2 days / 15 talks
Awesome and great blog

January 25-27

May 13, 2014

Nothing gets my sweet tooth tingling quite like the prospect of tucking in to a lusciously moist cake or crumbly, buttery biscuit, so when the organisers of the Crail Food Festival asked me to write a guest blog post featuring Sucre Cœur, I was more than eager to find out more about them.


Sucre Cœur, a confectionery company who specialise in beautiful wedding cakes & the most intricately designed cookies I’ve ever seen, is based in the East Neuk of Fife and is owned and run by Karen and Dave McCormack. They met whilst working together in a restaurant in Edinburgh and married in 2001, then following their respective graduations from university, they decided to join creative forces in 2007 and Sucre Cœur was born.
Whilst in the beginning they attended many wedding fayres marketing their business, Sucre Cœur swiftly went from strength to strength and nowadays their reputation precedes them with the majority of their work coming from word-of-mouth recommendations – always a good sign of a great business! They travel all over the country delivering and setting up their beautiful wedding cakes, each one designed and decorated to be personal to the bride and groom, ranging from traditionally filigree iced to the less formal story-telling cakes, in a range of delicious flavours.

Creations by Sucre Coeur UK

I had the pleasure of meeting Karen recently and during a good old natter, she showed me photos of previous work they’d been commissioned to do. It’s here that I’d like to point out that I thought I’d seen great confectionery art before having lived in France for 7 years, but nothing compares quite like the exquisite artistry that Karen achieves. The attention to detail on the cookies in particular is exemplary, I really have seen nothing like it before.
Such are the amazing designs of the cookies that in March, Karen attended ‘CookieCon’ in Salt Lake City, Utah entering 4 designs of cookie into the competition. She achieved a fantastic result with a 3rd placement in the Spring section with a Fabergé-style egg cookie and 2nd place in the Home Sweet Home section with her charming 3D Crail Cottage cookie. With design concept to final decoration sometimes taking up to a week per cookie, it shows the utter dedication and passion that she has for her art. But can I just take a minute here to appreciate the fact that there is a whole convention…..dedicated purely to cookies… utterly fabulous!!!

Anyone who attended the Crail Food Festival last year will probably remember the incredible gingerbread cookie display by Sucre Cœur in collaboration with Susie Lacome of Crail Gallery, on show in the window of the gallery throughout. Again, the artistic flair shown on these cookies, that depicted an entire East Neuk village in case you missed them, was amazing.

Cookies created by Sucre Coeur

When I asked Karen what she had lined up for the food festival this year, she told me all about The House of Sugar (in Crail Town Hall 14 – 15 June 2014) which is playing host to another cookie art installation. However, this year visitors will be able to get involved all weekend and ice their own cookie to create an edible mosaic. This sounds like such a fun idea and I cannot wait to get stuck into this – I know my son will love it too!

It was a real delight to meet Karen & hear all about the Sucre Cœur story, I’m looking forward to seeing her again at the festival in June. So if you’re visiting The House of Sugar and happen to see a woman with a five year old boy in tow, more than likely smothered in icing and cookie crumbs, it’ll probably be me!

Author: Sarah Farrell
Blog: Forty Therapy
Twitter: @purplepiggy75

Producer: Sucre Coeur
Website: Sucre Coeur
Blog: Sugar Hearted
Facebook: Sucre Coeur UK
Twitter: @Sucre_Coeur

Crail Food Festival 2014 will have a venue dedicated to all things sweet: The House of Sugar will be in Crail Town Hall on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th June 2014.  More details to follow!

May 9, 2014

“Iain Spink from Arbroath Smokies will be at the festival, so could you include a smoked fish recipe? Oh, and do try to mention the Crail capon if you can.” So read my rather intriguing brief from Crail Food Festival this year, and I have to confess to not having the first clue at that point what the “Crail capon” was. So I set sail on a little online fishing expedition in search of some piscine enlightenment.

crail capon weathervane

Literature on the subject of the Crail capon, it has to be said, was only available in minnow-sized proportions. The website of the Golf Hotel mentioned Crail’s “16th Century Tollbooth, with its 1520 Dutch bell and the Crail Capon (smoked haddock) weathervane.” Another source revealed the weathervane to be gold in colour.

Meanwhile, the BBC’s European Lifeline site explained: “The Tolbooth in the centre of the town has a characteristic tower and a European style roof, similar to buildings in Holland. A fish makes up part of its quirky weathervane as a reference to an old local delicacy called ‘Crail Capon’, which was split, dried haddock.”

However, to add a pinch of controversy to this fishy tale, I found an entry from the online Dictionary of the Scots Language, which claimed that the capon was “A haddock dried, but not split” (1808). In this same repository of ancient local knowledge, I also came across an excerpt of a poem by W. Tennant called Anster Fair, dating back to 1812, which mentions the eponymous capon:

“While, to augment his drowth, each to his jaws
A good Crail’s capon holds, at which he rugs and gnaws.”

A further reference, dated 1896, from A. J. G. Mackay’s A History of Fife and Kinross proffered the following definition: “A Crail Capon was a haddock smoked in the chimney-lum, the most plentiful kind of food in that remote quarter.”

The verdict? Well, it seems that everyone agrees the capon was a smoked haddock which hailed from Crail, and that it was worth “gnawing”, but opinion is possibly “split” (sorry!) on its precise fishy format.

After immersing myself – metaphorically speaking – in a sea of smoked fish during my research, I was feeling a tad peckish, so I popped down to our local fish counter to see what I could find by way of ingredients for the requested smoked fish recipe. Happily, there were shoals of tempting possibilities on the shelves, but I restricted myself to just four: smoked haddock fillet; conventional smoked salmon; Arbroath smoked salmon with crust of pepper, mustard seeds and dill; and Scottish salmon fillets. I set my sights on creating a seriously smoky fish pie…

seriously smoky fish pie

Seriously Smoky Fish Pie

Ingredients: serves 4–6 (depending on appetite!)

  • 6 large Rooster potatoes (peeled, sliced, boiled and mashed until smooth with milk and pepper to taste, plus a spoonful of crème fraiche if desired)
  • 2 skinless/boneless smoked haddock fillets (approx. 335g)
  • 2 fresh salmon fillets (approx. 240g) (rinse all four fillets and place them in an ovenproof dish with about a cup of milk – cover dish with lid or foil and cook for around 15–20 mins at about 180⁰C till fish flakes apart easily)
  • Small pack of smoked salmon, chopped into short strips (approx.250g)
  • Small pack of Arbroath smoked salmon, with or without crust (approx.125g)
  • Cheesy roux sauce, made using 1 heaped tbsp. of plain flour (approx. 40g), 40g of butter, approx. one pint of milk (including any milk left after cooking the fish in oven) and 6–8oz of Scottish cheddar (grated). NB: You can also add half a teaspoon of mustard to the sauce if your family are mustard maestros.
  • For the topping: 6oz of red Leicester cheese, grated


I popped the potatoes on to boil at the same time as I put the raw fish in the pre-heated oven to cook, as both took around 15–20mins. Meanwhile, I sliced the conventional smoked salmon into short strips, broke the Arbroath smoked salmon into smaller pieces and made the cheesy roux sauce in a non-stick saucepan on the hob.

Once the other fish came out of the oven, I poured the residual milk/fish juice into a jug (and added it to the cheese sauce). I left the fillets of fish in the bottom of the dish, breaking them up into small pieces then pouring half the cheese sauce over the layer of fish, spreading it out evenly.

Next step was to scatter the smoked salmon (both types) on top of the sauce, before adding the remaining half of the cheese sauce and smoothing it out over the second layer of fish.

I dropped small dollops of potato lightly over the top of the sauce layer and smoothed them gently flat to create a layer of potato over the whole pie. Finally, I sprinkled the Red Leicester cheese on top of the potato, and returned the dish to the oven for 15 mins or so, till the cheese was bubbling and beginning to crisp up. If your family are tomato fans then you might want to place slices of tomato on top of the cheese before putting the pie in the oven.

Happily, HunterGatherer appeared very impressed with the outcome – in fact he had three helpings one after another. Just imagine how good that pie could have been if only I’d had a Crail capon to put in it…


Author: Karen Elwis
Blog: Square Sparrow
Facebook: Square Sparrow’s Facebook Page
Twitter: @SquareSparrow

Iain Spinks will be bringing his Arbroath Smokies to Crail Festival’s Harbour Lunch on Sunday 15 June 2014.

arbroath smokies




May 6, 2014
Doorstep Bakery breads hot from the oven
Doorstep Bakery breads hot from the oven

I arrive early and sit in my car in the car park outside the Victory Hall, Collessie in North East Fife. It’s utterly still, occasionally one car swoops along the lane. A village hall seems both an unlikely place and an obvious place for a bakery. After all it’s the heart of the community. Each Friday, a team of volunteers bake bread for the local community. Up to 80 loaves are made each week. If there’s a special celebration, such as Easter and the up coming Crail Food Festival, the production expands. It’s such a great way for locals to get fresh bread weekly – the orders are even delivered!

Lets get weighing. Doorstep Bakery
Lets get weighing

Paula Benhaddad arrives and welcomes me into the hall. It has that smell that all village halls seem to have and looks just the same as any other until we walk into the kitchen. At one end, there’s equipment you’d expect to see in any commercial bakery – ovens, hobart mixes, tins and baskets. Neatly stacked below are additional ingredients including seeds, then to one side large sacks of Shipton Mill Flour. Welcome to the Doorstep Bakery.

The trusty Hobart mixer in action
The trusty Hobart mixer in action

The Doorstep Bakery was launched in September 2011. It grew out of the local community development group responding to local people’s desire to have a bakery in the area. It’s entirely run by volunteers. Today, Paula, Carol-Anne and Mary are on hand and I am about to join them.

It’s all about timing. With just one mixer available, and limited space in the prover, everything is weighed and placed in bowls in readiness. We’ve sheets of clearly printed the recipe for different volumes of bread. The bakery makes 5 standard flavours. Today we’re experimenting a little as we’re using different yeast to usual.

Once the bread is mixed its placed in containers and popped into the prover whilst the next mix is done. With all the mixes done, it’s time to for the next step.

Getting the bread ready for shaping
Getting the bread ready for shaping

Some customers prefer tin loaves and others “free form”. Their preferences are all marked on the delivery sheets which we check as we go.

The first dough has risen beautifully. It’s placed on the counter and weighed into equal sized pieces and either places in tins or formed into balls. A few rolls are made with the remainder of the dough.

The work is constant – there’s plenty of banter but also a lot of focus. We could be on to finish earlier than usual, we’re so organised!

It’s a battle to get the breads shaped before they become overproved, but we’re getting there. The oven’s up to temperature and Paula starts placing the loaves at the back of the oven. We’re using a second oven too to accommodate the volume.

After about 30 minutes we start to take the breads out of the oven and replacing them with more loaves. We’ve still got the labels and bags to sort out for the delivery.

Baking nicely - Doorstep Bakery
Baking nicely

What a sense of satisfaction when the last breads come out of the oven. We made all of these! Now just to bag everything up for delivery.

Loaves hot from the oven - Doorstep Bakery
Loaves hot from the oven

Inspired to Find out more about bread?

If you’d like to take out a bread subscription and live in the area, do get in touch. The Doorstep Bakery are unfortunately too short of volunteers this year to appear at the Crail Food Festival.

Inspired to make bread? Bread in Fife run a range of informal bread courses.

Join the Real Bread Campaign – this is great for bakers, from beginners to professionals. It is the only network dedicated to championing the rise of Real Bread in our local communities and the people who bake it. Membership includes discounts on courses (including Bread in Fife) and supplies.

Buy your baking supplies in Crail at Smoke Fired Wholefood Shop.

Check out Fergus Walker’s people powered flour mill which was developed in Fife.

Postscript 2015: It was sad to read of the demise of the Doorstep Bakery via their Facebook page at the end of 2014.  If you hear of other community initiatives in Fife, do let us know.


Author: Danielle Ellis
Website: Edinburgh Foody
Twitter: @edinburghfoody


May 2, 2014

I am a huge tea Jenny.  (Just to clarify, that’s a person who loves tea very much, not a huge person made of tea and called Jenny.)  Throughout the day I often choose tea over water, from the muddy tarry caffeinated stuff that gets me into the land of the living at 6am, to chamomile and peppermint and fennel through the afternoon, and the various evening blends that promise a calming, peaceful slumber at night.

It’s fair to say that over my long tea drinking career I’ve tasted pretty much every variety of tea, both caffeinated and herbal, known to man, and I’ve narrowed down my favourites.  So when I found out my assignment for this year’s Crail Food Festival was a tasting with herbal blender Miss IntegriTea, I was more excited than a woman (just) under 40 should probably be about tea.

I always picture drinking tea as a very gentile activity, to be sipped from fine bone china cups on a sunny afternoon with a light wind fluttering through one’s floral skirt and preferably a large floppy straw hat on.

So I was a little surprised when following my phone to the address of my tea tasting experience, to find that it brought me to a busy Edinburgh street and a very small shop with signage advertising facials and sunbed services.

A quick facial while sipping my tea might have gone down alright, but it turned out Cindy, aka Miss IntegriTea does not in fact provide these services, but is only renting the premises (which previously had been a beauty salon) to use as her blending station.  She has plans to open a shop in the future, she says, but right now all the energy goes into the blending of her powerful brews.

And that’s a fair amount of energy.  Cindy was not wearing a floppy straw hat, but she certainly knows her herbs, and talks about them with the kind of intensity that makes me want to drink a little of whatever she’s having.  Having originally trained in neuroscience and psychology, ‘It was brain surgery or herbs,” she jokes.

sleep tea blending
Photo credit: Miss IntegriTea Facebook Albums

Cindy’s herbal knowledge means that many of the teas boast health benefits, such as Echinacea to strengthen the immune system, or Sage tea for hot flushes.   I was also surprised at the range of plants she uses to make tea that actually grow like weeds in my garden, for example horsetail or sticky willy, both used in her Clear Skin tea.  I’ve been known to throw together the odd mint tea from garden herbs, but it’s never occurred to me to chuck in the contents of my weeding basket.

Health benefits aside, one thing that stood out strongly about Cindy’s teas was their powerful, but well balanced flavour.   In fact, the first thing that hits you when you enter her premises is the smell, a powerful fragrance of lavender and mint and other unidentified scents.  It almost smells more like an aromatherapy salon than a tea blending room.

“I keep all of my herbs as whole as possible” she explains, “Once you crush them they begin to lose their flavour immediately, and hence their nutrients.”  She also explains that some herbs intensify as they dry, concentrating the flavour, which is why I have to pack so many fresh herbs into a teapot to get the same effect.

“Stick your nose in,” she says, directing me to a downstairs room stacked full of enormous agricultural sized sacks.  I stick my nose in one, trying to feel less like a horse. The smell is soft, floral and calming.  She tells me it is valerian, the herb that helps you sleep, but which, to my mind, has always smelled a little like damp dog, or end of the day feet.

“It’s the freshness,” she says, “It shouldn’t smell like feet if it’s fresh.”

Then she tears open a teabag from a popular brand of tea, which happened, (until now) to be one of my favourites.  She takes a little of her own tea, which has the same ingredients, and crushes the leaves lightly in her hands.  I smell, and the difference is staggering.  The whole herbs are much more powerful than the dusty mixture that comes out of the well known brand.

And to me, as a tea lover, it’s this intensity of flavour that sets Miss IntegriTea’s products apart from the rest of the tea blending pack.  A day of writing, gardening and kids never leaves me with too many sleep problems, but I can honestly say that the sleep I had after trying Cindy’s night time tea was one of the deepest I’ve had in a long while, and I’ll certainly be sampling more in the future.

bags of herbal tea
Image credit: @AchrayFarm via Twitter

Miss IntegriTea will be at Crail Food Festival’s Food Market in the Crail Community Hall on Sunday 15 May 2014. In the meantime, you can buy Miss IntegriTea’s teas and a range of specialised teapots from her website at, where you can also see details of her blends.  You can buy her teas in Edinburgh at farmers markets in Stockbridge and Castle Terrace, from Edinburgh Castle’s gift shop and the Scottish Parliament, as well as from farmers markets in Perth and Aberdeen.

Bespoke blended teas are available as well as consultations for specific requirements.

Miss IntegriTea is a Social Enterprise providing employment for people with disabilities and from disadvantaged groups.  The company has recently been shortlisted for the Edge Fund for successful young entrepreneurs.  

Author: Kirsten McKenzie
Follow me on twitter @kirstenmckenzie

Producer: Miss Integritea
Website: Miss Integritea
Facebook: Miss IntegriTea
Twitter: @MissIntegriTea