A YOUNG artisan baker has created an award winning business just a few years after he decided to ‘use his loaf’ and get into baking.

Nineteen-year-old James Walton has been named Lancashire Food Producer of the Year after teaching himself to bake from books and TV programmes.

The Accrington man has even been able to take on an apprentice at his two-year-old business Dough 2b Different.

Unusual recipes such as Chocolate and Guiness Cake, Lavender and Walnut Cake and Walnut and Treacle Bread caught the eye of judges at various festivals James has attended around the North West.

A recent recipe in conjunction with Thwaites’ brewery, Old Dan’s Beer Soda Bread, has also been very successful.

This week he was awarded a trophy as the region’s food producer of the year at a prestigious event in Manchester for the Lancashire Life Food Awards.

The former St Christopher’s pupil, who has no formal training in his trade, said: “I’d had no idea I was put forward for this contest, I think the judges just tour festivals and keep their eye out for something interesting.

“Even on the night of the awards ceremony, I still had no clue what I was up against. So when they announced I’d won, it was just brilliant.

“I left school a few years ago and I just decided to teach myself. I’d watch programmes and I would just try things. I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way.”

His small start-up business is one of the concessions based at the Black Horse Food Emporium in Abbey Street, Accrington. The business prides itself on using natural flour which has nothing added by the millers.

Manager Natalie Paintin, at the Black Horse Food Emporium, said they were lucky to have him.

She said: “There just isn’t anyone else around in this area who does what James does to the same high quality. People come in especially for his bread.

“Even customers with special dietary requirements flock here because they can eat this bread as it’s got no preservtives in it. Plus it’s just so tasty.”