Murray

Bakery manager

For Murray, being a baker isn’t just about making artisan breads and delicious cakes and biscuits. As a manager, his job is to make sure everything runs smoothly, from production to delivery, so that the business is a success. 

He’s also training the next crop of baking apprentices, which is how he began his career. 

Why a Modern Apprenticeship?

Murray left school after fifth year and joined the family business, GH Barnett and Son in Anstruther in Fife. His grandfather opened the bakery after World War Two. 

Photograph of apprentice baker Murray at the Scottish Young Baker of the Year Award

He says, ‘I could see what was happening to friends at uni and it seemed a degree was no guarantee of a job. I’m dyslexic and I never got the results I wanted or thought I deserved through the exams system. For me, continuing in an academic route wasn’t going to work.’

He went on to gain his SVQ Level 2 and win Scottish Baker of the Year in 2012 for his chilli and shallot loaf and Battenberg cakes.

'You get a chance to do every job quite quickly so it does push you....I really do think everyone should start from the bottom and prove themselves.’ 

As a manager he’s now passing on the tricks of the trade to other young bakers. 

‘We’ve got two apprentices who have come on quite quickly,’ he says. 

‘I’m teaching them to do what I did. You hit the ground running. You get a chance to do every job quite quickly so it does push you. Our bakers know what’s going on inside the products and how to fix something if it’s going wrong.

‘I really do think everyone should start from the bottom and prove themselves.’ 

What’s a typical day like?

‘I start at 3am,’ says Murray.‘I’m up to check all of the orders and make up the production sheets. When the apprentices come in they know how much to weigh and start making the products. 

‘I also help to pack the orders and go into dispatch to make sure everything is loaded okay. I make sure that the vans are leaving on time. 

‘We’ve got a lot of clients from the corner shop to restaurants, golf clubs and farms shops.We then start to make things like biscuits and oatcakes for the shop.

‘We do a lot of labour-intensive practices that others can’t or don’t have the time to do, like making brioche burger buns by hand.’

What skills do you need to be a baker? 

It’s not just about technical baking skills. 

‘Basic arithmetic skills are key for a baker,’ Murray adds. ‘If you’re working from a recipe that has twice the number you need then you need to half everything, it’s basic counting. 

‘I would also definitely make sure that you can get up in the morning.’

What’s next? 

‘I’m really happy with what we’re doing now,’ says Murray. 

‘I would like to go on and do some consultancy work with other bakers and more teaching.’