Welsh Cakes from Conwy – a hit with pop stars Olly Murs and Pixie Lott

A company that’s revolutionised the traditional Welsh Cake is attracting a host of celebrity fans.

Aficionados of the griddled cakes made by Cwmni Cacen Gri (The Welsh Cake Company) in Betws y Coed now include pop stars Olly Murs and Pixie Lott – not to mention Wales’s favourite weatherman, Derek Brockway.

The art of Welsh Cake making was also given a boost earlier this year when Ann Romney, wife of the Republican Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, harked back to her Welsh roots and extolled their virtues to anyone who would listen on the campaign trail.

As well as the conventional tea time treats, the Cwmni Cacen Gri varieties include some exotic flavours never imagined by Mrs Romney or her Welsh grandmother.

Among them are 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.

The company was established by life-long friends Jennie Barrie and Jo Wordsworth who are  finding they can have their cake – and everyone wants to eat it.

The Welsh cakes are made with locally sourced ingredients such as Welsh butter and Welsh organic eggs.

The joys of their cacen gri were discovered by Olly Murs and Pixie Lott when they performed at the Access all Eirias pop concert in Old Colwyn this summer.

Their own original recipe even brightens up the day of BBC weatherman Derek Brockway, a fan of their Welsh cakes ever since he dropped into the shop one day and who keeps in touch through Twitter.

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.

Both Jennie and Jo had grandparents and parents who were in business in Betws y Coed and knew each other as pupils in Ysgol Dyffryn Conwy at Llanrwst.

“We’ve been best friends for ever, and had a desire to set up a business together,” said Jo.

Jo, however, trained as a nurse at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and for 13 years was practice nurse at Betws y Coed surgery, while Jennie went off to work in the Middle East for five years as a PA in a drilling company. She returned and worked for Citizens Advice Bureau.

Both have a son and daughter – who naturally are best mates. “The kids are as close as Jo and I,” said Jennie, 44.

Both Jennie and Jo love horse riding, although have little time for it now the business is so successful, but it’s a passion shared by their daughters Kate, 14, and Isabelle, 13. Sons Charlie, 14, and Matthew, 12, are rugby fanatics and play for local teams.

Their friendship helped enormously when Jennie was diagnosed with breast cancer just as they were building the new bakery and café on land at Station Approach. “I found out just as we were building the shop,” said Jennie.

“I just focused on the job in hand and got on with it. I’m still having treatment, It’s just a part of my life and Jo has helped me through it.”

Jo added: “It was not easy but we never gave up on our idea.

“After we opened we got some useful advice from Conwy Council’s  Business and Enterprise department about social media and websites.”

“We were quite passionate about our idea; we knew that no one was making Welsh cakes and griddling them fresh every day with new and exciting flavours, all home-made.

“Wales is the home of the Welsh cake but we realised that most Welsh cakes are packaged and there was an opening for someone making them fresh every day.”

Building within the National Park area is not easy but Jo says the National Park authorities were very supportive of their idea for the new bakery and café and worked closely with them.

“We try to improve what we do and not stand still,” said Jo, who says they have recruited five part-time staff.

“You have to give your own business 100% and we are lucky in having fantastic staff who are loyal and trustworthy. Running the business and finding time for the kids’ activities can be difficult but we both have wonderful support from our families,” said Jennie.

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

She said: “We are very proud of the part we are playing in helping the company to flourish, by revolutionising this traditional Welsh treat with a tasty twist.

“It’s really satisfying to see Jenni and Jo developing their business and the fact that their wonderful Welsh Cakes are such a hit with the likes of Olly Murs, Pixie Lott and Derek Brockway.

“Mind you, having tasted them myself I’m not at all surprised they’re so popular – they are scrumptious.”

For more information about the free support and advice that’s available to small businesses in rural Conwy contact Anna Openshaw by emailing conwyruralpartnership@conwy.gov.uk or ringing 01492 577834/5. If you want more information about Cwmni Cacen Gri visit their website on www.cwmnicacengri.co.uk

Related Posts with Thumbnails