Christmas Cakes at the Walls Bakery

by Elizabeth Atia -

In the North Pole Santa's little elves are busy making Christmas presents, checking lists and making sure deliveries will be on schedule. In the village of Walls, on the far west side of Shetland, the bakers are busy making Christmas cakes, checking their lists, and making sure deliveries will be on schedule!

Yesterday I paid them (the bakers, not the elves) a visit. The bakery was a hive of activity as Christmas cake assembly was in full swing. Three months ago, master baker Charlie Hodge, managing director of the bakery, made a giant slab of rich dark Christmas cake and set it aside to mature. It was regularly fed with plenty of rum and whisky and was ready to be iced, sliced and decorated.

Charlie Hodge is originally from Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire. When he was a wee lad wanted to be a chef, but after spending six months working at a restaurant he found he didn't much care for it. There was too much stopping and starting in the kitchen for his liking. So, at the tender age of 16 he began an apprenticeship at George A. Robertson's bakery in Stonehaven.

Charlie really enjoyed bakery work and spent the next six years training at the Aberdeen Technical college. In 1986 he moved to Shetland and bought the old bakery in Walls. In 1993 they moved to new premises behind the Walls shop where he continues to do what he loves - baking traditional recipes from scratch.

"We are the only bakery in Shetland that makes Scottish black bun properly."

Charlie is proud of his Scottish black bun, a traditional fruit cake wrapped in pastry which used to be eaten on the Twelfth Night. He learned the recipe while he was an apprentice and has been making it for the 33 years he's been a baker. His recipe contains a very high quantity of fruit matured and soaked in rum and spices. His secret, he says, is 1 part dough to 2 and 3/4 parts of fruit.

The Walls Bakery is also famous for its Shetland Islands oatcakes, which they post to people all over the world. Once folk have had a taste of them nothing else will do!

For the festive season staff at the bakery have been very busy making cakes, shortbread rounds, snowmen for the kids, Christmas muffins - a plain muffin with a layer of mincemeat in the middle and decorated with 'snow', Christmas pies (both shortcrust and puff pastry), Yule logs, Scottish black bun and their beautiful Christmas stollen. This is in addition to their usual bakery range of bread, rolls, scones, Aberdeen butteries and all sorts of other bakes and sweets.

You can buy their bakery products at most village shops around Shetland, and their oatcakes in the Co-op on the Scottish mainland.

You can find the Walls Bakery online and they are taking orders for the Christmas period. They do mail order, world wide delivery.

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