Once upon a time, many years ago, back in the 1960s in fact, or possibly the 1970s, reports are a bit vague, the Mayor stopped handing out the Liskeard Bun. This was an annual event when the newly invested mayor of Liskeard would hand out buns wrapped in brown paper bags to the local children. What a lovely tradition.
Way way back, when we first moved to Liskeard, there was a move to create a community centre in a recently vacated primary school. Politics was very much in evidence, but eventually disputes were resolved, the community brought on board and money raised. We now have the Liskerrett Centre, a wonderful community asset which hosts a number of artists studios, a computer suite, a monthly cinema, all sorts of events, rooms for hire and The Hub Cafe.
The Hub Cafe has been quietly producing good vegetarian food at very reasonable prices for the last few years and those in the know are highly appreciative. Cathy Ross, the cook and owner of the business provides a varied lunchtime menu, all chalked up on a blackboard, as well as coffee, tea and of course homemade cake. Different diets are catered for with gluten and dairy free options. Whenever possible Cathy uses produce from the Liskerrett garden; you can’t get much more local than that. The ambience is welcoming and family friendly. It’s the sort of place you’d feel comfortable at whether eating alone, with a group, accompanied by young children or wanting a cosy tete a tete. Although the cafe stops serving at 14:00, because it is the community centre, you can finish off your food, drink and talk in a leisurely fashion and won’t be thrown out.
Cathy herself is also an artist and her work, along with a few others, is exhibited around the cafe; this adds to the general interest in the room. The space is bright with large windows and lots of well tended plants which adds to the convivial atmosphere. There are newspapers and magazines to read and plenty of toys to keep the young ones amused. If bored with the adult conversation, older children can slope off to the IT suite where use of the computers is free.
My blogging neighbour Jane from The Hedge Combers and I met up at The Hub Cafe for lunch one day recently, to have a chat and to review the cafe.
Being vegetarian, it is such a pleasure to be offered a choice; it always takes me a while to figure out what to have. There was of course soup, but I make soup all the time at home, so wanted something a bit different. So what to go for? Feta tart, homity pie, lentil fritters, a burger …? Most of the mains come with a selection of salads so I knew I would get a goodly proportion of my five a day.
After a little bit of head scratching, I opted for the bean burger and Jane went for a lentil fritter. The lentil fritter normally comes with yogurt sauce, but Jane doesn’t eat dairy. However, it was a simple matter for Cathy to swap this for the same tomato sauce that accompanied my burger. Our plates arrived, full to the brim. They looked colourful, vibrant and enticing. I really like having lots of different tastes and textures to try and this felt like getting an all in one tapas or mezze. There was coleslaw, mixed salad, two rice salads, couscous, a pasta salad and a bean salad. All of it was delicious. The bean burger was very soft and I don’t think would have survived being in a bun. However, this was not a problem as it came bunless and with plenty of spicy tomato sauce. All this for £5.95.
As an occasional customer, I knew what to expect, but it was all new to Jane. Thankfully, she seemed delighted, both with the venue and the food. Full after her meal, she watched me consume a large piece of chocolate cake. Now, I’m always a little wary of eating cake in cafes as I am often disappointed with the quality, but as part of the review process I just had to give it a go. I’m so glad I did. This wasn’t any old chocolate cake, although I’m sure Cathy doesn’t make that sort of cake anyway, no, this was a chocolate potato cake. Yes, a cake made with potatoes. Served warm with cream, it was truly delicious. The potato gave it a lovely smooth consistency, so it almost melted in the mouth and it tasted of chocolate. The cake was covered with a rich dark chocolate ganache and then topped with white and milk chocolate curls. This was one piece of chocolate cake I wasn’t in the least bit disappointed with. Cathy was kind enough to give me the recipe, so you may well see a chocolate and potato cake appearing on the blog in the not too distant future.
If ever you are passing Liskeard, I would strongly recommend popping into The Hub Cafe for a bite to eat. And if you’re local, I would hope you are already a regular.
Thanks to Cathy for the meal. I was not required to write a positive review and as always all opinions are my own.
One of the few things I miss as a vegetarian is a good lardy cake. Our local bakery BlakesBakery does a particularly good one. Rich with fat, sugar and spicy fruit, it has a crunchy exterior with a lovely doughy interior. When I found out the #TeaTimeTreats theme was for yeast bakery this month, an idea was conceived. I would invent my very own non-lardy, lardy cake using white chocolate instead of lard, my own candied peel and very non traditionally, apples.
Spring, it’s really here at last. Despite the rubbish weather we’ve been having, the hedges are alive with primroses, slightly later than usual but absolutely spectacular. Talking of spectacular flowers, I was recently given a punnet of edible ones from a local grower. The Flower Mill, based just up the road from us (in an old flour mill as it happens), grows chemical free flowers for decoration and also for eating. It’s primarily a mail order business, so anyone in the UK can enjoy bouquets and posies of seasonal Cornish flowers as well as edible flowers to decorate cakes, salads or whatever else grabs their fancy. My punnet contained a collection of borage flowers, violas and different types of primulas. What fun – it was time to play.
Kate has chosen fairy cakes, cupcakes and muffins for this month’s Tea Time Treats and fairy cakes seemed just the thing to showcase the beautiful flowers I’d received. As I like to bake seasonally where I can, rhubarb seemed to be an obvious choice. Now, I don’t know why, but for some reason we’ve been unable to grow rhubarb down at our plot, it used to flourish on our old site. Luckily, my mother grows some in her garden, so it was all systems go.
This is how I made:
Rhubarb, Rose & White chocolate Fairy Cakes
- Peeled and finely chopped 1 stick rhubarb (about 80g).
- Chopped 50g white chocolate (G&B).
- Creamed 75g unsalted butter with 90g golden caster sugar.
- Beat in one duck egg.
- Sifted in 100g flour (half wholemeal spelt, half white), 50g ground almonds, 1 scant teaspoon of baking powder and a pinch of bicarbonate of soda.
- Added 1 tbsp yogurt and 1 tsp orange flower water.
- Stirred in the chocolate and rhubarb.
- Spooned into 12 fairy cake cases.
- Baked at 180C for 20 minutes.
- Turned out onto a wire rack and left to cool.
- Stewed a few stems of chopped rhubarb without sugar which made a beautiful pink juice.
- Sifted 100g icing sugar into a bowl.
- Added 1 tsp orange flower water and poured in enough of the rhubarb juice to make a slightly runny icing.
- Spooned over the top of the cakes.
- With gay abandon, decorated the tops with beautiful edible flowers.
Due to the almonds, these veered more towards the dense texture than light and spongy, but, oh, they were delicious. Rhubarb is one of those ingredients that works particularly well in cakes, giving bursts of tartness and flavour in amongst the sweetness. The rhubarb juice gave the icing a tinge of pink which I was pleased with. I used the remaining rhubarb in a breakfast smoothie the following day and it was so good I’m now craving more.
As it happened, the cake cases came away from the cakes, making them look really tatty, so I removed them all together. Thank goodness for the flowers, which made these otherwise plain looking cakes into the real deal – fairy cakes of elegance and beauty. The flowers all had their own flavours and were not only good to look at but were good to eat too. In retrospect I regret not putting some of them into ice-cube trays, but I shall remember that for another time. Cool summer drinks would surely be enhanced with a flower or two floating on the surface. I was told that the flowers can be kept for 2-3 days in the fridge, but I was surprised at just how long they lasted out of the fridge and on the cakes – it was several hours before they showed any sign of wilting.
You can check out the range of options available at The Flower Mill here.
As edible flowers abound, I am also entering these into Herbs on Saturday with Karen of Lavender and Lovage. It just so happens that this month’s prize is Cooking with Edible Flowers.
As I’ve made everything from scratch as usual, I’m sending these off to Made with Love Mondays with Javelin Warrior.
And finally, because rhubarb is in season and I haven’t submitted anything for ages, I’m entering these into Simple & in Season with Ren of Fabulicious Food.
Some of you may have noticed that I have been using Penbugle Farm organic eggs in some of my recent bakes. Keen as I am to support local businesses, I am even more so when they are organically certified by the Soil Association. As you may be tired of hearing by now, I am a long term supporter of the Soil Association, believing that they are ethically driven and offer the most rigourous organic standards that exist anywhere. They also campaign for more sustainable farming practices and higher quality food for all. This is especially true when it comes to egg production. Soil Association certified eggs must come from free range chickens that have proper outdoor access to grass. This not only leads to healthy and happy hens, but the eggs are better too. See my post on Ingredients are the Key and on duck eggs back along when I first started this blog.
|Penbugle Hen – photo courtesy of Allison Livingstone|
The chooks at Penbugle are all reared on the farm and have plenty of outdoor field space to run about in during the day. They have even more of it than the minimum required by the Soil Association. They also have access to indoor scratching and bathing areas as well as the nest boxes of course. What about foxes you may ask? The secret weapon in the Penbugle armoury are some rather gorgeous alpacas. Cute they may be, but they will not tolerate foxes in their fields and will drive them off and even kill them if they can. Oh and their fibre is rather lovely too.
By a strange coincidence, I spotted a Penbugle stand at the Three Bags Full market, held on Friday to celebrate Liskeard’s wool heritage. They weren’t selling wool, but fibre from their alpacas instead. The fibre is not only very soft, but light, extremely warm due to the hollow fibres and hard wearing too – think of grandad’s camel hair coat.
The following day, somewhat drenched after dancing the Community Scarf around Liskeard in the rain, I actually got to meet the Fox Patrol in person. They were taking part in the continuation of the Three Bags Full festivities along with some Penbugle sheep and a well dressed tractor courtesy of Victoria Knittingfairy.
|Penbugle double yolker, with a dab of chilli sauce|
Thanks to Alison of Gingerpop Communications and to Lizzie of Penbugle Farm, I was sent a couple of dozen eggs to try out – just when I needed them most. I had several cakes to make for a friend’s birthday, culminating in this lime and pistachio layer cake. The eggs were large and as it turned out many of them were double yokers too – not something I’ve seen very often.
I was determined to keep some back from the cake making, so we could try them au naturel. We had a couple of them boiled for Easter Day and a couple poached on another occasion. They tasted particularly good. CT being an avid egg eater is something of a connoisseur in these matters, so his thumbs up really means something.
Penbugle Farm, is not only a working organic farm with rare breed cattle, sheep, pigs, hens, ponies and alpacas, but it also provides holiday accommodation in the form of wigwams and bell tents as well as tent pitches if you want to bring your own. So if you fancy a bit of glamping or even camping and a chance to get away from it all, this might well be the spot for you. Living in a particularly pretty part of Cornwall as we do, I can tell you it is well worth a visit. Most visitors to Cornwall charge down to the more well know western parts of the county, completely passing us by – it’s their loss. The farm is situated close to the pretty village of Duloe complete with its own stone circle. It is only five miles from the fishing village of Looe and the beautiful Cornish coast and only a few miles from Bodmin Moor. This provides plenty of good walking opportunities, wildlife spotting and a chance to explore our mining heritage. The farm is, of course, very close to my charming home town of Liskeard!
Cornish Holiday Discount
Penbugle Farm are offering Chocolate Log Blog readers a 10% discount on any wigwam holiday plus a welcome pack of local produce, including their own organic eggs of course. To be eligible for the discount, just mention “choc log blog” when booking. To take advantage of this offer, holidays must be booked before 14th May and taken by the end of September 2013.
I’ve had such a fun day. First making some chocolate goodies, then distributing them around town and seeing the delight on people’s faces and finally trying them out myself. Well, it is Chocolate Week and I couldn’t let it pass without doing something! So, I thought I’d make some cupcakes for the good burghers of Liskeard and brighten up their day. It certainly brightened up my day.
I’m probably kidding myself, but I like to think my baking is actively good for folk as well as tasting pretty damn good. Good quality ingredients are crucial for making tasty and nutritious fare. With this in mind I try to use certified organic ingredients where possible, although locally sourced and fairly traded are also important.