Staffordshires Food and Drink Scene.

Gift ideas for a foodie Father’s Day

Just because the pubs are closed this Father’s Day doesn’t mean you can’t treat your dad to his favourite food and drink. We’ve been busy scouting out the best Father’s…

Just because the pubs are closed this Father’s Day doesn’t mean you can’t treat your dad to his favourite food and drink. We’ve been busy scouting out the best Father’s Day ideas across the Staffordshire food and drink scene so you can sit back, relax and simply enjoy some time with dad over a good meal (at an appropriate distance, of course)… without worrying about which pair of novelty slippers he’d like best.

Denstone Hall Farm Shop Father's Day Hamper

Denstone Hall Farm Shop & Cafe
If your dad is a lover of local Staffordshire produce, then this is the gift for him. The team at Denstone Hall Farm & Shop have released their ‘Staffordshire Father’s Day’ hamper, packed with local, homemade and artisan produce all sourced from Staffordshire. Expect Staffordshire Cheese Co., homemade pork pies and Cottage Delight treats. Order here: https://bit.ly/3egqo3q or email orders@denstonehall.co.uk

 

Candid Beer gift set

Candid Beer
Is it even Father’s Day without beer? Candid Beer, Stafford, have constructed the perfect gift this Father’s Day for craft beer lovers. Treat dad to a canister of four 440ml beers and a special Candid Beer glass. Choose from pale, dark, lager or mixed beers. Shop here: https://bit.ly/30Hke8M

Misco's box of chocolates

Misco’s Chocolate and Truffles
If your dad has a sweet tooth, he would love some delicious chocolatey treats from Misco’s Chocolates and Truffles, Leek. Their shop is now open (yessss!), so call in on Thursday, Friday or Saturday to pick up your dad’s favourite homemade chocolates and earn some brownie points this Father’s Day.

Dunwood Farm meat box

Dunwood Farm
Treat the King of the BBQ to a quality meat box from Dunwood Farm. Whether your dad is the chef or if you’re treating him to a day off and cooking for him, he will love the incredible quality of Dunwood’s high welfare meat. Head over to the online shop here: https://bit.ly/2MWbdAG or pop into The Village Butchers, Ipstones, to pick up your meat box.

Three Horseshoes Inn
Al fresco steak night, a bottle of wine and breathtaking views of the Peak District? Yes please! Although The Three Horseshoes Inn isn’t quite open yet, you can still treat your dad to their quality steak at a future date. The Three Horseshoes are offering a Steak Night for Two with a Bottle of Wine gift voucher, so you can treat dad a little later in the year. Head over to their online shop to purchase: https://bit.ly/2UILHmv

Bank Coffeehouse Alrewas afternoon tea

The Bank Coffeehouse
Nothing is better than a quintessential Afternoon Tea in the sun, especially with the ones you love. The Bank Coffeehouse are offering a Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea this Father’s Day. Enjoy a selection of sandwiches with salad, a fruit scone with homemade jam and clotted cream, a selection of cakes and a bottle of Spilsbury & Jones craft beer. You can also have the choice to swap out the sandwiches, scone or cake for a Peter Coates pork pie on request. Delivery in Alrewas or you can collect. Call or text 07722 891696 or email Reilly-jane@sky.com to order.

Clive’s Wines
The lovely team at Clive’s Wines have crafted the perfect hampers for Father’s Day this year! Choose from five different hampers, including the Cider Curry Set and the Personalised Wine Gift Set set to name a couple. Head over to their website to find the perfect gift for your dad: https://bit.ly/37HTOp3

World of Wedgwood cheese scones, chilli jam, Dovedale blue butter

World of Wedgwood
Head Chef Richard has been busy behind the scenes at World of Wedgwood, cooking up the ultimate treat for dad this Father’s Day… savoury scones with homemade chilli jam and Dovedale blue butter. If you want to flex your culinary skills and impress dad with a homemade treat, this is the recipe for you: https://bit.ly/3cZuETz

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Dining in: Gallagher’s Home Kitchen

Jessica and Chris Gallagher, based in Cheddleton in the Staffordshire Moorlands, set up Gallagher’s Home Kitchen in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Having both been due to…

Jessica and Chris Gallagher, based in Cheddleton in the Staffordshire Moorlands, set up Gallagher’s Home Kitchen in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Having both been due to start new jobs in the hospitality industry at the end of that month, their plans were put on indefinite pause and they wanted to use their skills to offer fantastic quality food for home delivery. 

The couple met while they were both working at The Duncombe Arms in Ellastone. With Jessica’s background in hotel, event and restaurant management and Chris’ culinary expertise, they decided to fill their time during lockdown creating a homemade food service. 

Sauce jumped at the chance to try Gallagher’s Home Kitchen last week, coinciding with the launch of their new lamb baharat and falafel dishes. 

Ordering & delivery

Chris and Jessica’s menu is available to view on their social channels. There’s a different main on the menu for each day they’re open, from the lamb baharat and veggie-friendly falafel on Wednesday through to a traditional Sunday lunch with all the trimmings. You also have the option to add dessert, which changes every month. All you have to do is direct message them on Facebook to place your order, and pay via BACS transfer. Then Jessica will deliver to your door if you’re lucky enough to live within a 9 mile radius of Cheddleton.

Packaging

The food arrives in a large paper bag for the mains and a smaller one for the dessert, with a sweet little printed message from the Gallaghers. The majority is in foil cartons and there’s minimal plastic, which is always a plus. It seems Chris and Jessica have really thought about how the dishes on their menu will travel, because everything is pristine when it arrives on the doorstep with a smile and a wave! The elements of the main course are packaged separately so you can taste them individually, sharing out and plating how you like. The main was warm rather than hot on arrival, but the temperature was fine for us and you could easily heat up the lamb, falafel and couscous if you wanted to. 

Lam and couscous from Gallaghers Home KitchenAppearance

The slices of slow-cooked spiced lamb and the portion of falafel were nestled inside freshly baked pitta bread, while other containers yielded a rainbow of salad (crunchy lettuce, delicate ribbons of cucumber, julienne carrot and red cabbage) and bright, beautiful couscous with lemon and coriander. You also get little containers of thick Greek yoghurt and mango chutney. We could hardly wait to get stuck in!

You wouldn’t think a panna cotta would fare very well in takeaway form, but they are nothing short of immaculate when we come to lift the lids on dessert. We didn’t attempt to lift these onto our plates but I’m fairly sure they were firm enough to have held their shape if we’d tried. 

Taste 

The lamb baharat was rich and smoky with spices. ‘Baharat’ is the name of a traditional spice blend used throughout the Arab world, from North Africa to the Persian Gulf, but there are many regional variations. The falafel were tasty and well-seasoned too. The couscous was fragrant and delicious, with plenty of herbs, lemon, apricot, pepper and toasted flaked almonds making your taste buds do a happy little dance. The salad was super-fresh and the mango chutney was lush – tangy and sharply sweet with black onion seeds through it. 

And the dessert? Oh. My. Goodness. 

Greek yoghurt panna cotta from Gallaghers Home Kitchen

Texture

The falafel were made up of a nice mix of whole and ground chickpeas, with a great crispy exterior. The slow-cooked lamb was ridiculously tender, like butter in your mouth, but not cloyingly fatty as lamb sometimes can be. The pitta was a perfect match for both – soft and chewy with a satisfying bit of crunch at the edges. 

This dessert has every element you could wish for: unctuous and decadent salted chocolate ganache (I could eat this by the bowlful), creamy and slightly sour yoghurt panna cotta with the most beautiful of wobbles, tart and sticky apricot jam, and the sweet crunch of honey and oat granola cut through with fragrant rosemary. This really ups the delivery game when it comes to pudding.  

Experience

Overall, the food was fantastic quality and the whole experience felt special. The panna cotta dessert in particular was most definitely restaurant standard. At £10 each for the main and £5 each for dessert, with free delivery, we thought it was good value. It was super-easy to order, delivery was timely and safe, and the service was really friendly. What more can I say? 

Look out for our interview with Jessica and Chris coming soon, and get your orders in over on their socials.

Gallagher’s Home Kitchen
facebook.com/GallaghersHomeKitchen

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Apple, ginger & toffee cake

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Apple, ginger & toffee cake

Sugnall apple, ginger and toffee cake

It might not be apple-picking season, but if you’ve got some spare apples sitting in the fruit bowl and your cupboard is in good shape when it comes to baking staples, why not try this wonderful autumnal cake recipe?

Kindly shared with us by Mary and the team at Sugnall Walled Garden Tea Room, it featured in the Autumn 2019 issue of Sauce and it goes down a treat with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

  • Author: Katy

Ingredients

For the cake
50g butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing
300g self-raising flour
250g light brown sugar
2 tsp sea salt
140g ground almonds
4 large eggs
80ml sunflower oil
130ml soured cream
2 eating apples, peeled and cored
2cm fresh root ginger, peeled and grated

For the sauce
150g butter
150g muscovado sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
120ml double cream

For the garnish
1 eating apple, cored and sliced
50g butter
25g light brown sugar
30g walnuts, roughly chopped

Instructions

For the cake

  1. Preheat oven to 195°C.
  2. Grease a 25cm bundt tin.
  3. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and almonds in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Whisk the eggs with the butter, oil and soured cream.
  5. Stir the apple and ginger into the egg mixture.
  6. Fold the egg mixture into the dry ingredients.
  7. Pour into the tin and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the deepest part of the cake comes out clean.
  8. Cool in the tin on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then turn out and leave to cool fully.

For the sauce

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium-low heat.
  2. Add the muscovado sugar and continue heating until dissolved.
  3. Add the cinnamon and cream and stir briefly.
  4. Gently simmer for 5-6 minutes to get a silky, smooth consistency.
  5. Drizzle over the cooled cake.

For the garnish

  1. Melt the butter and sugar together in a frying pan.
  2. Sautée the apple slices until caramelised.
  3. Place them around the top of the cake.
  4. Sprinkle over the chopped walnuts.
  5. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Notes

This recipe was kindly supplied by the team at Sugnall Walled Garden Tea Room. Follow them on Facebook so you’ll be the first to know when they are able to reopen to the public, as they would love to see you when it’s safe!

Sugnall Walled Garden Tea Room
Sugnall Walled Garden, Eccleshall, ST21 6NF

sugnall.co.uk

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What’s in season?

By now you will have felt that change in the air that means warmer weather is on the way. The days are getting longer and you’re finding yourself craving lighter…

By now you will have felt that change in the air that means warmer weather is on the way. The days are getting longer and you’re finding yourself craving lighter foods and fresher flavours.

From spring, as the first new shoots of wild garlic appear, through the long bright days of summer, our hedgerows, valleys, fields and farms are at their most productive and there are rich pickings for the keen foodie. In this issue, we’re highlighting one of the most versatile harbingers of the English summer and a statuesque Mediterranean native.

Elderflower

The elder is a large deciduous shrub which prefers to grow in untended hedgerows, sheltered from the wind and bathed by the sun. Its masses of frothy white, fragrant flowers are hard to miss in late spring and early summer if you’re walking, riding or driving around the English countryside. By late August their juicy, black-purple berries are ripe, and the birds will happily tuck in.

One of the classic wild foods of late May and early June, the sweetly scented flower heads are best picked on a bright, sunny morning when they first open. Once picked, elderflowers must be used or preserved quickly before they turn brown. Although uncooked elderberries are mildly poisonous, both the flowers and the berries have long been put to use in the kitchen. First and foremost, the flowers have been used for cordial and the berries for wine, but traditional medicine uses extracts of both as a remedy for coughs, colds and fever.

The flower heads are delightful simply dipped in a light batter and fried until crisp. Elderflower’s delicate flavour is perfectly suited to light desserts like fools or jellies, pairing particularly well with tart gooseberries, lemon or rhubarb. It also works well in summery cakes, tarts and trifles. Making your own cordial is easy enough to do, by infusing freshly gathered elderflowers with lemons, sugar, water and citric acid. Ideal for summer entertaining, it makes a sophisticated alternative to alcohol or, indeed, a refreshing addition to cocktails. To really get the party started, you can also infuse spirits like gin or vodka with elderflower.

Get yours from…

Forage for it
Because they have such a short shelf-life once picked, you’ll be hard pressed to find elderflowers for sale anywhere. If you’re happy to follow the countryside code and use your common sense, you can forage for your own on a sunny morning in late May or early June. Elder can often be found thriving alongside canal tow paths and old railway lines, of which there are many across the county. Make sure you get the landowners’ permission if you’re picking from fields or woodland edges and corners and only use foraged ingredients if you’re certain you’ve identified them correctly.

Elderflower - Sambucus nigra

Globe artichoke

The globe artichoke is one of the largest members of the thistle family and, somewhat confusingly, no relation of the potato-like Jerusalem artichoke. Introduced to England by the Dutch, artichokes were said to have been grown in Henry VIII’s garden at New Hall – also known as Beaulieu – in the 16th century. With one of the highest levels of antioxidant capacity of any vegetable, glboe artichokes are at their best from June all the way through to November.

The part of the plant you can eat is the flower bud before the flower comes into bloom. It’s the tender ends of the leaves and the fleshy base – the ‘heart’ – that are edible, unlike the tough outer leaves and furry choke. In smaller artichokes the leaves are more tender, but larger specimens tend to have bigger hearts. It’s best to choose those with tightly packed leaves showing a slight bloom. Some varieties have beautiful purple leaves, while others are a crisp green.

Eating globe artichoke has to be one of the simple pleasures of summer. All you need to do is boil or steam the whole flower head before pulling off the leaves and dipping them – they’re delicious with vinaigrette, hollandaise, garlic butter, mayonnaise or aioli. Draw the leaf through your teeth to remove the tender flesh and discard anything that’s tough. They can also be barbecued or grilled. Just slice in half lengthways, remove the fluffy choke, brush with olive oil and grill until tender.

Stuffed artichoke recipes are really popular, too. Start by boiling and then pulling out the central leaves and choke. In Italy, its common to stuff them with a mixture of bread crumbs, garlic, oregano, parsley, grated cheese, and prosciutto or sausage. Throughout North Africa, the Middle East, Turkey, and Armenia, ground lamb is a favourite filling. Then it’s simply a case of drizzling with olive oil and baking in the oven.

Get yours from…

Gerald Harrison Greengrocer
8 Market Place, Leek, ST13 8HH

A family run greengrocer for the past 45 years and counting, you’ll find Gerald Harrison’s right next door to the Market Place entrance to Leek’s historic Buttermarket. This traditional grocers is open from 7:30 every morning with the exception of Sundays (unless the Totally Locally Sunday Supplement is on), offering a huge range of fresh seasonal fruit and veg from across the UK and Europe. That includes globe artichoke when the timing’s right. Plus using your local greengrocer is one way to avoid all that unnecessary plastic you end up taking home from the supermarket – just make sure you’re prepared with your bag or basket.

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Cantarito Rising

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Cantarito Rising

Cantarito Rising cocktail and ingredients

Ten Green Bottles are well known for their craft beers and gin but they are equally adept when it comes to cocktails. Back in summer 2019 we caught up with Ben Errington over at Ten Green Bottles in Stone, who generously shared the recipe for this delightful summer cocktail.

You can use alternative brands of tequila and orange liqueur if you have them, or comment to tell us what spirits you have in your cabinet and we’ll challenge Ben to come up with a cocktail recipe for you.

  • Author: Katy

Ingredients

Olmeca Altos Tequila Plata
Solerno blood orange liqueur
San Pellegrino grapefruit
Pink grapefruit syrup

Instructions

  1. Add a shot of tequila to a shot of blood orange liqueur.
  2. Top up with San Pellegrino grapefruit.
  3. Finally, add pink grapefruit syrup for a sunset effect.

Notes

Be sure to pay Ten Green Bottles a revisit when they reopen to have it made for you:

Ten Green Bottles
21 High Street, Stone ST15 8AJ
facebook.com/TGBStone

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From bean to cup with Courtyard Coffee Roasters

Hessian sacks of various sizes, a bright red Diedrich roaster, and collected coffee paraphernalia greet visitors to Courtyard Coffee Roasters, just off Eccleshall’s High Street. Wooden shelves are filled with…

Hessian sacks of various sizes, a bright red Diedrich roaster, and collected coffee paraphernalia greet visitors to Courtyard Coffee Roasters, just off Eccleshall’s High Street.

Wooden shelves are filled with glass canisters of loose leaf tea – greens and oolongs as well as black teas and rooibos – single origin chocolate, mostly from Madagascar, and real hot chocolate. But it’s the aroma of coffee, freshly roasted and freshly ground, that fills the air. 

Owner David Wiggins originally established the roastery as a training school for baristas, but it has since morphed into a retail shop. He also sells online and supplies a handful of independent cafés and restaurants, some with their own unique blend.

David’s adventures in coffee began in the 1980s when he and his wife had a deli in Dresden, Stoke-on-Trent. He came upon an antique machine and started roasting his own coffee. In 1990, he set up Rapido Coffee Services, an exhibition service he ran successfully for around 20 years while simultaneously taking charge of Eccleshall café The Artisan (now Sancerre), the neighbouring bakery, and the roastery. Finding himself spread a little thin, David’s focus is now on Courtyard Coffee and his passion for these flavoursome beans.

The bulk of the world’s coffee is grown in Central and South America – Brazil is the biggest producer – but large quantities are grown in Africa, some in India, and quite a bit in Indonesia and elsewhere in southeast Asia. Each origin has its own particular qualities, led by the climate and geology of the region where it’s grown. While coffee trees need rainfall to flower, too much rain can damage the crop. The fruit, bright red when ripe, is called a cherry. Usually picked by hand, their preparation has a big effect on the finished flavour.

“The processing is quite involved,” explains David. “You have to get rid of the cherry to get to the seed. The fruit is removed by either the dry method or the wet method, often depending on the climate in the country of origin. Half-processed coffee beans are coated in a hard shell known as parchment, which is removed by hulling. Now the green coffee, as it’s called, is ready for roasting.”

The green coffee arrives in sacks weighing 50kg, 60kg or 69kg depending on which part of the world it has come from. While a large roaster will process a whole sack at once, one of these will last David a couple of months. He roasts in small batches of only 2.5kg of green beans at a time, yielding 2kg of roasted beans due of the loss of moisture as they’re heated.

“I’m not really big enough to buy direct from the plantations, and that’s almost a full time job in itself,” David tells Sauce. “You need to have feet on the ground. So I buy from four or five independently run, ethical importers who in turn buy direct from the plantations. They pay better than Fairtrade rates and in some cases they will buy the smallholders’ entire crop, certainly a year ahead and sometimes a couple of years in advance.”

Roasted coffee beans

People are more interested in individual origins these days, and growers are actively encouraged to seek their own markets, whereas previously they were very heavily discouraged from doing so. David believes the next revolution in the global supply chain of crops like coffee will be blockchain. Rather than finding new routes to market, the goal is transparency and traceability. Companies such as iFinca in Central America – which a lot of Colombian producers are already using – are setting the bar for its integration into commercial networks.

Although he claims not to have particular favourites when it comes to coffee, David is partial to Indonesian, Indian and some Central American origins.

“I keep coffee from around 20 different producing countries, only because we’re limited by space. I’ve usually got a Costa Rican, El Salvadoran, Colombian and either Honduran or Nicaraguan. Always Peruvian, because people like it, and Mexican when possible – it’s hard to get the ones I favour. And I always keep decaffeinated coffee, sometimes as many as four types.”

The El Salvador is very popular due to its sweet and chocolatey tasting notes, but David’s bestseller – largely because he supplies one couple who get through a kilo a week – is Indian Monsoon Malabar. It’s stored under cover in mesh-sided warehouses during the rainy season, to allow humid air to circulate around the beans and alter their flavour. The tasting notes are copper, tobacco, leather.

“The effect of the extra humidity is that the beans swell and so the chaff falls off,” says David. “It makes it slightly sour, and the end result is very good if you like that style. In the days of the Empire, when coffee was transported to the UK and the rest of Europe by sailboat, the journey would take around 6 months, and while the sacks were in the hold they’d absorb humidity from the sea. People got used to that flavour, so when steam came in and the journey time was reduced to weeks, they noticed the difference. To try to recreate it, this monsooning process was developed, and it’s now mostly carried out in Mangaluru on the southwestern coast of India.”

As coffee beans are roasted, each half of the seed splits along one side and the chaff – or silverskin – falls away and burns off. The acids, proteins and sugars in the coffee expand until the stage when it opens up with a crack. That cracking sound indicates the roast is nearly complete.

“If I’m making a blend I’ll probably roast them separately so each is roasted to it’s best. If you take three or four types of bean and roast them all together, one of them will be perfect but the others will be over or under done. Usually the roast time is around 12 minutes, but some will be done at 10; others will take 14. You need to judge by eye, aroma and sound.”

When it comes to turning the beans into a more brew-able form, a burr grinder is the best. Propeller blades tend to be too effective, producing an almost floury and slightly uneven grind.

“If you grind coffee for an espresso too fine, the water struggles to get through, and you’ll end up with a coffee that’s so bitter you won’t be able to drink it. That’s known as over-extraction.”

When using the filter method, pouring over the water – ideally at a temperature between 88-92 degrees Celsius – produces a bloom of tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide which will be familiar to anyone who uses a cafetière or drip coffee maker. There’s nothing wrong with giving it a little shake to get a more even extraction.

“I tend to brew at about 90 degrees,” shares David. “Using the burr grinder and filter method, you get the true aroma of the bean released. The coffee industry is always searching for that aroma in the cup, but you never really get it.”

Courtyard Coffee Roasters
14d High Street, Eccleshall, ST21 6BZ
courtyardcoffeeroasters.co.uk

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Good Morning Zoats

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Good Morning Zoats

bowl of zoats with banana and berries

Another wonderful recipe from the Sauce archives – health and wellness blogger Sarah Leanne Rose aka The Growing Butterfly has the perfect breakfast to set you up for the day, whatever you’re doing.

You can have some fun with these ‘zoats’ by adding whatever toppings you fancy, like a shake of cocoa powder and some sliced banana or frozen berries.

  • Author: Katy

Ingredients

Scale

50-60g oats
200ml milk
1/2 courgette

Then choose:
1 scoop protein powder
or
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp flaxseed

Instructions

  1. Start by adding the oats to a pan, then grate the courgette over the top.
  2. Next pour the milk in and gently stir the mixture together until combined.
  3. On a low-medium heat, place the pan on a hob and allow to cook for a minute or two, stirring at intervals.
  4. Now add in your chosen ingredients to create the desired flavour combination and mix well.
  5. Turning down the heat, leave to cook for a further minute before serving straight away in a bowl, adding any additional toppings of your choosing.

Toppings can be anything that you like such as:

  • Nut butter
  • Fruit
  • Nuts and seeds
  • A little chocolate

Notes

You can find more of Sarah’s recipes and blogs about mental health and other topics on:

thegrowingbutterfly.com

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White chocolate & raspberry layer cake

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White chocolate and raspberry layer cake

White chocolate and raspberry cake

As most of us are rattling around the house with plenty of time to get our aprons on, we thought we’d share some recipes from the Sauce archives. This is an oldie but a goodie from the very first issue of the magazine, two whole years ago.

You may not be able to visit the lovely Beth Lauren Cake Parlour at the moment, but if you can get your hands on these ingredients you can recreate this beauty at home. The recipe makes one 6 inch cake.

  • Author: Katy

Ingredients

For the cake
300g unsalted butter or Stork
300g fine caster sugar
6 medium free-range eggs
300g self raising flour
1tsp good quality vanilla bean paste
+ Homemade or good quality shop bought raspberry jam

For the buttercream
250g unsalted butter
400g icing sugar
1tsp vanilla bean paste
150g melted couverture white chocolate

Instructions

  1. Add the butter, sugar and vanilla paste into a stand mixer and beat on a medium speed until pale and fluffy.
  2. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl. With the mixer on a low speed slowly beat into the sugar and butter mix, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Sift the flour into the mixing bowl and mix on a low speed until incorporated.
  4. Line 3, 6” tins with parchment paper and split the mixture equally between them.
  5. Bake the cakes at 180 degrees Celsius (fan) for 25-30 minutes or until a metal skewer comes out clean and leave to cool.
  6. To make the buttercream add the room temperature butter and vanilla into the bowl of the stand mixer and beat until pale.
  7. Sift the icing sugar and beat on a low speed until incorporated.
  8. Add the cool melted chocolate to the buttercream and fold in by hand. Set aside.

To assemble

  1. Use a cake leveller to create perfectly even layers, you can also use a serrated knife.
  2. Place your first layer onto the silver cake board and fix with a small amount of buttercream.
  3. Fill the piping bag with your white chocolate buttercream and pipe an even layer onto the cake; place the second layer of cake on top of this.
  4. Pipe an even ring of buttercream around the outside of the second layer, leaving the centre hollow. Fill with the jam and place the final layer on top.
  5. Place the filled cake onto your turntable and use the palette knife to spread a layer of buttercream over the top and sides of the cake. Take off any excess buttercream using the cake side scraper or by using your palette knife.
  6. We finish our cake with white chocolate drips and fresh raspberries but you can decorate yours however you choose!

Notes

When the lockdown is over, you can head to the Parlour for coffee and a professionally made cake:

Beth Lauren Cakes
2C Radford Street, Stone, ST15 8DA
bethlaurencakes.co.uk

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All because the lady loves… vegan chocolate

With more people than ever committing to a vegan diet, it can be hard to find indulgent treats that truly cut the mustard and are also free of animal products….

With more people than ever committing to a vegan diet, it can be hard to find indulgent treats that truly cut the mustard and are also free of animal products. Dairy free chocolate has been increasing its shelf space recently, but has often left chocolate lovers’ sweet cravings unsatiated.  

Sauce came across Chilled Angel’s dairy free chocolate truffles in Apple a Day Juice Bar in Stone, and although we’re not vegan ourselves we had to try them. The man behind this relatively new brand is Carl Hill, who has been nicknamed Chill ever since he was a child. His partner’s name is Angela, hence Chilled Angel.

Until early 2019 Carl worked in IT, although he wore many hats as a programmer, web designer and video editor for the company that employed him. He had already made his steps into the world of dairy free confectionery on Angela’s behalf.

“Angela has been vegan for years, but I couldn’t get vegan birthday cakes or things like that,” Carl explains. “If there’s a need to do something I will just make it.” 

“Vegan chocolate is generally really bad,” adds Angela. “It tends to be tasteless. Sometimes the ingredients are good – it’s healthy – but it’s awful and you’d rather not bother. Carl’s chocolate is just amazing. The only problem is, now he’s started to build the business up I don’t get any!”

Carl’s current range includes truffle style chocolates with classics like the peanut butter cup, chocolate ganache, coconut cup and cinder crunch alongside rum truffles. He also makes filled bars – strawberry creme topped with dried strawberries, peanut butter, peppermint – as well as crystallised ginger and fruit and nut bars, all using the same dark chocolate as the starting point. An enquiry about an Easter egg inspired versions filled with chocolate buttons and cinder crunch pieces. Everything he makes is gluten free as well as vegan friendly.

“It basically started with things she liked,” Carl says. “I wondered if I could put the cinder crunch flavour in a bar, and I tried the peanut butter cup in a bar too. Then I started experimenting and came up with the peppermint, the fruit and nut, and the crystallised ginger. The fruit and nut came about because they were things that were in the cupboard.”

It has taken a lot of trial and error to get to this stage, and Carl’s still working towards perfection. Some initial attempts had too low a melting point, and the moulds for the bars have to be kept bone dry to prevent any bloom – a white discoloration – on the finished product. New products are generally inspired by requests from customers and friends, and Angela of course.

“I’ll try it, then Angela tries it, and I’ll perfect it until it tastes good. I’m planning to try a version with no refined sugar, but that’s still in development. But I think at the end of the day people have chocolate because it tastes nice.”

At the moment, Carl sells his creations through the Chilled Angel website, through Etsy and on Amazon. He’s always looking for new stockists who are interested in carrying all or part of the range, and they’ll soon be available in Newcastle too. Angela has been a yogi for 15 years as well as offering holistic therapies including reiki, and is set to open Home Holistics yoga studio on Garden Street this April. 

“At the moment, Apple a Day Juice Bar and Mo’s Deli and Cider Store in Stone stock our chocolates,” adds Carl. “And Lady Rouge Tattoo Parlour on Wolstanton High Street. She tried them and said, ‘They’re amazing, I want to stock them’. And they’re flying out. It’s hard to keep up with demand. We’re also doing some vegan fairs, which is a good way to meet new people.”

chilled-angel.com  

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The perfect hot chocolate

Comfort food doesn’t come in many more comforting forms than hot chocolate. For best results you should always use good quality dark chocolate with 70% cocoa solids – or more,…

Comfort food doesn’t come in many more comforting forms than hot chocolate.

For best results you should always use good quality dark chocolate with 70% cocoa solids – or more, depending on your personal taste. Treating yourself to the perfect hot chocolate is no time to be overly health conscious, and the use of a mixture of milk and cream as in this version gives the finished drink a delightfully silky mouthfeel. You can easily replace the milk and cream with coconut, almond, soy or rice milk for a vegan alternative. 

Use cinnamon, vanilla, chilli, cardamom or virtually any other flavour you can imagine to change things up, or keep it simple by adding just a pinch of salt. This will tone down any bitterness from the dark chocolate and enhance the sweetness of your drink. 

You could top your hot chocolate with marshmallows if you’re feeling extra decadent. Alternatively, add a dash of a dark spirit or cream liqueur as a grown up treat. Chocao, a cacao gin liqueur made in Staffordshire, would be the perfect partner. 

Serves 2

450ml whole milk
70g dark chocolate, finely chopped or grated
30g milk chocolate, finely chopped or grated
75ml single cream
Pinch of salt

  1. Warm a third of the milk in a saucepan over a medium heat and stir the chocolate through.
  2. Stir until the chocolate has melted into the milk, then whisk in the rest of the milk and the single cream.
  3. Continue to heat until the mixture is hot (but not boiling)  before adding the salt.
  4. Add any additional flavouring, then serve in your favourite mug.

Share photos of your chocolatey creations with us over on Instagram by tagging @staffordshiresauce or #staffordshiresauce!

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