Rural Review: Lucy’s appliance of science

Farmer's daughter and RABI worker Lucy Bellefontaine of Colston hall, Badingham, in her kitchen

Farmer's daughter and RABI worker Lucy Bellefontaine of Colston hall, Badingham, in her kitchen

There are three things that Lucy Bellefontaine wouldn’t be without in her farm kitchen, and that’s her electronic weighing scales, her ‘classic swirl’ piping nozzle - and her pink spatula.

Lucy, now 31, was eight years old when parents, John and Liz, brought the family from Braintree to Colston Hall at Badingham, near Framlingham, where they keep around 100 sheep on their 27-acre holding and run a very successful bed-and-breakfast and holiday homes business.

Lucy recently returned to the beloved family home after she was appointed to her latest post as regional manager for the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI), looking after events, communications and fundraising across East Anglia, and dividing her time between her home office and the charity’s Oxford headquarters.

She is a keen baker, and one of her ‘signature’ baking triumphs is her two-tone cup cakes, made by adding plain white icing on one side and another colour on the other side of her disposable icing bag - easy but effective, she says.

“I do a lot of cakes like that because it looks amazing.”

The pink spatula was a gift from a company she worked for, although growing up when she was baking with her mum, she always used a metal spoon.

“It’s an essential feature, really good for cleaning the bowl out,” she explains. Lucy lived in Ely for a few years and had a housemate so taken with her spatula, he bought a new one after she left, she says.

Most Read

The scales, she explains, are essential as good baking relies on precision.

“When I do baking, it’s a bit like a science. You have to get everything quite accurate. As a child growing up I used normal kitchen scales and was introduced to electronic ones and they are so easy to use. I always buy local free range eggs from a local farm. I weigh the eggs to make sure they are the correct amount, usually 2oz, just to be on the safe side.” Too much egg makes for longer cooking time and the taste and texture is different, she says.

“I like to bake - I just enjoy doing it,” she says. She loves baking for others and enjoys their reaction. She has even taken night classes on how to decorate cup cakes, but also enjoys making puddings, desserts and savoury dishes, although she has yet to master bread. “I need to do a bit more practising,” she admits.

“I love making sausage rolls - probably because I like eating them,” she adds.

Lucy, who made her sister’s wedding cake, came back to the farm in March, although she goes to Oxford for team meetings. Prior to that, she worked for G’s Growers in Ely for five years as an innovation trials officer.

“It was easier for me to set up on the farm,” she says. “There are nine of us in the country with our own patches so I go to all the agricultural shows and local agricultural events.”

The kitchen is the hub of the farmhouse, she says, and she has lots of great memories of the family sitting around the table to prepare meals and eat.

“The kitchen definitely in our house is very much the centre of the house,” she says. “It was good to go back. Growing up on a farm, you are very fortunate.”

She adds: “I love the farming life and love the farming community and being involved in it.”

Lucy started with Young Farmers at Halesworth at the age of 18 and went on to become eastern area chairman. She’s currently a club leader for Gipping Valley Juniors. As a Young Farmer, she went travelling to New Zealand and Canada and feels she gained a great deal from her experiences. “It gives you so much confidence.”

The kitchen has remained “pretty much the same” as she remembers it, although the house has been extended. It’s a spacious family kitchen with a big kitchen table and lots of happy memories. Although extended over the years, parts of the house date back to the 16th century, and its origins are far older - the site is mentioned in the Domesday Book. It includes, beautiful old beams, original brick flooring and a big open fireplace in the kitchen.

“It’s kind of a country-feel kitchen - it’s not uber modern,” says Lucy.