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Cookham Dean baker's sourdough impresses judges at prestigious competition

A self-taught baker has been named runner-up in a coveted competition for her sourdough loaf.

Karen Lloyd, a former London lawyer, developed her passion for bread-making after she gave birth and left that job in 2007 and now works under the ‘Cookham Bakehouse’ name.

Taking it up as a hobby while she spent much more time at home, she realised she had a knack for kneading when her friends enthused about her baking.

After hesitating about entering, Karen took her Cookham Wild sourdough to the Tiptree World Bread Awards in London.

Her loaf rose to the occasion as she took runner-up in the sourdough category at a ceremony in on Tuesday, October 17 at St John’s Hyde Park church in the capital.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” Karen said.

“I was just hoping to pick up a peripheral award or something.

“It completely made my year.”

She had hoped to enter into its amateur category as she bakes as a hobby but because she sells her bread – it is available at Stubbings Nursery Cafe, in Henley Road, and the Old Butchers Wine Cellar, in Cookham High Street – Karen had to enter as a professional.

The awards celebrate the skill of bread makers and most entries come from the UK.

About 600 loaves were judged by about 90 judges, a panel which included 2013 Great British Bake Off winner Frances Quinn.

Karen’s operation consists of a microbakery in her home, having purchased a three-tier oven in April, and though she took ‘a couple’ of lessons in London, learned how to skillfully bake on her own.

But that didn’t stop her Cookham Wild product taking second in the sought-after sourdough group.

It was also separately awarded a ‘gold’ certification.

She finished behind Bexhill baker Lee Smith, who was also declared overall winner at the competition.

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