Traditional Fudge Making in Ely

A brief history of Fudge

English fudge is a sweet confectionery that has a long history, it is known for its rich, creamy texture and sweet, buttery flavour. While it may be enjoyed worldwide today, it's origins can be traced back to the United States, not England!

Fudge's exact origin is a subject of debate, but it is widely believed to have actually originated in America. One theory is that fudge was first made in the 19th Century by a group of female students in Poughkeepsie, New York. It’s said that these students were attempting to make caramel, but due to a mistake in the cooking process, they created a new confection with a smooth, creamy texture. They decided to call this new treat "fudge" because of the mishap. But, equally, the word "fudge" is thought by some, to be a corruption of the French word "fondant," which means "melting." The first recorded recipe for fudge appeared in an American cookbook in 1855.

“English” fudge became popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s and it was often sold in sweet shops and confectioneries. Fudge quickly gained popularity and many families had their own recipes for making fudge at home. As fudge gained popularity, it underwent various adaptations and flavour variations. Chocolate fudge, Butterscotch fudge, Rum & Raisin fudge, and other flavour variations began to appear. Nuts and other ingredients were often added to enhance the taste. English fudge is known for its creamy, melt-in-your-mouth texture that children and grownups love worldwide!

So, how is Traditional English fudge made?

Using a large steel saucepan to make our fudge in our shopHere at the Ely Fudge Company, we make all our fudge by hand in our small shop. It’s a relatively simple yet precise process that involves cooking sugar, butter, milk, and flavourings to a specific temperature, followed by careful cooling and turning to achieve its characteristic creamy, yet crumbly texture.  This seems relatively easy, however the process is affected by the ambient temperature in the shop, temperature of the table and even how humid it is!

In a large heavy-bottomed steel saucepan, we combine butter and milk over the heat, warm until the butter has melted.  We then add the sugar and ensure it is completely dissolved before bringing it to a rapid boil. We keep a regular eye on it, only stirring occasionally until almost the end of the cooking process, when it becomes thick, and we have to stir vigorously, to avoid burning. This takes about 15 to 20 minutes, until the perfect temperature is achieved.

We then take it off of the heat and let it cool for half an hour. We do not stir it during this time!  Once our fudge has cooled down, we add our chosen flavourings, such as vanilla and clotted cream or melted chocolate, stirring them into the mixture until well combined.  

Handmade fudge cooling on our shop's marble slabNext, we move on to cooling down the fudge mixture even further. For this, we have a large marble slab at the front of the shop. We pour the liquid fudge mixture onto the slab and using a spatula we work the fudge back and forth, until it starts to loose its glossy appearance. The marble slab helps to quickly cool the mixture, which prevents large sugar crystals from forming and this results in a fudge that is less grainy and more melt-in-your-mouth. This part of the process can take about 20 minutes and beats any gym workout!

Once the fudge is firm, but not hard, we can add any decorations such as chocolate buttons, honeycomb or Biscoff biscuits.  Once we are happy it is finished, we use a sharp knife to cut it into large chunks which we leave to dry and harden overnight and by the next morning it’s ready to enjoy! With this whole process done at the front of our shop, our customers can directly see the process and we get asked numerous questions, which we’re happy to answer. All of our fudge is lovingly handmade fresh on a daily basis and you can really taste the difference.

Also, it’s all hand-packed in the shop too… There’s loose fudge to take away and nibble on directly, or cellophane packets you can store at home. Of course, our fudge also makes a special gift for a loved one and we have a variety of fudge gift boxes you can order through our website, not to mention all the other things we sell from fudge shapes to tote bags!  Have a browse and see!

Our fudge mixture cooking in a steel saucepanStiring our fudge mixtureCutting the cooled fudge into blocks