The Fresh Loaf

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100% Whole Red Fife sourdough loaf ( reworked)

suminandi's picture

100% Whole Red Fife sourdough loaf ( reworked)

I have a stock of organic whole red fife flour purchased from a local farm several months ago. My first runs with it seemed to show that it was too weak to be the only flour in the bread - the dough would start breaking down around the time it was proofed to my eye- it made tasty bread, but the crumb was tighter than hard spring wheat loaves. So I was mixing it with some hard spring wheat and getting good results. Recently, I read that Red Fife is actually a high gluten wheat, so I reconsidered my process and ( after a few adjustments ) got this amazing loaf using only whole red fife, water, salt and starter. 

I think the main key was to let the flour soak for a few hours ( with salt) prior to adding the levain. It let the gluten develop well before the acid-producing cultures were introduced. No dough breakdown and I could let the proofing go longer. A further improvement could be to do shaping a bit later and/or shape tighter. 


400 gr whole red fife flour

340 gr water

6 gr salt

mix and rest 4 hrs

meanwhile make a starter build that will be ready in 4 hrs. 

mix in 100 gr starter with dough at 4 hr mark

knead well. Bulk ferment until small bubbles throughout ( about 5 hrs at current room temp ~68 F ). Preshape, shape. Rest an hr at room temp, fridge overnight. Cook covered in a 450 deg F oven 20 minutes. Uncover, reduce heat to 400 F, cook 15 more minutes. 

i cut it before it was fully cool. But as the m&m says “not sorry”


Benito's picture

Beautiful bake Sumi, very impressive for 100% whole red fife. I have yet to bake any 100% whole grained breads yet so I’m always interested to see how other folks are dealing with the grains.


headupinclouds's picture

Congratulations on a beautiful bake.  Thanks for sharing.  Have you done any comparisons between a standard autolyse mixes and salted soakers to develop a clear preference with whole grain baking?  I recall Peter Reinhart uses a long salted soaker throughout Whole Grain Breads for gluten development.  I have also read Trevor Wilson uses this practice.  I tried this initially after reading WGB, but found the salted soakers were very stiff, which made mixing harder, and a lack of consensus steered me away from it.  Your post is making me rethink this, and I'm reading a few related discussions now:



I'm looking for more height in my whole grain deli rye loaves right now.  I'm using a refrigerated but unsalted overnight autolyse.  The gluten is very well developed coming out of the fridge, and the dough is very extensible (maybe too much so).  I'm wondering if tightening things up with a salted pre-soak ("saltolyse") might allow me to shape with more tension to improve oven spring.

suminandi's picture


I normally use about a one hr plain autolyse with my “standard” grain, hard red spring wheat grown in northern climes, and get great result - good strength and extensibility. I can even combine in rye or spelt. The red fife is California grown and when treated the same way, starts tearing a bit a couple hrs into its bulk ferment. So I’d say, you have to experiment. 

All told, with whole grain and sourdough, it’s a balanced act getting enough fermentation before acid breakdown sets in. Because of this, getting good gluten development at the outset is key (vs letting it develop over time during bulk ferment). I am not a food scientist, so take this opinion for what it’s worth. :-)  

kapawlak's picture

Beautiful loaf! I bet it tastes as good as it looks. I keep hearing about red fife, I should try it some day :)

To add to your data collection, the extended autolyze is certainly key to WW in my experience too. The only time my whole grain loaves ever have enough strength is after a very extended soak (5+ hours is ideal).