Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Two gorgeous knitting patterns from the Purl Bee...

I'm in love with these two knitting patterns from Purl Bee. The first is their Big Herringbone Cowl and the second is the Men's Mini Herringbone Scarf. I like the proportions of the cowl but I think I would knit it as a scarf and maybe in a colour more similar to the Men's version?

I love how chunky and comforting they both look but most of all I love the herringbone stitch - this is definitely next on my knit list!

Purl Bee is an awesome resource for all kinds of crafty projects from knitting to sewing and everything textile related in between. Now I just need to find myself a pattern for a Winter hat and I'm all set.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Chloe Bakes: Coffee & Walnut Cake

At the weekend I made this classic Coffee & Walnut cake and have been enjoying generous slices accompanied by cups of tea ever since! The recipe is from my beloved River Cottage Cake Handbook by Pam Corbin. I scaled it down to fit my 15cm cake tin and baked it as one whole cake before slicing it in half and sandwiching it back together with a thick layer of coffee buttercream. I decided not to make the glace icing but doubled up on the buttercream instead and spread it over the top and sides. I finished it off with my favourite Rococo Chocolate Coffee Beans! Though walnut halves would be nice too.

Coffee & Walnut cake to fit a 15 cm round cake tin:

150g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
150g butter (cut into cubes and softened)
75g soft brown sugar
75g golden caster sugar
2 eggs
1 heaped tbsp good instant coffee dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water
100g chopped walnuts

120g butter (cut into cubes and softened)
250g icing sugar softened
1 tbsp good instant coffee dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water

Pre-heat the oven to 180c. Grease and line your cake tin.

Sift together your flour and baking powder and set aside. Using either a mixing bowl and wooden spoon or your trusty electric mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the two sugars and beat until the whole mixture is light and creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a tbsp of flour in between each one and beating thoroughly before adding the next. Stir in the coffee essence.

Fold in the remaining flour half at a time before folding in the chopped walnuts (top tip: To save time I put my walnuts in a freezer bag and carefully smashed them up with a rolling pin. Remember to put the bag on a sturdy surface and leave the top open so any air can escape). Pour your mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the center of the oven for 25 - 30 minutes. When done the cake should spring back up when lightly pressed in the middle and a skewer inserted into the middle will come out free from gloopy wet cake mixture.

Leave the cake in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Meanwhile, make the buttercream...

Beat the butter to a cream, add the icing sugar and coffee essence then beat until light and creamy.

To assemble, cut your cake in half neatly and evenly across the horizontal plane. Pop the bottom half of the cake on your fancy cake stand and spread three tablespoons of the buttercream over the top. Sandwich on the top half and spread the remaining buttercream over the top and sides. Don't worry if you get icing on the cake plate it's fine. Decorate with your coffee beans (or walnuts) and enjoy!

I found this pretty cake stand in Age Concern in Skipton - I think it was £12.99. There was another larger one with yellow flowers for the same price but it felt just too indulgent to buy both! Oh the regret. It's probably still there if anyone's in the market for one.

Monday, August 27, 2012

What's occurring this Bank Holiday weekend?

Happy Bank Holiday Monday! Summer is nearly at an end and today is the last precious Bank Holiday before Christmas. Here are a few Instagrams from the last few days.

A leisurely Saturday morning with Toby Cat - This is my favourite part of the weekend, rather than sleep in I like to wake up early on a Saturday and sit up in bed with a cup of tea and a magazine (currently the September issue of Elle!).

Ciaran and I went for a little walk on Saturday afternoon, foolishly without an umbrella or coat between us. It started to rain so we ducked into one of our favourite pubs, The Draft House for shelter. As soon as we got inside the heavens opened and a thunderstorm broke out right above us. People were running in off the street soaked through to their skin! We were trapped for two hours in the end.
Toby is his usual mad catter self.
Yesterday we went to South West Four festival on Clapham Common with Ciaran's brother (and my soon to be brother in law) Declan and his amazing wife Hannah. The weather and the atmosphere were great - we went to see 2manydjs and they were amazing.

Which brings us to this morning - several big cups of tea to sooth my somewhat aching head. This beautiful mug is from a little pottery shop in Hastings and is hand made. I can't seem to find the shops website at the minute so I'll have to get back to you with the link. You can also get 1 pint mugs and some beautiful mixing bowls.
Coffee and Walnut cake for breakfast - recipe and photos of my new cake stand coming up later on today!

And now it's time for brunch! I hope everyone is making the most of their Bank Holiday Monday!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Vintage Knits

I managed to get a whole load of knitting done over the weekend - the one upside to the 4 hour car journey to Yorkshire. This jumper doesn’t look like much yet (hence I haven't shown you much) but I think it's going to be lovely. I'm hoping that it will be a successor to my Shetland jumper from Toast which after four years is sadly starting to look a little threadbare - and not even in places that I can hide with elbow patches! The front and back are done and I've nearly finished the first sleeve - it's looking like it might actually be finished for winter!

I'm using a vintage pattern and I can't even tell you where it's from because I've only got it as a faded photocopy. It's got lovely raglan sleeves and absolutely no shaping in the body whatsoever so it will be lovely and simple - perfect to throw on with my trusty skinny black jeans and ankle boots. There is something about vintage patterns in general that I find really charming - the jumper I'm making at the moment is super simple and really lets the beauty of the yarn stand out but often I find vintage patterns are much more intricate and tailored than a lot of modern patterns (especially the funky, chunky, knit it up in 20 minutes patterns that are out there!). They often have neat little shaped waists, puffed sleeves and pretty edging. They make me want to stretch myself by learning new techniques and attempting patterns that at first might seem too tricky for me to handle.

Gerry Warner of Skiff Vintage Knitting Patterns has written a fantastically eloquent and inspiring blog post on the subject of vintage knitting and you can read it here. Here are a some sweet knits inspiring me at the moment - hop over to Skiff Vintage Knitting Patterns to purchase the original patterns!

All images from Skiff Vintage Knitting Patterns

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


These were taken on Sunday in the Yorkshire Dales whilst London was experiencing the hottest day of the year. Ciaran completed his 100 mile cycle in a respectable 8 hours and I spent the day having a delicious breakfast at our B&B (we stayed here and it was cosy and pretty and there were home made cookies and cakes!) before going for a ramble on the Pennine Way. When travelling I find it so hard to pack clothes for any other weather than I'm experiencing at that moment - hence how I found myself in the North of England without a waterproof jacket and shoes and only one cotton jumper! Needless to say I got soaked but it was well worth it to breath fresh air for a change.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Hi there!

Ciaran and I have bust out of town and escaped to the Yorkshire Dales for the weekend! We packed our bags, kissed Toby cat goodbye then hit the road this morning. We arrived in Skipton earlier this afternoon, just in time for a spot of late lunch and a look round the charity shops and market stalls (I scored an amazing china cake stand which I'll share in next weekends cake bake post!). Skipton is a sweet little market town with a canal, a lovely church at one end (they had a village fete on earlier today) some pretty pubs and some great little antiques shops.

Ciaran is taking part in this epic bike ride tomorrow with local hero Bradley Wiggins so I'll have a good few hours to myself to go exploring. I'm really looking forward to getting out in the open and filling my lungs with fresh air. From the garden of the pretty B&B we're staying in I can see rolling hills for miles around so I think I'll arm myself with a map and hope for the best!

We've got an early start tomorrow (the race kicks off at 7am - eek!) so we're going to keep it chilled tonight and take a stroll down the lane to the local pub for half an ale and a bite to eat! I haven't quite figured out blogging is iPad yet, hence no photographs of my own today! Hopefully I'll make up for it tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


When I saw this mouthwatering recipe for Panzanella over on Cup of Jo I couldn't wait to make it. It is such a winner! The bread soaks up the delicious sharpness of the dressing and all the flavours just work beautifully. It's so simple but so unbelievably tasty!

You can find the recipe here.

Remember: It's illegal to keep tomatoes in the fridge. They don't like it and will go all fluffy and flavourless. Because this recipe is so simple you need to use really good, firm, red, fresh little tomatoes. We get lovely organic ones dropped on our doorstep courtesy of Riverford every week. The bread is important too - I used a delicious potato and rosemary loaf from Gail's.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Robert's Rummage

I'm excited to finally be sharing some of the bits and pieces I picked up when I was in Hastings a couple of weekends ago. We visited some great antiques shops and these little trinkets are slowly finding their place in our home. When I found myself unable to resist a huge bunch of pink peonies at the market last weekend I knew exactly how I wanted to display them!

The little glass jugs and china bowl are all from a shop called Robert's Rummage (number 68 on the old town High Street). Robert owns an antiques shop 'Robert's Curios' which is located just down the road but he can usually be found presiding over the rummage of an afternoon. It's a tiny Aladdin's cave of trinkets and treasures (if antique - or just plain 'old' china, glasses, bowls plates and ornaments are your bag). The duck egg blue china sugar bowl cost 55p and the jugs ranged in price from 75p - £1. You do have to rummage though and be able to see beyond the dust and cobwebs!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Chloe Bakes: Carrot and beetroot cake with fresh flower

For my friend Rachel's Birthday last week I decided to make the carrot cake from my beloved River Cottage Cakes Handbook (after trying the lemon drizzle cake recipe a few weeks ago I knew I couldn't go wrong). I added a teaspoon of my Spice Mountain beetroot powder which gave it a lovely intense colour and decorated it with fresh edible flowers.

Carrot Cake Recipe:

125g self-raising wholemeal flour
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch sea salt
150g unsalted butter cut into small pieces and softened
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
150g golden caster sugar
3 eggs
75g ground almonds
250g finely grated carrot
75g sultanas or raisins
75g flaked almonds or chopped walnuts

Cream Cheese Topping:

100g full fat cream cheese
25g unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces
150g - 175g icing sugar sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract or orange flower water or the finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed orange or lemon

Preheat the oven to 180c / gas mark 4. Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin. Sift together the flour, mixed spices, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl beat the butter and orange zest to a cream using either a wooden spoon or a hand-held electric whisk (or your Kenwood Chef!). Add the sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, adding 1 tbsp of the flour mix with each and beating thoroughly before adding the next. Using a large metal spoon, fold in the remaining flour mix followed by the ground almonds, grated carrot, dried fruit and nuts.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, smoothing it out evenly with the back of a spoon. Bake in the oven for 45 - 50 minutes until the cake is evenly coloured and springs back into shape when lightly pressed with a finger. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

To make the topping: Beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add the icing sugar and any flavouring and beat until the mixture is very light and creamy. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or so to firm up before using.

When the cake is cold, slice in half horizontally and sandwich back together using about half of the cream cheese topping. Spread the remaining topping over the top of the cake and garnish with fresh edible flowers (I bought mine in Waitrose!)