Complete your Christmas cheeseboard with crackers... made in Suffolk
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
With Christmas just around the corner, you’ll no doubt be stocking up on an array of delicious treats to snack on across the festive period.
Or perhaps you’re putting together a gift hamper for that foodie in your life who enjoys the finer things in life?
While it’s no secret that Suffolk is renowned the nation over for its food producers – one woman noticed a pretty sizable gap in the market, and decided to bridge that gap herself.
Earlier this year, mum-of-two Frances Fleming set up Cupla3 Bakery, crafting sweet and savoury biscuits, crackers and crispbreads after realising there were no Suffolk-based makers who specialised in any of these storecupboard items.
“Suffolk is an incredible county for food, with high-quality artisan producers around every corner -think meat and charcuterie, cheese, vegetables, cider, beer and condiments,” she says.
“It’s so easy to eat locally, and my range has been designed to complement these products.”
Suffolk born and bred, Frances has always avidly championed local fare – and with a background in marketing within the hospitality sector, her latest business venture made perfect sense.
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“I’d been freelancing ever since my eldest was born six years ago, but when the pandemic hit my clients didn’t really need any marketing at the time, so I thought to myself about what was I going to do next. I’d always wanted to make my own biscuits and sell them, and I felt lockdown was my opportunity to do that.”
No stranger to baking, Frances has always been a dab hand in the kitchen, and has been baking for friends and family for about 15 years.
“I’d always make shortbread for birthdays and Christmas, and when I had my youngest son about four years ago, I started making crispbreads, crackers and other savouries.
“I was eating huge amounts of these caraway crispbreads and I thought that could work as a business, so I started to play around with recipes and eventually registered the name and branding a year ago when we were in lockdown.”
Cupla3 Bakery was born. But where does the name come from?
“The Suffolk dialect is an absolute treasure but it’s becoming rarer to hear, so I thought I’d bring it back with a locally known saying, ‘a cupla three’, meaning a few,” she explains.
Meticulously crafted, all of Frances’ biscuits are made by hand using traditional methods, (including cutting each biscuit to size by eye) - and of course use flours and oils from right here in Suffolk.
“The fact they’re made using locally-sourced ingredients is really important to me, and I want to retain that sense of Suffolk.”
Her caraway crispbreads use a blend of two different flours – wholegrain from Woodbridge Tide Mill and rye flour from Pakenham Mill, while her oil is from Heveningham’s Hillfarm Oils.
“Tide Mill have been great, I can email them and get the flour the next day, while one of Pakenham Mill’s volunteers brings the flour home for me to collect as he’s close by. I can support these local businesses and their charities, and in return use that lovely, quality flour in my products.”
Not only are Frances’ bakes delicious and local, they’re good for the planet too.
“I took my time researching the packaging, because I wanted it to be recyclable and biodegradable. It’s always irritated me how much single-use plastic packaging there is with biscuits, so I felt it was worth my biscuits and crackers having a slightly shorter shelf life to enable the packaging to be eco-friendly, so it doesn’t leave a trace behind once it’s gone.”
After launching in July this year, things have gone from strength-to-strength, and she’s already built up a loyal following in the local foodie scene.
“As I’ve grown, I’ve gone to different shops and food buyers over time to see if they’d be interested in stocking my crackers, and the response has been amazing. I’d say around 90% of the people I’ve approached have said yes.”
Just some of the outlets Cupla3 Bakery can be found in include Suffolk Food Hall, Slate in Aldeburgh and Southwold, Grundisburgh Dog Deli, and Earsham Street Deli in Bungay.
“A lot of people have said they’ve been looking for a Suffolk-made cracker for so long, because we’ve got this amazing range of foods to complement them, but no crackers to have them with, so it’s been lovely to hear people say how delicious they are.
“It’s gone crazy over the last couple of weeks. On Friday, I delivered 165 packets of my caraway crispbreads for one order for some hampers which was exciting. And when Earsham Street Deli came to me, they first ordered one box of each of the crackers and malted oaties – but then six weeks later, they came back to me and ordered six boxes of each, so it’s really escalated. I reckon in the last three weeks, I’ve baked 30kg of crackers!”
With her crackers and crispbreads such a hit, what does she suggest you pair them with?
“Suffolk Blue cheese is delicious with the malted oaties – if you like the sweet and savoury contrast. The malted oaties also complement Suffolk Gold or Baron Bigod cheese.
“Alternatively, smoked fish goes really well with the caraway crispbread, as does Dingley Dell’s range of cured meats. And Sunday Charcuterie’s nduja is beautiful on the crispbreads. The Suffolk rusks are nice as they can go sweet or savoury, so you can top them with butter and jam, or butter and cheese. A really nice Scarlett & Mustard jam on those is delicious.”
To find out more about Cupla3 Bakery, visit cupla3.co.uk