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Search under way for Scotland's best baker

The search for Scotland's best bakers has been launched to help celebrate the "last bastion" of the high street.

Singer and TV presenter Michelle McManus joined former football manager Jim Leishman at a masterclass with last year's top prize winner Andre Sarafilovic and TV baker Mich Turner to launch the awards.

It was held at Stephens Bakery in Dunfermline, Fife, and those taking part were shown how to make a steak bridie, fill a strawberry tart and decorate a cake with delicate icing.

Despite having little experience in traditional baking, the guests were keen to learn and impress the watching judges.

Leishman said: "I only learned how to mash potatoes three months ago, so I wasn't expecting much of myself here.

"My bridies were hopeless and I'm really disappointed because they're one of my favourites, especially when I'm at the football.

"The strawberry tarts were a bit easier, though, so I was happy with how they turned out."

There was an element of competition at the masterclass, particularly when TV baker Turner challenged the contestants to decorate a luxury cake with chocolate roses, in the style she made for Sir Paul McCartney's wedding.

McManus impressed judges the most but despite winning the competition she does not think she will be spending much more time in the kitchen.

She said: "I'll always be happy to buy other people's products. I'm a consumer, not a baker.

"The hardest part was the icing from a piping bag, you just can't learn it in 20 minutes. My effort was wild, I don't think anyone would ever have paid for my cakes, they'd have asked for their money back."

The Scottish Bakers association is aiming to surpass last year's record of 15,000 people voting in local shops and online for the awards, and want to boost the profile of members across the country.

Chief executive Alan Clarke said: "The high streets are under pressure as everyone knows, but bakers still survive, they're the last bastion.

"They are the last manufacturer of products on the high street making local, fresh products.

"What we're trying to do is to get customers to support and celebrate what their local baker does."

Bakery customers can collect voting forms in local shops or vote online at scottishbakers.org.

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