Here at Baked by Mel, we make traditional Welsh Bara Brith from our home kitchen in Llantwit Major. A small batch producer, Baked by Mel prides itself on the fact that each loaf is made as though you were coming for tea at our house. No preserves or additives, just honest home baking.
I developed my award winning recipe by adapting what I’d learnt from other bakers. My Bara Brith takes time. It’s essential to leave the mixture soak overnight, but the wait is worth it. Several taste tests later, and with nothing to lose, I entered my loaf into 2014’s Great Taste Awards and was delighted to learn it had won 2 gold stars.
It has been said that if you have 10 people making Bara Brith, you’ll probably have 12 or 13 recipes. Everyone that grew up eating Bara Brith will have fond memories of their mum, aunt or granny’s special loaf – we’ve yet to encounter anyone that didn’t like ours. We’re very proud of that fact.
Our Bara Brith has been the cause of many proud moments since Baked by Mel began. It has been requested by Prince Charles, sold at Green Man Festival, graced the shelves of Fortnum & Mason, immersed into bars of Nom Nom Chocolate, been received into waiting hands at Abergavenny Food Festival, snapped up by locals in Wine Street Coffee of Llantwit Major, tucked into posh hampers, posted out to poorly relatives, given to visiting dignitaries, gift-wrapped for corporate Christmas thank-you’s and sent with love for each and every occasion you can possibly imagine!
Our Bara Brith is a pleasure to send and a delight to receive. We love to write out the personalised messages, sometimes words of comfort or congratulations, condolences or an apology. It seems a home-made cake is the answer to a great many of life’s ups and downs.
Each loaf is wrapped in greaseproof paper and secured with string, snugly tucked into a sturdy cardboard box, wrapped in parcel paper. There is no excessive packaging, no puffy pockets of plastic air or squeaky polystyrene landfill fodder. It’s a simple thing of beauty.
Baked by Mel’s beginnings were humble. I was a single mother and finding it difficult to balance childcare and the need to provide for my family. Keen to change our circumstances, I started baking from home. Slowly but surely, I developed a loyal customer base and before long had built up a sustainable business.
A few years later, no longer single, and with an opportunity to move to The Vale of Glamorgan, Baked by Mel had a decision to make. As my customers were all local to our original address and given the delicate nature of my products which wouldn’t travel well, I decided to develop a product that could be sent in the post.
Enter Bara Brith, a robust fruit loaf that, if well packaged, could easily be shipped by courier or postal service. After searching online it became apparent there was a gap in the market, and one that I was sure I could fill. But how to go about it?
Moving to Llantwit Major brought with it some awesome advantages (other than the beautiful location, steeped in history and with a stunning rugged coastline on the doorstep) in that it has Creative Rural Communities, a body set up by the Welsh Government to support and help develop local businesses. As a result of a meeting with them, and the promise of support to help brand and launch the business, I have been able to take the business from strength to strength.
Now in its fourth year, Baked by Mel and its delicious Bara Briths have become a firm favourite for many online and offline customers. You’ll also find our Bara Brith’s at food festivals, music festivals, coffee shops or product launches.
We feel incredibly fortunate to have met so many lovely people along the way. Fellow foodies at markets and events, people offering support and most of all the customers who tell us how much they love our product. It’s what makes us want to keep baking.[less]