The Best Handmade Ice Cream in Cumbria!

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The Handmade Ice Cream Company

I first met Steve at Cranstons, Orton Grange Charity Christmas Fair where he was quietly offering tasters of some of his delicious handmade ice-cream. I know from experience how difficult ice cream is to make especially for commercial sale so I was immediately impressed by the quality of his product. It has a warm velvety mouth feel and excellent flavour.  He was one of the first Cumbrian food producers that I contacted, and subsequently met, when setting out to do the research for my new book, At Home in Cumbria, A Recipe Book; written to celebrate 20 years of care in the community from Hospice at Home Carlisle and North Lakeland.  After visiting Steve at his business  The Handmade Ice Cream Company (article below), I was inspired to develop a dessert using his gingerbread ice cream.  Mini Baked Blencatharas  – a twist on a classic, epitomising the flavours of Cumbria. 

The Handmade Ice Cream Company

……this is your favourite

Driving down ever smaller lanes in poor visibility on a foggy Monday morning I was, once again, lost! So, it was with quiet relief that I to pulled up outside The Hand Made Ice Cream Company’s blue front doors with Steve standing there to welcome me. The small neat unit is divided into his office, the preparation kitchen, and a store area. The front lobby doubles as the freezer room for the finished product. Perching on Steve’s office high stools the story of how the Handmade Ice Cream company came into being unfolds.

Steve previously worked as a pastry chef. He loved what he did but had two major frustrations. Firstly, life as a chef is not always conducive to balanced family life. The Second plays to his self-confessed perfectionism – as a pastry chef he would spend all day creating the most beautiful desserts with the highest quality ingredients, yet invariably the restaurants were buying in the ice cream to accompany them. For Steve, it simply wasn’t of the right quality or calibre, and so the story begins.

He quit his job and became a stay at home Dad, giving him enough space and time to experiment, creating ice cream recipes from scratch. Although he knew how to make ice cream, getting a product right for the public market is difficult. Ice cream, although seemingly simple is in fact very complex. You need to understand fat, freeze and melt points, and how ice itself behaves. Many an ice cream entrepreneur has failed because the product couldn’t weather the handling from production to supermarket to customer deepfreeze and table. But Steve has something of the wizard about him and his interest in micro gastronomy means that he understands his ingredients at a molecular level. Indeed, Steve, wears dark rimmed glasses and when he donned his white coat and protective hat in the preparation kitchen I defiantly caught glimpses of the ‘Heston’ about him.

His perfectionism means that he always sources the best quality ingredients. The ice cream in production that Monday was Hazelnut and Chocolate, unctuous with the best hazelnut puree and a 70% chocolate. He develops and prepares all the fruit purees, syrups, and additions himself. I wondered how he managed, as today he was working alone. At busy times, he has help but training and overseeing production means he has ultimate control over taste and quality.

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churning and potting delicious handmade ice cream

Before leaving I ask him which of the myriad flavours of ice creams and sorbets that he produces is his favourite? Without hesitation, he volunteers the Salted Caramel, he is passionate about the use of salt as flavouring, ‘salt is not just salt – it’s important’. He also likes the White Chocolate and Baileys with its velvety warm mouthfeel. Despite being surrounded by the original experiments his young son is not so keen on Dads products, ‘he’s still more of a Calypo man’, says Steve. However, his step daughter is already something of a gourmet and vanilla connoisseur. I thought the Gingerbread ice-cream was my favourite, but today I drive away with a luxuriously long mellow taste of hazelnuts and chocolate. The verdict’s out and I clearly need to carry on tasting!

Mini Baked Blencatharas

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Mini Baked Blencatharas

I developed this dessert to use The Handmade Ice Cream Company Gingerbread Ice Cream as it epitomises the flavours of Cumbria.  It is a twist on a classic filled with the flavours of Cumbria. ; a base of moist Seville Orange sponge celebrating the annual Dalemain Marmalade Awards and Festival, gingerbread ice-cream; a best seller from the Handmade Ice cream Company  – a velvety ice-cream base flavoured with crushed Cumbrian gingerbread, topped with swirls of brown sugar meringue scattered with orange zest and hazelnuts.

Full details of Steve’s Business and this recipe can be found in At Home in Cumbria, A Recipe Book. It is now available to buy from this link – Hospice at Home Carlisle and North Lakeland

Happy cooking!

 

 

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