The world’s Champion Welsh Cake maker has been crowned.
Bev Marsh from Tywyn, Gwynedd, was chosen after a bake-off by cooks from around Wales, all bidding to take the title at the first-ever Jones Crisps World Welsh Cake Championships.
She picked up a year’s supply of Jones crisps, plus £150 and a specially-made trophy.
Judges said Bev’s cakes were tasty and perfectly cooked, with a melt-in-the-mouth quality.
And retired GP Ieuan Jones from Talwrn, near Llangefni, whose bakes were flavoured with pink peppercorns and cranberries, won the title Alternative Flavour Welsh Cake Maker, bagging £50 and a case of Jones Crisps.
Farmer, broadcaster and social media champion Gareth Wyn Jones from Llanfairfechan presented Ieuan with his prize. The good news was broken by phone to Bev, while she was at work at Brighter Foods in Tywyn, where she is a shift supervisor.
The contest, part of the popular Llandudno Christmas Fayre, was held at the town’s Trinity Church, in partnership with Bodnant Food Centre Wales, Go North Wales, Llandudno Chamber of Trade and Merched y Wawr.
Around 20 bakers entered the contest, with entries from as far afield as Tregaron in South Wales. Welsh Cakes are known by a variety of names in different areas of Wales, such as Picau ar y Maen, Pice Bach, and Theisen Radell.
It was just the second time that mum-of-two Bev, 62, had made Welsh cakes, she admitted.
‘“I looked for the recipe online, because it’s not something that I’ve made before,” said Bev, who moved to Tywyn 40 years ago from the West Midlands. “I do love baking and my granddaughter Sarah, who is two, sampled my first trial batch. My other granddaughter, Carys, 13, was the time keeper to make sure they were cooked properly.
“I used to do a lot of baking before my husband Phil died, and now I enjoy doing it with my three grandchildren.
“I made the winning entries on Tuesday so they could be posted, and it’s good know they got there safely
“I entered the competition with some of my colleagues from Brighter Foods, as we all like taking part in contests like these. I am really pleased that one of us has won, as there was stiff competition from my colleagues.
“I will be sharing my year’s supply of Jones Crisps with my colleagues at work as that’s only fair.”
She revealed that the winning cakes were made from a combination of Welsh butter and lard, but she left out the spices that are often added.
She added: “I thought that back in the day people would use lard a lot, and that they probably won’t have access to spices, as they were expensive.”
Geraint Hughes of Jones Crisps, who organised the contest, said: “I love Welsh Cakes and I wanted to celebrate the very best that Wales has to offer.
“I am delighted that Bev has won. We’ve had a wide variety of entries and it’s been a real dream tasting them all – the judges have had a difficult task in choosing the winner.
“I was delighted to be able to announce that she is our Champion Welsh Cake Maker. It’s a title never awarded before, and Bev should be proud to be the first person to hold this office. I am sure that her family will agree that their Welsh Cakes are truly champions.
“We were expecting some weird and wacky food combinations for the Alternative Flavour Welsh Cake category and the entries certainly lived up to our expectations.
“Ieuan‘s creation of pink peppercorns and cranberries was most unusual, but lovely to sample.”
The grandad of seven said he was inspired by his daughter Delyth, a professional cook for a Wirral hotel.
The 68-year-old, who is often called on to create cakes for village fund-raising events, said: “Myself, my wife Mary, and our four children all cook, and my daughter Delyth and I especially like trying out different flavours. I thought for this I would try something that might be suitable for Christmas and also for savoury toppings, such as cream cheese or salmon.
“Pink peppercorns give a lovely delicate flavour and the cranberries have a very seasonal flavour, I actually used cranberries that my sister in law brought over from America.
‘I did also enter the Traditional category, using Halon Mon vanilla salt, so it is interesting that the Alternative ones were more popular with the judges ”
Other entries to the Alternative Flavour category included walnut, butterscotch, blueberry, apricot and rhubarb.
The judging panel included Linda Jones from Rhiwlas and Majorie Jones from Glan Conwy, and lead by Delyth Jenkins of Ffos y Ffin, near Aberaeron, who won last year’s Jones Crisps Bara Brith World Championships – her winning bake is now on sale to the public.
Delyth said: “There was very high standard of entries and it was a difficult choice. However, we thought Bev’s entry was nice and moist, well baked with a good colour. The cakes were all the same size, with an excellent taste. It was also good to see she’d used Welsh ingredients
“Ieuan’s Alternative Welsh Cake was lovely, delicately flavoured and a real winner. We thought it would make an excellent savoury cake, similar to a blini.”
Jones Crisps is the only crisp company based in Wales and owned by Welsh food entrepreneurs. The crisps are made with 100% Welsh grown potatoes. Each crisp is hand cooked in high oleic sunflower oil, to produce excellent old fashioned crisps with a proper thick crunch and punchy flavours.
Jones Crisps is proud to support outdoor events across Wales including the Cardiff Triathlon, Slateman, E-tape Eryri and Jones Crisps Anglesey Half Marathon.