Bedfordshire Clanger

The Bedfordshire Clanger and Toothpaste Cake

So I have heard a lot about the Bedfordshire Clanger, mainly from TV shows including the Great British Bake Off but also from people locally and I knew exactly where to go to find out more.

The history

Gunns Bakery is a traditional family bakery based in Bedfordshire since 1928. It’s one of the last producers of the Bedfordshire Clanger and has done so for the last 50 years, maintaining the tradition and history of this tasty treat. It was originally eaten by farm labourers and has a meat filling with a sweet end. Great in the good old days as it’s portable, cheap to make, filling and very high in calories so perfect for the hard working farm staff.

But what about today? Why do people eat them and why the resurgence?  Well you could say the Clanger was one of the original fast foods, it was made from the remains of your evening meal and would have been boiled, like a suet pudding. Gunns varied the original method by baking, rather than boiling the clangers – although the pastry is still made to the original suet-based recipe apparently. This made it in my opinion Bedfordshire’s  answer to the Cornish pasty but with the unique twist of flavours – savoury and sweet.  The Clangers are perfect to eat with a pint, or as a wholesome lunch on the go, perfect for the time poor which most of us are these days. Plus it’s two fillings for the price of one.

Gunns Bakery

The Taste Test

I always see a steady stream of people coming out of Gunns Bakery on the high street in Bedford, so I thought why not? Let’s give it a go.

So I had a wide choice to choose from as I walked up to the Bakery... the bright and vibrant notice board outside the shop proudly advertised:

"Why not try our famous BEDFORDSHIRE CLANGERS.. as seen on Jamie and Jimmy's Friday Night Feast!

Traditional: Gammon, Potato, Onion with Apple

OR  Try our new varieties..

Pork and Cider with Roasted Apple

Beef and Ale with Rhubarb and Custard

Cream Vegetable with Apple and Sultanas (V)

Bombay Vegetable Curry with Mango (V)

Well for my first taste I went for the Port and Cider with Roasted Apple Clanger on the recommendation of the lovely shop assistant. I didn’t know that ‘two holes means meat’, ‘three knife slits means pudding’ so I ended up eating the roasted apple section first! Oh well it was a nice surprise and the main meat filling was lovely. A nice balance of flavours and a huge portion (about a foot long in size) and t be honest I could have saved half for later but I didn’t want to and all for a good value £3 (at time of writing)

Bedfordshire Clanger

More tasty treats including another Bedfordshire favourite Chocolate Toothpaste Cake

Whilst the Bedfordshire Clanger is clearly a great selling point to Gunn’s Bakery, they also produce a wide variety of freshly baked breads, a huge variety of sandwiches/filled rolls for lunch, sausage rolls, cakes, decorated biscuits and doughnuts. They also have a full range of fresh cream cakes and you can order celebration cakes and buffets for parties. So as you can imagine there was a lot to take in when I looked around the bakery! However one cake took my fancy as I hadn’t seen it before. I asked the shop assistant what it was and she proudly said ‘oh that’s Chocolate Toothpaste cake.’  The lady next to me said ‘we had it all the time at school; it’s a Bedfordshire thing I think’

I bought one to try and was very curious to taste it.  This desert combines a pastry bottom, chocolate mousse filling and a squirt of cream on the top. It was a very generous portion and to my amazement it didn’t taste of mint at all! Yes I didn’t know that it’s the texture of the mouse (apparently) which gave it its name rather than the taste. It is quite a rich pudding but definitely worth a try if you haven’t sampled one before.

So if you want to give any of these Bedfordshire treats a try you can find Gunn’s Bakery at the below locations.

Sandy: 8 Market Square,Sandy Bedfordshire. SG19 1HU

Bedford: 51 High Street, Bedford,MK40 1RZ

Biggleswade: 12 Hitchin St, Biggleswade, SG18 8AX

http://www.gunns-bakery.co.uk/

Excellent little vintage cafe in the heart of Ampthill – Cakestand and Crumb.

I have always wanted to try the beautiful little vintage Cafe in Ampthill called Cakestand & Crumb as I have heard so much about it from friends on Facebook. So after my haircut I decided to have a nice quiet lunch without the kids (a rare treat for me). It's situated down a little side alley called Kings Arms Yard. It's a pretty little vintage café and looks so sweet from the outside thanks to the lovely bright paintwork. I loved the colour scheme outside and the inside was just as pretty. As I hadn't been before I asked the waitress what was on offer and she showed me the menu. There were lots of traditional sandwich fillings on offer and what was really nice to see was that they were promoting another independent in Ampthill - The Cottage Bakery, as all their sandwiches were made with their breads.

I opted for a smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich plus a drink which came quickly. If you have small children they have a small area of toys, however the cafe is quite small so lots of buggies will be a bit if an issue unless you sit outside. 

The cafe itself is so relaxed and has a lovely feel, they have an old record player in the corner which plays background music and can be used for private parties.

If you are a tea lover they have over 15 different types which includes some more unusual blends like the Cakestand and Crumb home blend, Lost Malawi, Jasmine Silver Leaf and Wild Rooibos. All the tea is loose leaf and comes from the London Based Rare Tea Company, who source their tea 'straight from tea gardens all over the world'. 

 

 

So after my sandwich I had to try the amazing cakes on offer, they are all home made. I asked the waitress which were the most popular, she said 'The Raspberry & White Chocolate Cake, Carrot & Walnut and the Double Chocolate Salted Caramel Cake were always popular. I however picked a Chocolate Brownie which I have wanted to try for a very long time, the Cadbury's Cream Egg Brownie! It was lovely, very sweet and a beautiful texture but after such a large lunch it was just a little too much for me. 

 

 

Lots of people had booked tables in advance as the Cafe offers Afternoon Tea.  I asked if you need to book a few weeks in advance for a Saturday and the waitress said yes its always best to, so that's worth bearing in mind. At the time of visiting the price was £16.50 per person.

You can also hire the venue for a private dining experience (12-20 people) which I found very tempting, it is perfect for a baby shower or a special birthday. If you hire between 5-7pm  you can even bring your own wine.

When I visited the cafe only accepted cash, no credit or debit cards so please bare this in mind when you visit. I didn't know this but I just walked to the nearest cash machine, which was less than 5 minutes up the road. No a major issue but it's was worth noting. 

So if you love the vintage feel then this cafe is definitely worth a visit.  Address: 7 Kings Arms Yard,Ampthill MK45 2PJ. Its tucked away down the back of the Kinds Arms Yard but its well advertised from the main street.

http://www.cakestandandcrumb.co.uk/

A delightful sweetshop tucked away in the Arcade, Bedford

I went to visit a lovely sweet shop in Bedford Town Centre and met with one of the owners, Debbie. She was so friendly and really made me feel welcome. Explaining the history of the shop itself and why Arcadia sweetshop is so special in this area.

Arcadia Sweetshop is a family run business and is located in the Arcade. What's nice about this shop is the heritage, the actual shop itself is over 110 years old has been ran as a sweetshop since the Arcade was opened in 1905. This means that they have lots of regulars who have been coming a very long time, and now their children and grandchildren come. It's also the reason why its my first blog post of my new website, whenever I visit the Arcade I always walk by and look fondly on at the amazing selection of sweets inside. Most of which I remember buying as a child, I also smiled when I saw the prices available in quarters (how I used to buy sweets as a child) and now the usual '100g.' My favourite sweets are sherbet pips and sherbet lemons, and of course they have both.

They have won lots of awards since talking on the shop including the Bedford Business Awards in 2016 and have an online shop too, as Debbie was keen to point out to some of her regulars whilst I was in the store. Just select delivery to your home or simply click and collect. I thought this was a great idea and perfect for mums who want to organise a party and need sweets for party bags.

 

The range in the store was very wide as you would expect from such a traditional store. But it was easy to navigate around and I quickly spotted what I perceived to be the key selling points of the shop, which for me were the beautiful handmade chocolates, the traditional and broad range of classic childhood sweets in traditional jars, the wide range of continental chocolate bars and the penny sweets of course. (my eldest boy's favourite!)

So next time you have a sweet tooth have a wander down to 11 The Arcade, Bedford, MK40 1NS or visit their website https://www.arcadiasweetshop.com/