The staff of life

Wheat and breadmaker Yesterday, I finally had time to do some baking. I decided I would break open the bag of Canadian Heritage Red Fife Wheat, grown in Saskatchewan on organic farms but sent to me by Bruce at True Grain Bakery in British Columbia.

Canadian heritage organic Red Fife wheat from Saskatchewan.

Canadian heritage organic Red Fife wheat from Saskatchewan.

Marc Loiselle, an organic Red Fife wheat grower from Saskatchewan who owns and operates the Loiselle Organic Family Farm, was able to tell me exactly where this wheat came from:

That wheat [you have just bought] is part of the Red Fife we grew. It is actually a blend of 5 different lots of Red Fife from Saskatchewan…from members of our Prairie Red Fife Organic Growers Cooperative. 50% is 2006 and 2007 harvests from our farm, 24% is from the Wyatt farm at Canwood, 14% from the Schriml farm at Bruno, and 12% from St. Peter’s Abbey (Benedictine monastery) at Muenster.

Since I do not yet own a wheat grinder, I had to improvise so I talked my coffee grinder into doing double duty. It would only take about 1/3 of a cup of wheat berries at a time, and needed frequent breaks in order to make up the two or three cups of flour I needed for the recipe.

Wheat ground in the coffee grinder ready for use in baking.

Wheat ground in the coffee grinder ready for use in baking.

I ground the wheat roughly and then put it in a loosely woven sieve, repeating grinding of the leftovers from sifting (the tailings, I like to call them) each time until something akin to a flour was left in the bowl. The consistency was much coarser than the stone-ground whole wheat you buy at the store, but I used it anyway.

Bread-maker set on the dough cycle, gently kneading the fresh ground wheat to life.

Bread-maker set on the dough cycle, gently kneading the fresh ground wheat to life.

I always use a bread maker and set it on the dough cycle. I like that it keeps the majority of the bread-making mess inside the machine and makes for an easy clean-up job. Plus, it has the added benefit of making dough while I continue to write, or address other items on my ever burgeoning ‘to do’ list.

I made three loaves yesterday, each with a different amount of the freshly milled flour. For the first I used only 1 cup of the fresh grind and 3 cups of white, for the second I beefed up the amount of the whole wheat to 2 cups and 2 cups of white, and for the third I used 3 cups of whole wheat and only 1 cup of the white.

ready for proofingMy husband and I did a taste test when he got home. We agreed that the best of the three loaves was the ‘half and half ‘ loaf  as we called it, made with 2 cups of each white and the fresh ground wheat flours. It had risen nearly as high as the first loaf, but had a much more interesting texture and robust  –yet rustic — flavour. The third loaf was decidedly heavy. It had a nice flavour to be sure ,and was really good for dredging the final depths of the soup bowls, but didn’t pass the ‘butter only’ test as well as the second ‘half and half’ loaf.

The first loaf just before taking it out of the oven.

The first loaf just before taking it out of the oven.

Overall, I can’t get over how different the fresh wheat tastes. I had been told by others that there is nothing like milling your own wheat and baking bread with it, but I had no idea! If you haven’t tried it, and are a bread fan, then you owe it to yourself to give it a go–like me, you may never go back!

The second and best loaf of the day; rustic and ready.

The second and best loaf of the day; rustic and ready.

This second loaf had a gorgeous crusty outside and generous chewy inside. It may be the best loaf of bread I’ve ever made and possibly the best one I’ve ever tasted. If only I could be guaranteed to replicate it every time!

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11 Comments

Filed under Bread making, Heirloom vegetables, Heritage foods

11 responses to “The staff of life

  1. Wow! Beautiful bread!! You write like a seasoned food critic here. Love it! xo

  2. i agree that you write like a seasoned food critic.

    have you tried grinding with a blender? it’s worked with our rye. it’s coarse but makes great flour for pancakes.

    or maybe the blender in tandem with the coffee grinder…

  3. Wow! Neat. I love the whole beginning-to-end thing with this post. This is really super cool. Never thought of using a coffee grinder – hmmm.

  4. dowhatyoulove

    Wow, how beautiful! I bet that does taste spectacular! Somehow things that you make from scratch with your own hands just tastes soooo much better! It looks like a wonderful experience to try.

  5. Wow! That looks gorgeous. Wish we had taste&smell-internet 🙂
    I often bake bread, but have never milled my own wheat.
    Jandra

  6. Katharina

    I just recently bought a Komo grain mill [German product, shipped from Vancouver] see link.
    I highly recommend it – it is good value compared with many other products [researched extensively in Canada, US & Europe. The advantage of this model is the 360 motor, which allows it to also grind corn & chick peas – just can`t grind any oily seeds, such as flax, as this would gum up the ceramic/carburandum mill stones. I am interested in any organic Red Fife source. Thanks.

    http://www.yourethecure.com/cart.php?target=product&product_id=684&category_id=344

  7. I totally agree. I mill my own barley, whole wheat, rye and spelt (in a thermomix) and it can’t be beat. Guarantees your flour isn’t rancid too.
    That looks like the perfect loaf to me.

  8. Shane

    Wow that is almost as good as New Zeland bread… only in New Zealand do we make delicious, and nutricious bread… only in New Zealand do we have the bestest Yeast spores to make the bestest bread…. 🙂 When are you coming back here to make me some yummy bread????? I’ll supply the wine… New Zealand made of course. Miss you tons.

  9. Wow. I landed on you in Bella Bella just after emailing Marc Loiselle in Vonda SK. Not far from where my mom was raised in Allan SK. Nor are you far from where my dad was raised, in Rupert. I first contacted Marc in 2008. He’s so generously helpful, he’s a star. What you posted about the provenance, broken down by percentages, of your Red Fife? Historic. Lovely.

  10. Joan Bishop

    Where can I buy red fife wheat berries on line?
    bishjoani@aol.com
    Thank you –

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