Thursday 6 January 2011

Something to warm your heart... and your stomach

Some people may think that along with the cold, blustery days of January, also comes the absence of anything exciting or versatile on the shelves of the local fruit and veg monger. But that's not true! Although December saw the season ending for traditional fruits such as quinces, sloes, and pears, January is the beginning of the season for forced (indoor) rhubarb.

Here is a recipe which is just the thing to warm you on a winter's day. Some fruit mongers should have forced rhubarb available, dig in and look forward to welcoming a cold morning with open arms!

Rhubarb Cake
60g butter
1 tsp lemon rind (can also use orange)
1 1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
2 med freedom food eggs
1 c. each self raising flour and plain flour, sifted and set aside
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 c soured cream
6c forced rhubarb, clean, trimmed, coarsely chopped

1/3 c. (about 70-75 g) packed brown sugar, mixed with 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp nutmeg, to top the cake

Preheat the oven to 180oC, or less for a fan oven. Grease well a 10' cake pan (23 cm), line the base with baking paper. Cream the butter, sugars, rind, and eggs in a bowl until fluffy. It may look curdled but that's ok. Gently stir in the sifted flours and spices. Add the rhubarb in 2 batches, gently. Spread the cake into the pan, then top with the separate sugar/spices mixture. Bake for about 90 mins, but check with a cake tester. Turn out to a wire rack to cool and serve with oodles of whipped cream or custard. Make sure to keep it covered and away from hungry hands!

Monday 13 December 2010

Wreath making... and spiced apple cake!

Last week the Barn Cafe was awash with holly, berries, ivy, flora, fauna, and oasis rings... the winter wreath making class had arrived!

The half day event, which was held over two days, had everyone really putting their heart and soul into it. Jane, our Plant Centre Manager, was a great host and never seemed to tire of helping people make decorative bows. Vicki from the garden also helped with her infectious personality and love for the garden. It was a definite success, and there were even some second-timers to give advice to the green wreath makers!

Christmas music was played, lunch was enjoyed, and the second best loved thing about the event (besides the wreaths, of course) seemed to be the apple and sultana cake. We had quite a few requests for it, and Sarah our Chef has graciously given the recipe for you to enjoy. Enjoy!

Apple and Sultana Sponge (makes 1 large)
This can also be made gluten free, just replace the self raising flour with rice flour.
1 springform pan, lined and lightly greased
6oz. self raising flour
6oz. sugar
6oz. margarine
3 freedom food eggs
1/2 tsp. mixed spice
1 large cooking apple, large diced
2oz sultanas

In a large bowl, beat the margarine and the sugar until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour and mixed spice, then the diced apple. Pour half of the mixture into the springform pan, then top with sultanas, then add the rest of the batter. Bake at 180' for about 25-30 mins. If you're cooking in a fan oven, reduce the heat to 160'-170' depending on your oven.

Sprinkle the cake with sugar (if you wish) and serve with fresh cream. It will last three days - if you don't eat it first!

Wednesday 4 August 2010

Courgette Cake

We've been getting lots of enquiries recently about our new courgette cake, so here's the recipe...

3 free range eggs
130ml sunflower oil
150g golden caster sugar
225g self raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
275g courgettes

For the topping you'll need;
200g cream cheese
1/2 lemon
100g icing sugar

* Preheat the oven to 200oC or gas mark 6
* Beat the eggs with the sugar and oil until nice and creamy
* Using a sieve add the flour with the bicarbonate on soda and baking powder and stir to mix
* Grate the courgettes coarsely and stir into the mixture
* Turn into a greased tins and bake for between 25-30 minutes until golden
* Cool on a rack

For the topping;
* Mix the icing sugar, juice from the lemon and cream cheese together and spread over the cake
* Swirl the icing with a fork and decorate with borage flowers

Now sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour!

Wednesday 16 June 2010

Special Visitor

A very special visitor has recently been spotted soaring high in the sky above Hidcote. A red kite, more commonly seen in Wales, central Scotland and central England has been delighting visitors with aerial fly-pasts. Those dedicated 'birders' who braved the early start at our dawn chorus walk were also rewarded with a rare glimpse of our new feathered friend.

Here's some fascinating facts for you. Red kites can live up to 20 years and have an impressive wing span of two metres! They're renowned for their distinctive forked tail and striking red chestnut coloured feathers. It is reported that they became so close to extinction that in 1977 the entire population of kites emanated from just one female bird!

We've all got our fingers crossed that our red kite likes the Cotswolds and stays a bit longer.

Monday 14 June 2010

Supernatural Signings

We're delighted to be welcoming the renowned author Diz White on Saturday 26 June. She'll be here signing copies of her new book - aptly titled 'Haunted Cotswolds'. You'll be able to meet Diz and get an exclusive signed copy of her book anytime between 2pm and 4pm.

As the name suggests, Diz has gathered together spine-chilling tales of ghosts and the undead from every corner of the Cotswolds, revealing in heart-stopping detail our region's unexplained events that lurk beneath the rolling hills and beautiful visitas.

British-born Diz, together with her husband Randall Montgomery whose photographs illustrate the book, divides her time between a career in Hollywood as an actress and screenplay writer, and her cottage in Gloucestershire, which she uses as a base for writing books about the Cotswolds.

Monday 31 May 2010

The Great 178!

Another Bank Holiday weekend has just come and gone and for the most part the sun shone down on us making for perfect garden weather.

The Garden Restaurant set a new record this weekend serving the most lunches we have ever served. On Sunday between 12 noon and 2.30pm we served 178 freshly made lunches. A new Hidcote catering team record and a day that will go down in the memories as the day we served 'the great 178'

Saturday 15 May 2010

Pig Power

We'll soon be using a pair of rare breed pigs to help clear the next plot in our rapidly growing Kitchen Garden. The ten week old Berkshires, reportedly our oldest breed of pig, are arriving this week - much to Glyn's growing excitement!

As part of our ongoing restoration, the pigs will be helping us to revive an age-old tradition of clearing the land ready for planting. They will be rooting out vegetation and clearing the grubs from the soil. And as Glyn says, they're also adding fresh, nutritious fertiliser as they go!

Here's a sneeky peek of our new piggy additions to the garden. Why not come and see them for yourself and you'll even be able to have a go at feeding them too.