FROM Haggis bon bons to Cranachan Chocolate Bombs, one Scot from a tiny village on a Hebridean island has been encouraging millions of people around the world to bake.

Some 15 million to be exact, as that’s how many people have tuned in to watch the Hebridean Baker take on the baking classics (usually with a Scots twist) and teach them a wee bit about Gaelic.

Like many people during lockdown, Coinneach MacLeod, from the Isle of Lewis, tried something new. He tried short lifestyle and baking videos on TikTok – the app known for its short and viral content.

The app has blown up in popularity in recent years, rivalling industry titans such as YouTube. And MacLeod, along with other Scots, such as poet Len Pennie and sea shanty singer Nathan Evans, have seen huge success on the platform. But it’s not just baking MacLeod is passionate about – he’s just as passionate on promoting the beauty of the Hebrides.

“I think my initial goal was maybe more the word Hebridean than baker,” MacLeod said. “I really wanted a platform to promote our identity, language, culture and food because we are a wee bit different.

“I knew that people, particularly overseas, may or may not know about us, and I have always loved baking, and I’ve had loads of amazing bakers in my family. My first recipe was, I think, something as simple as a ginger loaf. And it’s really gone from there. I’ve had 15 million people that watch my videos, which is bonkers.

“When you’re from a village of 30 people on the Isle of Lewis, trying to comprehend 15 million people is quite a challenge. But I think what I’m trying to do is create a space for people, and hopefully we’ll learn about the islands.”

And it’s been working. MacLeod gets around 3000 messages everyday – many from Americans wanting to travel to Scotland.

He said: “I was on a ferry when this lady tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘are you the Hebridean baker?’

“She said: ‘You’re the reason I’m on the ferry. I’ve been watching your videos for the past year.’ I knew I could retire then. It was everything I wanted. And with baking, I try to bake using my traditional Hebridean recipes or creating classic recipes but with a Scottish twist – using Scottish produce is very, very important to me.

“So you’ll see everything from heather honey, black pudding, marmalade, brambles, whisky and Scottish salmon. But the last thing I wanted to do was get people to slow down. There was this big trend of hygge a while back, basically the Danish word for saying relax a wee bit.

“Somebody asked me what’s the Gaelic translation for the word hygge and I’ll be honest with you, I hadn’t really thought about it but there’s a really beautiful word in Gaelic which is blaths and it kind of means contentment or warmth.

“And there’s a lovely saying that I stand by in Gaelic which is there is a time for everything. So I wanted people to slow down a wee bit. Just enjoy what you have – it doesn’t matter if you’re in the centre of London or on that hill in the Hebrides.”

MacLeod's message got the chance to spread further when, unbeknownst to him, the American magazine Elle had written about his channel, with the headline: “What I’ll Miss Most About TikTok Is This Sexy Scottish Baker”. From then, his channel saw an overnight boom in followers, with 20,000 added the day after the article was published. “I just thought my carrot cake was the best thing ever but it was a wee bit more than that,” he joked.

He continued: “It was genuinely just my own passion for Scotland and my own passion for the islands. So the fact that it resonated with so many people, it is the biggest honour and it’s amazing because it certainly wasn’t something I anticipated.”

And now he is out with his very first cookbook – a mix of cooking, photography and stories.

“The feedback has been amazing,” he said. “I mean, I still can’t believe when I go into Amazon, I’m ahead of Mary Berry in the baking charts.

“What I learned was that a normal recipe book is like 100 recipes. We’ve decided to do 75 recipes, because we wanted the stories and photography to be as big a part as the recipes. And that, for me is amazing.

“My family all gave me recipes so there’s lots of traditional and family recipes in it. That’s important to me, and that has resonated on TikTok.

“And the book is very accessible. We are not trying to make people into a Michelin star chef, I’m trying to make people say yes, I can make that, that will be fun.”

Highland recipes, the Hebridean Baker: Recipes and Wee Stories from the Scottish Islands is out now