Denheath – the root of the square


Denheath cheesecake

My flatmate presented me with this and I was so intrigued by its cubic perfection that I decided to find out the story behind it.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

The old Post Office in Pleasant Point

The old Post Office in Pleasant Point

The weaver of Pleasant Point

A good yarn needs a weaver, and we find ours in the Post Office building of Pleasant Point, in deepest Canterbury. Some decades ago, Heather, the weaver, and Dennis, her husband, bought the old Post Office and renamed it Denheath House. Heather set up her loom and the sound of the shuttle flying across the threads brought many curious visitors. Luckily, Heather was not only a great weaver, but also a great baker. She served them her custard squares, and before long, the Denheath custard square was even more famous than the Denheath weaving! Denheath House became a teahouse.

Belief in the square

But all good things come to an end. In 1996 it was time for Dennis and Heather to leave Denheath House behind them. But a local family loved the Denheath custard square too much. Lisa, the daughter, had worked for teahouse, and Carol, the mother, was determined that the business should continue. Heather agreed to include her notebook, crammed with recipes, in the sale of Denheath House, and Carol persuaded her husband that the package was a great investment. Under her management, Denheath House became a well-known stopping point for people touring the South Island.

It’s a kind of magic

After Carol passed away, it fell to Lisa and her husband Donald to fulfil her dream – that Denheath custard squares would become famous everywhere. That seems to be happening. In order to meet growing demand, they moved to bigger premises in Timaru, shipping custard squares all over NZ daily. (Luckily the new owner of Denheath House stocks the tasty morsels so visitors to Pleasant Point won’t go away disappointed.)

The Templetons aren’t a typical family. Donald looks a bit like Brian May of Queen and their eldest son is called Majick. But then, an ordinary family wouldn’t have taken a leap of faith based on the magic of a custard square.

Custard square

You can find Denheath custard squares in Esquires cafés and many other places around the country. And they’ll even ship them to you in small quantities via insulated box and fast courier. Now that’s service.

So far I’ve only tried the cheesecake – which is lovely. I’ll be making sure to stop by Esquires for a ‘world-famous-in-New-Zealand’ custard square very soon!






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