Bara Menyn is how you say "bread & butter" in Welsh and also the name of the small family bakehouse that is hidden down a side street in the town of Cardigan in West Wales.

We managed to squeeze some time out of the very busy and multi-talented Jack Smylie Wild for an interview and insight into his baking life.


Bara Menyn Croissant

Bara Menyn croissant - a work of art!


Bara Menyn which was established in February 2015 is well worth seeking out as the commonly long queue of customers that congregate in the little side street outside the bakehouse will attest. The bakery is run by a family who together have created this pocket of pastries, pizza slices, focaccia and perfectly baked breads in Cardigan.

The premise of Bara Menyn Bakehouse is simple enough, opening three days a week prioritising other creative interests and making the bakehouse fit around family life not the other way around.

Family is however intertwined with the bakehouse as Jack works side-by-side with wife, Seren and uncle, Nick. Creativity is a buzzword with the family as Jack is also a poet and author, Seren is a visual artist working in various mediums and Nick is a painter, all influenced heavily by nature which is reflected in their works. The creativity continues in the bakehouse with the bakes and pizza’s showcasing locally sourced seasonal produce with imaginative fillings and tasty toppings. Not only are the paintings, poetry and artwork beautiful, but the bakes are quite something to behold as well.

Freshly baked sourdough from Bara Menyn

Freshly baked sourdough bread from Bara Menyn  Photo by Kate Dunwell


When asked what attracted Jack to become a baker, he told us “I studied philosophy at university, and after I graduated, I was keen to get back into my body, and to have a job that utilised my hands, after years of abstract thinking. Also, making bread is such a deep-rooted, human activity - at the very root of so-called 'civilisation' - so it struck me that more people, if not everyone, ought to connect with what it means to leaven a dough, shape it, take it to the hearth...and then, crucially, to break bread with others.” 


Bara Menyn shopfront

The bakehouse fits in around the family life not the other way around 


Even though Bara Menyn is only open three days a week it takes a quite a bit of planning and a lot of time to make that happen but as Jack points out “What makes this job so rewarding is the community that has evolved around the bakery; just to see a long queue forming up our little side-street makes all the long hours worthwhile.”


So what does a typical day look like at Bara Menyn?

“I arrive at the bakehouse at 7:30am; I get three, consecutive 25kg mixes on straight away, whilst our 3-deck Mono Harmony oven heats up. Then I bake the 70 loaves that have sat in the big fridges overnight; as well as huge pizzas, which we sell 'al taglio' = by the slice; I bake around 100 pastries - including almond croissants; also, plain croissants and pain au chocolat. Once everything is baked, we open to the public at 12pm every Thursday, Friday and Saturday (we only do 12 hours of retail per week - but there is a lot of prep and hours behind that brief culmination!). My uncle Nick, who was a chef in London before moving here to west Wales, helps with the prep in the morning, and then moves into the shop next door to the bakery at 12pm to purvey our baked goods. Meanwhile, after 3-4 hours of bulk fermentation, it's time for the 75kg of sourdough to get scaled and shaped, before being tucked up in their banneton-beds and going to sleep in the fridges for the night. Once I've done that, I mix more leaven for the following days' dough mixes, clean down, cash-up, and head home across the river Teifi to see my young boys. It's not a bad life; I like to keep things simple. Life is all-too short, and we have to make time for family, play, good food, and nature.” 


Bannetons brimming with sourdough

Bannetons brimming with Bara Menyn Sourdough Photo by Kate Dunwell

When asked if there were any bakers that inspired him, Jack replied “Chad Robertson of Tartine was a huge inspiration when I started out on my baking journey a decade ago. At the time, I was working a pizzeria and a customer came up and said "you need to buy Tartine, it's amazing." I'd just started to dabble with sourdough at home, so when this bible of slow-fermentation baking arrived through the door, I was hooked. I totally fell in love with the aesthetics - and the whole world of dough.”


Ready to be cut into "grab and go sourdough pizza slices"

Ready to be cut into "grab and go sourdough pizza slices"

The team at Bara Menyn specialise in sourdough loaves, pizza al taglio, focaccia and as Jack points out “We've become famous for our almond croissant, which we've taken in interesting directions. We make: apple compote almond croissants, banoffee almond croissants, pistachio & raspberry almond croissants, - even 'mince-pie' almond croissants at Christmas time!”

We regularly send osmotolerant yeast to Cardigan “We use Saf-Gold instant Osmotolerant Yeast from BakeryBits for all of our pastries; it's such a reliable yeast, and can handle a bit of freezing too, which is useful when making hundreds of croissants early in the week; which we can then defrost and bake later on.” 


Jack at work in the bakehouse

Jack at work in the bakehouse  Photo by Kate Dunwell


Give Jack, Seren and Nick at Bara Menyn Bakehouse a follow on Instagram and you might find yourself planning a trip to west Wales sooner than you think!



Jack has shared recipe for Pwdin Bara Menyn find out what it is and give it a go.