Wild Hearth Bakery’s Scottish Lowland Rye Bread Recipe

Many thanks for this recipe and the photo go to John Castley, baker and founder of Wild Hearth Bakery in Comrie and Scottish Bread Championship three-time Supreme Champion.

Scottish Lowland Rye

The process for making this bread is based loosely on Walliser Rogenvolkornbrot, the only bread in Switzerland with an appellation d’origine protégée (AOP), but adapted to be 100% sourdough, 100% wholemeal and baked in a tin rather than directly on the hearth. The AOP bread can only be made from rye above 1000 metres in the Wallister region of Switzerland. This version can only be made from Scottish rye grown below 100 metres :).

At Wild Hearth Bakery, we use 100% wholemeal rye flour from Scotland The Bread. This method is particularly suited to flours that would be judged by normal standards, eg ‘falling number’, as lacking the strength to make a good loaf of bread. Here, this is almost a benefit, as the bread rises very quickly and has a beautiful tender crumb.

Two things are unusual about this recipe. The first is that a portion of the flour and water are cooked beforehand with all of the salt to make what in Germany and Switzerland is known as a ‘kochstuck’ (literally ‘cooked part’). In modern baking parlance, this is known as ‘pre-gelatinised flour’ and forms the basis of many modern bread improvers. It exists in other traditions, for example ‘tang zhong’ in Chinese, ‘yu-dane’ in Japanese, or ‘water roux’ in…a mixture of French and English.  You get the idea – it’s flour and water cooked until it thickens.

The second is that a huge amount of the flour in the total recipe is pre-fermented in the starter – 33% in fact. That may not sound much but it’s more than any other bread I know of. To put it another way, the amount of starter in the final dough is 110% of the flour weight in that dough. The weight of the pre-cooked flour mix (including water and salt) in the final dough is another 47% of the flour weight

Preparation time: 2 hours
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Makes 2 x 890 g loaves

Starter (12-16 hours old)
The starter is 100% hydration, meaning equal weights of flour and water.  It is simply mixed and left to ferment at a warm (circa. 24-28°C) temp.

90 g Wholemeal rye sourdough starter (e.g. from the fridge or a friend
300 g Scotland The Bread organic wholemeal rye flour
300 g Water

Pre-cooked flour
70 g Wholemeal rye flour
210 g Water
18 g Sea salt

For the pre-cooked flour, measure the flour, water and sea salt into a saucepan and whisk until no lumps remain. Place on a high heat and whisk continuously until it thickens, then take the pan off the heat, cover, and cool overnight.

The next day, prepare 2 x 1lb loaf tins. Unless they have a non-stick coating, you will need to grease them. We find that an oil spray (without synthetic additives) is best for this, or you can lightly and evenly butter them as you would a cake tin.  

Final dough
(Makes two 890 g loaves.)

620 g Wholemeal rye flour
690 g Wholemeal rye starter (from above)
315 g Water
298 g Pre-cooked flour (from above)

Measure the wholemeal rye flour into a mixing bowl, then add the starter, pre-cooked flour, and hot water straight from the tap. Hold your nerve; it feels wrong to do this, but this will achieve a final dough temperature of about 35°c, which is perfect for this dough.

Mix with a wooden spoon for about a minute, or until smooth. The consistency will be more like a thick batter than a typical bread dough. Divide the dough evenly between the tins, trying not to smear it down the sides, as this can result in the bread sticking. 

Sift a thin layer of rye flour over each loaf and leave to rise in a warm place (28-34°c) for about 1 hour 30 minutes until the rye flour on top has cracked and darker bubbles are visible through the cracks. It’s not necessary to cover them. They should still be a bit domed when they go in the oven; if they have begun to collapse the dough has overproved. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 250°c or 230°c fan.

Bake the loaves in the preheated oven for 10 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 220°c or 200°c fan and bake for a further 30-35 minutes. The internal temperature should reach 97°c.

Remove the loaves from the tins and allow to cool. This bread is the perfect accompaniment to smoked salmon, ideally with some pickled vegetables, crème fraiche, and fresh dill.

Et voila!

7 thoughts on “Wild Hearth Bakery’s Scottish Lowland Rye Bread Recipe

  1. Stephen says:

    Hi, can anyone tell me if the starter part of the recipe is just created 12-16 hours before completing the recipe and no other starter/yeast is required.
    Sorry if this is a stupid question.

    • Avatar photo
      Scotland The Bread says:

      It’s not a stupid question at all, Stephen (and I apologise for the slow reply). I’ve checked with John Castley and somewhere along the line the original starter was missed out! John has supplied a slightly adjusted recipe which we’ve posted in place of what was there before. I hope you now find it makes sense.
      Andrew Whitley

  2. Alistair Duff says:

    Thank you for this recipe. I am keen to give it a go. I apologise for having two rookie questions
    (1) I already have a mature 100% hydration rye sourdough starter in my fridge. Could I take some of that, add enough equal parts of flour and water to add up to the 715g of starter needed for the final dough?
    (2) If I do not do that, and instead start my starter from scratch, will 311g of flour and 311g of water give me 715g of starter? Will it not be over 100g short?

    • Avatar photo
      Scotland The Bread says:

      Yes you can, Alistair! Again, I apologise for the delay in correcting the recipe (see the post above), but hope that you followed your instinct and got a good result anyway. The revised recipe should now work well.

      Andrew Whitley

      • Andy says:

        I have used this recipe three times now, with great results. Many thanks to John for the recipe and to Andrew for clarifying the revisions. It has given me new enthusiasm for baking with rye and great to go 100% whole meal.

  3. Mike Hall says:

    I tried this recipe myself, with exactly the same flour, but scaled down to half quantity. I also used a lot less salt – I couldn’t believe the figure given in the recipe.
    I have a lot of experience at home of no-knead bread baking in tins, with a wide variety of flours and other ingredients – wholegrains and other things but not ‘additives’. Usually I can judge what will work for me and what may not. Loaves with rye have always been quite a challenge for me, and I’ve been looking for ways round that.
    As a development scientist in the past, working in another field, I’ve known for a long time that both the process detail and the actual character of the materials used (in this case the flour) can affect the result a lot, and that keeping good records is important. It seems to me that many bread recipes on the Web often miss out critical information in both respects. In industry it’s also well known that process transfer from one facility to another, and changes of scale, don’t always give the results you expect.
    My result didn’t match the blog, but in retrospect this doesn’t surprise me much. Differences which seemed quite small to me, might have been significant. The pre-cooking of the flour, which is a very interesting idea that I’ve heard about before, was surprisingly rapid. I was also curious that the process appears to rely on in-process development of the starter culture and that no indication of rising time in the later stage was given. My experience was that there was clearly some fermentation in the first stage, but the complete dough in no way ended up as a wet one as suggested in the blog, and also it didn’t rise very much in the later stage despite being left for a long time and not appearing to form a hard crust which would restrict expansion.
    What I made was undoubtedly very tasty, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for. I’d like to understand this better. Bread making is definitely as much an art as a science!

  4. Avatar photo
    Scotland The Bread says:

    Thanks for your comments, Mike. As you will see from the previous two comments and my replies, there was a mistake in transcribing John’s recipe on to our website. The absence of an original ‘old’ starter would undoubtedly affect the speed and extent of any fermentation or ‘rise’. I hope that the amended recipe will deliver the result you were hoping for. I agree that there is ‘art’ in our attentive response to the variability of ingredients, but leaving out a key step is definitely a ‘scientific’ error, for which we duly apologise!

    Andrew Whitley

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