IG businesses coming up with trendy and picturesque desserts are plentiful, and its upturn within the past year can be attributed to the pandemic. While many have joined tried and tested spaces like the cookie mania, some are taking less conventional routes to introduce a new and less familiar product altogether.
Welsh cakes would fit into the latter category, and one brand that’s making them in Malaysia is 11 Llandough. But unlike the pandemic-born entrepreneurs looking to make some extra dough, these friends have actually been running their home-based Welsh cake business since 2012.
From Wales to Malaysia
As foodies studying in Wales, Frederick and Jun Hong would explore the local delights available around the city. This led to them trying their first Welsh cake at the Cardiff Market on St. Mary Street in Wales.
It was love at first bite for the duo, who then learnt how to bake the sweet breads from the locals.
“However, it had never occurred to us that we would also end up bringing Welshcakes to Malaysia,” they told Vulcan Post.
When they returned to Malaysia at the end of 2011, Frederick and Jun Hong found themselves missing Welsh cakes within a month of coming home. It was the same kind of sentiment they felt abroad towards nasi lemak and teh tarik.
Baking the snack at home, they would share it with friends, who gave it positive remarks.
In 2012, Jun Hong casually conducted market research by selling the Welsh cakes at a market during Chinese New Year. He also brought it to work to share with his colleagues at the large legal firm he was working at at the time, where it was also well received.
Due to their hectic schedules, they didn’t produce the Welsh cakes consistently and would only bake them during festive seasons of the year.
But after continuous encouragement by their peers to begin selling the cakes, they were motivated to launch 11 Llandough, named after the street they lived on while studying at Cardiff University.
A rarity in Malaysia
Looking at Welsh cakes, you may think they’re similar to scones, but they’re made and consumed differently. Traditionally, Welsh cakes are made from flour, butter or lard, currants (similar to raisins), eggs, milk, and spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg.
Unlike scones, they aren’t usually eaten with an accompaniment, though they are sometimes sold readily split and spread with jam, and are sometimes buttered.
11 Llandough’s products are certainly rare in Malaysia, with few competitors in the market which import the snack. They include M&S (or Marks & Spencer, whose Welsh cakes are available via Happy Fresh for RM10.80 per box of 6) and The Welsh Baker (sold through Dessert Cart for RM408 for 6 boxes with 24 pieces each).
Sold for RM38 per box of 20 pieces, 11 Llandough’s price per Welsh cake stands at RM1.90/piece, while M&S’s is RM1.80/piece, and The Welsh Baker at RM2.80/piece. Based on the information we found, 11 Llandough’s Welsh cakes are the cheapest compared to its competition, and customers would also be getting fresher made-to-order products.
The absence of competition is often viewed as a benefit to some entrepreneurs, as it would give them a first-mover advantage and a larger market share to capture. However, it also means that customers aren’t as aware of the product offering, and more effort must be put into educating and converting the market to try new products.
Frederick and Jun Hong can attest to this, “Most of our customers have never tried Welsh cakes before, so we have to explain to them what they are and how their texture compares to cookies, scones, and pancakes.”
Working full-time jobs at their own legal firm, little effort is put into marketing as the Welsh cake business is more of a side-hustle for them. “We only use Instagram ads to boost our market presence and it works, somehow,” they added.
Our customers were originally just neighbours and friends. We only started marketing it and selling it on a larger scale in January 2020. The demographic has since expanded to business owners, expatriates, and tea-time lovers who appreciate good butter.Frederick and Jun Hong, co-founders of 11 Llandough
In spite of the extra hurdle to capture and educate new customers, the duo is quite content with the feedback they’ve received from Welsh expats who appreciate that their products are made fresher than those from M&S.
Let that dough expand
On top of being able to provide fresh Welsh cakes to their customers, its team is also ensuring that 11 Llandough stands out by continuously producing quality products based on customer feedback.
They also believe that there are a couple of reasons why the Welsh cake market in Malaysia is so rare. For one, it’s a rather time-consuming process to mix the ingredients together, knead the dough, and griddle them on a hot pan.
“A few of our customers actually tried making Welsh cakes themselves, but we were told it’s nowhere close to ours,” Frederick and Jung Hong added regarding the difficult process.
To balance their legal practice and 11 Llandough, the 32-year-olds have onboarded Jun Hong’s sister, Mei, to help handle the Welsh cake baking from home.
For now, the team’s production rates are at 10 boxes per day on regular days, and up to 1,000 boxes/month during festivities seasons like Ramadhan and Chinese New Year.
We started off with very minimal capital as we were trying out the business for fun, probably less than RM1,000 just to get ingredients of highest quality. But as we grow with the increasing numbers of loyal customers, we have invested more funds to buy good equipment to cope with the increase of orders, upgrade our packaging for better appearance, as well as marketing costs.Frederick and Jun Hong, co-founders of 11 Llandough
In the near future, Frederick and Jun Hong are looking to set up a physical outlet for 11 Llandough. In the meantime, they will be introducing more flavours of Welsh cakes along with other new Welsh delights to the market.
Featured Image Credit: Frederick and Jun Hong, co-founders of 11 Llandough