The How and Why of Scotland The Bread Heritage Flour

We are enjoying being kept busy at Macbiehill Farmhouse milling Scotland The Bread’s heritage flours – more than three quarters of a ton, as of January 2018. In November we launched three varieties of flour from wheat landraces that were common in Scotland in the 19th century – Rouge d’Ecosse, Golden Drop and Hunter’s.

We are somewhat overwhelmed by the feedback we’ve been receiving: images of handsome loaves accompanied by tasting notes that show we are not biased after all. One customer wrote with the following story:

‘My wife and her brother, as children in Ayrshire, always looked forward to visiting an old boy in Kilbirnie because his scones were unsurpassed for flavour. Up to today [>50 years] she has never tasted anything to compare. But today ….. even with my limited baking skills … the flavour of the girdle scones with Hunter flour took her right back to those days in Kilbirnie. In all these years she had never tasted anything to compare with your Hunter’s flour. It really impacted on her … and she is away to tell her brother!

‘Now all my project trainees will be able to experience real bread with all its health benefits.’

We sent samples to some of our most trusted artisanal bakers, and have collated the first of their feedback here, including tips and tasting notes. We welcome your feedback, questions and comments: do send them over.

A new way of milling
This flour has been milled for maximum nutrient retention on an innovative ‘cyclone’ mill called a Zentrofan. It’s a slow, small-scale process that reduces the grain to fine particles without either heating it up by excessive abrasion (as can happen with stone milling) or stripping it of its vital nutrients (which is the main effect of producing white flour on industrial roller mills). There is more detail about the mill and how it works here.

Flour milled by cyclone mill at Bagaren & Bonden bakery in Malmö, Sweden

Heritage grain for modern problems
These heritage wheats are more than a historical curiosity. Their superior nutritional profile and their suitability for agro-ecological farming make them a good starting point in our quest to select and develop bread grains that grow well in Scottish soils and can nourish healthy citizens while providing local farmers with a fair and reliable return.

We have to thank Andy Forbes of Brockwell Bake Association in London for scouring gene banks round the world for tiny samples (typically 10 grams or less) of ‘accessions’ bearing the name of Rouge d’Ecosse. He also identified Golden Drop and Hunter’s as plausible ‘Scottish’ heritage grains.

Find more information about our three heritage wheats on our website here.

Scottish wholemeal baps

Baking with heritage flour

This flour is special. Apart from its above-average mineral content, it has:

  • a full, satisfying flavour without the dry dustiness of some wholemeals
  • gluten that is naturally softer, less stretchy and more extensible (and arguably more digestible) than in common breadmaking flours

Top tips for getting good results:

  • Knead the dough gently and for less time than you have to when using a ‘strong’ flour
  • Be patient and ferment your bread slowly (using sourdough) to develop flavour and digestibility
  • If you’re struggling to get a longed-for lightness, sieve the flour to remove some of the bran or add a portion (up to 25%) of a ‘strong’ flour

You will find more baking advice and recipes here, including:

  • some quick tips to get you started with the flour
  • general words about the character of Scottish heritage flour and how to adjust your baking to get the best from it
  • recipes to inspire you on your baking journey

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