Yeshe Dawa, aka The Midnight Baker, shares her kitchen must-haves.
Yeshe Dawa, aka The Midnight Baker, is the creator of the Freedom Loaf, a gluten, dairy, refined sugar and yeastfree bread, which is served at cafes and restaurants across the country and at her flagship cafe and bakery on Dominion Rd in Auckland. Change is afoot for Yeshe, with the cafe arm of her business due to close early next month. “It’s been an amazing four years of sharing delicious, gluten-free and plant-based food with our community but this change will allow me more time to focus on our wholesale business,” says Yeshe. “And we’ll still be on Dominion Rd baking bread and open for people to pick up a loaf!” Here, she shares her at-home kitchen essentials.
My kitchen at home is… mustard yellow heaven. Full of light. And a work in progress.
My dream kitchen would involve… keeping our yellow bench. In a dream world, I'd have a walk-in scullery where I could see everything lined up in jars along the shelves. I'd love to redo the cabinetry too. Our house was originally built and owned by a boat builder so there are nautically relevant touches throughout the house, like the handles to the cabinets and doors.
Always in my fridge is… mayonnaise, mustard, capers, Kaitaia fire, hummus, and pickles of some sort.
My pantry staples are… baking ingredients, because I love to bake. Every gluten-free flour has different properties so I have most in our pantry for recipe testing. We've also got jars and jars of spices, grains, and lentils, and tinned tomatoes and coconut cream are on regular rotation. And always a big jar of tahini because I have been, and will always be, obsessed with it.
My favourite ingredient to cook with is… hard to choose, but I think garlic. It's the base of so many meals, it's good for you, and it's delicious.
My go-to meal made from pantry ingredients is… spaghetti bolognese. It's my ultimate comfort food. I put mayonnaise on it in place of cheese (because I'm dairy intolerant) which doesn't impress my partner Josh, but I love it.
I cook at home… most nights. Josh and I take turns. Being allergic to a lot of things means it's often easier to cook than go out for food.
The dish I love to make most is… baking. I have a wicked sweet tooth. My chocolate chunk cookie recipe is memorised and I make a fresh batch each week. It's almost more chocolate than cookie which is how I like it. In winter I enjoy making warming, hearty curries and stews. In summer there's so much fresh produce to enjoy, so we love to cook it on our tiny charcoal barbecue, and make it into a big salad.
Alcohol really doesn't agree with me… but I love kombucha. Melissa from Something Big is Brewing makes the most delicious and inventive flavours which we pick up from the Grey Lynn Farmers Market.
My most-used appliance is… our oven. For the past 10 years, I've been in flats with average-to-terrible ovens. Having just bought our own place, we finally have a functional oven and I'm so excited to bake at home again.
A kitchen gadget everyone should own is… good kitchen scales are a staple in any kitchen. I'm a visual baker/cook and lackadaisical about measurements. But that means I can't recreate things if they turn out really good. Scales and taking notes are essential.
Spices I can't live without are… paprika, cumin, turmeric for their versatility and universality in so many different cultures' food. Mustard, dill, and coriander seed for pickling. Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves for the warmth they bring to baking.
My mantra for living well is… everything in moderation. Even tahini.