TikTok sensation The Hebridean Baker is hoping his latest venture will be a recipe for success as he debuts his first cook book.
Coinneach MacLeod has published the cook book, titled The Hebridean Baker, showcasing the best of the Hebridean Hygge lifestyle.
Comprised of a selection of family recipes, stories and stunning photography from across the Outer Hebrides, the book has something for everyone.
The venture was inspired by the success of his TikTok page which has generated more than 14.5million views and 2.7m likes since its launch last year.
The 47-year-old was inspired to join the social media site to showcase the rich history of his homeland.
He has gone onto motivate his 224,000 followers around the world to bake, forage, learn Gaelic, sup a dram or two of whisky and to enjoy a more wholesome, simple life.
The expert baker is now taking his success on the road by hosting a series of book signings.
‘Its a big part of my life now but its something I really enjoy doing’
Speaking ahead of his first book signing this evening, the published author, who works for UEFA, said he was thrilled with the finished product.
“It’s been really, really special,” he said.
“The book is just gorgeous. I saw it for the first time on Sunday, held it in my hands and it was quite a humbling experience to see all the work come to life.
“It was a lot of work to create the recipes and make them. When you make 75 recipes, you don’t get them perfect every time they come out the oven. I don’t even think Nigella gets them perfect every time. There was a few extra tries.
“I can’t wait for everyone to see it and the fact that family and friends have been involved in putting it together just makes it that wee bit extra special.”
‘It’s very much a family affair’
Growing up in the Western Isles, the 47-year-old from Cromore on Lewis has been surrounded by extraordinary cooks and bakers all his life.
He explained how the heritage of his ancestors inspired his journey to success; especially his 93-year-old aunt Bellag’s (Gaelic
for Isabella) secret Clootie Dumpling recipe, known in the islands as a Duff.
He said: “Growing up in a wee village on the Isle of Lewis, it’s not like you can pop to the shop to get a sweetie or anything like that. Really, homemade is always best. Our nearest shop’s in Stornoway, so that’s 30 miles away and so my family was always baking and cooking at home.
“I think my favourite photo in the whole book is of my aunt Bellag. She is 93, still bakes every day and she still makes for me the best duff on the island.
“She’s in the book with that and so I have always been surrounded by amazing bakers and that’s been really inspiring.”
Mr Macleod’s beloved aunt is among several family members featured in his book, alongside his niece and his sister-in-law.
He said the whole venture has been “very much a family affair.”
Uncovering his aunt’s secret recipe
Amongst the 75 recipes featured in the book, the Hebridean Baker says his favourite remains his aunt Bellag’s duff recipe following the discovery of her secret ingredient.
“I have to go back to my aunt Bellag’s duff recipe, the Clootie Dumpling,” the social media star said.
“It’s such an iconic recipe for Island folk because we eat it the first day as a dessert. You slice it up and have it with custard but the next day its even better because you fry it in bacon with a full breakfast.
“I knew my aunt’s always had a distinctive taste and she told us she had a secret ingredient in the duff. I was filming with the BBC travel show with presenter Ade Adepitan. He came up to Lewis and they filmed me making the duff and I pleaded with my aunt, can I please have the secret ingredient, so I finally got it and that’s in the book.”
Scottish book tour
To mark the debut of his cookbook, the baker will be hosting a series of book signings to meet his fans in person for the first time.
The first signing will take place onboard the Calmac service from Ullapool to Stornoway followed by a met and greet at Harris Tweed in Stornoway and Tarbert.
Next week, he will venture to the mainland where he will meet fans in Inverness, Glasgow and Edinburgh before ending his tour in London.
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‘Nice easy bakes that everyone will enjoy’
Mr MacLeod says he hopes his book will inspire people to get cooking and venture to his nature home in the Western Isles.
He added: “These are all really accessible bakes. One of the things on TikTok, as you only have a minute, it’s quite common for people to try and do the biggest and best.
“In the start I would see a lot of bakers with the big eight tiered cakes but I thought in lockdown, who is going to eat all these things so I always made sure it was small bakes with not a lot of ingredients. The perfect bake for if your auntie is come round.
“I live by the old Gaelic saying beiridh blàths air luaths, which means there is a time for everything. I want my book to inspire its readers to do three things: slow down and enjoy life’s simple pleasures, try some of my recipes and come and visit the Outer Hebrides.”