Welsh Cake revolution takes on Bakewell Tart at baking festival

A company that’s revolutionised the traditional Welsh Cake and attracted a host of celebrity fans has been signed up for the UK’s first major baking festival.

Organisers at Bakewell Baking Festival – billed as the “spiritual home of baking” and home of the famous Bakewell Pudding and Bakewell Tart – wanted the very best Welsh Cakes and invited Cwmni Cacen Gri from Betws y Coed to show off their skills.

They hit the headlines after it was revealed that pop stars Olly Murs and Pixie Lott were fans – not to mention Wales’s favourite weatherman, Derek Brockway.

Last year Ann Romney, wife of the unsuccessful Republican Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, harked back to her Welsh roots and extolled their virtues to anyone who would listen on the campaign trail.

Partners and best friends Jennie Barrie and Jo Wordsworth will be giving demonstrations and talking about how they started their successful business at the two day Derbyshire festival on June 8-9.

Jennie said: “I think they Googled us and saw a clip of us on TV and we’ve just been swept along.

“The festival director is Welsh and he rang us and looked at what we have and must have thought we were a bit of a double act.

“The Beehive Baker Stacie Stewart who won Master Chef in 2010 and Edd Kimber, first ever winner of the Great British Bake Off in 2010 will also be there.”

Cwmni Cacen Gri has revolutionised the traditional griddled Welsh Cake tea time treat, by including varieties which include some exotic flavours such as raspberry and white chocolate, triple chocolate, chocolate and orange, chocolate and mint, cinnamon, orange and lemon, lime and coconut and Penderyn Welsh whisky and sultana.

“We’ve just provided the Welsh cakes and bara brith for the Snowdonia Half Marathon,” said Jennie.

She and Jo have also picked up entrepreneur of the year award at Conwy Rural Awards and were new business finalists in Network She awards.

Jennie added: “Conwy Rural Business Support has been wholly supportive and backed us all the way. They have been especially effective in getting publicity for our business.”

“The Bakewell Festival is something we are really looking forward to. They want to hear from us about our business and how it started and how we got to where we are,” said Jo.

“We’ll be doing a workshop to demonstrate how we make Welsh cakes.”

And Cwmni Cacen Gri were one of 35 regional finalists – out of the 1,000 UK bakeries -which tried to get a place on ITV’s popular daytime TV competition, Britain’s Best Bakery.

Jennie and Jo, who both have two children, had grandparents and parents who were in business in Betws y Coed and knew each other as pupils in Ysgol Dyffryn Conwy at Llanrwst. Jo trained as a nurse at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and for 13 years was practice nurse at Betws y Coed surgery, while Jennie worked in the Middle East for five years as a PA in a drilling company. She returned and worked for Citizens Advice Bureau, before she and Jo teamed up to start their new business.

Bakewell Baking Festival is the brainchild of the town’s Mayor Paul Morgan and his partner Janet Reeder.

Paul said: “I am from Wales, I lived just outside Builth Wells and I was determined to have Welsh cakes at the festival because I had grown up with Welsh Cakes as a kid.

“I looked Welsh cakes up on the internet and came across an article which suggested they were going out of fashion – which I’m sure is something Jo and Jennie would not agree with!

“I started looking around Cardiff and then worked my way up north and then came across Jennie and Jo and Cacen Gri and I remembered seeing something of the ITV programme Britain’s Best Bakery.

“We have been quite selective for our exhibitors for the two day show because we did not want everyone selling cupcakes.

“We will be attracting the BBC Good Food Guide, Olive magazine, food and travel publications, Cheshire and Derbyshire Life magazines, local TV and radio.

“This is our first ever festival and as far as I know I don’t think there is another baking festival in the UK

“Baking is something of a phenomenon at the moment and the second episode of the Great British Bake-Off was at Bakewell.

“Jennie and Jo are great fun and we do not want them to come and just make Welsh cakes but we would like them to talk about their story, which is fascinating.

Anna Openshaw, the Project Officer for Conwy Rural Business Support, is delighted by the success of the Cacen Gri company.

She said: “We’re thrilled that they will be flying the flag for Wales in general and Conwy in particular at the Bakewell Baking festival.

“Jennie and Jo are perfect role models of how to take a great idea and turn it into a fantastic business success.”

For more information about the support and advice that’s available to small businesses in rural Conwy go to www.econwyrural.co.uk or contact Anna Openshaw either by emailing conwyruralpartnership@conwy.gov.uk
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You can also ring 01492 577834/5. If you want more information about Cwmni Cacen Gri visit  www.cwmnicacengri.co.uk and for more
about the festival visit www.bakewellbakingfestival.co.uk

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