Britain’s most expensive bread will cost £25 a loaf

A baker who trained with culinary legend Raymond Blanc is about unveil the UK’s most expensive loaf – made with champagne and 24 carat gold.
Robert Didier will be launching the new golden bread – which will sell for £25 a loaf – at the Hamper Llangollen food festival later this year on October 18-19.
According to Robert, he’s reviving a centuries old tradition when exotic ingredients in bread were a status symbol for the lord of the manor.
As an added bonus, he says, the edible gold reputedly also has health benefits.
Robert, whose French father was a chef, began his working life at Raymond Blanc’s bakery and patisserie, Maison Blanc, in Oxford, which supplied Harrods and many top London restaurants with authentic French bread and patisseries.
Following a stint in the kitchen at Blanc’s double Michelin starred restaurant, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, in the Oxfordshire village of Great Milton, he then went stay in the Valence region of the south of France with his grandmother while working as a second chef in a bakery and patisserie, before returning to the UK a year later.
Robert’s Wrexham-based company, Orchard Pigs, started out making a range of handmade pies and pastries – including their trademark Tractor wheel pie, using local free range produce.
Two years ago he went back to his first love and launched a range of artisan breads at Hamper Llangollen where he has been a regular for many years.
The 2014 festival is being supported by the rural development agency, Cadwyn Clwyd.
Cadwyn Clwyd’s contribution comes via the Rural Development Fund for Wales 2007-2013, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Welsh Government.
This year Robert will be the baker with the golden touch.
He explained: “The golden bread we’re launching at Hamper Llangollen is a homage to real quality bakers in the 1500s.
“In those days the baker of the palace or the manor house would be expected to produce loaves of bread that reflected the status of the lord or the king so lots of interesting ingredients were included.
“What we’re unveiling is a bread with a champagne starter, and then it has 24 carat gold flakes through the loaf, so you can’t get more opulent than that.
“The gold flakes are edible and are used in medicine. Herbalists believe it’s everything from an aphrodisiac to giving better circulation.
“The golden bread is not something you would necessarily want every day but for a special occasion it’s got a bit of wow factor to it.”
At the other end of the spectrum, Robert also sells high quality artisan bread at £1 a loaf which will also be on sale at the food festival.
He usually makes around 2,000 loaves a week which are sold at markets in Mold, Machynlleth and Neston but Hamper Llangollen is one of his favourite events.
Robert added: “Hamper Llangollen is fantastic and it’s not difficult to see why it was named last year as one of the Top 10 food festivals in the UK.
“Most of the people who go there are local and the producers are local, so it’s always a good showcase for us.”
Also starring at Hamper Llangollen 2014 will be two of Wales’s top chefs.
Graham Tinsley, the star of ITV’s Taste the Nation and a former captain of the Welsh Culinary Team, will be joined in the show kitchen by the ever popular Dai Chef, who is now based at Bodnant Welsh Food, the centre of excellence for Welsh food in the Conwy Valley.
Cadwyn Clwyd’s Agri Food Officer, Robert Price, believes this year’s festival is going to be one of the best ever.
He said: “Thanks to a whole host of indigenous companies like Orchard Pigs, North East Wales is rapidly establishing a reputation as a centre of excellence for high quality cuisine.
“The food festival is a perfect shop window for the companies who form the backbone of our rural economy.
“The location of the Pavilion is absolutely spectacular – I can’t imagine that any other food festival in the UK has a more beautiful setting.”
For more information about Orchard Pigs go to


Festival founder gets a taste for business

The woman who co-founded one of the UK’s top food festivals is returning – but this time as one of the exhibitors.

Sue Haygarth was instrumental in setting up the Hamper Llangollen festival and has chosen this year’s event as the launchpad for her own one-woman business.

Her spicily named company, KarmaSucre, makes delicious macarons, all of them with natural fillings like homemade lemon curd, passion fruit coulis and salted caramel using Anglesey Sea Salt.

It was 16 years ago that Sue, from Buckley, and Lowri Owain from the rural regeneration agency Cadwyn Clwyd, came up with the idea for a food festival at Llangollen.

Now the festival, which is staged from October 19-20, is officially one of the UK’s top 10 food festivals.

From 1996 until 2011 Sue was Denbighshire County Council’s Regeneration and Investment officer.

“I took early retirement through redundancy in 2011,” said Sue.

A keen home-baker, Sue added: “I had been playing around for some time with trying to make macarons.

“The great French chef Michel Roux said that it takes about two years to perfect a really good macaron.”

A macaron is a sweet meringue-based confection made with eggs, icing sugar, granulated sugar, ground almonds, and food colouring. They sometimes are called macaroons, although Sue says a macaroon generally contains coconut.

“It’s a confectionery which has a niche market and I set about trying to perfect it. I first tried some out on colleagues at work and then I did some tastings at Bodnant Welsh Food Centre and have been selling some on-line and through mail order, building up to my first food festival.”

“ My daughter lives in London and when we visit we always go for a coffee and I always have a macaron, but they are very pricey. I love anything with ground almonds. But you cannot find macarons up here so easily.”

Although Sue had started her own project management consultancy business, HaygarthBerry Associates, when she ended her 40 years in local government, she made the decision to start her own macaron business and got her home kitchen a five star hygiene rating for her food production.

“I like baking and cooking but I don’t like just making a sponge cake, I want something challenging.”

After a life time spent helping and advising small business, Sue suddenly found herself on the other side of the fence. Before Denbighshire she had also worked for Clwyd, Swansea and Flintshire local authorities.

With Denbighshire she had been used to business support and project management and dealt with the council’s portfolio of over 200 business units. “Snowdonia Cheese moved into one of ours – a great company.”

She also managed small town centre capital projects and most recently was working with social enterprises with partners in Ireland.

“Just handling things like packaging and websites requires a leap of faith in yourself.

“I worked with a lot of businesses and one of the challenges with a ‘lifestyle business’ was that they were reluctant  to invest too much or grow too big, too quickly – now I have become one of those lifestyle businesses!”

She said: “I am really looking forward to attending Llangollen. We had the first one in what I call the old sports hall and we invited the chef Dai Davies along. The hall proved too small and cramped as we were inundated with visitors. Hence the next year we made it even bigger.  A food festival was not such a common thing in those days.

“We had been working with companies like Patchwork Pate, Wholebake, Llaeth y Llan and Snowdonia Cheese and were also helping a lot of very small food companies and we thought they should have a stand somewhere to show off their produce to the public so people could see what good produce this part of Wales had.

“There were about 20-30 stands and we got Dai to do cookery demonstrations and it went down a storm because most people had not seen a food festival before. But Dai was already a ‘celebrity chef’ and had his followers – it was a huge success.

“It was amazing really because we were not a region particularly known for cheese, yoghurt, cakes or anything like that, but we had all these really good food producers.

“We were always looking to raise the profile of North Wales produce. When we started the food festival we were very much taking a leap in the dark, now everyone is doing it.

“It will be great going to Llangollen, I’m sure I will know lots of people there and it will be good to have to stand and sell my own produce to a big audience.”

This year Graham Tinsley, the star of ITV’s Taste the Nation and a former captain of the Welsh Culinary Team, will be joined in the show kitchen at the festival by the ever popular Dai Chef.

Robert Price, Cadwyn Clwyd’s agri-food project officer, said: “In addition to many favourites, we have lots of new food producers wanting to come this year and we’re delighted that Sue will be among the star attractions at this year’s event.”

“The location of the Pavilion is absolutely  spectacular – I can’t imagine that any other food festival in the UK has a more beautiful setting.

“It’s also brilliant news for the local economy. If you buy from a local producer, all that money is recycled through the local economy and that sustains employment in our rural areas.”

For more information about Hamper Llangollen 2013 go to: and for more information about Karmasucre go to


Couple take the ancient biscuit

James and Natasha revive 13th century Aberffraw Biscuit


A sweet-toothed couple have revived the oldest biscuit in Britain that dates back to the 13th century.

James Shepherd and his wife, Natasha, have set up a company to make the historic Aberffraw Biscuit which was first baked in the Anglesey village of the same name 800 years ago.

The tasty scallop-shaped biscuit will be launched at the new products section of Hamper Llangollen, the 16th Llangollen food and drink festival on October 19-20, which is now officially one of the UK’s top 10 food festivals.

The couple have taken the basic ancient shortbread recipe and use only premium Welsh ingredients to produce a very moreish biscuit in a variety of flavours.

James, originally from Llandudno, and Natasha, a Welsh-speaker from Trefriw, met at Leicester University, married 10 years ago and have two children Rowan, seven, and Jasmine, five, both pupils at Ysgol Bro Aled in Llansannan.

While Natasha continues to work part-time for a governmental agency, James – whose background is in journalism – is developing Aberffraw Biscuit Company and is co-founder of Yoller, a web design and digital marketing agency.

“We were watching the Great British Bake Off last October and they had a feature about the Aberffraw biscuit.

“We started chatting about it and realised that despite the fact we were both from North Wales and lived here all our lives, we had never even heard of it, never mind the fact it was supposed to be Britain’s oldest biscuit,” said James.

“The first thing I did was to buy the domain names for the website and then did some research to build an informational website and start developing a business plan.”

An enthusiastic home cook and amateur baker, James makes the biscuits and even designs the packaging.

Along the way he has received plenty of expert help. “I was introduced to the founder of Patchwork Pate, Margaret Carter from Ruthin, who does brilliant work mentoring young entrepreneurs.

“Then I was introduced to Roberet Price at the rural development agency Cadwyn Clwyd and he put me in touch Coleg Menai’s food technology centre at Llangefni and now I’m looking at rural business support grants.”

“From the start we wanted everything to be as authentic as possible, from the unique stamp for the scallop shape of the biscuit to the ingredients which include Calon Wen organic butter and Bacheldre Mill stoneground organic unbleached flour.

“The biscuit has a great marketing story. When you think about it all the gift shops and tourist shops in North Wales all seem to sell Scottish shortbread and I would just like to get them out and the Aberffraw in.

The Aberffraw biscuit (or sometimes Aberffraw cake) and is said to originate from 13th Century Anglesey.

Legend has it that a Welsh king was holding court in Aberffraw and his wife was walking on the beach there and, spotting a pretty scallop shell, asked for a cake to be baked in the same form.

A far more realistic source for the biscuit was the famous pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

This pilgrimage to the church of St James in Galicia, north western Spain, began in about the 8th Century with pilgrims wearing badges on their hat in the shape of a scallop shell.

It’s for this reason Aberffraw biscuits are sometimes also called James cakes. Under the patronage of King Gruffudd ap Cynan (1075-1137) or his son and successor Owain Gwynedd (1137-70), a stone church was built at Aberffraw with Romanesque features similar to 12th Century churches on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela.

This building is the final link to the scallop shell of St James pilgrims and the small Welsh village of Aberffraw.

The Aberffraw biscuit also appeared in the famous Cassell’s Dictionary of Cookery in 1892.

“Aberffraw Biscuit Co is all about resurrecting a piece of great history… the oldest biscuit recipe in Britain. We want to rekindle this gem of Welsh heritage and bring it to wider attention for people of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities to enjoy,” said James.

The flavours produced are chocolate, lemon, orange, traditional and vanilla.

James worked for the Rhyl and Prestatyn Visitor, North Wales Weekly News, and the Flintshire Chronicle where he was news editor and finally at the group’s Chester headquarters as its digital editor.

He left journalism in 2011 to work for kitchenware group Meyer at Bromborough where he headed up their e.commerce division. He is still retained by the group in that capacity on a freelance contract.

Cadwyn Clwyd’s contribution to Hamper Llangollen comes via the Rural Development Fund for Wales 2007-2013, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Welsh Government.

Robert Price said: “One of the main aims of the festival is to provide a show window for our wonderful array of food producers.

“This year we have decided to have a special section devoted to new products like the Aberffraw Biscuit so that we can showcase what they have to offer.

“We were thrilled to be named as one of the top 10 festivals in the UK and this year’s event is looking as if it is going to be one of the best ever.

“The location of the Pavilion is absolutely  spectacular – I can’t imagine that any other food festival in the UK has a more beautiful setting.”



Check out Aberffraw biscuits at and Hamper Llangollen at