set aside. Place the remains in a large, heavy bottomed pan. Take your onion and stud with around 8 cloves. Add the onion to the plan along with the two bay leaves, peppercorns, carrot and celery. Fill the pan with cold water until it covers the chicken just over half way. Bring the pan to a gentle simmer then turn down the heat as low as it can go - you want the liquid to bubble only very gently.

Let this continue for around two hours - long enough to tidy up the kitchen, have a bath and climb into a fresh pair of PJs.

To make the soup first drain the stock - you want to keep all the liquid and chuck out all the solids. Place the stock in a saucepan and head to a gentle simmer. Add the ginger, chili and shredded chicken then let the liquid bubble gently for a few minutes. Add the noodles and any vegetables you're using and let simmer until the noodles are just soft. Take off the heat and stir in the parsley.

Divide between two bowels and top with the spring onions and a good squeeze of lime. Enjoy!

Monday, June 11, 2012

A fresh start

Snapdragons - Image via Pinterest

Ranunculus - Image via Pinterest

Poppies - Image via Pinterest

Peony - Image via Pinterest

Hydrangea - Image via Pinterest

June is an amazing month for flowers in Britain and it makes me more desperate than ever for a garden! If we had some outside space I would grow all of the varieties pictured above (and plenty more besides). As it stands I'll just have to content myself with a window box or two. Maybe this is the year that I will finally make it happen (as opposed to last year when I enthusiastically gushed about my window box planning here but ended up leaving it too late once again!).

Friday, June 8, 2012

Chloë Bakes Cakes

It was back to work with a bump on Wednesday after our extended weekend of merry making. No time to rest though as I'm already knee deep (or elbow deep to be precise) in an exciting new project!

I've begun to feel that my cakes are outgrowing their audience of housemates and colleagues - there is only so much cake you guys can eat and I've decided it's time to take my baking to the masses. I'm very pleased to announce that Chloë Bakes Cakes is now open for business! I'm taking orders for my cupcakes, layer cakes and special Cake Creations - all baked with love and skill by me in my humble Clapham kitchen!

I'm working on a proper website that will allow you to view my complete range and provide information on pricing etc. but in the meantime feel free to get in touch by dropping me an email and following me on Twitter:

or visit my work in progress website at

If all this talk of cakes has put you in the mood for a spot of baking yourself why not don one of these sweet apron & scarf combos by Anthropologie and Liberty to keep your outfit and hair free from icing sugar.

1. Hot Pink & Turquoise Ianthe print silk scarf from Liberty, Sugar Spots apron from Anthropologie.
2. Blue Strawberry Thief silk scarf from Liberty, Bahia apron from Anthropologie.
3. Silken Favours Precious Pussies silk scarf from Liberty, Mellow Coral Apron from Anthropologie.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Our Jubilee Street Party!

 On Monday 4th June the residents of Elspeth Road and Lavender Gardens joined forces for a Jubilee Street Party! At 10am we closed Lavender Gardens with the aid of some chairs then setup a small stage and a long row of tables for lunch. I was in charge of the cake competition (and is partly the reason why this blog has been full of nothing but cake for the last few weeks!)

I set up my trestle table and didn't have to wait long for the cakes to start arriving - the table was full within the first 5 minutes and I ended up grabbing another four to cope with the overwhelming amount of submissions!

The turn out for the cake competition was absolutely fantastic and the designs ranged from hearty home made classics like carrot cake, battenberg, coffee and walnut cake and Victoria sponge to artistic sculptures featuring a corgi, postage stamp and many Union Flags rendered in berries. Anna (who was with me during first forays into baking earlier in the year when we attempted a two tier Red Velvet layer cake) even brought along a cheese cake featuring a Banksy style stencil of the Queen's face.

To judge the competition we were lucky to have our Mayor Adrian Knowles, as well as Kurt, the owner of a brilliant local Children's Cafe Wonderworld of Wishes. They were joined by Richard, the vicar from the local church, St Barnabas' and Glynn Christian - popular BBC TV food traveler and writer.

The lovely Hannah Couper took these photos of the day. You can visit her blog here.

As well as the cake competition we had performances throughout the day by students of the London College of Music as well as the Battersea Arts Centre Beat Box Academy, lots of games, a fancy dress competition and face painting for the children and a huge communal lunch. When the bunting had been taken down and the street re-opened it was time to pile into the garden of the Battersea club for a BBQ run by Cleavers Butchers followed by a spot of disco dancing.

Here are a few more photos of the rest of the celebration taken by Hannah.

Well done everyone for making it such a fantastic day!