Fathers Day Fayre

Fathers Day is Sunday 18th June 2023. Why not spoil your dad this year with our delicious Dorset delights!

Our Fathers Day Hamper has been carefully thought out to present to you the most delicious box of savoury and sweet masculine treats for your Dad or that special male in your life! Of course us ladies can be partial to a good cheese scone too, so let me tell you it’s not an exclusive club just for the men folk! We would be thrilled to see ladies being ordered for too!

Your Fathers Day hamper contains:

Three delicious homemade Cheddar scones, made with Barbers mature cheddar and Dorset buttermilk.

A black waxed truckle of Black Cow Mature Cheddar made on their farm in West Dorset, not far from Beaminster, also home to the famous Black cow vodka!

A jar of our very popular Brailsford Chutney– homemade with apple, onion and raisins. A delicious, no messing, fruity chutney made with Bramley apples and cider vinegar to our own secret recipe. The perfect accompaniment to the delightful cheddar and scones.

A slab of our homemade Dorset apple cake, crammed full of Bramley apples.

Included in your hamper is your choice between our Loose Leaf Dorset Blend English Breakfast Tea, our Sumatra Bourbon Cafetière Espresso or our Swiss Natural process Decaffeinated Cafetière Espresso.

We also include a complimentary hand written Gift Message Card to be included with your hamper in our beautiful presentation box.

Why not add some of our silky, Dorset Clotted Cream vanilla Fudge to your special Fathers Day hamper. Our homemade vanilla fudge is created with clotted cream from Blackmore Vale Dairy in Dorset, who source their milk from farms that literally surround our kitchen here in Stalbridge. It’s creamy, it is smooth and has the lovely flavour of Madagascan vanilla extract, which makes for a very moreish, special treat!

You can also add one of our Fathers Day drinks, chosen to complement the scones, cheese and chutney.

Firstly, we have Palmers Dorset Ginger Beer, crafted by Palmers brewery of Bridport, right here in Dorset! It is made in the traditional way with pure sugar and no artificial sweeteners, giving it a lovely, clean, natural taste, taking you back to traditional caramels and lemon Bon bons.
It has a light fizz and a satisfying zing, making it the ideal non alcoholic beverage for all ages.

Next on offer is our Golden Spire Fruity Ale, made right here in Stalbridge by Matt. This pale ale is made from a blend of modern British hops, which combine to create pleasing tropical fruit flavours. The Barley used in the base of this beer is locally grown, traditional floor malted Maris Otter.

Finally it’s our Fruity Orchard Cider.
Made a leap and a hop from us, just over the border in Somerset by Nigel of Bridge Farm, this traditional, slightly sparkling, fruity cider is sure to please your Dad with its bouncy apple taste. A proper West Country way to enjoy your Cheddar scones and Truckle of cheese, ploughmans style!

Margot x

The importance of provenance

Cream Tea Provenance- is it important?

In all my years as a Chef in Dorset which is now some 36 years (how did that happen?) and the longer I have cooked, the more I feel that the provenance of the ingredients I use are of the upmost importance.
I was one of the first Chefs in this area to shout out ‘Dorset born Dorset fed’ which I have used as my business tag line for about 19 years now since I first started as a home-based business. Of course, since then and over recent years, every pub, restaurant, café and eatery likes to sing local.
My heart and soul are so deeply rooted in Dorset that to use local fellow businesses and suppliers is my lifeline. If you needed to restart my heart at any point, then I suggest a good hard thump with something that was grown in Dorset- it will almost certainly bring me back to consciousness and breath new life into me!

I think that my customers have learnt to trust my ‘Dorset born Dorset fed’ brand and know that I have a no compromise approach to my local sourcing.
In fact, last year I played an April fools joke and on social media told them that due to the cost of living and the hike of the cost of the ingredients that I would now be outsourcing my supplies further afield and in a much more economy aware way but in return they would see all my prices drop considerably. I don’t think a single customer fell for it! I think I gave myself away when I told them I would be buying cheap economy baked beans and opening tinned plum tomatoes for our breakfasts! (Just to clarify, we make our own baked beans and cook fresh tomatoes as our breakfast norm).
Joking apart, I am reassured by customers belief in me and my brand, it sings to my Dorset soul!

So, our Dorset cream teas…. There are only so many local ingredients we can source year round, right??
Well, you might be pleasantly surprised…
Lets start with our buttermilk scones….we use flour from Matthews millers from the Cotswolds, it is a brand of flour I have used for over 20 years now and I like the quality and consistency. Flour may seem unimportant but it absolutely is not! It is the difference between a good and bad scone!
We use butter not margarine in our scones, you wouldn’t believe the markable difference but it makes for a crisp outside scone but soft interior (rather like me), the colour more golden, flavour markedly improved and texture is superior.

We use buttermilk in our scones, this gives them a rounded, delicate softness and helps them keep softer for longer which is an important factor when mailing scones out as they are not being eaten the same day as they would in our café here. The buttermilk we use is sourced from local farms in this area and is made by Blackmore Vale Dairy a fabulous local company that again I have had the pleasure of using for a very long time now.

Strawberry Jam– unlike many cream tea companies we do make our own jam. Most companies outsource the jam and stick their own labels on or use terrible plastic sachets which offer minimum fruit traces.

I have been using New Forest fruit for years now, they are a fabulous company and their products so delicious. Amazingly you can get fruit from these guys almost 10/11 months of the year as they grow in poly tunnels. I love using their strawberries to make jam and the fact that when you eat our jam you get lumps of pure whole strawberry to pop onto your scone. Every part of a cream tea is important to achieving the end decadent result!

Our clotted cream hails from Weymouth, the cattle graze on the coastal hills of Southern most Dorset and the result is a deliciously rich Dorset clotted cream. So, when you dollop that cold cream with its deep yellow crust on top of the jam you just touch a part of Dorset heaven at its finest!

What you slurp in terms of your drink with your scone is of equal upmost importance. We have been using Reads Coffee Roasters from just up the road from us in Sherborne for about 12 years now.
They roast their coffee beans in a former farm building (just like our kitchen is) and the smell as you approach is absolutely divine! We use a Sumatra blend which you can pop into your cafetiere. If you prefer decaffeinated, then you can opt for that. It is a particularly good decaf and is not bleached in its preparation process but instead undergoes a Swiss water process of purification.
Of course, its Tea that is the traditional choice to have with a cream tea. Reads also supply us with their loose English breakfast tea which again has proven ever so popular in our café. It is a loose tea but don’t worry if you don’t have a tea pot or strainer for loose tea as we provide you with special bags to make your tea in and full instructions.

So as you can see, a cream tea may sound an altogether simplistic dish but there are cream teas and then there are Dorset cream teas and then there are, well, The Dorset Handmade Food Company cream teas!
Having ordered, tasted and trialled many cream teas by post leading up to our launch I know that I can put my hand on my heart and know I am serving the very best I can possibly offer you in every way.
I know that if you are planning a gift by post for someone as a gift then you will be proud to present this to your friend or loved one as a present as if you were placing it in their hand in person. Surely that is of upmost importance?

Margot x

Dorset Born, Dorset Fed

Small beginnings from a domestic farm Kitchen to a modern commercial kitchen in rural Dorset (but still on a farm!)

Having been brought up on a farm here in Dorset, good food and the family all gravitated towards the kitchen. Most likely because there was the lovely aroma of home cooking and cake could be found readily and on tap almost all the time!
So, it is no surprise that food and cooking was a tremendous influence on me from an early age and in fact at the tender age of 8 I started cooking, perhaps even earlier as it is a memorable fact in my family that I cooked my first dinner party for my parents friends at eight years old!
It began as assisted cooking either with my Mother or one of my Grandmother’s who both lived locally and then in a short time I started cooking independently.

You may not realise this, but it is common in farming families because of the very early starts and rare time off that between milkings farmers will take an afternoon snooze for an hour or so.
Why am I telling you this you ask?
Well, that was when my cooking bug would kick in, the cookery books would come out and a mammoth baking session would begin whilst my parents ‘snoozed’!

By the time Mum reappeared in the kitchen I had proudly laid out an array of cakes and biscuits for everyone in the family (including any visiting farm reps or visitors). I can recall always thinking that it had taken hours for me to make it all but within a few hours or even quicker it had all been consumed and all that remained was a few crumbs! I suppose I should see that as a tribute to the fact I had made something delicious. I am not sure Mum felt as passionately about her daughters culinary skills as with my cooking sessions there was also a huge pile of washing up left in the sink, I was not keen on that part of clearing up and if I am totally honest I think my staff would agree even now when Margot cooks she create a whirlwind kind of effect….. in my defence,I can produce a tremendous amount in a short time!

It wasn’t just cooking activities I did whilst Mum and Dad slept, I also would take off in the tractor across the fields- don’t worry I never crashed. Farming life back then was just like that, I truly loved driving the tractor and the sense of mobility and freedom it gave me living in such a rural area. As I got older and with ‘L’ plates I could also take to the road to get about as well to maybe go to the village shop for ingredients or to visit my older sister and nephews in the neighbouring village. My two nephews thought it was wonderful when their Aunty rocked up in the tractor and could take them for rides!
In fact as a baby, I rode with my Dad in the tractor just to give my Mum some rest as allegedly I would not tolerate being with anyone else and so would cry and scream endlessly but once in the tractor on Dad’s lap, well I would sleep contentedly whilst he got on with the rolling or chain harrowing or whatever tractor work needed to be done!

On the rare occasion my parents would have time off or go away, my Grandparents were enlisted to look after us. This meant a great cooking marathon for me with my Grandmother and would normally involve some delicious traditional British dishes such as Beef stew and dumplings (a personal favourite of mine) or cottage pie or a lovely savoury meat or fish pie.
All three of my Grandmothers were fabulous cooks, yes I do mean three as my Father was adopted and we got to know his natural Mother so I inherently ended up with three Grandmothers and three Grandfathers! (Christmas and birthdays were fab!).

My Grandmother on my Mother’s side, Nanny Goff as she was known was an amazing cook and in actual fact worked in service during the war cooking for a Doctor and his family in Maiden Newton. It is Nanny Goff’s scone recipe for scones that I inherited in fact and that we still use today when you order a cream tea from us.
Although nowadays we aren’t cooking on an electric Belling cooker like my Nan had, we have an all singing, all dancing commercial cooker that is capable of cooking 200 scones an hour – that is if we can make them that fast as we do make them traditionally still by hand not machine.
I love that I can use old proven recipes and transfer them into a modern commercial kitchen set up and still have the same success rates.

The mix of the old and the new I think is what deep roots me in my heritage here in Dorset. Nowadays I am an established business here in Stalbridge but my past comes with me and definitely influences my style of cooking and love of Dorset into the future. I feel as though I bring prospective from the land to the plate/ table and now in my hampers as well. This gives me the immense sense of pride I feel every time I pack a box to mail out. I can account for all the provenance that goes into each hamper.
I like to think that the person on the receiving end can sense the heart and soul that is packed into each cream tea box we make….hopefully that is what gives what we offer something much more special than our competitors. We really care about our cream tea hampers from the time of ordering through to its arrival.
As they say, the proof is in the eating……

Margot x

Cream Tea Etiquette

Afternoon Tea Etiquette, Dorset style- who made the rules anyway and why do we keep to them? The rural, humble opinions of a Born and Bred Dorset Chef

What is the difference between a cream tea, high tea and an afternoon tea?
We have an established café here in Dorset which we serve both Dorset cream teas and Afternoon teas and I have noticed when our customers book that’s where the confusion often comes in to play. We also have to make sure of our customers expectations when taking the booking so that when they arrive they are getting the tea they think they are getting.
Its really very simple though….
Dorset cream tea= scones, jam and clotted cream
High tea=a more substantial type of tea involving sandwiches with meat, cheese or vegetables and washed down with a cup or mug of tea. In Dorset we simply call this ‘tea’ as it is most likely that we would have had a cooked, main meal at lunchtime.
Afternoon tea= savoury sandwiches, scones, jam and clotted cream plus a selection of cakes.

Tradition
Fundamentally us Brits are enveloped in traditions of times gone by and whilst its fabulous to have those ‘go to’ rules to use as a foundation to serve a cream tea by, it also gives us a sense of tradition and Britaindom I have to say I am a born rebel and love to add my own styles and quirks to the proceedings. I often use the phrase – ‘Who made the rules anyway?’
Scone or Scone (pronunciation is all!)
With our dulcet tones in Dorset the word scone (pronounced like ‘gone’) rolls from our Dorset accent much more fluently and most born and bred Dorset folk you will find pronounce it this way.
The alterative is pronounced like ‘cone’ well that is reserved for folk that have come from over the county lines.

Go on – be a rebel! ( I promise you won’t get arrested!)
I think it is a necessity to add your own stamp to presentation and service of a cream tea, if nothing else to make it memorable apart from anything else! It does not have to be complex tweaks to have an effect. For instance, you could offer flavoured scones, maybe blueberry scones or plum, maybe even a chocolate scone. Jam doesn’t just have to be strawberry it can match your scones, so for instance a plum and marzipan scone is taken to dizzy new heights by having some plum and amaretti jam on top (yes I do speak from direct experience)! A chocolate scone could have orange curd on instead of jam?
You could of course create a themed cream tea party, perhaps a mad hatters cream tea, Easter themed, Alice in Wonderland cream tea or Wimbledon even.
On a themed note and being the rebel I already told you I am, why not have G and T with your cream tea or Pimms and lemonade in the summer. Winter could involve mulled wine or mulled cider or apple juice as a non alcoholic option. Then there are always cocktails, a strawberry daiquiri which could potentially be very delicious with a cream tea? Prosecco or Bucks fizz are of course a known drink to enjoy as well with a cream of afternoon tea.

Tea, coffee or which drink?
There are of course endless types of tea you can have with your cream tea and most have been covered one way or another. The only part I feel really strongly about is that it should most definitely be loose tea. I personally can taste the tea bag when I have tea made that way. Not to mention the plastic presence that is found in many brands of tea bags which goes against my grain.
Bottom line is drink what you enjoy.

Pinky or not to pinky
Definitely no to the pinky sticking out, its rude and very unorthodox and considered bad form. Besides, this is not something us earthy Dorset folk would do, we just would not! To cradle the cup is also considered slovenly. It goes without saying that you also should not rest your elbows on the table either.
As tempting as dunking a biscuit in a cup of tea is and lets face it many of us rural folk love a good dunk of a biscuit but there are times and places and a marginally formal occasion such as this is not the time, it would be uncouth! It is just knowing how to behave and when!

How to dress- table and clothes!
If you are going to the effort of inviting friends and family over then the scene should be set! Both in dress and in the laying of the table.
A retro style of dress is fun, a smarter casual approach is also good. I think to steer away from jeans and trainers is no bad thing and to make and demand a little effort.
The table without doubt should have a cloth on. I am not much of a lace fan myself but lace is a very acceptable traditional style. I myself like a brightly coloured cloth with some bright contrasting napkins, linen not paper napkins when at home. It is also lovely to have plain white linen with white starched linen napkins too, but I guess if you have a very whitewashed decorated room then it could potentially look a bit stark! The white does wonderfully show case the cream tea to its best though.
A tiered presentation stand adds height to the table and also showcases your tea to its best. It also allows your guests to see everything clearly. If the stand has a top handle, it also means it can be lifted to guests to reach easily around the table.

Jam or Cream First
Well, I am from Dorset and we have very clear thoughts on which way around this should be and that’s 100% jam first. I believe we share that thought with the Cornish who also serve their cream teas like us Dorsetshire folk. Devon on the other hand serves it completely wrong in my opinion by placing the cream first, almost acting like the butter before the jam. This is an issue for me merely from a practical point of view, as I like copious amounts of cream (well we have a hale and hearty attitude in Dorset) and if you put jam on top of the cream then you can be sure mess incurs!
However, the pleasure for me is biting into a lavishly laden scone, jam touching the scone and then piled high with Dorset clotted cream and preferably with the top golden crust of the clotted cream sitting presentably on the top. To bite into that cold cream, then hitting the sweet jam followed by the soft scone but with a slight crisp crust on the outside is what gives me the decadent feeling and immense pleasure. If you are going to indulge in a Dorset cream tea then you need to immerse wholeheartedly, after all its not an every day food and an occasional treat!

Conversation
We all know to avoid the conversations surely about religion and politics? If we don’t we should! However, on an occasion such as this, conversation should be kept light-hearted and jovial. The news is depressing enough so avoid such gloom! Gossip should also not come into the equation. We should look to depart from our cream tea feeling satisfied in the belly and vivacious from time spent with those we wish to spend time with.

To conclude…
The bottom line is this is a social occasion with the addition of some special food, it needs to be enjoyed by all.

Margot x