Whole Red Fife Hokkaido Sourdough Milk Bread

Whole Red Fife Hokkaido Sourdough Milk Bread

I wanted to see how replacing 25% of the flour with whole red fife might affect the rise and the quality of this milk bread compared to my previous recent bake.  I thought 25% was a good place to start and if this is good I’d consider increasing that whole grain portion to 50-75%.  Whole red fife is actually a nice mild whole grain flavour without any of the bitterness I associate with some whole wheats.  Although it has good gluten potential, which you can feel while doing folds during bulk, it is fermentation intolerant.  I suspect this is due to high natural amylase levels in this particular grain so I would generally avoid adding any diastatic malt to it.  Now in this bread I wasn’t too worried about gluten degradation because I fully developed the gluten upfront and I eliminated the overnight cold retard also hoping to reduce any sour tang that an overnight cold retard might add.

I included the photo above to illustrate something I’ve learned.  When you’re placing the rolls of dough into your pan, if you alternate the directions of the rolls, it can help get a better rise.  I believe it helps, have a look at my previous bake and the current one today.


For one loaf 9×4” Pullman pan 




Sweet Stiff Starter 

• 53g bread flour 

• 24g water 

• 18g light brown sugar 

• 18g sourdough starter ~100% hydration 


Tangzhong classic 1:5 ratio

• 89g milk 

• 18g Whole red fife flour   


Dough Dry Ingredients 

• (252g) bread flour or 222 g and use 30 g to mix with butter

      · 108 g whole red fife       

• 59g sugar

• 7g salt 


Dough Wet Ingredients 

• 149g milk (increased by 10 g for the whole wheat)

• 59g egg beaten (about 1 ⅕ of a large egg)

• 67g butter softene but do not melt.  Combine with 30 g of flour to make easier to add to dough.


Total flour = 431 g


Total weight 899 g


Pre-bake Wash 

• 1 egg beaten

• 1 Tbsp milk


Post-bake Wash 

• 1 Tbsp butter




Mix the starter ingredients in a jar or pyrex container with space for at least 50% growth.

Press down with your knuckles to create a uniform surface and to push out air. This reduces drying and allows you to see actual CO2 aeration over time.

At room temperature, it typically takes 7-9 hours for this sweet stiff levain to be at peak.


In a sauce pan set on med-low heat, whisk the milk and flour until blended. Then cook for several minutes until thickened, stirring regularly with a spoon or heat-resistant spatula. Let cool in the pan or, for faster results, in a new bowl.



In the bowl of a stand mixer, briefly whisk the dry dough ingredients, and then add the sweet stiff starter, separating it into 5-6 portions as you add it to the bowl.

Now pour/scrape in all the wet ingredients (including the tangzhong), with the melted butter last. With the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed for a minute, scrape down the sides, and then mix on medium speed for 15-20 minutes. The dough will seem very soft, but as you approach the 15-20 minute mark, it should not stick to your hands and should pass the windowpane test.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, form it into a ball, flip it smooth side up, cover and let rise for 6-12 hours depending on room temperature. If you refrigerate the dough, plan for longer rise times. See photo gallery for approximate dough expansion during the bulk fermentation.  I placed the dough into the fridge to chill the dough for about 1.5 hours, this makes rolling the dough easier.

Prepare your pans by greasing them or line with parchment paper.

Scrape the dough out onto a clean counter top. Lightly flour the bench. Press the dough into a rectangle and divide it into four.  Shape each tightly into a boule, allow to rest 5 mins.  Using a rolling pin roll each ball out and then letterfold.  Turn 90* and using a rolling pin roll each out to at least 8”.  Roll each into a tight roll with some tension.  Arrange the rolls of dough inside your lined pan alternating the direction of the swirls.  This should allow a greater rise during proof and in the oven.

Cover and let proof for 2-4 hours (more if you put the dough in the refrigerator).  I proof until the top of the dough comes to within 1 cm of the top edge of the pan.

Preheat the oven to 350F and brush the dough with the egg-milk wash.

Bake the loaves for 50 minutes or until the internal temperature is at least 190F. Cover if your loaf gets brown early in the baking process.  After 50 mins remove the bread from the pan and bake a further 5 mins by placing the loaf directly in the oven on the rack.  If you loaf is super tall like mine was, I gave it another 7 mins with the oven turned off to really ensure that the side crust was firm enough to hold its shape.  You can brush the top of the loaf with butter if you wish at this point while the bread is still hot.

After the bread is completely cooled, store it in a plastic bag at room temp for a week or longer.