Katya Eardley, the 17-year-old baker at The Riverside Bakehouse, tells us about her working day

Katja starts early at this Abbey St Bathans cafe and bakery

Published 10th Nov 2021
Updated 8 th Aug 2023


As a baker I live a life of glamour. The first alarm blesses my eardrums at this time, which allows for a luxurious nine minute snooze before having to frantically roll out of bed. I live close to the bakehouse, so 15 minutes later, after trundling down a muddy hill in typical Scottish rain, I can switch the lights and ovens on.


And so the baking commences, from cruffin fillings to big fat chocolate cakes, pestos and soups. This is not the only thing I’m doing as the rest of the population is tucked up asleep. I am simultaneously cursing the Americans for creating recipes with cups rather than grams, writing ‘to do’ lists and trying to convince myself that an eighth coffee would be beneficial.


Gemma (bread baker) comes in and she is warmly greeted to “is that the time already?!” The first load of pastries is ready to go into the oven at this point, proved to perfection, I hope. We hold intelligent conversations covering bakery gossip, flavour ideas and what we ate for dinner last night.


Enter boss, Aliona (aka mum). She’s served her usual cardamom bun and black Americano. She loads the ovens with sourdough bread, seemingly without a care about whether it has proven properly. The boss is ready so the bread must be too. As any slightly imperfect loaves are pulled out of the oven there is a universal agreement that it is simply rustic and customers will love it regardless. Everything needs done now, caramel is burning and four alarms go off at once.


Waiting staff and kitchen porters arrive, warmly welcomed by the overflowing sink of dishes. I am a hangry storm as I write the menu board, pipe filling into cruffins and set up the sweet display.

New bakery Lannan opening in Edinburgh - the first solo venture from Darcie Maher


There’s a cafe full of customers and I get my first break. I indulge in a bowl of strawberry porridge and my 73rd coffee. As I spoon the last morsel of oats into my mouth I am informed, to my immense pleasure, that the cruffins have all sold. I refrain from screaming and calmly make my way back to the kitchen.


I ask myself, ‘who on earth wants a beef and ale pie with a side salad at this time of the morning?” From then on there is an incessant stream of making sandwiches, pies and toasties. This carries on at the pace of a Japanese bullet train.


12 of the Scotland's Larder features - from Gow's Bakery to La Pastina Deli

I’m first in, yet the last to have lunch. Obligatory coffee is gulped, then I start preparing the pastries for the next day, holding back the tears as I’m cruelly reminded that this will all be repeated. This brings me very nicely to the best time: closing time. Everything gets turned off and I trudge back up the muddy hill home.


I play killer sudoku, then unglue myself from the sofa and head to the kitchen. Unlike the average person my occupation haunts me wherever I go. Dinner is cooked and eaten in a zombie-like state.


I take myself to where I have been dreaming of all day. My bed. Like all 17-year-olds I quickly fall into a melatonin-induced coma.

Scotland's Larder: Peter Dignan of Lost Loch Spirits

Instagram @katyasbakes


Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.
Copyright ©2024 National World Publishing Ltd
Cookie SettingsTerms and ConditionsPrivacy Policy
crosschevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram