Category Archives: village
Colour is a great source of inspiration, isn’t it? Sometimes just one gorgeous, vibrant hue can trigger a whole chain of ideas and creations. These beautiful red dahlias, the last of this year’s blooms from our village allotments, made me see red – in a good way! I started to think about those lovely, jewel-like sweeties known as Pates de Fruits in France. With colour in mind, I thought I would try to make some with the crimson juices of pomegranates and blood oranges.
I have a project in mind for these fruit jellies. We have a little Christmas/holiday fair coming up in the village hall next month, and I was asked to run a table. I decided that I would make some gifts and sweets to sell on my stall, and donate profits to Action Against Hunger. This organisation is committed to helping people around the world who don’t have enough to feed themselves and their children. I know that lots of people who work in the food industry give a lot, in donations as well as running fundraising projects, to help this cause and I am keen to give too.
So I have been thinking about what I might make to wrap into pretty packages and sell on my stall. I have never made fruit jelly sweeties before, and some practice seemed essential. I must say, it isn’t really as easy as it might seem to get these right. The differences in juices, concentration of fruit purees, the type of pectin, the time of cooking, all affect the result. And in jolly damp old England, the humidity is a factor too. The recipe below worked quite well for me. I made a version with mango puree and jam sugar (sugar with crystallised pectic mixed in) instead of the liquid pectin and that set very nicely too.
What do you think of my plans? Do you have any other ideas for lovely food gifts, sweet or savoury, that might go well on my stall? I plan on testing out some other ideas over the next couple of weeks, for example nougat, flavoured sugars and vin chaud spices. I’d love to hear your ideas for gifts, wrappings, ribbons, presentation – and I’ll share my experiments too.
Thanks for visiting Extra-Relish. Please do write me a comment – I really enjoy hearing from you. Px
Perhaps you are feeling as I do – just not quite ready to say goodbye to summer. Yes, the gardens are past their best. The flowers giving a last brave encore but their edges are crumpling and their glory quietly fading. Yes, the children are back at school, smart and crisp in slightly too big uniforms. And yes, the wind is bringing a distinctive autumnal note. But it’s not over yet! We can still celebrate the lasting colours and brightness, and some fairy cakes are just the thing for that. As a surprise treasure found in a September lunchbox, a little cake always brings a smile!
Turn on the oven and heat to 180 degrees centigrade. Choose 12 pretty fairy cake – or small cupcake – liners and place them in a fairy cake/muffin tin.
150g butter, softened
150g caster sugar
150g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2-3 tablespoons of milk
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs. Mix in the vanilla essence. Stir in the flour swiftly and with a light touch. Don’t overmix. Listen to something nice on the radio instead. Add a couple of spoons of milk to keep the mix from being too thick and dense. It should just about drop off a spoon. Working quickly, fill the cake liners. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cakes are nicely risen and golden. Don’t keep opening the oven but just keep a watch through the oven window (if it has one) after about 15 minutes.
Take the cakes out and let them cool on a rack.
Simple fondant icing
300g icing sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons water (you can replace 1 or 2 spoons with lemon juice if your want lemony icing)
Mix the water into the icing sugar and give it a good stir until it is smooth and glossy. If you wish, you can add a few drops of food colour to tint the icing.
Decorating is especially fun and satisfying. Flowers, glitter, icing sugar, sprinkles, berries…
We still have lots of village teas happening, the last of the cricket teas, and cake sales – fairy cakes always go down well. Or give a little box of them wrapped in tissue and ribbon as a lovely present. Or you could just eat them, with a cup of tea, relaxing in the garden with a good book.
Let me know what you think. Any nice ideas for decorations? I love to hear from you so please drop me a comment if you have a moment! P.
Summer is drifting away, almost a memory now, giving way to golden tones of autumn leaves and shiny new school uniforms. And with the end of summer, it is goodbye to the all the fetes, fairs and village cricket matches that bring the English villages into glorious, vibrant colour. I love the change of seasons, and in this part of the world, the seasons really are quite distinct. A good thing – it makes up a bit for those many days of rain and grey skies! Before it is a truly distant memory, I thought I would post some of the images from this summer’s fete in our village. The fete is a wonderful event, and really brings the whole community together. There are lots of stalls and games, pints and pims, the barbecue, music, and of course, the all important cake and tea tent. Something for everyone!
The theme of our fete this year was – you guessed it – Garden Gnomes! The children got their costumes together and transformed into such adorable cheeky gnomes. So did quite a few grown ups too.
I usually end up making quite few cakes over the summer for fetes and other events. (Being married to a cricketer, I do my share of the cricket teas too!) My favourite summer cake is a traditional Victoria Sponge -it really captures the essence of summer – filled with sweet berry jam and fresh buttery cream.
Victoria Sponge Cake
250g butter, softened
250g golden caster sugar
250g self-raising flour
3 T milk
1 t vanilla extract
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs. Stir in the flour without over mixing. Then finish by adding the milk and vanilla. Divide the mix into two lined (or buttered and floured) 20cm cake tins. Bake in the oven (preheated to 180c. fan oven 160c) for 25-30 minutes.
When the cakes are completely cool, you can sandwich them with berry jam – strawberry, raspberry, whichever is your favourite – and thick fresh whipped cream or buttercream.