“Rebellious” young bakers give Welsh specialities a fresh, new appeal.
Think “traditional Welsh fishing village” and you get Solva in Pembrokeshire. Yet in the heart of Solva is a quiet food revolution.
Thea Noble and Becky Hood are turning traditional Welsh food on its head. They’ve taken the Welsh Cake (a cross between a biscuit and a scone cooked on a griddle) and given it a massive twist. They now offer 14 different flavours of Welsh Cake, from Lemon to Cherry Bakewell, White Chocolate and Ginger to savouries with Leek and Caerphilly Cheese. They sell them from their cosy coffee shop, Mamgu Welshcakes, in an 18th Century printing house, a stone’s throw from the sea.
Thea explains “Mamgu in South Wales means Grandmother – it’s somebody or something homely and lovely you feel entirely comfortable and happy with. Mamgu has an alternative meaning which is the most amazing thing on the planet. We wanted to celebrate Welsh Tradition in a new way”.
The inspiration for Mamgu’s came after the two business partners went on holiday to Holland. Late one night, they ate out in a bakery amongst local people eating traditional Dutch pancakes but with a multitude of different toppings. “The Dutch are proud of their history but aren’t afraid to bring it up to date,” Thea said, “We sat there and we thought that the Welsh are equally proud of their traditions but they are stuck in time – they don’t evolve. We wanted to bring something new and fresh to the quiet part of Wales in which we live.” Thea said.
They started their business two years ago with a griddle and a gazebo selling Welsh cakes as street food, before opening up the café and broadening their menu. They now offer other Welsh dishes including Cawl (a thick Lamb and vegetable soup or stew), Welsh Rarebit (cheese and ale on a doorstep of toast) and Crempogs (traditional pancakes cooked on the griddle served with salted butter). Becky and Thea also cater for weddings and events from the back of a converted horsebox in addition to running the coffee shop.
But Thea has this warning for anyone wanting to start up a new business: “You will have highs and lows throughout the whole process. But remember that as long as you have faith in what you are doing and you are willing to work for it, it is one of the most incredible, satisfying feelings as you watch your dreams becoming a reality and other people enjoying what you have created with you.”
You can find out more about Mamgu (pronounced Mam-gi) Welshcakes at: mamguwelshcakes.com.