30 May 2022
Cradoc’s Savoury Biscuits – Producer of the Month
1 Feb 2021
Behind every great cheese, there’s a great cracker. So this month we caught up with Allie Thomas, founder of Cradoc’s Savoury Biscuits. Her small, woman-run company in Brecon uses fresh veg to create flavoursome crackers, all designed with Welsh cheese in mind.
Take us back to the beginning… why did you start Cradoc’s?
We love cheese – it’s as simple as that. In 2008, we realised that the biscuits we were buying didn’t match the quality of the cheese we were eating. So one day I decided to bake some with my daughter Ella, to see if we could improve on what was on offer. We think we succeeded!
After receiving positive feedback from friends, we started selling them at local farmers’ markets. It took three years to get established; we worked from a converted garage at the top of the garden, pushing through flowers and veg to get to the bakery door. That’s why there are so many insects and butterflies on our packaging! They were very much part of the early experience.
How do you make the crackers?
We make them using an authentic traditional recipe we’ve been following for over 12 years. Our lovely bakers Cerian and Ann blend the ingredients in a mixer and in no time we have some colourful pastes, which smell divine. They roll them out on a machine called a brake and bake for 15 minutes.
We also have two cracker packers, Carol and Sue. This is an essential job and they’re the ones who divvie up the bakes into units and pack them off to the wholesalers, shops and web-based vendors we sell to. It takes a whole team to get thousands of packets of biscuits out to our customers. It’s exciting and we are always busy.
Where’s the coolest place you’ve heard your crackers have been used?
When I was at a trade show in 2019, a young man was very keen to tell me that Take That’s Gary Barlow had specified Cradoc’s Crackers on a cheeseboard as part of his runner. I was delighted, of course!
Welsh cheeses to pair with Cradoc’s Savoury Biscuits
Cheese tastings are the best part of my job! Our Pear and Earl Grey Crackers were designed to go with goats’ cheeses or young Ewes’ milk cheeses, so Pant-Ys-Gawn would be delicious. They’re also good with Perl Las.
Our Chilli, Ginger and Garlic Crackers are best served with room temperature Cheddar, so we would go for a Teifi Mature (we like to grate it and make a sandwich with two biscuits) – so moreish and a great canapé too. We also like to cover them with Drewi Sant and a few chillies and put them under the grill – so delicious!
What do you love about producing crackers in Wales?
Like most producers in Wales, we have to be entrepreneurial; we have to make our own jobs and we make jobs for others too. And where better to bake than Brecon? We don’t have to commute, we don’t have traffic jams – although that is changing these days – and we get to make our jobs as stress-free as possible.
How has coronavirus impacted your business?
It’s been huge, that’s all I can say. We have five staff as well as ourselves to look after and working normally through COVID-19 is no easy undertaking. From the start of the Pandemic we held weekly COVID-19 meetings with our girls, to follow government guidelines and to understand how we could make the workplace safe. Our bakers and packers wanted to work, but we had to make sure the bakery was COVID-19-proof, enough for two vulnerable people to come to work every day. We continue with these activities and meetings to tighten our resolve and to be safe at work.
What’s next for Cradoc’s?
We are currently experimenting with new ingredients to boost the nutritional content of our crackers. We’re also trying to find ways to reduce our carbon footprint and are looking at using recycled card for our packaging. It’s what we all have to do and we are ready to do our bit! We’ve always got new ideas bubbling through and have some technical surprises for new innovative growth in 2021.
Want more to sink your teeth into? Order Cradoc’s Savoury Biscuits.