Coinneach MacLeod hails from the Isle of Lewis, the northernmost island in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. As a man who loves his kilts, canines, and cookies, MacLead assumed the moniker of The Hebridean Baker, becoming a TikTok superstar baking during the pandemic.
“We’re quite unique from Scotland,” he says when describing the intertwining of Gaelic and Norse influence. “We certainly have our own culture, identity, and of course, our own language. We’re closer to the south coast of Iceland than the south coast of England. So we certainly look north and have a bit of a Viking feel of our outlook.”
Working from a wood-burning stove and living off-grid, MacLeod lives in a cabin with his partner, Peter, saying that their home is only accessible by canoe, making the “weekly shop a little bit of a challenge.” MacLeod recalls his first post on TikTok — a simple gingerbread loaf for which his friends continued to ask for the recipe. “I suppose I should have realized that with friends being able to see it, so could everyone else in the world.”
From traditional shortbread to a vegetarian haggis, Coinneach MacLead shares his recipes from the Isle of Lewis in “The Hebridean Baker: Recipes and Wee Stories from the Scottish Islands.”
Makes 8 petticoat tails of shortbread
Shetland Bride’s Bonn was traditionally baked by the mother of the bride and broken over the bride’s head as she entered the marital home after the wedding ceremony. It was intended to bless the marriage with prosperity and fertility. Guests would scramble to get a piece of the broken shortbread to put under their pillow that night, as it was supposed to give you sweet dreams.
- 100g butter, slightly softened
- 50g golden caster sugar
- 100g self-raising flour
- 50g oats
- Pinch of salt
- ½ teaspoon caraway seeds
- Preheat your oven to 150ᵒC/300ᵒF. You will need to butter and line a 23cm round tin.
- Cream your butter and sugar together really well in a bowl with the back of a wooden spoon or a hand mixer.
- Mix your flour, oats, salt and caraway seeds in a bowl and then add to the creamed butter one tablespoon at a time and mix in well.
- Once it comes together, press into a buttered and lined sandwich tin. Lightly cut eight slices in the dough and place in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Rest in the tin for 5 minutes, then allow to cool fully on a wire rack . . . before finding a bride to bash over the head – or simply cut into slices and serve. Sweet dreams!