Crouch End Festival

The Crouch End Festival is in full swing running from 9th to 18th June. We decided to make a morning of it on Saturday 10th. First up was a lovely pop-up concert at Hornsey Library with an all-women trio: two singers and lute playing the most exquisite Dowland songs. Attendance was good and the acoustics excellent. This was organised by Clare Norburn of the Stroud Green Festival (yes we have festivals galore this week!).

I love our brutalist designed Hornsey Library with its canopy and the fountain in the forecourt. The woman in the fountain was decorated with Festival banners.

Lady in the Fountain: Hornsey Library

Next was the fair on the green outside Hornsey Town Hall. Food and drink stalls were there, and information stalls too. My very favourite group, the Friends of Parkland Walk were showcasing the Wildlife Trail, about which I’ve written before. And the baking women of Stroud Green Women’s Institute were selling their cakes. I’d brought an empty box so was able to buy three cakes: pear and almond, bakewell tart – and an incredible gluten free cake with lots of fruit and rum – courtesy of Georgina, of From the Larder.

Stroud Green Women’s Institute and their cakes

I visited Virle Archer’s glass stall. I’ve known Virle, a local stained-glass artist, for some time since I commissioned her to design and install two small glass panes with a leaf design for the top of my kitchen windows. She also sells lovely glass jewellery. I love her earrings that twinkle in the light and change colour as you move your head.

Virle Archer and her stall

We then headed into Hornsey Town Hall for the Craft Fair. Lots of stalls selling jewellery, scarves, dresses, toys, candles and even cactus in this art deco hall.

I was tempted by some lovely chunky silver and zinc jewellery and my friend persuaded me to buy a bracelet for a very reasonable price.

My companion was attracted by a stall of silk scarves and took a card while I looked at Maria Cabrera’s stall. A native of Colombia, Maria also is interested in Japanese glazing techniques as she studied in Nagoya on a six month scholarship. I’ve bought her mugs before and think her colours and delicate designs lovely.

Well, we were tired after all this shopping and retired for a well earned coffee to Broadway’s new Crouch End Cellars which has an open courtyard at the back (more of this in another blog).

I look forward to participating in further events at the Festival in the coming week. Do check out the programme and come along!

Easter Baking

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A groaning table

It’s Easter so it must be baking time.  I’m a member of Stroud Green Women’s Institute and we’ve formed a Cake Club where we meet every six weeks or so to bring, bake and, of course, eat cakes. Last week we baked a variety of Easter cakes from all over Europe.

First up was La Mona de Pascua from Catalan. It’s a Genoese sponge with an apricot jam filling and a rich custard topping with no fewer than 15 egg yolks mixed with icing sugar. Traditionally the cake is made with hard-boiled eggs embedded in the centre, but the modern recipe is somewhat plainer!

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Putting the finishing touches to La Mona de Pascua
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A slice of delicious Catalan cake

We tried Russian Paska, a tower of cream, ricotta cheese and cream cheese mixed with nuts, glace cherries and crystallized ginger. Unfortunately it didn’t come out quite like the one demonstrated on Mary Berry’s Easter show last week, but it tasted delicious.

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Russian Paska

Of course we sampled Simnel cake, a fruit cake layered with marzipan and topped by twelve eggs representing the twelve apostles.

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Simnel cake with its 12 apostles

One member made a fertility cake, Fruchtbärkeit torte, using a recipe from her Austrian aunt.  The sponge is mixed with copious amounts of poppy seeds, a traditional symbol of fertility. It reminded me of the poppy seed cake my mother used to bring home from a Polish deli when we lived in Birmingham in the 60s. This fertility cake was filled with a custard flavoured with a generous amount of Tia Maria and was topped with chocolate and flaked almonds.

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Fertility cake
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Poppy seeds: a symbol of fertility

Lastly there were chocolate truffle scotch eggs with a creme egg filling.

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Scotch eggs with creme egg centres

Good job I didn’t have any dinner beforehand.