A jet-setting super nanny has given up her globe-trotting lifestyle to turn her hand to her real love – baking breads and cakes.
Alex Hughes spent 12 years looking after the children of a Dutch family, living in San Francisco and criss-crossing the globe to their other homes in Europe and travelling to the Far East before returning to the Vale of Clwyd seven years ago.
She has been baking ever since and opened the Bake House in Ruthin almost two years ago and she has already built a thriving local business on the town’s Lon Parcwr.
Alex, 47, from Denbigh Road, Ruthin, said: “I loved being a nanny and had worked locally and then in London before the Dutch family I was with moved to California.
“They were lovely and I was with them for 12 years and travelled all over the world but my visa ran out – I had been lucky to extend it by two years – and had to come home.
“But I’d always loved baking and I set up in Ruthin and was baking for my mum and dad, Richard and Sandra, who ran Bar Llaeth – the Milk Bar – on St Peter’s Square.
“When they retired I moved to larger premises here on Lon Parcwr Trading Estate and the business has really taken off and they’re still helping me with buying and baking.
“There are so many good local food shops and producers and I like to support them – my mum buys my meat from CLD Meats in Denbigh and we get as much as we can from local sources.”
Now she and her three staff cater for a busy walk-in clientele as well as a growing number of local restaurants and shops including the Myddleton Grill on St Peter’s Square and Porter’s Delicatessen in Llangollen.
The Bake House is the kind of unique shopping offer that Denbighshire County Council’s #lovelivelocal campaign promotes as part of the lively and high quality food and drink experience available on the county’s high streets and which is being featured on a series of videos on social media in the run-up to Easter.
As part of the #LoveLiveLocal campaign, Denbighshire County Council will be rolling out a series of short video clips to highlight what the county has to offer shoppers and the campaign will encourage people to support local independent businesses by using the hashtag on Twitter and Facebook to share good experiences they’ve had as well as promote products and services locally they have ‘loved’.
Alex’s twin ovens are kept busy with bread, cakes and pastries made from over 600lbs of flour which she uses every week, getting up at 2am to make sure the dough she prepared the day before has risen.
By 8am they’re on the shelves along with a wide variety of other local produce including cheese and honey – produced locally by former milkman Richard Jones of Denbighshire Countryside Services – jams, fruit and vegetables.
Alex believes in being sustainable – her mum, Sandra, makes the shop’s preserves and chutneys from unsold fruit and vegetables – and Alex also likes to experiment with different bakes.
She said: “I’m self-taught but I like Paul Hollywood’s recipes and I do like to experiment and try different kinds of breads, particularly for weekends when I do date and walnut, beer and cheese and things like that, customers often like something a bit unusual at weekends.
“Without my mum’s help I would not be able to run the shop – she helps me a lot because I had just wanted to concentrate on baking but business has just mushroomed – I get lots of people in for breakfast and lunches and they have been asking for us to stock vegetables and delicatessen items like herbs, pastas and lentils.
“I’m also keen to avoid plastic as much as possible. If people want a plastic bag then I’ll provide it but in the USA they only use paper bags and I think that’s good for the planet.”
Denbighshire County Council’s #LoveLiveLocal 2019 campaign to promote the county’s rich and varied food and drink offer uses the hashtag #LoveLiveLocal across all social networking platforms to encourage shoppers to visit its towns.
For more on #lovelivelocal go to https://www.denbighshire.gov.uk/en/business/business-support-and-advice/love-live-local-caru-busnesau-lleol.aspx as well as on Facebook and Twitter.