Winning the Bakery Innovation Award was “a real personal achievement” for Paul Barker, founder of Cinnamon Square.

“Product development and innovation is my favourite part of the job,” Paul Barker tells British Baker. “So to win the award for the second time, I was over the moon.”

While he wasn’t expecting to win on the night, on reflection Barker thinks his Botanical Bread stood out to judges because it was something completely different.

“It’s not a spin on something that already exists,” he explains. “The process of creating Botanical Bread isn’t something used by the everyday baker, so it’s quite unusual and intriguing.”

The winning product is made using flour, salt and the water from fermented botanicals. Barker ferments plants, flowers, fruits or vegetables, the process of which creates a water filled with wild yeast. He uses this to create unique loaves.

“There’s lots of flexibility with the end result. Depending what you ferment, you can get a strong or a mild flavoured bread, and you can also add pieces of the botanic to the bread to enhance the flavour,” Barker explains, adding that his first loaf, made using magnolia leaves from his garden, had subtle floral notes, while previous onion or garlic loaves had been stronger.

He also makes a batch of loaves from root vegetables each week to donate to his local foodbank.

To celebrate the win, Barker shared the news with customers through Cinnamon Square’s social media platforms, and created a window display showcasing the process of making the breads alongside his Baking Industry Awards certificate. “The customers are really supportive of us as a business, so they were really pleased we’d achieved the award,” Barker notes.

As well as being his favourite part of the job, innovation and product development are two things Barker deems essential to running a successful bakery business.

“For us to have longevity we always need to be one step ahead, always be thinking, planning, being creative and innovative and communicating all of those things well with our customers. That way you create intrigue – people want to know what you’re doing and want to come back – and it’s vital that the message you send out is backed up by the quality of your products.”

Looking forward, Barker made some changes to Cinnamon Square at the beginning of the year which will alter the business going forward. He and his wife and business partner Tricia decided to close the café facility at the bakery, and take the retail offering down to two days per week.

“The reason we set up Cinnamon Square originally was to have a bakery and a training school for adults and children, so we’re taking the focus back to that and will also be doing some more wholesale work and product development for other brands.”

Paul Barker receives the award from Reiser’s James Fitch (left) and Stephen Mulhern

Sponsor’s comment

Reiser UK and our independent judges were very impressed with the quality of both the initial entrants and those shortlisted.

We saw some fantastic products and concepts, all presented to us with passion, expertise and enthusiasm. As judges, it was sometimes difficult to separate the great, well-presented products from something truly innovative, which is where we felt Paul Barker and his Botanical Breads stood out.

Paul has used a growing market trend for botanicals to create a unique product. The judges all felt Paul’s entry represented true innovation coupled with a fantastic end-result in a great loaf of bread.

James Fitch, bakery sales manager UK & Ireland, Reiser