East Neuk’s very own baker boy

TOP TV baker Paul Hollywood may make grown women swoon with his talk of crumb texture and kneading techniques – but here in Fife, a young Cellardyke man is leading his own quiet revolution on the bread front.

At just 22, Murray Barnett has followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather as the third generation in the family bakery business and is passionate about the range of artisan breads he has introduced.

He believes specialist breads should be enjoyed by all and not only by ‘foodies’. After a slow build, it appears customers at the firm’s five shops agree.

The Scottish Young Baker of the Year, Murray is one of a new, up-and-coming generation of young food and drink producers and suppliers who are committed to spreading the word about quality in food.

“I’ve nothing against supermarket breads but I hate the ‘baked-instore’ marketing that implies it’s been hand-made by a baker, rather than dough produced in a factory, frozen and then delivered to the supermarket to be finished off in an oven,” he says.

Murray serves on the committee of the Fife group of Slow Food, a global movement which began more than a decade ago to counter the rise of fast food by reconnecting people with where their food comes from and, at the same time, promoting the interests of communities and the environment.

He is also the Scottish ambassador for baking in schools for the Food and Drink Federation.

He did briefly consider studying engineering at university after leaving school but realised a nine-to-five office job was never going to be for him.

And working as a baker is nowhere near nine-to-five, with Murray starting at 4am four days a week and then doing a double shift through the night on Fridays, although having worked in the bakery since he was 13, he knew what was required.

“It’s a job you do for the love of it not to make your fortune with,” he said.

He is also aware he is working in a business that has a history and heritage behind it.

Barnett’s was started, originally at the site of the Haven restaurant in Anstruther before moving a few years later to Rodger Street in Cellardyke, by his grandfather George when he returned to the East Neuk after World War Two.

It now employs 35 people, including Murray, his dad Stewart, who also went into the business straight from school, and mum Mhorag, who is a confectioner.

Murray credits TV ‘Queen of Shops’ Mary Portas for giving him the courage of his convictions that artisan breads were not just a five-minute wonder.

“I saw a programme she did with a bakery in London and I knew it could work here,” he said.

You can keep up to date with Murray’s breads of the day and week at Barnett’s Bakery on Facebook or follow him on Twitter at @murraythebaker