Amidst the current chaos, I invite you to enjoy a moment of calm. I shan’t reflect in too much depth here the impact of the current state of affairs; I have always wanted the Verity & Thyme journal to be a place of visual delight, a place to seek a little inspiration, and the occasional tale of everyday life. That is how it shall stay for now. If you are seeking solace from pretty flowers, the odd recipe and a bit of allotment news then please stay.
I am continuing to seek joy in the everyday – a lesson my mum taught me from a young age and one that has served me ever so well to date. I am also choosing to rest. I have had a few enquiries regarding live workshops and online classes over on Instagram, which may unfold in the future, but for now I am choosing to slow down whilst our world insists upon it. I was very lucky to have two beautiful weddings at the beginning of March, which I promise to share on the journal soon, but launching into the season with two corkers followed swiftly by Mother’s Day did take it out of me and my hands a little. So I am navigating life a little slower, which doesn't always come naturally. A modern day luxury, I keep reminding myself. Reader, do not get me wrong, the anxiety inducing intensity of this pandemic has gripped me as tightly as most. But if I can soothe those worries by stirring a simmering pot of homemade raspberry jam, or pottering down at the allotment in between, then I shall.
Another reason for my slowing at this time was my realisation that I am a one woman band. Very happily so, but I am a one woman band nonetheless who does not possess an infinite amount of resources. I know I am my best creatively when I am well rested. I don't think I have truly fully rested since Verity & Thyme began a few years ago, it is nigh impossible when you run a business single handedly.
Everything created at Verity & Thyme is bespoke, carefully made for the environment in which it sits. There are no set wedding formulas, no template emails ‘send to all’ or delegation of the workload. Everything is hand made, hand written, and done so with care. I am sure those far more business minded are throwing their hands up in despair at me, but that’s ok. I still love you and I thank you for trying to coax me into a more business minded way of thinking. However, Verity & Thyme was always personal. It always will be. And I like that just the way it is. If I am mulling over anything at present, it is my firm belief that the above sits at the very core of what I do, and shall continue to do so tenfold when this period of uncertainty lifts.
Alongside all spring & summer 2020 couples that I can't physically meet with at the moment, it is equally unsettling to not be introducing myself in person to happy new 2021/22 couples too. A huge thank you to the lovely couples who have got in touch over the last fortnight to talk through and book your 2021/2022 weddings via email or over the phone. I’m truly sorry we cannot meet in person at present, but your kind words and unfailing optimism during this time are a soothing balm amidst the current state of affairs. I have been creating moodboards for high summer weddings next year, full of foxglove and ammi, and it has been the most welcome task to focus on. Thank you. To my lovely couples who were supposed to be wed in the coming weeks, you have amazed me. You have responded with such grace and composure to rescheduling your wedding day, and I have been so touched by your concern for Verity & Thyme negotiating these uncertain waters too. I assure you, I will appear on the morning of your wedding with the most beautiful and joy inducing flowers, whenever that day may now be. I am looking forward to it already.
Talking of joy inducing chatter, I have been inundated with requests for the Rhubarb Galette recipe I used for a little food and flowers post on Instagram a few days ago. I am happily seeing rather a lot of the allotment at present, abiding by Government guidelines of course, and the rhubarb has been bringing a much needed pop of colour to an otherwise dormant plot. This, of course, is all set to change as we head into the warmer temperatures of April, and with a greenhouse currently fit to burst with seedlings I am deciding to name this ‘The Year of the Allotment’. It is far more cheery than other (brilliant but too rude for the blog) alternatives I’ve heard for 2020, albeit less funny.
The recipe for the featured Rhubarb Galette can be found below. I served it with lashings of custard but I know cream or creme fraiche would be equally as delicious too. The rhubarb is still tart, so needs a lick of something to balance the flavours...
RHUBARB, ALMOND AND ROSE GALETTE
For the dough... 200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting 1 tbsp caster sugar 1/2 tsp fine sea salt 175g unsalted butter, chilled and diced 1 large egg (for the egg wash) Vanilla sugar (for sprinkling)
For the filling... 100g unsalted butter, very soft 100g caster sugar 1 large egg 100g ground almonds 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tsp rosewater 400g rhubarb (approximately)
For the decoration...
A handful of flaked almonds
1. To make the dough, place the flour, sugar and salt into a large bowl, and mix together. Add the butter and toss together to coat in flour. Press the butter pieces into flat flakes and rub a little bit into the flour so you’re left with a mixture that has flakes of butter and some that look a little more like breadcrumbs. The rubbed-in butter will give the dough tenderness and the flakes will make the pastry flaky and light. Drizzle in 5-6 tbsp ice-cold water, a spoon or two at a time, stirring into the flour with a butter knife. Once enough water has been added that the dough is starting to clump together, use your hands to bring it together into a ball. Tip the dough out onto the work surface and press into a flat disc, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for an hour or so before using.
2. For the filling, whisk together the butter, sugar, egg, almonds, vanilla and rosewater, mixing until smooth and combined. Set aside.
3. Preheat the oven to 200ºC, gas mark 6 while you assemble the galette. Take the dough from the fridge, and on a lightly floured work surface roll out into a circle roughly 35cm across. Transfer to a large parchment-lined baking sheet (the tray needs to be at least 25cm wide). Score a circle in the middle of the dough, about 25cm across. Spread the frangipane filling evenly over this central circle. Cut the rhubarb into strips so they fit in the circle and set on top of the frangipane. Fold the excess pastry up and over the filling.
4. Brush the pastry border with beaten egg and sprinkle liberally with vanilla sugar. When rolling out the pastry, if it begins to feel warm and soft, place the baking tray with the galette into the fridge for 20 minutes. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the pastry is a deep golden brown.
5. Once cool, decorate with icing sugar, flaked almonds and your favourite flowers.
With offcuts of rhubarb around me and a bottle of rosewater in hand, I also poached the leftover rhubarb in rosewater for breakfasts too. Pop the offcuts of rhubarb in a shallow dish and sprinkle with a large tablespoon of rosewater and a generous shake of caster sugar. Mix well and bake in the oven at approximately gas mark 4 for 25 minutes, covering the dish with tin foil. It has been heaven spooned over honey yogurt with a sprinkling of almonds. The prettiest way to start the day. I'm eyeing up a recipe for homemade lemon curd next in time for Easter... let me know if you'd like me to share.