New Savoury Biscuits from Island Bakery
Biscuits to Savour
Island Bakery have launched two new savoury product ranges. It’s the Isle of Mull based bakery’s first foray into the savoury market, having been baking sweet organic biscuits for 20 years.
Owner Joe Reade is the son and brother of another branch of the Reade family who are dairy farmers based right next door to Island Bakery. The ‘farm’ Reades make award winning Isle of Mull Cheese from their single herd’s raw milk. For decades Joe, and his wife Dawn, have been thinking that it would be a good idea to bake a biscuit that could accompany the family cheese but the sweet biscuit operation was very busy and there never seemed to be the time to develop savoury recipes.
Little did they know that a global pandemic would soon change life as we all knew it. Suddenly the orders were dropping away as many of their customers in hospitality and airlines were shut or on very restricted service. Although Island Bakery continued to produce biscuits, demand and sales were down by more than a third. The team at the bakery knew that although times were tough, there was a golden opportunity for some new product development to happen, and they set to work.
Fiona Aitali, a local lady who has been with the company since it was established in 1994, is now the bakery’s recipe development chef. Dawn and Joe gave her a brief to create savoury biscuits that would complement Isle of Mull Cheese. Together with operations manager, Kay Neave and technical manager Cathy Mellor, the team spent week after week tasting Fiona’s kitchen samples until they had whittled the bewildering number of possible products down to a range of oatcakes and a range of cheese biscuits made with Isle of Mull Cheese. Whilst it was enjoyable, it certainly wasn’t an easy job!
Oatcakes are a Scottish staple, and while there are a lot of manufacturers to choose from, with a few exceptions, oatcakes tend to be quite a dense and stodgy affair. Island Bakery wanted their oatcakes to be distinctive, so rather than rolling out dough and cutting oatcakes out from a sheet (the trimmings of which are then recycled back into the next batch), Fiona developed a method of portioning and pressing the dough so that it was only handled once after mixing, and produces an attractive rough edge. She also experimented with different grades of oatmeal and oats, as well as trying butter, oils and other fats. In the end, after exhaustive trials, extra virgin olive oil was found to give a light result and a depth of flavour, and a blend of oatmeal and whole jumbo oats provide the most interesting texture.
Once the base recipe was settled upon, the team tried lots of varieties with added ingredients before finally settling on a black pepper and a three seed mix to add to the original and form a range of three oatcakes:
- Original Organic Oatcakes – straightforwardly simple
- Black Pepper Organic Oatcakes – with a peppery heat
- Three Seed Organic Oatcakes – with pumpkin, sunflower and linseed
Island Bakery oatcakes make the perfect platform on which to serve your favourite topping, whether that be a chunk of cheese, a portion of pate or a soupcon of smoked salmon. The only limit s your imagination.
The oatcakes each come in 135g packs. RRP from £2.15
Isle of Mull Cheese Biscuits
Joe’s parents Chris & Jeff bought a derelict farm outside Tobermory in the early 1980s. Working tirelessly together with their four sons, they transformed the ruin into a busy dairy, now famous for its Gold World Cheese Award Winning Isle of Mull Cheese. The mature cheddar cheese is made from the raw milk of a single herd of lovely Friesian, Holstein and Brown Swiss cattle who are fed on lush grass and barley from the Tobermory Distillery, and has a distinctively zingy flavour.
With such fantastic artisan cheese being made right on the doorstep it would have been crazy to have looked for inspiration any further from home for a cheese to make cheesy biscuits with. Food miles are as low as they could possibly be, and the island provenance is unique. Other than the cheese, all the main ingredients are organic. Like all Island Bakery biscuits, they are made on Mull in an environmentally sustainable factory powered by local renewable energy.
These all-butter biscuits have a melt-in-the-mouth texture, with a superb cheese hit. This is a richly indulgent concoction, calling for a degree of self-restraint if the waistline is not to experience collateral damage. You may need to cut through the richness with a refreshing drink. Perhaps your favourite Single Malt Scotch Whisky? You may need to conduct your own research into what makes your preferred pairing!
As with the oatcakes, the NPD team explored and selflessly trialled lots of ideas to pep up the base recipe with. In the end, they plumped for:
- Isle of Mull Traditional Farmhouse Cheese Biscuits – unadulterated cheese!
- Onion & Thyme which delivers an intensely umami savouriness
- Harissa with Chilli & Cumin for those who like it spicy.
The Isle of Mull Cheese Biscuits each come in 100g packs. RRP from £3.05
Joe & Dawn hope that their stockists will try their new savoury offer and are happy to supply tasting samples. The new ranges are being distributed throughout the UK by wholesalers including CLF Distribution, Green City, Queenswood and Tree of Life.
Lockdown gives time for NPD at Island Bakery. Cheese Biscuits using Isle of Mull Cheese from the family’s farm; and Oatcakes with EV olive oil - perfect with cheese!