he population of the Isle of Lewis is approximately 18,500.
In contrast, local resident, Coinneach MacLeod, 47, has a TikTok following on his The Hebridean Baker account of 248.4k and growing, as well as 20 million views overall. It’s fair to say that it’s not just his pals and neighours who are following his adventures, along with those of his West Highland terrier, Seoras.
Some of these followers - many of whom are in the US, where he recently had a major book tour - will be excited to know that he has a new release out, My Scottish Island Kitchen, which is a follow up to last year’s bestseller, Recipes and Wee Stories from the Scottish Islands.
It features more of MacLeod’s stories and landscapes, as well as wholesome and rustic recipes, to inspire a suitably seasonal sensation of Hebridean hygge.
The dishes include posh mince and tatties, which are made with venison mince instead of beef, along with first footer martinis and empire biscuits. MacLeod’s partner, Peter MacQueen - “the official cake taster” - has also got involved this time, by contributing his own recipe for kvæfjordkake.
How has your cooking evolved since the last book?
As a passionate homebaker, I learned so much about my own cooking and baking skills in the making of my debut book. Since then, I’ve worked hard on my techniques and have been lucky enough to meet with many professional bakers in Scotland and overseas - everything I've learned from them has helped in building the recipes for My Scottish Island Kitchen. Though all the recipes are still achievable, even for the novice baker, I think readers will see a real wow factor to many of the bakes.
I continued to be inspired by traditional recipes and Scottish flavours, but it has been great fun choosing the new themes for the eight chapters and 75 new recipes in the book. This time I have a whole chapter on bread, one on recipes from Scandinavia and I will teach you how to make a full Afternoon Tea selection for a special occasion. But I know my readers love trying classic Scottish recipes, cakes and biscuits as well as Christmas treats and I can't wait for everyone to see my new creations.
Was it tricky to come up with new recipes, and are there any more family ones in the book?
When my publishers asked me to write the second book, I wondered if I had enough recipes to fill another. But when I sat down and started to piece together the chapters, I realised that I had scribbled down over 120 ideas. The hardest part was to choose which ones to leave out. You will see lots of friends and family appearing in the book with their recipes. And behind the scenes, my sister-in-law Seonag was alongside me in the kitchen throughout the process, I couldn't have done it without her.
Which recipes are you happiest with?
In my cosy weekend dishes chapter, I make a Cock-a-Leekie Pie - taking all the flavours of the soup and slow-cooking them in a shortcrust pastry, my friends are still talking about it. I can't wait for folk to make my Posh Mince and Tatties, Hot Toddy Bundt Cake, Shortbread Dips and my Christmas showstopper - a Mulled Pear and Pistachio Pavlova. Every chapter has a selection of wonderful recipes, my mouth is watering just thinking about them.
Did you do another photo shoot for this one, and what locations did you use this time?
I worked with the amazing photographer Susie Lowe and we travelled across the islands to showcase the beautiful scenery. The front cover was shot on the Isle of Scalpay at Eilean Glas Lighthouse. I didn't mention the two mile trek over the hills to Susie when I put the lighthouse on the itinerary. But carrying all the photography equipment, my kilt and trusty mixing bowl was definitely worth it, the shots are stunning.
Is Seoras still the star of the show?
I definitely think my recipes get in the way of Seoras' global stardom. Yes, he not only appears on the front cover, but there are lots of fantastic pics throughout the book - my favourite is one of him running through the snow. They should hang that one in the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh.
How was your recent tour of the US?
One of the most amazing experiences of my life. We toured 12 cities in 13 days: New York, New Jersey, Boston, Charlotte, Dallas, Nashville, LA, San Diego, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and Chicago. We sold out every night, and along with my American fans, we met so many Scots along the way. With my partner Peter, we told stories, sang Gaelic songs, signed hundreds of books - oh, and there was definitely a dram or two of whisky drank along the way. It was humbling to have such support and excited that I am booked to return in September to Las Vegas and in January to ten more cities.
Do you think this book will also appeal to your US fans?
I am so lucky to have such a passionate following in the US, and I’ve learned that they not only love to try the traditional Scottish recipes, but also read all the stories about the history, legends and characters of the Hebrides. I think they will love the book and I'm excited that it will be released in the US on Burns Night in January.
The Hebridean Baker: My Scottish Island Kitchen is out on 6 October, Black & White Publishing, £26 hardback