Baking with Heritage Grains

Baking with Heritage Grains

*New Course in 2017*

Code: Heritage
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Baking with Heritage Grains
Honing ancient skills to make the breads of the future

Venue    Macbiehill Farmhouse, Lamancha, near Edinburgh
Cost        £425 (including VAT)
Dates     Sat-Sun July 15-16, 2017

The course lasts two days

Saturday: 10 am to 5.30 pm, followed by supper at Macbiehill Farmhouse
Sunday: 9.30 am to 4 pm.

This course will suit you if… 

  • you can make a fair loaf of bread with standard commercial flours and now want the challenge of baking with more interesting grains that require a bit of extra skill
  • you’re developing an interest in the qualities of pre-Green Revolution cereal varieties
  • you may have heard that older varieties and ‘ancient grains’ are more nutritious and digestible but you’d like to check them out for yourself, especially as it seems to be harder to make a good loaf with them 
  • you’re intrigued by the whole cereal cycle from the soil to the slice and would like to hear (and see) more about small scale agro-ecological production   
  • you fancy a loaf-enhancing weekend away in a great place with like-minded people.

You will learn

  • things about yeast, gluten and dough that you may not have fully grasped
  • more about fermentation, especially the bacterial process that is key to good dough
  • how the different genetics of pre-Green Revolution varieties produce bread flours that require gentle handling and careful fermentation
  • what wonderful flavours and textures can be conjured from heritage grains, once you know how.

The course includes a walk around the trial plots at Macbiehill Agroforestry to see upwards of 40 winter and spring varieties of wheat, spelt, emmer, einkorn, rye, barley and oats.

You will make and take home

  • half a dozen very different breads made with a variety of heritage flours and fermentation techniques

You will also get

  • a signed copy of Bread Matters or DO Sourdough by Andrew Whitley
  • coffee, lunch and tea (all organic, with much of the food grown on the Macbiehill smallholding)
  • a three-course supper on the first evening (partners or friends can come too, for an extra charge).

There is growing interest in heritage grains. People are realising that behind modern wheat varieties’ undoubted productivity lies a story of unintended consequences: modern wheat has fewer important nutrients, greater potential allergenicity and, in the way it is usually grown, a damaging effect on biodiversity.

Bread Matters is a leader in practical research (see Scotland The Bread*) into the many virtues of grains grown with the health of citizens and the biosphere in mind. We bring the perspective and needs of real bread bakers to a domain that has for too long been the preserve of agribusiness and large scale industrial loaf production.

But, as the saying goes, no pain–no grain. One of the advantages of heritage wheats and other ‘alternative’ grains such as spelt, emmer and einkorn, is that they often contain less gluten (or a softer, more digestible form of gluten) than modern breadmaking wheats. The ‘problem’ is that you need to be a more skilful baker to craft a shapely loaf using heritage flours. But the effort is rewarded in superior flavours, richer nutrient density and a more satisfying eat. 

The Baking with Heritage Grains course introduces you to what we think are the breads of the future – made with locally adapted, resilient, nutritious and tasty cereals. You’ll see the grains growing in the fields and get a wealth of tips and techniques to help bring the best out of them in the oven. Your baking may never be the same again.


* Scotland The Bread is a community-owned society incubated by Bread Matters. It brings together farmers, millers, bakers, researchers and citizens to rebuild a healthy, sustainable and equitable grain, flour and bread supply. The crop trials and community bakery development are based here as the organisation grows.

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