The Village: Poppy's Cakes

Posted September 17, 2009

The Village: Poppy's Cakes

I’ve been dreaming of chocolate all week.

Not just any chocolate but a wonderful dark, bittersweet chocolate that is the magical ingredient of Poppy’s chocolate, plum and hazelnut cake. 

Liza, the owner of Poppy's Tea Room, lovingly bakes all her own cakes. Gorgeous, traditional cakes with a contemporary twist. In fact, I’m about to sample one any minute now.

I watch the people around me as they settle into their seats and turn to read the ‘specials’ board. Their eyes widen and they smile in recognition of old favourites such as Victoria Sponge and Lemon Drizzle. “Ooh,” they say as their plate is set before them. They playfully twist it round to examine the cake from all angles then briefly suspend their fork in mid air as they admire it one last time before finally tucking in. This little ritual is repeated many times over as the cakes are ferried from the kitchen to the various tables.

I am transported back to my childhood and memories of the smell of fresh baking every Friday afternoon as I arrived home from school. Mind you, there wasn’t the variety that Poppy's offers. In our household, the sponge came in one form only - flat and dense. And we always had fairy cakes, hundreds of them! Worse still, you were compelled to eat it all before the week ended. This wasn’t so much of a problem with the sponge, once you'd got used to the leaden texture, but those fairy cakes just never seemed to deplete. They were neatly stacked in plastic Tupperware containers in every kitchen cupboard. I secretly fed them to the birds - it was the only way to get rid of them. Ever seen an obese sparrow?

Outside in the street, a couple walk past the window. They suddenly stop in their tracks and, without turning round, shuffle backwards down the hill towards the door. “We’ve just got time for a cake before we visit the windmill,” they say almost apologetically as they enter the coffee shop. The windmill is one of the most popular attractions of the village but clearly the lure of cake is too much for these tourists. “Of course you have,” replies Liza reassuringly. They beam back at her like two naughty school kids who have been given a remand. And I understand exactly how they feel because my own portion of wicked indulgence has just arrived.

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