Walls Methodist Church Cafe

by Elizabeth Atia -

I have the utmost pleasure of introducing to you Sarah Hazell, aged 13, prize-winning baker and volunteer extraordinaire.

Sarah Hazell lives on the sunny west side of Shetland and she's been baking since she was around two years old, helping her father make oatcakes when she was barely big enough to hold the wooden spoon.

For the last year she has been volunteering at the Walls Methodist Church Cafe. During school time she makes cakes for the cafe on a Thursday night, getting up early on a Friday morning to decorate them before school.

During the summer months she can be found serving customers at the cafe itself.

The Walls Methodist Church Cafe has been in operation for the last 10 years. It began when church volunteers saw a need for a little oasis during the dark winter months when we might need a bit more company. They decided to set up a cafe one day a week, Shetland Times day, when folk were coming into the village to buy their weekly paper anyway. They wanted to create an accessible place for folk to meet, enjoy good food and socialise at very low prices.

The cafe has been extremely popular since it first opened its doors. Each Friday they serve four different types of soup with a home made bannock, plus bacon rolls, cheese rolls and an assortment of home bakes as well as tea, coffee (including filter coffee!), fruit juice, milk and herbal teas. They even have a Bairn's Brunch - a small bowl with a selection of children's favourite foods.

"The cafe is used by everyone in the community and it is very much a place friends of all ages meet," explains Sarah's mother, Kathleen. "It's a special meeting place for our mums in the community and they drop in for lunch after they pick up their children from nursery or early learning. We have lots of regulars of all ages who come to the cafe and we miss them when they are not able to make it. I know for a lot of people the cafe is a place they look forward to on a Friday."

"We wanted a safe happy cozy affordable place for people to be able to come to chat, relax and make new relationships in the safe haven of the church. We have a prayer box for prayer requests and we make up special invitations for our monthly family service, often a craft orientated event called 'Messy Church', which is always followed by a yummy free lunch."

Prices at the cafe start from 50 p for a home bake and go up to £1.50 for a bowl of soup and a bannock, although if you feel that your meal is worth more they are always happy to accept donations. Funds raised so far have been equally divded between the church funds and for the charity All We Can who help provide clean drinking water in communities in Uganda. Last year they sent over £2000 to the charity. This year the money will be going to build a new roof for the church - they are needing £60,000 for the repairs.

We wanted a safe happy cozy affordable place for people to be able to come to chat, relax and make new relationships in the safe haven of the church.

The bowl of reetsit mutton soup I had at the cafe recently was one of the best hearty bowls of reestit mutton soup I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. Served with a delicious home made bannock and a pat of butter, and a followed by a generous slice of cake it was a rather wonderful lunch and I will be making this cafe one of my regular visits from now on.

Kathleen continues, "In the summer months my husband Dave does an awesome bbq and in the colder months CJs sausage casserole is very popular."

Pictured above, Sarah's banana cake filled with home made strawberry jam, fresh bananas and chocolate frosting inside and out, one of the many home bakes on offer.

Sarah uses fresh organic eggs and fresh local produce whenever possible. Her sponge cakes are filled with homemade strawberry, plum or cherry jam and she has a very special beautifully moist rhubarb and cinnamon cake which is a real hit at the cafe and at home. Her family grow some of the rhubarb themselves but they are always glad that friends are happy to help supply rhubarb when they run out.

Sarah is interested in Scandinavian cooking and her mother translates recipes from her family Faroese cookery book collection for her. If they don't have all the correct ingredients at home then Sarah will improvise, adding her own twist to a recipe.

Her favourite British baker is Mary Berry and she loves seeing the expressions on people's faces when they eat her home baking. You can also find her at car boot sales or helping with charity fundraisers. Last weekend she helped raise £2440.50 for an orphanage in South Africa, baking 8 cakes and plenty of tray bakes and manning a stall at an indoor fundraising car boot sale in Aith.

Sarah has very kindly shared her recipe for Cornflake Cookies - a recipe which won her first prize at her school bake off competition this year in the biscuits category.

These biscuits are often served at the cafe, and I would highly recommend that you visit if you find yourself in the area. The Cafe is open on Fridays from 11-2, closing only for 4-6 weeks during the Christmas holidays.

Cornflake Cookies

Course: Main

Ingredients
For the cornflake mix
  • cornflakes - 80 grams
  • malt powder - 20 grams (ie: Ovaltine or Horlicks)
  • caster sugar - 20 grams
  • salt - 0.5 tsp
  • unsalted butter - 50 grams (melted)
for the cookie dough
  • unsalted butter - 225 grams (softened)
  • soft brown sugar - 350 grams
  • eggs - 2 large
  • vanilla extract - 0.5 tsp
  • plain flour - 400 grams
  • salt - 0.5 tsp
  • baking powder - 1 tsp
  • bicarbonate of soda - 1 tsp
  • dark chocolate chips - 200 grams
Instructions
  1. Pre heat oven to 170 C or Gas mark 3. Line 3 or 4 trays with baking paper/parchment.
  2. In a medium bowl roughly crush the cornflakes into smaller pieces. Add malt powder, sugar and salt to the cornflakes and mix well. Pour over the melted butter and stir to evenly coat the dry ingredients in butter.
  3. Spread the cornflake mixture onto a prepared baking tray. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cornflakes are crispy. Set aside to cool. Leave the oven turned on at the same temperature.
  4. To prepare the cookie dough cream the butter and light brown sugar together until light and fluffy.
  5. Add the flour, salt, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, eggs and vanilla extract mix well at a slow speed until a cookie dough is formed.
  6. Add the chocolate chips and cooled cornflake mix to the cookie dough and mix well until evenly mixed.
  7. Scoop the cookie dough into even sized balls, each about 2 heaped tablespoons and arrange on the prepared baking trays. SPACE the cookies WELL APART from each other as they will spread while cooking.
  8. Bake for 13-15 minutes until spread out and just turned golden brown.
  9. Allow to cool before removing from the tray.
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