Paul Barker, owner of Cinnamon Square, explains why innovation is so important for craft bakers and what inspired his 2017 Speciality Bread Product of the Year, the Church Street Sour

“I was surprised to even get to the final,” says Paul Barker, owner of Cinnamon Square in Rickmansworth and creator of this year’s Speciality Bread Product of the Year – the Church Street Sour.

Named after the street the bakery resides on, this eye-catching sourdough is made using wheat, rye and wholemeal flours plus salt and water. A wheat flour is used to leaven it and, once bulked and rounded, it is dipped in seeds and covered with another layer of dough. The outer layer is cut before baking, and opens up when cooking to create a petal-shaped crust (see picture, right).

Not only did Barker bag a Baking Industry Award for his efforts, but sales and awareness of the bread have increased – helped by the proud placement of the award next to the freshly-baked loaves.

“We have customers who have made the Church Street Sour their regular bread. I was only making it on a Friday, but now I make it three times a week,” he adds. “Winning the award helped create more awareness of the bread, so now it’s an everyday bread for us.”

Customers have been complimentary about the way this unusual loaf looks and how it tastes. “It has a high level of water, which creates a really moist open crumb.”

Since the win, Barker has shown no signs of slowing down on the innovation front – Cinnamon Square prides itself on creating wholesome loaves that celebrate the uniqueness that comes with craft baking.

“I love product development, so for me it was really nice to be rewarded for innovation by winning that award,” he says. “But as a baker you always need to be active and innovative, so entering the awards helps you to focus on creating something special. And, if you’re fortunate enough to win, it will give you something else to communicate to your customers.”

With one BIA under his belt, Barker has his eyes on another.

“I’m always trying to improve our bread products and always looking for new techniques and ways to decorate them,” he says. “I’m also creating a new way of making bread as well, so I’m going to enter again next year.”

Sponsor’s comment

“British Bakels was once again delighted with the quality of entries for this year’s Speciality Bread Product of the Year award.

    “The judges had a difficult job selecting the three finalists, from a very healthy array of submissions.

    “The winning product, produced by Cinnamon Square was the Church Street Sour, which stood out due to its originality, the eye-catching appearance, its excellent taste and beautiful aroma.

    “We were very impressed by the number and quality of entries this year and are proud to be a part of this prestigious award year after year.”

- Keith Houliston, sales director, British Bakels