JENI Iannetta, 50, is owner of the Bad Girl Bakery in Muir of Ord, Ross-shire. Following a successful career in arts marketing, she switched paths after being offered a job at Bibi's Cafe in St Andrews in 2009.

Iannetta worked with owner Fiona Pratt to open Bibi's Bakery in Edinburgh a year later. She went on to set up her own business in 2017 and has newly published her debut cookbook.

How did you fall in love with baking?

My earliest memories of baking aren't particularly positive. I can remember clearly in first year at high school doing home economics and making a mess of chocolate crispy cakes. I definitely wasn't a natural baker from a young age. It wasn't something I spent my childhood doing.

I came to baking quite late – I was in my twenties. My sister is an amazing savoury cook so, by default, I would make the pudding or bring a cake.

What was the first thing you successfully made?

A Nigella Lawson recipe for a flourless chocolate cake. I am a big fan of the generosity and simplicity of her food.

Who taught you how to bake?

I am self-taught. I started as a home baker and did a lot of learning on the job. I am a fanatical buyer of cookbooks.

How did you become a full-time baker?

It all happened by accident. You know how you fantasise about your dream career? Mine was always to have a wee cafe or bakery. But it didn't seem feasible because I was down a path in my marketing career.

Then I got ill and was off work for a while. I had a dawning realisation that being good at your job wasn't the same as enjoying it. I saw an ad looking for a baker. Randomly, in the middle of the night, I applied. I took some cakes along to the interview and was offered the job.

HeraldScotland: Jeni Iannetta from Bad Girl Bakery in Muir of Ord. Picture: Matthias KremerJeni Iannetta from Bad Girl Bakery in Muir of Ord. Picture: Matthias Kremer

Where does the name Bad Girl Bakery come from?

Our bakes are big, indulgent and generous. The name gently pokes fun at people who are disapproving of treats. Everyone has someone in their life who, if you reach for a sweet treat, they will say: "Oh, you bad girl …"

Best baking advice you have been given?

Fiona Pratt, who offered me my first job as a baker, instilled the importance of not cutting corners and using good quality ingredients. It doesn't have to be the most expensive ingredients but aim for the best quality you can afford.

Baking is generally the same combination of ingredients, so if you've got good quality eggs, butter and cocoa, then the chances are your bake will be better.

What is your favourite thing to bake?

I still feel that flutter of joy. Even as far into my career as I am, I can't believe I get to bake cakes for a living and people buy them.

One thing I love baking is a brownie. It isn't a complicated mixture but there is a moment when you are mixing everything together and it looks a bit grainy and split. You think: "This is never going to come together".

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Then with a few turns of your spoon it turns into this silky, smooth and chocolatey mixture. To this day, it gives me huge pleasure watching it transform.

At Bad Girl Bakery we spend a lot of time working on new recipes and seasonal baking. My favourite season is autumn/winter because everything gets stickier, darker and spicier. As you head towards Christmas things get more indulgent too.

Do you enjoy Christmas?

Yes, very much. My oldest sister always hosts family Christmas and before I moved up to the Highlands that is where I would spend it. She is a fantastic cook and does beautiful Christmas spreads and makes it all look effortless.

I moved to the Highlands after I met my husband Douglas. He was a single father and my stepson Felix, now 13, was only four then. I fell in love with Christmas properly when we moved in together as a family and there was a wee person who I was responsible for helping feel the Christmas magic.

What are your favourite festive ingredients?

The cranberries come out. I use a lot of clementine and cardamom.

HeraldScotland: Jeni Iannetta from Bad Girl Bakery in Muir of Ord. Picture: Matthias KremerJeni Iannetta from Bad Girl Bakery in Muir of Ord. Picture: Matthias Kremer

What are your happiest Christmas memories?

There was four of us growing up – I have a twin brother and two older sisters. My strongest memory of Christmas is waking up and having to wait for my dad to check if Santa had been. It would feel like hours and hours.

My adult memories are being at my sister's house and her doing that effortless Christmas spread and making the house look beautiful. Now I have a family of my own with Douglas and Felix, I love that we are making our own Christmas memories.

How will you be spending it this year?

Just the three of us. I enjoy working Christmas Eve. You have wee ones coming in to buy a cupcake to leave out for Santa and people meeting up to exchange presents or collect their Christmas orders. I will close up a bit earlier to get home for a lovely family evening.

What's on the menu for Christmas Day?

It won't be turkey. Probably beef with all the trimmings – pigs in blankets and roast potatoes. We are quite traditional at Christmas.

I love sprouts. My sister's recipe – I can't take any credit – is to boil the sprouts, fry them with some lardons, then add lemon, cream and almonds. They taste incredible. In our house they are called "Christmas sprouts". We will definitely be having some of those.

READ MORE: The Hebridean Baker: How Coinneach MacLeod became a TikTok sensation and put Scottish cooking on the map

Pudding? That is tough. I haven't decided yet. It will generally be something chocolatey. I am not big on Christmas pudding.

Recipe: Cranberry, Clementine and White Chocolate Scones by Jeni Iannetta

THESE scones are a real favourite at Christmas time, when we always make them with fresh cranberries. They're just as good with dried cranberries, and you can use the zest of a large orange instead of the two clementines if you fancy. Just like the savoury scones, you can change up the flavours really easily by replacing the cranberries, zest and chocolate with different combinations of sweet flavours.

• The best tip we can give is don't overwork the dough. Overworked dough makes your scones heavy – it should have lumps and bumps in it.

• The consistency of the dough is the only tricky thing here. After making this a few times you'll know exactly what you're looking for. Too dry and your scones will be dense and crumbly; too wet and sticky, they won't rise and will be tough and chewy.

• Scones are at their very best served still warm from the oven and are definitely only good on the day. They can be frozen though: once defrosted, refresh them in the oven for a wee while to warm through. Don't decorate the top of scones you are planning to freeze.

This recipe makes 8 very big Bad Girl-sized scones.

HeraldScotland: Cranberry, Clementine and White Chocolate SconesCranberry, Clementine and White Chocolate Scones


500g self-raising flour (plus more for dusting)

120g caster sugar

1 rounded tbsp baking powder

100g unsalted butter, softened a little and cubed

300ml milk

2 medium eggs

100g fresh or dried cranberries

100g white chocolate, chips or chopped zest of 2 clementines

To finish:

60g white chocolate, melted handful of dried cranberries


1. Heat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan). You will need a large baking sheet, lined.

2. Weigh the flour, sugar and baking powder into a big bowl, then add the cubed butter. Measure the milk into a jug, then add the eggs and mix with a fork. Flour your work surface now, before your hands get all sticky with dough.

3. Now, rub the butter into the flour, picking up small amounts in your fingertips and rubbing your thumb and fingers together as you let the mixture fall back into the bowl. Once it looks like breadcrumbs, give the bowl a shake and any rogue lumps of butter will come to the top – rub them in too.

4. Add the cranberries, white chocolate and clementine zest and around two thirds of the eggy milk. Mix with a butter knife (this way you won't overwork the dough) until most of the flour has been incorporated. If there's still a lot of flour in the bottom of the bowl, add a little more milk. You just want a rough, craggy-looking bowl of dough that feels a little sticky, but not wet. Use more of the milk if it's too dry or add a tiny bit more flour if it's too wet.

5. Once you're happy, tip the whole lot out onto the floured surface and use your hands to bring it together into a ball. Your dough should have lumps and bumps – don't be tempted to work it until it's smooth.

6. With your hands, gently flatten your ball of dough into a flat disc roughly 20cm across and 3-4cm high. Dust a knife with flour to stop it sticking, and cut the dough into eight evenly-sized triangles as if you were cutting a cake.

READ MORE: Christmas recipes: Bake Off winner Peter Sawkins on his favourite time of year

7. Space the triangles out on your baking tray and brush the tops with a thin coat of the remaining eggy milk mixture (you might not need it all). Bake for around 20 minutes or until they are baked through. The timing will really depend on the thickness of your scones so use a skewer to check, and if they're not done pop them back in the oven for another three minutes before checking again. They are ready when the skewer comes out clean.

8. Let the scones cool a little on the tray before taking them off and transferring to a wire rack – they are a wee bit fragile straight out of the oven. When cool, drizzle the tops with the melted white chocolate and scatter over a few dried cranberries before the chocolate sets.

Bad Girl Bakery by Jeni Iannetta is published by Kitchen Press, £20