Arley Hall garden festival and egg custards

There was something a little bit exciting about seeing the words ‘Jacqui Brocklehurst You mentioned you in a tweet! this morning when I opened my e mails. And there was more to come ‘A tweet you were mentioned in was re-tweeted!’ I think it is twitters clever use of exclamation marks that does it! It just adds that extra touch of glee!

me lord and lady a     Photo courtesy of Cheshire Life. Lord and Lady Ashbrrok and Jacqui Brocklehurst

The reason for such activity was an article I wrote for Cheshire Life, about Lord & Lady Ashbrook and their gardens at Arley Hall, has just been published and tweeted by the magazine. I have to say I am relieved that it has gone down well, I wanted to make the feature more human and less historical garden, but I don’t know what possessed me to confess to hedge hopping my way into these glorious gardens several years ago! I seem to have got away with it though I just received a call from Helen at Arley Hall to say Lord and Lady Ashbrook really enjoyed the piece. Phew. She was also phoning to ask if I needed anything for my herb display at the Arley garden festival in a couple of weeks. Aaaarghhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I don’t know if I need anything, I kind of, er, haven’t planned anything. I remember my friend Tim phoning and saying “You should do the Arley garden festival, in the floral marquee. We could be next to each other and ‘mind each others stalls’, like Little Mo in ‘stenders”. Brilliant idea thought I, I don’t even watch ‘stenders!!! But booked a pitch anyway. I confess I think my head was turned by the prospect of Chris Beardshaw being there too, I like Chris Beardshaw, whenever he comes on the tele Mr Broccoli always laughs and shouts” Speak up a bit, It’s whispering Chris!”

Anyway, I was left feeling a bit panicky and decided the best thing to do was, no not plan, BAKE! It’s a fabulous stress reliever and 11 am is too early for wine, even by my standards.

IMG_4863                                                   The perfect pastry mmm

I have had lots of eggs stacking up as the girls seem to have gone into an egg laying frenzy. The younger Broccoli’s and I dusted off the scales, cranked up the oven and set to work making egg custards. We chose Paul Hollywood’s recipe for individual tarts, it’s not very accurate but with a bit of adjustment we did it, we made 12 little tarts and 2 big ones. Very pleased with ourselves. The problem with Paul H’s recipe was the pastry was far too sticky so we added extra flour. The eggy mixture was spot on in taste but makes enough for 24 tartlets not the 12 stated. Still, amidst a cloud of sugar and flour, we whipped up some more sweet pastry and made two big pies for later. We have nibbled a couple warm and they are delicious, best put them to one side and try to concentrate on more pressing issues. Herb displays? I hear you ask. No, there’s something else bothering me. In the Great British Bake Off the contestants were given a technical challenge. They had to make Paul Hollywood’s egg custards with only half the recipe, it went horribly wrong for all of them, soggy bottoms here, burnt crusts there. I wonder if the recipe was to blame and not the brilliant bakers. Was it another of the BBC’S moments of jeopardy?

Make your own egg custards using the recipe in my recipe link at the top of the page.

The Arley garden festival is on 21st-22nd of June. Come and visit the floral marquee where I will be with a fantastic range of herbs and edible plants.


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