Britain’s oldest biscuit makes a return to the shelves of the Co-op

The Aberffraw biscuit, which dates back to the 13th century, will be stocked in the Co-op Group's stores in Wales, after the Great British Bake-Off inspired a business...

The Co-op Group is working with a local Welsh producer to bring back ‘Britain’s oldest biscuit’ to its stores in Wales.

James Shepherd, a former regional journalist, set up the Aberffraw Biscuit Company with his wife Natasha, in 2013, after watching a feature about the Aberffraw biscuit on the Great British Bake Off.

“It’s a basic shortbread that comes in the shape of a scallop shell,” said Mr Shepherd.

“I found a 19th century recipe that called for loaf sugar, which I’d never heard of. I tried to replicate it but it just looked like sludge so I updated the recipe as best I could.

James Shepherd with the revived snack

“There are just three ingredients – flour, butter and sugar – and I created a special stamp to make it look like a shell.”

The Aberffraw biscuit (sometimes Aberffraw cake or Teisen Berffro) is said to originate from 13th century Anglesey.

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​”Legend has it that a Welsh king was holding court in Aberffraw – 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. And so the Aberffraw biscuit was born,” said Mr Shepherd.

“However, a far more realistic source for the biscuit was the famous pilgrimage to the church of St James in Galicia, north western Spain, which began in about the 8thcCentury with pilgrims wearing badges on their hat in the shape of a scallop shell.”

​The Aberffraw Biscuit Company has completed a deal with the Co-operative to stock his biscuits in 60 stores and is also looking at launching a new range – Shepherd’s Welsh Biscuits – with an unnamed major retailer.

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