I often get requests for the
recipe for Scottish Plain Bread. The
reason there are no recipes is that this is professional baker's batch
bread. ie it's made in a very large baking tray which holds upwards of 20-30
balls of dough. As they rise upwards their sides meet and so do not form a
crust. The only crusts being on the top and bottom. Impossible to make in a
Not sure how this will appear, so apologies if
it isn't all straight and
pretty. It's also a long post. Hate me later. :-)
This is the original recipe, and it dates to the late 1800s. There is a
note on the paper in my great-grandmother's hand dated 1901, but the actual
recipe is older than that. She said it was given to her by her mother. I
was told she possibly was from Greenock, but nothing has been found to say
exactly where. Her married name was Clyde. Maiden name Lamb.
The other two recipes change a little. One was scaled down to fit "home
life", and the other had more milk, less water, and so on and so on.
Mother's Pride is the industrial mechanised version and what people are
to seeing. Their penchant is to use vegetable shortening/lard as a
substitute for the butter. Her loaves were always straight and square, dark
on the top and bottom, soft and white on the sides, just as theirs turned
out to be in much later years. I'm sure you all know that this was because
they were formed and baked together in one pan, side by side and split
after baking. I remember her putting a cookie sheet on the top to prevent
their further rising. My guess is she did this to increase the density,
because it had a rich and dense texture which held up to just about
you could put on it.
This is the recipe for four loaves, which fit her tin perfectly:
3 lb (12 c.) good strong white flour
2 knobs (4 oz. or 1 c.) melted butter
4 gill (1 pt.) slightly warm milk
2 oz. yeast (This was from a block of fresh yeast, not dry yeast)
2 t. salt (or thereabouts - she made an additional note, undated,that she
needed to cut this down for "his heart".)
2 gill (1/2 pt) slightly warm water
a wee bit of sugar
Put flour in the bread bowl. (This was a massive crockery bowl that defied
description and took two small children to lift, when we were allowed.)
Add melted butter and mix.
In the blue bowl, cream yeast with the bit of sugar and add water and milk.
Make well in flour and pour in the liquid.
Mix smooth with the big spoon (wooden one on the hook near the wood cooking
stove), adding salt carefully (gradually).
Cover with cloth and let double.
Take a cuppa (cup of tea - meaning "sit down and take a load off").
When double, knead on table top (big wooden table in the kitchen) covered
with flour to take out the stick (make it soft, not sticky).
Let it rest under the cloth whilst greasing the tin.
Divide into 4.
Grease each one lightly.
Place next to each other spaced equally apart from sides and each other.
Stoke oven to make it hot (400F or Mark 6) and wait for loaves to rise
(This would be short of the top of the tin by more than most bakers are
Top it. (Put the cookie sheet over it and put the baking stone, which was a
polished rock, on top of the sheet to hold it down.)
Bake hot for 15 minutes to set the bread. (This stops yeast from growing,
Take the heat down. (This was tricky with the wood stove, but for us, it's
350F or Mark 4)
Bake 15 minutes, then untop. (Take off the stone and top.)
Bake to finish. (Look for dark golden brown tops.)
Now, this is where the recipe ends. Wait for it to cool a few minutes
before breaking the loaves apart. If it was done right, it breaks apart
easily. It's never quite the uncrumbly storebought version, but I say it's
better than Mother's Pride. When we were little, I remember one of the
loaves we would take and just rip it apart, smother it in butter and jams
and chow it like the little pigs we were.
I think the wood stove had a great deal to do with how it felt, how the
crust developed and how it tasted to us. Sadly, no one does this any more.
I don't think she and my great-grandfather ever had need for more than one
or two in a week, and she baked once a week without fail. She always looked
for the "comp'ny loaf" out of the batch - the best and most perfect, and
set it aside, wrapped in a clean cotton teatowel, and she made a point of
sending my great-grandfather to the neighbours or to town to make sure that
specific people who were ailing or had a reason for it, got a loaf.
Ah, yes....those were the days. Good luck finding the tin. I haven't seen
another like it.
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