It has been quite a year so far for Bakes and Balls, with Stella McCartney having just enlisted Cumbrian father of two, Stephen Hall, to provide his ‘Bakes and Balls’ for the launch of her brand new London Bond Street store.
North West Food & Drink Means Business has also just been told that Stephen is also through to the final round of judging for this year’s “Free-from Bakery Product of the Year“.
Stephen, a former Housemaster and teacher of English, is the brains behind the Cumbrian / North Yorkshire Dales-based ‘energy ball’ business, which was founded in January 2017 after he successfully created a variety of low sugar snacks for his children’s packed lunches.
During his research Stephen saw how much Gluten Free consumers had to compromise on taste and texture. He also realised the extent to which sugar was being used to compensate for the removal of other ingredients.
His mission to resolve these issues was complex enough, but then friends got wind of his culinary quest and asked him to come up with products which were also suitable for people with diary intolerance and for those with a nut allergy.
“I had friends who were vegan too,” added Stephen, who was determined to find a solution to this particular healthy food conundrum.
Now, as a direct result of Stephen’s determination, Bakes and Balls’ products can boast being free from all 14 key allergens.
“The common ground for both the health-conscious consumer, and the diet-restricted consumer, is that they want food that tastes great,” said Stephen. “With Bakes and Balls there is no compromise; it is feel good food, full of taste, and texture, which fits the bill for both short-term energy function and ultimately for long-term health.”
The ingredients in Bakes and Balls have been selected because they work to enhance the nutritional intake of whoever is eating them. The likes of Chia seeds, Hemp seeds and Quinoa flakes are used alongside Tiger Nut flour and Psyllium husk, with slow-release sugars from dates, prunes and figs Together they pack a powerful punch of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
“Because I’m using natural sugars, attached to the fruit fibres, you don’t get spikes and dips. It’s all about gradual energy release,” said Stephen.
His production kitchen is a former laundry at his Sedbergh home. Thanks to advice and guidance from Jacqui and Keith Jackson of Thomas Jardine and Co in Carlisle, in order to meet the demand for his energy balls, predominantly from London, he has postponed a crowdfunding campaign to crowd-fund for new equipment and packaging in favour of taking on a new member of staff, Julia Savory – a fellow volunteer at the Kendal People’s ‘no-food-waste’ Kitchen.
Stephen is already collaborating with Ian Penney of Windermere business Swift Running, but as for future plans, they haven’t changed – working with a national charity on solutions for serious athletes; working with DIT North West to explore export opportunities and raising enough money to provide breakfast for a whole school in Malawi!
As well as being available to order on line, Bakes and Balls are on sale at the award-winning Westmorland Services on the M6, Low Sizergh Barn, Stock Ghyll Fine Foods in Ambleside, Dave Willan at Oxenholme Station… …and for the VIPs amongst you, Stella McCartney in Bond Street, of course!