Sunday 13 December 2009

Jordans Country Crisp Appreciation Society Day

Yesterday I was one of a few lucky bloggers to be invited to the first Country Crisp Appreciation Society day run by Jordans Cereals at Leiths School of Food and Wine in London. I was delighted about this as I adore cereal and have been eating Jordans products for many years. For those of you who don’t know, Jordans produce a delicious range of oat based mueslis, cereal bars, porridge oats and Country Crisp clusters. They are based in Biggleswade, in my own hometown of Bedfordshire and use only the finest natural ingredients in their cereals.

Some of the other cereal enthusiast bloggers were:
Kavita of Kavey Eats
Signe of Scandilicious
Mathilde of Mathilde’s Cuisine
The Muesli Lover
Greedy Diva
The Ginger Gourmand
Danny of Food Urchin
Maunika of Cook in a Curry

Jordans Country Crisp cereal has been around for several years, and comprises of clusters of oats and barley baked into various sized clusters. It comes in many varieties depending on what add-ins you have with it. I have always favoured the raisin one which has lovely giant chewy flame raisins mixed in with it. The crisp clusters are hugely popular and the whole Country Crisp range has now got such a fan base that Jordans have just launched a Country Crisp Appreciation Society. People can’t get enough of it and are eating it not only at breakfast but also baking with it and snacking on it straight out the box. As a result they have recently launched a honey variety which is designed with snackers in mind – bigger clusters with no add-ins to pick through, although, it does of course still taste great for breakfast.

After a meet and greet one of the two founders of Jordans, Bill Jordan himself then gave us a talk about the history and philosophy behind Jordans. He was ever so friendly and stayed to answer all our questions as we got down to some baking. Apparently it took 83 different recipes before they achieved the perfect cluster – now that’s dedication! Jordans were also the first to offer freeze fried berries in its cereal and all its oats are grown in the fields near the factory and to conservation standard.
Jordans head of taste, Kirsten, then talked us through a Country Crisp Pear and Chocolate Crumble Cake we would be baking using Jordans Chocolate Country Crisp. We were each given our own work space and ingredients and set about baking. It was a vanilla sponge cake, studded with chocolate chips, topped with a layer of Chocolate Country Crisp, sautéed sliced pears and a final sprinkle of more Country Crisp. The recipe can be found here. It produced a delicious cake and it was interesting to see how everyone’s cake turned out a little differently, even though we had all followed the same recipe. The way the pears had been sliced or the amount of Country Crisp topping made each one unique.

While our cakes were baking Kirsten talked us through the secrets to making new Country Crisp recipes. There are 3 different cluster bases, Vanilla, Nutty and Honey from which to add and create new products. Getting the clusters just right took a lot of research. Customers told Jordans they liked the big clusters but then complained that it was too much to chew if the pack only contained big clusters. Too many small clusters meant they weren’t clustery enough. Jordans have found that a mix of small, medium and large clusters is most successful. To do this they sort and grade the clusters after oven baking them to ensure every box is perfect. Even the add ins have proved problematic as high water content fruits like peaches proved too bland and the cut or shape of a nut dramatically changes the texture and mouthfeel of the cereal. It’s Kirsten’s job to taste and help develop the recipes – how fantastic a job does that sound!

We then got the opportunity to get creative and mix our own Country Crisp cereal using the oaty crisp clusters as a base and a fantastic array of add-in ingredients. I chose pecans, hazelnuts, giant flame raisins, pumpkin and sesame seeds, natural apple and apricot pieces and flaked coconut. I then went back and added a handful of dark chocolate curls – being curls they just melted in the mouth, and even sprinkled in a generous amount of cinnamon for an extra warming Christmassy scent. I was so excited by this as I absolutely adore cinnamon with nuts and chocolate, plus its meant to be very good for controlling blood pressure. Once our cereals were mixed we were then presented with our very own personalized country crisp cereal box complete with our picture and a short character description! How cool is that!!

I had a bowlful of the cereal this morning and it was divine. Nutty with crisp oaty clusters, chewy raisins, creamy coconut and the warming scent and flavour of cinnamon. If you live in the Bedfordshire area and fancy creating your own cereal mix then you can visit their shop in Biggleswade to stock up on all the raw ingredients they use in their own cereals or simply just pick up one of their ready made mixes from the shelves. I have visited the shop many times (it also sells a great assortment of herbs, spices and other gifty things) and found out yesterday that the lovely lady who runs it is actually Bill Jordans Mum!

It was a fantastic morning and we left with a bag full of our lovely goodies – pear chocolate crisp cake, personalized cereal and box and a couple of boxes of the Country Crisp cereal. Thank you so much to everyone at Jordans and Wild Card for arranging the day and it was great to meet so many cereal enthusiasts.


Monica H said...

What a cool experience. You have yor own cereal blend AND your face on the box. Does it get better?

That cake looks yummy too!

Greedy Diva said...

Great to meet you yesterday, and your blog is gorgeous! I just wish I could stop eating the cake - I can feel the side rolls growing by the minute...

Sam said...

I love Country Crisp too, they sent me a couple of boxes to review soon. It looks like you had a great day, the cake looks amazing, I love your personalised cereal box too, I'd love one of those!

The Caked Crusader said...

My own cereal? Wow - I'd eat breakfast three times a day!

Anonymous said...

How cool! I love the cereal box :D

Gigi said...

save the cereal box! how very fantastic. it looked like fun event to attend.

Rachel at Jordans said...

Thank you so much for coming along on Saturday, it was great to meet you. I was just wondering if you had any recipes you might make with Country Crisp? If you do and are happy to, please send them to me, then we could get them made up here and perhaps even shot for our website. Let me know if you like the idea.
Thank you again

Nic said...

What a fabulous day you had, and how cool is that cereal box?!

Kavey said...

Lovely to meet you at the event, wasn't it fun?
Thank you for linking to the blogs of other bloggers, some of the links seem to be broken for me, though, mine included!
Have added your blog to my RSS feed so can keep in touch!
Am KaveyF on twitter if you are there.
x x x

Katie said...

Hi Kavey,

It was great to meet you too! Thank you for bringing the broken links to my attention - they are fixed now.

Kavey said...

Looking fwd to reading your post about your visit to Jordan's HQ!