Scottish Flour, Scottish Sourdough
Despite the fact that Scotland produced a staggering 989,000 tonnes of wheat in 2014, almost none of it can be traced back to a single farm or mill. Most of our flour goes straight to large conglomerates and industrial bakeries. Interestingly, the majority of flour grown in Scotland is used for biscuit making. Britain’s cooler maritime climate is better suited to growing flour for the purposes of baking cakes, pastry and biscuits than it is for baking bread. Since Victorian times Britain has been importing mass quantities of wheat from North America to supplement supply, as their climate can reliably produce wheat with the higher protein content needed for successful bread making.
However, with growing awareness of food miles, and the impact it can have on our climate people begin to ask, why import wheat from all the way round the world if it could be grown here?
The flour I used to make this sourdough comes from Mungoswells, a 550 acre farm in East Lothian. The only farm in Scotland to grow and mill all their own wheat for flour. The wheat variety they use in their organic strong bread flour is Mulika, a fairly new variety, best suited for bread making. The farm are also growing older varieties of wheat, various heritage varieties from the 19th century, hoping to find strains that are well suited to the precarious Scottish climate, as well as potentially having a higher nutritional value. Initiatives like the Real Bread Campaign have made people aware of how much healthier and, so much better handmade, natural bread, that is slowly fermented, can really be.
I love the idea of producing a truly Scottish loaf, and supporting this enterprising farm. But at the end of the day, if their venture is going to be successful the flour needs to make good bread. A good test would be to see if the flour could make a really good, completely natural sourdough. As the packaging is quick to point out there is a fair bit of bran left in the flour, as it is not over refined. This makes it ideal for making sourdough. The bran not only gives a good flavour but is higher in nutritional value too. Needless to say, the bread was delicious, and had such a strong flavour. How satisfying is that, to eat bread made from flour that has been grown and milled so close to Edinburgh.
Instead of attaching a recipe here is a link to the entire method I used to make this bread. If you want to make this bread I would recommend you watch this video on how to start your own sourdough starter as well as this video on how to make really great bread. It does such a better job of explaining the process than I could in writing. In the bread I made I used 100% Mungoswells Organic Strong Bread Flour, as well as a bit of Hebridean Sea Salt. You could of course use their wholemeal flour as well.