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Trentham Bakehouse launches afternoon tea

We first met Curtis at Trentham Bakehouse back in February 2020, when he explained why he went from being a professional chef in high end restaurants to opening a bakery…

We first met Curtis at Trentham Bakehouse back in February 2020, when he explained why he went from being a professional chef in high end restaurants to opening a bakery in Stoke. In case you missed it, you can read our interview here.

Today we’re here to talk about the fact that Trentham Bakehouse are launching a range of very special afternoon teas, which we were lucky enough to try. Curtis and the team are offering three different options, each of which is presented in a beautiful picnic hamper complete with plates and cutlery. You have the choice of afternoon tea only, the sparkling afternoon tea with a bottle of Freixenet prosecco, or a luxury hamper which includes a bottle of yellow label Veuve Clicquot.

Picnic hamper with prosecco

Add a set of beautiful linen napkins, a big blanket and some glasses and you’ve got everything you need to head off to your favourite secluded spot and enjoy an al fresco feast this summer.  While everything comes in neatly arranged pairs, the hamper would easily be enough for a family of four or two couples to share. Unless you’re not into sharing, which would be totally understandable given the level of deliciousness we’re dealing with here, in which case you’re set for the next couple days!

Look away now if you don’t want to feast your eyes on a blow-by-blow account of this epic afternoon tea…

Let’s start with the quiche. In my experience opinions can be divided here, but this one’s oozy filling, rich with cheese and ham, could convince even the most quiche-sceptical. It has a puff pastry casing that reminds me of pastéis de nata. The sausage roll is another textbook case of perfect puff – light and flaky without being greasy – and it’s generously filled with tasty sausage meat seasoned with fresh herbs.

Picnic basket with quiche and scone

Possibly my favourite item in the whole hamper is the savoury scone. Crumbly and short, topped with an umami hit of cheese and shot through with onion seeds, it’s filled with chunky, moreishly salty bacon jam.

Out come the sandwiches next, and I would say they are more typical picnic fare than the dainty finger sandwiches you would associate with high tea – which is fine by me! The fillings in our basket are New York Deli, salmon and cream cheese, ham salad, and egg with lettuce, all served on the bakery’s own soft, floury white baps. They’re fresh and tasty with just the right filling-to-bread ratio.

Ham salad and New York Deli

It’s hard to know which sweet to tackle first, but the pineapple and passionfruit pavlova looks like a worthy contender. The only component of the afternoon tea that actually requires cutlery, it’s a kind of pastry-less twist on lemon meringue with a slice of lightly charred juicy pineapple, a squiggle of vanilla crème pâtissière and a scattering of super-tart, bright orange amazingness across the top.

Pineapple and passionfruit pavlova

The sweet scone is everything you want a scone to be: crumbly texture, strawberry jam and a vanilla crème pât, juicy raisins and a dusting of icing sugar.

Stick with me here because the rich, fudgy brownie has been turned on its head, pretty literally, and piped with a white chocolate frosting, then a chocolate sauce, then a sprinkle of even more delicious brownie crumbs. And the white chocolate and honeycomb flapjack is not like any flapjack you’ve ever had before, I promise. Then there’s a big, satisfying slice of millionaire’s shortbread with a smooth dulce de leche filling and short, crumbly base, topped off with creamy chocolate.

Flapjack, brownie, millionaire's shortbread

Last but not least is the alluringly shiny dark chocolate eclair, scattered with fudge pieces and filled with a thick, toffee flavoured cream. The choux pastry has texture and bite to it, with very little resemblance to the sad, chewy excuses for an eclair that you’ll find in the supermarket. Absolute heaven and definitely in the running for favourite item. 

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know there’s another very important part of afternoon tea that I’ve not mentioned yet. But there’s no need to worry, because Curtis and the team have got that covered too, with a selection of two different Teapigs teas included in the package. Maybe bring your flask?

Trentham Bakehouse picnic

This is an indulgent treat of an afternoon tea that takes as much care with the savoury elements as with the sweet. It would make the perfect centrepiece for a birthday or a special date (if this was the accompaniment to a wedding proposal, I can’t think of anyone who would say no), especially with the addition of the lovely chilled bottle of prosecco or champagne.

Add your own finishing touches to make it personal and the Trentham Bakehouse afternoon tea hamper will be a stunning experience that I’m willing to bet you’ll be talking about for months to come. Get it booked in!

Prices start at £40. Call, email or message Trentham Bakehouse on Facebook or Instagram to place your order with at least 48 hours notice.

Trentham Bakehouse
8 Atherstone Road, Trentham, ST4 8JY
facebook.com/Trenthambakehouse
01782 657812

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Let them eat buns

After working for almost 20 years as a chef, executive chef and chef consultant, Curtis Stewart has taken on a whole new challenge in the form of Trentham Bakehouse. Originally…

After working for almost 20 years as a chef, executive chef and chef consultant, Curtis Stewart has taken on a whole new challenge in the form of Trentham Bakehouse.

Originally from Manchester, Curtis now lives in Stoke with his partner Jenna and two young children. When the previous baker at 8 Atherstone Road – Dave – retired last summer after 22 years running The Bread Basket, Curtis and Jenna stepped in to take it on. A lot of Dave’s regulars still come in for their daily bread, or a sandwich and a chat, which has helped smooth the transition. But as far as Curtis is concerned there’s still a way to go.

“We’ve rewired, we’ve taken out walls, we’ve got new flooring down and new tiles going up,” he tells Sauce. “It’s been hard because we’ve not been able to close. I’ve been working on it in the afternoons, evenings and at weekends. My day starts at 3:00, and I’ve been here until 22:00 or 23:00 most nights, which is a bit mad.”

Curtis would like to grow organically, recruiting more staff so that their production volumes and product range can increase. As of March, The Slamwich Club on Hanley’s Piccadilly were the bakery’s only trade customers, but that side of the business is set to expand too. Curtis also has plans to introduce a new sandwich menu, combining his freshly baked bread with a deli-style offering of local charcuterie and cheeses. The aim is to offer something customers can’t get from the supermarket, but he recognises it will take time.

The next step is to build seating around the front of house area – a place for people to sit and enjoy a coffee (from Staffordshire Coffee, of course) and a pain au chocolat. The process of making pains au chocolat, croissants and the buns Trentham Bakehouse is rapidly becoming Insta-famous for takes three days. Stage one starts on Tuesday, so they’re ready for the weekend. With a new pastry chef on board to assist, Curtis is hoping to offer what has only been available on a Saturday, every day of the week.

“Monday and Tuesday are normally our prep days,” he explains. “We won’t normally do a brown bake on a Monday, because we are just gearing up then. Tuesday we will add a brown bake. Then Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday we do white tin loaves and bloomers, organic rye, wholemeal, toasted wheat flake and malt barley loaves.”

However, it’s the traditional twisted buns filled with anything from cinnamon sugar to Lotus Biscoff spread that are fast becoming their bestsellers.

“I’ve been to a lot of bakeries and I think there has to be something that draws you in,” Curtis says. “The bun is very versatile, but there are loads of other things that we want to introduce as well, like duck egg custard tarts and cruffins.”

Viennoiserie will be the focus – a category of patisserie which uses a yeasted (or leavened) dough. Croissants, danishes, kouign-amann and cruffins all fall into the viennoiserie category because they are yeasted and laminated. With new ideas in the pipeline all the time, it looks to be these droolworthy pastries that will set Trentham Bakehouse apart locally.

“People don’t think certain things would work here in Stoke, but I think there is a lot of opportunity for small businesses,” adds Curtis. “If you’ve got a good concept there is a good chance that it will work. Because the market isn’t saturated here, there are opportunities to do something that nobody else is doing. People are always willing to pay for things if they think they’re getting value for money.”

Do you think a bakery is seasonal in the way that other places are?

“When you work with flour and yeast it is very unpredictable. You’re working with something that is alive. You see how differently the dough reacts when the seasons change. In the summer time, your window for working with it is very small; in the winter your window is very large.”

In terms of flavours, the winter has been a time of malts and ryes, but when it comes to spring time Curtis will be looking towards wild garlic and Canadian sourdoughs as well as alternative different flours, wheats and seeds. From a pastry perspective, spring and summer will be all about the mille feuilles, pavlovas, meringues – anything that is fruit-based or fruit-filled.

“The beauty of doing this is that there’s no blueprint; you can do as you want, when you want. Consistency is the only thing I’m searching for. It is the key.”

Trentham Bakehouse
8 Atherstone Road, Trentham, ST4 8JY
facebook.com/Trenthambakehouse

Comments Off on Let them eat buns

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