Steve Lowe of The Little Buzzard Bakery is hoping his part-time passion for making proper bread will become a full-time business.
The father-of-two still can’t believe he walked off with the Best Artisan Baker title at the recent Bedfordshire Food & Drink Awards, particularly when he was up against such stiff competition.
“We thought if we were lucky we’d come third,” he admits. “It was a huge surprise . . . but a nice one.”
Steve, 34, who lives in South Street with wife Louise, a former examinations officer, and daughters Niamh, five, and three-year-old Esme, dreams of giving up his career as a publishing company sub-editor to devote his life to mixing, shaping and baking top quality artisan bread, cakes and pastries.
At the moment he’s working up to 70 hours a week, proof reading by day and making award-winning loaves by night in the family kitchen.
“Sometimes I have only an hour’s sleep,” he confesses. “It’s reached the point now where the balance is tipping in favour of finding premises in Leighton Buzzard.
“There’s a limit to how much I can make on the kiln stones in our domestic cooker. Louise is a fanastic professional mother – if it wasn’t for her looking after the girls, I wouldn’t be able to operate.
“They come down in the morning and say ‘What can we eat, Daddy?’ They know they can’t touch anything that’s boxed up and they’ve already got good palates and noses – there can’t be many three to five-year-old who can identify as many herbs and ingredients as they can.”
Gloucester-born Steve was the youngest of eight and says his love of baking stems from his mother: “She was my inspiration.” He adds: “Louise and I both love cooking but she does it for fun, she’s not the exacting perfectionist I am.”
He claims a proper loaf requires just four ingredients – flour, water, yeast and salt – and the sourdough loaves he bakes take 40 hours from start to finish: “The complete antithesis of industrial bread with its additives and E-numbers.
“When Niamh was born I vowed never to buy a supermarket-sold loaf again.”
It’s a promise he’s adhered to ever since. Visit www.littlebuzzardbakery.co.uk/