Fife Flour Sourdough

Mr. Stephenson is a huge fan of Red Fife, an old Canadian wheat that has recently been experiencing a bit of a renaissance, and rightly so. As I was out of rye flour, I decided to try and adjust my standard rye sourdough to Red Fife – Mr. Stephenson made a light but intensely flavoured Fife yeast loaf some weeks ago, so this should be a an interesting experiment.

Recipe: Red Fife Sourdough

Summary: A tangy wheat bread, made with Red Fife


  • 300 g Red Fife flour
  • 200 g hard bread flour
  • 15 g smoked salt
  • 200 g active sourdough starter
  • 350 ml (plus) water


  1. Day One

    Take the sourdough starter out of the fridge. Feed generously

    Day Two, morning

    Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the starter and stir in. Start kneading, I use a kneading hook and a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, on speed 2. Add the water, adjust until a shiny dough has started to form.

    Go have a shower, get dressed, feed the cats. Come back after 10 minutes and check the dough. If you can see gluten development – take a little dough and stretch it – you’re done for now. Take the dough and put it in an oiled bowl. Cover, refrigerate, go to work.

    Day Two, Evening

    Arrive home, open a beer. Relax. Take the dough out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature, about two hours. It should have grown a little, but don’t worry if it doesn’t look as if anything has happened.

    After two hours, pre-heat the oven to 500º. Take the dough and stretch and fold three or four times. Put into a floured banneton for the last rise. After an hour, drop the dough into an earthenware cloche or on a pizza stone and bake for 40 – 45 minutes or until the bread has an internal temperature of 200º.

Prep time (duration): 30 minutes

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As you can see, it worked out reasonably well. I didn’t score the dough deep enough before putting it in the oven, so the oven spring forced one side further open than the others, but the loaf tastes great and at the end of the day that’s what matters. The entire rise was done by wild yeasts, with no commercial product added.

I shot a couple of snippets with the iPhone video camera. Mr. Stephenson, who is a professional in these matters, is working on a far better looking solution but until that arrives this will have to do. It should give at least an idea of what the bread looks like at various stages through it’s creation.

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PS: A note about salt, and smoked salt in particular.

Salt and smoke are the enemy of microorganisms, like yeast; that’s why we use them both to preserve meat and fish. By combining salt and smoke we’re making the yeast’s life double difficult. Salt is a necessity in bread, it makes the bread, but too much salt will kill our yeast. Smoked salt adds another layer of flavour, but you’ll have to be careful not to overdo it.

I mix smoked and plain salt in a 2:1 ratio. For 500 g flour (plus whatever starter weight I am using) I use 15 g salt, 10 g smoked, 5 g plain. That sounds like a lot, but the yeast seems to survive it and the flavour is excellent.

  • justin

    Mr. Duess,

    What is the verdict on the sourdough red fife? Tasty? How did the glutten work out? I found that I could kneed it like strong wheat as opposed to spelt. I did, however, find that it produced a far wetter dough when doing a traditional lean dough.

    Let me know how it tastes. Perhaps tomorrow we can have a red fife BLT with the bacon I’m smoking tomorrow! I’m so excited I might not be able to sleep.

  • Mr Duess

    Extremely tasty. A touch of tangy-ness from the sourdough, nice crumb structure. Crisp on the outside, chewy in the middle.

    I kept the hydration reasonably low, so no handling issues, but it does make for a dense interior.

  • Mr. Stephenson

    I do have to say, Mr. Duess, that you have taken the Red Fife and made it into an amazingly delicious bread. I will need to get some more instruction from you on the Sourdough started and this is clearly the way to go!

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  • melissa

    Hi, I’ve tried your recipe….can you tell me….what should the consistancy of the dough be when I am putting it in the fridge for the day??

  • Mr Duess

    Firm and shiny. The doughg should hold it’s shape.

  • CJ

    I’m looking for a red fife sourdough starter recipe. Would you share yours with me?