Red Fife – Found It!

I’ve played around with bread-making here and there over the last few years and done a fair amount of research on different flours. In the course of some web browsing I stumbled onto the topic of Red Fife wheat:

Bought to Canada by David Fife, of Peterborough, in 1842, it became the main spring wheat variety grown in Canada and the northern U.S. for decades. It was gradually displaced, however, as “new and improved” wheat varieties came onto the market and has only recently been re-introduced. In the past few years, Red Fife flour has been discovered and embraced by the artisan bread world for the fantastic flavour and deep golden-red crust it produces.

Intrigued, I tried to source some locally about a year ago and came up empty-handed. Then, while researching something entirely different last week, I discovered a Red Fife wheat grower only a stone’s-throw past the 100-mile ‘local’ definition, discovered also that the grower stone-mills it into flour, found out that Westboro’s newly-relocated Natural Food Pantry, just blocks away, had it … and here it is!

Heritage organic flour from CIPM, Madoc, Ontario

I think what pleased me most in finding this flour was discovering that it’s grown and milled just outside the small town of Madoc, Ontario, where my grandmother lived all her life and where I spent almost every summer of my childhood.

A bit more hunting netted a promising recipe for Red Fife whole wheat bread that uses two different pre-ferments (a la Peter Reinhart) for the dough and a flower pot as a sort of ‘brick oven’ to bake the bread.

Now I just need to buy a terra cotta flower pot* and find time in the next few weeks to give it a go!

*OK, I know, there’s the wood-fired brick oven I built in the back garden but winter has arrived here and although I cooked outside in it that first winter, I’m just not that stoic at this point. The best I can say is maybe …

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3 responses to “Red Fife – Found It!

  1. So glad I found you too! My great great (great?)grandfather was David Fife and I, too, have been looking for a local source. I’m off to Natural Food Pantry to get some now!
    I’ll try some muffins with it first and then branch out to bread (I’m a-feared….)
    Ailsa

    • Wow, that’s a pretty impressive lineage! Have fun with the flour – I made bread and, as I’d been warned, it didn’t rise quite as well as with regular white flour but the flavour was terrific. Next time, I’ll go with either a 60-40 mix (red fife to regular) or a touch more yeast. Could be different with muffins though – let me know!

  2. I made apple, nut muffins with the Red Fife flour (that I ended up buying in bulk at the Wheatberry!) and they turned out amazingly! So much so that they didn’t last very long. Even without the nuts, the flour makes the muffins taste rich and nutty — very flavourful. I’m totally sold. And they rose very well too. The recipe called for buttermilk, but I substituted milk and bit of apple cider vinegar (I usually sub. yoghurt), and the result was perfect. This recipe was one from Ellie Krieger. I’ll be making more today. :c) Thanks for the inspiration!

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