THEY feared they were on the job market scrapheap – now they’re set to run what could be the country’s top bakery.
Both in their twenties, Amy Bisset and Darryl Sharp endured months of fruitless job-hunting and were on the verge of giving up when they were offered work at Ross Baxter’s Dunbar community bakery.
Now the bakery, which took on three other unemployed young people as apprentices and has long-term plans to make them managers – is in the running to be named Britain’s best and will feature in a nationwide television competition.
Apprentice Darryl, 20, said: “It’s all been a whirlwind, but it’s great we’re being recognised in this way.”
Run by Ross, 28, and his Czech-born savouries chef Pavel Broz, 31, the Dunbar community bakery will line up against counterparts from around the UK when Britain’s Best Bakery screens tomorrow afternoon.
However, Amy and Darryl admitted that their success had only come after months of anxiety and disappointment in the recession-hit jobs market.
Darryl, who now helps prepare luxury deserts such as Mille Feuille Vanille and Tart Chocolat au Lait, said trying to find work after leaving college 17 months ago left him deeply depressed.
“It was definitely getting me down. I applied for lots of different jobs. I managed to get interviews but just was not getting anywhere,” he said.
“You keep trying really hard but you’re getting nowhere. Then you don’t have money and you’re not doing anything.”
He said finding work at the Baxter’s bakery had a transformative effect.
“It all happened so quickly. I spent a while just getting my round the fact that I was going back to work,” he said.
“I love being an apprentice. It’s very rewarding. There are so many different things that have to be done and you are left with responsibility for so much.”
Retail supervisor Amy, 24, said it was “amazing” to hear of the bakery’s success so soon after securing work there.
She said: “I had been made redundant from another job in a pet shop and I was looking but there was nothing. I was applying but no-one was getting back. I was thinking, ‘what is the point of trying?’
“It’s difficult for people my age these days.”
Ross, crowned pâtissier of the year 2011 in the Scottish Hotel awards, said the bakery’s success would not have been possible without the energy and enthusiasm of his new team.
He said: “Being asked to take part in the bakery and getting this far is a real feather in our cap. But we wouldn’t have made it without Amy, Darryl and the others.”
Bakery staff were approached by programme researchers. They then took a video audition which impressed editorial bosses, winning them a spot in the final 36.
The team hopes to capitalise on its customer base and put its big Facebook and Twitter following to work.
n Britain’s Best Bakery screens at 4pm every weekday.
PISTACHIO CREME BRULEE BY ROSS BAXTER
60g egg yolks
42g caster sugar
125g whipping cream
16g Pistachio paste
1: Pour the cream, milk and pistachio paste (or ground pistachios) into a saucepan and slowly bring to the boil, whisking occasionally to ensure the paste is well mixed.
2: Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl until light and creamy.
3: Once the milk has boiled, strain through a fine sieve. Gradually add the hot liquid to the yolks and sugar, whisking constantly to avoid scrambling the yolks.
4: Cover with cling film ensuring the film is in contact with the cream. This stops any skin forming on the top as it cools. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour to rest. Preheat the oven to 90C.
5: Remove and strain through a fine sieve. Divide into four glasses.
6: Place on to a tray and cook for about 45-50 minutes until set. Remove from the oven and refrigerate until assembly.
BIG HITS WITH THE FLANBASE
The bakery’s top 10 best-sellers:
• Tart au Citron
• French Macaroons
• Mille Feuille Vanille
• Carre Chocolat et au Praline Feuillete
• Gateaux Opera
• Eclair Noisette
• Eclair Vanille
• Charlotte aux Fruits Rouge
• Tart Chocolat au Lait
• Flan Patissier