This East Anglian cheese has been named one of the best in the UK

Jonny Crickmore with Baron Bigod brie made in the new cheese-making building at Fen Farm Dairy near

Jonny Crickmore with Baron Bigod, made at Fen Farm Dairy in Bungay - Credit: Chris Hill

It’s a staple of any East Anglian cheeseboard worth its salt.  

It’s one of our region’s finest exports (appearing on menus and fine food shops across the UK and as far as Japan). 

And it’s just been named one of the very best in the country. 

Baron Bigod.  

The bloomy-rinded, earthy, mushroomy cheese, one of only raw milk brie de meaux varieties in the world, was voted the number two cheese in the UK by Specialty Food Magazine – second to Welsh-made Black Bomber. 

This ranks Baron Bigod above high-hitters in the cheese arena. More popular than varieties with long, rich histories, such as Colten Bassett Stilton and Montgomery Cheddar. 

“We’re really chuffed,” says Jonny Crickmore, who started making cheese at Fen Farm in an idyllic rural setting just outside Bungay with wife Dulcie nine years ago as a diversification project. 

Dulcie and Jonny Crickmore of Fen Farm Dairy

Dulcie and Jonny Crickmore - Credit: Kat Mager

Most Read

Speciality Food Magazine readers (deli, cheese and food store owners), voted in their droves for Baron Bigod as their favourite cheese. 

“But I’m not sure we’ll ever beat Black Bomber,” Jonny laughs when asked if he thinks they could take the top spot. “It’s {Black Bomber} in the supermarkets. It’s everywhere. And it’s been around for 25 years or so now. We’re quite small in comparison, we don’t have any grand plans to be on supermarket shelves, that’s not what we want to do. So I think to get this recognition, up against some big names, is fantastic. It means a lot and I think it’s pretty incredible really. 

“It’s also a bit strange to be in this position. Colston Bassett and Montgomery were some of the makers we looked to when we first started thinking about making cheese. They were already so well established around the country and it’s so special to be sitting alongside them and to be voted above them, and other brands. It makes you realise how far you’ve come. To be making one of the top cheeses in the country.” 

Baron Bigod is made with fresh, warm, early morning milk, direct from the family farm’s herd of Montbeliarde cows, which graze on the meadows of Bungay in the warmer months – making the finished product a slightly different, richer colour in summer.  

The cheese is made on site, hand-salted and aged for up to eight weeks in cave-like conditions, allowing the mottled, creamy rind to develop. 

It’s then shipped out all over East Anglia and the rest of Great Britain, taking pride of place as one of the ‘best in show’ at the likes of Neal’s Yard Dairy and Fortnum and Mason. 

“We send it out to Japan. Our cheese is in shops in Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong. It’s in the Middle East, and dotted out all over Europe – Switzerland, France, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Spain,” says Jonny. 

And yet...he hasn’t yet entered Baron Bigod into the international or world cheese awards. 

Baron Bigod and other dairy products such as raw butter and skyr made at Fen Farm

Baron Bigod and other dairy products such as raw butter and skyr made at Fen Farm - Credit: Brittany Woodman

“This year,” Jonny chuckles. “I’ll put it in my diary!” 

If you happen to be in the Bungay area , stop at the farm, where you can buy the cheese from the shed ‘farm shop’ vending machines, alongside their raw milk, raw butter, mascarpone and skyr, and locally made bread, cakes and more. You can even grab a fantastic coffee or hot chocolate...24/7. 

Are there plans to go bigger? To make other cheeses? 

“Obviously Julie (Cheney, who makes cheeses of her own such as St Jude at Fen Farm) is making hers. And possibly we would like to make another. But not right now. We’ve always said the cheese has to come FROM Fen Farm, using our milk. What we say on the tin is true. It’s a real working farm, and that’s important to us. There is an idea we’ve been floating about for a second cheese, potentially partnering with someone else, maybe in the next two or three years.” 

Watch this space then. 

Production is currently underway on cute, heart-shaped mini Baron Bigods (similar in appearance to Normandy’s Neufchatel), made and sold to coincide with Valentine’s Day. “They’ll be going out in the last few days of January,” Jonny says. “And they should be in delis and shops in the first week of February. We only make a limited amount, so get your order in now.” 

Buy from your local deli, farm or cheese shop and online at fenfarmdairy.co.uk 

Jonny Crickmore holding his Baron Bigod brie cheese at Fen Farm Dairy of Bungay Picture: KAT MAGER P

The farm shop shed at Fen Farm Dairy - Credit: Kat Mager

How do they eat theirs? 

Jonny, quite rightly, says Baron Bigod is great as it is, brought to room temperature to allow the centre to become silky. But he will sometimes go off-piste too. 

“I was at the Easton White Horse not that long ago and they had Welsh rarebit-style Baron Bigod on toast. That was delicious. 

“But, personally, I’m a bit boring. I like it in a baguette with some salami and nothing else. Just salty salami and a big chunk of cheese. I also think it goes really well with Eastgate Larder’s medlar jelly. That's incredible. 

“It’s surprisingly really good on pizza as well. Once it’s cooked it’s a bit more pungent and doesn’t have that acidity. The flavour becomes more meaty and savoury.” 

To drink? “Draught apple cider.” 

The starters at the Restaurant on a Hill at Fen Farm - mushroom arancini, Baron Bigod jammy dodger a

Canapes served at Fen Farm Dairy's first restaurant pop-up in 2021 - mushroom arancini, Baron Bigod jammy dodger and a beetroot and curd wafer - Credit: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis

Eating out 

As already mentioned, Baron Bigod is on cheeseboards up and down the country. But it is also used extensively by chefs within their menus. 

Locally, at Suffolk Stonehouse in Bungay, named as one of England’s best pizza restaurants, you can enjoy a Flixton pizza, topped with Baron Bigod, crispy Parma ham, red onion jam, tomato and mozzarella. 

Alan Paton features Baron Bigod as a starter at Stoke By Nayland Resort’s The Lakes restaurant in a savoury bread and butter pudding with apple, accompanied by a pear chutney and pear and tarragon salad. 

At the Black Dog Deli in Halesworth its crushed between sourdough bread with red onion marmalade and rocket. 

Nourish Café in Norwich proudly uses it within sandwiches with local chutney. 

And The Fox and Goose at Fressingfield has recently offered a dish of truffled Baron Bigod fritters with artichokes, beetroot, fennel, pickled carrots, wild mushroom croquette potatoes, green beans and marinated grapes. 

Further afield, Bluebells in Ascot serves a Bigod ganache with toasted walnuts, chicory and cranberries, Bigod beignets are served with grilled asparagus and beer-pickled onions at James Martin Manchester, Lupins of London offers pizza fritta with greens, Baron Bigod and truffle, and at the Four Seasons, 10 Trinity Square London, you can indulge in pasta parcels with Baron Bigod, sake fondue, turnip consomme, geranium and pu-er tea. 


Baron Bigod with fruit loaf, honey and truffle 

Luke Foster, head chef of The Fox at Bulmer shares his recipe for a dish being served on the pub’s current menu. The fruit loaf works in perfect harmony with Baron Bigod. 

Ingredients 

For the fruit loaf: 

60g sultanas 

60g golden raisins 

60g dried apricots (finely chopped) 

2 Earl grey teabags 

Boiling water 

480g strong white bread flour 

15g dried yeast 

220ml whole milk, warmed 

10g salt 

60g caster sugar 

100g unsalted butter 

2 eggs 

2 egg yolks 

Plus beaten egg for washing the top 

For the truffled cheese:

250g wheel of Baron Bigod

25g mascarpone

15g minced black truffle

Method 

To make the truffled cheese cut it in half horizontally with a sharp knife. Mix the truffle with the mascarpone and spread onto one half of the Bigod. Top with the other piece of cheese and wrap the whole thing tightly in clingfilm. Allow to sit in the fridge for at least 24 hours before using. 

For the fruit loaf steep the raisins, sultanas and teabags in a bowl, just covered with boiling water, for 30 minutes. 

Combine the flour and yeast in a bowl. Add the salt, sugar and butter and mix until the butter is incorporated. 

Add the eggs and egg yolks, followed by the warm milk and knead until the dough comes together. 

Drain the sultanas and raisins, discarding the teabags. Add to the dough with the chopped apricots and mix until incorporated evenly. 

Shape into a ball on a floured surface, place in a greased bowl, cover with clingfilm and place in a warm spot until doubled in size. 

Grease a 2lb loaf tin and pre-heat the oven to 200C. 

Remove from the bowl and knock back. Fold into a rectangle shape and place in the greased loaf tin. Allow to rise just above the rim of the tin, wash the top with beaten egg and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. 

Turn onto a cooling rack and cool completely. 

To serve slice and toast pieces of the fruit loaf, layer thin slices of the truffled Baron Bigod on top. Lightly grill to melt. Finish with a drizzle of high-quality honey.