A former schoolteacher who rose to the challenge of swapping the blackboard for the baker’s oven will be showcasing her range of mouth-watering traditional bread at this year’s Llangollen Food Festival.
After taking a bread-making course back in her London hometown eight years ago Liz Wilson fell in love with the skill overnight.
She says she just baked and baked, enjoying every moment of it and was soon making enough bread at home to start selling it to friends.
Things really took off during lockdown when time away from her primary school day-job gave her the scope to start baking in earnest and her customer-base eventually soared from 60 to 450 in just a couple of weeks.
Last year Liz decided to look for premises with more space for baking and she and her husband moved to the picturesque North Wales village of Overton-on-Dee where she opened her own business under the name of Ma Baker in the high street in November.
The property, known as the Old Pharmacy House, dates back over 200 years and provides plenty of room for the couple to have their home and for Liz to have the professional bakery she had long dreamed of.
She bakes just twice a week – Thursday and Friday – and quickly sells out of everything she produces in the shop on the first floor – open in the afternoons only – and a busy pre-ordering system.
Using two large professional ovens, and with hers at the only pair of hands, she lovingly creates around 150 items of baked goods a week.
Liz said: “I love what I do. With three or four simple ingredients I can make something that tastes wonderful and makes people smile. The process is calming and satisfying and the smell is amazing.
“Each week I will offer a range of breads which will always include tinned whites and wholemeals, my Great Taste 3 star award-winning porridge bread and buckwheat crackers, sourdoughs and granola, biscuits and focaccias.
“I will also have a few specials which will change from week to week. It could be a dark chocolate bread, cheese, chive and chili, marmite, walnut, pecan and sultana, hot cross buns or stollen.”
Liz is among a host of top food and drink producers from across North Wales and beyond who will be taking stands at the one-day Llangollen Food Festival on Saturday October 15.
“My first visit to the festival was last year,” she said, “I wasn’t exhibiting but just went to have a look. I enjoyed myself so much I knew I definitely had to come back as an exhibitor this year.
“I love to be part of the community. My business and I have already become pretty well-known in Overton but coming to the festival will help me to get out the word of what I do even further.
“I love to meet people and to tell them about my bread and the festival will give me the chance to do that. It will also provide the opportunity to meet other people in the food business. I’m really looking forward to it.”
This year’s Food Festival will be coming from a variety of venues in the centre of Llangollen and is open to the public from 10am-5pm.
An array of around 40 stand-holders will be waiting to show off their products, ranging from the best in home-grown Welsh artisan delicacies to Bolivian street food, at the Town Hall, in the main entrance to Llangollen Steam Railway and also at Gales Wine Bar.
There will also be some exciting hands-on attractions on offer, including local experts giving the kids – and adults too – the chance to test their skills at making cupcakes or creating a clay masterpiece on a real potter’s wheel.
Gales Wine Bar will be playing host to a mini beer festival within its new Garden area and throughout the day there will cooking be demonstrations from top local chefs.
After the main daytime event, people are invited back to the Town Hall from 6pm to challenge their senses with a special one-off tasting event from the experts of Wales’ own Penderyn Whiskey for which there will be a charge of £15 a head.
Throughout the day there will be a selection of live outdoor entertainment in Llangollen’s centrepiece Centenary Square, including selections from Corwen ladies’ choir and local bands.