Chelsea's Local Heroes - Theresa Connor, Welsh Cake Maker & Superhero

Author's Note:  You haven't fully lived until you've had a proper Welsh cake.  The Welsh are famous for beautiful music, riveting poetry, and some of the world's finest slate, but had they hung it all up after inventing the delectable treats, they could have rested on their laurels forever.  These little babies are amazing.  Theresa's story and (you're very welcome) a Welsh cake recipe follow.

On our recent trip to the Rhondda Valley, we were pleased to discover in a town called Pontypridd, the Indoor Market, situated in the town centre. Amongst the many stalls, we were extremely happy to find the Welsh Cake stall, owned by Theresa Connor. All the traditional Welsh delights are freshly baked on site and the entire market is filled with the sweet scent of Welsh heaven. We purchased Welsh cakes several times during our stay, which were superb and usually still warm, fresh from the griddle. We look forward to the day she starts selling these online!

We wanted to find out from Theresa how she started her business.....

1. What do you do?

I am the owner of The Welsh Cake Stall in Pontypridd indoor market. We make lots of baked goods including Traditional Welsh Cakes and Bara Brith.

2. What was that spark that ignited in your head that made you say "I want to do this?"

Making celebration and wedding cakes was a hobby of mine for many years. When the opportunity came along for me to quit my day job, buy the business and bake full time, I didn't think twice, baking makes me happy

3. What part of the reality of this is different from your vision?

I didn't anticipate how much work goes into owning a business after hours. It can sometimes mean many hours researching anything from new recipes to employment law (yawn).

4. What unexpected happiness have you gotten from this?

I have met such lovely people in my local community including neighbours I didn't know I had. The market is the heart of our town and I'm so proud to be a part of it. It's so much more than a job.

5. Where does your vision see this going?

I am hoping to take our baked goods online soon. Supplying them via mail order will mean that the rest of the UK can enjoy them as much as we do.

(Author's other note:  If she starts selling these online, we'll pass the info along to you (you're welcome again))

6. Everyone has a super power. What is yours?

Ohh that's a difficult question, but I would have to say my heat resistant hands. After handling also many hot tins and trays my hands seem to have become heat resistant. I have on more than one occasion surprised people by handing them something which is hotter than they have expected (not intentionally of course).

7. If you weren't doing this, what would you be doing?

I guess I would still be working as a chemist in a lab somewhere. Although they say that cooking is chemistry so I guess I have just swapped a lab for a kitchen really.

8. You have one statement to inspire people to live their dreams like you have chosen to. What is it?

"You won't know unless you try". Or "it's better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all".

Theresa is not only a super hero in South Wales but she's also just a downright nice lady who is wonderful to know even when she isn't wearing her cape!  If you're in Pontypridd, if you're anywhere NEAR Pontypridd, or you're within 4,000 miles of Pontypridd, do yourself a favour and go see this wonderful woman and her equally wonderful Welsh Cakes at the Pontypridd Indoor Market.  Simply sniff to find her stall...

If you fancy having a go at making some classic Welsh Cakes, here's a recipe

Ingredients:

225g/8oz self raising flour, sieved

110g/4oz salted butter

1 free-range egg

handful of sultanas

milk, if needed

85g/3oz  caster sugar

extra butter, for greasing

Method:

1. Rub the butter into the sieved flour to make breadcrumbs.  Add the sugar, sultanas and then the egg.  Mix to combine, then form a ball or dough, using a splash of milk if needed.

2. Roll out the dough until it is 5mm/1/4 inch thick and cut into rounds with a 7.5 -10cm/3-4in fluted cutter.

3. You now need a bake stone ( here for US version) or heavy griddle pan.  Rub it with butter and wipe the excess away.  Put it on a direct heat and wait until it warms up, place the Welsh cakes on the griddle, turning once. They need 2-3 minutes each side.  Each side needs to be caramel brown before turning.

4. Remove from the pan and then dust with caster sugar while still warm.

Lisa Martell