Bury St Edmunds 1921 Angel Hill chef patron Zack Deakins shares ice cream recipe to create the perfect summer taste
When we took over what is now 1921, back in 2014, we spent what little money we had on the restaurant and bar area to transform the feel of the room, make it feel softer and more comfortable.
My Dad put in a lot of work and we painted the place ourselves to keep the cost down.
We had to be very price conscious when we were picking out crockery, glassware and tableware, but I still always felt we got the desired feel and that considering the budget we had managed to go above and beyond.
However, once the restaurant was done we were left with about enough money for a couple of sponges and some Fairy washing-up liquid to revamp the kitchen. We scrubbed it to within an inch of its life to make it useable, but we still had to make do with some rather questionable equipment.
The convection oven we inherited was just sat straight on the floor and had no cleaning cycle like most modern industrial ovens have. Once a week, Stevie would literally crawl inside the oven to clean it and come out looking like a coal miner!
This one was eventually replaced with the infamous oven that you had to hit to get the fan to kick in.
I bought it on eBay for a few hundred quid and we installed it ourselves.
It worked well for a year or so before the fan gremlin kicked in.
It still makes me laugh thinking about what people looking into the kitchen must have thought – watching the chefs take it in turns to slap the side of the oven.
It eventually died completely and I am pleased to say we now have a fully functioning reliable oven!
Fridges were also an issue. Although we had two functioning fridges they weren’t on wheels and their legs were all bent in from years of people trying to drag them across the tiled floor.
We were using blocks of wood to prop them up straight. This was particularly difficult with the marble-topped pastry bench. It took at least four of us to lift the marble off the fridge to make it movable, which was less than ideal for cleaning. One time I resorted to using a car jack to get it lifted back on to its wooden blocks!
Then there was our dishwasher. This thing was so patched together, I have no idea how it lasted as long as it did. We used plasters, silicone, string, Cling Film. . . whatever we could get our hands on to keep it going (usually to plug a leak). It finally choked completely this year.
The element was the final part that went and when we called the manufacturer to see it they had the part, they just laughed. They couldn’t believe someone still had one of these machines. . . it was more than 30 years old!
eBay has often been a godsend and I have had many a bargain. None so important as the stove I still use today.
We didn’t have a solid top when we opened, just a six-burner hob with rings that were too big for our pans, and a knackered old chargrill that we tried to heat sauces on.
One day on eBay I stumbled across a Falcon solid top for £150. It was up in Manchester, but even with the £75 courier charge £225 was far too good a price not to take the gamble.
I got it down here feeling like there was every chance it wouldn’t work. Plugged it in and it fired straight up. It has barely missed a beat since and it is pretty much the heart of our kitchen.
Often the equipment we have has changed our recipes and the way we work.
A very good example of this is ice cream. Most top kitchens now have paco jets for their ice creams.
These churn ice creams in seconds, so you always have silky smooth ice cream. The thing with ice cream is the longer it is in the freezer the more the ice crystals grow, giving it a grainy effect.
This is why paco jets are so effective. As we are using an old school ice cream machine, we have had to put extra thought into our recipes to make sure we get that silky smooth effect.
The great thing is that they will then work in any bog standard ice cream machine, meaning they could quite easily be made at home if you have one. . . perfect for the heatwave!
Vanilla Ice Cream
550g full fat milk
80g double cream
50g milk powder
40g caster sugar
100g egg yolk
2 vanilla pods
Whisk together the milk, cream, milk powder and dextrose until smooth.
Whisk in the sugar and the egg yolks, put in the vanilla pods halved and scrape in the seeds. Now bring to the simmer. Take off the heat and leave to infuse until cold.
Remove the vanilla pods and churn in an ice cream machine.
Zack Deakins is chef patron of 1921 Angel Hill in Bury St Edmunds (01284 704870)