When Logan Bakehouse owners Jo and Lyn moved to the Rhins in southwest Scotland, they hadn’t given a thought to becoming bakers. In search of a quieter, more self-sufficient life, they found that their new home offered everything they had hoped for except for the range of bread they had been used to in their former city-based lives. And so they started to make their own. Even then, though, they had no intention of doing so commercially.
In true ‘slow’ style, they also hoped to grow their own vegetables, but to start with, before their first crops were ready, they opted instead to barter, trading their bread for locally grown produce. And so, by accident, a business was born. Word soon spread, requests started coming in, and before they knew it they found themselves batch baking three times a week.
Today the Logan Bakehouse is a thriving wee business. In keeping with a slower way of life, Jo and Lyn have pulled back from thrice-weekly bakes and now fire up the oven just once a week. They make everything themselves, from scratch. ‘This really is a slow business,’ says Jo. ‘It takes three days to make a batch of croissants!’
There is a definite art to what they do, for the temperature of their oven is uncontrollable. Once it’s been stoked up with wood for five hours, reaching up to 450°C (no electricity required, so even if there’s a power cut baking goes ahead), the ashes are raked out and baking can begin. And this is where the expertise really kicks in, for the secret to a successful bake is knowing which breads or pastries to put in at which time as the temperature of the oven cools.
No Scottish bakery would be complete without shortbread, and Jo and Lyn’s recipe (given to them by Jane Bentley of Drummore) is mouth-wateringly good. It has an unexpected and delicious twist, as it also contains rosemary and sea salt.
Quantities given make 20–30 biscuits.
9 oz soft unsalted butter
3½ oz caster sugar
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
9 oz plain flour
4½ oz corn flour
1½ oz granulated sugar, mixed with 1 tsp
Maldon sea salt
1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/fan 160ºC/gas mark 4. In a bowl, cream together the butter, fine salt, sugar and rosemary. Sift in both flours.
2. Bring the mixture together by hand to form a smooth dough, roll it out on a floured surface (we like to make the biscuits quite thin – about 5mm thick) and cut out using a biscuit cutter.
3. Gather the leftover dough together, roll out again and cut out more biscuits; repeat until all the dough has been used up.
4. Place the biscuits on a tray lined with baking paper, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes (we like them lightly baked). Take them out of the oven when they are still soft as they firm up when cooling.
5. Sprinkle with the granulated sugar and Maldon sea salt mix and leave to cool.