St Albans baker takes the plunge with puddings

A GREAT British baker from St Albans, who shot to fame on a talent-scouting TV series, has ditched the day job to pursue his passion for puddings.

Johnny Shepherd, 26, of College Place, was one of ten contestants on The Great British Bake Off, a series currently showing on BBC Two which pits the nation’s best amateur bakers against each other in weekly challenges at idyllic spots across the country.

Johnny, a Warwick University graduate, was knocked out last Monday in the third week of the programme when the remaining six contestants spent a day baking bread at Sandwich in Kent. Despite his tempting anchovy, oregano and sweet paprika loaf, the competition was too fierce for Johnny, who had impressed the judges in previous weeks with his inspired cakes and biscuits.

Johnny, who filmed the programme in May, said that he was very sorry to go at the time: “It was quite a shock, because I’d performed pretty well in the previous challenges. My carrot cake with lime cream cheese frosting went down so well and presenters Mel & Sue loved my take on a black forest gateau complete with surprise almond layer, which I made for the very first challenge.”

He added: “It was a fantastic experience and when we arrived on day one, none of us really knew what was going on! Our first stop was The Cotswolds for cake-making, and nothing could have prepared us for the amount of baking we did in a day. But I loved every minute of it and made great friends along the way.”

Johnny, who also impressed with his perfect batch of scones during week two in Scotland, comes from a long line of bakers and his great grandfather Wilfred Johns set up the family’s first artisan bakery 100 years ago. But Johnny’s grandfather Raymond Johns and his brothers, who had carried on the family tradition, were forced to end the business 15 years ago due to competition from supermarkets, and Johnny said that he was determined to bring the Johns’ baking legacy back to life.

He said: “The baking bug runs throughout my family and it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. So when I was offered redundancy from the pharmaceutical company I worked for earlier this year, I decided to take it and launch my new business, The Pudding Stop, down in St Albans.

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“I’m baking pretty much all the time nowadays and I’ve been lucky enough to get spots on loads of Hertfordshire farmers markets. It’s great fun and I completely sold out of everything at the last two markets!”

Johnny, who bakes all his goods at the Redbournbury Water Mill & Bakery, where he also sources his flour, will be selling at St Albans farmers market this Sunday (12). As well as a tempting lemon tart, sticky toffee pudding and chocolate fudge cake, he will also be launching his latest seasonal pudding, a spicy apple cake, for St Albans shoppers to enjoy. For more information about Johnny and his puddings, visit