Lispian Random meanderings on whatever catches my fancy

Red Fife and Loaves

My wife has had a persistent skin condition that no amount of attention by dermatologists seems to have helped. After reading Wheat Belly I wondered if the problem wasn’t modern wheat. In way of experimentation, and because our family loves bread so much, I decided to try to create a loaf with a heritage variety of wheat and see what happens. It took a bit of trying, about a month, to get a perfect loaf, but I can now create loaves using Red Fife flour that closely mimic the taste and texture of white loaves, albeit with more nuanced flavours courtesy of the Red Fife. Everyone agrees the Red Fife loaves are, in fact, superior to plain white loaves and also are more filling. A slice or two fills you up nicely. I’ve never found that to be true with white flour based loaves, like baguettes.

And my wife’s skin condition? After a month of not eating modern wheat it cleared up. Perhaps Dr. Davis has a point.

For the curious, here’s the recipe. The trick is using beer and spelt to morph the loaf into something that has the right taste and a beautiful crumb. Note that the loaf looks like whole wheat bread when done but has none of that overly “whole wheatish”, metallic flavour. Instead, it bursts with nutty flavours and other subtleties that benefit anyone who likes a good loaf of bread.


  • 1 bottle Ricards Dark (320g)
  • 320g spelt flour
  • 5 g instant yeast

Mix together and let rise for 1 – 4 hours on your counter or up to 30 hours refrigerated.


  • All the poolish
  • 700g red fife flour
  • 300g water
  • 60g maple syrup
  • 7g instant yeast
  • 20g salt

Place all the ingredients into the bowl of a heavy duty mixer and mix for 6 – 8 minutes until the dough comes together nicely. Add a bit more water if necessary.

Form into a ball and place in a lightly floured bowl and let rise until doubled.

Punch down and let rise again.

Preset oven to 425F. Place a small pan on the lowest rack with 5 ice cubes so as to create steam.

Form dough into loaves, place on sheet pan and let rise for 20 minutes. You should be able to create 4 baguettes or 2 large loaves.

Slash tops of loaves and place in oven for 20 – 30 minutes, depending on type of loaf (20 minutes for baguettes, 30 for large loaves). Bake until done.

Note: For large loaves I recommend long, lengthwise slashes as the dough is not strong enough to hold the spring the bread will experience in the oven. It may crack the sides. Thus, on a typical large loaf 3 long slashes is optimal. When I remember, the loaves don’t burst unexpectedly. When I don’t, they usually crack on the side. Still edible, but not as aesthetically pleasing.



Note that the same recipe can be used to make sandwich loaves by adding 60g of unsalted butter to the mixing bowl along with the other ingredients. Proof only once inside of the bowl and then immediately form into loaves and proof in bread pans. Prior to baking, slash the top 1/4″ deep lengthwise and bake at 385F for 30 – 45 minutes, or until the interior registers 200F.


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December 2011
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