Chudleighs – a picnic at Fingle Bridge -recipe by Florence White

The first reference to calling these little buns Chudleighs (which happens to be a small town in Devon) is in the collections of Florence White, founder of the English Folk Cookery association during the 1920’s. There was a famous bake house in Mill Lane in Chudleigh that burnt down in 1807 but there are no references to link it with the recipe. It is more than likely that buns became associated with the town name because they made particularly good ones there, but we have only the name to prove it.

They are also known as Devon (or Cornish) Splits, the use of the word split simply describing a bun or roll that has been split to be filled.

In Devonshire, my lovelies, this can only mean ‘to be filled with clotted cream’ and home-made jam. Shaun, the baker at the farm shop at Powderham Castle made them for the food festival shoot we did last week as they are the early form of scone, and scones are Devon’s signature tea cake.  Older recipes called for the use of cream, later ones use milk, but all use yeast to rise not self-raising flour like scones. If you eat them with cream and treacle they are known at ‘thunder and lightening’ and are wickedly good.

I’ve used this recipe below by Florence White but I halved the quantity as three pounds of flour seemed excessive unless I was having a Chudleigh party and I used dried yeast because I live in the middle of nowhere and do not have fresh at hand.

From Good Things in England by Florence White

1 1/2 1b             680g                 5 1/4 cups flour

1/4 lb butter            115g                1 stick

1 oz lard              30g

1/2 gill full fat milk 70 ml    1/3 cup

1/2 tsp salt I teaspoon

1/2 teaspoon sugar 1/2 teaspoon

1/4 pint warm water  142ml  2/3 cup ( I needed to add 2 tablespoons more)

yeast 1 oz  (1/2oz or 14g dried yeast)

  1. Put yeast in basin with sugar, then add warm water and add a tablespoon of flour.
  2. Cover with a cloth and leave to rise in a warm place (I did the same with dried yeast but I only left it for 5 minutes as it is fast acting)
  3. Put milk/cream, butter and lard in a sauce pan to get warm.
  4. Warm the flour and put in a mixing bowl. Warming flour was a popular  instruction when flour was kept in cold pantries, warm flour helps the yeast to wake up.  I warmed my flour in a low oven for a few minutes.
  5. Make a well in the middle and pour in the milk etc., and yeast mixture.
  6. Mix all into a nice soft dough and put to rise as before.
  7. When well risen, (in one hour) knead and place on the baking tin in small rounds and let them rise again. (1/2 an hour). I made twenty Chudleighs.
  8. Then bake in a moderate oven.
  9. Take out and rub all over while hot with slightly buttered paper to give them gloss.

10. Place them in a warm blanket or cloth, and cover lightly with the same. This makes the outside soft instead of crisp.

Warming flour was a popular instruction when flour was kept in cold pantries, warm flour helps the yeast to wake up.  I warmed my flour in a low oven for a few minutes, I also added the salt at this point which is missing from the instructions.  The melted butter, milk and lard mixed in easily but I had to add a little more milk to make it ‘nice and soft’.  The dough doubled in an hour and I kneaded it like any bread, the texture was springy and it felt like it was rising in my hands.  The butter and lard made it easy to bring together but it was a little difficult to make into perfect rolls as the dough was so elastic.  The rolls took 1/2 an hour to rise again and probably would have risen more but Chudleighs are not meant to be large so I popped them in my moderate aga and they took 25 minutes.  I then buttered them with paper but the butter sank straight in rather than making them glossy.  Finally, I wrapped them in a warm cloth, put them in a basket, zipped the basket into a rucksack, and we went on a walk along the river to Fingle Bridge.

The lovely aroma of bread wafted behind us, causing a lot of dog action from other walkers. We stopped for a picnic and out came the clotted cream and strawberry jam. The Chudleighs were to be tested by the severest critics – three little girls aged between 9 and 11 who, having been brought up in Devon, are nobody’s fools when it comes to a proper cream tea.

The verdict was positive they “preferred them to scones, being smaller and less claggy than scones” and “not so sweet.” 

I bought some treacle too as I wanted to test ‘Thunder and Lightening’ on the kids.  This combo was considered far too sweet (though I loved it and I normally don’t go for really sweet things) and strawberry jam was declared the winner as it made a tart contrast with the cream.

Wayhay for Chudleighs, a simple roll made rich by the filling.  I advise you eat them warm and quickly as they don’t stay soft for very long.  And when you do eat them; think of Devon.

River Teign – Fingle Bridge Walk. Devon


The Cook, the Baker and the Archivist.

The Cook, the Baker and the Archivist.

I had a great day last week at Powderham Castle, setting up a photo shoot in the renovated Victorian kitchen, to promote Powderham Food Festival (6th Oct).

The castle employs a wonderful woman called Jill, who dresses up in costume and transforms into the Victorian Cook, Mrs Louisa Cop, who worked for the 13th Earl.   Jill has created a fantastic Victorian learning day at the castle. She leads a children’s workshop in character with passionate enthusiasm and many children leave asking if they can “please come and work for her when they leave school!”

Photographers and a journalist came from local papers, so I propped the kitchen with some fruit and vegetables, got Shaun, a master baker, to make Chudleighs (an early form of scone) and I took a series of little videos for the Facebook page. During her workshop, Jill trains the kids to be kitchen maids, explains about life in kitchen service and gets them to make griddle cakes.  The iron range, (brought down to the castle on The Great Western Railway in 1891) is still in working order and is lit before every session. Here’s the video of Jill talking about it.

Felicity, the archivist (video) found the invitation to the flamboyant third Viscount’s three day 21st birthday party, supplied by “ten wagons of provision from London and supplemented by delicacies from Exeter and the adjacent towns” that cost hundreds of thousands of pounds in 1790.  Peaches, then rare and exotic, were brought down from London and each of the 600 guests was served a perfect, perfumed fruit at the extravagant price of £2 each.


According to newspaper reports of this extravaganza “the lateness of the hour at which these entertainments generally commence precluded us from speaking fully of it as it deserves….The ball began at eleven o’clock, in one of the temporary rooms of canvas… The supper tables below were as handsome as taste and money could make them.  The tables were covered with allegorical decorations and every dainty the town could afford. Green peas (then eaten like a sweet fruit), cherries, strawberries, grapes and pines, were almost as plentiful as if they were in season. The house was not cleared until six o’clock on Saturday morning.”  

It is interesting to note just how late they ate. In another news report they mention that, on Friday “at about one o’clock the supper rooms were opened.” Then on Saturday the supper rooms were “opened at two o’clock” with the company retiring at four a.m. and they were still partying on Sunday when they began their refreshments at one o’clock after which “several songs were sung, and all present  seemed to enjoy the pleasures of conviviality. The company retired about five.”  Locals assembled in the park to watch the fun from afar but were not forgotten as ‘His Lordship… also had an eye towards the amusement of the populace, who was assembled in great numbers…to please whom, some prizes were rowed for at Starcross; wrestling, cudgel-playing &c., were exhibited, a bullock was roasted whole; and liquor was distributed in abundance.” What fun.


Come along and see on Saturday the 6th.

Powderham Food Festival 6th October at the castle in Devon

The archivist in the music room at Powderham Castle ph. Matt Austin

I’m thrilled to be promoting the very first Powderham Food Festival, on 6th October 2012, (sponsored by Helpful Holidays). The event will celebrate West Country food producers in a spectacular location – Powderham Castle: a 600-year-old stately home, set amidst a beautiful deer park with breathtaking views across the Exe Estuary. The historic setting not only serves as a stunning background but will be at the heart of the festival, linking the food of the past with producers in the present. The festival will take place inside the majestic ground floor rooms and outer courtyard, with stalls, food demonstrations and tastings by artisan makers.

Some Highlights:

The Courtenay Family’s Golden Age – Food Accounts of the 1700’s by Powderham archivist Felicity Harper, the Powderham Castle archivist will discuss the Castle’s culinary stories such as the flamboyant third Viscount’s three day birthday party, supplied by “ten wagons of provision from London and supplemented by delicacies from Exeter and the adjacent towns” that cost hundreds of thousands of pounds in 1790.  Investigations into kitchen purchase ledgers and account books (see a video of the book by pressing the blue words) have raised fascinating questions of diet and custom during the period, from why they bought such quantities of lemons to the unexpected popularity of estuary cockles? The records will be on display and Felicity Harper will discuss their contents and share her knowledge.  There will be a Q&A session after the talk and she will be available throughout the afternoon to chat to the public about life in the castle in the eighteenth century.

James Crowden – The Renaissance of Westcountry Cider

James Crowden is poet and renowned cider expect.  He is the author of Ciderland, which charts the development of cider making in the West Country, from the sixteenth century monks to the diverse industry of today. Crowden will discuss the beautiful and fragrant West Country orchards, describing how the best cider makers translate their passion into the process and treat each different batch of cider like winemakers would a vintage.

Shaun and his family took over the management of the Farm Shop at Powderham Castle eighteen months ago.   Ryder’s Homemade Bakery, is part of the shop, and he has campaigned for many years to make loaves without any additives or improvers.  Ryder bakes rustic loaves (the farmhouse cobs have no less than a 32-hour fermentation) which develop a wonderful crust and flavour.

Fishing in the Estuary at Powderham – Talk, demonstration and tastings

Clovelly fisherman, Dan Garnett unapologetically fanatical about fish and fishing, Dan conducts his own one-man crusade for the North Devon fishing industry. He’s committed to sourcing and selling the freshest local fish of the finest quality, straight off our local boats.  Dan will be demonstrating, creating a recipe and talking about Westcountry Seafood (Powderham had huge fish bills – crab, lobsters and cockles).

Wine in the Devon area from the Romans to today.

Pebblebed Vineyards have been proudly producing Devon wines, just south of Exeter, for the last ten years. The first commercial vintage of Pebblebed Rosé 2004 caused a stir when it was a surprise winner of a prestigious Gold Medal in the English and Welsh Wine of the Year Competition, one of only a handful of Gold Medals presented.  They now also produce red, white and a particularly fine sparkling rosé.  They have just opened a new winery, run regular vineyard tours and do tastings with local tapas at their wine cellar bar in Topsham. His ‘Partner Vineyards’ scheme was on the BBC Dragons Den, successfully gaining the support of Duncan Bannatyne. Partners invest in the vineyard, join events and get their money back in wine (with their own label) over ten years. Geoff will be talking  about the history of winemaking in Devon

Gabrielle Jackson making Chocolate Teatime Goodies

Gabrielle is a cook, TV producer and winner of “Best Chocolate Cake in Britain”. She produced three series of “Rhodes Around Britain”, and has worked with Heston Blumenthal among many other noted chefs. She champions British food and will be bringing her historical knowledge and culinary expertise to provide a fantastic chocolate demonstation and tasting of teatime treats. She will be demonstrating with Midfield Granola

Shute Fruit talk on fruit vinegar and jams

Shute Fruit and Produce is an established family farm run by Lori Reich and David Lamboll. Lori’s award winning jams, jellies and pickles are based on our own grown produce which she makes in her farmhouse kitchen stirring up over twenty different delicious varieties of preserves using plenty of love, traditional recipes, family secrets and contemporary innovations. They also do pick-your-own at the farm see their website for what is in season Lori will talk and demonstrate the making of fruit vinegars and discuss their huge popularity in the past.