For Peter Baldwin, fudge-making has been a lifelong love – and, as a proud Devon confectioner, he knows how proper south-western fudge should taste. Meet the man behind the Salcombe Gin & Pink Grapefruit Fudge in February’s Gin of the Month box.
When Peter Baldwin picks up the phone, he’s in the midst of a disaster. There’s been a flood, and he’s been trying to get the insurance company on the phone all morning. But still, his West Country-accented voice is calm and bright, and he’s eager to talk about the creation he’s concocted with Salcombe Gin: the delicious (and dangerously moreish) Salcombe Gin & Pink Grapefruit Fudge in our February Gin of the Month box.
“We only use the best ingredients,” says Pete, who’s the man in charge at the Devon Fudge Company. “Proper fruit, pink grapefruit zest, oil and juice, Madagascan vanilla – not extract!”
Peter came to fudge making early. His father was a local beekeeper, who sold honey to businesses around Devon. When he began selling his honey to a fudge maker, it made sense to combine their complementary businesses. Peter joined when he was 20, and trained in the dark art of making proper Devon fudge.
He says, “When I say I was shown how to make it, I mean that it was really the traditional way – the chap who taught me was taught the same recipe in the 1950s, and we can trace that recipe all the way back to the 1930s.”
One taste will reveal how this recipe withstood the test of time. Rich and creamy, it’s handmade from beginning to end: hand-stirred in huge copper pots, hand-poured, hand-cut, hand-cubed and hand-bagged. It’s the real deal.
And this particular flavour – inspired by a local TV spot Peter saw last year, when Salcombe’s Angus and Howard were discussing their perfect serve – is irresistible for every gin lover. “They just go together,” says Peter of the ingredients he puts into this flavour. “You’ve got the sweetness of the fudge, the bitterness of the grapefruit, and the gin is just a hint – it’s not overpowering, but you get the aftertaste of juniper in there.”
Crucially, this fudge is made to Peter’s exacting standards for Devon fudge. “It’s the clotted cream that makes the difference. It’s very creamy. In other places, they tend to whip the cream so that it’s more waxy, or crystalline – a Scotch tablet they call fudge. But the fudge made in the south-west is a nicer texture, and creamy.”
It’s a rich tradition – and one that Peter and the Devon Fudge Company are eager to uphold.
As Peter says, “Everyone involved at every single stage loves what they do. What I like most of all is when people try the fudge and say, ‘Wow, that’s really nice!’ The satisfaction I get from giving someone something they like is like nothing else in the world.”
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