Anatolian Bridal Soup / Yeshe Dawa

Photographed by Jiho Yun

The Midnight Baker started like most small businesses do, simply doing what you love. A hobby that never begins with the intent of running your own business, that comes organically after hours of obsessing, making, experimenting, and selling to friends. The natural progression of passion, necessity, and most likley, because you physically can’t not do it. It’s so inspiring meeting people who have thrown caution to the wind and have gone out on their own to give what they love a go. It was so nice to be able to chat to Yeshe about food, her business, and both being Cancers and introverts (aka, my two favourite topics). And now she is my friend whether she likes it or not.

Yeshe started making her now famous, Freedom Loaf, five or so years ago. The Freedom Loaf began as a way to find a delicious and nourishing staple she could eat without causing her eczema to flair up. It wasn’t long after Yeshe made her first loaf that her bread took on a life of it’s own. After quickly out growing her kitchen, she rented a café kitchen after hours to bake bread for the demand that was coming through her website and instagram. This all while she was still working full time, she had a gruelling schedule which would literally have her baking bread at midnight, and leaving named, freshly baked loaves on her front porch in the mornings for customers to collect while she was at work. Basically, she has worked every moment possible in these last five years to get The Midnight Baker to where it is today.

Growing up Yeshe’s Mum was the main cook at home. Not only the cook, she was also an amazing baker. Her Banana Cake was hot property, and was always requested at pot lucks. Yeshe loved being in the kitchen with her Mum while she baked, and it wasn’t just the prospect of getting to lick the spoon. She learned by watching, amazed at how the combination of different ingredients came together to make something so perfect and so delicious. Under the guidance of her Mother, Yeshe started her training by being allowed to sift the flour, before she knew it she had graduated to lining the cake tins, and measuring out ingredients. The first thing she baked solo was butterfly cakes. Her favourite part being, the scooping out of the middle of the cake to make way for the cream and the perfectly halved strawberry.

As an adult she had to admit to her intolerances to gluten and dairy, baking was so engrained and loved at that point rather than giving it up she experimented with every alternative to gluten and dairy under the sun. Figuring out what worked, what didn’t, and more importantly, what she could eat and what she couldn’t. She admittedly has only failed at recreating hot cross buns, the one thing she has found that really only thrives on white flour, and sadly, nothing else.

Once Yeshe began The Midnight Baker her capacity for baking outside of baking became pretty much non-existent. Running a business takes a lot out of you, especially in the beginning. You wear every hat while simultaneously learning how to wear each hat, it can be very tough to find the energy to make anything other than a basic meal at the end of the day. Luckily for Yeshe her boyfriend is a very good cook, and does the majority of the cooking at home. However now that her business is in a good place, and she has the support of an amazing team, Yeshe has decided to passionate about cooking again. When you are so busy and so involved in food, cooking has to be a choice, and it needs to be made a priority, time needs to be set aside so it becomeds a joy rather than a chore. She has started getting recipe books out from the library to try and connect with cooking on a new level, “I’m not good at coming up with the ideas myself, but I just need an image, something to recreate, something to spark something in me”. She has a huge pile of cookbooks on her coffee table, the majority from New Zealanders, that she is feeling very inspired by. I will more than likely invite myself over for Yeshe Part 2 to see what she has come up with, and eat whatever it is with a side of Freedom Loaf.

Creating and running a business is a time consuming, labour of love. The Midnight Baker runs so well and does so well because the bread SO good, and because Yeshe has run it incredibly well and has not compromised any of her morals, ethics, or the environment. It’s her genuine, very down to earth, super approachable nature that really shines through her brand and her bread, and I think that’s a huge part of what people love about The Midnight Baker. Yeshe is also now about to bring her magic to the masses, she has just been selected to stand as a City Vision candidate for Albert Local Board in the Manugawhau (Mt Eden, Auckland) subdivision, she has also been nominated for the Miss FQ Influence awards, and Kate Sylvester has recently photographed and talked to Yeshe as their 100th gal for Sylvester Sessions. She is incredible. 


Anatolian Bridal Soup

This soup is so delicious, so nourishing, and so easy, it will feel like you are cheating. 


  • 1 onion 
  • 2 tbsp oil 
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 potato
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup red lentils, dried 
  • 4 cups of stock / water (needs extra salt if water)
  • 1 tbsp dried mint  
  • 1 tbsp flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tbsp chilli flakes (optional)
  • Salt & pepper to taste 
  • A lemon/lime cut into wedges
  • Fresh flat leaf parsley / coriander to garnish
  • Optional extras: celery, carrot  (sliced / cut into pieces) 


    • Dice the onion
    • Cut the potato into medium sized chunks
    • Finely dice the garlic
    • If you are using celery and carrots, slice/cut into pieces
    • Roughly chop the fresh flat leaf parsley / coriander 


    1. Preheat a pot at a medium heat

    2. Add the oil and onion and fry until golden and soft

    3. Add the paprika, potato, (celery and carrot if including), garlic, tomato paste, then the lentils

    4. Give everything a good stir coating all of the contents in the lentils

    5. Add the stock to the pot, give everything a good stir, and bring to the boil

    6. Once boiling, turn the temperature down, put the lid on the pot, and simmer for 40 - 50 mins, remembering to stir occasionally.

    7. 5 mins before serving, add the chilli flakes and mint.Season with salt and pepper


    Diana Henry's Chilli Fried Onions

    This is the kind of topping you usually only dream about. It was HEAVEN on the soup, and it paired fantastically with the lime and coriander. It would be very, and I mean very good to make in bulk and put on everything, especially eggs.



    • 2 onions
    • 2 tbsp olive oil 
    • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 2 tsp brown sugar
    • 1 fresh red chilli
    • juice of 1/2 a small lemon
    •  Finely cut the onions into thin half moons
    • De-seed and finely chop the chilli
    • Juice the lemon


      1. Fry the sliced onions in very hot olive oil until golden brown with crispy bits

      2. Add the cinnamon, sugar, and chilli

      3. Stir and, once the sugar has melted, add the lemon juice and season

      Serve the soup in warm bowls with the chilli-fried onions, a squeeze of lime / lemon, chopped fresh parsley and / or coriander and a couple of slices of Freedom Loaf or bread.