The rain was coming down in sheets, flooding the lanes and turning the verges into a quagmire and still the people came. This was, after all, the village event of the summer. The Annual Plant Sale at Mary Berry’s house.
Even before looking at the plants on offer, I found myself in the queue for tea with Mr Glam, this was a cake opportunity of immense importance. I nudged passed a burst of geranium blooms which would normally be out in the garden but, like us, were sheltering from the British weather in the doorway of the flagged stoned conservatory. With an gigantic, grizzled grape vine twisting above us, we perused the cakes on offer, coffee cake, chocolate marble cake, light fruit cake, ginger cake and the lightest of light lemon drizzle cake. This was a lottery of choice, would we pick the cake Mary had made? Clasped in crumpled foil, we happily made off with our selection, goodies to be considered and devoured at home.
Even in the rain Mary Berry’s garden is delight, full of focal points and pleasant places to sit. That day it was dotted with gazebos valiantly trying to do their job, although many were bowing under the weight of water. The traditional tombola still drew a crowd with the potential for a tasty tipple if only your ticket were right. Books and bric a brac, futilily piled in the centre of their shelter in a effort to stay dry, drew a few people looking for a bargain or like me a cook book.
After our flurry of spending we ambled over to see the view from the Italianate garden, looking across the Buckinghamshire hills it was stunning, even though faded in the rain to streaks of soft green and grey.
A garden pond to rival that of many villages, complete with dipping ducks, water lillies and a weeping ash briefly glistened in the sun, until it too reflected the grey of the sky and was dimpled with rain. Close to the conservatory and the cream painted Queen Anne house is the kitchen garden with its neat hebe hedges and culinary herbs, perfect for popping out to for fresh produce and a spot of inspiration.
It was a fun village event with everyone including Mary, in wellies and brimmed Barbour hat, working hard to raise money and a smile despite the weather. If you tempted by the village cake stall cakes, try this Blueberry, lemon and passionfruit cake.
Blueberry, Lemon And Passionfruit Cake
- 150g softened butter ( extra for greasing the tin)
- 175g caster sugar
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 175g self raising flour
- 90ml full fat milk
- grated zest of 1/2 a lemon
- 225g blueberries lightly dusted with flour
For The Syrup
- 4 passion fruit
- 115g sifted icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 190c (170c fan assisted)
- Grease a loose bottomed 23cm square tin and line with baking parchment
- Cream the butter and the caster sugar together in a bowl until pale in colour and fluffy
- Add the eggs to the mixture one at a time, beating in between
- Fold in the flour, then stir in the milk and the lemon zest
- Carefully fold in the flour dusted blueberries
- Pour the mixture in to the prepared baking tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 25 – 30 minutes until golden brown ( the cake doesn’t rise a lot but is very light)
- Leave in the tin
- Make the passion fruit syrup,
- Cut the passion fruit in half and scoop out the insides into a sieve over a small pan. Rub through the sieve and discard the seeds
- Add the sifted icing sugar and stir over a moderate heat until the sugar has melted
- Using a skewer or a fork pierce the cake all over and pour over the passionfruit syrup and leave to cool completely. Cut into squares and serve dusted with icing sugar
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