A Suffolk bakery is still reeling after a surprise win at one of the nation's biggest annual food awards.

The Friendly Loaf in Bury St Edmunds didn't expect to take home an award from the Food Awards 2023, one of the most prestigious awards evenings in the culinary world. 

Mark Proctor's team of bakers didn't take home just any award.

The Suffolk bakery was named Artisan Bakery of the Year.

"We couldn't make it to the awards - we have been so busy," said Mr Proctor, the owner of The Friendly Loaf.

"We knew that we had been nominated but didn't expect to win!"

East Anglian Daily Times: The Friendly Loaf is made up of a team of ex-chef and pastry chefsThe Friendly Loaf is made up of a team of ex-chef and pastry chefs (Image: The Friendly Loaf)

The Friendly Loaf started its business in 2010 and is a popular choice for those looking for fresh, traditional and preservative-free bread and pastries. 

"We make our bread the old-fashioned way," said Mr Proctor.

"We use a much longer process and make our bakes using traditional methods.

"So many people are having problems digesting bread, but lots of people suffer less when they eat more authentically-made fresh loaves."

The bakery prides itself on only sourcing the best ingredients, including flour sourced from France.

"We don't compromise on ingredients," said Mr Proctor.

"We also employ a team of ex-chefs and pastry chefs, who make everything from scratch.

"Using the best ingredients does make the product more expensive, but Bury St Edmunds is so food-forward now that people make the effort to find us even though we are out of the way in Nowton."

After receiving the award on Tuesday, the bakery has already started to gather increased interest.

"People are very supportive of our business and lots of our customers have congratulated us," said Mr Proctor.

"We have had an increase in people enquiring about us."

For those looking to sample baked goods from the newly celebrated 'Best Artisan Bakery' in the country, The Friendly Loaf is open Monday to Saturday, 8am to 4pm.