Dunbar bakery staffed by jobseekers wins UK award

Owner Ross Baxter with the awards Bakery Dunbar won for its dome chocolat et au praline feuillete. Picture: Greg Macvean
Owner Ross Baxter with the awards Bakery Dunbar won for its dome chocolat et au praline feuillete. Picture: Greg Macvean
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STAFF at a booming bakery have proved you only get out of life what you puddin’ . . . after rising to the occasion and creating Britain’s best cake.

The Bakery Dunbar has scooped top prize in the UK Cake Awards for its decadent dome chocolat et au praline feuillete – a five-layer chocolate and hazelnut mini-gateau.

The independent bakery – staffed by apprentices lifted out of the job scrapheap – beat top patisseries and major shopping chains from around the country to triumph in the inaugural search for the nation’s best treat.

The shop’s mouth-watering creations are aimed at a discerning clientele and aren’t cheap – the winning 7cm-wide dome chocolate treat costs £3.55.

But that hasn’t stopped them from flying off the shelves and selling, well, like hot cakes since it opened in October 2011.

Head patissier and bakery manager Ross Baxter, 29, said winning UK-wide recognition was the icing on the cake for him.

He said: “The fact we went down to London and won such an amazing award – it’s still sinking in.”

Mr Baxter hailed the prize as testament to the talent and dedication of his small team of young staff – many of whom were taken on as teenagers with no baking experience after spending months on fruitless job hunts. He predicted his business would grow rapidly on the back of the hard work put in by his apprentices.

“They are crucial,” he said. “We are very dependent on them to get everything out and ready in the main part of the shop. From them coming in, not knowing anything about baking at all six months to a year ago and seeing what they can achieve, they’re really excited. If it wasn’t for them pushing with us day in, day out, what we’ve done here wouldn’t be possible.”

Apprentice pastry chef Cameron Henderson, 18, joined Bakery Dunbar five months ago after excelling during a trial shift and has already mastered the art of making the finest eclairs and tarts.

The former joinery student, who was unable to secure employment in his chosen profession, said working at the bakery has been life-changing.

“I’d been looking for work for about six months before I was taken on,” he said. “Ross has been teaching me and trying to get me to learn as much as possible so I can work with him. I’ve probably become a lot more confident.

“Through this job, I’ve learnt a new skill – and to win this award is incredible.”

The team beat off competition from rivals including supermarket chain Morrisons and were praised by judges selected from department store Harrods and The Observer.

A spokesman for the awards said: “The calibre of entries into the 2013 Cake Awards has been exceptionally high.”

She said the Bakery Dunbar is “the best of the best”, adding: “We have created a great platform to promote the best cakes.”

It won two awards out of seven – cake of the year and bakery shop cake of the year.