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MacNean Wheaten Bread

At MacNean Restaurant we have experimented with a lot of recipes over the years and this is definitely the best I’ve tasted to date. It has a lovely sweet flavour but is still very much a savoury bread. It’s the first thing my breakfast chef makes in the morning so that the smell wafts around the hotel, giving our guests a sense of things to come. Makes 2 loaves

450g (1lb) wholemeal flour
100g (4oz) strong white bread flour, extra for dusting
2 tsp bread soda
2 tsp salt
600ml (1 pint) buttermilk, extra if needed
3 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tbsp golden syrup
4 tsp melted butter, extra for greasing and serving
handful of porridge oats, to decorate
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds, to decorate
1 tbsp sesame seeds, to decorate

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/gas mark 6). Grease 2 x 600ml (1 pint) loaf tins.

Sift the flours, bread soda and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and buttermilk, sunflower seeds, golden syrup and melted butter. Using a large spoon, mix gently and quickly until you have achieved a nice dropping consistency. Add a little bit more buttermilk if necessary, until the mixture binds together without being sloppy.

Divide the mixture equally between the prepared loaf tins and sprinkle over the porridge oats and pumpkin and sesame seeds. Bake for 40 minutes, until cooked through and each loaf has a slightly cracked crusty top, checking halfway through the cooking time that the loaves aren’t browning too much. If they are, reduce the temperature or move the loaves down in the oven.

To check that the loaves are properly cooked, tip each one out of the tin and tap the base – it should sound hollow. If it doesn’t, return it to the oven for another 5 minutes. Tip out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

To serve, place the wheaten bread on a breadboard and cut into slices at the table. Hand around with a separate pot of butter for spreading.

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