A recently launched bakery enterprise’s offering, which includes an extensive gluten-free range, has tickled people’s tastebuds to such an extent that they are opening on a second site.
Based at Ballumbie Golf Club outside Dundee, Just Baked by Ryan Fowler opened five weeks ago and is now adding another arm to the business by opening in Forfar.
Ryan has taken on the food and beverage operation at Forfar Golf Club where Just Baked will also now be providing their mouth-watering treats.
And if the Ballumbie enterprise is anything to gauge things by, with his delivery slots regularly being over-subscribed and creations being sold out, the people in Forfar have something to truly enjoy.
He explained: “We are based Ballumbie Golf Club and got closed due to going into Tier 4/Level 4. We were doing a bakery for the golfers as they were asking for pies and stuff. As we were making pies for them we thought we would try it out on the general public by giving out a few free boxes to gauge the reaction and it has kind of just taken off from there.”
Due to the current coronavirus restrictions, the bakery is operating on a delivery only basis at the moment.
“We are keeping it to just delivery for people who aren’t coming to play golf as we need to stick to the restrictions,” Ryan continued.
“If the golfers are up at the course we have the bakery menu and a separate smaller menu with hot pies, sausage rolls and morning rolls. They can just collect from a hatch at the clubhouse and go out and play their round, but for anyone else, it is delivery only.”
While we were all baking banana bread during lockdown, Ryan, who has been a chef for 17 years, was also busy in the kitchen but he was helping a Dundee-based foodbank at the same time.
“I quiet enjoy baking myself and during the first lockdown I was baking bread and cakes and selling them to the neighbours. I was then using the proceeds to buy food for the foodbank up at Whitfield Church which was really good to do something for the community,” he said.
“I was always say cooking is my job, but the baking side of it is more of a hobby and I get a lot of enjoyment out of it.
“I am on a retainer at the moment, so when the golf club opportunity came up I could take it on. I had never done a golf club before but my experience sees me through and now we will have exactly the same set up at the Forfar Golf Club where I will be working with my business partner, Kevin Anderson.
“He was my sous chef at the hotel and he came to help me at the golf club on a self-employed basis. It was just the two of us working in the kitchen. He helped me to get Just Baked set up and he has taken half of the business and will be running Forfar Golf Club while I am running Ballumbie.”
And it seems the experience of producing gluten-free meals and baked goods has stood Ryan and Kevin in good stead – with their gluten-free products getting rave reviews.
“With gluten free we are finding we might have hit a bit of a niche,” Ryan continued.
“The doughnuts are very popular and the classic sugar ring doughnut seems to be the most popular even over the speciality doughnuts.
“We are trying to find something that we can do consistently and build as a brand, whether it’s a multi-coloured doughnut or something else to build on even if it is just a humble sugar ring doughnut even if it is just a bit of colour.
“We have redesigned the menu and now we have gone 50/50 with gluten-free and non-gluten-free. A lot of questions and a lot of emails from people asking for gluten-free macaroni pies which seems to be quite a popular thing that people want, so we decided to add a couple of gluten-free pies to the menu and they went like hot cakes straight away in the first week we did it.
“That is what we have based the menu on now so that it is open to everyone. We have been practising doughnuts and that’s five weeks in now and we have normal doughnuts and gluten-free doughnuts so that it’s not restricted to anyone.”
For the amateur baker, creating something that is gluten free can be fraught with difficulty, but Ryan and Kevin have their experience to fall back on.
He added: “Being chefs it’s not a new thing and we have had to adapt to it over the last few years and the recipes are tried and tested recipes we have picked up along the way.
“We have just adjusted where we can and tried to make them as good as possible whilst also being gluten-free to open it up that market and that is where a lot of the social media feedback has been from people recommending to other people that we do gluten-free food. We do gluten-free bread as well.”
Being a relatively young project, Ryan is excited about where the golf club project can take him.
He said: “The immediate future is to get both golf clubs up and running once we are fully back open again.
“Ballumbie Golf Club gave me an opportunity and Forfar Golf Club have also been very good with us and given us a second opportunity so short-term to a year business goals are to have a high standard of quality food and obviously as a business making them both successful.”