Is this Norfolk's quirkiest cafe?
- Credit: Cavick House Farm Cafe
Annabel Grant has loved baking since she was a little girl.
Growing up on her family's farm at Wymondham, the table was always laden with treats, fresh from the oven, made using recipes passed down through the generations.
“I grew up baking with my mum, granny and my sisters,” she says.
“We’re a real foodie family and for as long as I can remember there had always been hot cakes, scones and sausage rolls appearing on the table from someone’s oven.”
For the last eight years, Annabel has been sharing that love of baking at her quirky café and gift shop at Cavick House Farm.
Run from the farm’s old harness room, there’s a lovely outdoor space with picnic tables where customers can relax in the sunshine.
Or on rainy and chilly days they can cosy up with one of their sumptuous speciality hot chocolates in a cute brightly painted shed.
“I wanted to start my own business on our farm after I became unhappy at my previous job,” says Annabel. “And I wanted to help out on the family farm more after both my sister and my father were seriously ill.
“I loved visiting unique little independent cafes and gift shops, so I thought I’d create my own.
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“We’re very lucky to have a beautiful farm on the edge of the historic market town of Wymondham and I knew the location would be a great selling point,” she continues.
“We opened an honesty egg shop in 2010 once we started producing our own free-range eggs, so a café and gift shop just seemed like the next step.”
Annabel is recently married to Tom and they have two dogs – a spaniel called Bella and a cairn terrier called Ted.
She ran a self-service tea and cake shed on the farm for a year before she took the plunge and resigned from her job.
“I had visited lots of different independent businesses around the country and I loved the way people cleverly repurposed unusual small spaces like sheds,” says Annabel. “It was a low cost and easy solution to providing customer seating – plus who doesn’t love a shed?
“Our egg shop was originally housed in an old painted wooden chicken house, so painted sheds worked brilliantly alongside it.
“My mum, Julie, and granny Sheila ran a knitwear business using our own wool 30 years ago and they served their customers tea and cake in a shed in the same spot as my café, so it really feels like history repeating itself.”
There is always a wide selection of tempting sweet and savoury homemade bakes on the counter, including sponges festooned with delicate edible flowers, brownies and scones, with gluten, dairy free and vegan options available.
And it’s a real family affair.
“The sponge cakes are based on my great-grandmother's recipe, which never goes wrong,” says Annabel. “Shortbread is made by my mum, Julie, and brownies are made by my sister, Elizabeth.”
Make sure that you sample Annabel’s scones, if that day’s batch hasn’t already been snapped up – they're very much in demand.
“I make a very popular cheese, sundried tomato and olive scone topped with sea salt, which sells out most days,” says Annabel.
Ingredients are sourced locally where possible – some very close to home indeed.
“I only ever use our super fresh free-range eggs from our hens, just quarter of a mile away on the farm and as much of our own farm produce as possible,” says Annabel.
There’s also an extensive menu of coffees, teas and hot chocolates (their winter flavours include panettone, gingerbread and amaretto), sourced from David at Coffee Express at North Walsham.
“I’m keen to provide for all my customers, so I offer ‘moo free’ coffees and hot chocolates using oat, soya and almond milks,” says Annabel.
Plus the gift shop stocks cards, Swedish kitchenware, handmade pottery, notecards, edible petals and tote bags by small designers and producers.
The café and gift shop is open all year round from 10.30am-2pm, Wednesday to Saturday.
“This time of year the sheds are heated and very cosy,” says Annabel. “My hours are quite short because I’m baking the rest of the day, helping out on the farm or topping up our popular egg vending machine.
“Yes, a vending machine for eggs!” she laughs.
“We have 16,000 free range hens. Our vending machine was the first in Norfolk and we’ve recently updated it and moved it into our barn so we can sell more eggs."
The eggs in pink boxes, with a little hand-knitted egg hat, are sold for a cause close to the family's heart. Annabel's older sister, Charlotte, sadly died a few years ago and a donation of £1 goes to Brain Tumour Research for every box sold.
As well as the hens and pigs, the farm is also home to award-winning pedigree Charollais sheep bred by Annabel’s sister, Elizabeth, and her fiance Mitchel.
You might have spotted Elizabeth and Mitchel on an episode of the BBC2 show The Farmer’s Country Showdown, which saw them head to the livestock market at Melton Mowbray to sell four of their breeding rams.
And if you fancy a taste of life on the farm you can even make a stay of it – the Cavick House Farm caravan and motorhome site is open from March to October.
To find out more visit their website at cavickhousefarm.com or follow them on Instagram and Facebook for more information.