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The Art of Making Traditional Scottish Sourdough Bread


Scotland’s rich culinary heritage extends beyond haggis and shortbread to include a long tradition of artisanal bread-making. Among these, Scottish sourdough bread stands out for its unique flavour and nutritional value.

Here’s how to create your Scottish sourdough loaf at home, drawing inspiration from traditional methods and ingredients.

Ingredients and Preparation

To make an authentic Scottish sourdough bread, you’ll need:

  • 255g wholegrain spelt flour
  • 255g white spelt flour
  • 90g wholegrain spelt or rye sourdough starter
  • 11g salt
  • 1.5 tsp runny heather honey
  • Approximately 190g water

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Preparing the Starter:
The night before baking, prepare your sourdough starter. Mix 45g wholegrain rye or spelt flour with 32g water and 13.5g of your existing starter in a glass jar. Leave this in a warm place overnight.

The Baking Process

  1. Mixing the Dough: Combine the flours and salt in a large bowl. Add the peaked starter, honey dissolved in water, and mix thoroughly until no dry flour remains.
  2. Kneading: Work the dough gently for 5-10 minutes until you achieve a smooth consistency.
  3. Bulk Fermentation: Cover the dough and let it ferment in a warm place. This process typically takes 4 to 6 hours, depending on your home’s temperature and the strength of your starter.
  4. Shaping: Once the dough has risen, shape it into a loaf and place it in a proving basket or bowl.
  5. Final Proof: Allow the shaped loaf to prove for another 1-2 hours, or until it has noticeably increased in size.
  6. Baking: Preheat your oven to 230°C (450°F). If you have a pizza stone, use it for a crispier crust. Bake the bread for about 35-40 minutes, or until it’s golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

The Scottish Touch

What makes this sourdough distinctly Scottish? Several factors contribute:

  1. Use of Spelt: Spelt flour, used in this recipe, has been cultivated in Scotland for centuries and adds a nutty flavour to the bread.
  2. Heather Honey: The addition of heather honey is a nod to Scotland’s moorlands and imparts a subtle, unique sweetness.
  3. Slow Fermentation: The long fermentation process is typical of traditional Scottish bread-making, allowing for better flavour development and improved digestibility.

Nutritional Benefits

Scottish sourdough bread, especially when made with heritage grains, offers several nutritional advantages:

  • Higher levels of vitamins and minerals compared to conventional flours.
  • The long fermentation process may make the bread more digestible and the nutrients more bioavailable.
  • The use of wholegrain flour provides more fibre and nutrients than refined white flour.

By baking this Scottish sourdough bread, you’re not just creating a delicious loaf, but also connecting with Scotland’s rich baking tradition. The process may take time, but the result – a flavourful, nutritious, and uniquely Scottish bread – is well worth the effort.

Enjoy your homemade Scottish sourdough with some salted butter or a slice of Scottish cheese!

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