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Village Show Debut

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?

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About the author

Jules

Freelance food geek who's passionate about food education.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2011/09/19/village-show-debut/

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  1. Deepa (@lazygiraffe)

    Well done for winning 2nd!
    No buttercream? I didn’t know that. Although naughtily I prefer my victoria sponge with fresh cream and jam.

    1. Jules

      I didn’t know the no buttercream rule until recently. Like you I prefer mine with jam & cream.

  2. MatlockFarmersMarket (@MatlockFarmersM)

    We take part in ours each year, I think it’s a hugely important part of village life and want our Son to grow up involved with his environment. The show also raises money for the pensioners lunch club in the viallge.

    Up to now JuniorMFM has grown a sunflower, but this year he made a model (playdough diplodicus eating a tree – he is 5!)

    This year I entered a cake for the first time and was delighted to come second with my coffee and walnut cake (competition is fierce in the village on cakes!) It later sold for £10 in the auction and I’m really proud of that as well. Roll on next year…I’m already planning my entries.

    1. Jules

      I love seeing what the children have made to put in the show. I think they have a fantastic sense of community and are an important part of country life.

  3. Glenda

    Well done for winning second prize. Your cake looked very good to me. I like your pictures and hope you will be tempted to compete again.

    1. Jules

      Thank you. The village show season is coming to an end, but I’ll certainly be prepared for next year.

  4. Karen @ Lavender and Lovage

    Well done again for winning 2nd prize, funny you should mention Stork, I always bring a couple of 500g tubs back with me with I come to France, and use half and half in cakes and sponges! When I lived in Thornton le Dale in N Yorkshire, I always used to enter my cakes, jams and chutneys into the village show ~ got a few 1sts and some 2nds and 3rds too……I became a bit addicted to it!
    Lovely post and great photos ~ makes me homesick!
    Karen

    1. Jules

      I use Stork in quite a bit of the cakes we make for ourselves now because it does seem to lighten the texture of the cakes and butter is getting so expensive.

  5. Claire @ purely food

    Well done for winning second prize, must of been a nice suprise.

  6. The Curious Cat

    Congratulations!! But why no buttercream?! :) xxx

    1. Jules

      I’m not sure why but traditional WI rules state it. If you make a Victoria Sponge with buttercream, even if it tastes and looks amazing, you can guarantee that you won’t get a prize. We ate the cake with whipped cream when we got home to make up for it!

  7. Helen T

    Don’t get me started on village shows! The judging at ours has got so laughable it’s up there with Eurovision. Put it this way, the 2nd prize in the berries category this year was a plate of mouldy mush, when there were perfectly good other berries to be chosen. We won’t mention that the same person has won the baking cup since the church was invented, or that marmalade is always the same person…oh yes, and that we were completely passed over in anything baking related, but still hold the sloe gin prize for the 2nd year! Oh yes, we know how to enjoy ourselves here in the country ;)

    Next year, look forward to seeing you both head home with rosettes!

    1. Jules

      We went to another village show recently when one person seemed to dominate the baking categories. In one her name was read out for 1st, 2nd& 3rd place!

  8. Domestic Executive (@domesticexec)

    Congratulations for winning a prize. Makes your hard effort worth it! Nothing like a bit of a competition to get you focused. I’m going to try all those techniques you tweeted me about when I get back from England.

    1. Jules

      Let me know how you get on with the tips.

  9. thelittleloaf

    Congratulations! Your sponge looks delicious. I like mine with jam and cream too…and maybe a smidge of buttercream, even if it’s not allowed!

  10. kasia

    such a great post….love the pics…xxx and big Congratulations!!!!

  11. Chedz Debut Cakes of Cebu

    Congratulations! Being from the city, we’ve never experienced the competitiveness of village shows. By the looks of your pictures, the competition standards must be really high!

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