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Beach sunrise is icing on the cake for Aberdeen baker Doireann

Doireann Ni Mhuiri gets up at 4am to start work at the Aberdeen beach bakery.
Doireann Ni Mhuiri gets up at 4am to start work at the Aberdeen beach bakery.

It’s 7am and I am fast-walking down Aberdeen beach, late for an interview.

I’m supposed to be meeting Irish baker Doireann Ni Mhuiri, who has set up shop in a hut on the Footdee side of the beach. The word is her vegan cinnamon buns are irresistible, and I’m keen to speak to her.

But I went the wrong way. Now, I’m 15 minutes behind schedule, and my legs are getting sore.

The sun is up – just – and the bay lit by the amber-glow of a late winter sunrise. Despite my rush, I stop to take in the view. To the right, the Girdleness lighthouse stands silhouetted against the orange light of the rising sun. To the north, the stark relief of the wind turbines are transformed into something other-worldly, like towering alien sentinels guarding the horizon.

It is beautiful, and for me a rare sight. For Doireann, however, it’s one of the perks of her job.

Aberdeen Beach Hut Bakery
Foodstory gave Doireann the chance to realise her baking dreams.

“The view is amazing,” she tells me when I finally get to the beach hut, guided the last few metres by the smells emanating from her mobile bakery.

“You open the window of the hut and you get to see that, well, it’s…”. She searches for the right word, but fails to settle on one.

“You can’t complain,” she finally says with a smile.

The plan behind Aberdeen Beach hut Bakery

The story of how Doireann ended up baking on Aberdeen beach is almost as amazing as the view.

A few months ago the Cork native was on Mull, living in a cold caravan and getting up at 3:30am to bake for a café on the island. During lockdown, she did some work with Lara Bishop, the owner of Aberdeen vegetarian and vegan café Foodstory. One day the two got chatting about life, the universe and baking.

As Lara tells it, Doireann spoke of her love for the sea and wanting to find an island off the coast of Scotland to set up shop. It was a cold day in November, but a plan was made and the Aberdeen Beach Hut Bakery was born.

Aberdeen Beach Hut Bakery
All of Doireann’s buns, pastries and sourdoughs are plant-based.

To realise the dream, Lara turned Foodstory’s existing beach hut kitchen into a microbakery and installed Doireann as head baker.

For the past month, the 34-year-old has been working every Thursday to Sunday, helped by a couple of staff when the shutters go up around 8am.

Queues down the beach

It has been a big success. The bakery wasn’t open long before the early morning lines started forming. Soon enough, anyone late down to the beach were finding the hut completely sold out.

“Saturdays and Sundays are just insane – there are queues all the way down,” Doireann says.

“Obviously, you don’t want to say you aren’t expecting it to do well, but I didn’t know it would be this popular.”

Doireann’s cinnamon buns have fast become a must-eat. But the wily baker keeps people coming back for more with an ever-rotating menu of other flavours such as baked lemon, cardamom and almond, chocolate and marshmallow and chai latte.

Aberdeen Beach Hut Bakery
Customers are going wild for Doireann’s cinnamon buns and other baked goods.

Sourdoughs and pastries are also on the menu, and the hut serves espresso coffee with a range of plant-based milks.

Everything is plant-based and vegan and – judging from smells coming from the oven – absolutely delicious. I can personally attest that the Beach Hut Bakery’s dark chocolate and cardamom buns are worth getting up early for, rain or shine.

Aberdeen beach’s growing food reputation

Doireann’s success has helped cement a reputation down on the Fittie side of the beach for high quality plant-based food.

Just up from the Aberdeen Beach Hut Bakery is Roots On The Beach, the food truck run by plant-based specialists Roots Catering. There you can buy vegan burgers, vegan milkshakes and even vegan fish and chips.

“It’s not what you usually find by the side of a beach, is it?” Doireann says of her neighbours. “It’s great. People don’t need to go into the city centre. They can just stay on the beach.”

The community was put to the test last month, when the storms rolled across Aberdeenshire, bringing high winds and a lot of rain. But it is testament to Doireann’s baking skills that customers continued to come, even though the serving hatch kept blowing shut because of the wind.

“We were only open for about half an hour because it just became too much,” Doireann says “But, yeah, I couldn’t believe it. People were still around, madly.”

The Beach Hut Baker is on Aberdeen’s Beach Boulevard between Scot Surf and Roots On The Beach.

The bakery is open Thursdays to Sunday with the Foodstory café operating out of the hut for the rest of the week.

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