The best bakers in Cheshire and Manchester
PUBLISHED: 09:51 13 October 2014 | UPDATED: 10:25 13 October 2014
The region is producing a new breed of amazing bakers, as Janet Reeder discovers
Whoever would have thought that one of the phenomena of the technological age would be baking?
But when not staring at computers and iPhones we’ve become glued to The Great British Bake Off, the least cut-throat “competition” ever to find the UK’s best baker which is currently pulling in an incredible 10m viewers on BBC 1. Who could forget Luis Troyano’s brilliant tribute to Poynton in the Bake off Final? Even Harry Styles of One Direction worked briefly at the W Mandeville bakery in his home town of Holmes Chapel.
Unabashed nostalgia for times gone by has led to the resurgence of afternoon teas crammed with buttery cakes and warmed scones served up with dollops of clotted cream and has whetted our appetite for what once seemed like becoming a forgotten art.
Yes! Baking is bigger than ever. Now office workers are wowing colleagues with cakes there are clandestine cake clubs springing up in Cheshire and beyond and people are giving up their day jobs to fulfil their dreams as artisan breadmakers.
What makes the new breed of baker is not clearly defined. It could be their youth, or the fact they are devoted to creating the perfect sourdough, or it may be their love of nostalgia but whatever it is, we are extremely grateful, as we all get to sample their delicious creations!
Six of the region’s best ...bakers
THE PIE MASTER
Neil went from policeman to pieman when he gave up life on the beat in Moss Side for his Bramhall-based Great North Pie Company and he hasn’t looked back.
His delicious creations have won him a whole raft of awards and chefs such as Simon Rimmer and Nigel Howarth can’t get enough of them.
From classics like cheese and onion pie to the more quirky Bubble and Squeak Pie, or Beef and onion with ox cheek, Neil has transformed the thing he loves into a business, however, it’s not about making money for the 36-year-old.
‘A lot of people are getting more interested in food and making lifestyle changes - doing what they are really passionate about and that’s me,’ he says.
‘ It’s more about passion than making money.’
THE VINTAGE QUEEN
Stephanie is a baker at Sugar Junction in Manchester’s Northern Quarter where they are continuing the ritual of afternoon tea which was started in the 1840s by Anna Russell the 7th Duchess of Bedford, after she complained of having that “sinking feeling” as the day wore on.
This is baking as a nostalgic “experience” and Stephanie’s freshly baked cakes and scrumptious sandwiches go down a storm with customers at the cafe, who head there for glorious treats served up with lashings of tea and maybe a glass or two of fizz.
Artisan bread is becoming increasingly popular and Jane Tomlin found herself on the zeitgeist when she started baking bread in her Hoole kitchen following her divorce in 2006.Now her bread, is in demand all over Cheshire.
She sells at farmers’ markets and on Saturdays at the indoor market in Chester and has joined the Food Assembly in Chester (one of only two in the country) - a scheme whereby people can order local produce online then pick it up at the Assembly on a designated night.
‘I bake for the pleasure of pleasing others,’ says Jane.
THE BORN BAKER
Prestbury’s Sarah Wilson was brought up with the delicious aromas of cooking as both her parents are chefs but it was after working as an Art Director at McCann Erikson that she realised she wanted to create a brand of her own and Hey Little Cupcake was born.
Now she employs 19 people at her cupcakery at Spinningfields Manchester and the recently opened outlet in Selfridges Trafford. It seems nobody few can resist this delightful haven of cupcakes, cakepops and brownies, hot chocolate, home-made lemonade and welcoming ambience.
Stuart Thornley is an award winning baking innovator who started when the cupcake boom was in full swing but his flavours were definitely not in the mainstream and he even created a complete cupcake Christmas dinner that included an All the Trimmings flavoured with sage and onion, cranberry, maple frosting finished with croutons. For the last few years the 31-year-old from Dukinfield been developing bakes that would make the Mad Hatter look sane such as “pork pies”, “Scotch eggs” and “sausage rolls” that are actually sweet and pie pops - mini pies on sticks!
Sam’s Bluebird cupcake and Crockery business in Macclesfield epitomises the creative side of contemporary cake making.
Samantha is a cake maker with a big heart, whose baking was inspired by memories of her grandmother. She wanted her son to experience the same sense of comfort and enjoyment and now she’s spreading the love to others with her cakes and pop up tea experience.
Who did we miss out? Let us know your favourite bakers by leaving a comment below or sending us a tweet at @cheshirelife