When it was evident that the next generation of the firm that made specialised biscuits for her Fine Cheese Company was uninterested in the business, Ann-Marie Dyas bought Ashbourne Biscuits, despite The Fine Cheese Company being based in Bath and the firm being in that biscuit Mecca, Ash-bourne in Derbyshire.
Renamed Artisan Biscuits ‘because we emphasise the handmade aspect’, the firm’s 90 employees are turning out a stream of new products, all, stresses the new owner, made to her principles: handmade, best possible ingredients, interesting ideas. ‘It’s like a giant kitchen: enormous Magimixes knead the dough, a huge roller pushes the mixture into super-sized biscuit cutters, and the trays are put into the oven by hand. The com- pany had been 70 years in the same family and it has now passed to another family. Everything we do is about quality, in the same way that we deal with the cheese. It’s not just about profits.’
The newest products are Miller’s Damsels, seven different wafers named after the damsel, the stone on which millers grind flour. And, of course, all the flour is stone ground. The seven are wheat, rye, spelt, sour dough, oat, three-seed and charcoal (£1.75 for 125g). They are so thin and crisp that they are definitely wafers rather than crackers.
This launch follows, earlier this year, Elegant & English, sweet, all-butter biscuits in flavours such as honey and almond and chocolate and raspberry, and Two by Two, a children’s range in the shape of characters from the works of Aesop and Edward Lear, such as The Owl and the Pussycat. For stockists, visit www.artisanbiscuits.co.uk, or for mail order, visit www.finecheese.co.uk