Red Fife bread

I’ve been playing around with Red Fife wheat lately, trying to come up with an everyday bread where I can get reliable results that I also like. I like Red Fife because it has a great flavor and it’s a heritage wheat. I’ve heard the ancient and heritage grains are more digestible by humans. I don’t have any prevailing gluten issues myself, but know a number of people who do. I’ve also heard that it’s possible that the digestion issues people have with wheat could be because very few bread makers take the time to let the dough proof slowly. This recipe has that covered as well.

Loaf made with 100% Red Fife wheat flour

Loaf made with 100% Red Fife wheat flour

I think I finally have a decent everyday bread using Red Fife. Since I don’t have any wheat or gluten problems, the important things for me are the taste, that the grain source is not anonymous, and that I could make it reliably. Through trials and tribulations, I came up with the following recipe, based on an overnight-proof, no-knead recipe, but due to the nature of local flours, whole wheats in particular, it now includes kneading.

Loaf made with 50% Red Fife wheat flour and 50% white wheat flour

Loaf made with 50% Red Fife wheat flour and 50% white wheat flour


  • 3 cups flour, sifted
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dry active yeast
  • 1-1/2 cups water, 100° F
  • 1/2 tsp honey


  1. Pour 1/2 cup of the 100° water into a small cup. Add the honey and the yeast and let the yeast get started making their bubbles.
  2. Meanwhile, sift the flour into a bowl.
    I’ve used half white flour and half Red Fife and I’ve used 100% Red Fife. Note that if you make it entirely from Red Fife, it will be a fairly dense whole wheat bread.
  3. Add the bubbly yeast water and most of the remaining up of water to the flour and mix. You want the dough to be rubbery and stiff but a little on the wet side. You may need all of the remaining water or you may need a little more flour.
  4. Add the salt.
  5. Knead the dough. I let it knead for 10 minutes in the Kitchen Aid with the dough hook. Continue to monitor the texture and add water or flour as needed.
  6. Make it into a ball and put it in a bowl, covered with plastic for 12-18 hours.
  7. After 12 to 17 hours have elapsed, preheat the oven to 450°.
  8. Turn the dough onto a floured surface, roll it into a ball, and cover it with the plastic.
  9. Put a dutch oven with a lid into the oven and let it heat up for 30 minutes. You could also use a pizza stone with a cloche.
  10. Put the ball into the heated dutch oven, cover it, and bake for 30 minutes.
  11. Take off the lid and allow it to bake for another 10-15 minutes.
  12. Remove to a wire rack and let cool completely before cutting.

The Red Fife/white flour mix has an excellent flavor. I’ve had good results using Wild Hive white bread flour (a hard red spring wheat) as I have with Nitty Gritty, VT‘s white (a hard red winter wheat). I’m currently sourcing the Red Fife flour from Minnesota (Good Earth Grain and Mill) and South Carolina (Anson Mills) but am actively seeking a northeast grower. (So, if you know someone…)

Eat from the Larder

Erica at Northwest Edible Life threw down an Eat From the Larder Challenge for the month of April. I think this is a perfect activity for this time of the year, to clear out the old and make room for the new. Erica’s going for 100% of her meals out of her own pantry stores, but she said we could set our own rules. So I’m setting exceptions for fresh milk and eggs and Easter. Easter is a family day and we have a fabulous menu planned and it’s not from my pantry (except for maybe a few items I feel like sharing).

A very cool thing indeed!

Best Biscuits Evah


I’d made some pulled pork and love to have it on southern-style biscuits. I went in search of an Alton Brown recipe, since he’s my go-to guy when there’s science involved (that is to say, when proportions, timing, and ingredient reactions matter). I found this recipe for southern buttermilk biscuits.

I made a few substitutions to keep it as local as possible, as indicated:

Since yogurt is an acidified dairy product, the chemical reaction we’d get with the buttermilk and the baking soda is the same and the biscuits will rise like we expect. Since shortening is a substitute for lard, I just went back to the original ingredient. (Major thanks to the folks at Saugatuck Craft for making lard!)

I did everything else just the way Alton wrote it:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees (F).

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using your fingertips, rub butter and shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. (The faster the better, you don’t want the fats to melt.) Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.

Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter, being sure to push straight down through the dough. Place biscuits on baking sheet so that they just touch. Reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting. (Biscuits from the second pass will not be quite as light as those from the first, but hey, that’s life.)

Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, 15 to 20 minutes.

Pulled pork on biscuits (pork from Rowland Farm in Oxford, CT

Pulled pork on biscuits (pork from Rowland Farm in Oxford, CT)

I could not believe the exceptional taste in these biscuits! I mean they were sooo good. I’m giving the credit to the lard. And now that Bittman said it was okay to eat animal fat again…I’m happy to say that you too can get in on the new animal fat craze.

Never mind that CheeseSlave, Kimberly Hartke, Kelly the Kitchen Kop and Sally Fallon, and others have been saying all along that animal fats are not only okay to consume, but good for you and even necessary. No, they’re not saying to go hog wild and they are also saying to watch out what else you consume. They are simply saying that saturated animal fats are not the demons the canola and margarine people would have us believe.

If you have the time, this is an informative talk by Sally Fallon Morell on the Oiling of America.