Kilts and shortbread: the Hebridean Baker takes TikTok by storm

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Coinneach MacLeod originates from the Isle of Lewis, the northernmost island of the Outer Hebrides in Scotland. As a man who loves his kilts, his dogs and his cookies, MacLead took on the nickname The Hebridean bakerbecoming a TikTok baking superstar during the pandemic.

“We are quite unique in Scotland,” he says, describing the intertwining of Gaelic and Norse influence. “We certainly have our own culture, our identity and, of course, our own language. We are closer to the south coast of Iceland than to the south coast of England. So we certainly look north and have a bit of a Viking feel to our outlook.

Working from a wood-burning stove and living off the grid, MacLeod lives in a cabin with his partner, Peter, saying their home is only accessible by canoe, which makes ‘weekly shopping a bit of a challenge’ . MacLeod recalls his first TikTok post — a simple gingerbread that his friends kept asking for the recipe for. “I guess I should have realized that with friends being able to see it, everyone else could too.”

From traditional shortbread to vegetarian haggis, Coinneach MacLead shares their Isle of Lewis recipes in “The Hebridean Baker: Recipes and stories from the Scottish islands.

Bonn of the bride
Yields 8 shortbread petticoat tails

The Shetland Bride’s Bonn was traditionally baked by the bride’s mother and broken over the bride’s head as she entered the marital home after the wedding ceremony. It was meant to bless the marriage with prosperity and fertility. Guests would rush to get a piece of broken shortbread to put under their pillow that night, as it was supposed to give you sweet dreams.

Ingredients

  • 100 g slightly softened butter
  • 50 g golden caster sugar
  • 100g self-rising flour
  • 50g oats
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ teaspoon caraway seeds

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 150ᵒC/300ᵒF. You will need to butter and line a 23 cm round mold.
  2. Cream your butter and sugar very well in a bowl with the back of a wooden spoon or a hand mixer.
  3. Combine your flour, oats, salt and caraway seeds in a bowl, then add to the creamed butter one tablespoon at a time and mix well.
  4. Once it comes together, press into a buttered and lined sandwich pan. Lightly cut eight slices from the dough and place in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Leave to rest for 5 minutes in the pan, then let cool completely on a wire rack. . . before finding a bride to bang on the head – or just slice and serve. Sweet dreams!

Coinneach MacLeod cooks from a wood-burning stove in the cabin he shares with his partner, Peter, which is only accessible by canoe. Photo by Euan Anderson.


From traditional shortbread to vegetarian haggis, Coinneach MacLead shares their Isle of Lewis recipes in “The Hebridean Baker: Recipes and Wee Stories from the Scottish Islands.” Photo courtesy of Black & White Publishing.

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