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Winner: Botanical Breads, Cinnamon Square

Imagine a range of innovative breads leavened by fermentation of edible fruits, vegetables, flowers or plants.

Paul Barker imagined such a thing, and now his shop, school and bakery in Rickmansworth has evolved a process enabling such breads to be produced in quantity in a bakery environment. 

While wheat and rye are commonly fermented for sourdoughs, many other foods can be fermented, creating excellent dough leavening power, as well as imparting subtle flavours and aromas to the baked breads. No additives need to be used to create magnolia petal bread, for example, or fig & fennel, tomato & basil and avocado & red chilli.

This summer, Barker has made watercress breads for sale at the open days of a 200-year-old local watercress farm. And, if shoppers bring in a surplus of home-grown vegetables, he can make them a bespoke bread from it.  

Barker has contacted a local brewery and horticultural society about partnerships, and the brewery has agreed on a bespoke collaboration.

He has also identified the impact this process can have on food waste and intends to work with a local retailer and ferment bread from their surplus food to donate to a local foodbank. 

Finalist: Mince Pie Croissant, Paul UK

Paul UK describes its festive creation – an all-butter croissant containing mincemeat that is balanced with almond frangipane and then dusted with icing sugar – as a hybrid between a French classic and a British favourite, but with a modern take.

“A mince pie can be a bit heavy for breakfast, compared to a light French traditional croissant,” explains Leila Chaabouni, operations manager responsible for new product development at Paul.

Chaabouni developed the combination and then worked with bakery director Kevin Sherlock.

“I tried several versions and Kevin and I agreed which one was our favourite. We then carried out research, took our customers’ comments on board, and ended up with what we think are perfectly balanced flavours and textures.”

The mince pie croissants are all handmade at night to be baked fresh the next morning. They received widespread press, TV and radio coverage last year and there have since been requests for a bite-size version, which will be launched this year in time for Christmas.

Finalist: Satin Vegan Cake Mixes, Puratos

Tapping the burgeoning vegan trend, these innovative mixes are versions of Puratos’ best-selling products but contain no egg, milk or dairy.

Trevor Neilson, Puratos customer development manager, says eggless cakes are the biggest challenge with vegan bakery, adding that the new mixes, available in chocolate and plain flavours, deliver a moist cake with a short bite.

Designed to be versatile and robust, the Satin Vegan Cake Mixes can also be used for lines such as muffins, cookies, biscuits and pancakes.

“The cake mix is developed to a high standard to ensure there is no compromise on taste or texture,” says Puratos digital and communications manager Lydia Baines. “Vegan is becoming a highly popular lifestyle choice,” she adds. “The number of vegans in the UK has grown fourfold in the past 10 years and the trend is accelerating.”

Recent research shows a significant spike in the number of people going vegan since 2016, with more than 3.5 million British people – or 7% of the population – now identifying as such.