Balcaskie Landrace organic wholemeal wheat flour
- Variety name: Balcaskie Landrace
- Certified organic wheat flour
- A diverse mixture of grain varieties, formed initially of historic varieties Rouge d’Ecosse, Golden Drop & Hunter’s
- Above-average values for most key minerals
- Suitable for making real bread (with long fermentation and no additives) and pastries, cakes and biscuits
Balcaskie Landrace wheat is a mixture of long-strawed wheat varieties grown together, harvested and re-sown in order to harness the adaptive power of natural selection in a particular landscape, in this case the Balcaskie Estate in Fife, Scotland.
This landrace has been created by mixing the three ‘original’ Scotland The Bread wheat varieties – Rouge d’Ecosse, Golden Drop and Hunter’s – in equal quantities, then sowing and harvesting the resultant mixture. The aim is gradually to increase the genetic diversity of this crop while carefully monitoring its nutrient density, breadmaking quality and yield: in 2020 we added a Danish evolutionary ‘population’ wheat to the mix as a step in this direction. Each year we will make selections from the crop to try to improve its quality for breadmaking, always balancing that with attention to its nutrient density and its yield.
Top tips for baking with this flour:
- Knead gently and for a shorter time than you might with a conventional ‘strong’ flour which has more stretchy gluten
- Always ferment your bread slowly (ideally using sourdough) to control dough development, bring out flavour and enhance digestibility and nutrient availability
- 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 strong flour. We recommend Scottish organic flour from our friends at Mungoswells for this purpose.
This flour is special. Apart from its above-average mineral content, it has some other special qualities:
- It has a full, slightly malty flavour which comes in part from harvest conditions in 2019. When grain is ripe and gets wet in the ear, the naturally occurring amylase enzyme begins to turn starch into maltose sugar. This is what happens when grain is ‘sprouted’ for making into malt for brewing. Maltose in the flour will, like any sugar, make the dough slightly sticky to the touch. This isn’t a problem if you knead your dough with wet hands. And one of the many advantages of genuine sourdough fermentation is that this process makes the dough acid enough to stop the excessive amylase from going crazy at the baking stage. If the loaf sides seem to shrink in after baking or if your knife comes out sticky however well you’ve baked the loaf, you may not have fermented your dough long enough to neutralise the effects of the amylase turning too much flour starch into maltose sugar. This can be disappointing until you savour the natural maltiness of your bread and reflect that you achieved this without adding any expensive specialist malt flour
- It contains gluten that is naturally softer, less elastic and more extensible (and arguably more digestible) than in common breadmaking flours. In this respect it is reflecting its evolution as a grain adapted both to the temperate Scottish climate and to the various needs of ordinary bakers. While this grain may not produce super-aerated dough, it comes into its own when extensibility is required in flatter loaf shapes such as ciabatta, focaccia, naan, pancakes etc. If scones and shortcrust pastry are in your repertoire you may be pleasantly surprised that baking with this flour avoids a certain ‘rubberiness’ that tends to be a by-product of using high-gluten or ‘strong’ flours
- Dough made with slightly malty flour (as with additions of honey, sugar or significant levels of fat etc) takes more colour when baking, so it is advisable to reduce your normal oven temperature a little to avoid excessive caramelisation (or ‘burning’ as it is sometimes known). Try 200°C for ten minutes, reducing to 180°C for the remainder of baking.
You will find more baking advice and recipes here.