The Hebridean Baker, Coinneach MacLead, has a TikTok following on his Hebridean Baker account of more than 250,000 and growing, as well as 20 million views overall, with many glued to his stories and adventures with his West Highland terrier, Seoras, and the wholesome and homely recipes he shares from islands home.
We’re delighted that the Hebridean Baker, who is a huge hit in the US, is coming home to Scotland, with his session at the Paisley Book Festival on 18 February (tickets available here).
In an exclusive interview with us, we asked Coinneach about his upcoming appearance and, as the Paisley Book Festival is offering ticketing options to suit all pockets, Coinneach also shared with us a low-cost recipe for his amazing lemonade scones!
Are you looking forward to being in Paisley?
I’m so excited to be visiting Paisley for the Book Festival, and actually I will be returning later in the year to sing at the Royal National Mòd, the Gaelic music festival, which will be hosted for only the second time in it’s 130 history in Paisley this October.
You’re known for your TikTok fame, but is there something special about in-person events?
I absolutely love the Hebridean Baker events, I’ve been so lucky to have hosted them everywhere from Inverness to San Francisco, Cape Breton to Aberdeen. Wherever I go, there is a shared passion for the Hebrides – our culture, stories, recipes and history. We tell stories, sing a song or two – they’re a real old fashioned cèilidh! They are always so much fun and I love meeting everyone who comes along.
Your latest book looks at your Scottish island kitchen – what is it about Scotland and the islands which makes our food so special?
I am always inspired by the ingredients, flavours and traditional recipes of Scotland. From the land and the sea our produce is some of the best in the world. What I love doing is making both the produce and the recipes accessible, so that people can feel confident in making them at home. We should be so proud our produce, from salmon to black pudding, marmalade to whisky – they are all iconic!
Is there a different reaction to your recipes at home, as compared to overseas?
I have been lucky to have toured the US and Canada with my cookbook (and will return for another book tour in March). I definitely feel my readers overseas love the more traditional Scottish recipes, like Shortbread, Cranachan, Clootie Dumpling or Black Bun. Whereas, at home, they try out my more modern recipes – taking a classic and adding a twist! Like my Cock-a-Leekie Pie, Hot Toddy Bundt Cake, First Footer Martini or a Croque Madam Ècosse!
The theme of Paisley Book Festival is Remake and Rebel – are there things you like to remake and when have you found yourself rebelling?
I hadn’t planned to rebel, but I think when I dipped Clootie Dumpling in chocolate in my second book, that nearly caused an uproar on the island!! (though the flavour combination definitely won them over!)
There’s definitely recipes and bakes I return to all the time. It wouldn’t be Christmas without Granny Annag’s Christmas Cake recipe and I have to make my Bakewell Scones every time my auntie comes to visit!
This year, in recognition of the cost-of-living crisis, Paisley Book Festival is pioneering a pay-what-you-can model for the majority of its events – do you have a recipe that we can all try that won’t hurt the wallet?
Fluffy, moist and so easy to make, these Lemonade Scones are so quick to prepare. Yes, I do still love a traditionally made scone, and who doesn’t want that buttery flavour that comes from them. But honestly, when I serve these – no-one notices! Don’t expect the lemonade to make them taste of lemons, but I couldn’t resist adding some lemon zest.
350g Self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
150ml Double cream
150ml sparkling lemonade (e.g. Sprite)
1 lemon, zested
Pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 200°C fan. Add the flour, cream and lemonade to a bowl along with the zest of a lemon and a pinch of salt, and mix until just combined. Take care not to overwork the dough. On a floured surface, shape the dough into a round and flatten to 2.5–3cm (1”) thick. Use a cookie cutter to stamp out rounds and place on a lined baking tray. Brush the top of each scone with egg before placing in the oven for 13 to 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. When ready to serve, I take the Cornish tradition of jam then cream. You can dollop on raspberry jam or, in keeping with the lemon theme, spoon a layer of lemon curd.