The Great Bicester Bake Off....

Baker Mark Nash with his Harvest Wheatsheaf, which won a first prize in the Western Bakery Championships, and  his two-year-old daughter, Isla Jane.
Baker Mark Nash with his Harvest Wheatsheaf, which won a first prize in the Western Bakery Championships, and his two-year-old daughter, Isla Jane.

A third generation Bicester baker has toasted his opposition at a national bakery competition.

Mark Nash, 40, who runs Isla Jane Bakery in the town, won first prize at the Western Bakery Championships with his Harvest Wheatsheaf loaf.

Mark, competing at the show for the first time was especially proud to have won the competition under the Isla Jane Bakery name as the bakery is named after his two-year-old daughter.

He said: “It was brilliant. I’m really pleased and chuffed. And there is that little bit of extra pride because it is named after Isla.”

The show, held in Devon, attracted more than 1,000 bakers from across the country and was attended by Mark’s father Graham Nash, who owns and runs Nash’s Bakery, also based in Bicester.

Mark, who lives in Pounden with his wife Nicola, daughter Isla Jane and five-month-old daughter Honor, started his bakery two and a half years ago, having branched out from the family business. What started out as one market stall at Chipping Norton has now expanded into 14 stalls, staffed by three employees, including the weekly markets at both Buckingham and Winslow.

Mark explained baking had been his family’s trade for more than 75 years with his grandfather and father both being named the National Hovis Bread Champion in the past.

And the popularity of TV shows like the Great British Bake Off can only add to the resurgence of demand for freshly baked goods.

Mark concluded: “It has been a long time coming for bakers to come up through the ranks and it means a lot for the industry. I do not think there are many other industries where people work as hard as baking. Our goods are made today, baked today and sold today. It is made from scratch every day and if it isn’t sold it is thrown away.”