We have been in a whirl of activity since our open day, delivering stock, replenishing the shelves and then trying to keep on top of the garden which is thriving in this glorious sunshine!!
The day itself was a fantastic success; it was so lovely to see so many old friends and to meet new ones. We were delighted to welcome Len, owner of the Horticultural and General Standard Manufacturing Factory, one of the last tool manufacturing companies in Derbyshire. The factory is now closed and Len has since retired yet he still travelled over 100 miles to see some of his tools on display in the Garden Museum. We have received an overwhelming amount of wonderful feedback on the museum; if you weren’t able to visit on the 11th then please do give us a call to arrange an appointment on 01452 840934.
Next door, in the Hen House, guests were treated to an array of delicious cakes, teas, coffees and cordials. We are so lucky to have this glorious space and it really did come in to it’s own with a party of guests inside. As well as being a beautiful place to stay, it makes a great venue for parties, exhibitions and even photo shoots (in fact, we have a shoot taking place next week as a result of the open day)!
In between genning up on tool history, quaffing cake and admiring the surrounds there was also time to shop! We let our shoppers loose in the barn (a very rare privilege, I assure you – not even I’m allowed in there!). Folk couldn’t get enough of our galvanised containers” they were practically flying out, with our obelisks and plant supports being snapped up with equal fervour!
And the winner of our letter anagram….A collection of beautiful reclaimed letters adorned the barn and our guests were challenged with deciphering the name…the only clue they were given was that the letters had come from a ‘shop’ in Cheltenham….so CONGRATULATIONS to the gorgeous Clare Woods for getting it right: MAJESTIC WINE WAREHOUSE. ‘Countdown’ here she comes….!!
Finally, as promised to the lovely Valley ladies, my Polenta cake recipe….
For the cake
200 grams soft unsalted butter (plus some for greasing)
200 grams caster sugar
200 grams ground almonds
100 grams fine polenta (or cornmeal)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder (see note below)
3 large eggs
zest of 2 lemons (save juice for syrup)
For the syrup
juice of 2 lemons
125 grams icing sugar
Line the base of a 23cm / 9inch springform cake tin with baking parchment and grease its sides lightly with butter.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/ 350°F.
Beat the butter and sugar till pale and whipped, either by hand in a bowl with a wooden spoon, or using a freestanding mixer.
Mix together the almonds, polenta and baking powder, and beat some of this into the butter-sugar mixture, followed by 1 egg, then alternate dry ingredients and eggs, beating all the while.
Finally, beat in the lemon zest and pour, spoon or scrape the mixture into your prepared tin and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.
It may seem wibbly but, if the cake is cooked, a cake tester should come out cleanish and, most significantly, the edges of the cake will have begun to shrink away from the sides of the tin. remove from the oven to a wire cooling rack, but leave in its tin.
Make the syrup by boiling together the lemon juice and icing sugar in a smallish saucepan.
Once the icing sugar’s dissolved into the juice, you’re done.
Prick the top of the cake all over with a cake tester (a skewer would be too destructive), pour the warm syrup over the cake, and leave to cool before taking it out of its tin.
NOTE: to make this cake gluten-free, make sure to use gluten-free baking powder, or omit the baking powder altogether and beat the batter exuberantly at step 4.
This recipe is taken from nigella.com and is without a doubt the easiest yet most satisfying cake I’ve ever made. It’s also an absolute doddle to add different fruit syrups; I have used pomegranate, grapefruit, orange and rhubarb (although not all at the same time!).