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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Method:

  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…)

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