Growing up good food punctuated the usual every day meals and the more celebratory family gatherings I encountered as a child. My mum from east end London, marrying my dad, a greek Cypriot immigrant..couldn’t, as they say, cook for toffees, at the time. This being completely unacceptable and bizarre to a greek mother-in-law…”how will she care for my son and their children?!” she was welcomed into his home in Walthamstow where she embarked on an intensive and thorough cookery course of all dad’s favourites and the family staples. Greek Nan showed mum, step-by-step and with very little English, all the “how-to’s” of Cypriot dishes.
It sparked the beginning of true love for my mum…and she set sail on a journey of fabulous food and cooking from scratch. My Grandad Joe had a butchers on Brick Lane and mum ran the greengrocers next door, so fresh ingredients was always at hand…and then she had the know-how…truly a match made in heaven! My English Nan was a glamorous lady, playing boogie-woogie piano and very fond of red shoes…but boy…she could make the best Yorkshire puddings I ever tasted to this day (sorry mum)! So although our dinners were a good mix of ‘grenglish’ in the week, our Sundays were most definitely Roast Dinner days, with all the trimmings. The evenings would usually be shellfish, brown bread and butter, cooked crab (bashed up on our backyard doorstep to our utter delight)..and…Nans fruit cake. Nan was born in Swansea, and although hers was more cake than tea loaf, my Bara Brith is my nod to her xxx.
I started baking as a business as a single parent to two small boys living on Machen mountain, outside Caerphilly. After many wanderings and living in various places, here I came, to settle in Wales…though with my family, all in Essex…it was tricky to fit in working hours. Keen to improve our circumstances, I realised a home-based business would suit us perfectly. Naturally (very )…I turned to cake!! My cakey debut was in Rudry Parish Hall, the home of The Rudry Kitchen, initially set up as a cooperative of local producers. We held our first Rudry Rural Market, (complete with bunting) and my little business “Baked” was born! I had a total sell-out of all things cupcake…and I was smitten. Onwards and upwards, I have built on that success to now hold workshops, attend corporate events, supply retailers and fulfil private orders.
In the process I made a new discovery. Bara Brith. People were coming back for more and more…calling me up to get hold of the stuff…asking when/how they could get the next loaf! Our family grew, we moved to Llantwit…and today we bring you.. Bara Brith from Baked by Mel.