Local baker creates Buckfast empire biscuits: "Sweet with subtle undertones of medicine"

Gillian, Nichola and Linsey Reith have built up a loyal following for their stall at Glasgow farmers markets, including Partick and Shawlands.
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Their latest empire biscuits take inspiration and flavours from Buckfast and Barr's Red Kola to add to their unusual and innovative range.

Currently preparing their Mother's Day Mini Bite Box for delivery, their Buckfast empire biscuit with buttercream filling and icing infused with the tonic wine and a Buckfast logo topper has been an unexpected success with Three Sisters Bake fans on social media.

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An earlier experiment with an Irn-Bru empire biscuit three years ago became their most popular flavour ever. "It was a quiet time at the bakery in January and we were brainstorming to try and come up with something for Burns Night and we came up with the Irn-Bru empire that went totally crazy on social media" Gillian explains.

"This year Barr's themselves contacted us to place a big order for an event they were hosting which was amazing. We decided to expand on that and add a different drink inspired bake each year. We added an Arran Gold cream liqueur one last year, which is delicious."

This year we ran a poll to ask whether people wanted Red Kola or Buckfast bakes. We thought Buckfast would win by a mile because of the cult following it has in Glasgow. Red Kola won and we created that one but we had already come up with the Buckfast recipe and created the toppers so we thought we would run with that one too and the Buckfast one has now gone mini-viral in Glasgow. We have sold out of our boxes and we are looking at bringing it to the farmers markets."

After the three sisters enjoyed a few glasses of Buckfast in the bakery to come up with the recipe, how would they describe the flavour profile of the tonic wine? "Medicinal" Gillian says, "I've had a cough for a month and it reminded me of cough medicines. I don't think any of us are going to be adopting it as our drink of choice. I have to say though, the actual finished product with the empire biscuits definitely tastes a lot better. It's a sweeter version with subtle undertones of medicine is how I would describe it. If you do enjoy the taste of Buckfast then it will be something you will enjoy. We sold 50 boxes in the last few days."

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A strong sense of nostalgia is one of the reasons empire biscuits remain so popular in Glasgow: "I think people grow up eating them and I think the reason ours have grown such a following is because we've taken the sort of nostalgic childhood west of Scotland biscuit or bakery classic and basically made it with high-end ingredients. So it's got a much higher butter quantity in it than a factory produced one would have. It kind of melts in your mouth as opposed to the ones that you can buy in the supermarket. I think that's, ours are giant as well. So the size definitely has a bit of a wow factor for people."

The Irn-Bru empire biscuit is on sale today at Shawlands farmers market and will be at the market in Chatelherault Country Park tomorrow. You can find a full list of farmers markets that Three Sisters Bake visit here.

Three Sisters Bake Scottish Bevvy Empire Biscuit Box

Buckfast Empire Biscuit – Buckfast buttercream filling, topped with Buckfast water icing and a Buckfast logo topper.

Irn Bru Empire – The all time most popular flavour from Three Sisters Bake. Irn Bru buttercream filling with an Irn Bru water icing topping, finished with Irn Bru Millions.

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Arran Gold Empire Biscuit – filled with Arran Gold buttercream; topped with gold chocolate and sprinkles.

Classic Empire Biscuit – Scottish raspberry jam filling; water icing on top, finished with a glace cherry.

Look for new deliveries here.

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