We may be country bumpkins but there is one part of village life we have never taken part in. The highly competitive Village Show. Other countries have fiestas, we have giant vegetables and most handsome bull competitions that celebrate the great and slightly eccentric aspects of living in the great British countryside. There is no village show where we live so we decided to gate crash the show that was held at Calke Abbey.
With various categories to enter I decided to enter a Victoria Sponge (a.k.a. Victoria Sandwich) and Hubs to do the veg. We hit a slight stumbling block with the prize-winning vegetables. Um, we had eaten most of our prize-winning produce before realising the show was going ahead. We did have a few pretty purple carrots but they were no longer than 3 inches so thought they didn’t stand a chance. Once getting to the show it was telling to see there had been no entrants in the carrot categories, maybe everyone else had a poor year for root vegetables too. We could have won after all. We did laugh at the one entrant in the parsnip class had clearly been picked up from Morrisons on the way in. Glad to see they didn’t win a prize!
I delivered my cake to Calke Abbey early Saturday morning and had decided I wasn’t going to win anything. I knew my cake wasn’t perfect and the other entrants had probably baked more Victoria Sponges than I’ve had hot dinners. I began to remind myself It’s the taking part that counts. As I walked back into the hall Saturday afternoon to see if I had won a prize I couldn’t believe my eyes I had won 2nd! With the majority of the WI contingent looking professional with their doily et al I really thought I didn’t stand a chance of winning anything. Should I say this is technically only the 3rd Victoria Sponge I have ever baked.
A big thanks to both Penny & Wendy who gave me advice and insider WI help – double sifting flour, using combination of butter & Stork, lining wire cooling rack with clean tea towel to stop marks on cake, top with caster sugar and most importantly NO buttercream. No chance to hide cake imperfections with icing. I think it’s fair to say at one point on Friday night Hubs thought I was taking this whole thing a bit too seriously. I teach cookery, I have a reputation to upkeep I wasn’t going to come last! Wendy is trying to persuade me to take part in the Derbyshire County Show or Bakewell Show next year. Not sure if I’m brave enough as there will be a great deal more competitive.
Next year Hubs plans to sweep the board with his Quince Jelly. Since our usual friend and quince supplier decided to chop down his quince tree (you can imagine our faces when we heard what had happened to the trees) we’ll be relying on Calke Abbey Apple Day for replenishing our quince supplies. We’ll be getting there quick because the quinces always run out fast.
Have you ever taken part in a Village Show?