Members came out in force to attend Scottish Baker’s annual conference, president’s dinner, workshop into the future of the baking industry in Scotland post-pandemic, and entertainment by award-winning comedy impressionist and singer Jess Robinson, but the event that took the crowning glory was the eagerly-awaited awards ceremony.
This year’s competition was inundated with entries, making the judge’s task even more daunting to root out Scotland’s best scone, loaf, savoury, morning roll, cake and biscuit, along with the newer categories of French and Danish-style pastry and free from.
I was honoured to be invited to be part of that troupe, which had the task to assess, smell, scrunch and taste nearly 500 treats from 57 master bakers from all corners of Scotland.
“With 50 industry professionals on hand during our annual judging day to put each product through its paces, our winners can be justifiably proud of their achievements,” said Alasdair Smith, president of Scottish Bakers.
Added Mich Turner MBE, Scottish Bakers’ ambassador, “With nearly 500 products from 57 bakers entered and with each product assessed for appearance, the quality of the bake and taste, The Three Little Bakers should be very proud of their success here today.”
Driving home how worthy it is to carry the title, The Three Little Bakers also won four other awards, including its Morning Roll picked up Gold in Best of Region, as well as Silver under the National banner; its Fruit Scone scored Silver in Region and Silver in National; its Multiseed Sourdough scooped up Bonze in Best of Region; and its Potato Scone won Silver in the National heat.
“We are delighted, we cannot tell you how proud we are of our team and their hard work, which has paid dividends not just with product wins but with the ultimate win,” said Paddy and Jane Murphy of The Three Little Bakers.
“We look forward to being the Scottish Baker of the Year and to enjoying the benefits being the world champions will bring to our business.”
Hail the winners
Despite the challenges, numerous Scottish businesses went over and beyond to shine over the past year, singled out by the judges for their passion and dedication.
Fisher & Donaldson was awarded Bakery Café of the Year, with finalists Cuckoo’s Bakery and Mimi’s Bakehouse both getting a shout out.
As mentioned above, The Three Little Bakers scooped up the Craft Baker of the Year title, but hot on its heels were Christie the Baker, J M Bakery and Keptie Bakery Ltd.
Retail Craft Baker of the Year was awarded to Stephens Bakery, with finalists Ashers Bakery Ltd and Bayne’s the Family Bakers.
McGhee’s Bakery was nominated Wholesale Baker of the Year, followed closely by finalist Fergusons Bakery.
Spreading the influence further, Scottish Bakers also tapped the public for the Customer Choice Awards. As we all know, the public can often be the harshest critics, so a big shout out goes to the following winners.
- Bakery Café: Annie’s Bakery
- Craft Baker: Dels Rolls
- Retail Craft Baker: Harry Gow Bakery
- Wholesale Baker: Nevis Bakery Ltd
“We really do congratulate all of our winners and we thank the voting public for taking the time to vote for their favourite bakery business,” added Smith.
The stuff of champions
Reids of Caithness attained top spot of the Biscuit category for its Caramel Filled Shortbread, scooping up both the Gold National Award and the Gold Regional Award.
Breadalbane Bakery & Pantry was awarded the National Gold for its White Sourdough, while Vegan Bay Baker gained Gold – Best in Region for its Traditional Sourdough.
The Best Yeasted Bread in Scotland was deemed to be Breadalbane Bakery & Pantry’s Multigrain Low GI Bread. In the Regional heat, J G Ross (Bakers) Ltd scooped Gold for its Multiseed Bread.
J M Bakery’s Novelty Birthday Cake won both Gold and Silver for the Best Celebration Cake in Scotland. Two winners scooped Bronze: Christie the Baker for its Celebration Cake, and Harry Gow Bakery for its SBOTY Cake.
Free From Cakes & Biscuits
A new category this year, Cuckoo’s Bakery collected Gold for its Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcake (no gluten containing ingredients [NGCI]); while Fisher & Donaldson was awarded Silver for its Dark Chocolate Florentine (NGCI and vegan); and Vegan Bay Baker secured Bronze for its Caramel Doughring.
As a judge of this category – along with industry veteran David McKerrow – I am hoping to see this category become a major player in the future, especially as the free from trend is flying high.
Harry Gow Bakery’s Vanilla & Raspberry Slice was awarded Gold in both the National and Regional heats.
Bayne’s the Family Bakers collected the National Gold for its Morning Roll, while The Three Little Bakers earned the Regional title for its entry.
With a raft of unusual offerings ranging from Bolognese Pie with Grana Padano Crumb to Broccoli, Cauliflower & Chilli Cheese Pie and Chicken & Black Pudding Pie, a classic was voted the Best Savoury in Scotland – Goodfellow & Steven’s Steak Pie. A slightly more unusual entry scooped up Gold in Regional – Maclean’s Highland Bakery’s Lasagne Pie.
No matter how you pronounce it, Mackenzie’s Bakery’s Fruit Scone was deemed a winner, in both National and Regional categories.
Standing out for the entries included Goodfellow & Steven for its Aberdeen Roll (Buttery); John Gillespie & Sons Ltd for the Best Potato Scone in Scotland; Fisher & Donaldson’s Strawberry Danish (Vennoiserie); and Tower Bakery for its Farl in the Free From Bread Category.
Scottish Bakers has been supporting the interests of country’s bakery trade for over 130 years, by providing skills development, technical information and assistance, sector intelligence, legal advice, financial discounts, and social and business networking. It also manages The World Championship Scotch Pie Awards to celebrate excellence in the sector.